by Nicholas DeLuca
Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
It’s somehow already been 5 years. Half a decade about gone in what feels like an instant. If my parents had lived to see me become this would they understand or be with the few outside ready to lynch me? If they were alive I wouldn’t have become this.
Maybe they wouldn’t approve of what I’ve become, but surely they’d be okay with what I’ve done. Everyone knew he killed them. No one may have truly known, but they knew. 5 years ago he killed my parents, then flaunted it at the funeral. He did it to torture me.
I didn’t instantly turn to the dark magic; I tried every other path. I wasn’t naturally magically inclined, I wasn’t blessed in the faith, I didn’t join some army or group of forest pretenders. I used what was available to me. Everyone in Ashenvale heard stories of Ancient Spirit that used to haunt this Gods’ forsaken island. It was used to frighten kids, but instead they strengthened me.
My first trip to the island at 15 led me to a discussed Book of the Dead. In worn condition it was still usable. The first year I was scared and I only tried one or two spells half heartedly. Then at 16, he went to far. In his cups as I was roaming the streets in thought, he found me. He told me to cheer up and perhaps one day I’d learn to thank him. As he strolled away, I rushed home, grabbed the book and used it to kill a rat I had caged. Then it all just clicked.
The years flew by as I studied. I drew more and more from the town as I began to feed off the new power. I became paler and kids stayed away from my parents’ cottage. I was able to do more and more as more pests died, then weren’t dead, then died again. Then just last week I went out and got my revenge. I didn’t murder him, despite his pleas for it. Once I was done, I let him loose as a shell of a man only able to admit his crime over and over again. Limbless.
Now the town’s small militia is standing outside and I’m forced to commit to a path I never asked for. I animate the human skeleton near me and exit the house.
Before the Captain could begin his plea, I unleashed my assault. The Captain was dead before he could ever reach me. Without a leader there was little, if any, coordination among the found remaining guards. Two began attacking the skeleton as the others charged me. I decided to take their weak hits to free the skeleton from harm. As the cries of their comrades filled their ears and me and my skeleton filled their eyes, fear filled their hearts. Soon after silence once again found me.
Dispatches were more than likely sent out and who knows what the townspeople may do if their protectors don’t return. I didn’t have much time so I gathered my essentials and left, skeleton following close behind.
I wasn’t ready to flee Ashenvale just yet. Since becoming attuned with my new powers, the island I found the book radiated great, dark power. I knew it was the tomb of the ancient Necromanier’s Spirit. I didn’t know what I may find in there, but I felt like something in there could help me. I made my way to the shore on foot then used a long forgotten canoe to get to the island well past the middle of the night.
To my surprise, the entry way to the tomb was open. For years I attempted to open and never succeeded. I was prepared to destroy it to gain entry but tonight it almost seemed like fate had opened it. Whether ill or favorable fate…Who knew?
-Tomb of the Necromanier-
In a way I was let down as I finally entered the crypt to find, well, a crypt. 4 stone coffins stood before me covered in centuries of dust, but remarkably no mice scurried and no plant was breaking through the cracks. The room was remarkably dead.
The coffins were unremarkable, however, clearly not trapping any powerful spirit or holding some treasure. Across the room was another passage way with what looked like stars. I lit a torch and started towards the aforementioned passage.
Halfway across the room, a grinding of stone began to fill the room. As I looked around, the four coffins were opening and out of them came four decaying skeletons. Call it a hunch, but I knew this welcoming party wasn’t just for show as I prepared for battle.
Once again, me and my skeleton split the foes – two each. I was hoping to dispatch one before they reached me, but my shot was off. As the two I was facing began their assault, I lost track of which was already damaged and after another round of blows, I defeated one. I watched my skeleton drop to the floor, but noticed one he was fighting was weak and obliterated it. Still defending my remaining one, I animated another skeleton from the countless bones. No longer outnumbered the remaining enemies didn’t take long to finish off.
Honestly, I was sufficiently wounded enough that I began to question my skill. The slaughter of the guards went so easily that I felt unstoppable. I still had confidence, but was now humbled.
It took some time to heal my wounds enough to be ready to move on. I had to hope no one was on my trail to execute some plan the guards weren’t enough for. When I finally felt well enough, I made my way down the stairs.
It was hard to tell what room I then stumbled upon. The room was fairly large, almost as large as the last, but it also had an extremely long, narrow hallway at the opposite end.
Before I could further examine the room, a spirit began manifesting in the middle of it. The spirit was teal and translucent with a relative humanoid shape. The only real discernible features were its long hair and overgrown beard.
“You’re close. Only two trials to go.” The voice seemed to fade in and out and seemed to come from within me rather than where the spirit was. I was about to ask it about the trials when it spoke again.
