From running in the crispy weather of fall to running in the frigid winter, our cross country team showed remarkable dedication and effort this season; our team with more than 10 runners showed encouraging behavior with each other and our endeavor allowed us to progress through the whole period. More importantly, our coach, Coach Prince, made sure each of us had an exceptional season and pushed us to bring out the best of us in every race and practice and we thank him for that. We started off every practice with a 1200m warm up and drills to stretch, then, depending on each of our health conditions we either ran on the trails or did the bike inside. Days before the race the team worked on cardio exercises and our couch made sure we got enough rest for the race the next day.
All the dedication and effort our team has made this season has been reflected by achieving a remarkable 2nd place in the MAISADS championship against Kents hill, Gould, Hyde and Bradford Christian Academy. I am very proud to say I was part of this team and I am pleased with my result but more importantly with the result of all of my teammates. The team would also like to thank Ms. D or Ms. Desmond for taking care of us and looking after us this season; from all the taping she did, to all of us who she sent to the bike and to all of us who she put up to every day in her office saying “I don’t want to do cross country today.” Thank you.
And for the last time we can shout:
Jacks on me Jacks on three…. One..Two..Three… JACKS!!!!
The Round Square conference was separated into three major event days: An adventure day, democracy day, a service day, and a day for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as an arrival day. On arrival day, our delegation drove to the Runda campus of Brookhouse Schools located in Nairobi, Kenya for registration and activities. Just on our first day at the conference, we met many people from many different countries including Australia, Germany, Canada, India, China, Argentina, Kenya itself, and many others. That evening we watched a musical performance to welcome us all to the conference. After the performance, we proceeded to the Hostels where we would be staying.
On the day of the opening ceremony, we woke up bright and early at 5:30 am and got ready for the day. We then traveled to the Karen campus of Brookhouse Schools for breakfast. Both of the campuses of Brookhouse were incredible. The Runda campus was newer and resembled a giant luxury resort, while the Karen campus was older and more homey, with a building that was practically a castle! After we had breakfast at the Karen campus, we traveled to a large stadium building in the city where we were to have the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony was amazing, consisting of a speech from the former first lady of Kenya, an introduction to the conference by the leaders of the RSIC board, and multiple Kenyan cultural performances. That evening we returned to the hostel to get some sleep before the next big day.
The next day was our group’s adventure day. This meant that we traveled in buses to the national reserve that is located in the city Nairobi. Nairobi is the only capital city in the entire world that has a national reserve in its city. The nature reserve was very extensive and had many different animals roaming around. We saw tons of rhinos, ostriches, giraffes, lions, and countless zebras. That night, we arrived at the campground where we would be staying. We ate dinner and watched an amazing cultural performance shown to us by some members of the Masai Mara tribe of Kenya. That night, we slept in tents surrounded by the Kenyan wilderness.
On the second activity day, we traveled to the Runda campus once again for our democracy day. We watched a conference-like presentation of over five different activists, teachers, politicians, and scientists talking about the concept of New Africa which was RSIC 2024’s theme. New Africa is the idea that Africa and the countries in it are much more than the preconceptions many people may have. Kenya and many other African countries are working towards, and in many cases already are, innovative, sustainable, fair, and democratic. After the presentation, we split into different groups, called barazas, to discuss the topics we learned about during the presentation. Then, to get a real taste of Kenyan culture and hospitality, that night we stayed with parents of some of the students from Brookhouse schools. It was very interesting to see how life in Kenya was different to life in the USa. Many things were the same such as the cars people drove and the use of technology in households, but there were also differences such as the type of food that was eaten, and the way the houses were set up.
On the final activity day, it was service day. This meant that we went to a school in the poorer part of the city and helped out to improve it. We worked all day to re-cement floors, paint walls, and clean the school. It felt very good to help out those in need by doing hands-on work, and it was nice to meet all the kids that went to the school. It was a truly inspiring experience and I enjoyed it very much.
Attending the Round Square conference this year was incredible and a completely amazing opportunity for me and the rest of the group. It inspired me in so many ways and it was a truly valuable and inspiring experience. I took so many good lessons and new ideas away from my trip to Kenya. This trip helped me to realize the importance of service work and giving back to my community and those that are less privileged than me. It also gave me a new perspective on a lot of different matters by hearing the ideas and thoughts of so many other people from so many other places. It was definitely a trip that I will never forget and that has impacted me in so many positive ways.
