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Writer’s Quill Winning Story!

Writer’s Quill Winning Story!

Happy New Year!

Our winning story from the prompt “Write a story about a character who is sarcastic, shy, and compassionate” was written by Tim Ellis! Enjoy!

Jack Phillips

By Tim Ellis

Two Different Types of Holy Cow

Lemme tell you. There’s two types of Holy cow. First: you walk into a classroom right on time, but while making the touchdown for the Detroit Lions with your books, and trying to be sneaky, you manage to drop your books and everyone looks…. That’s a holy cow!!! With two or three exclamation points after it and no capital letters. Then there’s when you walk into class and everyone looks…. And then your teacher asks how you are doing, and at the end of class, you get assigned to do an oral report… with the class bully, Thor. That one is specifically a HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!!! With an excess amount of exclamation points and capital letters. Trust me, things go bad when that happens to me.

Ok, let’s start over. I’m Jack, and I’m not necessarily pleased to meet you because I’m really not good with strangers, or groups of people more than about five, or oral reports with a ten-minute time minimum and the class bully. Just saying though, my life is really great without all those things… That’s what my mom though before she was called by Uncle Sam to do some military service somewhere away from me. She was right, as usual. I can still remember her face clearly as she bent over me with her smiling green eyes and brown hair, both things that I had inherited from her. Things were great before she went off to wherever she went. It could have been Timbuctoo for all I knew.

Correction: Know. I still haven’t heard from her. And my dad. He left home for some job when I was two, and I still haven’t really met him. I’m currently staying with my uncle and aunt, Ross and Mathilde.

*mentally insert chorus of people going “ooh, that sounds bad.” *

Yep, these people have no idea how you handle a kid. They’ve currently been reading up on “training methods” for raising perfect kids. Honestly, the whole book sounds like it was written by a teenager, and that’s saying a lot about the mental capacity of the author. There was a lot of talk in it about being “free” and helping your kids to achieve their full greatness by giving them “freedom exercises.” Those freedom exercises included everything from strapping me into a chair and telling me to free myself “from the bonds of tyranny” to encouraging me to hang out more with my friends.

Seriously?

The chair was close to my bookshelf and backpack, so I just did my homework for the day and then kicked back and read Les Misérables for a bit. Fast fact: Victor Hugo had ADHD for writers, so he’d essentially be talking about a guy and his dog, then he’d go into glorious detail about the type of dog. Yea, I got bored after a while, but it was better than hanging out with Thor, the school bully and working on an oral report with him. I mean, Thor? Poor kid. His parents hadn’t even given him a decent name. But, when it comes to school bullies, I’m not the type of person you’d find hanging around them insulting them. I leave that to kids like Smiley.

Smiley is essentially the judge, jury, and ninja executioner when it comes to bullies. Aside from being my best friend, Smiley is pretty much the strongest kid in school, and –  with the exception of the entire group that calls themselves “The Punishers” – he gets along just fine. Not every kid you know is capable of using pressure points like a psychopath doctor and at the same time knocking the wind out of Bully A, then doing something Judo on Bully B. His name isn’t really Smiley, but when a kid smiles as much as he does, the name tends to stick. He has a way of walking that makes me envious in a way. I mean, sure, he’s walking, so, what’s the big deal???

EVERYTHING!!! He walks like some sort of king with his head straight up and a long steady stride. The guy is extremely confident. I wish I had that, but I don’t. He can walk into a room and stop the bullies merely with his voice. He has this method of talking that his voice goes so deep you’d think he was growling. The results are fun to watch, everyone is instantly on their best behavior, it’s one of his best qualities, along with being my friend of course. For some reason, when Smiley joined the school this last semester, he made a point of befriending all the little kids and the shy ones. Among the shy ones…. AANNND the little ones, was me. We quickly became best buds after I got over my initial paranoia over strangers and stuff. His dad owned the local ice cream shop, and Smiley was constantly giving treats. That was where I discovered my hate of pecan ice cream and my love of green mint.

