Public Command’s All Street’s Donational’s De-Man-da-Ment’$

Public Command’s All Street’s Donational’s De-Man-da-Ment’$

by Christ Joshua M. Fletcher

Fiction/Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, August 2022


If ¢aught by Christ Jo$hua, thy man of your lord GOD. It will be a $ame day fine of $300.00 or a ¢itizen arre$tment will be made.

If, heared out in publi¢ the letter$ O.M.G. or name ¢alled in vain, Chri$t Jo$hua or not ¢alled to be needed a $500. to $1,000 fine of $ame day need’$ to be paid in full.

When you lie to thy $elf & lie in the pre$ant’s of your lord & $avior for not #01 Perfect rea$on a $250. to $500 fine $ame day payment in full.

When Chri$t Jo$hua walks up & a $moke $e$$on i$ going, just contribute for Native ¢ause. If not $175 to $300 in ful ¢ash & along w/your $moke. Plu$ if not are$t will be citizen reque$t per weak will be made!! HA HA HA

If caught $elling Native tree’$ to the young youth and not age 18 & older, All tree’$ will be taken on $pot w/arre$tment being made, Plu$ $ame day payment’$ of $1,000.

Fact or Fiction Stalemate

Fact or Fiction Stalemate

by Trulynd W. Hall

Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022

 The fireworks display of explosions didn’t help ease my tension while I sat in my cockpit. A stealth attack. Of all the missions his had to be my first. Our enemy this time were the Neo Martian Alliance Corps, NMAC is what they call it. This skirmish took place near the martian moon. I stare out into the open space where the main fleets were battling. I glance around the cockpit of my fractal, recalling when I first got into it.

“Rick! Rick!” A woman in a space suit shouted at me.

“Ah! Sorry Major Carmen.” I replied but anyone would be awestruck upon your witnessing their first Fractal. As the Major chattered on my attention paced back over to the giant robot in the hanger. Fractals, a two story robot used for warfare but that wouldn’t seem likely if you saw it in person. They resemble a giant bean with stubby arms and legs.

“Ehehe.” I giggled to myself at the contrasting design and purpose of the machine.

“Something you want to share officer Rick?” Major darted at me. I stiffen up and shake my head in protest. She turned back around and restarted the briefing. Even with her back turned I could still feel her glaring eyes.

My recollection ended as my Squad Leader Flash flew up to me in in Fractal.

“Keep your chin up Rick! We won’t fail this mission!” he reassured me. Failing wasn’t much of a threat to be fair. It was almost foolproof.

Phase One, hide in an asteroid belt several kilometers away from the main skirmish. Phase Two, wait for a signal of a fake retreat. Phase Three, use our Claws, special tools used to grab large objects, to hurl asteroids into the NMAC fleet.

After that it’s easy pickings. It’s almost too easy if you ask me. I glance back over to see my Squad Leader flexing his Fractal’s arms. I couldn’t help but laugh seeing him attempt the pose with the stubby arms and one cartoonishly large claw. We got this, I thought to myself until a certain thought rolled into my mind. A thought that created a chain reaction of anxiety.

What if I miss?

What if the main fleet loses?

What if they have a secret squad also?

…What if I mess up?

A flood of anxiety drowned me in doubts. Before I could voice my fears I saw it. A glimmer weaving in and out of the asteroid belt. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, it was too fast to be a Fractal.

“B22T” “Run” B22t” My radio went off with commands from Flash.

“Rick Run!” I heard him clearly this time.

“What’s going on?” I frantically radioed back.

“The mission “B22T failed…”. Flash murmured. Failed? Failed! Before I could process my feelings a volley of lasers rained upon the stealth team. My comrades Fractals were struck with pinpoint precision. I grab my controls and sloppily maneuver behind an asteroid.

“B22T” It’s Rosenthal. “B22T” Flash remarked in horror. A shiver hit my spine. Rosenthal….

“There’s one unit you must not engage with. Rosenthal, piloted by Jack Love, an Ace pilot with over 30 skirmishes under his belt. “Major Carmen said with uneasiness. “His Fractal is a special unit that can easily outpace any normal Fractal. I repeat. Do not Engage!”

The Major’s words echoed throughout my head to the point my lips were mimicking her words.

Do not engage.

My fingers mash my radio buttons as I try to get a reply from one of my comrades. Nothing but silence. I grit my teeth and swallow my grief. I contemplate what to do. I stand no chance against an Ace. Then something caught my eye, one of my allies silent Fractal floating in space like debris. I traced over the robotic cadaver and spotted my chance for at least a single blow on the Ace pilot.

