All good things must come to an end. This article concludes The Ulysses Writing Contest Celebrating Disney's Flora & Ulysses. For the final round, we present to you the remaining poems and short stories that made it to the Top 10.
We'd like to thank everyone who participated in our contest and gifted us with poems and stories that touched our hearts and minds alike. We hope you've enjoyed them as much as we have. Have fun reading!
She Said No by Penny Andrews
Eating and drinking is perhaps the most important way to interact with the world. In tasting and smelling we discover not only the things around us, but also get a better feeling for who we are and what we like. In this poem one person recommends a number of delicious foods from “warm croissants” to “firm vanilla custard” to “Gurgling over jewel-toned Bordeaux” but the other one — probably not quite a child because of the wine — always refuses. Only at the end does the “she” agree to what is offered. The oral way of denying and affirming the world is depicted in an unpretentiously warm style, with a great modesty in language and metaphor, which allows the reader to focus on the inner pictures in ascending order. The view of the other person, although denying the offered foods, is warm and open and can teach us to not just glimpse others but to have a closer look at what a fellow human being truly needs.
Forever and Wanting is Heart by Grace L
A very inspiring poem. It talks about the everlasting power of and the strong longing for love and hope: “Wanting forever, / Hoping forever, wondering, waiting, / Waiting forever.” Additionally, the possibilities waiting for us in writing and rewriting our lives can also be heard: Animals learn to speak, hearts “learn not to break”, old bones will be strong again and what’s old will be new, because human hands take it to form new life. The composition evokes a number of different references and combines elements of Sci-Fi, e.g. flying cars and man on Mars, as well as the biblical and gnostic duality of night and day. With its style of touching different areas it makes us think beyond the borders of our imagination!
Promise by Randy Fournier
A loving persona whose heart is “light with happiness” speaks in this poem, remarkable for its traditional form: a sestina. Apparently modeled on the poetry of Ezra Pound as well as of W.H. Auden it tries something new: instead of the classical form with just two sets of six six-line stanzas, here we find three and the words that end each line of the first stanza are not used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern. The strength of the sestina, according to Stephen Fry, is the “repetition and recycling of elusive patterns that cannot be quite held in the mind all at once.” Here it is “the promise of you” that we find through its repetition in our field of vision. The rhythm and the imagery of the piece “Trees were clothed in spring's green glory” give us insight and foresight into the persona’s world through its tense relation.
The Volume Knob by Ellen Fishbein
Confucius once said: “If what one has to say is not better than silence, then one should keep silent.” Silence in our world full of noise, is also the main topic of the poem The Volume Knob by Ellen Fishbein. It talks in free verses rhyming just partially about the discovery of silence by turning the volume knob down. We’re used to living in a noisy environment, in a noisy world: Roads full of traffic, airplanes humming in the sky, shopping malls that are pumped full of music and commercials, the earphones of the person sitting next to us on the Underground. In this world this poem claims silence to be “the softest music, yet the most profound, richer than every auditory sound, & for the soul more solid than the ground.” It simply puts this elementary experience in a very emotive form and thus is one of our favorites.
Finder by Michael West
When it comes to short stories you can easily identify literary craftsmanship because everything has to be in the right place. Not a single word more than necessary. The short story Finder is, in our opinion, the best example of how a good story should work. There is a very typical but nonetheless prolific setting: a job interview. Mr. Allison is applying for the position as a “Finder.” It’s the dialogues that make this piece so splendidly funny and intelligent. It continues, direct in its telling, with no skewed metaphors. The dark humor combined with a passing allusion to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues: “I drove to Reno, and shot a man, not to watch him die.” We loved it!
Nature's Claim by Nathan Goodroe
Here we have a very interesting piece: This short story combines scientific knowledge about bryophytes (mosses) with a classical story of rescue, and — by the way — brings in a new perspective on superpower not coming from artificial intelligence or technology but from nature. It is also unique in its language: “The gash on her shoulder was still open and had black flecks of ceiling tile and burned lab coat inside (…) She concentrated and silently commanded a small patch of moss to crawl its way to her shoulder and sit on the wound. It healed it as if nothing had ever happened.” We highly appreciate this one. This is literature at its best!
