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Evan's Final Reflection 




     The bare-chested giants march into the arena, heads held high. The weapons are brought out, razor-sharp edges glinting as the rudis inspects them. Each combatant dons his arms, standing ready. At a blast from the tibia, they begin. The lightly armed thraex circles his opponent, the murmillo, who stares him down over his oblong shield. The thraex darts in, swiping low at his adversary’s leg with his curved sica, drawing blood. As the murmillo sinks to his knees, the victor turns his gaze to the editor’s box. “Iugula!” the crowd shouts. Kill him. The editor turns his thumb down. The murmillo bares his neck, and the thraex does not hesitate to swing. As blood drenches the sands, the crowd screams with excitement.


These violent spectacles were fought by gladiators, the slave-warriors of ancient Rome. These unfortunate souls were highly-trained men forced to give their lives for the amusement of the Empire’s people. I am going to tell you how they did it.


Who Were the Gladiators?


     Gladiators came from two places. The first and foremost, at least in the earlier half of the games’ life, was slavery. Gladiatorial spectacles originated from a tradition upheld by the Etruscans, a people that Rome conquered. At the death of an important leader, slaves were forced to fight each other to the death, to appease the gods. These fighters were called bustiarii, or funeral men (Watkins).


     Somewhere along the way, the Romans decided that watching these bloody duels was somehow exciting, and rich slave owners began holding slave fights outside of funerals. As all religious connections faded from these fights, people began calling the combatants gladiators, from the Latin word for sword, gladius. At the time, it was perfectly legal for a master to dispose of his slaves any way he wanted, including sending them to fight in a show.


     Criminals were another major source of gladiators. If somebody had committed a crime such as theft or murder, they were sentenced to fight. But where did they live out that sentence? The answer lies with the lanistae, meaning butcher in Etruscan. A lanista was an entrepeneur who trained gladiators and rented them to whoever was hosting the best show.


The Ludus


     Lanistae owned facilities called ludi, or ludus, singular. Meaning both games and school, ludiwere designed for the training of gladiators. Gladiators were housed, fed, trained, and imprisoned here. Gladiators trained and fought for three years (if they survived that long). Once that time was up, they shifted to two years of teaching at the ludus. “After all, if someone could survive three years in the arena, they must be a good teacher” (Watkins). Gladiators were fed a high-carbohydrate diet, and weren’t allowed to consume very much wine. The fact that they had to be strong to be effective led to gladiators being the best-fed slaves in the Roman Empire. Subsequently, men who were desperate or poor sometimes volunteered as gladiators, but not without vowing “to be shackled, whipped, burned, beaten with a rod, and killed with iron weapons” (Malam).


The Games


     The “games” that gladiators participated in were held in various arenas and amphitheatres across the Roman Empire. The exotic animals, naval battles, and splendid decoration were symbols of Rome’s power. The duels themselves were actually not all that different from how you and I would picture them, with a few exceptions.


     Before a duel, other fighters would perform a  mock duel with wooden weapons. They bruised, bled, and beat each other until one was subdued, and; “Brutal as this seems to us, these non-lethal fights were nothing but a tame warm-up act.” (Watkins). Upon the completion of the “warm-up”, the gladiators’ iron armaments were brought out for inspection. They had to be razor sharp, in perfect condition. Once they were approved, the match would begin.


     When both combatants were ready to commence, someone would blow a signal on the tibia, a wind instrument rather like the oboe. Overseeing the match were officials similar to modern-day referees; Summa rudis, and his assistant, seconda rudis. They enforced the small rules and regulations of a duel, making sure that the fighters would back off once one of them was wounded. If this was the case, and a gladiator was no longer able to fight, the victor would look to the editor, who in turn lent an ear to the crowd. If they were shouting “Iugula!” (kill him), the editor turned his thumb down. The triumphant gladiator would then proceed to burying his sword in the other’s neck. Then slaves (sometimes dressed as Charun, the Etruscan demon of death, and Mercury, a Roman god believed to guide souls to the Underworld [Watkins]) would drag the corpse through the Porta Libitinensis (“Gate of Death”). Another, rarer occasion, was when the crowd shouted “Mitte!”, signaling their desire to grant the loser mercy. The editor turned his thumb up, and so, the gladiator was granted missus. The winner still received full honors, but not before helping his wounded rival through the Porta Sanavivaria (“Gate of Life”). Speaking of winners, they received a large amount of money, and if they defeated a notable warrior or achieved a certain number of victories, they received a rudius. The rudius was an elaborate wooden baton that freed its recipient from all combat obligations. The rudius was prized by a whole cast of characters, each with their own fighting style.