“B22T”. Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? “B22T” an unfamiliar man’s voice hits my radio. The voice was deep yet comforting. I slowly reach for my radio. If I reply he’ll know my position. I contemplate on responding to his call. My eyes dart up to one of my monitors which showed the vitals of my squad. Red was dead and green was alive. All red but me. Witnessing the reality of war made my emotions swirl.

“I CAN HEAR YOU ACE!” I screamed over my radio. Now I have no choice but to confront him. I grab my controls in anger and prepare my attack.

“UUUUUOOOOGGHH” I shout in my cockpit. My Fractal glides out of it’s hiding spot with an asteroid in my claw. Once my vision sees past the asteroid, Rosenthal was already there.

“Found you kid!” The Ace smoothly replied.

Before I knew it my claw arm was blasted off.

“Fooled you Ace!” I exclaimed. A second claw grabs his Fractal, this claw was one I took from my allies Fractal. Now if he dares blast his laser we’ll both go out.

“Remarkable kid.” The Ace sounded shocked if he’s never been in a pinch.

The explosions in the open space continued as I remained stuck to my number 1 threat. It was excruciating sitting here waiting. As my mind drifted off I heard a familiar static.

“B22T”. “Hey kid…I give.” The Ace whispered.

Huh? Was he being serious? He was being serious. All of his weapons were released from his Fractals hands, left to float in space.

“Hopefully that’s proof enough kid.” He begins another broadcast. “This is Jack Love, Rosenthal is out of commission, operation failed.”

I slumped down in my seat, my body loosened and my mind cleared. Major Carmen called in to my praise my efforts. I released Rosenthal and after a moment of silence we turn away from each other and fly away.

Need a Change of Venue

Need a Change of Venue

By Derrick Miles Adkins

Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022


This book is a short story and the work of just fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents, are products of the author’s imagination or used fictiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or person’s living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


My story tells the lives of peoples and there life events regarding around the judicial system, and the choices that they make that cause them to become just another statistic of that system. The officials make dam sure once into that system that your apart of that system for ever. Because of there ethics changing alone with the root of all evil we need a change of venue.

No man I’m telling you that the judicial system works if your doing the things that you are suppose to be doing and not run-in around and breaking the law and carrying on. Derrick was saying to a few of his friends at his school.

Man how would you know one of his friends was saying to him name rico that lived in the minority housing section in Alexandria, Virginia.

Because you came up on the other side of the tracks where you don’t have to go through the same things as us.

Like what for instant Derrick said sarcastically with a irritated expression on his face.

Well like being a minority for one. Because coming where we come from if you looked or dressed a certain way you was either a drug dealer or a gang banger. Rico was saying as he slapped hands with one of the other guys in there circle just to put emphasis on the point that he just made.

I bet out in the suburbs you probably don’t even have to deal with brothers like us, huh man.

What your only seventeen right.

Yeah, your to young to even know the difference between where you come from even matters he said. As a matter of factly.

Dam man Derrick said shooting back at him with the same intensity. You act like your an adult or something your only two years older than me fourteenth grader he said making the others laugh.

What ever man,” rico said brushen them off and disregarding Derricks joke with a wave of his hand.

Man if you was where I’m from you would be doing what ever you had to do too get by Rico was saying with a frown on his face and then folding his arms in contempt and staring at Derrick waiting on a response.

Derrick hesitated briefly seriously contemplating his response then smillen and shaken his head in agreement then they all started laughen together.

Then they started throwing food at one another while still laughen the whole time. Because Derrick didn’t have the heart to continue this toppic of discussion and hurt his friends feelings.

Telling him what he really thought of his friends lack of ethical morals and principles.

And if he didn’t have such a lazy work ethic that maybe he could be something in life other than excuses and all talk.

Man I bet that you haven’t even been stopped out their in that soft cushy neighborhood one of his friends said name greg as he took a bite from his cheese burger. Then started sippen soda from a cup with a straw in it.

But Derrick act like he didn’t hear him over the noise in the big spacious cafeteria by placing his hands up to his ears with a sign saying, huh over and over again intil greg gave up with the wave of his hands in Derrick direction. Then saying man forget you and continued eating his food.