“There’s no time, It’s taking everything I have just to project this short distance. Succeed and you’ll be rewarded with unimaginable power.” As the voice faded away, so did the spirit.
Before I could even process what had happened, I noticed movement from the long narrow hallway. I cursed myself for not noticing the sight of the countless mangled corpses before me. All were missing one or two legs and crawled towards me. Luckily, they moved slowly so I was able to defeat four of the eight attacking corpses. The skeleton was able to take two down before it fell to their clawing hands. I only sustained two light blows before only I remained in the room.
Feeling more confident and experienced, I animate another skeleton and begin walking to the other end of the room. The spirit said 2 trials remained, so assuming the defeated horde was one, that meant only one more remained. So far things were manageable, but I could see any of them could have been my death if things only went slightly worse. The spirit didn’t return so I was walking in the next trial blind.
As I made my way down the final set of stairs, I truly was blinded by what I saw. It was a sphere of pure light. It was light, but at the same time something more. The light looked contained in the sphere. There seemed to be movement almost as if the light where smoke. As I took a step forward a booming voice stopped me.
“Leave,” the voice commanded, “leave now and you will suffer no further harm. This area is forbidden by all, save Paladins and Clerics.”
Paladins and Clerics? The order was responsible for this? I tried to push my luck asking, “How do you know I’m not a Paladin?
“Death emanates from you and I sense no light within you. I am a holy sentinel set by the order to protect this tomb. There will be no more warning, leave.”
Wanting to strike first, I sent forth a bolt of the Void at the Sentinel. To my relief, the bolt seemed to strike the protector and deal some sort of damage. Once my skeleton made it’s approach, a blinding light held my vision as I helplessly felt beams of energy striking me. Once my vision returned I resumed my attack. Occasionally, the sentinel would release its inner light damaging everything in the room. The more I attacked, the dimmer and dimmer the light became.
After several minutes of fighting, the light faltered and seemed to collapse in on itself. Once it was gone, the room was a pitch black that forced me to fumble on the floor in search of the torch I dropped. Once it was found and relit, I approached the only other object in the room, a great stone altar.
The altar was completely covered in ancient runes that I scarcely recognized. When I reached out to trace the runes with my hand, I had to recoil as if touching fire. A chill ran through me as I contemplated what it meant that this spell designed to harm and contain such an evil spirit also burned me. Pushing those thoughts away, I began wondering how to free the trapped spirit. I attempted to put all I know into one blast of dark energy, but as I was channeling the spell I felt the power emanating from the coffin fill me and amplify my spell what felt like a thousandfold. As the energy reached a critical point I was to forced to release it.
The blast hit the stone and shook the whole tomb which felt impossible given I was so far underground. Surely I had just caused an earthquake. Then as the shaking stopped my torch went out then I heard the rattling of bones as the magic animating the skeleton failed. Then a voice filled the room, and for a moment I felt like I made a horrible mistake.
“Ah…” the voice said almost as if relaxing on some exotic tranquil beach.
Nonfiction,Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
Chapter 1—God Chapter 2—Pain Chapter 3—Money.
You win some. You lose some. No pain no gain. Do what’s hard, so your life will be easy. If you do what’s easy your life will be hard. What is life compared to death or death compared to life. It’s one big contradiction, but ultimately it’s fair. My life hasn’t been all good, neither all bad, it’s been what I made it & and for that I’m grateful, some people are forced into poverty, genocide, rape, adoption, hate, wealth, abundance, music, family business etc. Not all good not all bad but they all have choice, free will & decision-making to decide what will be there ultimate path.
You can begin in one destination & end on the next, that is what makes unfair Fair and Unjust, Just. God is Great, Merciful, Kind, Forgiving & Loving. So why would he allow man to suffer such fate at it’s own hand? Me personally I’d rather be just a humble servant of the Lord. Why give a choice to choose evil & not only that but give us satisfaction when doing it. Now Im not saying thats all I have done was be a servant, but I rather not have the choice to do anything else but be a humble servant. I feel it would be for the greater good. Life is a constant Push-Pull Give-Take & in the end it becomes more about how much you can withstand and keep going. Rather than dodge the blac itself sure you can dodge certain events & manifest destiny but it’s constant pain and suffering whether you like it or not, good or bad, outlaw or inlaw we all fall short to the glory of God. I love life & life is love & like I said before I’m grateful for the life given to me, family etc. I’ve made decisions in my past thus creating a certain future, a future that is mine and mine only but those decisions have brought wisdom & discernment that must be shared with others, so that they not suffer the same fate or misfortune. I will break everything down in the following chapters. Just keep an open mind & spirit. God bless you.