Fighting Styles


     As you might have guessed, gladiators had a whole range of arms and armor that increased the interest level of the games (at least from the Roman’s point of view). Most gladiators fought bare-chested, but the style of shields and helmets changed from fighter to fighter. The secutor, the retiarius, the hoplomachus, these are a few of Ancient Rome’s arena fighters.


     First of all, the hoplomachus is a heavily-armed type of warrior. Originally known as the Samnite, the style evolved from the Samnites, an Italian people that Rome conquered. The hoplomachuswas armed with a gladius, a short, straight sword. He also wore leather and metal bands around his sword arm and left leg. A massive rectangular shield known as a scutum was his main defense, as well as full-face visor and helmet. He usually fought the thraex, a lighter, more agile gladiator.


     The word thraex means Thracian (or “inhabitant of Thrace), as the Thracians were another type of people the Romans conquered. The thraex was armed true to his origin, with a curved sica, as the Thracians fought with, which could deliver deadly slashes. His shield, the seven-pound parmula, was tiny compared to the massive scutum, but could still deflect blows and could be used as a bashing weapon. To make up for this tiny shield, the thraex’s leg protectors reached his thighs. Often, a Thracian’s helmet was crested with a griffin. The thraex was often paired up with the murmillo as well as the hoplomachus, as a sort of light-versus-heavy matchup.


     Murmillo meant fish-man, and the fighting style got its name from the fish-decorated helmets of the gladiator. He fought with a short sword and a forty-four pound oblong shield, which hid him from most of the blows and allowed him to omit most arm and leg protection. He would fight the thraex and the retiarius, the “net-fighter”, in a sort of play on words (get it, fish-man, net-fighter?).


     The retiarius, as you might have guessed, fought with a net in his right hand. On his left, he clutched a trident, and his arm was covered wrist-to-shoulder with iron. In place of a helmet, the retiarius wore only a headband. He tended to battle the murmillo, as you know, or the secutor, a heavily-armed warrior whose name means “chaser”.


The so-called “chaser” had a helmet with rounded edges and eye holes, to help the net of the retiarius slide off. He carried a scutum and gladius, with bands on his sword arm and a shin guard called an ocreaon his left leg. He fought by chasing his opponent around the arena (hence the name, chaser), which made sense, as the retiarius, his most common adversary, couldn’t afford to remain stationary with his little protection.


     All of these fighting styles created rivalries among the gladiators, and added interest to the bets placed on the numerous fights. Gladiators, as you can see, had very many ways to capture the audience’s attention, but their most reliable was still their blood.




     As you have discovered, gladiators had more going on than just killing each other, all though that is still their intent and remember: with all their glories and excitement, gladiator games were still some of the most brutal acts ever committed in human history. However, they will never cease to fascinate millions with their odd practices, remarkable lives, and amazing prowess in the arena.














The Cult of Hades

     The merchant's son watched as the black-robed figures dumped their cargo into the spring. Gritting his teeth, he walked back to his home, where his father had returned from Troy, with a fresh supply of wares.

       Thank Poseidon, Cadaus thought. Although his father was an experienced sailor, storms frequented the Aegean Sea. Perhaps the Sea God had recognized the merchant and his son't devotion to him.

     A fire was blazing in the hearth, which was adorned by a figure of Hestia. Cletius the merchant, who was sitting near it, noticed his son's sour face.

     "What troubles you, my son?"

     Cadaus scowled; "The Hades men are throwing their sacrifices into the spring."

     Cletius sighed through his nose. "It is better not to dabble in the affairs of such vulgars, my son. Do not seek them out. They will only add your corpse to their perverse mound of death. You, and the rest of Epirus."

     But the spring's creator, Poseidon himself, knew better. Early the next morning, the god appeared to Cadaus in the woods, where the youth was walking. The boy recognized the trident-bearing figure at once.

     Poseidon spoke: "I have seen much wrong done to my spring and my people by the Cult of Hades. They practice black arts, dabbling in the secrets of Tartarus."

     Cadaus, daring as much as he could to speak, was curious. "What do you mean to do, my lord?"

     "The question, Cadaus, is what I mean for you to do. Go to my spring. There, you will find an entrance to the House of Hades. You must slay their leader at all costs, for he is secretly massing forces to seize Epirus and perhaps all of Greece."

     Cadaus was stunned. "Where would he find the strength to do such a thing?"

     The answer will be revealed to you in time. But remember, you will find aid along your quest."

     A gleaming sword appeared in the air in front of the awed youth. Its blade was the most beautiful silver, its hilt a shimmering sea green.

     Cadaus reached out and grasped it. The weapon was marvelously right and wickedly sharp.

     "Go." The god implored. "Bring justice upon them!"




     Cadaus gripped the pommel of the blessed sword as he gazed toward the sacred spring. Shouldering his pack, he walked toward his goal.




