March Writing Challenge: Honorable Mentions — Ann Carlson, Maddie McNamee, Alex Webb, and Mary Garret

These entries from March's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed  this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "March Writing Challenge."

Ann Carlson
14
Australia

Thief

Quietly and slowly, that’s how she had to walk. Vaulting over the counter, the landing had to be smooth and calculated; it was. She moved from pillar to pillar. The cameras never had sight of her. The motion detectors never knew she was there. A professional, hand selected and crafted by the best to do the hardest of tasks. That was her description in the Police database. There was no photo to go with the description; that’s why she was of so much value to her employers.

She did it. She had it.

She dashed out of the store in silence. Though she knew that the silent alarm was as loud as could be, there was nothing she could do about that. She knew that they were coming, the police, the good guys. They all wanted to capture her, for she had stolen something she shouldn’t have. But it wasn’t like she wanted to. The millions of dollars worth art piece under her arm, that frankly hurt to run with, had no value to her. It was wanted by her suppliers. What can she say? When you’re bad at math, English, boring day jobs, as well as communicating with people, what other option do you have? She’s not proud of herself, but there is a certain rush from defying the law that’s become an addiction.

Turn after turn, never a straight line between her and the good guys. After a few minutes, she had lost them, their sirens went in the wrong direction, following a false lead. She placed the painting carefully on the wall of the alley she was in. She stood in silence as she caught her breath. Now where was she supposed to deliver the painting to?

She was forgetful, probably her weakness, her only one of course. She began to pace back and forth, her memories replaying themselves. She hoped the address would present itself to her. But nothing. It was absolutely gone. She had just stolen a very expensive painting, worth more than half the population’s lives, yet she had no one to give it to. She could sell it, get the money, and live in an isolated cabin stationed at the top of Canada. But what she didn’t forget was the power of the man who asked her to steal it. If she did that, she’d most likely end up dead.

“I knew I’d find you here.” It was Preston, her childhood friend. He was a hacker and worked for the government, undercover of course; he really worked for the agency, the same one that she did. The shadow that the alley created shielded his face, but she knew it was him.

“Yup, I always seem to end up here when I’ve forgotten something,” she joked.

“What would you do without me?” He smiled, tilting his head to the side as he did so. The smile could get anyone fixated, everyone but her. Other than being forgetful, she was also oblivious, oblivious of his feelings and his flirts.

“Probably be executed for not doing my job.”

Preston grabbed her hand and pulled her into the crowd that walked the streets of New York, the painting had been securely put into his duffle bag, one that looked simply like a bag you would bring to the gym. They worked in pairs even though they didn’t need to. She always forgot something, and he always stepped in to save the day.

Preston led her to the drop-off zone, a very haunting and derelict old town house. Inside the furniture was rotten and withering. No one had been in there since it caught aflame a few years ago; the ashes still remained. Preston was creeped out and disgusted. He held her hand harder; she pretended not to notice.

A very dangerous and most likely adamant man stood in the middle of the master bedroom on the top floor. He wore a suit, dusted and ironed to perfection. In one hand was a briefcase, money that could not compare to the real price of the painting. His other hand was empty but looked trigger happy, like he was once a solider that went rogue.

The girl reached for the painting in the bag and handed it over. The man grabbed it, inspected it, then placed down the briefcase. The man left the abandoned building, and the girl reached for the briefcase, picked it up, then handed it to Preston.

“Is it too heavy? Do you need me to carry it?” Preston teased, hands laced around the handle. She shook her head.

“I have enough money. Put it towards your grandmother’s medical bills. She needs it more than I do.” Preston smiled lovingly down at the girl.

“Thank you, Maddie.”

 

 

 

Maddie McNamee
17
USA

The Traveler

There once was a traveler unlike any other. He was loved like you and me. His family hugged and kissed him and sent him on his way. The traveler went travelling near and far, searching for the light in the world.

There once was a traveler unlike any other. He was forgetful like you and me. He lost his ticket and was forced to wander, but the traveler wandered too far. His clothes were stolen and his face was beaten. He shook it off and went on his way. The traveler went traveling near and far, searching for the light in the world.

There once was a traveler unlike any other. He was alarmed like you and me. You see, he put on that smile and was sure to keep laughing, but he looked over his shoulder quite a bit. Yes, the traveler had grown quite alarmed in his time spent travelling. As he was laughing and smiling, he saw a man strike a woman across the cheek, yet his alarm kept that smile on his face. The traveler went traveling near and far, searching for the light in the world.

There once was a traveler unlike any other. He was fixated like you and me. He was determined to find that light, you see. He was certain it was out there, he just needed to look a little harder. He checked low and he checked high, until he checked too far. He watched a man snatch a child as she played in her yard, but he barely noticed, as he was distracted by all the checking. The traveler went traveling near and far, searching for the light in the world.

There once was a traveler unlike any other. He was adamant like you and me. He knew that light was out there, surely he was just looking in the wrong place. He asked a woman if she had seen the light, and she told him there was no such thing. He refused to believe her until a week later he saw her picture on the news. The reporter stood in front of what used to be her house, now burnt to ashes, and described the haunting details of the calamity. The traveler figured the woman really couldn’t find the light since she was the one who started the fire. The traveler went traveling near and far, searching for the light in the world.

