As you know, in the midst of all the COVID-19 quaranteening, isolating, and cancellations, school has given us an extra week of Spring Break and you may find yourself with a little bit of extra time on your hands. The Mews has a fun solution: The Mews Writing Contest!
This is a free-to-enter event where you may submit one of each of the following: Poem, Short Story, or Essay. Submissions will be due the Monday we return to school, digitally, on March 30 and the top three pieces in each category will be published on The Mews.
Each piece will be judged anonymously by three judges and winners will be determined using a points system rewarding creativity, technique, and more! Winners will be announced in a Mews article along with links to the pieces as they are published. Winners will receive a formal congratulations and a publication in The Mews.
Submissions should emailed to email@example.com and titled “Mews Writing Contest Submission(s)”. Each piece should be submitted as a separate Word document (.docx) and should not contain the name of the author anywhere inside the piece. Submissions should be in size 12, Times New Roman font, double-spaced with 1” margins. Pieces that do not follow these directions may be rejected.
Pieces should include the title and the type, written at the top of the page, like so:
Category (Poetry, Short Story, or Nonfiction)
The work itself, free of grammatical or punctuation errors.
Hopefully this contest will provide a fun way to help promote safety and health while giving each of us a chance to become better writers!
If you have any questions or need clarifications, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page will be updated as more information is made available.
I want to state that I am not going through anything major right now. That isn’t what triggered this thinking. It just happened, and I want to share my thoughts.
From what I have seen, people are generally raised being told not to bury their feelings inside. I used to just let it all out, and would get in trouble for expressing my discontent. So I stopped doing it out of fear. That has changed quite a bit now, but that is what started me down this road. My strategy was to bury everything deep inside of me until I forgot about what it was. It worked for a while, until a major thing that was too big happened, and then it would all pour out at once, getting it done and over with.
Now, I still bury all my negative emotions, (and even some positive ones if they don’t fit the situation, like if I think of a funny joke [unrelated of course] during a dark subject). I don’t have any fears of getting in trouble. I just really don’t want to make anyone feel worse. I’m the kind of person that wants to take on everyone’s stress for them, and not share any of my own. The other change now is that I have honed my strategy. It works, and practically never flows out, at least that anyone sees.
I talk myself through the issues causing the negative emotions, while alone. That way, if I need to rant out-loud and aggressively gesture with my hands I can. After that I do what alcoholics do, but with happy things instead of alcohol. A lot of my thoughts in slower moments are that of, “Don’t think, just let your mind go with what’s happening.” Examples of things that I do are:
– Make sure that 80-90% of the sentences I say to my friends include a pun or other joke.
– Spend a lot of time chatting with friends
– Watch lots of anime/ videos (like more than normal)
– Play lots of games
– Read really good books
– Otherwise keeping my mind so busy that it can’t think
I basically just don’t let myself think, and if I do it is working towards a solution like one would with a counselor. I keep that up until the stress passes and I’ve accepted the issue at hand.
This goes against so many things I was taught, and I’m pretty sure that professionals would consider this unhealthy. I look at it in two ways:
And you know what? I can honestly say that I have had a happy life. I am a happy person, and the good easily outweighs the bad in my life. What is 1-2 days every few month of any major-ish negativity to all the rest being positive? Obviously my methods aren’t that unhealthy if I am mentally sound, and enjoying being alive.
My main purpose of this was just to express my thoughts on the subject. But I suppose it serves a secondary purpose. It gives this message, “Just because someone else says you should act/ think /deal with things a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the right way for you. They don’t see your mind. They aren’t you. If your method works and leaves you happy with life, then what reason is there to stop it?”
Photograph made available by Matthew Henry via Unsplash
Beg the Sea
By Noah Wallace
Take me sea, oh toward the past.
Bring me back from forlorn strife.
Or drown me now and do it fast.
Help me break these bonds of life.
For life is long and hard and burning.
I need relief from the present’s pain.