     The stench found him before the sight. The cloying smell of rot threatened to gag Cadaus. The spring, when he found it, was red. A pile of corpses was heaped near the source. In some places, the corpses' flesh was twisted and shaped in nauseating fashion. Yet they were otherwise intact human bodies, unmolested by carrion feeders. How odd, Cadaus thought. He began to circle the spring, looking for the entrance the Sea God had promised. Cadaus was halfway around when he heard the twig snap.

     Frightened, he turned around, slowly. He was met by the gruesome face of a cadaver, its mouth fused shut, and its eyelids and cheeks distorted by some monstrous art. Its eyes blazed with an inhuman light. Its legs were blackened and bare. And moving.

     Screaming with pure terror, Cadaus leapt out of the way of the ghoul's lumbering approach and drew his sword. Thankfully, the creature's stiff limbs were slow, its dead flesh weak. The youth's sword had no trouble severing its head from its neck, snuffing out the queer fire in its eyes.

     Much to Cadaus' dismay, however, the other thralls were already climbing to their feet. The boy impaled the first to reach him in the chest, but still it came, flailing its spindly arms and shambling towards its prey.

     Cadaus tripped backward on a stone, falling with a splash into the spring. He cried out in despair. The ghoul shuffled toward him, slowly, inexorably ... and with a sucking sound, it plunged into the spring's bed. One moment there, the next, gone.

     Scrambling to his feet, Cadaus gaped in wonderment at the spot where the corpse had stood. Only a patch of fine white sand, slowly spiraling into the earth, remained.

     The advancing thralls halted suddenly. Their fiery eyes dimmed. The spring churned excitedly, purging the last traces of red from its waters. Cadaus remembered something that Poseidon had told him: You will find help on your quest. The youth dashed between the dazed ghouls, sliding feet-first down the crevice. He fell, fell, fell ... and landed with a splash in a puddle on the floor of the tunnel.

     For a time, Cadaus sat there, numb. By the gods, what where those? The corpses' faces ... what had been done to achieve that mutilated, demonic appearance that cut so deep into his conscience? And their expressions, so blank and listless, shuffling forth with only one goal: slaughter. Then Cadaus remembered another piece of his conversation with Poseidon:

     "Their leader is secretly massing forces to seize Epirus, and perhaps all of Greece."

      "But where will he find the strength to do so?"

     "The answer will be revealed to you in time."


     Well, the answer had been revealed. 

     He remembered now that this would take him to the House of Hades. Cadaus rummaged through his woolen pack for a torch. He found one, a simple stick with a tar-coated tip. He reached for his flint and tinder. Placing the torch between his knees, he promptly lit it.

Sliding his sword into his belt, he reached down the slick, dark passageway. It was hollowed out of smooth stone, titling steadily down into the earth. Cadaus passed through limestone, sandstone, and shale. Then he found the doors.

     They were carved of solid black marble slabs. A huge, leering skull image was set into them, made out of what appeared to be...real bone. It's eyes were of obsidian. An inscription above the skull read: All men must bow to Death. The boy tried to push the doors. They didn't budge. He threw his whole weight against them, but it accomplished nothing, except for a throbbing shoulder. By now, an idea began to form in Cadaus' head. He faced the doors calmly, and said; “Gods do not bow to Death. I am Cadaus, champion of Poseidon. Yield to me, or suffer the wrath of Olympus.”

Haltingly, the doors shuddered open, revealing a massive hall. The black marble floor reflected the eerie glow of green torchlight. The walls and ceiling were flat gray granite, held up by black marble pillars. In the middle of the room, a black iron brazier flickered with fire, which constantly flickered from shades of blue and purple to hues of orange and red. Hooded in black, the forbidding figures of acolytes gathered around the fire, chanting in some demonic tongue.

     Cadaus stepped into the hall. The instant his foot hit the floor, one of the acolytes whirled around, shocked. With a cry, he alerted his brethren to the intruder's presence. Three of the acolytes drew lackluster bronze forks from within their belts. Each had four wicked sharp prongs. Cadaus drew his sword, and its light cast back the darkness from the chamber, filling it with the dappled pattern of sunlight filtering through water. He rushed to meet the onslaught of the acolytes. As the first stabbed, Cadaus twisted the sword, pulling the pitchfork from the man's hands. The next flew at Cadaus, lifting his weapon for a massive downward cleave. Cadaus dodged and lashed out at the man's arm, cutting deep through skin and sinew. Oddly, the acolyte fell without a sound, save for the thunk of flesh on floor.

     “Stop, you fools!” A cruel, rasping voice hissed out over the hall, immediately stilling the brothers in their attack. “Let me see this defiler, so that Lord Hades shall judge him through me!”