This year Hebron Academy had six students travel to the Round Square International Conference. This conference was located in Nairobi Kenya and took place over the course of seven days. We took a three day pre-conference trip before the seven day conference for a total of ten days. The flight was a whopping 17 hours and when we touched down in Kenya we met up with two other schools from Toronto Canada.
The three day pre-conference trip was located in the Masai Mara. The Masai Mara is a massive national reserve. The entire park was constantly patrolled by officers to protect against poachers. Our van first traveled into the reserve to a hotel where we split up and headed to our respective hotel rooms. There was a slight mishap where my group’s key had been misplaced before it was given to us. We knew the general location of our hotel however we didn’t know the exact number. Therefore we were quite stranded until we could find a new key. Finally after we got a key we moved into our rooms however only for a minute before we had to switch again with another group. This switching went on and on for two days finally ending with all the girls in one room and the boys being split between two rooms.
-Photo credit: Mr. Tholen
After all that movement we were able to go on a safari. These safaris were incredible with more animals than I have ever seen in my life. The herds of gazelle and zebras covered entire hills to the point one couldn’t see any grass. We as well were able to see a few lions roaming looking for shade to protect themselves against the hot sun. These incredible experiences were only on the two to four hour safaris. On the second day we went on a massive eight hour safari. This safari had every animal I could think of. We got incredibly close to many animals and we were even less than ten feet away from a leopard. We first traveled for four hours through the plain seeing hundreds of different animals each just a little bit different than the one before it.
Then as we were reaching lunch time we reached the Mara River. This is the biggest river in Kenya being home to almost all of the crocodiles and hippopotamuses. At the river we stopped for a picnic with pre-made bags of food. There were so many small animals running around the picnic site and many monkeys. These monkeys were asking for trouble as they kept rushing up from behind someone in our group trying to get a little scrap of food. After our short picnic we loaded back into the vans where we traveled back to the hotel to pack our bags for the massive International Conference. The next day we all piled into the vans to travel to Brookhouse Schools for the Round Square International Conference.
One night during study hall a boy was just doing his homework, alone. His name was Tristan. He got bored so he decided to get his speaker from the downstairs of the Sturtevant Hall. He went down the creaking stairs and turned towards the hall. Tristan saw his speaker, but out of the corner of his eye there he saw a red door. Out of intense curiosity Tristan went over to the door. There was a sign that read “employees only“. He opened the door and went into the room. There was a big heater. He saw a spider on the side of the wall, and Tristan has a huge fear of spiders. He heard a lot of creaking noises behind a regular door in the room. Then there was a loud BANG!!!!!! Tristan runs to the red door, but it is locked. He ran behind the hot heater and all he could see were a pair of bloody legs that walked out of the red door. Tristan looks at his phone and it is at 27%, and it is 9:13 pm. He runs towards the red door and it opens, Tristan frantically ran out. He went upstairs, and went into the reading room. He relaxed and did the rest of his homework, with a heart beat that felt like it was going to burst out of his chest.
When Tristan had finished his homework, he headed toward his dorm and noticed the man and that he was full of blood. He got into a white car and drove off. Tristan ran to Atwood and into his dorm for the night. But his dorm partner “ Sidney “ was still awake. Tristan says, Sidney, do you want to go check something out that I saw. What did you see?, he asked. I saw an interesting room with some stuff, but come on. Ok let me get a sweatshirt on. He said.