Take me to days for which I’m yearning.
Or drown the flames in soothing rain.
For life and death I have no care.
End the pain, oh passing wave.
Cleanse me of this wear and tear.
Through restoration, or quiet grave.
Photo made available by Ruslan Valeev via Unsplash
By Miles Morrison
Our father who art in heaven
Hollow be Thy name
We’re all trapped in a world
Where folks think life is a game
We determine a person’s worth
Based off money and things
And never think of the value thatapersons mind really brings
In a world full of greed
Everyone’s after it all
We scratch. And we crawl
We get it by any means with no timing to stall
While the reaper is waiting for us atthe end of thehall
Yet everyone is afraid of him
Cloak is black as the night
Came up observing his presence
Judt to appreciate life.
I wear him around my neck
Cause hes just the holder of time
And often I feel the same when I sit and come up with rhymes
My homies tell me I’m gifted
When written a soul is lifted
But doctors tell me in twisted
And mentally im demented
They shower me with prescriptions
They talk but I never listen
Cause side effects include
Whatthe pills supposed tobepreventing
They tell me I’m thinking too much
But they dont think enough
I’m sure when people think of me that they dont think of much
I’m over thinking they think I should take a couple of
Pills I’d probably be better off selling for a couple bucks..
Please excuse me for my honesty
Theyre So caught up in lies they dont see no room for an honest me
Forget living a lie I’d rather lie inside a coffin
So my tomb can read
“Here lies a man who lived his life….honestly.”
The Perfect Trip
By Courtney Kruger
If you were to ask me how I feel about traveling/flying I would tell you I love being in the airport, for the most part, especially during the holidays. I don’t know if it’s the decorations in the terminals or the excitement of going home during Christmas break for a month (probably the latter), but I’ve come to love the out-of-state-student tradition of traveling to and from my home state during the holidays.
If the trip goes as planned, I will leave for the airport a little over an hour before the plane should be taking off. I’ll listen to music, browse social media, buy some Dramamine and a water, text friends, and give my parents updates.
I’m through security.
I’m at my gate.
I’m on my plane.
Love you, see you soon.
I’ll sit back and relax (as best as possible) in my single A row seat. Around an hour and 45 minutes later I should land in Chicago O’Hare, happily making my way to my favorite dinner spot: Manchu Wok, located in the food court right outside terminal G. I will be able to do this because I will have a 3-4 hour layover. I will get double orange chicken and fried rice or chow mein, depending on my mood, with a diet coke. I will take my tray and walk over to my favorite spot in the corner; the table by the railing right next to the walkway. I will not eat all of my food, but I’ll come pretty close.
Eventually, I’ll decide it’s time to move on and visit my other favorite place in terminal G: the bookstore. I won’t need a new book, but I won’t care. It’s the holidays and I always like to buy “an airport book.” Very rarely do I actually keep reading this book once I’ve reached my destination, but again, I won’t care. Sometimes, if I’ve picked a winner, after I’ve boarded my TOL bound flight, I’ll keep reading. Otherwise, I’ll keep listening to music. When the plane lands, I’ll have the confidence to stand up immediately in the aisle when the fasten your seatbelts sign dings off. I won’t hit my head on the lowered ceiling. That’s for amateurs! I’ll open the above compartment and easily grab my backpack.
Items may have shifted during takeoff? Ha. Not mine.
I will not hit or bump into anyone as I struggle to put it on, and I’ll make my way down the aisle, off the plane, and up the bridge without staggering once. I’ll take the escalator down to the main level of TOL and before I even get off I’ll see my parents waiting for me behind the glass.
Smiling, they wave.
Photograph made available by Nils Nedel via Unsplash
Meeting My Ancestry
By Courtney Kruger
“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness. ” ― Alex Haley
On April 16, 1990 I was born in Caaguazú, Paraguay. Three weeks later I was adopted from Asunción, the capital, by my parents and whisked away to Morenci, Michigan where I would live for the next 18 years of my life.
