2020 Rise and Emerge eBooks

“Often, when you hear people talk about young authors, they are referred to as the thinkers, the artists, the voices of tomorrow. I don’t see it that way. I see these writers – the Badgerdogs featured in this remarkable anthology – as the voices of today. They came together this summer – this odd, troubling, and remarkable summer – to create in spite of it all. They did what young people always do – they shone light into every nook and cranny of real and fantastical worlds, they picked up threads and wove them together in previously unimagined ways, they spoke truth to power and answered questions with hope and possibility. 

These voices – these young voices – have done the work that writers have been doing for centuries – the work of figuring out themselves and the world through their words. But they have also reminded all us that the way to meet struggle and confusion and despair is with an expressive and open-hearted bravery. With clarity and humor and imagination and ingenuity, and an expressive and open-hearted bravery. When we humans do that on the page, it allows us to do that in our lives. So, I am here to welcome these young authors but also and more importantly, to thank them. May the world live up to your example, Badgerdogs. Thank you.”

– excerpt from the introduction by Liz Garton Scanlon

Click download to see the full ebooks.

Badgerdog Summer Camp: Black Magic Spaceship Workshop

Introduction

Black Magic Spaceship is a small class, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in the breadth and depth of their imaginations. Over the weeks of summer camp, these students have turned our Zoom conference into a haunted mine on a faraway planet, a truck-bed workshop for producing wicked fairies, a mysteriously disappearing watchtower, a warehouse for malfunctioning robots, and a host of other places that you too will visit when you read their work. Sami’s wild, experimental stories will sweep you away with the power of his voice and his eye for sinister, disturbing details, while Stewart’s richly imagined science fiction epic will tantalize you with mystery and leave you on the edge of your seat. These two have put many hours and thousands and thousands of words into getting their worlds down on paper. I know that there are many more stories in their future, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Celia Bell
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


I Am a Good [Robot] Bird Boy

I had an incredible nice good idea.  I am going to go run to a wonderful nice place. 

Nicer than here. 

Did you know thhat theer aree mre than 1,000 species of birds worldwide? 

I think that I am 1 of them. 

And I am will fly like them. 

I will become a new living being full of nice thoughts. 

There are some bad things horrible not nice things. 

That I am leaving. 

I am leaving the not nice things. 

I got the idea when they showed me the movie Pinocio as a reference for something in an assembly thing. They told us that we were not good enough right now and we wi,ll be better someday like when we become real boys. Like Pincohio. I got the idea when they got transformed to donkeys in the film but I don’t like donkeys and birds are ccolorful. Everything here is black and dull and grey but colorful is better.

When I was there I told people I was a bird. 

They told me that that wasn’t supposed to happen. You cannot bbe a bird because all of our research and training would go to waste. 

And then that person slapped me.  

I was sad and not good enough. 

They told me all about people like me and they said that no one but eleven elder people helping me.  

They said that my parents wern’t up to code. And then they plugged out the wires from my parents backs and they stood there lifeless liek they do when they are recharging. 

I asked my mom where me video game was because I wanted to play a video gmme. 

I didn’t care if she was dead because video gmmms are important… 

They kept me company the other time my parents where malfunctioning and they wehr hitting things and saying “yes dear sweetie yes dear sweetie” over and over again. Once I saw their head roll under the bathroom stall i was hiding in. but I played video games and I didn’t have to think abot anything and how I was not a good person.  

They tell me to look at myself and they show me how green I am. They give me mirrors and show me the eyes like binnocculars. And a straigt form alwas uprit. on my back aned I fcan never lif t a singel finger because my muscle mass is little. And they said they can see the beeps and boops of my spine. And my hands have little curves that ar fingars. 

I am grey just like a pigeon and I have the same sort of fingers like brds usse to perch on thngs. I am a bird no one can say otherwise. 

I am going to better land and better people will be there. 

I also won’t starve. 

I picked up my water bottle before here. 

And snakes like cheetos and corn puffs. 

This will be my journal. Because I am useed to writi g t down my thoughts for reserch.  

Right. I can see a man in a red hoodie and that is attached to a red robe. It has patterns of black flowers and things. He has blue skin. He is beckonig me. With his fingr. In his other hand he holds a staff. With something like a spherre dangling from the top. He has green eyes and I don’t know why but I NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE. 

HE CALL S HE CLOSER MORE AND NOW I WILL WANT MORE. 

I FEEL SOMETHING DRIPPING THROUHG ME THROUGH MY VVEINS AND I FEEL HAPPY. 

COMEING GOING COMING COMING GOING 

TO HIM NOW. 

GOODBYE.

Sami Azfar



The Ghost of Karu Minor: Part 1

3 years ago

The first hover bus of the day came rambling up the road, spraying dust in every direction, and jerked to a stop with a rusty squeal. A small toot from the horn on the front gave the five minutes to departure warning. Men rushed out of their cabins to secure the seat on the first bus, that being important if you want to meet your daily quota. Failure to do so may result in nonstop labor for multiple days. One of the miners, Johan Schino, was always on the first bus. His pal and roommate, Michon Langsworth, was also on the first bus. Langsworth was a plant for the mining guild, meant to see if everything was going according to plan, sometimes trying to get other people to break the rules to get them in trouble and get a paycheck bonus. Schino, like Langsworth, was a plant—not for the mining company but for the galactic federation government. Neither knew each other’s identities, and so they got along well enough. 