Seriously though, I think the best thing about that shop was Smiley. He had a way of treating you that wasn’t like he pitied you, but more like a friend, an equal, or like you were part of his gang or something. He was at ease with everything, never mad… I’d only seen him angry once. That once was sure something to watch. So, a little on Smiley’s fighting style in way of explanation. Smiley preferred to go with fists and knees. His standard approach was a feint with the right and a cross with the left, that usually finished them off. Sometimes though he’d have to hit again, and then he’d go crazy with punches, leaving a very subdued bully in his avenging wake. He only did that to boys, the girls got a different treatment. Smiley was always very gentlemanly with girls. He usually preferred to make an example of the boys and just let the girls run, but he would never hit a girl with anything other than a high five, maybe a fist bump, or a pat on the back. If he really had to, Smiley would threaten to get the principle, an action that was never carried out, though it worked every time.  But back to the time I’d seen him angry. So, one of the smaller boys, 3/4 grades under me – me being a 9th grader – had mustered the courage to tell a bully to buzz off while the bully had been harassing one of his friends. The bully had turned on the poor boy and began beating him. Smiley had been furious when he saw the poor boy and he went minorly berserk.

Okay, well, majorly.

He did that thing that you see in cartoons where the guy is grabbed by his arm and flipped all over the place by a fat Japanese guy, but only, the guy doing the throwing looked like an avenging angel of wrath. Smiley wasn’t really smiling then, but after dunking the bully under a stream of water and getting his promise to never to harass littler kids again, Smiley threw the bully into the school’s ball pit and walked off, all without even breaking a sweat. After that, I began to suspect he was a little bit more than a regular school kid.

One other episode sticks in my head. After I had done rather well on a test, Smiley took me out for ice cream at his dad’s shop. I remember distinctly seeing Smiley’s dad and wondering how a guy that old could look that good. The guy must have been around seventy, but he was still walking around, spry as an athlete, serving ice cream. I ordered my usual mint stack ice cream cone with sprinkles, and Smiley stayed behind to talk a bit with his dad while I found a seat for us. Smiley seemed pretty excited while talking to his dad, he even began jumping up and down at one point. His dad put a restraining arm on Smiley’s arm and said something that calmed him down. I didn’t hear much, but only the word “Ike” and “ready,” I had no idea. But I had ice cream, I’d passed a test, and I was hanging out with Smiley. Smiley came down in front of me and flopped down and began licking his cone. His favorite flavor was chocolate.

“This stuff tastes heavenly.” I sighed, lost in contemplation of my cone and praise for the genius that had invented ice cream. Smiley looked up.

“I don’t see how it could have tasted otherwise!” That meeting ended with a laugh and a smile and we went back to our houses for the night.

A General Description.

Well, you probably feel like you’ve been drinking out of a firehose. I’ve given you all this information about my miserable life without telling you a bit about me and everyone around me.

So, I’m Jack as you already know. I have brown hair, green eyes, my last name is Phillips, and i’m about five foot two… and a half. My mom is Veronica Phillips. She has long brown hair, green eyes, and the world’s best smile. She also sings better than a church choir and is taller than me (I’m ashamed to admit that last part though…) She also loves the outdoors and drags me into all sorts of games and sports. They actually aren’t half bad when she’s around. My dad is gone, he was Michael Phillips, but he left me when I was young and went to go to work. I don’t really talk about him, but every month we get a part of his paycheck, but no letters. That’s it for my family. Now, onto my school life.

Well, there’s Smiley, he’s around an intimidating six-foot-tall, he has bright golden eyes and bright blonde hair that he keeps a little on the long side so he can flick it out of his eyes. Smiley’s dad would look the same, but he is around seventy years old and his hair has turned a blondish white with age. He is about the same height as Smiley, and has the same kind way of treating people. They both have the ice cream shop on the corner of town.

Then there’s Thor. I hate him. He takes every opportunity that he can to tease and harass me. Nothing stops him, not even Smiley. He’s a tag along to the Punishers. He has a huge build even though he is only five feet and seven or eight inches. I’ve never looked him in the eyes, and I don’t plan on it, so don’t ask me.

There is also Tammy, a quick-tempered girl in the 9th grade, Sam, the tall, thin, leader for every sport in the junior varsity, and Mr Rice, the basketball/soccer coach. You now know almost everyone I know. Kinda sad isn’t it? Nope, it’s not. I have a ton of books to read, so I’m actually just fine. I find it hard to introduce myself to people – unlike some people I could mention.

Sick Angels…. or is it Valkyrie?

The next week was awful. I had no time at all spent with Thor in working on our oral report. Smiley caught some sickness and missed a lot of classes. Then, I got myself almost killed while trying to be nice. I thought I’d never say that. It was kinda funny who I was being nice to…. When I look at it later… So, here it goes.