Sparks by Matt Athanasiou
The idea to “instruct and delight” is literally ancient, yet, it still holds true – as proved by the short story Sparks. A small boy named Sparks cannot sit still in his chair waiting for his dad to prepare a trip to the beach. He wants to run and jump, because he is so excited. Suddenly more and more Sparks jump out of him, as he runs around in the flat, leaving the living room in disarray and even causing a fire. This transcends our normal understanding of reality and thus teaches us a lot about the ways stories are mainly told and the possibilities of literature to open up new perspectives. But there is also delight: The whole story has a tight composition and is told in a fast, thrilling way. Sentences seem to spark, and we totally forget the time. We saw and appreciated the author's talent!
Bop-it Man by Jon Sharp
Hearing a voice is usually a sign of a serious mental disease. In the short story Bop-it Man, it becomes a superpower, enabling our protagonist to rescue lives, just by listening to the voice: “I learned that I always needed to act quickly (…) I just had to act.” The more he listens to the voice in his head, the more he helps other people, thus becoming a superhero. In the end, the story makes an interesting move: The protagonist formerly telling the story in a first-person perspective can now be seen from the outside. This is a very intelligent framing, because in the beginning we see the protagonist lying on a rooftop, in his last moments. This also refers to the process of dying, where people have often described seeing themselves from the outside. Very well done!
by Penny Andrews
Forever and Wanting is Stomach
Suggesting warm croissants
Butter drenched centipedes
Airy, light, hollow
A velvety mocha
Whole milk forming thin skin.
She said no,
Lips nowhere near
Air and butter and chocolate
Forever and Wanting is Stomach
Urging sweet and salty
On pillowy bread
Sweet purple jelly riding and sliding
Over waves peanutty slick
Soaking in and seeping out
She said No,
Shaking of head
Lips nowhere near
Jam and butter and white bread
Forever and Wanting is Stomach
Arguing for cream pie
Sweet cream mounded
Over firm vanilla custard
Iced tea with drifting sugar
Fresh lemon riding the rim
She said No,
Impatient wave of hand
Lips nowhere near
Custard and cream and sugar
Forever and Wanting is Stomach
Demanding fried chicken
Buttermilk-soaked gleaming white
Juicy under crunchy ripples
Calderas of whipped potatoes
Holding melted pools of butter
She said No
Frown and squinted eyes
Lips nowhere near
Chicken and potatoes and butter
Forever and Wanting is Stomach
Gurgling over jewel-toned Bordeaux
Nudging towards midnight Nachos
Cheesy yellow blanket
Confettied with ruby tomatoes
Fiery jalapenos under white sour cream
She said Yes
Head thrown back
Lips everywhere near
Wine and cheese and cream
by Grace L
Forever and wanting is
Heart. Wanting forever,
Hoping forever, wondering, waiting,
Waiting forever, if need be—
But oh, the things we could see!
Starlight strong, man on Mars,
Pure and undiluted stars—
Maybe even flying cars?
Animals that learn to speak;
Hearts that learn how not to break;
Old and weary bones that creak
Made strong again; hands that take
What’s old, and make it new again—
What’s broke, and turn it on.
The future is bright, but this still is night,
And I, and the world, wait for dawn.
by Randy Fournier
The sky was bright and brilliant blue,
And humid with the hint of rain.
The wind was clean and brisk and fresh,
Drying the fields where snow had lain.
My heart was light with happiness,
And the promise of you again.
The mountains to the west of me
Had shed their sheets of winter white.
Trees were clothed in springs green glory,
And flowers bloomed in colours bright.
My eyes were alight with merriment,
And the promise of you in sight.
Robins sang a welcoming song,
Above the risen river’s roar.
All the world seemed to forget,
All the cold that had come before.
My hot blood pounded in my heart,
With the promise of you once more.
by Ellen Fishbein
I seized the knob & yanked it to the left
until it stopped.
At first, the room felt dead.
The silence pressed itself against my bones.
I feared the booming din had turned me deaf
bloomed into my head,
the softest music, yet the most profound,
richer than every auditory sound,
& for the soul more solid than the ground.
Today, I'm glad I turned
by Michael West
“Have a seat in that chair,” Ms. Collins says, motioning with her finger.
Mr. Allison moves towards the humming leather chair.
“No! The other one,” says Ms. Collins.
The uneven bumps, and symmetrical stains, on the other, the orange chair, are disconcerting.
As he sits, Mr. Allison keeps his good eye on Ms. Collins.
She returns the gesture.
“It says on this piece of paper, you have come here for a job,” she says.
“Paper doesn't lie…at least not anymore,” he says, going for the obvious joke.
Ms. Collins does not laugh.