Work in the mines was grueling, to say the least. When taking a sanitation bath at the end of the day, the water would be stained brown before even washing your hair. The first bus departed right on time, leaving room for the second bus to come in about five to ten minutes. Schino was tasked with delivering food to two men who had fallen far behind on quota and were stuck in the mines for a week each. The journey to the mines was about thirty minutes each trip, leaving less time for the actual mining. At long last, the bus rumbled to a stop and the miners chose their work equipment.

There were three kinds of mining equipment at this certain mine. The driller, a massive drill on a steam rollers body, the hauler, a forklift body with a scoop in the front and a massive container in the back for the minerals, and the megamax, the all-in-one mining machine. These vehicles were different from the average hover car or spaceship because they had wheels. If a hovercraft broke down in the mine, it was impossible to get off the ground and out, but if one of these broke down, you just replaced the part and kept on going.

The downside of getting the megamax was that you had to do 1.5 times the work, because the machine was bigger and did more work. If you got a driller, you paired up with someone who had a hauler and then you made a team and did two times the work with two people. The driller was most sought after, for it just drove straight forward and scanned for minerals. When there were some, you would call three or four people, and then you would dig with shovels and picks. If you failed to find minerals for more than a week, you were taken to the mines of Guarnatchia and put to work in the factories sorting the minerals into their groups: light, dark, and metrinocular. 

Metrinocular minerals are minerals that can change through water. First, they start out through the process of formation by heat, and then they are dissolved in water to make a very interesting medicine.  There is a catch. For them to dissolve, they have to be in a climate where there is no humidity whatsoever, which presents a problem when putting them in water. So yet another transformation occurs. Making the water into dry water is a long process, including rearranging the atoms to make new molecules, which in turn creates a gas, called dry water. It performs the same functions as water, such as hydration, but is not saturated. 

The newly-created mineral can be sold on the black market for large sums of money, giving the company funds to make a small navy. Selling illegal “minerals” on the black market wasn’t their biggest problem. The sales would be traced to a small phoney address on a backwater planet. Their biggest problem was where does the income come from? The galactic federation kept a close handle on anything and everything that went on in their dusty and unkempt offices on the home planet near the center of the galaxy, so anything that went through there or anywhere else was closely scrutinized. The officers were trained to check in on any exchange of more than ⊭10,000. The monitored exchanges kept the galactic federation in power and gave them a good system of dictatorship. 

Schino, the fed representative, was uninterested in the light and dark minerals, but was more interested in the metrinocular minerals, for they were why he was here. His full goal was to try to slack off enough to get placed in the sorting and distribution plant. Though right now he was far from it.

Schino was in the mines, scurrying around and trying to keep up with the enormous amount of excess minerals lying scattered around the hard rock floor. One such cavern held something that Schino found quite interesting: a small bit of metal that appeared to have been long hidden and had weathered over several decades. 

The obvious thing to do would’ve been to take it to the man in charge of the whole operation, but Schino wasn’t into stuff that obvious. Turning quickly on his heels, he hurried to the entrance of the cave. There was one slight problem with the exit, it was right next to Langsworth’s workplace. Peering around the corner, Schino saw Langsworth on his lunch break, eating his usual ration pack in the corner, leaving plenty of room to pass through into broad daylight. Yet there was something odd about the way his shoulders were hunched and the way that his legs were folded. It looked unhuman, like someone had been beaten and left to die in the corner. This particular cave was very dangerous for there was, some said, a ghost living in its walls, causing unnatural cave-ins and equipment malfunctions. But never this.

Schino approached the broken Langsworth carefully, making sure to not have the same horrible fate. The stories varied from a bird’s ghost to the vengeful spirit of a dead miner, forgotten by the guild for years. No one knew the truth and when a team had come to look into it, the guild forcibly refused to let them into the mine, fearing that the truth about their conditions and hours might be revealed. The chaos was never-ending though, and someone had to do something about that. 

Schino hurried away from the scene and out into the open, right into the circle of mining guards that had come to deal with him. Armed and tough, the guards were not to be messed with. Relying partially on the malnutrition of the miners, the guards had formed an alliance with the mining guild to do the dirty work and got paid heftily to do so.

The circle tightened around Schino and started inching their way closer and closer. A panicked Schino aptly tried to run in the weakest direction of the circle, ducking in between two guards and landing right in one of the hover buses that went between the main camp and the mines. Also in the bus were fellow miners Meci and Abrogado. A slight head turn to the right revealed an even more surprising sight: Langsworth, bound and gagged, sitting unconscious on the seat. The door to the bus slammed, and it slowly started to clunk its way down the roadway. 

The bunkhouse was on the opposite side of the town from the housing district, which was right near the compound gates. The whole colony was around ten acres, and it was not really a pleasant place on that side. The trash dump and the guards’ quarters were there, making the area have a rotting odor. The spaceport was also on that side of town, which only added to the stench, and the heat was also made worse by the incinerator right next to the bunkhouse. Inside of the bunkhouse was a hall that led to four small holding cells, each containing a small dusty cot, a metal chair, and a small toilet. There was little to no light, the little coming from the cracks and seams in the solid metal walls. 

The guards made a sport of bad handoffs, spilling the prisoners’ food all over the cold metal floor. The sweat made the bed unbearably damp, and so the men would often find themselves sleeping on the floor. 

After four long days and three insufferable nights, three guards came into Schino’s holding cell, picked him up, and dragged him out. Once in the hall, Schino recognized the bruised face of Langsworth staring at him. Outside, he heard the shouts of the guards and the deep growl of ships descending to the landing pad. 