     The acolytes stepped back to allow the speaker to pass. This one was robed in black and white, his hood covered his face.

     “Bow before Zyrthos, the Master!”


     The robed man's exclamation of rage was enough to make all in the room flinch. “You dare insult god's men! We are the Keepers of Death, loyal to Hades!”

     Cadaus now saw why Poseidon had sent him to destroy these men. He trembled with rage, and lashed out at Zyrthos with the power of his tongue.

“You call yourself god's men! As if! You claim to serve Hades, yet you pillage his kingdom, reviving the souls of those you murder for your own foul deeds! Do not think I have not seen you, preaching on the streets of Epirus! Do not think I have not seen you, carrying away innocent people into the night, to mutilate them for some unholy purpose! Do not think I have not seen your monsters, the things you left in the spring!”

     Cadaus gazed into the fire. For a moment, he considered calling on Poseidon to aid him, but then he realized what he had to do.

     “Lord Hades, these men call themselves your servants, yet they steal your subjects! They give life to those who should be dead, and leave their bodies open in the sacred places of the gods! Lord Hades, I implore you, strike down these beasts in men's skins!”

     Cadaus launched himself at Zyrthos, plunging his blade into the monster's black heart. Zyrthos wailed like nothing human, his cry cut off by the blood pouring from his mouth.

     The room chilled. The fires turned a shade of dark, dark blue. Suddenly, the acolytes keeled over where they stood, dead.

     Zyrthos coughed to his knees. “You...cannot kill me. I am the Master...he will save me!”

     “Who?!” Cadaus roared. “Whom do you serve?!”

     Zyrthos smiled. “The Abyss will welcome me.”

A black form leaked out of Zyrthos' body. Its head flicked up, and Cadaus was suddenly, inexplicably, consumed with terror. It was pure darkness. It dove through the floor of the hall, and Zyrthos crumpled to the floor, dead.  




  The Giver: Epilogue

  Nathaniel sighed. Things had not improved since Jonas had left. In hindsight, Nathaniel regretted Giving the boy so many painful memories. Jonas himself could handle them, but the others could not.
     Activity in the normally well-ordered community had ground to a halt. The streets were empty. The Plaza was silent. The Committee of Elders had not been seen or heard from for two weeks. The people of the community, these citizens of Sameness, had been too comfortable for too long.
     At first, he had tried guiding them, advising them. Perhaps they would trust their old Receiver of Memory. But by then, they were already too desperate.
Beginning to pace around his room, Nathaniel became frustrated. If only I could console them with happy memories, but all those that they have come from Jonas. Hopefully Nathaniel had Given the boy enough of those. There were too few, now, that had the innate ability to Receive memories, the Capacity that Nathaniel, Jonas, and all the Givers and Receivers before them had.
     And they were all too young.
     But suddenly, thinking there in his dwelling, where so many timeless memories had been shared, the Giver had an idea. He strode over to the speaker console and flipped the switch.
     “Yes Receiver, how many I help you?”
     “Order the community to the Plaza.”
     “Yes. Everybody.”

     Nathaniel looked out over the assembly. They were silent, except for the snifflings of young children, and the sound of ragged, exhausted breath. The crowd breathed like a massive entity of pain and fear. Suddenly, Nathaniel could feel the host of doubts straining at the protective wall of his serene wisdom, the product of pondering the memories of the past for countless years.
     “People of our community.” He began. “You are suffering. Do not think I have forgotten.” He drew a deep breath. “You are suffering as I have suffered for years and years. I held all these memories, the good and the bad, so that you would not have to suffer. But I can do that no longer. I hope you realize why. Colors, animals, nature, love, family, and yes…even pain. With the memories you now have, I hope that you can comprehend what I mean when I say that these things make us human. There was once more than just the community, once people made beautiful things and taught each other how to care, how to make the world happy! People once looked to the sky and prayed for the day when suffering would be no more, when they could live forever in a place called Heaven!”
     Voices called back; “But how can suffering end if I’m always hungry!”
     “And when will I stop coughing!”
     Chaos was erupting in the Plaza, and for the first time, they were truly angry. Not frustrated, not annoyed, but angry. No precise language could hold them back now. People were shouting their hardships and sufferings at one other, children were crying….
     And the Giver did what he was always meant to do: he gave.
He felt his favorite memory flow through the Plaza, felt its calming aura wash out over the crowd. All felt silent, and from the deepest depths of his soul, the Giver sang in a voice that was not his own:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

was blind, but now I see!

     As the song continued, the thing called music, the crowd began to take up the tune. Soon, their joyful voices carried all the way to the place called Heaven, where a young boy with pale eyes looked down on them. And he smiled.