“She is either deaf, or has forgotten her funny bone at home again,” thinks Mr. Allison.
He knows about her funny bone situation because he did his homework. Ms. Collins knows he knows this because this rascal sitting not quite directly across from her isn't the only one who does their homework. She always tried to leave her funny bone in a place clearly visible, (on top of her cat, or inside the coffee pot, for example) so as not to forget it, but sometimes it just refused to be recognized.
“We have several positions available. Was there one in particular that struck your fancy? And please, no 'striking-my-fancy’ jokes,” says Ms. Collins.
“Damn,” he thinks, “Humor is all I have. Well, that and a talent for choosing the right sandpaper for a given project.”
It was true. A stint as a carpenter had unearthed a canny knack for touching a piece of wood and knowing exactly which grade of sandpaper would enhance its natural grain.
“If only I didn't have the utmost disdain for the manual arts,” he thinks.
He says, “I read in the town paper that there is a position available for a…” He takes from his briefcase the neatly folded, obsessively folded, almost psychotically folded piece of newspaper that holds the term he seeks.
“Finder. Yes, here you go.” he says reading, “‘Wanted. A Finder. Must be good, or at least talented, at finding things.’”
“It's true.” Ms. Collins says, speaking in a low tone, “We do have need of a Finder. People are spending much too much time looking for things that they have misplaced. Or, worse, too much time trying to remember what was forgotten, and, consequently, to put a fine point on it, spending too much time not working. A waste, indeed. So, there you have it. Yes, we need a Finder.”
“I am he,” says Mr. Allison, pointing one of his many fingers at himself.
“What have you found lately?”
“Only this morning, I found my car keys, not in the last place one would look, but, rather, in the very first place.”
Ms. Collins raises the one eyebrow that can move.
“Impressive. Efficient. But, what things have you found that weren't in the first place you looked, and in what place did you find them? I will need three examples.”
Mr. Allison stands. He raises himself to his full height, not having to stand on tippy-toe hardly at all.
“Two weeks ago, I found a missing argyle sock that had managed to elude me. I found it on the fourth try. It being argyle, I naturally thought it would be near the scotch tape. It was a mistake to assume so much, and I have learned from it.”
“He admits to being imperfect,” Ms. Collins thinks, “Admirable. And manipulatable,”
Mr. Allison continues. “Four days ago, I found the sound that love makes when it enters a person’s soul. Intangible, yes, but found, nonetheless. Found on the tenth try.”
“Good abstract thinking, though a bit on the gushy side,” thinks Ms. Collins.
“Gushy, as in a bad, sissy-half-woman thing, or gushy as in a sweet, caring thing?” says Mr. Allison.
“Did I say that aloud?” thinks Ms. Collins.
“You did, just as you did now, again,” says Mr. Allison.
Ms. Collins closes her mouth very tight. She nods for Mr. Allison to continue.
“Lastly, just 34 hours ago, I found I possessed the ability to raise people from the dead. Not completely, of course, but just long enough to get their affairs in order and have one last moment with their loved ones. Not as powerful as being God, but much nicer, yes? I am a necromancer, of sorts. I found this particular thing on the eighth try. The first six involved accidentally killing various insects and small animals, becoming soaked in guilt, then caressing them so they didn’t travel alone over the rainbow bridge, only to have them flicker and twitch, then run, or fly, away. I assumed they were only stunned. I knew for a fact the sixth, a cat, was truly deceased because I ran over it. Not on purpose, I hadn’t taken it that far, yet. The cat was fairly well torn asunder, but when I picked it up to move it to the side of the road, and do the rainbow bridge thing, it hissed, then leapt down, its entrails coiling back into its body. Then to test this new power, I drove to Reno and shot a man, not to watch him die, but to see if what I had was real. Dark night, point black, center mass. As I held his head, the bullet oozed out of the wound. He shuddered, then came back to life. I gave him one hundred dollars for the inconvenience, for which he thanked me because he had no shoes.”
Ms. Collins says, “Well, I'm impressed. You have shown a well-rounded ability to find things. A useful trait considering everyone that works here is, for the most part, different, and will require different handling. I will need you to fill out the various company forms and such. Do you have time today?”
“I will find the time,” says Mr. Allison.
They both vaguely chuckle.
Of course, he will find the time.