Upon opening the door to the outside world, Schino and Langsworth peered out. Looking up, they saw two gunboats. A few carriers ferried minerals to and from the command ship that was hovering in the atmosphere. Cries of pain rang out in the air as men trampled each other to ensure themselves a seat on the one of the departing ships. A warning broadcasted on the compound’s central alert system told that the federation was coming and that there was no chance of survival.

Yelling filled the air as incoming federation ships sailed through the sky. Guns started firing from the mining guilds’ ships, and the federation fighters stumbled into attack position.

Hurrying towards the landing pad, Johan Schino and Michon Langsworth looked up at battle above. The federation star fighters swooped down for another strafing run. Seeing the fighters bearing down on them, the men turned and ran the other way, noticing the markings of the squad leader on the side. They had fifty meters between them and the fighters. Forty meters. Thirty meters. Twenty. Ten. Five. None. Beams of light and plasma shot towards them. Five good shots and it was over.

The fighters pulled up hard and did synchronized barrel rolls, which put them right in the place for direct hits. A barrage of laser fire from the four federation starfighters left holes in one of the gunboats and set one of the carriers aflame.

The starfighters looked like a drag race car with small wings on each side. Streaking through the sky at an amazing speed, they looked like massive bullets, painted red and strafing the ground. Machines and buildings exploded into towering infernos. Miners ran for cover as the guards and other officials put up cannons and fought off the attackers, but to no avail. Smoke spiraled upwards, making the fighters hard to hit and rendering the untrained gunners of the mining guild a useless waste of resources. 

The fighter squad leader, Anton Schino, flew straight toward the terrified gunboat commander, firing in a spiral formation, knocking out the transperaplex cockpit window. The other three pilots circled about and hit another carrier point blank. Shooting in and out of the battle at a dizzying speed, the federation pilots placed bets on who could shoot the most down.

A direct hit at point blank caused another carrier to go down and ruptured a pipe in the other gunboat. With two of their four carriers rendered useless, the mining guild decided it was time to go home.

Fleeing with the remaining gunboat and their two carriers, the mining guild command ship went to space and got the heck out.


Stewart Haas

The Kingdom of Fantasia

Introduction

The Kingdom of Fantasia is a tale that lives up to its name, wildly fierce, with characters that are unique to its writers. It was awe-inspiring to see everyone work on this project, and I’m still laughing over how secretive the “villains” group and the “good and neutral” townspeople wanted to be about their plans. It felt like each student took on the role of their characters so well, which is what makes the tale itself so unpredictable and well, fantastic

Click here to experience The Kingdom of Fantasia!

Loan Tran
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Mystica: The Town of Magic

Introduction

Mystica: The Town of Magic is full of heart and humor, full of each of your personalities, as well as your imagined characters’. It was truly awe-inspiring to see each student work on this project and take so much responsibility for it. I’m so grateful to have shared summer camp with this group of students, and it goes without saying that I am very proud of them all.

Click here to experience Mystica: The Town of Magic!

Loan Tran
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Fast Times at the Third Mars Colony: A Story with Choices!

Introduction

Even while limited physically to the realms of our desk chairs, sofas, dining room tables, bedrooms, back yards, or occasional car back seats (and maybe even one dentist waiting room) — the possibilities of the places we can go are expansive! The young writers who joined the two sessions of this Choose Your Own Adventure exploration ventured near, far, farther, (and even farther than that!) in the imagination of their storytelling. Between the two groups, we explored settings as diverse as outer space, and portals to sword and shield fantasy lands — to broadway stages, and a favorite chain sandwich restaurant or two. We met dragons, Martian dust horses, very talented sandwich artists, marshmallow zombies (?!), nefarious space ball coaches, and so many more. The young writers found stories touching on action/adventure, fantasy, science fiction, and comedy — with always a lot of heart and often a good sense for the absurd. 

Which is to say both sessions were a whole lot of fun. I was so glad to have the chance to help create a space for creative collaboration within the Zoom-osphere. These game young writers and I started a week as strangers — and through storytelling games, sharing their writing, and thoughtfully listening and responding to each other — we ended the week as a group joined together in the telling of a single story… with endings as far reaching as the minds of the writers. 

Before you go forward, I’d like to share a little advice from the warning in front of an old  Choose Your Own Adventure book 

Beware and warning! This book is different from other books. You and YOU ALONE are in charge of what happens in this story. 

It’s a helpful reminder, in these stories and beyond. Choose your story, but take care — the choices are yours.

Eva Suter
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



Fast Times at the Third Mars Colony: Part One

It starts in space. It always does, all stories do — because when you think about it all stories are in space because even if you’re just on Mars, or even Earth, everything is in space.

You’re not on Earth though. You’ve never been there. You can see it, that shiny blue dot of a far off planet you’ve seen not blinking there in your sometimes night sky of the third Mars colony — where you were born and have lived your whole life. 

Oh the Mars colonies…After we found evidence of water and ancient life on the surface, it wasn’t long before we found the advanced society hiding underneath. The Martians were not so keen on company — they had remained out of sight for so long. They had developed technologies to combat the solar radiation, the heat, the dust — and to stay off the radar of other advanced societies. 

That was a long time ago. 

Like two Mars colonies ago. 

After the spacewar and the spacepeace and the space cold war, there was actually a sort of space peace, but for real this time.. 

But you know all that, duh. You’ve lived at the Third Mars Colony your whole life. You’ve heard all the stories. And today, you don’t have time for those old Martian Pioneer stories. Today is big. 

You’ve been marking the days and waiting. You could hardly wait. Today is huge. You’ll be trying out for the Third Colony Spaceball Team. Spaceball — the sport slash dance performance slash halftime musical review — takes a lot of different talents. You have a lot of talents, though don’t you?

