Amazon Expedition: A Trip to Sarayacu

This is a power-point that I made after returning from my trip to Ecuador. I spent two weeks there with time both in the city and enjoying the jungle in Sarayaku. The main focus of this experience was to study the damages caused by oil companies and how globalization is effecting indigenous peoples. This power-point presentation describes many of the environmental factors regarding the oil fields in the Amazon Rainforest.

Ecuador Environmental Science

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S13: Round Robin Story

The Round Robin Story is an assignment where each student must contribute at least 3 sentences in a row. Each person who has written has their name in parenthesis after their own additions.

Amy shuddered when she saw the clock. She knew she was late (GAINES). The captain had ordered her to be in his office at 3:00 and it was already 3:10. She left her room and turned down the main hall of the space transport. Soon she was running past the metallic windows, and into the control center. (Joel E.) “Amy, get off that computer and come help me in the garden.” Amy sighed as she snapped back to 2013. “That was kind of a boring sci-fi game anyway.” (Randall) After clicking the “save” button, she turned off her brother’s high-tech laptop. He always hated it when she used his computer without permission, but she honestly didn’t care what he thought. Amy stood up, stretching, and then opened the sliding door that lead out into the back yard (MOSER). Grabbing a hat to fend off the afternoon sun, she sauntered into the garden with a mischievous smile on her face. (Rawlings)

“Hey, so Zach, I was thinking…”

Her brother interrupted her, “Uh oh, what now? And hold this plant for me, will you?” He handed her a pot-shaped clod of dirt with a spindly-looking origami plant sticking out the top. (Hannah King) Reaching for the pot, Amy took it, but the pot in all it’s refined smoothness slipped from her hands. And before she was even able to respond, it shattered at her feet. Amy looked up at her shocked brother, “Sorry?” she apologized. (M’Kate Thomas)

Zach looked at the shattered pot and the flower still sticking out, then shrugged and bent down to pick it up as he said, “Hey, it’s okay, chill; I was going to replant it anyway. So what were you going to say?”

Then the cellphone in his pocket gave a series of whirring chirps, and he answered it, grew pale and looked over at a red van with dark windows parked across the street, then said urgently to Amy as he pulled his cherished handguns from behind a bush and strapped the holsters to his belt, “Amy, I need you to fill a suitcase with anything you absolutely need to travel and all the communication devices right away, grab the packed suitcases in my room and especially my computer, get in that red van–trust the people inside–, then call mom and dad and tell them I’ve had a work emergency and am taking you with me, and that they have to leave Hawaii in the government jet that is coming for them, they’ll know what that means; I’ll be here covering you until you get into the car.” (Hannah King …technically that was three sentences, btw…)

Shaking, Amy backed up a few steps, protesting, “What are you thinking, are you crazy?” She tripped and landed in the damp, black soil as her brother yelled in panic. “Just go!” (Randall)

He reached down and pulled her off the ground with such force that it hurt her, then practically shoved her inside, frantically calling, “Hurry!”

Amy randomly swept the contents of her closet into her biggest suitcase along with every electronic device she could remember that the family owned and snatched up her ever-packed purse, then ran back to Zach’s room to put his laptop in the suitcase and shoulder the three large duffle bags stacked by his bed. As she dashed outside quickly as the load–of which Zach immediately grabbed two of the duffle bags and the suitcase–would allow and rushed towards a focused, muscular-looking woman who had exited the car, she wondered what exactly was going on; and was it possible that Zach’s job as a music recording engineer in Virginia involved these kinds of incidents, or had she been plunged into something secret and dangerous that no one had been telling her up until now? (Hannah King)

The van’s door slammed, and Amy heard rubber squealing as they sped off. “Package on board–ETA seven minutes,” she heard a man’s voice say in the confused darkness. “Amy, I need you to wear this,” a stranger said, holding up a heavy-looking vest.(Rawlings) Amy stared up at the roof to try to keep her tears of confusion and worry from slipping out. She heaved the jacket on and zipped it up, but then asked the man in hesitation, “What is it for?”
“It’s a bullet proof vest.” Amy’s eyes widened in realization, but before she could reply the man hurriedly shoved her down onto the floor of the car and with a sudden crash (M’Kate Thomas) the van slid to a halt. From her spot on the floor Amy saw three soldiers grab their assault rifles, slide open the side door, and leap out. Only to find that a strategically placed roadblock had crumpled the front of their van. (Joel E.)

Amy pushed herself up into a curled sitting position on the floor, not wanting to sit up straight and be strong and tough all of a sudden, and craned her neck, almost to make sure Zach, the only person she thought she knew–but even that wasn’t certain anymore–had not vaporized or disappeared without explanation. Her brother hadn’t, but was busy looking through a small stack of papers with a concerned, furrowed look on his face.

“Zach,” Amy queried timidly, feeling as if she was asking a stupid question but needed the answer nonetheless, “What exactly is happening?” (Hannah King)

Just then one of the soldiers stuck his head back in, “The van’s not going anywhere; the radiator is busted and the battery is leaking.” (Joel E.)

A man to Amy’s right cursed under his breath. “Look’s like we’ll be continuing on foot.” (Williams)

Zach snapped out of his tense, focused silence, saying, “We can’t! Amy’s here; she’s not trained, she’s a civilian, a minor, a girl, my sister, and a long list of other things that automatically endanger her if she steps out of this van!”