When Tristan and Sidney got back to Sturtevant Hall, they went downstairs to the red door. You went in here?,Sidney asked. Yeah, of course I did. Tristan replied. They went into the room. There is more blood. Sidney freaks out. Tristan walked into the door that the man came out of but there was only another door. He persuaded Sidney to come with him and sure enough he went along.They walked through the door and there was blood everywhere still. Tristan walked further into the room to see a handsaw and a hammer. He ran into the room that the man was in. There is not much blood but a gun and a load of knives. The knives had blood on them. What is with all the blood, Sidney said. We shouldn’t be here. I agree. Tristan said. First, I am going to look around for a sec. You can go if you want. Ok , Sidney agreed. Tristan looked around and the room was really smelling bad so Tristan looked around for a sec more, and then he heard a yell of pain behind him. He looked through the window and Sidney had an axe in his leg. He was kneeling on the concrete floor. Tristan gets away from the door and hides under the workbench. He plugged his ears to not hear the screams. Then the man comes through the door that he was in and grabs a rope and walks out. Tristan gets up and he sees him wrap the rope around Sydney’s other leg and drag him out the red door. Tristan then gets out of the room and waits 5 seconds then runs out of the red door. He saw no one there but took a run for it. Tristan ran to the bottom of the stairs and the man was standing there at the top of the stairs. He turned around and saw another guy with a mask, he had a bat. Tristan punches him in the face and grabs his bat. He takes the bat into the air and knocks him out. He runs but the red door is locked. He runs towards the other door to a teachers office. The door is locked. Tristan only has one option, and that one option is to fight. Or at least try to. He runs toward the man and the man but the man trips him. Takes the bat and knocks Tristan out. Tristan woke up in his bed thinking it was all a dream. He opened his eyes and saw the man standing next to him with a handsaw.
For God’s sake, you’re not going crazy. You’re definitely sane. Your mind is at its best. You’re not crazy, you’re ok, you’re fine, you’re perfectly calm. Yes, calm. Calm… like your mind. It’s not you, you’re not crazy. It ‘s them.
They grin, showing off their white teeth and plastic fake smiles. You close your eyes and sigh. You’ve tried to. You’ve tried to change it, but they’re not coming back.
Your family has been replaced by a bunch of imposters.
Nobody believes you? Fair enough. You wouldn’t either, if you were them. But yet you try to desperately explain.
Since you’re little, every single day after school, Mom makes the perfect ham and cheese sandwich, the bread slices lined up perfectly, the Gouda cheese sliced sharply, the Turkish ham establishing harmony between those rare but delicious ingredients…
However, in the last two weeks, you’ve noticed that the bread doesn’t have that crunch to it, the cheese is not Gouda but Cheddar, and the ham breaks a perfect order and makes it, well… unpleasant.
Your parents have never cared about you, about your day… Everyday since you can remember, you open that old rusty door and silence reigns in the house. However, these last few weeks, as you walk in, Mom smiles widely and asks about your day. Dad waves from the living room, as he’s “helping around” with the house chores. Sissy comes running to give you a big hug. Yet, all these nice and valuable gestures are not what they seem. They’re warm, yet cold; light, yet dark; ordinary, yet uncanny…
And then the smiles… They never stop smiling. It’s like a Dollhouse, but it’s not “time for you to play”.
You wipe your tears away, leaving no trace of sadness as you enter the feared house.
As you walk in, Mom greets you warmly, kindly offering a ham and cheese sandwich. You accept it cautiously, and savor those dry bites of bitterness. Sissy hugs you joyfully, pulling your shirt, asking you to come play. All those plastic smiles, those shining eyes, those perfectly styled locks, those neatly ironed outfits…
“In a sec, Sissy” you mutter as you approach the kitchen.
This has to stop. It has been going on for too long. Two weeks is too long. You can’t go crazy. That’s just not you. You can’t.
You close your eyes as your arms reach out searching for it. You find it and grab it strongly by the cool and smooth handle. You take a glance at the mirror as your anger rises. You enter the living room. This perfect family is fake. They took Mom, Dad and Sissy away. They don’t deserve to live.
You hear the laughs, that, two weeks ago would’ve been joyful, yet now you only hear malicious shrieks of laughter. You get goosebumps, as you slowly approach those monsters. You close your eyes and raise your arm decisively once you’re next to them. Three strikes. Three screams. Three seconds of satisfaction. You sit happily between corpses, playing with the knife, blood dripping all over your white pants.
“I’ll wash them” you say as you sway your legs innocently.
You see a car stop by the house, and you excitedly scream. They’re back! You open the door, only to find out that it’s not Mom. It’s not Dad, or Sissy either.
The cops surround you, and you start crying.
“You don’t get it, they were fake. They were not real.”
They nod with their heads, but you can tell they don’t believe you. In fact… they’re mocking you!
“Don’t you dare make fun of me!” they all flinch and shy away from you.