It is, after all, now his job to find things.
by Nathan Goodroe
Morgan imagined the data running out her temple, through the electrode, and down the wire to the purple grow lamp. It pulsed to encourage a patch of moss to relocate from one centimeter to the other. She watched the plant move and a tiny tendril lift. Progress. She had watched this patch of fuzzy, green moss grow at the university lab and develop from a tiny sample from the forest to the full, living organism with a million dollar device connected to it.
Just an inch to the left, she thought.
She thought she had smelled smoke earlier, but there are so many smells that come through the vents in the furthest lab-- really a closet-- on the lowest level in Hayes Hall. She had initially attributed it to freshmen turning the Bunsen burners too far the wrong direction and ruining some solution. Smells were always floating through the vents.
When the wall next to her exploded, the purple light that she used to grow and move the moss shattered, gas released into the air. The moss on the table was splattered by a cinder block from the wall landing on it and splattered Morgan on the face, across the arm, and down her front. A shockwave threw her over a table and against the wall.
A huge gash now ran down her shoulder, and every part of her was sore. She looked for a first aid kit in the rubble, but there was nothing but dust and shattered glass strewn about.
I’ve got to get out of here, she thought. The idea of what could have already gotten in any of her wounds worried her, not to mention the thin fog of purple gas that was in the air. She didn’t remember what exactly was in that, but it couldn’t be good for her lungs.
She pushed her way out of her ruined lab and stumbled into the hallway. There were pieces of moss stuck to her, and she tried pulling them off, but prying it from her neck left it stuck on her hand and wiping her hand left it on her arm. She was going to be stuck with it for the time being, she thought. So be it.
Smoke was filling hallways while fires consumed rooms. There were crashes, sirens, and occasionally loud noises that worried her the building couldn’t stay up for much longer. Bag and backpacks were left in offices as people-- mostly grad students this early-- ran as soon as everything started.
She heard coughing in lab 113. Against common sense, she stopped by the door, but could barely see anything. The smoke was hurting her eyes and obscuring most of the room. She wiped her face and covered her mouth with her shirt and ran in.
“Hello,” she yelled. “Is there someone in here?”
She worried that she had heard the fire playing tricks, leading her to her own death, but on the floor behind the desk was a woman. Morgan shook the woman’s shoulder and tried to wake her, but she didn’t move or respond.
“Come on,” she said. “Let’s get you out of here.”
She felt something tickle her lips where her shirt met her mouth. She moved it away with her tongue and tasted the moss on her collar. She tried pushing it away, but it moved and twisted its way over her mouth, and soon she felt a layer cover from nose to chin. She tried fighting it, but decided to focus on moving the other person.
But the air was fresher, less painful to breathe now. The moss was filtering the air around her.
Don’t stop now, she thought.
She dragged the woman as fast as she could to the door, and she moved faster as burning tiles fell onto black lab tables and windows cracked under the pressure.
A gas nozzle burst on the other side of the room, and it set a chain of bursting nozzles coming in a fireball right to Morgan and the woman she was saving. She covered her with her body and prayed for the explosion to pass. She felt the thing pass above her, and couldn’t feel the blaze shred her nerves.
Except they didn’t. Once the fireball had subsided she saw a layer of moss growing over her back, protecting her and taking the singe instead of her.
She got the woman to the hallway and set her down to catch her breath. As she did, she noticed more of her was covered in the dense green patches. There was already more on her than she could ever get to grow in the small dish.
Another classroom shot a fireball into the hallway. She leaned down and put a layer of moss across the unconscious woman’s face to help her breathing and continued to drag her through the hallway little by little until a crew of rescue workers met them and helped them out.
Once outside, they tried pulling the new growth off Morgan, but it hurt. She yelled for them to stop and started walking away as fast as she could, telling them she would get it. She was running before they could stop her. She ran around the building, across the street, and to the loading dock of Gomer Hall.
She tried pulling at the moss, but it only clung tighter. She begged and plead- ed with it, and suddenly it loosened its grip on her. Everything fell off and hit the ground except for a few patches on her neck and chest. Those would not move no matter what she tried.
The gash on her shoulder was still open and had black flecks of ceiling tile and burned lab coat inside. She remembered a book she read about field dressing as a Girl Scout. She concentrated and silently commanded a small patch of moss to crawl its way to her shoulder and sit in the wound. It healed it as if nothing had ever happened.
by Matt Athanasiou
Everyone called Spencer Sparks, the seven-year-old with a fire under his butt. No one ever called him calm, but they often told him to calm down, like his dad was doing that Saturday.