The muscular woman shook her head with an air of having the situation completely under control and replied, “Listen, kid, with six agents and soldiers–including yourself–surrounding and protecting her the whole half mile to the place where our ‘copter is coming to pick us up, I think she’ll be fine; you just panic too much.” (Hannah King)

Uncertainly, Amy eased out of the vehicle, trying not to snag her clothes on the rusty wire and metal in the interior. “What should I do? Do you want me to . . . well, use a gun or something? I can learn,” she stammered. (Randall)

“I believe I can do anything if you just teach me,” she pleaded. “Give me a gun, or a bazooka and I can do some major damage. Yet I have a feeling that something futuristic will happen because . . . well I just know.” (Joel C) { since Perkins is next I know something futuristic will happen}

Unfortunately, the soldier never had a chance to respond, due to a flaming sphere of purple energy vaporizing her instantly. Amy turned and saw a young man approaching–he looked to be in his 20’s–carrying a silvery-bronze sword in his hand. His other hand crackled with dark energy, and he gazed at the group menacingly. (Perkins) What the heck just happened??

Through instinct trained by years of dodge ball, Amy dropped to the ground, gasping and sobbing in shock as the muscular woman wrapped her strong arms around Amy protectively. Zack’s focus seemed to awaken into action, because before the newcomer had time to move again, he pelted the man with bullets, continuing long after the man had dropped dead; and after all the rounds were spent, rushed to inspect the body.

Amy saw him stoop and pick up some object, then he straightened and said, voice shaking with what Amy guessed was grief over the loss of a life, “Amy, you wanted to know what was going on: this is it; there are these rebels–some of them escaped criminals, some geniuses, some quite likely insane–carrying around new, highly powerful electric technology and threatening to conquer the world; and with the tech they have, they very well can.” (Hannah King)

Suddenly, the man on the ground leaped into the air with a harsh, cold laugh; the purple energy in his hands blazed to life once again, and he spoke in a cruel tone, “Foolish mortals–you cannot fathom the power I have, so you ascribe it to technology; I shall enjoy watching you discover just how wrong you are.”

The man reached out with his hand, and his bronze sword flew back into his grasp, causing Amy to gasp a little; she noticed that his wounds had healed, and his skin glowed with a silvery sheen. He smiled at Amy and spoke in a chilling voice, “My dear, I suggest you run.” (Perkins — I’m trying to get us a villain here!)

The terror Amy had been attempting to conquer gripped her as she automatically turned to flee. She felt blinded by her panic. Despite her fear, she could not move her feet. (Fink)
Zach whispered to the muscular women still gripping Amy tightly, “This is not like the others; he posses something greater… something that we cannot stand and fight against right now.”
She turned slightly towards Zach, trying not to gain the attention of the dark figure before them, “You’re right,” she hissed back. After pausing for a moment, but before she could signal Zach and the other men for any sort of plan, the man possessing the powerful weapon twirled it into the air and then said with a laugh, “Any last words?” (J. Cerha)

Zach still held the object he had taken from the body. From the expression on his face when he realized that what might be the very same weapon was in his hand, Amy guessed his plan.

“Get down!” she shrieked to the people around her, and as the agents and remaining soldiers realized what was happening, Zach hurled what appeared to be a lightning bolt–but that it flashed black and purple and cobalt–from the weapon in the same moment that their apparently immortal enemy let loose the energy in his. (A rather annoyed Hannah King)
The young man shuddered and turned away, writhing in pain from the bolt. “You have courage, foolish courage, O insignificant ones who dare to oppose the terrorist army,” a sibilant voice half-sang in a high screech that ended in a laugh as he recovered. “I shall watch your lives with deep interest.” (Randall – try to keep it realistic?) (Oh, how I wish that were possible. And did he just let them go? ~Hannah) (I have no clue, you guys can decide. Randall)

Amy was still breathing hard, and she found herself quivering in the woman’s hold, but now that she realized that the young man had not killed them, she was able to begin thinking again.

Then she saw Zach lying on the ground, and knew that what had only hurt the immortal must have destroyed her brother; a whimpering wail came from somewhere inside her and the woman tried to comfort her as Amy stared at the body that almost looked as if was still alive and moving slightly. As she watched, Amy realized that it was moving, that a vein of the dark purple light seemed to run through it, and that the ashen pallor of death seemed to be erased, and that suddenly–with a deep, full breath–her brother rose from the ground and, after blinking a few times and collecting himself, turned with a threatening smile toward their enemy and positioned himself in front of the group like a protective lion. (Hannah King)

Then gas leaking from the fuel tank caused the to van explode in an earth-shaking blast. Zach turned towards the fireball and used his new powers to throw up a shield around his sister and the remaining agents. (Joel E.)

All around her debris crashed and fire roared, but none of it came close to Amy. It was stopped by an invisible force, one that Zach had created. (Haaay guys we may want to start explaining things–Sarah J)
The shield lowered as reinforcements that had been called in arrived. A large man in black, picked Amy up, and asked, “This is her?” a troop member confirmed his theory, and then said, “Amy, come with me, there’s a few things we need to explain to you.” Amy followed the man down into a field just a fourth of a mile from the location. Trying not to sob, she ran quickly after him, as his walking strides far out did hers. Entering into an airfield in the middle of no where, she was scanned through a security gate, climbed up a ladder, and lowered into the cockpit of a F-16. (M’Kate…Sorry, I over wrote just a bit, but I wanted to move the story on. Am I forgiven?)