I was doing alright that day, school had been horrid, I’d sat by myself during lunch, and then I’d read a book a corner of the library and been even more bored. Typical life without Smiley. In the book the main character was trying to prove that God existed. He used a pretty cool point. The dude said that you desire stuff that exists. He pointed out that people through the ages had made gods to worship, and therefore God must exist. My coldly calculating and sarcastic mind suddenly said “yep, and I desire a unicorn”. So, I decided the guy was wrong and continued the book. I mean, the guy had a point, but it wasn’t a very good one, right?

I was an atheist, and proud of it.

The bell rang before I could finish my thoughts, so I trudged inside for my next class. Thor intercepted me in the hallway looking glum as a raincloud in winter, or maybe as a dead deer. I couldn’t decide. Thor was visibly disturbed.

“Dude, we haven’t done anything about our report… I can’t get any more bad grades in this class or my mom and dad will send me to private school!”

He begged me to come up with something. I thought about it. My grades were well above average and could take a hit of let’s say about an F+ magnitude.…. Thor’s though, they were gone way down, and a hit like that would send him out of the school for good. I considered doing the oral presentation on resisting bullies, and Thor could say nothing about it since he had nothing prepared. I could have also told him that I had nothing and just walked off, but something stopped me. I’d never seen anyone look as sad as Thor did then. He actually didn’t look half mean. I could never tell what made me, but I turned to him with a smile, holding out my hand for a handshake, “You have a favorite book?”

Thor shuffled his feet and shook my hand with a weak smile, “I’m not much when it comes to reading… I’ve only read the old books; the Iliad is my favorite.”

I smirked, “Hector or Achilles?”

“Achilles.”

“Hector.”

Thor chuckled, “Alright, you start your argument, and I’ll finish it.”

I smiled back, this guy wasn’t actually half bad, “Just keep it slow, we need to spend ten minutes minimum.”

We made our way to the back of the classroom as I thought about the change in Thor. he was the class bully, but he seemed to be a little bit of a tag along for the Punishers. The punishers were mostly from the older grades, with a few toughies from the 6th and 7th. The 8th grade was the only bully free grade. I still have yet to figure out why. It appears that the teacher for 8th grade chemistry was an explosives nut. He dealt with mainly dry ice and pressure, but at any rate, those things were only for civilized kids, so the bullies were either tamed or kicked out.

So, on to the oral reports. Smiley had recovered from his sickness and was there, doing a report with Tammy Allen about simple chemistry, mostly centering on magnets and electricity, something that was right up Tammy’s line of experience as her dad was the janitor for the school and was a part time electrician. Smiley must have been good at it too, because he had some high electricity invention thing that was plugged straight into the wall and made arks of electricity go in between two thin wires. Smiley said that if you touched the arks of electricity they would probably kill you. I didn’t want to test, but some of the idiots in the front of the room looked really tempted. I almost bet myself twenty bucks that one of those kids would touch it, but before I could place the bet, all of heck broke loose.

Things began to go wrong…. Very wrong. First, the two wires touched together with a pop that left a smell in the air like ozone. Then the gang of Punishers moved to the exits to the room and pulled guns. Tasan, the leader of the Punishers, pulled out a knife and began strolling through the room.

“Alright! Listen up.” he commanded. “All you Valkyrie line up here.” He pointed to the front row of seats. I had no idea who the Valkyrie were, but I didn’t feel like being one at the moment.

“Everyone else,” he bellowed, “Goes as far back into the room as possible.” He smiled as Smiley strode up to the front of the room with swords drawn… Wait, swords? Yea, somewhere he’d found room to hide some swords. I glanced over at Thor who was curled into a ball. He was whimpering, probably in shock, from how he was behaving. Tasan swaggered up to him.

“Hey you! Get UP!” he shouted.

Smiley looked a little scared but he spoke up anyways, “Tasan, leave the kid alone. He’s fine.” Tasan pulled a gun on Smiley, “Yea? I said for him to move, so he moves!”

Thor slowly uncurled himself, and I saw that he was crying, “Tasan, don’t do it. I thought you meant that as a joke… I should have known.”

He lapsed into silence and slowly walked into the back of the room. Tasan cracked his knuckles and motioned to the other Punishers. I might have been a little tired at the time, but when a person morphs into a middle-aged man from being a teenager, you’d think I’d notice. Tasan’s outline blurred before he morphed into a man that looked about late 40s, and his regularly black hair turned grey, with black stripes in it. The rest of the Punishers changed as well, turning into men or women that were looking around late to upper 40’s and 30’s.

Smiley smiled. “I see you decided to show yourselves for who you were.”

Smiley’s dad stepped up next to him and glared at the newly changed Punishers, his voice was stronger than any 70-year-old voice should be. He pulled out two batons and held them at leg height, “You think you can fool me and Michael with your name, Tasan?” he spat.