They all went to T. C. Williams high school in the heart off Alexandria Virginia. Where kids from all over the city went at one point or another. It is a good school despite some of the bad apples from some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

What ever was your walk of life T.C. had something to offer you. Whether you had academic challenges, behavioral challenges, or just one of this advance students T. C. Williams had a place for you their.

The bell rang telling the students that it was time for them to get ready to go back to class. So every body started getting up and putting there trash in the trash cans.

When rico start in on Derrick again questions his blackness saying that he was to scared to come to there neighborhood.

Man your moms probably wouldn’t allow you to any way he was saying clowning him then the girls start in on him as well.

What’s wrong mommy won’t let her little boy come out and play with the big kids they as saying then pinched his cheeks playfully.

As he start to smack there hands away bashfully telling them to stop don’t do that, but the whole time smillen from cheek to cheek.

So at that point Derrick took it as a personal challenge coming from the girls and all. That and the fact that Tiffiny and Bridget was fine.

I bet you haven’t even had sex yet they start in on him bumped there hipps up against his flirtatiously.

Then rico and greg gave each other five behind his back. As the girls kept playing with him as if saying that they had him now smillen at one another. So now rico started in on him again.

I bet that you couldn’t even spend a week, no I’ll give you two days in the hood and you would be run-in back to your little cushion life in the suburbs. I want to prove to you that some times in life you have to play the cards that life deals you. And that if you was from where we are from that you would have took the same road that we took.

No not maybe Derrick said interrupting I know that you can do the right thing if you just think in a positive way. No more excuses, okay what ever, do we have d meal rico ask extending his hand to be shook.

Okay you have a deal Derrick said over his shoulder as he made his exit from the cafeteria excited that he may get the chance to change his friends life for the better. Because he always wanted to help rico to change his life and now he have the opportunity that hese been waiting for for a long time.

Yeah, okay rico said to his retreating back were going to see just how much that theory of yours works.

Derrick was light skin with fluffy curly black hair six foot and slim, but with an athletic build that weight around a hundred and some odd pounds. Most females found him to be cute and very attractive, but in a Park Avenue white prep boy kind of way.

Rico was still walken behind him smillen saying to him self rubbed his hands together I’m going to love this boy,” I can’t wait.

Now rico consider him self a good friend he was what they called a half breed. Because his mother was Mexican and his father was black, and he knew both languages to. But only spoke Mexican around his family members that couldn’t speak English. Rico was kind of short at five six or seven or so that had that thick curly Mexican black hair as well as there tan like skin complexion you know the pretty boy type. That weight about a hundred and fifty some odd pounds.

And at nineteen he was one of the top dealers in his neighborhood. They called it the New Projects why I don’t know, because there wasn’t anything that was new about it.

In lest you want to count the new rats and roaches that came through from time to time.

And the only reason that Derrick and rico was close now was that rico felt sorry for him because of peoples always use to pick on him, and bully him. So one day when he was being bullied in school by the school bullies Rico tapped in having pull in the neighborhoods and all.

From that point on rico took him under his wing. Along with the fact that Derrick was very intelligent academicly wise and promised that if there was anything that he could do for him to just let him know. Rico knowing how smart the boy was took him up on his offer, and got him soup some of his grades.

Every since then he just took a liken to the boy, because he wasn’t only helpful and smart he was actually funny and fun to have around. But they only hung out in school because he was scared to go to his neighborhood besides his parents wouldn’t allow him to any way.

“The Negotiation”

Old Town Bagle shop was often a place in Alexandria where the Prosecuting Attorney’s and Public Defenders met so that they could negotiate terms on behalf of a case that they were presiding over.

Look James the Prosecuting Attorney Mrs. Hudson was saying leaning across the table trying to get her point across without any of the other customers in the shop over hearing there conversation.

Calling him by his first name out of the work history that they have, and to make him feel comfortable with her, because of her trying to get something out of him information that’s not in the discovery.

Look lets make a deal she continued. I want that son of a bitch he have been slippen through the cracks for years now our department haven’t been able to make anything stick on him.

Just look at what hese doing to this city saling that poison she was saying in descuss.

Mrs. Hudson has been in the D.A.’s office now going on thirteen years as a Prosecuting Attorney and played dirty if she wanted you bad enough. And with a record that said that she didn’t like losing.

She was caucasion in her early fourties and a very attractive brunet that had a fashion statement from something of a politician sort of speak.

I don’t know Brenda he said also calling her by her first name comfortably. This case could push me right up the ladder in my department. I could make chiefs off of this one,” well this one and a few more that is, but most definitely going places after this one he said staring out in the distance as if he was fantasizing or something.