Three hours later Amy sat in a conference room centered in a secure base in a part of the world she didn’t recognize. The officer sitting in front of her smiled. “I know all this is overwhelming Amy, and you probably won’t believe me, but the fact is you are special, and your safety is more important than that of our entire world.” (Rawlings. @M’Kate, yes. It’s better than 30-word sentences 😛 Can we slip in some description/emotion, guys?) (I agree, but it’s hard when all you have is three sentences. And was the 30-word thing directed at me? ~Hannah)

Her heart thudded unevenly as her stomach flipped. “This isn’t a big practical joke, right?”

The officer shook his neatly-groomed head regretfully, remarking “No, although that would be a blessing – by the way, my name is Captain Cleo.” (Randall)

“But–but, what? Why? How can one person be more important than the whole world? And what was going on back there?”

Captain Cleo leaned back in his chair, not showing any emotion, but neither looking stoic–merely calm, steady, and level-headed; it was soothing to Amy’s frazzled and exhausted nerves. “Your brother’s good. He promised not to tell you anything. But then again, he’s also been kicked around by the government on different projects for several years without ever get a chance to tell you. Don’t tell anyone I said that the government kicks people around. Not like it’s a secret, but it’s not in keeping with CIA-style loyalty.” (Hannah King — I vote quotations count as only one sentence.)(Hannah, I’m pretty sure we’re not allowed to vote on stuff like that, the assignment clearly states three sentences.)(I agree, making it longer than three sentences gives way too much power for plot twists etc to one person) (Icch =P ~Hannah)

“The…the government can really do that?” Amy asked in amazement. Cleo nodded, but Amy noticed something off about the Captain’s face. It shifted and warped, as if it was made of wax, the whole conference room was spinning as Amy sank to her knees. (Williams)

Jesus wept.

Amy’s world faded to black, and when she finally opened her heavy eyelids, she was blinded by a white light shining in her eyes. Sitting up with a jolt, she yelped as something tugged painfully in her arm–an IV. (Sarah J)

“Ah Amy, good to see you’re awake,” a cheerful blonde nurse said from her bedside.

“What happened to Captain Cleo and Zach?”

The nurses eyebrows wrinkled in confusion, “Amy, you’ve been in a coma for three months, who is Captain Cleo?” (Williams)

“I was just talking with the Captain a few minutes ago in the conference room, where did the three months come from?!

The nurse gave a look of concern and spoke into a communication device, “Laura, Amy’s awake, and apparently had an unconfirmed conference with someone she’s calling Captain Cleo just before she lost consciousness–Amy, honey, don’t move.

Within a few moments, Laura–the muscular agent from that first day–thrust the door open and strode in with Zach following as Laura demanded with an oath, “Amy, tell me everything about it: how did he look, were you in the conference room, what did he do, and what did he say?” (Hannah King)

Amy felt confusion course through her, why was the muscular woman in a doctor’s uniform? Zach knelt beside her bed, “Amy, the doc says that the man who pushed you, the one who kidnapped you, he may have been incorporated into your dream. But I need you to realize, everything you experienced wasn’t real–it was your mind’s way of dealing with what happened.” (Sarah J)

“So…so none of it was real then?” Amy asked with disbelief.

“Yes Amy,” Zach confirmed, “none of it was real.” (Williams)

“Amy, did you dream about us? The man who kidnapped you was a thief, you were the only witness to his crime…if you dreamed about us, you need to say everything that happened, it could be the key to solving the case,” Zach said gently. (Sarah J)

“Crime? What crime?” Amy asked, her voice trembling slightly.

Zach looked at Amy with a tender expression on his face, “It was murder.” (Williams)

Amy held her head in her hands, trying to think through the dream–it seemed more and more ridiculous as she looked back on it.

“That must be why Cleo said I was important, I’m the only one who can solve the case…Yes, Zach, I think my memories of the crime are locked inside the dream!” (Sarah J)

“Tell me,” Amy continued, confidence growing as she shook off the silly dream, “how’d I end up in the coma?”

Zach took a deep breath, “You were walking back to your apartment after class when a man, who we now know is Cleo, brutally murdered a woman. We don’t know the details but you received a blow to the head and I happened to walk by as he was loading you into his van, it’s probably the only reason you’re still alive.” (Williams)


“A van… He said something about the CIA and the government…. Laura was a CIA agent, and so were you… Zach, I know I’m a bit off right now, but…?”

Zach looked up at Laura, and she rolled her eyes in the characteristic middle-aged female boss style, saying, “Amy was going to find out anyway, considering how sloppy you are in covering your tracks.”

Amy continued, “There was a younger, crazy, immortal dude in the dream, and he had some weird, purple-lightning weapon that made Zach also immortal–” Zach made a face but Amy kept speaking, “–but I don’t remember that anyone died at a– wait! he killed a lady soldier with it, too!” (Hannah King)

Even as she said this, a shudder ran through her body–voices speaking in her mind, saying, Do you think she bought the story?

I don’t know but she can’t face reality right now; there’s only so much we can do to deceive her though.

Shhhh–she can hear us right now! (Perkins — This story is going to have my supernatural laser-firing sword-weilding reality-shatering plot if it’s the last thing I do…)

Amy jerked awake in her own bed at night from the nightmare that been plaguing her lately, even weeks after leaving the hospital. She knew she had gone through trauma–what with seeing murder, being kidnapped, being knocked out, being in a coma for a whole three months, dreaming in sci-fi the whole time–, and Laura, doctor-by-day-CIA-agent-by-night, had warned her that with trauma often came bad dreams and day-time flashbacks; and that, no matter how real they seemed, looked, or felt, she would always wake up to the real world. As hard as it was for Amy, she also knew that it was far harder for Zach: she had learned after that day in the hospital the murdered woman and the solider killed in her dream, Jessica MacKaerning?,* had been Zach’s fellow agent, best friend, and–as of the day of her murder–fiancé; and in his crazed grief, his one thought and every obsession was avenging her. (Hannah King — @Caleb: HAH! I won! Now whatever you throw in, we can always blame it on a post-traumatic dream or flashback. And also, the shard of shattered romance was to sooth your wounds. =)…. *Why is it doing that?!)