On that year, in 2008, my high school senior year, I found myself alone in my English teacher’s empty classroom reading that quote by Alex Haley. I have no idea why I was in there alone, or why I decided to look through her bookshelf, or why I picked that particular book and flipped to that particular page, but I did. On any other year it might not have stuck with me as much, but this was the year not knowing where I came from had started to bother me.
I think it had been growing ever since the previous year when my mom and I posed for a picture before my junior prom. When we got the pictures back I remember seeing, like really seeing, how different my mom and I looked. I hadn’t ever paid attention to it before. Being adopted was always just a thing I never thought much about, and I still don’t, but at the time it started weighing heavily on my mind. Like Alex Haley says, I felt this yearning and this loneliness in the not knowing and it bothered me.
I wasn’t the only one who started noticing a difference in my appearance during high school. It seemed like more and more people asked me every mixed kid’s favorite question, “What are you?” Personally, I never got offended by this question, because I knew people were just being curious. However, I understand it can wear a person down and why someone might get sick of it. After years of being asked if I’m Mexican, or Hispanic, or Latina, or Japanese, or Hawaiian, or an Eskimo, etc.; I’ve started to see why people get annoyed. It’s frustrating to not know the answer to such a simple question, which then leads into why don’t I know, which then leads into a small discussion about being adopted… It had become slightly annoying and embarrassing.
When a child is of a different race than their adoptive parents that can be called transracial. Specifically for adopted children in this scenario it can mean confusion and a misconnection to their actual race. All my life I’ve felt white. My parents are white, I was raised in a very small white community, and was never really expose to my heritage. When I started noticing differences in myself I no longer felt connected to any group. I was out on my own, unclaimed. Eventually, I gave up on the idea and went on with life. I got over it, because I thought there was no other option.
Fast forward almost ten years to 2017 and DNA kits are becoming a popular new trend. A quick Google search of “DNA kit” will give you three of the top brands: Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage. Along with a friend, I made the plunge on August 17 and purchased my DNA kit from Ancestry.com for a total of $88.95.
For best results in your journey through your results, Ancestry suggests you download their app. This app helps activate your kit, walks you through giving and sending your spit sample, and is how you receive your results, along with an interactive map.
From the very beginning, they warn you it could take up to 6-8 weeks to receive your results, but they update you every step of the way via the app. All those years wondering where I came from, and for some reason, it took me a couple weeks to actually open the kit and give my sample. On August 18 my kit was shipped, I activated it on September 2, and it was received by Ancestry on September 19. My kit began processing on September 25 and on October 5 my results were finally in!
Originally, my friend and I were planning to get together and go over our results, but we couldn’t help ourselves. I looked immediately after I saw the email. Paraguay ended up being nowhere on the map, which was a huge surprise. In general, I’m 54% European, 38% Native American, 6% African, and 2% West Asian. Most recently, my heritage comes from Chile and Ecuador, with half my linage being European, most specifically from the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal, Spain).
What’s funny about this whole experience is I had thought all my life once I knew what I “was” I would feel this sort of complete satisfaction. I know now that isn’t going to be true. Now that I have this huge answer to a long held question I have even more questions. I have these countries I’m now officially apart of, but I still don’t feel connected to. Now will be the journey to finding those answers. But for now I can confidently say where I come from whenever I’m asked, “What are you?” And I really like that.
Rereading Childhood Books as an Adult
By Courtney Kruger
Sometime this past winter I discovered Bookaholic, a used bookstore, for the first time. It was not until the summer I realized I could rediscover favorite books from my middle and high school years. Growing up, I had never really been to used bookstores. My mother was an English teacher and was always trying to find new and exciting books at Barnes and Noble or Borders for her students. Looking back, I realize how privileged we were to be doing that. As a now broke college student, I started frequently visiting Bookaholic. Whichever books I had not set out to look for, through the help of Goodreads.com, I rediscovered by just browsing the Young Adult shelves. So began a thrilling and nostalgic journey of disrespecting my bank account.