God is good all the time & all the time God is good, depending on what you believe in this thought may differ for you but nonetheless he still is good to you whether you share that thought or not. There is no such thing as creation without creator, Son without Father & Daughter without Mother. There is a delicate balance to the Air you breathe in & let out, you do not tell your heart to beat or hair to grow. Things are all put in place by something much greater all to your benefit. Like a raindrop in an ocean you must start somewhere, religion distorts the facts, a culture put in place by man to get closer to God, but backfired & we’ve been dealing with it ever since. Now when I say humble servant & rather not have a choice let me break that down. To serve a being so great that it has made you & I two uniquely different people but of same flesh would be an honor, to be of service is the ultimate show of gratitude for an example your phone is of importance to you (for some people their entire lives are in their phone). It provides you a tremendous service in multiple aspects, in return you pay a bill faithfully to keep the relationship between you and the phone provider in good standing. Me personally I would like to just serve without the option to betray such a debt, giving free will & the choice to choose. Bad is a blessing & curse, some can’t control Temptation, Envy, Lust, Greed, Pride, Hate & fall victim to themselves. If you exercise self-control and steadfast you will be fine, but in a world design to test you & your faith, design to break you, design to make you a savage or die. I’d rather not have a choice to choose wrong. Just let me be of service to the one who serves all, but he is so good he allows us the freedom to sink or swim. There is a cost associated with this freedom it’s called PAIN. Saint and Sinner must pay the cost no one is exempt as long as you live you’ll have to endure. Makes a little more sense to just serve, but God is good all the time & all the time God is good.
No pain. No gain. Pain is constant throughout your journey especially the more accomplished or sucessful you are. If your life is carefree you’ll have the pain of seeing others succeed. If you’re fortunate enough to succeed, then pain is inevitable, how much & how great depends on God. Good decision making can help a great deal you want to avoid trouble and dysfunction at all cost. Trouble will find you no need to go looking for it & pain is the result of thge last two I named. Pain humbles the unhumble & has made wise of the unwise. Never be envious of others because you do not know their pain, it’s easy to wish for a better life much harder to make one. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” You don’t truly know life until you know pain. Here’s a little cheat code so things won’t seem so down, Pain is 93 Premium gasoline in the car of life. The smartest use pain to fuel them & take life to new heights, since it is so constant and keeps with relentless intensity it makes for a great source of energy. As long as you live Pain will come so see it as another obstacle to overcome, a building block. As I said there is a price for free will & to live a life according to your own rules. God doesn’t miss a beat, he is the beat and the beat maker so try not to be in debt give much praise and be grateful for everything even the small stuff. If he inflicts pain & it is feeling unbearable rest assured it could be worse. That’s one thing about life’s pain, it could always be worse, create a pain tolerance & try to endure every bit you can because eventually it will get better it has to it’s the law “What goes up must come down” (universal law) like inflation in the economy. Ever lost “Money”? Now that’s pain, but you’ll get it back. It won’t be the first or last time it happens. Speaking of money let us begin!!!
Money is the currency of the world this energy exchange from person to person, generation to generation has established dominance for centuries. A social structure put in place by mankind that has lasted ages. See in our society “Money isn’t everything but having it is” What are you in this world without money? Or better question Who are you when you have it? Pride. Greed. Lust & Envy. All are manifestations of money. So is money the root of all evil depending on who you ask you may get different answers. Nonetheless, it’s still essential whether you’re a pastor of a congregation or a Vicious Dictator of a nation your regime is funded with money. So how could good and evil have a fundamental base they both share, how could a piece of paper dictate the balance of life & death, good & evil, right & wrong. (Birth & burial, church & politics, school & prison). It’s the energy that makes money so powerful. It’s just wax paper but we the people give it the value, to the average person “Money” is their God. They idolize it, chase it, & worship it all their lives, wrongfully so. Money should be just a tool in your utility belt to make life easier. Money has only the value you set for it. You tell yourself a $100 bill is worth $100. Therefore it is. Don’t believe me? Give an infant a $100 bill. They might tear it because it has no value to them. They see it as a paper nothing more. However you give them a toy they will play with it & you can buy toys with money. See life is a big contradiction. Money is no different. Don’t be fooled with the illusions of grandeur. See no amount of money can buy time. So money lost has nothing on one wasted. We will continue time in the next book. Be safe. M ay God bless you.
By Sascha Carlisle
Poetry, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
If they let me code Heaven
It’d be a dope place
You could taste the finest fruit
Or try out every plate
Like TV you’d see everything
Everyone ever did
Find out from the unrequited love
What made her ticc
You could hear how your heroes
Brought themselves out of bed
Of those that are dead
Paint your placebo
It’s your work of art
You get what you believe in
At the end of your part
I’d chitchat with Adam
About how he cyphered words
Or ask Thoth how he managed
To transcend this Earth
Watch and don his crown
As he reigned in his day
Caste the gods being Brahma
And reshape the race
Go fishing with Fuxi
Observe all his ways
Stargaze with ZoroAster
Putting time into space
Moses a big one
How’d he merge all those hoods
Meditate as the Buddha
Learn what he understood
Jesus my homie,
For what did you fight?