Amy shook her head, thinking furiously to herself, no–that’s wrong; this isn’t real either, I’m trapped inside a dream world. It’s a furious cycle, like a prison or something where I keep “waking up” to yet another dream. I have to find a way out of this imaginary world! (Perkins — you want to play with dreams? Done. Just call me Morpheus.)

She gripped the sheets in white-knuckled, sweaty fists and took a breath to help her clear her mind enough to reason. Okay, the only time a dreaming person knows she’s dreaming is during lucid dream, in which case the person can always either command the dream or command wake; so if I’m dreaming, either I’ll fly out the window or wake up–and neither is happening, so I must be awake. She breathed with relief and got up, walking to her desk to write in the open notebook Zach made her keep for all her memories of the case; inside where fantastical descriptions, bulleted facts, sketches of faces that Amy now reviewed, but all she could think of was the unidentified immortal who had killed Jessica in the dream, and Amy wondered if that was the key to the whole murder. (Hannah King; @Caleb, err… Morpheus: sure, so long as the sci-fi can be swept into unreality where it belongs. And you can’t argue the lucid dreaming thing. It’s scientific fact.) Amy started to nod off back to sleep again when she was awakened by a sound at her window. Confused she tried to turn her head to see what was going on. The window had been opened from the outside, and the thought to be dead Jessica MacKaerning?, was climbing through it and entering the hospital room. (M’Kate)

Slowly, the image of Jessica MacKaerning? began to transform into that of a fully-armored cybernetic penguin wielding a cavalry sword and a rocket launcher. The penguin waved at her and began speaking in what Amy thought sounded like Polish. Awake–yeah right–awake my FOOT! (Perkins — This is war.)

Amy wrestled her mind awake, and found herself back in her own room at home, panting and breathing hard. I need something to keep me wake… like coffee… energy drink… Monster… yeah…

She stood up and softly crept her way into the kitchen, pulled the drink from the fridge and opened it, then padded her way back to her silent room; but it wasn’t silent, for, as she had thought she saw just before she dreamed the penguin (and where that came from, she had no idea), there was Jessica, with finger pressed urgently against her lips–her expression drawn and pleading–and, even in her surprise, Amy knew beyond doubt that she was very much awake, and this was very much reality. (Hannah King — Challenge accepted, Caleb. And does anyone else think that our student rivalry is way better and more amusing than the actual story?)

As if on cue, a lizard barbarian riding a jet-ski crashed through the wall of her room, embedding his vehicle in her bed and cursing in latin. The penguin Amy had seen previously had been riding with the barbarian and presently slapped him with its sword, still speaking in polish. Though there was no apparent sign that the two could understand one another, both of them seemed to be bothered by the perpetual apparition known as Jessica, prompting the penguin to fire his rocket launcher at the specter; this caused everyone in the room except the barbarian to lose their eyebrows–because the barbarian had no eyebrows, being a lizard. (Perkins — *turns to Charlie* Write about us.)

Amy grabbed her hair and screamed at the top of her lounges. She fell backwards into the sofa and slipped back into reality. Jessica ran over her to her, “What happened?” (Joel E, @Caleb, stop fighting this. You can play with the romance, but stop this war.)

Amy turned to look at Jessica, unsure of whether or not she was real; shrugging, she muttered in a toneless voice, “The nightmares…the visions…its all returning, again–this time it’s stronger–it’s like someone out there is in my head, trying to turn me insane.”

Jessica stared hard at her lifelong friend, before asking, “I need you to fight this Amy; let’s start with something simple–do you remember who I am?”

When Amy shook her head, Jessica answered her own question, saying, “My name is Jessica; I’m your semper sorores–your forever sister, your fellow warrior, and I’m here to help you through this–we’re going to get through this, ok?” (Perkins — hey dude Hannah started it. I had a nice pretty plot going on and then she went all freaky-dream-sequence on me and ruined it..again…and…again. So thus the insanity. And *bam* I just gave you guys platonic romance.)

“Okay,” Amy replied, now regaining her personality again, “That’s just a little weird.”

Jessica smiled and pulled her dark brown hair out of her face, saying, “Well, alright, it’s not quite just like that; I’m your forever sister since being engaged to your brother almost four months ago. By the way, is he staying with you and your parents for now, or did he get dragged back to the Agency?” (Hannah King — @Joel: thank you. @Caleb: *ahem* I did not start anything. I just ended a plotline you wanted, and you threw a literary tantrum.)

Amy frowned, grumbling, “I don’t know. Right now I’m not sure about anything; I’ve been through penguins, immortals, and telepathic doctors… I’m pretty sure I’m hungry though–got anything to eat?” (Rawlings. I’ve been laughing so hard. We should probably start wrapping this up.)

Jessica grabbed her by the arm and led her into the kitchen. Not unwillingly, Amy sat down at the dinner table, staring curiously at her new friend.