You are in your red dust apartment with your family. You can hear them in the other room listening to the 3D radio — your favorite show, the one about elephants from Neptune? But, luckily, you’ve already heard this episode. And it’s time to go. 

You gather your equipment for the tryout  slash audition into a big duffle-type bag. You hear a sad little squeak and get a treat out of the jar for your pet, Marty Feind Oliver. You be a good Martian Guinea Pig-Packrat. MFO coos with excitement for the treat and pet. Your mom calls for you and the two of you take your seats in the mostly-self-driving bubblecar, it stops at the stadium. You say “thank you,” and grab your things. Your mom wishes you good luck before the bubblecar drives away.

Before entering the stadium, you check your bag to make sure you didn’t forget something important. But what’s that there? Not a piece of Spaceball equipment, no, that’s for sure! You see a stowaway, squeaking there in the bag.

Marty Feind Oliver, your pet Martian Guinea Pig-Packrat is there. Gazing up with love and all its seven antennas.

How’d you get in there? you ask, but before MFO can squeak a reply—

*BANG CRASH*

A loud noise, not sure from where or why, or even what, but — 

Marty Feind Oliver startles right out of your hands and runs! You move to chase him. But where did he go? MFO has disappeared right out of sight. Your audition is supposed to start in less than two minutes!

What to do?

Look for Marty Fiend Oliver now!

Look for him later. Go to your audition on time. 

Badgerdog Summer Camp: Session E One-week Workshops

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.

Conclusion

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


Electric
—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…

Misha Anand


Main Story
—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?”

Yes. 

“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”

Yes. 

“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.”

Ok.

“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?

“Maybe.”

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

Clara Newman

Badgerdog Summer Camp: The Wrath of Ms. Lily Swamp

T8WOW of Session C, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp, would like to introduce a
tale of hilarity and mischief, of heroism and magic! It is a collaborative project written, in-full, by a group of students who are as daring and unique as the characters they wrote into a fairy tale never before imagined… click here to experience “The Wrath of Ms. Lily Swamp”!

Loan Tran
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Badgerdog Book Crush: Session C Song for a Whale

The Mighty Hamburgers summer campers took a deep dive into Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly, searching for insight and inspiration. They experienced the sense of connection that emerges from reading a book together.

With an appetite for adventure, these campers closely read the text to discover characters, plot and setting, while drawing parallels with favorite books. Reading propelled the campers into writing their own stories, poems and puzzles filled with adventurers, aliens and dogs. Plenty of dogs.

The Mighty Hamburgers also got an ocean of insight from author Lynne Kelly when she visited with campers.

She answered questions about her journey to becoming a published author and shared her research about whales that went into writing the book. She also talked about how her work as a sign language interpreter influenced her to create a deaf protagonist.

The Mighty Hamburgers leapt off the page to create projects related to Song for a Whale. Deven used stop-motion animation to show the introduction of Blue 55, with the whale song of the 52 Hertz Whale as a sound track.

 

Ivy created a model of an antique radio and wrote a poem on the back.

 

Mishika created a book trailer that evokes the setting and emotions of the book.

 

Sophia baked cupcakes inspired by Song for a Whale, with Blue 55’s tail showing just before he dives.

 

Ainsley made a short play including key points from Song for a Whale.

 

Kate baked cupcakes with blue icing to symbolize the ocean, sprinkles to symbolize the water, and a lone whale on each cupcake to show how alone Blue 55 feels.

 

Caroline used styrofoam to create a whale sculpture. It includes a water spout coming from the whale’s back. Water spouts are one way whale watchers and scientists identify whale species, since each species produces a unique water spout shape.

 

Suhan made a model of the cruise ship Iris and her Grandma take on their journey to meet Blue 55.

Badgerdog Mythology and Poetry Workshops

greg-rakozy-oMpAz-DN-9I-unsplash

The Fox And The Hunter

—a short myth

Once upon a time, there was a fox that lived in the deepest part of the woods. One day, a wandering hunter stumbled into the meadow where the fox was napping.

“Halt! Who shall you be?” The fox bared its sharp teeth at the strange human.

“Please! Do not hurt me, dear fox! I mean no harm!” The hunter pleaded.

“All right. I will not hurt you, on one condition. You must give me your torch,” The fox sat back on its hind legs and pointed at the billowing flame.

“Of course!” The huntsman thrust the flaming wood into the animal’s paw.

“Thank you. I shall one day return your generous favor, sir.” And just like that, the fox scampered away, the torch wrapped in its mouth.

One day, years after the man encountered the fox and returned to his village, an old fox stealthily slipped into the village’s main church and dropped a small chest on the floor.

“This is your returned favor, kind man,” After it murmured those words, its spirit drifted out of its body, into the chest, and the old fox transformed into a gnarled old tree, to forever be a symbol of wisdom.

The next morning, the villagers found the fox’s chest and opened it, receiving its powers.

S. The Jeff
4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop

 

The Story of the Trickster Country

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, there was a war between two countries. It all started when two brothers were born, one blessed with strength, and one blessed with intelligence.

Over time the brother with strength was using his strength, for robbing people. The brother with intelligence had to put a stop to it. The brother with strength said, “Let’s battle each other to see who gets to do what they want. The losing side has to leave.” I’m stronger so I’m going to win, he thought to himself.

They both waited and trained their many sons and daughters, each sibling trained their children with their own talents. The strong brother’s children became the Youks, and the stronger brother became king. Of course, his people were very strong and brawny fighters. There were the Olks, trained by the brother with intelligence, and he became the Supreme General. Just like their father they had intelligence and speed.