So any way he said breaking out of his day dream. Why would I throw my client under the bus on this one said also leaning across the table so that she could here him only.

And at the same time grabbing his tie making sure that it didn’t go into his coffee while still making conversation.

His name was James Peterson also caucasion and also in his fourties that have been Public Defender going on fifteen years now and was also very good at his job. That had his sights set on making chief Public Defender that way he doesn’t have to continue presiding cases he could make the decisions who in fact that he wanted to preside cases. He could just set back with his healthy bonus and collect his pension.

Mr. Peterson was what most women would call tall dark and handsome. At six foot brown sun tanned complexion brown hazzel eye’s full length hair with chisel facial features.

In fact he was so passionate about making chief by the following year that he promised him self that if he didn’t he was going to go into his own practice.

So tell me what do you have to offer me this time Brenda he was saying staring at her cleavage seductivly and grinning to him self.

She knew very well what ment knowing that he had the hots for her every since there great debate during there first trial against one another. After that heated trial he started flirting with her in such away that it flattered her and made her feel uncomfortable at the same time. Because she was married and so was he, but it didn’t matter to him in the least and she knew it.

So she started naming up and coming cases that she thought he might be interested in, but to know avail.

Alright James she said tired of playing this game. What do you suggest she ask reluctantly knowing very well what was on his mind.

But if it ment prosecuting this guy to the fullest extent of the law then she was willing to do anything.

Well almost anything, but not like this. She thought my morals and integrity will not allow me to compromise my ethics as a officer of the court. And so she got up and walked away leaving a untouched bagle behind thinken… look how far that we have gone that we are willing to sacrifice the morals and principals of the judicial system that we took a oath to with hold.

To Be Continued…


It was seven o’clock time for the shift change in open housing building one. The two correction officers that was assigned to C and D Tier was Ms. Love and Ms. Myres. They was what the inmates would call lesbians, because they was married to women. And they looked the part to with there military crew cuts and all, and as mean as a snake. Both was caucasion and around the same height and wieght. At five six and about a hundred and eighty pounds. And both was most likely in there fifties.

They was thick as thieves meaning that they was very close. When one did something file and against the rules the other one would back her and they was always doing something against the rules. They lied made rules alone the way they did any and everything basicly to disrupt the inmates progress and lively hood.

C and D Tier was right beside one another so the two officers was station at a large desk right beside one another.

Hey Love watch me run these guys off the phones Myers said with a devious look about her.

Hey times up down there on the phones she was screaming down the tier the phones was about twenty yards or so by the measures of a football field.

But Ms. Myres we still hav ten more minjtes the inmates on the phones was trying to tell her but she wasn’t trying to hear it. So she came down the tier and cut the pones off on them by pushen the dial tone OFF button.

Then she went to the bathroom but before entering she screamed back over her shoulder at the inmates that was still standing by the phones with this shocked expression on there faces.

And told them in uncertain terms that they had how much time that she said that they had.

Then preceded in the bathroom telling every body in there that they have been in there long enough that it was time for them to go. Two of the inmates had just woke up and was in there brushen there teeth and washen there face. There was also two inmates in there using the urinals and one on the toilet.

And she actually stayed there harrassing them until they left. Then snatched the curtain down on the inmate that was on the toilet so that he was exposed to every body.

Dam you stink she said waving her hand infront of her face as if that was going to make the smell go away faster.

Then started laughen out loud as she started walken back to her station.

That day five of those inmates wrote grievances on her to no avail, because later that week all five of them was taken out of the building because of her.

Well that and the fact that her cousin was chief of security.

As a matter of fact most of the staff that worked there was relateded in some way or another.

Basicly because of the facility being in a small town so the prison is the town main source of employement for miles around.

Building one and building two is what they call open housing. Open housing is suppose to be a privilege building for those inmates that stayed out of trouble and infraction free for a year or more.

But when the institution places c/o’s like Ms. Myres and Ms. Love in a privilege building they take away from the process of rehabilitation. They take away from all those inmates that is actually really trying to get there lives back together.

Because remember that theres going to be a lot of inmates to be released back into society one day, and maybe in your community. Wouldn’t you want them to have a different mind set a different way of thinken more on a positive level.

Well then you need to get involved with the judicial and prison systems, because believe me your going to be involved one way or another.