They’re not mocking you. They’re afraid of you.
As they take you away handcuffed, the knife still dripping on your left hand, you turn around and take a last glance at the mirror. And you finally see. You see the real you, pounding the glass weakly, desperately crying, trying to break the wall between the mirror and the crime scene. Your reflection falls down, gives up, and curls up into the fetal position in despair.
I’ve been in and out of jobs since I dropped out of college. I was never really a school person, and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. Looking back, I probably should have just sucked it up and gotten my stupid degree. Sorry, where are my manners? I still haven’t introduced myself. My name is Phil and I’m 24. While I’m doing anything I can to make rent, my true passion is nature. I’ve always loved spending time alone in the woods, enjoying a short break from reality. After losing yet another job, I wasn’t in a good place. I was a failure who couldn’t do anything right. I decided to go out to the local pub and get a few drinks.
“Hey Phil, how’s it going buddy?” I looked over at John in the corner, smiling at me with his yellow, chipped smile.
“Same as always, John.” I gave the most basic answer I could think of; I wasn’t in the mood to talk. John was a usual at the pub, and knew that if I was there I was down on my luck. When I sat down on the other side of the bar from him and ordered a gin and tonic, he got up and came over to me. He paid his bill, and leaned over my shoulder before leaving.
“I know why you’re here. Don’t do anything stupid. Luck comes and goes, yours will turn around eventually. Just give it time.” I scoffed and brushed him off.
“You’re starting to sound like my dad John, and I haven’t talked to him in four years.” With that he walked out, and I was alone with the bartender. After my fifth round of drinks, the bartender cut me off and I angrily stood up to leave. On the way out, I glanced over at the job adverts as I usually do. I almost walked out before stopping in my tracks. I immediately sobered up and walked back to the wall. While there were the usual adverts, I spotted one that was never there before. “Park Ranger wanted. No experience required. Call the number below to apply.” I was shocked. This could be my way out, my luck finally turning around. I ripped off the whole poster and walked out to shouts from the bartender. I didn’t listen; I had a call to make. I managed to get back to my apartment, dreaming of getting my life together and having a second chance. When I dialed the number however, all I heard was static. I tried again and again, all with the same result. I slammed the phone on my bed. This was my chance, my lifeline, and I was too late. They must have already hired someone else.
Wait, that wasn’t a reason to cut off the number. And wouldn’t I get an automated message if the call wasn’t going through? That’s when I started hearing something coming from the phone. Through the static I thought I could make something out. I listened closer – nothing. Then, very quietly, I heard three quick taps, three long taps, and then three quick taps again. “Hello?” I asked questionably into the phone. This was weird. Was I being pranked? Suddenly the tapping stopped and the phone line went dead. I went to bed that night creeped out, but mostly upset over the missed opportunity. I would have to go out and look for another job soon.
When I woke up the next morning however, everything changed. I received a text from an unknown number. It read “Hello Phil! This is Amy with the Alaskan National Forest Protection Association. I am led to believe that you are interested in working as a park ranger with us. If this is true, you’re hired! We need you as soon as possible. We will fly you out and send you a few thousand dollars to get all the gear you need when you land. I hope to see you soon. Best, Amy.” I was confused. This was all surreal, and it felt too good to be true. I didn’t notice the hundreds of red flags, like how they got my name or how they knew I wanted the position. I was curious, and what could be the harm in replying, even if it was a joke? I sent a text back saying that I was in fact interested and asked what I needed to do. Amy responded almost instantly. Weird, I thought. Maybe she was on her break or something? We texted back and forth a few times, and it ended with her sending the details to my direct flight to Anchorage, Alaska and me having $3,000 in my bank account. I was left in shock, I didn’t think it could be real. I had never had this much money at once, and I thought about just keeping the money and refunding the ticket. It would leave me with enough for a month or two, giving me plenty of time to get a job. Just then my phone buzzed one last time. “So sorry, I somehow forgot to mention the salary for this position.” Below the message I thought she had sent me another phone number. It must have been a mistake. I sent her another message, but all she did was confirm the number.