On the day of the first full moon of the year, the war had started. During the first three days of the battle the Youks invaded the Olks. The Olks did everything they could to hold the Youks back, but they didn’t use their intelligence, in the heat of the battle, they forgot they were smarter than the Youks. Many Olks were killed in the battle.

The war council of the Olks met up and decided that the Youks were, much too strong for the Olks to fight them with brute force. They knew they had to use speed, intelligence, and trickery to defeat the Youks. The people devised a plan. They knew that the Youks didn’t have a good defense. They would move their camp, so when the Youks attacked they wouldn’t find them and the Youks would be confused. There would be spies looking at the Youks and when they were confused, the camp would be alerted. Then, half the camp would create a diversion to lead the remaining Youks away. After that, the other half of the camp would attack the King of the Youks.

They executed their plan and it worked until they had to capture the King. It turns out that the King wanted to see the Olks get defeated, and gloat, so he was at the camp, not in the castle. They rushed back to the camp and hid and waited until the King was looking for signs of the camp. They made fake tracks, so the King would follow the tracks to where they were hiding. Once he was close enough, they ambushed him, and the Youks surrendered.

The Youks left the galaxy, and the Olks lived happily for the rest of their lives.

Prahalad P.
4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop

 

My Mermaid

My mermaid’s name is Pearlett. She lives in Shellyton, Oceana. She is a fork mermaid. Fork mermaids are very rare, so she catches attention very quickly. She loves meeting new people and exploring the ocean. She has many animal friends including dolphins, sharks, whales, crabs, starfish, seahorses, and many more!

Her mom’s name is Coraleef, an environment mermaid, and her father’s name is Eracnics, a clock merman. She loves adventures and often rides on Crystal, her dolphin friend. If she needs to go somewhere, she sits in a mer-car pulled by Crystal, Delphine, Bubbles, Star, Buddy, and Summer (all dolphins). She has two siblings, the older one is her sister named Devinafe, a nail mermaid and the younger one is her brother named Dean, a saw merman. Devinafe loves reading while Dean loves playing video games In her opinion, they are both really annoying.

They live in a tiny cottage made out of shells and coral. She is a poor mermaid despite all of the attention she gets. She is most afraid of fishers, for many mermaids and mermen have been victims of them. They would get caught in the net, and when they pull them up, they don’t let them go; they sell them to aquariums so that they can make money. She also is afraid of Sevil, the evil mermaid witch. Sevil can curse anyone, even the most powerful person in the sea, the king of Shellyton!

Actually, she also has a curse from Sevil. Most merpeople get a real tail after they turn 16 years of age, but when she was born, Sevil came in and cursed her that she would never get a real tail. One year ago, on her sixteenth birthday, instead of getting a regular tail, her fork tail became bigger, which has never happened before. She is an out-of-the-ordinary mermaid!

SSD
4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop

 

Cerberus The Dog

Cerberus the dog
Was guarding in the fog
When he saw the outline
Of a woman with shining eyes.

Next thing he knew
He couldn’t smell the dew!
He was sitting in a store
With many pets galore!

This three-headed dog
Was not guarding in the fog,
But was taken to a place
Which wiped the smile off his face!

It was known as home.
It was shaped like a dome.
It had two doors
And sparkling floors.

Everybody thought this dog was unique
The owners bragged about him every week!
The Owners also thought this fierce dog was smelly.
Unfortunate for him, he got baths daily.

Oh how he hated baths
And his new home “Rats!”
When he used his powers
His owner scolded him for hours.
Now his only goal
Is to escape from these foul
People who keep him
From doing his thing.

This ferocious three-headed dog
Now is not guarding in the fog.
He’s now a housepet living with some people
Who groom him, clean him, and feed him kibble.

He needs some things that he doesn’t get,
But every month he goes to something called “the vet”!
He has a strong desire to be free,
but he knows he cannot flee!
Then something very magical happened:
The owners turned into his god friends!
They told him it was all a test
And took him to his place to rest!

Thanking them he did his job
guarding the underworld in the fog!

SSD
4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop

 

How the Trisidon Constellation came to be

This constellation is called Trisidon. It is shaped like a trident. Why is it in the sky?

The legend is…Poseidon, the god of the seas, was in a war along with Zeus, Hades, Hercules, and all of the other gods. He was fighting a villain but was not succeeding. This mighty villain was so powerful that even the mighty Poseidon could not beat him!

Suddenly, in the distance, he saw the outline of his wife, Amphitrite, coming towards him. “I brought you food!” she told him.

Poseidon tried to tell her that it was not the time for it, but she wouldn’t listen. Poseidon became distracted and the villain knocked Poseidon’s trident out of his hand.

It flew into the sky but would not come down—for it was stuck! Amphitrite got mad at the villain and somehow managed to defeat him!

“Girl power!” she exclaimed.

Poseidon then asked her to get his trident down from the sky, and Amphitrite reluctantly agreed. She flew into the sky and tried to take it down. But it would not budge. Thus, she pulled and pulled and finally got it to come down. But it had been stuck to the sky so tightly that the marking of Poseidon’s trident was still there. And up till today, we still see the outline of Poseidon’s trident in the sky.

SSD
4th – 6th grade Mythology Workshop

 

Dogs only🐶!

Humans🧔,

Oh humans🧔. Such a confusing species😕. Why can’t it just be dogs🐶? Our humans🧔 won’t let us sniff the same tree🌲 two trillion times but they expect us to behave. We will disobey and pee on there furniture🛋 ! We will rip up there clothing and barf on their pillows! We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶!