Humans: Mass Produced

Yokohoma,Japan,March 25,16:23 He was early. As he strode briskly through the reception hall, he smiled genially at the receptionist. When she looked up, he cleared his throat.
“4B, please. I have an appointment with Dr. Onoda.”



“Darwin. Charles Darwin.”


“Oh, really?” She arched an eyebrow.


He laughed. “Yes, my mother is a marine biologist, she is quite the Darwinian.”


She waved him through.


In truth, his name was not Charles Darwin. His mother was dead. Although he did have an obsessive fascination with genetic engineering. Always the eccentric, most of the people he had known waved him away as harmless. However, they did not know that full-scale, human genetic recoding was now possible. Yes, it required lots of resources, but Lucius DeFornio was quite resourceful.


         . :#***#:.


He twisted the knob on Dr. Onoda’s door. The office made for sparse accommodations, in fact it was a wonder that Onoda lived through a day there. A glass-and-steel desk, a laptop in place of filing cabinets, and a glass window looking out over Yokohoma’s skyline. The doctor was sitting quietly at the desk, hands folded. He had obviously been expecting DeFornio’s arrival.


Lucius took a seat in the revolving chair opposite the small, balding man with unsavory greased-back hair and suspicious, darting eyes.


“Ah, Mr. DeFornio, what a pleasure to be meeting you at last.”


“Doctor, let’s just get to the point here. Are the specimens ready?”


This blunt approach had obviously caught Onoda off-guard. “Ah...of course! The fetuses   are doing quite finely, they are nearly ready to be removed from the womb. Do you have any...preferences on their appearance or personalities?”


“Quite a few, doctor. I want each specimen to be grown at an accelerated rate, and they should be at least six feet once they obtain full height. I want them to be single-minded, unquestioning. They cannot have any reasoning skills. I want them to possess brute strength, lightning speed, and lungs of iron. Make them identical, pale eyes, no hair. I want their speech to be perfect, and voice of middling range.”


Onoda’s eyes stretched, seeming to envelope his entire face. After a moment he asked, “Anything else?” in a voice that suggested that there could not possibly be anything else.


“Ah yes, one small thing.”


Onoda blew a sigh of relief. It would be small.


“I want them to have no emotions. And I want ten thousand.”


Chapter 1

Northbridge,MA,March 27,9:47 Byron lifted the razor to his face. It was time for him to get a job. He was glumly contemplating whether the life of a garbage man or a McDonald’s cashier would better suit him. He didn’t miss the harsh control and violence of active military service, but he wasn’t exactly prepared for the dull life of an everyday job. Sure, he had considered what he was doing at least fifty times in his bunk back in Afghanistan, but he wasn’t sure anymore. He had never been sure ever since the white coats had started poking around with their gene experiments.

Best not to dwell on stuff like that. Byron shuffled out of the bathroom and moved to his computer chair. He tapped ‘job applications northbridge massachusetts’ onto the keyboard. He was rather appalled at what he saw.


“Assistant Senior Center Director? My God, I think I’m falling asleep already.” He shut the computer down and whirled around.


The scene out the window would have given him a heart attack, if he were fifty years older and hadn’t been in the army. There was a van outside, industrial gray and BIG. There were men escorting people with...were those bags over their heads? One of them was standing on a ramp extended from the van’s trunk, waving his arms as he directed the others.


Byron strode over to the window, squinting against the glare of the sun. He kept his head down, in case those guns weren’t just a hallucination.


Byron rushed to his bedroom to change. He quickly pulled on some jeans and a sweatshirt. On the way out, he tore his denim jacket off of the hook.


Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he walked to the van, trying to look casual as he lowered his head against the unseasonable wind chill. None of the armed men looked in his direction as he approached. This made Byron uneasy.


“Hey, what’s going on over here?” At long last, they turned to face him.


The one on the ramp answered first; “Military training exercise, U.S. Army.”


Byron snorted. “Yeah, right. I was in the service too long to fall for that one. I’ll ask you again, what’s going on here?”


The leader glanced around at his subordinates, then said: “Something you shouldn’t know about.”


Byron didn’t have time to hit the ground before the bullet slammed into his leg.


Chapter 2

South Twin Island,Hudson Bay, Canada, March 29, 4:12 The first thing he noticed was the cold. It was freezing in the concrete cell that Byron now found himself in. When he awoke with a gasp, his breath fogged out in front of him. The second thing he noticed was the pain in his leg. As he lay still on his back, it was a dull, rhythmic throbbing. But if he moved, a blinding lance of pain shot through his body. I thought I left the army.