“I’ve heard Zach say that you’re into baking cookies,” Jessica started a little small talk while she pulled various ingredients out of the refrigerator. (Leah)

Things were finally starting to get back to normal when Amy heard a small pop in the distance–just before Jessica collapsed to the ground, dead. A sniper, Amy thought, though she wasn’t sure how she knew that; following her instincts, she thrust her arm in the direction of the noise and felt something slide down her arm like grease before flying off her fingertips–a bolt of lightning. The lightning fired in the direction of the sniper and Amy could hear a man screaming in agony in the distance. (Perkins — I will not go quietly into that good night. I WILL NOT BE A PART OF A COOKIE-BAKING STORY. Unless those are like, poison/superpower-giving cookies.)

Amy’s body moved, seemingly without her willing it too; she knelt down by the lifeless form of Jessica and placed her hand on the bullet wound. The projectile floated back out of her body, flesh healing behind it. Jessica’s eyes flashed open and she sat up unsteadily. (Joel E, I decided to help Caleb. His version of this mess is a lot more fun!)

“Amy, Amy, what’s wrong?” came a foggy, swirling voice, and Amy shuddered out of the waking dream to find a perfectly normal, mortal Jessica peering into her eyes with deep concern, holding a can of coffee that apparently had made the pop noise when she opened it.

Then suddenly, through an open window came a real gunshot, and as both girls immediately dropped to the ground, Amy saw a spurt of blood coming from an ugly gash on Jessica’s upper arm.

“Okay, scratch the cookies–right now,” gasped Jessica as if she were trying to lighten the situation for Amy’s sake, “we need to get out of here…Zach!” she called to Amy’s brother who had rushed from his room into the kitchen with a raging expression on his face as he tried to pinpoint the gunman’s position outside the sliding glass door and a ready assault rifle in his grip to finish him off when he found him. (Hannah King — @Caleb: firstly, baking is an easy thing to move away from in a story without employing sci-fi and immortals again; using a simple, realistic, action-packed gunfight of our world will more than take care of it. Secondly, do you not remember that we have the power to turn all your sci-fi into a post-traumatic mind trick?) Another bullet barely missed Zach before he ducked down next to Amy.

“Get in the car!” he yelled, “I’ll lay down cover fire!” (Joel E.) Gunshots rattled through the house as Amy and Jessica ducked toward the garage. They jumped in Zach’s heavily-armored covert SUV, watching the garage door open with painful slowness. As Zach turned the key and stepped on the gas, a massive orange fireball engulfed the vehicle, but a moment later they escaped the ruins of the house. (Rawlings. Ok, Caleb, time for a Latin-spewing lizard hallucination ;)) (Lol… ~Hannah)

Jessica leaned back in the passenger seat as the car rapidly bumped down the gravel country and closed her eyes with a serious sigh, “I’ll never get used to that kind of thing. Thank God there were no people in there!”

Amy, curled up in the back seat and clutching her head so tightly that her fingernails dug into her scalp, found herself teetering on the edge of reality again, and she struggled to reason it away: true, her parents were at a conference in the city, but then why were they sitting in the car next to her, laughing and discussing the relevance of microbiology? (Hannah King — Okay, guys, we only have until tomorrow morning to bring this wacky adventure to a sentence that could possibly pass as an ending =)…)

“Dear? Look, this is a medicine I picked up from the hospital today, Amy. It should help you,” stammered her mom anxiously. (Randall)

“Mother, am I crazy?” asked Amy, her fingers tangled in her matted, sweaty hair.

“Well…” stammered her mother, mind flitting back to the days or weeks of screaming dreams that bordered on hallucinations, absentmindedly tapping the bottle of prescription medication against her palm, “No dear. You’re not crazy. But seriously, take the meds. The doctor said there’s enough sedatives in there to drop a cow for a week.” (J. Carrick – I remembered that we were counting quotes as one sentence. Sorry if I’m wrong there.) (No prob. It most likely isn’t going to have anything to do with a grade, so we have room to go with “context of the law” rather than letter of the law. And you are overwriting for smoothness and stylistic purposes, with I personally would give you extra points for, so =)… ~Hannah)

Amy put her face in her hands and tried to shake off the sticky feeling of abnormality as she commented wryly, “So I’m a cow now… that’s… pleasant.”

Amy’s mother tapped the rattling bottle gently against Amy’s bent head, “Take them: I know everything that’s happened has been very hard, and you’ve been bumped around to the point of almost brain-damage, but, for your own happiness and for my peace of mind, you need to be able to move away from it all, sweetie. Here,” she placed two pills next to a glass of water on the table, “take these and then go get showered and dressed–we have only about three hours left until the wedding, and I don’t want to see you on the stage screaming that Zach and Jessica have turned into giant purple squids in medieval garb.”

Amy swallow the pills and rose grinning, “Mom, the image that conjures up is deeply amusing… okay, got it, going.” (Hannah King — Phew, the wind-down!)

There was a twinge of regret in Amy’s mind as the sedatives started to kick in; being insane was a high like no other–due to a sense of intense focus and clarity. “I will miss the madness,” she whispered silently to herself, “and the chaotic mental inferno that burned brightly within my mind. Who wouldn’t miss a world where anything is possible? Even now, I can only hope that I am seeing reality. There is one thing I do know–and that’s Zach’s love for Jessica. I will see them happily married if it’s the last thing I do.” With this thought, Amy fell into slumber. (Perkins — ok people let’s cut to the wedding and end it with a hallucination–like a comedy or something. =P )

It seemed suddenly that she had awoken from a deep sleep, or time-traveled a few days into the future. But there she stood, underneath the flowers and silk around a marvelously decorated balcony. Clothed in a pink satin dress, Amy looked up to see Zach look into Jessica’s eyes and say the words, “I do.” (Leah)

Like clockwork, at the worst possible moment, her old friends Lizard and Penguin showed up, shuffling in the back door with grins on their faces. A righteous fury boiled up inside Amy, but she bit her tongue, furiously thinking, Not today–NOT IF I CAN HELP IT. Reaching out with her hand, she sent an invisible wave of power at them, instantly killing the two of them–again; no one else noticed the specters besides Amy. (Perkins — hey guys I think we can actually work this out…) Turning away, she caught her breath when she recognized the young immortal man from her dreams, sitting in the front row of the audience. She tensed, waiting for him to begin his attack. But he only glanced at her lazily, and gave her a knowing wink. (Rawlings. You guys can boycott this, but I’m happy to end it there.)