No humans I say🚫🧔! No humans! Just kidding I love all humans🧔. Well, actually just a few. But we all like humans🧔. We all don’t like humans🧔. We are dogs🐶! We are dogs🐶! G’bye, for now, I must now go see my friends Ivan and Ruby.

Yours truly,
The One And Only Bob🐾

Sawyer Stimpert (from a dogs🐶 point of view)
4th – 6th grade Poetry Workshop

Badgerdog Dystopia Workshop

dystopia

Emotion Was a Tricky Thing

I reached my arm deep into my pockets and closed my hand tightly around the smooth purple lump inside. It’s color shone bright against the breathtaking blackness of my beige cargo pants. I shivered and wrapped my jacket closer around me relishing the heat it emitted. My chip buzzed and I scowled as it stripped me of my cold.

Emotion was a tricky thing. The Grand Triad didn’t take it lightly. I for one liked emotions. They made me feel real. My scowl pressed harder onto my face, threatening to stay and my knuckles closed tighter around the tinged apatite in my pocket. I felt like a depressed lost pig, walking around the streets at 4 in the morning. I grumbled. And I probably looked worse than I felt too.

I got out my keys and opened the door to my small apartment. I kicked off my shoes and headed to my bedroom. I didn’t bother changing, since I only owned one pair of clothes anyway so instead, I fell back onto my bed and did nothing.

Unfortunately, my chip didn’t seem to like that very much and bombarded my brain with random thoughts. I groaned and got up. The room seemed to jump at the sound before returning to a calm silence. On my bedside table was a lamp and a single chest. I walked over to the chest and ran my thumb against the familiar pattern. I reached into my pocket and took out the purple rock inside.

This rock was called apatite, originated from the Greek term ‘to deceive’ I slid the rock open to find a thin copper key inside. I took the key and put it in the keyhole of the copper chest on my bedside table. It opened it up to find a slip of paper.

The note was from my mother who had given it to me before she left. My dad had died by then and we needed money so she took up a job working for the Grand Triad. I missed her greatly but whenever I was having a bad day, I looked at the paper note and immediately felt better. Paper was a very expensive and rare thing to find these days and knowing that I meant so much to someone made me feel happy.I set an alarm on my phone for 7AM, took my tablets, and I whispered goodnight to the darkness before dozing off to sleep.

My chip burned in my neck and I shot awake. I was late. I jumped out of bed, took some breakfast tablets, and sprinted outside. I made it all the way to school before realizing that I forgot my shoes. Not wanting to deal with any Detentions today, I pulled up my hood and walked into the tall gray cement building with my eyes trained on my bare feet.

I walked into room 284B and glanced up. While the front of the room was clean and lit, the back was showered with cobwebs and was dim at the most. Three other people sat in the room, a buff blond dude with soft blue eyes, a short-looking brown haired girl with eyes that gleamed like gold, and another girl with jet-black hair and brown eyes. They all sat in the middle row and seemed close to one another. I sat down next to the black-haired girl and stared at my reflection in the shiny computer screen in front of me. My brown hair fell in bangs across my dull green eyes. My face screamed ‘sleep deprived’ and though I was on the thin side, I wasn’t scrawny. My skin was a washed-out caramel color and faded freckles dotted my cheeks. A blank expression settled on my face and I felt a headache starting to appear. The computers powered on and the word “Begin” formed on the screen in white font.

A wire ejected from the side with a plug at the end. I took the plug and put it in my chip. A steady stream of information started to make its way into my brain and this was only the beginning of a grueling day. After an hour-long period of history, I had math, followed by science, ending with physical training. For now, I sat back in my chair with my eyes closed while useless random facts made their way to my hippocampus.

The world war III of 2038…
The invention of dyglencium and fretencium, food and water replacements, in 2087…
The extinction crisis of the 3000’s…
The discovery of matallum in 3019…

The list went on and on getting bigger and bigger, as did my headache. Up to the point where I fainted in Physical Training class. That’s right. I fainted, I actually fainted. What kind of doofus faints on their first day of highschool? Apparently, I do. I woke up to an old lady with a kind face and grey eyes. She gave me a warm smile as I sat up.

“Ugh, what happened?” I mumbled.

“You sir, haven’t been taking your tablets. If you do not eat properly your chip won’t have enough energy to intake all this information and keep you conscious at the same time.”

She went on to lecture me about how dyglecium and fretencium were made to act as water and food for the body and how they implanted chips in the necks of humans so that we could breathe toxic air without dying and whatnot. I nodded every now and then so that it seemed like I was listening and I felt bad to ignore her but I really wasn’t in the mood.

I left for home early that day and watched random stuff on Youtube all day. Youtube was a really old software and when I say really old, I mean really old. It had taken a whole week, just to get the app downloaded on my iPhone 17C.

Around 3AM, I heard a crashing sound and I woke with a start. My phone was still playing what looked like a video of a singing gummy bear. Weird. Around me, almost everything looked exactly as I remembered, except for one thing. A single plastic star sat on my bedside table. It was placed right where my chest was before. Keyword: was.

My eyes shot open at the sight and my body went still. My chest was missing. I scoured my small apartment for any clues, anything at all but all I could find was that stupid gold star. I was sitting on my bed staring at the star when someone knocked on the door. I ignored them the first three times until I decided that it was probably important. I winced in pain when I got up and dug my nails into my skin. Ever since the break-in, I hadn’t taken my tablets so I was pretty weak. There was something else too, but I wanted to tell my mom about it before telling anyone else.