One of the differences I’ve noticed in reading these books as an adult now, compared to as a teenager, is my complete change in genre interests and threshold for tropes. As a teenager, I was super into modern fantasy and historical fiction, with some romantic twist, for the most part. Books like the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, The Keisha’ra series by Amelia Awater-Rhodes, the Modern Faerie Tales series by Holly Black, and The Host by Stephenie Meyer were some of my favorite modern fantasy/sci-fi books from back in the day. At this point, I have come to realize I no longer connect with Young Adult books like I used to, which probably makes sense. I find them to be a bit corny and predictable, for the most part. Back when Twilight by Stephenie Meyer was all the rage. I loved that her books were these huge 500 paged adventures, but after rereading The Host, for example, I was overwhelmed with the repetition and thought it could have been shortened by at least 100 pages, or split into a duology.
As far as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series is concerned, I have no desire to reread them. They were probably my favorite books as a teenager, up until that point. Groups of my friends all drove to the midnight releases… It was everything. I had probably read each of them at least three times, maybe four, and looking back I definitely notice some problematic themes or moments that haven’t aged well.
A few years ago, on a whim, I bought a hardcover trunk boxset of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I had only read the books once, as they were released, as a kid, and never actually finished the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wasn’t ever a fanatic of Harry Potter, but I always went to the midnight releases as a kid, and then teenager. I loved the excitement, waiting in line, and then finally being handed this beautiful book as a copy of my own by the end of the night. I have noticed the warm feelings of nostalgia sort of waned when I started the fourth book, Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire. It’s almost like the first two or three are so ingrained in our culture as modern classics or fairytales that it was easy for me to be swept up in the story and nostalgia, but after the fourth book everything starts to get pretty deep and heavy. It’s not the same happy feeling anymore that the first three evoke.
In middle school, I came across R.L. Stine’s Young Adult series collections. I had watched Goosebumps, the TV show, from time to time as kid, but the books did not interest me. However, his Young Adult books were short and sweet with high school romance and always had suspense and twists with a great big reveal at the end. Every book was made with the same formula, but I love them and devoured as many as I could find. My favorite of his collections were The Baby-Sitter series. At Bookaholic you can buy one of his books for $1-3 so I’ve bought way more than I’ve actually read at this point, but I don’t care! I’ll keep buying them. Their covers are designed from the 80’s, early 90’s; bright and flashy borders and/or typography with drawn scenes, typically of girls looking panicked in some precarious situation. They’re perfect for quick reads between other books when I need a break. They’re corny, horribly predictable, even a bit problematic and eye roll inducing, but I know what I’m getting going into it and they’re over so quickly I don’t mind.
These days my favorite books include modern classics like Tuesdays with Morrey by Mitch Albom, Night by Elie Wiesel, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I never would have touched as a teenager because they all seemed “too sad.” I’ve tried popular new adult fiction like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, The Dinner by Herman Koch and Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, which I never would have been interested in because there wasn’t a female protagonist and/or romance and fantasy. I’m even reading a bit of poetry in milk & honey by Rupi Kaur and Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire.
Thinking about all these books and differences in preference, I think there is a time and place sometimes for genres in a person’s life. The Young Adult genre gave birth to my love of reading and desire to consume as many books as I possibly could as a kid. Finally, my love of reading has been revived after years and I can learn to appreciate whole new genres of books that I never would have even thought twice about before. Just because you’ve moved on from, or outgrown, a certain type of book doesn’t mean you can’t go back from time to time and revisit old stories, characters, or genres. I love the ability to go back and forth between new books and old favorites whenever I desire.