More importantly, Byron heard voices echoing outside. He looked to his right, and sure enough, there was a steel door in place there. The door swung open, to reveal a smiling man standing there, with short-cropped black hair and pale green eyes, which were ringed in shadow, as if he had not slept for quite some time. Oddly enough, he was dressed in a suit, which made Byron wonder whether or not a lawyer had come to pay a visit.


Byron was prepared for the man to say anything, whether it was an insult, an accusation, a question, or a command. He definitely did not expect a compliment, “That was quite daring, what you did back in Northbridge.”


“What, trying to stop a bunch of lunatics with guns abduct people?”


The strange man laughed at this, before his expression turned grave. “I’ll have you know that you interrupted a very important...ah, how shall I say...experiment of mine. I’d rather not have you interfere, so I brought you here.”


This man was a nutter, too, but Byron wasn’t about to let him get under his skin. “So you could have someone to talk to about your brilliant death ray that you conjured out of a James Bond book? You might as well kill me now...but of course, I have some clever gadget right up my sleeve that’ll cut those handcuffs right off of my wrists.”


By now, the lawyer’s mirth had completely dried up. “Yes, of course you will. Come with me, I have something to show you.”


He gripped Byron by the arm, yanking him to his feet. Pain stabbed through his leg. He cried out.


“Guards, assist our guest.”


The two armed men waiting outside the room came in and grabbed Byron, one to an arm, lifting his feet off of the ground a few inches. So it was in this manner that he was dragged down the corridor.


“You probably want to know a little bit about me, do you not?” the lawyer didn’t wait for a reply. “Very well, I am Lucius DeFornio. I like to think of myself as a scientist, but most of the people I have known have put me down as eccentric.”


“I’d put you down as eccentric, too.” That snide remark earned Byron a whack on the face by one of the guards, prompting him to turn and inspect his captors. The armed men were wearing ski masks over their faces, like some typical thug out of a spy thriller. Wow, I really fell through the looking glass.


Lucius DeFornio, the eccentric scientist/lawyer, continued. “All my life, I have been fascinated with the ability to manipulate the genetic code of living beings, to make them superior to other life forms. I have searched constantly for a means of making this a reality. I earned my living by writing papers on my musings, which were branded as mere theory. When global food companies first discovered the means of genetically modifying plants, I was...jubilant. I quickly obtained a method of duplicating the process through one of my contacts. With the help of my dear friend Dr. Suziki Onoda, I was able to modify it for application to human beings.


“At first, my results were...discouraging.” They had stopped at another door. “Myka, Farrell, show him.”


The guards pulled off their masks before Byron decided to look away. Their skin was horrid, a translucent film of rubber-like consistency that stretched tight over bulging veins and twisted muscle. The skin around their eyes and mouths  were pulled back, revealing all of their teeth and too much of their eyes, giving them a skeletal appearance.


“Myka and Farrell were two of my first specimens. Their appearances and bodily systems are severely contorted, so they are plagued by hernias and other such illnesses. I fear they will not live long. Luckily, I realized my mistake. My two guards here volunteered for modification at too late an age.”


“And how late was that?”


“Oh, about seven years old.”


Nothing, not even Byron’s eleven years in the military, could have prepared him for such a monstrosity. “You sick, sick beast.”


The guards attempted to whack him again, but Byron could not bare to be touched by something that had once been a human child. He dove away, rolling into the corner of the room. But the freaks lunged, picking him up and slamming him against the glass. DeFornio just kept talking, as if he was unaware of the struggle.


“As far as strength goes, Myka and Farrell were fortunate, as I had promised them. By now, I have perfected the art of bioengineering, but the fetuses that will someday grow to be my army are not quite finished. Ah, but they are hungry.”

DeFornio snapped his fingers. The guards thrust Byron through the glass, and he fell fifteen feet to the ground. His leg was beyond use now, but that was the least of his worries. Inside individual test tubes, malformed red masses of flesh were stirring. Then a piercing wail broke out, one that no human could have made. Then another. Then another. A test tube shattered. Byron barely heard the clicking scuttle of skinless feet through the roar of blood in his ears. They were closing in around him. It was too late to struggle....  















Final Reflection

     I am very satisfied with the turnout of this semester. The notebook entries were interesting and well...not boring. Working with other people was an enjoyable experience (for the most part). We definitely got enough time to write on projects, but I wouldn't mind more time on the notebook entries. I would really like more time for the freewrites. For the Lit Circles, we didn't really focus on our group discussions, and people didn't work very diligently (myself included, I admit). The persuasive essays were fun, and I'm really satisfied with how mine turned out, even if most people wouldn't accept my idea (IRPW). The personal essays were alright, but I have to say, I've done that about twice every single school year. If I become an author, I will NOT be writing personal essays. The 'This I Believe' essays were cool, but I feel I didn't put much thought, time, or effort into it. I really enjoyed the poetry unit. I think that I was really able to write about the kind of stuff I like, such as adventure, and fantasy, and stuff like that. Overall, the writing assignments were pretty good. I think also that in past years, I've had too much feedback. I have to edit them a million times. Words come naturally to me as I write, and I am not the kind of person who enjoys rough drafts.