I opened the door and there she stood. My mom. Her hair was down and her brown curls were cut at her shoulders. Her eyes were emerald-green, not unlike mine, which looked like carbon copies of hers. She wore a navy blue uniform with gold stripes going down the sleeves. She was shorter than me by now, though not by much, and a few of her hairs had gone gray, but her smile hadn’t changed one bit. I enveloped her in a huge bear hug as my eyes started to tear up. No, you will not cry in front of her. You’re stronger than that. I wasn’t stronger than that. Tears escaped my eyes and I smiled big. From lack of practice, my jaw tired quickly from the gesture but I couldn’t stop. She pulled away from the hug and I guided her to the bed. Neither of us had said a word yet but the silence was endearing. The first thing I asked was, “How long are you staying?”

Mom’s smile quivered a bit at this but nevertheless, she responded, “Only for a day. I heard about the break-in so I was granted leave to make sure you were okay.”

I nodded. I intended to use the time I had well.

“So, are you okay?” Mom put her hand on my shoulder, concern shining in her green eyes.

I nodded again. Apparently too vigorously because my neck flared and I bit my lip from the pain.

This didn’t go unnoticed and my mom looked at me questioningly, like moms do, and pried with a stern tone, “Drake?”

My shoulders slumped and I broke. I told her about the chest missing and she nodded sadly, but like she knew there was something else, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she did. When I finished she looked at me for a second with her eyebrows furrowed as if to say What aren’t you telling me? I sighed deeply and straightened, ignoring the pain in my neck.

“There is something else…”

She motioned for me to go on.

“During the night of the break-in, the robbers left a plastic star on my table. On the back, it had an address. So I went to the address and ended up at a local Grand Triad business building.

(Drake now somehow gets hurt and his chip is damaged.)

My mom’s face flickered with emotion and I looked down. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned to face my mom.

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

She shook her head and chuckled, “You have nothing to be sorry for. Tell you what, why don’t we have a movie night tonight. I’ll extend my leave and since your birthday is coming up, we can pick out a nice gift.”

I smiled in agreement.

Shloka R.

 

How the Past Is

“Everyone lookout, she’s gonna blow!” It was the town herald, again. He was a very good herald don’t get me wrong but he was a worrywart. If one, just one, rock skids down the canyon, he will order an evacuation of the entire area.

I rolled my eyes and shifted to look at the forms of my half-awake siblings. Still half asleep, I complained drowsily, “Say aye if you want to strangle him.”

“Aye,” chimed my brother Augustus.

“Aye,” repeated our baby sister Margeret.

“That’s not very nice,” reprimanded my older sister Irene.

“Nobody asked you,” retorted Augustus.

If you’re wondering, Augustus is 3 years my senior, and Irene is 20 years old but an old maid. My baby sister is 3 years old and doesn’t understand much. What she does know is that the herald is bad because of the number of times we curse him. Our parents died in a landslide 2 years ago when an earthquake destroyed 2 feet of cliff, plunging anyone on it to their death. The incident left everyone on high alert and in panic-whenever-the-herald-announces-evacuation mode. Our next-door neighbor burst in screaming her head off. “Get up lazy children! We need to evacuate.

“Yeah, whatever,” agreed Augustus.

“Pathetic excuses of humans” cursed the neighbor while running out the door and down the lane to join the rest of the village on top of the medium-sized hill 1 mile away.

“Well, everyone let’s go,” Irene ordered. Then she got up from the room that served as the bedroom and walked into the kitchen that had barely any tools. Just a fireplace and some rather large jars to store food and liquids. Our door remained open from when the neighbor flung it aside so we sprinted out and —carrying Margaret— climbed the hill where the rest of the village was located.

“It was a false alarm,” declared the herald.

“Thank you for warning us well ahead of time,” the mayor said with worry in his tone.
While walking home from the emergency gathering, Augustus was having a total tantrum about not getting enough sleep and the durned herald which I have to say I agree with. I was just about to enter our house when a piece of paper came flying out of the canyon and caught a breeze blowing into our house. Irene caught it and read out loud,

“Your presence is requested at the Initiation Ball and Ceremony commissioned by the Remember.”

“What on earth does that mean,” asked Augustus.

“Canyon,” Margaret blurted out.

“She might be right,” I acknowledged.

“Okay everyone, here is the plan”

In the dead of night, we all took some essentials and grabbed a sled made out of iron to resist the rocks and the plants. Approaching the edge, we tied the materials to the second sled and mounted the first one with Irene in the back and me in the front. After three pushes, the sled started a steady descent from the level ground by the edge to a small slope to a solid freefall into nothingness. After about a minute of falling, we landed on something impressively soft and blacked out from the impact.

Opening our eyes, we were in a very fancy room. Like one made for a king. The room was huge with several doors branching outward to several other rooms. Paintings and elaborate curtains framed the walls and huge beds were lying around with lace canopies hanging from the bedposts. I sat up immediately and searched quickly for everybody else. Thankfully, they were all there. Noticing an open wardrobe, I walked over and peeked inside. There were 4 white and blue suits. One for Irene, one for Augustus, one for Margeret, and one for me. With a smile on my face, I changed into the ultra-soft, very flexible piece of clothing with a free hood. It felt so comfortable that I kinda wanted to flip in it so I jumped and leaned back at the same time and next thing I knew, my feet landed perfectly on the ground. I just randomly did a backflip without any experience. After a quick victory dance, I heard a groan. It was Augustus.

“Flipping pancakes cause they’re snacks. What?! Where?! Who are you?!”

“Dude it’s just me.”

“Oh okay. Mind passing me that suit.”

“No problem.”

Irene woke up shortly after with Margeret sleeping next to her.

“Where are we? What is up with the suits?”