I immediately started packing my few belongings and got a taxi to the airport. Seven hours later the plane landed with a thud. I quickly bought my essentials for the next couple weeks and then it was another three hour drive to the fire station I would be staying at. I pulled my car into a run down parking lot with a small reception building that looked abandoned. The dull brown sign said “Welcome to the Gates of The Arctic National Park.” I got out of my car and breathed in the fresh summer air as a smile spread across my face. I was finally free. I was where I belonged. I walked up to the abandoned looking building and saw a sheet of paper nailed to the door. It was a note, directing me to my watch tower and giving me other instructions. I didn’t question it. I stopped asking questions when I learned the salary. I quickly figured out which way to go, and set off on my journey. The trails were beautiful and I lost myself in my new environment. Every few minutes I stopped to listen and admire the views. It was all so surreal. After a few hours of this, I realized that my hike was going to be a lot longer than I planned. It would probably take me the rest of the day and almost all of tomorrow to cover the distance to my tower. I decided to start looking for a place to set up camp close to the trail. I didn’t think anyone would be out on the trails so late and not have camp set up already, so I didn’t go very far.. I found the perfect spot in a small clearing of grass. After setting up camp and having a quick meal, I decided to go to bed and get an early start in the morning.
I awoke in the middle of the night to rustling near my tent. I laid there with my eyes open and listening intently. It sounded like a small animal, maybe a squirrel or racoon. I decided there was nothing to worry about and tried to go back to sleep. Suddenly, whatever it was by my tent gave a start and jolted into the woods and I heard it fade away. That’s when I heard footsteps. I couldn’t tell where they were coming from, but I assumed they must have been a hiker on the trail that was trying to finish a hike in the night. It was almost a full moon so there was good visibility, but I couldn’t see out of my tent. I waited for the footsteps to fade and quickly fell back asleep. When I woke up the events of the previous night were like a fog in my memory. However, the second I unzipped my tent, I was horrified. I looked outside at my gear scattered across the whole field. Something, or someone, had gone through all of my stuff.
I started picking everything up and retrieved my food from the tree I stashed it in. Luckily it was untouched. When I came back to the site, the events of the previous night started coming back to me, and I came to a horrifying truth. The footsteps I had heard were coming from the direction the head of my tent was faced. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except the fact that my feet were pointed towards the trail. This means that either something very large was by my tent, or someone was walking off the trail, in the middle of the night, this far into the woods. This thought sent shivers down my spine, but I shook it off and packed up my bag to start hiking. No matter what had happened last night, I knew for sure that I didn’t want to sleep in a tent out here for another night. I convinced myself that it must have been a deer or even a moose and started off at a brisk pace. I had around 15 miles to walk today and I was already off to a late start.
I quickly got into a rhythm and completely forgot about the chaotic morning I had. I was back in nature, in my safe place, living my dream. After about 12 miles of hiking, I came across another campsite. There was a one person tent, an old campfire, and some bags of equipment laying out. I decided to look around, but I couldn’t find anyone. I assumed this must have been whoI heard last night and I called out for them. No luck. They must have set off for a day hike and left their heavy equipment behind. I continued on my journey, and made it to the watchtower just before dusk. It was surprisingly new. I looked around the base, and saw a massive stack of firewood and some food stashed in bins to keep the animals out. I climbed the seemingly never ending stairs up to the top of the tower, and went inside. I dropped my bag and pulled out the instructions I took the previous day. I was exhausted, but I wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything I had to do before I went to bed. I read through the dry, normal sounding instructions and tasks I had to do, and it all seemed normal. Just before going to bed, out of the corner of my eye I saw a sheet of paper on the nightstand. I walked over, picked it up, and began reading. It went as follows:
Greetings, new Park Ranger. I assume you fell for the same trick that I did. The dream job. Getting to live out here all alone with nature and making that unbelievably high salary. I regret to inform you that you are in for the hardest challenge of your life. I wrote this to give you a better chance than I did. Here are the rules I figured out.
What was this, some sort of joke from the last Ranger? I was skeptical, but I continued reading.
Don’t leave the tower between 10pm and 8am, no matter what you see.
Always keep the door locked when you are inside. It won’t come in unless you let it.
If you hear sprinting up the stairs, get under the bed immediately and pray that it wont find you there.