     Using the wiki was an enjoyable experience as well. It is really helpful to have all of your final drafts in a place that you can remember and can't lose. It's also nice to be able to just type it up and leave it, instead of printing it out and turning it in (I forget to print stuff a lot). I hope we use the wiki a lot more. Typing almost always beats writing, Not to mention the fact that we can upload Vokis and videos to our pages. 


Optimism         1/7/13


I believe in the power of smiley faces. That is, I believe in optimism. One thing I’ve noticed over the course of my short life is that we all seem to have our problems. From too much homework to stressful jobs to ‘lower the taxes’! Sure, I may not have a job or worry about gas prices, but I do know the truth: we Americans are lucky.
    I learned it when I saw the movie When God Grew Tired of Us, about the Lost Boys of Sudan. You might have heard of them, you might not have, but either way, you have to see that movie.

So no matter how hard my homework is, or how gross the green bean casserole sitting in front of might be, I know that I have it better than somebody else on this planet.   

A while ago (It seems far away now) I had a panic attack. I thought I was dying. The experience changed my life. From that moment on, I was a worrier. About disease mostly, from tumors, parasites, viruses, even silly things like throwing up. I’m on the path to changing that. But right now, at 1 o’clock Sunday as I write this, I’m not barfing my guts out or going into anaphylactic shock, I’m having a good day. Reading, playing my sax, and later I’ll go for a run, and play some Pokemon and Minecraft.

Yet another thing I’ve noticed is that no matter what religion you are of, yours probably believes in a happy ending. So no matter who’s right, why worry about what tomorrow will bring? There’s always a way to solve our problems. Worrying doesn’t get you anywhere. I know. I’ve been there.

I see now that there are so many good things to focus on instead. Activism, love, sports, doing well in school, or what have you.

So let’s all toss worrying in the trash. Out with the frown and in with the clown!

Amongst the Gulls 

By Evan Dempsey 1/7/13


The flap of the sails and the cry of the gulls,

the ringing of hammers, ham’ring the hulls.

Soon we shall set sail to islands lost,

The treasures we seek, no matter the cost.

Though dangers we brave, beasts of the sea,

the isles and waves that call to me.

We sail our ways through tempests dark,

until the lookout man shouts Hark!

There’s land ahead! Grab your things!

I hear that’s coins of gold that rings!

The crew shall grab both food and sword,

to claim another treasure hoard.

And through it all, we still come back,

with gold and jewels, ten dozen sacks.

For just a while in fame we’re soaked,

until with others’ envy choked.

Our larders stocked.

Our gold vaults chocked.

Our comfort and our lives are mocked.

And then the thieves come in the night,

to set the balance of wealth right.

So then again, we’re left with nil,

either for good or for ill.

But I don’t grieve, I shout with glee.

This rich man’s life is not for me.

So then, with massive grin I’ll say;

“Let us go down to the bay!

Raise the sails! Patch the hulls!

Let us fly amongst the gulls!

Let’s set sail to islands lost,

To seek our treasure, no matter the cost!

 Personal Essay



It was old. It was big. And it was ugly. Little did, I know, it was also going to be my new house. It was big and square, with rotting cedar panels instead of modern siding.

    My parents’ realtor, Lisa Fletcher, rang the doorbell She prodded one of the panels. It squeaked in, and swung back to it’s original position. I thought if this is the outside, I’m not sure I want to see the inside.
    At long last, the door opened. A little old lady hobbled into view.

“Hello!” Mrs. Fletcher said, and we stepped over the threshold.

Ewww! was my first impression of the interior. It had clearly not been cleaned for a long time, and a musty odor permeated the air. The colorful slate tile was coated with dust, and boxes were piled to the ceiling. Was this lady a hoarder?

She took us around her house. We all got a nasty shock when we entered the kitchen. Dark wooden cabinets took up most of the already cramped room, but the most horrendous GREEN carpeting covered the floor.

Nobody said anything, as not to offend the old lady, but I’m sure we were all pulling faces behind the scenes. As the lady left the room, Mom turned to us and said; “Green carpet!”  We filed into the next room.

This was the den, complete with dark brown paneling and a brick-and-mortar fireplace that was soot-blackened on the inside. There was also a little charcoal grill built in. But from what I could see through the palace of boxes, the house wasn’t looking so good. We travelled upstairs. It was dark, all the shades and blinds were down. It was the same as downstairs, although the master bedroom had a wet bar.