“Chill out, Sparks,” his dad said, folding the beach towels on the kitchen table. “Calm down, or we’ll stay home.”
“This is calm,” Sparks shouted, sprinting from room to room in their apartment, wearing swim trunks and an orange swimming hat that he had cut eyeholes in and pulled over his face. He raced up the stairs, down the stairs, banged doors open and closed, drummed on the furniture, and sang the songs, “We’re going to the beach,” and, “Let’s go now.”
He bumped an end table beside the couch. Two lit candles wobbled.
His dad shouted, “Sparks. Enough.” He scooped up Sparks around the waist, and he carried him to the corner with the chill-out chair facing the wall—or as Sparks called it, the boringest place on Earth.
“I’ll calm down,” Sparks promised, trying to wriggle free. “I’ll be good.”
His dad planted him on the seat and pointed to the clock hanging in front of Sparks. “Five minutes and we’ll go. When the big hand hits the three, you can get up. Not a second sooner, or you’ll scare the beach water away.”
“You can’t scare water.”
“I didn’t think a little boy could sound like he had ten little boys in him, but here we are. Five minutes.” He rubbed Spark’s head, messing up the mask.
Sparks straightened the eyeholes and watched three seconds tick by. He squirmed and huffed.
Behind him, he heard his dad pack the day bag. Outside the windows, pigeons cooed on the fire escape, and cars honked on the street. He imagined people outside. Emma from the first floor drawing on the sidewalk. Marco jogging around the block. Kids drinking sodas under the grocer’s awning, before biking to the basketball courts. Everyone was doing something outside, but here was Sparks, trapped in the boringest place on Earth.
A familiar tremor began in his toes. The quivering shook up to his ankles, then his knees, swinging his legs. The quiver fluttered his stomach, jiggled his shoulders, and rolled his head from side to side. His entire body trembled, and he whisper-sang his songs into one, “We’re going to the beach let’s go now.” The clock tick, ticked, and his voice grew louder, louder. He wobbled the chair from leg to leg, his vision doubling, his songs overlapping, “We’relet’sgoinggotonowthebeach,” and he sprang up.
The seat tipped over, and he sprinted across the room, shouting his lyrics.
His dad nabbed him and carried him back toward the boringest place on Earth.
Sparks thrashed and kicked and begged to be let go. His vision doubled again, tripled, quadrupled, and his words all blended together, like he was talking over himself, and then another Sparks jumped out of him.
The new Sparks landed on his feet, and Spark’s dad almost dropped the original Sparks. The new Sparks ran around and sang.
His dad froze, eyes wide and terrified.
Sparks said, “Do I really have 10 little boys in me?”
As if to answer Sparks, he felt another tremor and another copy of himself sprang out, then another and another. Soon, a dozen Sparks filled the apartment, stomping the floor, banging on furniture, and belting out more beach songs.
Spark’s dad set him down but held his hand. “What’s happening?” his dad said.
Sparks shrugged, but he grinned at the commotion. He raised his fists, about to charge forward and join the excitement, when two other Sparks plowed into the table with the candles. The candles fell onto the couch, where another Sparks tied a blanket around his neck like a cape. The blanket caught fire.
The caped Sparks screamed and bolted away, the flaming blanket waving behind him. Spark’s dad yelled, “Stop!” but the other Sparks laughed at the flames leaping off the fabric, and more Sparks leaped out of the original Sparks.
His dad kneeled in front of him. “Sparks, listen to me carefully. If you, or one of you, burn the place down, we are not going to the beach. Can you stop them?”
Sparks said, “I’m not trying to do this.” He trembled and another Sparks hopped out.
The caped Sparks untied the blanket. It fluttered onto the dining room rug. The fire spread across the floor.
His dad jumped up, told everyone to get away, and opened the front door. “Everyone stay calm. Stay here. I’ll get the fire extinguisher.”
A few Sparks followed him into the hall, making the real Sparks think a terrible thought. He would probably have to sit in the boringest place on Earth forever, if they burned anything else down.
He saw two Sparks by the sink and said, “Throw some water on the fire.”
Immediately, the two Sparks grabbed bowls, filled them, and sloshed them over to the rug. They doused a patch of flames, but the fire grew toward the table. White smoke rolled across the room.
“More water,” Sparks yelled.
Everyone grabbed cups and bowls, filled them from the faucet, and hurled the water onto the fire. The Sparks that had followed his dad raced back to help.
An idea struck him, and he told another Sparks to grab the chill-out chair.