With Muhammad hit Ghazawat
Excite a nation of might
Party with Genghis
See Mayer come up
As his Rothschilds rise
As reality blands
Through all this knowledge
I’d explore possibilities
Go down every ridge
Adventures with the boyz
My girl and no jail
Puzzle together my best life
Hop in and sail
Close with a thousand years
Of ecstatic bliss
Nirvana then comes
And I’d hit the switch
An atheist heaven
A final release
To feel the conclusion
By Avis Parks
Poetry, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
You say that you are a king,
that wants to just be able to enjoy your kingdom,
you say you want a special lady to become your wife to be your queen,
the queen of your kingdom
your queen that will have your children,
your princes and princess.
You want for them to be able to enjoy life in the canyon.
You want to be a king that sits on the mountain
as your able to wanten
as the water flows down the river.
Like a fountain as your queen is able to watch the flowers bloom
while the sweet scent of her perfume
blows across your nose
as the wind blows down in that directions
of where the children are playing.
The king & thy queen,
enjoying the view of your children as they are growing.
Is there anything else more so she your queen may ask you,
on such a wonderful, beautiful day
as the evening starts to fall and the sun starts to set.
Do you king she you queen ask believe
that thiers some people that poor
while you sit here complaining that you just want a little bit more.
What more is it you need when you’re the king.
Mr. King, did you even stop to realize that this was only your dream
and not your queen’s dream?
You dream, Mr. King, of making that your only made her your queen, Ms. Queen!!!
Apart of you team also to have her to redeem to her Ms. Queen
Just being able to become someone’s queen
Now you say your and king.
So stop to start.
In really be the king.
Just so she can be able to really wear her ring.
So what do you say?
Mr. King let us hear you’re the lion’s raws
We also want to hear yours
so what more say let us hear yours
Mr. King, you raws!!
Third place, poetry, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
in comprehension of your sacred Black exterior,
the likes of such I’ve never seen,
true invigorating phenomenon –
of the spectacular Ebony Queen.
Without a hint of conceit,
just flawless configuration from your head to your pretty little feet,
enshrouded in luscious regal brown epidermal –
making you scrumptious & unique, in harmony like a well composed song,
within your melody is where I know I belong,
your captivating presence can right any wrong.
Utmost enthralled that you exist,
your chocolate sexy can’t resist.
I live to need Blackwomanness,
those lips, hands and hips to kiss,
compel my heart to insist
that I emphatically persist,
to make you an integral part of it,
to pull you in as close as close can get,
knowing that you are a perfect fit
and until you’re mine I refuse to quit,
you’ve got my mind, body and soul lit –
Queen, Queen, you’re that damned exquisite
Beautiful pretty you’re pretty beautiful
and my vision sees nothing less,
true embodiment of heaven,
Black masculinity you truly bless.
We began as light energy,
we developed and next we flee,
into the macroscopic stratosphere
where can be found the beautifulest Black galaxy –
a place where we first met,
that we are the original,
our love for one another innately provisional.
So enunciates the Creator,
the All in All known as Allah, Maker,
Owner of that beautiful Black Star,
authentic Black God worshipped in the Motherland,
before our enslavement by the “other man”,
biblical rider on the pale horse called Death,
who worked the hell out of us til we had nothing left,
responsible for over 100 million of us taking our final breath,
the most atrocious of slave histories
and the world’s greatest theft.
You were compelled to take a stand,
you were not only the woman,
tending to my mental/physical wounds,
for more than 400 blood moons,
yet with all that on your plate,
I could feel your love proliferate
and that beautiful pretty that you still maintain,
throughout this haunted odyssey of tears & pain.
And I’m grateful you stayed,
unbeknownst to you I’ve begged,
thanking Allah for this Black woman He made,
dauntless and beautiful in every hue of shade,
in my soul there’s a perpetual parade,
because I’m still here due to the price you’ve paid!
By Peter Le
Third place winner, nonfiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
Hey Babe. So I have been thinking recently. What is love? After r-evaluating everything, I am more than certain I do want to be with you no matter what. I have always loved you and that will never stop. You are my first love and best friend. Things like that wouldn’t change overnight. So I will embrace my love for you and work through our problems and differences.