Suddenly, it felt as if a freight train crashed into the tower. I was thrown to the floor, dazed and confused. Then it started. That dreaded scratching up the stairs. Oh God. I pictured some demon sprinting up the stairs at full speed, running into the railing every time it turned a corner. Whatever it was, it was huge, and it was fast. I remembered rule 3. If you hear sprinting up the stairs, get under the bed immediately. That was the fastest I had ever moved. I threw myself under the bed and braced myself for when it reached the door. Bang! Crash! Slam! Then silence. It reached the top balcony. There was only a door between that monstrosity and me. I froze. My skin went cold with goosebumps as I looked back to the second rule. Always keep the door locked when you are inside. It won’t come in unless you let it. Had I locked the door? I prayed I had. Oh God, please God, please tell me I locked it. I almost cried out when I heard the rusted handle start slowly turning.
Squeeeeeeeek. The door’s rusty hinges slowly turned, and the door was open. I looked towards the door from my hiding spot and almost screamed right then. The light from the sunset reflected off of the creature.The edge of the bed blocked my line of sight, and I could only see its feet. It had gnarled claws sharp as talons. Its skin was a grayish brown, and it was pulled tight around its extremely skinny legs. It took one long step into the room, and I heard something drag along the ceiling. It must have been at least 10 feet tall! Tears streamed down my face, and I struggled to stay quiet. It walked over to the bed and stood there. It was taunting me. It knew I was there, and I was going to die. I heard it’s deep ragged breathing and I held my breath for as long as I could. Right when I thought it was going to pick up the bed and reveal my hiding spot, it let out a rattling scream that startled me and it turned around to walk out. I heard that horrific scraping back down the stairs as it threw itself down them just as fast as it had come up. I waited, and gasped in air like I had never breathed before. I jumped out from under the bed and ran to shut the door and lock it. What had I just experienced? I didn’t sign up for this. I was terrified, but I picked up the list again and continued where I left off.
If you see the man in the morning, you must build a bonfire in the field with the firewood provided. Do this just before dusk, and leave the lights on all night. You must stay awake until 2am. I don’t know what it’ll do if you fall asleep before then.
If you are outside and everything goes quiet, you have a five minute head start on the creature. Do not return to the tower, it will already be there if you try.
Don’t try to leave. It likes toying with you, and it won’t care about the rules if you try to leave.
I know this all sounds like a joke or a prank, but I assure you it is not. Whatever this thing is, it likes to toy with you. Use that to your advantage, as it is all you have keeping you alive. Goodluck. I think I hear it now. It’s knocking on the roof. I think it wants to come in, and I don’t think I can stop it.
What have I gotten myself into? I was terrified of what was to come, and I pictured my inevitable fate. I was going to die to this creature. No matter what happened, I would eventually break the rules or run out of food. I made sure the door was locked, and I checked it again. I tried to go to sleep, but I was shaking and couldn’t stop. That night I had countless nightmares of that creature stalking me, and what would have happened if it checked under the bed. The next morning I was still shaken, but I tried to do something to get my mind off everything. I decided it was best to unpack my bag and make myself at home, as I wouldn’t be going anywhere any time soon. In the middle of unpacking I heard something coming from outside. I saw a hiker by the treeline waving and screaming at me. Fire! Fire! Fire! The man repeated over and over. I saw smoke coming from the direction of the campsite I had seen the previous day. I was about to step outside when the man stopped yelling. This caught me off guard. I looked at the clock. It was 7:58 am. I remembered the rule. As I looked up, I briefly saw the man turn around and run into the woods on all fours. At this point I knew I was screwed. What was this thing? I waited until it was 8:20 to go outside, and I decided to venture down the stairs. I heard birds chirping and singing, and I was happy to know it had left me alone, at least for now. I started chucking firewood into the ring that was burnt in the grass from previous fires.