Tasan smiled, “I’ve show who I am, now you show who you are, Michael and Rufus.”

The Rufus smirked and changed into a teen boy that looked identical to Smiley, same blonde hair and golden eyes. The two brothers held their hands up in surrender, “Okay, now let these people go. They haven’t done anything,” hissed Rufus.

Tasan motioned for everyone to leave the room except for me and Thor. He glared at Thor.

“So, wimp. How much did you tell them?”

Thor motioned frantically with his hands, “N… Nothing.” Tasan strode over to him and picked him up by his neck using only one hand.

“Tell…Me… What…You…Told…Them,” He threatened.  Thor struggled feebly in Tasan’s grasp before going totally limp. Tasan tossed him into the desks before striding over to Michael and Rufus.

“So, how much did he tell you?”

Michael stepped forward threateningly, “Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

Tasan’s eyes flared with real fire, like, I mean seriously, they really lit up, and his body began changing again. His arms shortened and grew thicker, his clothes turned into dark fur, and he grew a tail. In a few moments, I was faced with a wolf that was flecked with grey and black. The wolf began circling Michael and Rufus, still threatening them in a human voice. Michael turned back to back with Rufus facing in different directions. They seemed to be in an argument of some kind, but in the end, Rufus appeared to have won and Michael vanished from sight. Rufus changed into a Lynx and began circling Tasan. Tasan lunged forward and knocked him out easily, then turned to Thor and began savaging him his claws. I know that Thor had done nothing to gain my respect, he had never given me anything, he hadn’t even been kind to me, but something inside me told me to try to stop Tasan. The thing that was telling me to help, was something that often kicked in in the worst moments. I could never intentionally hurt anything, not even ants. I’d been teased way too much once over the time I’d stopped some boys from killing a squirrel they’d caught, and then again when I’d intentionally scared all the frogs into a pond so that some people couldn’t catch them. I just had this gut feeling that if I just left Thor and ran, it’d haunt me for the rest of my life. So, I stepped forward and punched the wolf.

Yep. Just like that I redefined my life.

I punched a ferocious animal wolf thingy… and it turned on me. Michael yelled and reappeared, running at the wolf with all the speed he could muster. The wolf gave me a swipe across my chest and a gash on my arm that began bleeding bad enough to kill me within a few minutes before running towards Lynx-Rufus and grabbing him in his jaws. Michael hesitated for a second. I saw his indecision, his brother, or me? I began to see things blurrily, as if through a foggy window, then my vision split and I began to feel giddy. The last thing I saw was a set of huge claws. Part of me wanted to scream in agony at the pain, and part of me wanted to ask that he kill me quick. I blacked out before I could decide.

I woke up on my back in a white bed. Above me Michael was leaning with a concerned look on his face. When he saw that i was awake he sighed with relief, “Oh, thank God.” he murmured. I noticed that he looked tired, very tired, but was too weak to comment on it. I tried to smile, but couldn’t find the energy to do anything other than grimace as a spasm of pain shot through me. Michael looked down at me gently.

“Quiet, little one.” He whispered, “You took quite a beating back there. You’ll have to stay in my house in Asguard for a while.”

I looked up at him confused, Asgard was from Norse myth wasn’t it? Michael must have read my thoughts, “yep, it is, and it isn’t.” He paused as if deliberating something. He seemed to reach a decision and looked down at me, “Okay, I’ll explain it all later. Basically, Asguard stands for Angel SWAT Guard. I’ll explain the rest later, you need a rest.” Smiley began humming a soft lilting tune before beginning singing.

The road winds ever on, from where I once began

The dirt’s been trodden by a thousand feet, time and time again

Remember me my lovely wife, remember me your man

For the road winds ever onwards from the place where I now stand

I turn at last my weary feet making tracks upon the sand

And over mountains, through streams

To fields where I once roamed

I will remember you in my dreams, and the place where I call home.

Smiley finished singing and a man entered with a troubled look on his face. Smiley frowned as the man began his message.

“Michael, we have examined the site of your extraction, but we can’t find any traces of your brother.” The man bowed his head as Michael collapsed into a chair next to me, sobbing softly. The man continued after a few seconds, “We’re sorry Michael… I know how much he meant to you, especially being your twin and only relative…” The man turned around and walked away, leaving Michael to himself. Then and there, I decided to make myself as much Michael’s brother as I could. I weakly lifted my hand and laid it on his arm before I fell into the welcoming blackness of sleep.

To be continued…

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