When I first got locked up, I didn’t want to hold you back. I wanted you to be free and happy, but you wanted to hold me down. That’s what love is, so I respected your decision to bear my pain wit me and loved you even more for it. We first thought that I would be home in a few years, but that all changed when you go locked up 2 months after me. It hurts me more than you will ever know. I wanted you snitch on me so they would let you go, but you refused. You don’t deserve any of this. You are innocent, but the Feds thought otherwise. The think you know everything because you are my wife. So they pressured you many times and made you cry. That made me cry too. You told me not to cry and be strong. I hated myself for hurting you. Sometimes I still do. My mistakes haunt me. It is my fault that the Feds involved you. As our case developed, our relationship struggled. We started to question ourselves and our future. How strong was our commitment to each other? We still wanted to be together, however, and held on.
We wrote letters and passed each other notes whenever we could, but maybe that wasn’t enough. Our lives were already drifting apart and I didn’t want to accept it. I couldn’t have. I’ve lost everything already, but you and my family. I could not afford to lose anything else. Eventually, I was indicted with more charges and you were sentenced to 3 ½ years. Our faith in each other started to break. Hope was bleak and only our past was concrete. You resented me and I accepted that. It is my fault for your incarceration. I failed to protect you when you trusted me. You were mad and did what you wanted. You stopped writing me and wrote other guys instead. You flirted and entertained them. Maybe you did it out of spite or maybe you enjoyed to. I was hurt and felt betrayed, but at the end of the day it was justifiable. I couldn’t resent you for that. I am the reason you are alone and suffering. Maybe you thought I didn’t love you anymore or maybe it was too much to love me. It didn’t seem likely anymore that I was coming home after a few years. You never ended things between us. You only said that you would write me when you can because it was getting complicated to send letters. Even if you were cheating on me, I couldn’t stop loving you. If it made you feel better, shouldn’t I find consolation in that? It was difficult and I was confused. After a few days of heartbreak, I forgave you and found my peace. Even though you never told me about the other guys, I don’t hold that against you. In our hearts, I know that we still love each other.
I am writing this because it is inevitable. I am sending it to you now because the sooner I address it, the better. I’ve waited and waited, but you never wrote me. But I knew I had to be the one to write you first. When you responded back and said you were doing well in prison, I was just happy and overwhelmed to get a letter from you. It’s been over a year since we’ve wrote each other, but not a day has gone by that you weren’t on my mind.
I was reading this book and it reminded me of what love was. It was a sign and I had to let you know how I feel. I love you and married you. You are the person I chose. Through thick and thin and for better or for worse. I signed up for this and will support you whether you are wrong or right. If I can’t handle you at your worst, then I don’t deserve you at your best. Because I love you, I respect your wishes. Whether you want to or not, I will always love you and wish you the best. That is just what love is. So yes, I really do love you.
Your best friend
by S. Amir Farrakhan
Nonfiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
More than 38 of my 58 years have been survived in America’s notorious prison industrial complex, commencing from the time I was 12 years old a man. An only child, I was raised by an unwed strong take no sh_ _ type of woman, whom had a very heavy hand, that was employed all to often.
I actually hated my mother, more so because of her disciplinary enforcement. I did not get spankings, I got Kunta Kentaed (the main character of the movie Roots). However, although she beat me like I was a hebrew slave, she was an excellent provider. I’ve never known hunger, had my own room, new clothing & an abundance of games & toys, I even had my own T.V.
As tradition would have it, I’ve not known the face of my biological father. He was a soldier in “ol massa’s army,” whom wanted my mother to move to Chicago & she declined & so he went on his merry way, never sending me even a can of milk. I did however see a photo of him that my mom has.
But this behavior is a common idiosyncrasy that veils Black humanity in Amerikkka & affects all of the descendants of those sacred Souls that were compelled to this land of the free, in the belly of slave ships, like the Jesus of Lebeck among many that set sail through the middle passage.
It was a common practice of ol massa to abduct the infant from its mother & sell off the father to sire children on other plantations after impregnating all the other “heifers,” as he called the Blackwoman. And there is a word that I don’t recall, but it appellates a condition of the mind that’s brought on when an experience is so atrocious, it’s engrossed in & passed down one’s bloodline from generation to generation. I believe this has a direct bearing on the Blackmale in his ability to impregnate women & keep it moving as if the child is solely the responsibility of the mother.
However, Allah did place a very beautiful man in my mother’s life, who was with her before my birth & other than Allah, is the only Father I know & is still in my corner til this day & loves me hard. And I was raised right, he only spanked me once with a cloth belt & my mother made him do that. So why have I spent more than half my life in a prison cage? Guess what? It had nothing to do with my rearing.
The so-called educated amongst us, the “educated negros” taught in the schools & universities of our open enemies, teach us that our quality of life depends on the choices we make, not revealing that choice can be manipulated, because the mind can be manipulated & controled to a great extent if not utmost.