I spent most of the day in the tower, thinking about how I could get out of my situation. It was only when I started to see the sun touch the horizon that I snapped out of it. I jerked up out of my chair and ran down the stairs. I dumped a can of gasoline on the massive pile of firewood, threw in a match, and darted back up the stairs. It was time to wait. I sat in my chair, overlooking the fire with the false sense of security that the tower gave me. Nothing was happening. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen, but I thought it would be something. Minutes turned into hours, and hours passed by with nothing happening. I was starting to doze off, when around 1 am I heard a shriek coming from the woods. I shot up, fully awake, not sure what I had heard. Suddenly, I saw four figures entering the clearing. They all took the appearance of hikers, but I knew better. Who could say what was really under their disguises. I was terrified. There were more of them. I thought there was only one up until now. This was when I noticed something. They seemed to avoid the fire. Although it was dying out, they only went as close as the outer ring the light from it formed. With this, I came to two realizations. First, they are afraid of fire. Second, the fire was very quickly dying out. When I came to this conclusion, they all looked up at me in unison. Shivers immediately shot down my spine. All I could do was pray that the fire held out for long enough, for who knew what they would do to me if that fire went out. When the clock struck 2 am, as if it was clockwork, they all sauntered back into the tree line, just before the fire went out. I decided to go to bed before anything else could happen that night. I left the lights on like the rules said, and again dreamt of that thing finding me under the bed.
The next day I found myself out on the trails. I was wandering about until I came upon a campsite. It was the one I had passed a few days ago. I approached it, but suddenly stopped. The tent was ripped to pieces, the equipment thrown about. It was destroyed. After looking at the site, I realized something was wrong. I couldn’t hear anything. Oh God I was so screwed. I didn’t know how long it had been since the forest went quiet, so I didn’t hesitate to dart into the tree line to look for a spot to hide. I found a half dead tree, and crawled my way inside the trunk. It would have to be good enough. The second I got into my spot, I heard that gut rattling scream. It was close. I peered out, and saw it in full clarity for the first time. The thing must have been ten feet tall. It was humanoid in shape, but everything was wrong. Its limbs were long, too long. It didn’t make sense. And it was so skinny. It was as if it hadn’t eaten anything in its lifetime. But the worst part was its eyes. They were a red so bright it looked as if a fire were burning in its sockets. This thing had come straight from hell – from my nightmares. I was going to die, and there was nothing I could do. The creature suddenly snapped its head around, looking straight at me. It felt like it was staring into my soul. Those piercing red eyes left an imprint in my mind. It let out a shriek, and as I began to sob, I saw an unnaturally wide smile spread across the creature’s face. At this point I just wanted to curl up into a ball and wake up from this nightmare. It started walking towards me. Oh no, oh no no no. This was it. When it was about two steps from my hiding spot, I heard another piercing shriek from off in the distance. It stopped dead in its tracks. Then it yelled back. The noise that came out of its mouth was so strong and piercing that I thought it ruptured my eardrum. It began to stalk away, back towards the other shrieks. I listened to it, and it was laughing. This thing was toying with me. I knew it now. I decided I had to run. It was my only chance to escape. If I went now, I could make it to my car in maybe three hours. It was worth the risk.
I waited for the sounds to return to the woods, and sprung from my hiding spot. I slowly made it to the trail. Then my fear got to me, and I started full out sprinting the opposite way from the tower. I put probably six miles between me and the tower in about 40 minutes. I thought It was going to be okay. I even slowed down to catch my breath. This was a mistake. Just then everything went silent, as if someone flipped a switch. I started sprinting. I had a five minute head start and I wasn’t going to waste it. I felt eyes on me from all directions. I was running faster than I ever had, my veins pumping with adrenaline. The trees rushed past in a blur. I wasn’t going to let it catch me. Suddenly, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I saw the parking lot. This only made me run faster. I heard it behind me now. It wasn’t going to let me get away. I ran faster with every step, giving all of my energy, until it all went dark. Something flew into the back of my head and I fell over instantly. I wasn’t knocked unconscious but I was dazed and couldn’t move. I heard it stalk up to me from behind, then from my sides. They were surrounding me. I gave up. I accepted my fate. Everything went black.