There are actually normorous staff  like Ms. Myres that just don’t care about none of that. So there going to continue to take away from the process of rehabilitating these inmates that be trying to get away from all the negativity and frustration that prisons brings. Like the gangs, drugs, alcohol, and especially all the violent offenders that has nothing to lose if they hurt you.

The privilege building is designed for this inmates that is trying to change there lives before they re-enter back into society. These are the inmates that’s in school and trying to get there GED and taken trade skill classes trying to establish a future for them selfs. AS well as taken substance abuse treatment so that they can become or at least start to try being a productive part of the community that there returning to.

But the inmates can’t do it without the assistance of the staff. Meaning the correctional officers, teachers, counselors, the administration as well as medical, and mental health. Therese are the employee’s of the Department of Corrections that it is vital to receive there positive assistance if inmates are going to have a fighting chance to make a smooth transition back in society.

But it’s unfortunate that theres quite a few correctional officers as well as other employee’s that just don’t feel that when you break the law and go to prison that you don’t deserve a second chance. But little do they know that being employed by the Department of Correction is a lot more then just a job it’s away of life, because believe it or not you have peoples lives in your hands.

So what if God never send Jesus Christ so that our souls could be given a second chance at life on Earth. That statement alone proves that every body deserves a second chance.

Maybe a third and a fourth as well, because some pick up slower then others. Because society can’t afford to allow one to slip through the cracks.

Reprograming is the key.

To be continued…

Friday evening the day after school Derrick told his parents that he was going over his friends house in the neighborhood that he usually hang out with. But in fact he was going to hang out with rico and them. Since he didn’t have a car he had to meet them at the school right out side the gym where the team was having basketball practice.

Derrick only lived a few blocks from the school so he walked looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air. Because it was a beautiful sunny spring day only at seventy five degrees, but sunny with a nice mild spring breeze.

As he arrived and reached for the car door Rico seed off just a foot or so teasing him then laughen the whole time. After teasing him two more times they finally allowed him to get in the car, but still laughen the whole time while pushen and smacken him on the head playfully.

Well preppy your finally ready to hang out with the bid dogs greg said geting out of the car and into the back seat leting Derrick get into the front at rico’s request.

Okay my man we are going to go get something to drink first Rico said looking at him then given him five by slappen his hand.

Man you know that I don’t drink Derrick said.

Yeah man I know, but it’s not for you preppy it’s mainly for the ladies, but it doesn’t hurt to have little taste here and there before we meet up with them feel me.

As they speed down the street screaming and laughen excitedly for what was to come with the music blast. Rico let the top down on the white on white 2020 mustang that he just got aweek ago in his mothers name.

When they pulled up to the liquor store they started looking for some one that could buy them the alcohol weight though they was under age and all.

Hey man come here mike and greg said to the drunk that was standing a few feet away from the store, but still in plan sight of the store clerk.

So they had to motion him to the side of the store away from prying eye’s before telling him what they wanted as the drunk stumble alone side of them.

After they got the drinks they gave him five dollars for his trouble. Noticing that he was very happy as he stumbled off back toward the store excitedly.

Greg and mike was only seventeen as well as Derrick and they both was on the football team called the titans at there school. Greg was the quarter back and mike was one of his wide receivers. Greg had just beat out a student name Doug Fluty for first string quarter back just last week something about the boys hieght.

But they all was gifted young athletic players and on there way to college then hopefully to the NFL one day. But for now they was a sure pick to be featured in the McDonald All American classic this summer IF they stay out of trouble and keep up there grades that is.

After receiving the drinks they sped off down the street passing the drinks around drinken right out of the bottles. They had two fifths of hennessy and a pint of vodka and two six packs of two eleven. Derrick seeing how much fun that they was having as drinks was being passed around him decided that he wanted one. So when mike tried passing a beer to rico he entercept it mainly because he was thirsty he said.

Hey Derrick Rico said loudly over the blaring music. Hey look in the glove compartment and hand me the phone would you. I got to call the girls he said while taken along slug of beer without looking at the road but still in control or at least so he thought.

And just before they got to the entersection a kid was chaseing a ball in the street without looking both ways like his parents told him many times before. And just as rico looked up and slamed on the breaks it was already to late.

And before any of the other guys knew what had happen if they was to consider runnin it would have been too late. Because of police cruisers always patrol that section of that neighborhood for reasons other than traffic incidents. So know more than three to four minutes later cruisers was right on the seen.