Is he really there? Amy wondered in her head, Could it be possible? She rose from her seat–following his lead–and met him in the middle of the aisle. On an impulse, she kissed him, her long-lost lover, and desperately prayed that she wasn’t kissing a phantom. (Perkins — oh yes. totally going to ship em. THANKS LUKE)

I’m not supposed to be doing this… Mom said something or other about making a scene… Oh for crying out loud, what’s the fun of being insane if you don’t make a scene? Hey, that’s it: I’m crazy, no matter what anyone says! And I love it, and as long as I accept the fact that I live both in a real world and in a dream world made up of the fantasy and magic I used to wish was real, EVERTHING WILL BE GREAT.
And so looking back on the past several,well, Amy didn’t know how long she had been like this, everything from the past was so confusing and blurry to her now. Living in and out or reality. But Amy no longer wanted to focus on the past, but on the future for she knew there were great things ahead of her. And so she continued to look ahead, but with one last reminisce on the past, she made one conclusion. She would never play around with her brother’s high tech laptop, EVER AGAIN. (M’Kate)

THE END. (Hannah King

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NP12: Epilogue

This is a tale of Mara and Samson’s future together, a follow-up chapter to Mara’s Adventures.

Mara sat by the window seat, holding the pen and paper firmly within her hands. She stared out at the beautiful, sparling sea on the other side of the window with a newfound appreciation and love.

It was two years after her ocean adventure, and her life had changed drastically since that day. Her mother had had the kindness to work on a new agenda for her schedule, and to Mara’s immense pleasure, her dance and piano lessons had taken a step back. The source of contentment she had found in the small things, simply savoring her life at home, had created a new meaning to what happiness meant for her. Luckily, her mother had been fine with brainstorming to create a better environment that suited Mara’s personality.

At the funeral of her brother, Nathan, who was killed in the battle at sea, Mrs. Branson and her teary-eyed daughter found a way to cope—by engaging with each other. Their relationship had grown closer and closer since that day and eventually blossomed to where a new atmosphere of affection formed in the Branson home.

But she hadn’t gone off the hook completely. Mara had been grounded for the entire summer, locked inside the property, and prohibited from seeing anyone outside of the family. She was allowed to write letters, however, and soon discovered that the process brought her immense pleasure.

While she was stuck in the mansion by the sea, she was forced to think about the future and discover what was in store for her academically. After doing an enormous amount of reading in a variety of subjects, she decided that history was her place. Mara became more and more passionate about the stories of fiery individuals who didn’t have a chance, but rather possessed the courage to press on, changing the world and how it worked. She’d decided to pursue history, dreaming of becoming a woman teacher, despite the fact that it was such a rarity in her day.

But if anyone was determined enough to defy society’s odds, it was Mara Branson.

Now, a smile flittered across her lips at the thought of Samson, who was attending college to become a businessman. Even though he was far away, he was still close to her heart. They had been engaged for three months now, and she looked forward to the day where he would come home for the summer with a passionate longing that only true love could produce.

Soon they would be married, and Samson would take charge of the mansion, to Mrs. Branson’s delight. She had grown to love the boy, and it seemed that Samson had grown to fill Nathan’s place.

She honored him as though he were her own son.

Mara grew into a stunning and feminine young lady, still keeping that unbridled frame of mind which Samson had absolutely fallen in love with. She pursued a career as a school teacher, eventually instructing the Shetland Island youngsters in a marvelous historical education. Samson opened up shop in the downtown area, running his business like a lively and socially successful entrepreneur. Together, they would have children on the island where she grew up, and raise them in a tender, peaceful home.

And the children would possess that same spark and light which their parents both captured, that spark that caused them to fall in love after Mara had become lost at sea so many years earlier—but this time, she was absolutely and completely free.

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S11: Ten Novels

This week’s Sandbox assignment was to write the opening and closing lines for ten different novels.

I would have to say by far that The Golden Filly is my favorite book. I love the story of a girl who’s just like me, daring and determined, mixed in with life’s struggles. The way that Lauraine Snelling describes Tricia’s emotional battles and how she reacts to the world around her is incredibly real to me, and I am very passionate about it.

The opening and closing lines to some of my favorite novels are listed below in my own words. Some of these books are stories that I have read again and again, such as The Horse and His Boy, which I have read a total of seven times.

Each book, however, is near and dear to my mind.

1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery Opening: The freckle-faced, red-haired Anne stood quietly on a train platform, pondering every piece of her life—what she knew and what she didn’t—absolutely absorbed in her surroundings. Closing: With Gilbert beside her, she now looked out over the ocean and their beautiful home, thinking about their children with a proud, content smile on her face.

2. The Golden Filly by Lauraine Snelling Opening: Tricia glanced over the panorama of track before her, thinking about her father and the news their family had just received. Closing: Grabbing her horse’s mane, Tricia galloped past the finish line with tears rolling down her cheeks—but this time, they were not happy tears.