I awoke in the night in the field in front of the firetower. It was the middle of the night. It brought me back to this hell of a place just to mess with me. I got to my feet and started slowly climbing the stairs. I was about halfway up them when my worst nightmare came true. I heard the scrapping frenzy of limbs climbing the staircase below me. Every crash threw me off balance as I struggled up the rest of those stairs. It was so close to me I felt like it was going to reach out and grab me. I reached the top and I threw the door open and jumped inside. Then nothing. It was all quiet and still. This brings me to where I am now, writing this story as a warning to you. If you find a job like this in the middle of nowhere, it’s probably too good to be true. I hear it now. It’s tapping on the roof. That pattern; I remember it. I thought back to the phone call I had made that got me into this mess. Those three quick taps, followed by three long taps, and again by three quick taps. S.O.S. It was taunting me again. I think it wants to come in now, and I don’t think there’s anything I can do to stop it. I heard a thud behind me as it fell to the balcony. The door slowly creaked open. It’s behind me now. I can feel cold shuddering breaths on the back of my neck. I took a deep breath and swallowed. It’s watching me write, and I’m afraid what it’ll do to me when I stop. I pictured the scene in my mind, of this towering creature bent down behind me, waiting to pounce. My warning to you: If you ever find a strange set of rules, follow them.
Often when looking at sports programs you may notice the star athletes, possibly the clean jerseys the team wears, or the coaches. However, behind it all are the athletic trainers that make sure those athletes stay on the field in those fashionable jerseys and they definitely keep the coaches in check. At Hebron it is no different, Ms Raymond, who unchoicefully goes by Ms. D or Ms. Desmos keeps all the sports teams in line and healthy. Whether it be one of the Soccer players trying to get out of running sprints or another one of the countless Hockey injuries she is always there to fix you up and pester you about doing your rehab. However, she doesn’t limit herself to getting mad at the players, the coaches get their fair share of her thoughts. Although Ms. D is able to see through everyone’s antics and is happy to voice her opinions on it, she is always there for everyone. Her door is always open and practically everyday students will come to her for any range of help whether it be advice in personal life to being taped up for practice or just to grab ice and say “hi”. I personally account for many visits for all varieties and I know many others can as well.
So from Hebron Academy to you Ms Raymond(Desmos), Thank you for everything you do and have done for our community.
Pictured above: Previous assistants to the athletic trainer- Nick Theodos ’23, Anthony Lombardo ’23, Noah Parmenter ’24, and Ms. Raymond (Ms. D)
*Background information: After reading Alice Walker’s short story, The Flowers, students in Ms. Waterman’s AP Language & Composition class were assigned to write about a memorable moment when they realized that their childhood was over. This is Kate Dilworth’s “And The Summer Was Over” essay entitled, Ballet-Slipper Pink.
-Photo credit: Kate Dilworth ’25
My grandparents had three sons, my father being the oldest. My father was thirty-one when he met my mother who was twenty-six at the time; Nine years later they got married and had me. When I was five I couldn’t wait to turn seven, at seven I couldn’t wait to turn ten. I couldn’t wait to grow up. At five I couldn’t understand the concept of death. I knew my parents would never leave me, and I would always go to sleep in my ballet-slipper pink room, with my parents asleep just on the other side of the wall. My parents would never leave me, they would always be just beyond the pink.
As my wish came true and I turned fifteen, I realized that not only had I grown up but so did my parents. Over the ten years of my wish for maturity, my parents’ skin wrinkled, and their jet-black hair became sprinkled with salt. One day my mother would have me sit down next to her on the guest bed of my grandparents’ house two days after Christmas. Then she would ever so calmly tell me my father had prostate cancer. But it was so small I shouldn’t have to worry. He would stay on top of it.
I had been to countless funerals. Death was simply something that happened. I would put on a nice dress, ride in a silent car with my parents, and sit in a still church. The priest would say a few words, and the family would read their tear-stained speeches about their husband, brother, or son. Yet I had never been to the funeral of someone I truly knew, I couldn’t mourn the hole in my heart if it was never there to begin with.
At sixteen I am sitting on the couch two weeks before the start of junior year. My father sits next to me. When I look at his face, I notice something. I have his eyes, his nose, the same straight black hair. I spent my entire life viewing him as immortal, the never-ending fire in his brain would never burn out. It’s what made him my father. Yet, he has to have surgery, they have to remove the prostate before the cancer spreads further. I remember the moment, I remember hearing only pure silence, I remember the feeling of my mother watching and listening from the kitchen island, my father’s face, his eyes, my eyes, our eyes looking at me, waiting for a reaction. I saw my parents as regular men and women, and I, the perfect mix of both.
I went to bed that night in my room, the one next to my parents, but my ballet-slipper pink walls were painted white.