To be continued…

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

(translated from its original Spanish language submission)

Rivera Dario Alonso Gomez

 Second place, Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022

While I was driving home in the middle of peak hour traffic I thought about how absurd my life is. Who am I? Only one more among millions trapped in the routine of daily life from work to home. The problems, the children, the bills to pay, all is monotony, a life without meaning. My wife is no longer the beautiful youth whom I married, she has gained weight and her hair is turning white and to be honest I’m not the same either, my hair has fallen out and left me bald, a huge belly has grown and don’t even mention these eyeglasses without which I don’t see well.

I felt pretty depressed but finally arrived at my home and now I was so tired I just wanted to sleep for many days without anyone bothering me, so I went directly to my bed and I laid down. Suddenly I felt pain in my chest that woke me up, it was very dark and I was sweating.

“Marta, Marta,” I call my wife, but she does not answer. I try to get up but the pain in my chest is sharper, stronger. I call my wife again but again she doesn’t respond. I reach out for her next to me but she isn’t there, I am alone, and now there is no pain but my feet are cold and slowly the cold climbs up my body.

With difficulty I am able to sit, I look in the darkness for the lamp on my night table to turn on the light but it isn’t there. I don’t understand what is happening, I remained sitting, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Finally I rose and began to walk with my hands in front of me, looking for the door, but I walked and walked and couldn’t find the door, nor the wall, I don’t understand what is happening, I must be dreaming, my eyes begin to adjust to the darkness and in the distance I saw what looked like the shadow of person who walked with downcast eyes. I approached him and stopped him.

“My friend, excuse me, could you tell me where we are, what is this place?”

“Friend? I don’t remember knowing you, I have no friends.”

“That’s ok, please forgive me, but tell me please, where are we?”

“Well, here.”

“But where is here?”

“Where we are, that’s clear!”

“Do you not know where we are?”

“I know very well where I am, the one who is lost appears to be you.”

And he simply went on his way.

This left me more confused. In the distance I could see many more shadows and I walked toward them. They were all the same, people or better said the shadows of people, walking from one side to the other with downcast eyes and no real direction and no expression at all. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t dare stop anyone, just kept walking in a straight line expecting to run into something but I walked a long way and nothing happened. I could only see darkness and shadows, but what place is this and where am I?

Tired and desperate I fell to my knees. I thought of my wife and my children, where could they be at this moment. Suddenly I saw a light, very pale but it was there. Perhaps there is an exit there. I rose and ran toward the light.

When I was near it was a person like the shadows but this one shone in the darkness and very emotionally I asked him, “My friend, could you tell me where I am, this is such a strange place?”

“Can it be that you still don’t know, Andres?”

“How do you know my name, by chance do we know each other?”

“Of course we know each other.”

“But I don’t remember you, please tell me, where am I?”

“This is your heart, Andres.”

“My heart! You’re joking!”

“No Andres, this is not a joke.”

“And if this is my heart why is it so cold and dark? Could I be dead?”

“No, not yet, you’re not dead.”

“Then I don’t understand.”

“Well, Andres, your heart is cold and dark because that is how you have filled it… over the years.”

“And all these shadows — who are they?”

“Your preoccupations, your mistakes, your deceptions and your bitterness.”

“And who are you?”

“I am Love and there is still some light in me because there is still some love in your life, but every day I dim a little and one day I will be another shadow. Before, we had hope, faith, charity, but all those have been diminishing one by one, only I am left, but not for long.”

“Please don’t disappear, do something”

“Only you can do something, remember it is your heart.”

“But what do I do, tell me”

Love, Andres, Love.

And the light went out, and I was back in darkness and desperation.

What do I do? He told me that I should love. I have love in my life and I love my wife, I began to remember the day that I met her. I thought about how I felt when I went down on my knees to ask her to marry me, how emotional and nervous I was. Soon Love began to shine again, though dimly.

I remembered the day my son was born, and I held him in my arms for the first time, and the joy I felt.

Love shone a little more.

“This is working,” I said.

“Yes, Andres, it is working.”

Then I thought about my little daughter and her precious smile. And Love began to shine so brightly that everything was illuminated but at the same time it began to distance itself from me.

“Please don’t leave.”

Suddenly I felt  a blow on my chest and an electric current that coursed through my body and a flash that blinded me. I tried to open my eyes but some hands detained me.

“Love, is that you?”

“No, Mr. Andres, I am Doctor Rivera, don’t worry, everything is ok.”

“What happened?”

“You had a heart attack.”

“That explains the pain in my chest.”