It’s not by chance that Black folk make up only 11% of these United States, yet better than 40% of its prison system. This implies that we, the original people of the earth, the builders of the great pyramid & the greatest civilizations & whom are renowned as the Master builders & mimicked in the masonic lodges by those who enslaved us, are prone to crime. And what’s sad is that many of our own kin take the position that we are. But remember that they are educated & trained by ol massa. It’s even worse when you find those that ol massa has made into himself. During antebullem, this breed of Blacks were referred to by their peers as “House Niggers” & they have no pride nor shame. In fact, they are examples of the manipulated & controlled mind & exist right now today.
A good example is in “corrections” or law enforcement. My grandmother was amongst those Blacks that marched, got beat with clubs & sprayed with water hoses & had flesh eating dogs sicced on them, as they protested for Blacks to be given jobs in law enforcement, to ensure that we would be protected, treated justly & fairly while in jails & prisons. However most of them hired could not have gotten that notice. But there are a very small few, whom are not under subjugation of the badge they proudly wear over their most precious organ, (the heart). Its image is a tyrant, (hermaphrodite) standing on a vanquished Black king. This is the concept, the foundation of this state & it’s fed to every employee in subtle increments, (Sic Semper Tyrannis) this is the aim & purpose of this state Virginia. Look up the word tyrant, & you’ll see what we are under (overt oppression) enforced by the now children of the slaves, “remarkabal!”
I grew up in near abject segregation, programed by white supremacy at every angle, in school the book they started us on was titled, The Little White House about a Caucasian family with a dog named Flip whom said, “Bow wow,” On T.V. the only serious character that looked like me was Bill Cosby who played a Black spy for ol massa. Black folk in this era were still trying to assert themselves, & in the hood there was not alot of positive influences. People for the most part were as Marvin Gay sang, “Trying to get over.”
I fell victim to the gangster shows on T.V. & whole heartedly embraced Al Capone. I wanted to be like him, thus I was fascinated with guns & crime of which is prevalent in poorer hoods & easily accessible, (which is all by design). So the only heros I had who looked like me where I grew up were the athletes & hoodlums & I had my choice made for me by circumstances & conditions which chose for me. The sure rout[e] was crime.
The conditions in & of any community can be & are manipulated. When institutions of employment, businesses, commerce, etc. are removed from a community, a chasm of depletion is created & what follows is poverty which changes the orientation of the mind, making it more susceptible to sugestion, especially subliminal, which is done through music & vision, esp. television “programing.” So when one is put in a sink or swim situation is there really a choice being offered, better yet, if I tell one that I’m going to kill you, pick which gun, a 357 or 44. Is that really a choice? And out of said conditions which imposed on my thinking, boredom sets in, then depression & I turned to older guys in my hood whom fed that chasm with criminal ideas & thus I began my “so-called gangster.”
As a result, reformatories & prisons have been a major part of my life, of which has taken a heavy toll on my mother’s & caused me to be absent in my own children’s lives, so there has been a snowball effect. But what it has done is brung my mother & me closer. Since 1994 she’s been the greatest mother & my very best friend.
However, it’s no secret that we, the Blackman, woman & child are an endangered species, we are not equal citizens in this country & white folk demonstrate this each second, we are still oppressed, exploited & abused. Understand that citizens do not need civil rights, even those of my kind whom have been employed in his systems of government, to him & his constituents in & of the ruling class in & of the higher echelon of society, are merely “things” to be used to help him advance & to maintain control of the common folk not on his team.
This is too Black to win this contest. It might anger ol massa!
by Michael Pixley
First place, fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021
I’m alone and am so terrified. My bones are rattling as if I am in Antarctica and the night chills are overwhelming to my soul. But where I am, it is lukewarm although you couldn’t tell by the pebbles of sweat that sit on my forehead. The bathroom is completely blackened as I lay down in the tub with the curtains closed. It is eerily quiet other than the steady “thumps” that continuously tap the door, hoping to make their way inside. I know that she knows that I’m here. I just pray that she forgets about me. Oh I pray.
As the tears strain to leave my eyes, I cringe at the burning sensation that sits behind my eyelids. I told everyone, “This is an Apocalypse. This is the end of times,” but “Nooo, Alijah, you watch too many late night cartoons,” they say. Now it’s just me, alone, with blood-stained pajamas on and to be honest, I’m truly devastated as these colorful power ranger pj’s were my favorite and are now ruined. If I make it through this, I’ll never look at another Toy Ranger as long as I live. I mean it’s God, I wish those “thumps” would just go away!
This all began the spring of 2020. I remember sitting in my 3rd grade classroom, listening to Ms Clark teach division. Honestly, math isn’t my best subject, let alone division, however, when Ms Clark uses food analogies in her math equations, I find it generally easier to understand. As she cheerfully showed 12 slices of pizza drawn on a whiteboard and began dividing it by half…….I first noticed something. A cough. It was nothing out of the ordinary but it wasn’t the arbitrary cough that piqued my interest, it was what happened after.