After another minute, the flames were extinguished, and the smoke detector blared.
Sparks said, “That was cool,” to everyone who had listened. He looked at the blackened floor. “But we should chill out, so we can go to the beach. Come back.”
All of the Sparks returned to him and jumped back inside.
His dad stormed through the door with a fire extinguisher. He blinked at Sparks, eyes still wide. He stuttered, “I just ran—weren’t there more—is it only you?” He pointed at the charred rug, seeing the chill-out chair partially burnt in the middle of it.
Sparks shrugged. “Someone must’ve had a fire under their butt.”
by Jon Sharp
I made a mistake. It seemed like such an innocent thing to do. But at its core, it was a deviation from the plan. I didn’t act instinctively like I normally do, and it all went wrong. It went quiet.
My mistake will live on, though I won’t. For the first time in a long time, I suddenly found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. And so, as I lie here expiring, I find myself wanting people to understand me. I want you to know who I really am and where I draw my power from.
I was a normal teenager until I started hearing the voice in my head. Makes me sound insane, right? I wondered that myself, the first time I heard the voice.
“Stop!” it had said to me. I was in the hallway between classes during my sophomore year in high school, jostling among my fellow students. I didn’t stop. Instead, I looked around to see who was talking to me.
That was when I fell flat on my face—sending my papers and books flying across the floor. I tried to look relaxed and in control as I picked myself up off the ground, with the teeming masses gathering round to laugh at my misfortune.
A wayward skateboard was the guilty party, sliding silently among the crowd. I didn’t stop as the voice directed. I fell.
The next time I heard that voice, I was walking along, looking at my phone, and starting to cross the street.
“Stop!” came the same energetic, enthusiastic voice in my head. This time, I stopped immediately. I stopped walking. I stopped looking at my phone. Just then, a moving truck ran a red light and barreled past me at full speed, missing me by a very slight 18 inches.
There were other incidents that followed, countless others. Too many to recount here. Over time, I learned that I always needed to act quickly, instinctively. I couldn’t stop to think about what the voice said. I just had to act. Usually, each directive was followed by another, and then another. And as I responded quickly and precisely, the commands came faster and faster.
At first, it felt like I was just doing normal things. But then I noticed I was moving faster, and with more strength than I ever could. Listening to the voice meant I was more than just a guy. It meant I could do superhuman things.
It may have started out humbly as a way to stop me from embarrassment, but the more I listened to that voice in my head, the more I was helping other people. I was saving the day! I was being a hero!
Then there was that hostage situation that became national news. No one had any idea how to safely get those people out of the Chinese embassy. The hours had stretched into more than a day. Then I heard the voice and I acted. The world watched as I neutralized the terrorists without the death of a single hostage.
Throughout all the press and attention I was getting, I never spoke of the voice. How could I? How could I explain the source of my strength, speed, and ingenuity without starting questions of my sanity? No one wants to hear their hero talking about voices in their head!
Which brings me to today. There I was, surrounded by gunmen. I was listening and acting. I was almost a blur as I followed each simple command.
“Turn! Jump up! Grab it! Push him! Kick it!”
Bullets had no chance against me. It didn’t matter how many people crowded round, trying to kill me. Every step was precise. Every action part of an intricate dance designed to protect the President’s motorcade. I felt invincible, perhaps more so than usual.
In the midst of this flurry of action, the tiniest thought crept into my head. Instead of shoving it out, I gave it room.
I was moving much faster than humanly possible. I was moving on pure instinct with each directive the voice gave me in my mind.
“Duck!” came the voice’s command.
I caught myself questioning it, Surely ducking wasn’t the thing. He’s going for my legs! I thought.
That hesitation silenced the voice. It cost me my life. There was a gunman behind the man. He crouched—not to take out my legs, but to get out of the way. The bullet speeding toward me didn’t speed through thin air as the voice would have designed. It hit its mark.
They shot me on this rooftop. They shot me and moved on with their job.
I can’t feel my legs and surely the President is in great danger now—if he isn’t already dead. If I call for help, no one will come.
I don’t know if the voice will come to someone else. I don’t know if it will find someone who will listen and obey—and by so doing, become something bigger, better, and more powerful than themselves. If it does, I hope they listen.
He hit send on the message and let the phone drop onto the rough surface of the roof. He was cold now, and weary. He closed his eyes to embrace the inevitable. In the stillness of that moment, he heard the same familiar voice, full of energy and enthusiasm.
“New high score!”