“Yes, Mr. Andres. And when you arrived you had a second heart attack. You were clinically dead for five minutes and we have just resuscitated you so please be calm, I am going to make sure you are out of danger and will let you rest.”

Five minutes dead, I thought. For me it was an eternity.

“Doctor… and my family?”

“ They are outside, Mr. Andres, when you get out of Intensive Care we will give you a room and you will be able to see them.”

Finally after many checkups and nurses coming and going they gave me a room and let my family come in. Everyone advanced toward me, crying. I hugged them with all my might and I felt filled with Love.

At that moment I felt God in my life.

Thank you Father for giving me another opportunity. Now I know who I am.

I am Love.

The Last Cryptid

The Last Cryptid

by Trulynd W. Hall

Third place, Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022

 “Is he dead?” the boy in a green tracksuit asks.

“Poke him with a stick again.” The girl with fiery red hair says while standing a safe distance away from the possibly dead body. The boy grabs a nearby twig and before he prods the lanky man stuck in the mud.

”Jay wait!” She exclaims. “What if he’s dead?”

“Jesse that’s what we’re trying to find out!” Jay tiredly expressed. Jay turns back to the body about to poke it.

“OK here goes.” He shakes his arms ready for the body’s reaction.

“Joy wait!” Jesse adds again. “What if…”

“Jesse please! Do you want me to poke it or not?” Joy asks while turning to Jesse. Only to find her now pale and pointing behind him. Jay made a guess to the reality behind his back. If it wasn’t a supposedly dead man walking it was way worse.

Jay nervously starts to turn around and witnesses the tall lanky body stand upright.

“He’s alive!” Jesse screams while flailing her arms in the air. The man didn’t look right, his proportions are out of place. Arms too long, legs too short and a particularly slim head. His left arm was twisted in the wrong direction as well.

“Are you OK?” chattered from Jay’s mouth. The man glances around before noticing his broken arm. He reaches for his arm.

“Stop it’s broken!” Jesse shouted in worry. Before her next sympathetic plea could release, the man grabs his arm and readjust it back in place with a loud snap in the process. The kids went and shuddered at the sight and sound.

“Hello?” Jay whimpered while backing away. Finally the man met their frames in his sight. His recently broken arm swings up and the kids flinch at the idea he was going to attack. Instead he reaches the back of his head and scratches the back of his shaggy hair. His baggy eyes meet theirs.

“Who are you brats?” he muttered.

“Brats!” Jesse shouts. “We found you lying in a ditch! Thought you were dead.! Jay let’s go! Never should have helped him!”

“You wanted to poke him, actually wanted ME to poke him,” Jay sarcastically added. Jesse gives him a glare that could cook bacon. The man interrupted the theatrics of the kids.

“It’s not safe here. Go home, he said while diving in his pockets. Jesse was about to add another angry retort but almost as if the man already knew her response, he cuts her off.

“No arguing, there’s something dangerous lurking in these woods.” He replies after pulling an object out of his dirty pants.

“Jay we’re outta here!  We don’t need to help some smelly old guy!” Jesse proceeds to stomp away. J fixates on the man’s hand which was now holding a yoyo.

“Jay let’s go!!” She shouts, already a few paces ahead of him. But Jay couldn’t look away, he felt like something amazing would happen in the next few moments.

“Jay Parker Williams!” Jesse voice yells from a distance. He hated when she used his full name. Jay turned around to berate her use of his middle name. That’s when it happened. As his back was turned a thunderous explosion boomed from behind him. The sound was loud enough to lift the kids a few inches in the air. Once again Jay looked at Jesse pointing with an even paler face them before.

“Jay. Don’t move.” Jesse mouthed. “Stay still.” Jay felt a breathy air behind him. His knees started to wobble and teeth chattered. He then heard a low growl right next to his ear. There was something behind him, something big and possibly hungry. A familiar voice yells sharply.

“Run it’s Bigfoot!” The lanky man starts while prepping his yo-yo. Jay finally glances back and sees the bigger than a bear, wilder than an ape creature looming over him. The man reiterates his command.

“Run!” He pleas to Jay.

“Hey! Hey! Over here smelly!” Jessie shouts waving her arms, attempting to look big. Bigfoot’s attention flies to her. Jesse frozen in fear attempts to flee but only manages to stumble to her feet. Jay in a hurry to save Jesse tosses rocks at the beast. The man from afar takes this chance a[nd] hurls the yoyo at Bigfoot. The rope was too long, yards long. It wraps around the beast leg stumbling it.