3.  Her Father’s Daughter by Gene Stratton-Porter Opening: Linda’s eyes flashed with anger, but her resentment towards Elaine seemed to take a step back; rather, her enemy’s academic excellence enraged her mind: she was her father’s daughter. Closing: The Bear Cat rolled through Lilac Valley, as Linda thought of their glorious victory, her new romance, and the family and home that had been finally resolved.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Opening: Jane sat among the curtains and pillows of her secret hideaway, having finally escaped the wrath of her relatives. Closing: After all those years, she finally sank into his kiss, embracing his hand firmly—she had reached that place of peace and happiness that she had longed for so badly.

5. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Opening: Sitting around the table, the family fantasized of a new hope, new jobs, a new home, and the beauty in California that was talked about by so many. Closing: Contentment couldn’t be found in a dream, in a far away hope; the hard times were there, and the family simply had to stay close.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird: Opening: Scout strolled through the neighborhood, admiring the world around her. Closing: A drop of perspiration dripped off Atticus’ face, but it wasn’t sweat because of a sudden strain—it was a glorious sweat, raining down with its triumphant droplets.

7. Tom Sawyer: Opening: “Crack!” a baseball sailed through the living room window, followed by the scattering of feet on the street outside. Closing: And Tom embraced his past, the woods and land where he used to play pirates and Indians, with an entirely new perspective: the perspective of maturity.

8. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck Opening: In a small fishing town where the docks creak and the people sleep soundly, Lee Chong the friendly grocer worked diligently to keep the place running. Closing: Despite their outward appearances and redneck fields of work, the people of Cannery Row possessed a deeper meaning to life—one that is understood by few today.

9. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis Opening: Shasta leaned on the picket fence, looking off into the western part of his country, the gears of his curious mind churning with the urge to visit such a far-away destination. Closing: Riding off into the sunset with his newfound father, the once scrawny boy reflected on the past months, realizing and entirely different meaning for his life, a meaning that he had failed to understand before was now perfectly clear.

10. Man of The Family by Ralph Moody Opening: Sheriff McGrath watched the Moody family tilling up their garden soil before planting row after row of vegetables in an effort to save every penny that they could. Closing: Ralph leaned against the barn doors, thinking of how well his family had overcome the recent struggles of poverty; this time, he was dreaming of a bright and life-filled future.  

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NP11-Mara’s Adventures: Chapter Nine

In the final chapter of Mara’s Adventures, Mara returns home, but things are a lot different now. She experiences life in the Shetland Islands for what it is, and starts realizing things about herself—and her family life—which bring her joy and contentment.

Mara leaned on the railing, looking out over a deep blue sea of crystal-like water, the sun’s glorious rays dancing beautifully across its vast expanse.

It was like a whole new day.

A smile lit up her face as Samson, the sailor who had rescued her from the deserted island, now approached her with a look of gladness about his lips. Gently, he strolled over to her and placed an arm around her shoulder.

They had grown closer over the previous few days, and not just as friends. When Mara looked into his eyes, she saw the same spark that kept her own fire burning. He had the same adventurous attitude that she did, the passion for life that wanted to bust right out of their hearts.

They were falling deeper and deeper in love.

He was the first person who had heard Mara’s entire inner story, and knew the reasons for why she’d fled. But he didn’t just hear and comprehend her rebellious streak; he understood it because he had experienced a similar trial in his life. Each emotional detail that Mara had been through and overcome in the previous months came out in a flood, and Samson had been there to comfort and soothe that ache.

She still looked forward to returning home. They were scheduled to reach the same port where she had executed the original escape in two days. When Mara thought about home and all the things she could do with her newly freed spirit, joy abounded in her mind. She had learned so much about herself, and it was time to live out the life she wanted to live, with the people that she loved dearly.

Morning arose with a new feeling of anticipation within Mara. She wanted nothing more than to land on the beautiful coast of her home, to embrace her family again. But the nervousness set it, and she began to wonder what they thought of her. Did her mother still love her, or even know that she was alive? Or was what Mara had done completely unforgiveable?

Nevertheless, she thought, I’m going.

The days flew by despite her nervous anticipation. It felt like only a few moments later when the ship sailed onto Shetland Island. Hand-in hand, the new couple headed off onto the island, strolling through the small seaside town. They walked through the woods and trees, their exciting chatter eventually fading off into pensive silence.

As Mara saw her home through the trees, the ocean stretching out before it, tears came to her eyes. She’d really missed this place, and seeing it again touched that tender spot in her soul.

“I’ll stay here for now. Go ahead and make your entrance, I will meet up with you in a bit,” Samson said, releasing her hand. She walked away, then began running down the gravel path.

Nearing the property, she could see her mother bent over, working in the garden, looking tired and weary. As she stood up, she blinked firmly when she saw her daughter, thinking that it was just her imagination playing tricks on her, that it couldn’t really be real.

But Mara came closer and closer still. Her hair cascaded down her back, and the clothes she wore highlighted a new, womanly figure. The shape of her face had changed a little bit, and rather than wearing the rebellious expression on her face, a grin stretched from ear to ear, revealing a smile of gorgeous, white teeth.

Throwing away all hope of ladylike attitude, Mara’s mother threw her garden shovel on the ground and fled running towards her daughter. Crying joyfully, they embraced energetically, soaking up the moment. Her mother didn’t seem to care about where she had been, or the fact that what she had done was horribly wrong. She was merely a mom trying to make sure that her baby girl was completely safe and all in one piece.

“Mom…” Mara said, still clinging on for dear life.

“Yes, my darling,” her mother replied.

“I love you.”