There once was a traveler unlike any other. He was dangerous like you and me. Some say they see him searching through the night, trying to find the smallest glimmer of light. They say he drifts through the day like a shadow, not realizing the darkness he is spreading. When the traveler looks in the mirror, he doesn’t even recognize his own reflection. He doesn’t remember what he is searching for anymore and walks around like a ghost, fluttering in the wind. The traveler went traveling near and far searching for something in the world.

There once was a traveler much like any other. He was you and me. He went through the day searching for the light, not realizing it was him. No matter how near and far he searched, he couldn’t see it. He took in all the darkness until it had consumed him. The traveler never once thought that the source of the light could come from him.

 

 

 

Alex Webb
13
Australia

As I stared into the night, shadows gathered around me, haunting me as I walked on the remaining ashes of a long twisted road. A withering tree rustled in the wind, creating rogue sounds. The current path lead a dangerous journey ahead. I had no idea what would come. I took out my beloved worn down mirror and stared into the cracked reflection. It was time.

 

 

 

Mary Garret
15
USA

Treasures

We stand in the elevator, traveling up. We stand in silence, as if we are strangers rather than old friends. You’d think that we’d at least be making small talk after having not spoken for all these years. The silence occupying the empty space between us is haunting, chilling.

The version of him from my memories is wildly different than the current version I’m standing with. The most noticeable change — his hair. What used to be a flat brown mop is now an electric swoosh, dyed such a bright shade of white, it almost appears blue. His lips have been altered with the addition of a simple piercing. His eyes, which used to be a hazel mirror, reflecting a spectrum of emotions, are now a thoughtless shade of artificial emerald green.

However, the man standing next to me is undeniably the same boy I met and fell in love with what seems like ages ago. Only now, he’s a prominent and bold figure, whereas before he’d go unnoticed in a crowd.

As we get closer to the 7th floor, the floor of his apartment, it feels more and more like I’m entering dangerous territory. I try not to feel nervous by focusing on my reflection in the steel elevator doors. I let my eyes slowly crawl over to the reflection of his face. He’s normally a few inches taller than me, but through the distortion of the doors, we’re level. I’m not surprised to see his reflection staring back at mine. I expect his head to turn to face the real me, but his reflected eyes continue to stare into mine, daring me to challenge him.

I’m so lost in the reflections of our faces that I don’t see his hand inching closer to mine and am caught by surprise again when it slips into mine. My reaction, however, is cut short by the ding of the elevator, signaling our arrival on the 7th floor, and my hand jumps out of his to exit the elevator. He leads me down the hallways towards his apartment at a brisk pace, but I only ever let him stay a half-step ahead of me.

By the time we reach his apartment, I hate to say that I’m a bit out of breath. I study him as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a ring of keys, searching for the correct one. The old him would be shaky and hesitant, fumbling with his keys, probably dropping them a few times, but now he’s strong and confident. His composure has changed along with his appearance. He now has a far more poised, balanced structure, whereas before he was clumsy and always doubting himself.

We enter his apartment. At first it’s dark and covered in shadows, but when he flicks the light on, my breath is taken away. I notice the smirk on his face and hide amazement by neutralizing my expression. He leads me in and instructs me to sit on the deep green sofa. I try to be subtle as I take it all in. It’s small and simple, one open room with the kitchen, a small dining nook, a living space, and a door that I assume leads to a bedroom, but it’s the intricacy and elegance of all the small details that makes it so awe-inspiring. He asks a simple question of tea or coffee, and it’s a challenge to peel my eyes off of the decor of the room to give him my answer (tea, of course; if he wasn’t so forgetful, he’d remember that I don’t drink coffee).

His apartment is… well, I don’t know how to describe it with adjectives other than breathtaking. It’s brimming with beauties and treasures. It seems like every surface in the room is occupied by an impressive collection of gems and stones. It’s large, but nothing compared to mine.

What makes his special, though, is the addition of engravings. Stone, wood, and other materials I can’t identify shaped and molded to fit the appearances of whimsical creatures. I see a mermaid, a Minotaur, a multitude of miscellaneous beasts, and many more.

My examination of his bijoux is interrupted by him coming out of the kitchen area with two steaming hot mugs with the strings tea bags hanging out of them.

As the afternoon progresses, his increase in maturity and refinement becomes more and more obvious. It becomes more and more apparent that the man I am chatting with, reminiscing our past with, is not the same person in the memories I’m recalling. He’s changed, and I have yet to figure out if it’s for better or worse. One thing I have figured out — he is still undoubtedly the most interesting person I’ve ever met.

 

Germ Magazine guest author
… is a contributing guest author for Germ, which means the following criteria (and then some) have been met: possessor of a fresh, original voice; creator of fresh, original content; genius storyteller; superlative speller; fantastic dancer; expert joke teller; handy with a toolbox; brilliant at parties; loves us as much as we love them.

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