“Question 1, don’t know. Question 2, they are super comfy, and over there,” answered Augustus.

After Irene had changed, the door mysteriously opened revealing two people in solid black suits standing there with glasses on and some long contraption that had a trigger. It gave me the creeps.

“Follow me.”

“Creepy,” Augustus whispered.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

After several turns down a surprisingly plain passageway, we reached a ginormous pad with several winged things (later known as jets) and sleek small things with four thick wheels (cars). We were boarded on one of the jets and flown downward into the canyon before turning sharply and entering a tunnel carved in the rock. After a few more minutes of silence, the jet slowed down and used more machines to land slowly onto the platform. We were ushered out by those men in black suits into a building with many other young children all wearing the same suit. They gave us weird looks when we passed but didn’t come closer because of the men in black. After climbing several flights of stairs, we reached an office. The door automatically opened and we were shoved in.

We were standing in front of a desk that was white, scratch that everything was white except the man in front of us who looked a bit too orange for my taste. But then, he spoke!

“Have a seat, my dears,” he drawled.

“My name is the Remember,” he continued.

“I have invited you here because you have special gifts that are very useful. Irene can charm people into doing what she wants. Augustus is a master at stealing. You, Winifred, know parkour and Margeret is omniscience.”

Just then Margeret let out a scream. “He destroys! Bombs!”

Irene stared at Margeret then turned around to face the Remember. She smiled a very, very beautiful smile and said, “Spill.”

And that is what the Remember did. He talked about how he is from the future and he wanted to rule the world by wiping out all old humans and once kids complete their training they get brainwashed for life and non-important stuff. Once Irene stopped smiling though, he was instantly alert and started trying to find out how much he had told them but thankfully they were out of the room by the time he realized he had told them everything.

“Guards, arrest them.”

They took off and ran through the school trying to find an exit. Failing because the school was bigger than they thought so they “gently persuaded” someone to escort them out.

Apparently, Augustus stole some blueprints that illustrated the bombs and their targeted explosion points.

“Where to now,” asked Irene.

“Look, that cave, it has some interesting things located in it,” Augustus pointed out.

“Guns,” Margeret said.

“Weird child,” I mused.

“Winifred, stop stalling and get us some guns,” ordered Irene.

If I’m forced to… Well alright. I ran and flipped onto the next platform while kicking some black suit guy in the process. Just keep running and flipping was all I told myself. After landing, I ran inside to a door guarded by two men. They just looked at me like I was a weakling.

“Why hello there,” I drawled sassily.

Alright everyone, the show is over. Nothing to see here folks. Go home. Or maybe…
I walked out carrying approximately 10 guns, a few long cylinders and small circle things with tabs. Margaret was staring at them for about 2 minutes before walking over and picking one up.

“No, no, no, no drop it, drop it now,” Augustus started sputtering.

But then she pulled the tab and threw it and it exploded and almost made the ledge we were standing on break.

“Mental note: those things do that,” I commented.

“Welp, rrrruuuuuuunnnnnn,” came a random voice (just kidding it was Augustus who spotted the security behind them.)

We all took off and sprinted in the direction of the tunnel’s exit but it was a bit farther than we thought. “We need a lift people’s,” came a panicked Augustus.

Irene thought for about ten seconds before turning to one of the guards.

“Excuse me, sir, can you pilot a jet for us,” she said while batting her eyelashes.

“Sure miss,” the guard answered.

“Disgusting,” protested Augustus.

“Agreed,” I acknowledged.

“But we got a plane, so no complaints, am I right,” I fired back.

“Yeah,” agreed Augustus.

Doing a 180 and running backwards to the launchpad and with a charmed guard guarding us courtesy of Irene. Hopping on the “borrowed” jet and flying out of the canyon tunnel to quickly put an end to the plans of the dictator and world-domination.

Landing the jet on the edge of the top of the canyon, we all scrambled out and ran to the village. Not a moment too soon though because we saw everyone staring skyward at giant carriers with their flaps open ready to drop the bombs worldwide.

“We need to go to the control center to shut down the planes,” I realized.

“Everyone, let’s go,” commanded Augustus.

So we backtracked to the edge of the canyon again but realized we couldn’t get down.

“Platform,” Margeret squealed to answer our question.

To the left of us was a floating platform (Augustus stared at it for 5 minutes trying to figure out how it was floating) containing a blue cube in the center on top of a pedestal that was aiming laser beams at the floating ships. The laser beams were pulsing at several intervals, almost like a code. No matter, we had the guns we needed to blast the guards and the cube. Running and shooting simultaneously to try to reach our destination. (Sidenote: only I made it to the platform.) Skimming across the cool, white tile, I took aim and was about to destroy it when a sudden flash blinded me and made me stumble. The Remember was in front of me and holding control. I realized that it controlled the platform and that he wasn’t actually here.

“Your time is up,” the Remember said ominously. He pressed a button on a thin metal sheet and the platform started plummeting with me on it. Panicking, I shot and broke the cube causing all the planes to stop working and fall, crushing the bombs and anything under it. My siblings jumped and landed safely on the falling area but with no way to save ourselves, we continued falling and falling and falling until we hit rock bottom and our vision bled red until there was nothing left.

Ten years later…

“That was the story of Winifred and the Remember. How did you like it?”

“Mommy, was it true?”

“Well, yes it was true. The society exploded along with the cube. We have all of this metal and these memories to prove it,” she said gesturing to the very futuristic house of the shiny stuff metal.

“But never, do you hear me, ever investigate the remains.”

“Yes, mother but no promises.”

Inara Woodrum