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S10: Music, Movies, and a Dream

This Sandbox assignment involved capturing Mara’s likes and dislikes in terms of music and movies, as well as finding a song, just in the case her adventures are ever documented in the form of a movie.

The first change which must occur in order to complete this list is to note the fact that Mara lived a few centuries ago, long before the birth of modern technology. Thus, with the assumption that she has time traveled into the twenty-first century, I presume to match her personality traits to their corresponding tastes in music, books, and television.

However, before I proceed, an important proposal must make its way onto the table. If Mara’s Adventures was ever to become a film, it would need a song, of course. “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls would have to be the perfect song to serve this purpose. The lyrics of this ballad fit wonderfully with the dynamics of Mara’s emotions, the way she gets so lost, and the hurt she experiences as a result of her father’s death.

Now for the interesting part, the portion of this brief passage which stands as its purpose: a list of Mara’s personal preferences regarding modern-day pleasures. I found that compiling this list was quite an interesting process, as the main character of my novella seems to reflect certain elements of a version of myself. The unveiling of my fictional character has uncovered these traits, expressed them, and left them on this very page for the reader to explore.

1. The best must go first! Mara’s taste in books is rather classical, but not romantic. Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and any other mystery lights the fire within her, drawing her in close and rushing her away from reality, into a whole different world of fascination. Additionally, she occasionally subjects herself to a more heart-warming preference, such as Anne of Green Gables or Little Women.

2. Musically, she has little interest. Much better at escaping through novels, or better yet, her own mind, plugging ear buds in brings her little satisfaction. But, if the need arises, a bit of rock suits her rebellious spirit quite well.

3. TV attracts Mara in a similar way that novels do. However, long series that never quite come to an end run her patience down. Reality shows evoke boredom, as fictional dramas. Mara is much more interested in movies, but mot comedies or romantic flicks. Like her taste in books, she prefers a good plotline, or anything involving combat. To be more specific, she is prefers mystery, suspense, or anything

with a catchy storyline and a lot of action.

Mara’s time for these things is limited, however, because she is so passionate about being outside and running about the hills of the Shetlands, visiting every crack and crevice that sparks her interest. But when her long legs grow wary of exploration, mysteries, rock n’ roll, and thrillers fill her need to sit down and become absorbed in an entirely different world.

That is, for the the Mara who time traveled to our century, however.

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NP10: Mara’s Adventures-Chapter Eight

Still desperate and lonely, time passes on the island. Finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as one day, Mara sees a boat off in the distance and at last escapes the deserted place.

Panting harshly, she climbed up the steep incline. Mara’s strength was emptying out and she was terribly hungry. Several feet above her was a plateau with trees and what looked like grass, and she was hoping desperately that some source of food would be up there.

The previous day had passed quite rapidly. Mara hadn’t done much but hide out under the shelter of branches and leaves she had put together. The breakthrough she experienced during the storm a few days ago left her emotions lifted, but her mind exhausted. Paired with the girl’s worn body, beaten and battered by the ocean, she hardly had enough energy to survive, even after sleeping for an entire day.

Stopping to catch her breath for a few moments, she wondered if it was actually worth going forward. Her entire body throbbed with weakness, but her growling stomach made her push on. Heaving herself up to the top of the next rock, she finally reached her destination. Scrambling to her feet, she looked around, catching a glimpse of several fruit trees, but no sign of anything breathing, except some little birds that were picking berries off of the ground.

She grabbed a few pieces of fruit and sat down beneath a shady tree, looking out at the wide stretch of ocean before her. Munching on some sweet, juicy sustenance which somewhat resembled an apple, she began thinking about home, but with an entirely different attitude. Excitement filled her heart at the vision of seeing her family, visiting her old friends again, and being free to roam the island with a home to come back to. Even her dreaded lessons didn’t seem so bad anymore.

Not even knowing it, a smile lit up her face while she imagined the happiness she could have once more. In her head, she hugged her mother, stood on her bedroom’s balcony overlooking the ocean, and laughing playfully with the kitchen’s cook.

At that moment, Mara’s gaze returned back to the sea before her. This time, something caught her eye. No, I’m just imagining things, I’m too tired for it to be real. Digging into her apple, she promptly discarded what she saw. Then she looked up again. This time, she knew it wasn’t her imagination.

A full ship, sails unfurled, rode the wind and waves. It had come close enough that Mara could tell it was pointed in the direction of the island. Completely forgetting about her exhaustion, she tossed the fruit aside and began running back down the way she had come up. Racing through the trees, roots and rocks scraping the bared skin on her legs, the ecstatic girl sped through the island with all her might.

Reaching the beach, she ran all the way to the waters edge, flailing her arms wildly, as though she were crazy. Mara refused to stop until she could see a man on the ship waving back. Then, she began shouting and jumping up and down. Hugging herself and grinning like a child at an ice cream stand, happy tears began rolling down her cheeks.

She was absolutely overjoyed.

Maybe they can get me home! She thought as the ship hit the sand and one of its passengers greeted her. Tossing down a rope, the sailor hauled her onto the ship, glancing at her worn appearance with a worried expression.

“Hi, my name is Mara. It’s great to meet you. I can’t thank you enough for welcoming me onto your ship.” The sailor’s eyebrows showed his curiosity, even though he tried to hide his shocked reaction to how worn, thin, and seemingly dilapidated the girl was. He couldn’t help but wonder what on earth she was doing on an island that desolate, or how she even got there.

“Welcome aboard, Mara. We’re glad to have you here. Now let’s see if we can get you some fresh clothes and warm food.”


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