Tommy coughed again and again and again…..until blood trickled on his bottom lip. “Tommy, dear, are you okay?” Ms. Clark asked nervously. The whole class looked at Tommy and was wide-eyed as Tommy slid off his chair like rain slides down a window pane and began convulsing profusely. “Oh, my God,” screamed Shanice. The children followed suit with their own outbursts until Tommy suddenly stopped moving. Ms Clark, at his side, ordered my classmate Bryan to go grab the school nurse immediately, while she ran to her desk wistfully to call the principal, Mr. Jones. My mind was numb with anxiety, and awe as I sat still watching the whole spectacle. I’ve never witnessed anything like this before, although my youngest sister experience mini asthma attacks occasionally, they in no way mirror this situation. Several school officials rapidly rushed in the room, attending to Tommy who was now breathing slowly with closed eyes and trembling lips. He was drenched in sweat as if he just got finished playing handball. That was the last time I saw Tommy.
Things got extremely hectic after that day, and I can honestly say, things have never been the same. A week later, Shanice suddenly began missing class, amongst Jessie and Laura. The school informed weary parents that similar sicknesses to Tommy’s were reported in several other children from the same classroom. They were taking precautions by advising students to wash their hands frequently and cover their mouths if they sneeze or cough. Those precautions became futile when different kids (and teachers) throughout the school developed these horrifying symptoms. The superintendent closed the school in hopes to contain whatever germ seemed to be spreading. After a week without school, a news broadcast flashed across the television, shaking the nation.
“A new virus is spreading uncontrollably throughout 15 states and counting, as many are hospitalized with cold sweats, flu like symptoms and a cough that induces blood,” chimes reporter Tasha Gray. “If you inherit these symptoms, please go to your nearest hospital to receive proper treatment before they worsen! And please, cover your mouths as the CDC proposes that the strain is extremely contagious.” I remember my mom’s eyes terrorized with worry as she glared at the screen. She glanced my way, beckoning me to come close to her as she reached out for my arm. “Alijah, baby, I don’t think I’m going to let you or your sisters return to school for the rest of the year. Whatever this is seems dangerous and I won’t let my babies turn ill,” my mom insisted. Little did she know, schools would not reopen. Not only did learning facilities shut down but so did restaurants, swimming pools, amusement parks and even National Sports abruptly halted as the virus took its toll.
By the month of July, the world was brought to its knees. The virus now prototyped as “The Claw” (due mainly to the fact that people who caught the virus reported feeling a “tight constriction” wrapping around their bodies as if it has its claws dug deep in them) was monstrous to say the least. People would get sick, go to the hospital, get better in 3-4 days and leave perfectly fine. Or so it seemed. People who were seemed : “recovering patients,” began doing abnormal things. Some would forget their names all of a sudden and walk aimlessly around not knowing who or where they were. Others would laugh uncontrollably in the middle of their sleep until they stopped breathing and blacked out from a lack of oxygen. But the most interesting were the ones who complained how incredibly hungry they were, eating their whole fridge, even if the items were raw or uncooked. Then they would eat their fingernails, dirt, plants and worst yet, even their own pets.
My mom began working at home (she works on a computer with numbers painted on the screen, (she’s an accountant ((I think))) and constantly monitored Angel, Asha and I hoping that we would never show signs of “The Claw.” One week ago from today, my mom was cooking my favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, when we both heard a loud thud upstairs. “Baby, go check on your sisters, I told them to stop jumping off that bed,” my mom shouted distractedly as she opened the oven. “Ok, mom,” I chuckled. I ran upstairs by two’s and checked Angel’s room first. I could hear voices bouncing off the walls from her Ipad, that was sitting untouched on her purple dresser. “Angel,” I called out. “Where are you?” I heard a soft whimper and walked hastily to Asha’s bedroom door, which was slightly ajar. “Alijah, look,” Angel cried. What I saw made my stomach churn. Asha was laying on her floor, blood running down her eyes and mouth, as her legs were distorted at an odd angle underneath her. “Mom, come quick!” I yelled with panic oozing out of my voice. As my mom entered the room, she let out a shriek as she scooped Asha up and rushed her to the garage. “Both of you, put something on quick and meet me at the car. Let’s GO…GO!” she screamed. Angel and I broke out of our trance and put our clothes on hurriedly and ran to the car to accompany our mom and Asha.