“Catch the yo-yo!” He shouts to at Jay. “Toss it around Bigfoot you two.” He added. The duo play catch with a yo-yo until Bigfoot was entangled in what seemed to be miles of rope. Bigfoot falls to the ground with a loud smash accompanied.

“Good job team!” The man gave a thumbs up.

“Team? Jesse snorted, waving her finger at his face.

“Is that really Bigfoot?” Jay asked, killing the argument. The man nodded. Jay’s eyes lit up!

“Cryptids are real?” Jay jumped gleefully, while Jesse rolled her eyes. The man makes a small smirk.

“Want to see?”

History of Mammals

History of Mammals

by Trulynd W. Hall

First place, Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022

 *This is a work of fictional history. Any similarities are a coincidence.

The bell rung and the class was rumbling from chatter between the students. A door embedded in a larger door swung open. The miniscule hairy professor struts across the room toward a small ladder near the chalkboard, an antiquated relic of the past yet the professor liked old things. His ebony claws reached for the chalk. He tapped it five times, a habit of his, a peculiar one at that. But that habit always gathered the class’ attention. They watch as he brings his small koalan body up to the podium.

“Part two ladies and gentlemen.” His voice smoothly lets out. “Can anyone care to recap us quicky on last class’ session?” A large claw raises it’s hand up before the question is concluded. His mane was glorious and fangs magnificent. Yet despite his intrepid out look his voice was frail followed by his large magnifying glasses he wore on his face.

“Ah Yes Charlie, always an eager one, do tell.” The professor opens his hand toward the “king of the jungle” student. Charlie stands proudly with notebook in claw.

“2028, scientist a G.E.M. labs, laboratory of genetics engineering modifications successfully transplant a human brain fragment in an injured dog shot in the head. Next week the dog displayed high levels of intelligence. Even deeper understanding of human speech. Such as the clear ability to discern shapes taught to it. This day was deemed Adam, the first of what we know now as Mammals. A prototype of what we see in our everyday lives. Adam-” the professor raises his hand to stop Charlie’s eager recital.

“And what were Adam’s progeny used for?” He scans the room. “Miss Granger? Do you know?” The sunset fur of Granger stood up as her white tipped tail stiffened. She gives a weary smile with her canines exposed.

“Police dogs Professor Hitch.” The answer came from a pinstriped fellow in the back of the class. His head resting on his arms as if bored of the subject.

“Thank you Zack and Miss Granger.” He tapped on the podium. “Stay focused.” Granger gave a small up sound and lifted her pen.

“Let’s move forward, 2033, who were the next mammals on the line for G.E.M. labs?” Hitch asked opening the question to the class.

“Felines.” Growled a mozzarella rodent in the front. Charlie felt the animosity in the air and covered his face with his notebook.

“Correct Mister Mario.” Hitch replied in a calming manner. “Domestic animals with high IQ became the hot trend of the 2030s. Why have a pet that can’t understand you?” The professor looked down and looked at his class with a solemn expression. “But then what happened that changed history forever?” A voice descended from on high.

“Alder Sterling stole G.E.M.s research.” The girl with the longest neck said. Hitch motioned her to continue. “Gladly Professor!” She replied gleefully. Since her stature was that of the tallest, attention was drawn to her every time she spoke. But she loved it.

“2044 was the emergence of all wild mammals.” She glances around to see if others are looking at her. Indeed they were. “Alongside intelligence, mammals were given more human qualities, inside and out.” She rolls her fingers that were supposed to be hooves. Some of the class react in response by moving their human-like hands and feet.

“Sterling was a disgruntled G.E.M. scientist who wanted to test on more animals instead of chase military or domestic profits. He went to Africa and began testing there with a small team.” She bite back the next sentence.

“That’s a good deal of backstory Miss Roxie,” the professor says with empathy. “Alder Sterling killed many African animals with his tests. A shame that such a revolutionary mind committed such cruel acts.” Hitch jumps down from his podium and grabs his chalk.

“Which leads us to today’s topic.” Hitch says while climbing his ladder and marking the green canvas. “The first Mammalian war, the first of many unfortunately.” Hitch returns to his podium book in hand. “We start on page 87.” He once again scans the room and opens his hand toward a student. “Mister Jones, why don’t you start?”

Jones’ hairless hands, short hair on his head and small body reacts by lifting his textbook.

“Sure thing Professor Hitch.”