So, you can see why I was shocked when my parents decided to buy the house.

“WHAT?!” I exploded once we had left the house. “Why would you want that house, I hate it!”

Mom replied; “But the location is just so perfect! Can’t you just see us walking downtown all the time?”


Although I don’t understand my parents’ decision to this day, I am now very glad they made it.

And so began our journey from an old and unfinished house to a comfortable home.


I stared at the blanket of canvas billowing around the future dining room. On the other side, It was a plywood cave. On my other side, where a wall used to be, cabinets had been torn out of the kitchen walls. The living room was similarly blank. Only the den had been untouched. I carried the box of pizza over to the bench-like windowsill in the living room. My little sister Claudia and I sat down, and tore into the pizza.

This was our first time we had seen the house since our first visit. Our parents had hired a contractor, and we had begun work on our house at once. My favorite parts  by far were the pizza-dinners, when we went to check on the progress of the house, and when my parents would work on some of it. We had a lot of these, and the house was really starting to shape up. The most work was being done on the kitchen. The walls between the den and the kitchen, as well as the dining room and the kitchen were knocked down. Our plan was to make an island in the middle of the kitchen, with the dishwasher and the sink. We would have the counter with the oven, microwave, and fridge wrapping around the enlarged space. In other words, I was liking the house more and more.

I was excited when new carpet was installed in my bedroom, as well as Claudia’s. This was looking more and more like my house.

                MOVING TIME

At long last, the house was ready. We moved in November 2, 2010. It wasn’t so bad, because there were plenty of kids close to my age in the neighborhood. And between you and me, they’re a lot nicer than the old ones.




International Role-Playing Week

    Imagine coming to school among knights, wizards, elves, and dwarves. They speak of people and places you’ve never heard of, maybe even in their own languages. Welcome to International Role-Playing Week (or IRPW), an event where people dress up and act like characters from a world akin to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and only for now a figment of my imagination. IRPW would replace a whole week of normal life with exciting and engaging roleplay that is not only fun but beneficial.

First of all, IRPW stretches the imagination and promotes creative skills. Having to think of names for landmarks, people, languages, races, and maybe even the occasional battle can make you think more broadly, not to mention providing a background story for those things. Also, using real-life places as imaginary ones (a school or other large building can be a castle), can help you think in various ways.

It also can encourage ‘nerdy’ or ‘uncool’ activities, instead of looking down on people who participate in them. If everybody acts weird together, then nobody will have a problem with it. Besides, the IRPW I envision isn’t nerdy like ‘I do 5 corrosive damage, taking 6 life points from your mithril shield!’ or anything, it’s a creative and sometimes athletic game. It really isn’t a number-based, technical stereotype of a nerd game that nobody could understand. It’s like real life, you’re just another person in another time. Instead of a real-life adaption of a card or video game (Magic the Gathering, World of Warcraft), it’s a real life adaption of a book or movie, except you control the story.

My third and final reason for an IRPW would be simply the fun and excitement! It would be fun to exchange a boring, normal week for an exciting and action-filled adventure, where your problems go from that test on Thursday to whether you will be raided by Orcs on your journey to the King’s castle. Maybe you can’t solve the myriad of problems in your life, but your fantasy counterpart can! IRPW would be a great stress-reliever and wholesome activity.

     Overall, IRPW would be a fun and exciting way to stretch your mind, make new friends, and maybe even get some exercise repelling the siege the barbarians have layed on your castle, or challenge yourself in negotiating with your neighboring kingdom for a new trade route that will greatly benefit your people.  Hopefully someday, we’ll all enjoy IRPW.    





































Comments (6)

derogati190 said

at 3:09 pm on Feb 3, 2013

Hey Best Friend!!!! Cool wiki!

- Emma

AKabodian said

at 9:50 am on Feb 27, 2013

I like the descriptive details in your Science Fiction story. You paint the whole picture. Exciting story line too.

roboski342 said

at 8:26 pm on May 24, 2013

Evan you should honestly be an author when you are older, I liked your this I believe essay and I agree with you on that! One good quote for that stiorty is: "You can always look around and find someone who has it worse than you."

ehl899 said

at 9:45 am on May 29, 2013

I-I'm speechless...

AKabodian said

at 2:01 pm on Jun 9, 2013

Nice job writing your Research Paper, Evan. It looked like you were trying to use in-text citations, but you forgot to include your Works Cited information.
Also, I happened to see your Final Reflection listed in the 6th hour Navigator section on the right. I read it and it was very thorough. I thought you probably meant to link it...so I did.
You're welcome.

albee460 said

at 8:43 pm on Aug 4, 2013

Hi Evan. Nice research paper. Mwah-hahahahahahahaha

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