Arriving at the Washington Trauma Center (WTC) was a traumatic experience of it’s own accord. Doctors running around hectically with bloody scrubs and shifting eyes, nurses screaming names over clamoring patients and families huddled together, issuing silent reassurances to each other. The scariest part were the bright yellow space suits. Many hospital officials had them on as they attended to patients. It all looked so surreal. “Please help my baby. PLEASE,” my mother cried; breaking my thoughts and bringing me to reality. Many spacemen rushed to our aid, taking us immediately to an empty room, closing off the sounds of Armageddon. Two days in an insulated, air filtered corridor, Asha amazingly recovered rapidly. The doctors did explain that she was diagnosed with “The Claw” but suffered no major inflictions. With no cure to offer, she was ordered to drink plenty of fluids, eat lightly and rest as much as possible. The doctor advised my mom to bring Asha back if any underlying symptoms returned.
A day later, things were grimm as my mom and Angel grew sick. They both barricaded themselves in their rooms in an effort to prevent me from catching “The Claw.” Yesterday, Asha began giggling in her sleep so much, it became a nuisance. I walked in her room to find her laughing so ridiculously hard, it looked like it hurt. I tried to wake her, but she flailed wildly, kicking and swinging, while laughing at the top of her lungs. She punched me twice on my forehead and just as I grew angry enough to slap her, she abruptly stopped. I called her name repeatedly to no avail and to my unerving dismay, I knew at that instant, I was going to be one sibling less.
I ran to tell my mom about Asha until I heard a weird slurping sound pertruding from Angel’s quiet domain. I stumbled into the door and what I saw nearly knocked every ounce of breath out of my lungs. “Ali…jah, I…..can’t…..stop eating…..so hungry,” the woman who could no longer be my mother uttered to me as she stuffed handfuls of Angel’s innards into her mouth. What was left of Angel was indescribable. Because I wish I could forget what I saw, I won’t even begin to indulge in that painful memory. My mother rushed to me and grabbed my shirt with blood soaked hands. “Just let me eat one finger my love,” she exhaled. I pushed my mom away with all the might a 10-year old could muster and ran into the hall. I debated on going to my room and hiding in the closet but that’s the first place I’m sure she’d look. I locked eyes on the bathroom door down the hall and immediately sprinted towards it. Once inside, I locked the door and placed the dirty clothes hamper under the knob. I jumped in the tub and laid on my back, as I closed my eyes and prayed I’d wake up from this horrendous nightmare.
“Thump….Thump….Thump….Come out sweetheart, mommy’s going to feed you. Aren’t you starving?” Her voice drips with a musical serenade that almost makes me open the door and believe she’s genuinely going to give me some food. Trust me, it’s been a whole day (I think) and my stomach is growling like a mountain lion. My mind is racing in a million directions as I contemplate my options.
I cannot stay entombed in this bathroom forever. I’m sure my mom will eventually walk away. “Thump….Thump….” Please just go away! Who knew “The Claw” would grasp the world with a deathly grip, consuming anyone who enters it’s presence. It has left it’s imprint on society and I don’t know if things will ever be the same. The house phone goes off like an alarm for 3 long, loud rings and then suddenly it’s quiet. An engrossing silence enveloped the house that hasn’t been heard of in hours. She must have finally given up. I edge out of the tub and creep towards the door and gently place my ear to the center of it. Nothing. I guess I’ll take my chances. Before I lose courage, I move the hamper and turn the knob. Light brushes through the hall windows and it looks unnaturally peaceful on this unpredictable morning. I tiptoe pass the rooms and head down the steps. One step creaks and I hold my breath and stand as still as a Michael Angelo statue. Nothing. I continue my journey to the front door and I notice red hand prints smeared up and down the wall adjacent to the entrance. The door is wide open. I step outside without ever spotting my mom and begin running down the street until my legs burn and my chest hurts. I see an ambulance up ahead and paramedics standing outside of it in their flamboyant space gear. As I get closer, I see them placing a woman on the back of the vehicle, strapped to a stretcher. “Hey, that’s my mom,” I yell out. The paramedics look my way and begin to approach cautiously. I’m sure I’m an outrageous site. A little boy with soaked rusted PJ’s in the middle of the street with only socks accompanying my feet.
As the spaceman begins to ask me a question, I hear a horrible sound echo. I can’t even believe my ears. It makes my heart stop in my chest, prickles of goosebumps dance on my arms and sweat trickles down my face. And then I hear it again and I know it’s all over. I’ve met my foe. It is no superficial being. It is an entity that does what it does best. As I cough once again and again and again…..I realize the tight vice grips squeezing and clutching at my body instantly introducing itself as nothing other than…………The Claw!
I dedicate this to my 3 beautiful children Alijah, Ariyah and Aliyana. My oldest child Aliyana and I trade endless scary stories and I was so intrigued that I manifested this story through my growing inspirations. I am truly inspired by their creative minds and will continue to implement what I learn from them and place it on paper, in my heart and in my daily stride. Thanks for reading!!