Current Status through My Favorite Childhood Books
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Hawksong (The Kiesha’ra)
Wyvernhail by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
The Baby-Sitter II
The Baby-Sitter III
The Baby-Sitter IV
Hit and Run by R.L. Stine
Ironside by Holly Black
The Face on the Milk Carton (Janie Johnson #1)
Whatever Happened to Janie? (Janie Johnson #2)
The Voice on the Radio (Janie Johnson #3)
What Janie Found (Janie Johnson #4)
Fog (Losing Christina #1)
Snow (Losing Christina #2)
The Fire (Losing Christina #3)
Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney
My Louisiana Sky
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt
The Ocean Within
Tides by V.M. Caldwell
Photograph made available by Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash
by Courtney Kruger
SCENE ONE – EXT – OPENING CREDITS
Soft music plays as the definition of the word “onset” appears, in white font, on a black screen:
n. the first appearance of the signs or symptoms of an illness
The definition fades away into aerial shots showing ERIN ROBERT, a chubby, carefree but anxious girl of 22 walking out to her old, beat up, blue Jeep carrying the last of weathered brown boxes from her dorm room. Rounding around to the driver’s door she shouts a barely audible goodbye to her college friends on the sidewalk, waves, and gets into the car with a slam shut of the door. Continued aerial shots, blurring into the next, of ERIN driving through city traffic, then the highway, then smaller roads to a smaller town, etc.
The CAMERA CUTS to ERIN’s mother’s quaint little house from across the street, completely centered in frame. The house is on the outskirts of town surrounded my summer crop fields. ERIN’s Jeep slowly pulls up to the curb in front of the house and comes to a stop. ERIN gets out, shuts the door, and begins to grab her things from the back passenger’s door. Having heard the door slam, ERIN’s MOTHER has opened the front door to the house, and waits, hands on hips, smiling, as ERIN walks up to the porch. They hug, making inaudible, happy comments and ERIN’s MOTHER ushers ERIN inside, touching the back of her daughter’s hair, still smiling. The door shuts. The CAMERA stays fixed on the house until the outside porch door slowly closes with a click. The music becomes more and more ominous as credits come to a close.
SCENE TWO – INT – SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDWEST, USA – 8PM
The MUSIC cuts off. Immediately, summertime crickets chirp loudly.
The CAMERA CUTS to a profile shot of ERIN’S MOTHER holding a wet soapy rag in her right hand and a dirty dish in her left. She is completely silent, lost in her thoughts, as she stares, slightly wide-eyed, out the window over the sink. Unblinking. Frozen. The familiar orange of pill bottles fill the lower left corner of the shot, fuzzy and out of focus. No more attention is brought to their existence. The faucet remains running.
The CAMERA CUTS to ERIN just standing up from her seat at the kitchen table holding her dinner dish and cup, she clears her throat, and begins to walk over to the sink where her mother still stands, unmoving.
THE CAMERA PANS with her as she walks. She goes to hand off her dirty dishes to her mother, but her mother does not move.
Mom?… Mom?… MOM.
She jumps and gives a small, apologetic smile to her daughter.
Sorry. I must have zoned out… I
haven’t been sleeping very well again. Anyways… (trails off)So, that one new show you were telling me about after dishes?? Yeah? It sounds exciting, huh?
SCENE THREE – INT – 9PM
THE CAMERA is placed in the living room between ERIN and MARA on the couch and the TV. The lights are on and the two are just sitting down to start their show.
Oh! The curtains! The curtains, Erin, get the curtains. The curtains! It’s dark anybody could see in here. I hate it. Get them.
ERIN stands up, no complaints, and walks directly towards the curtains behind the camera.
The CAMERA FADES OUT as her stomach hits the lens, blocking everything out.
The CAMERA CUTS to a bit later in the night. ERIN and MARA are in their now dark living room, as the glow from the TV illuminates their faces. They stare completely engrossed, a bowl of popcorn between them on the couch. ERIN is on the couch, lounging, propped up on pillows, eating popcorn on autopilot. MARA has emerged from her blanket, feet on floor, putting her medications into an organizer for the upcoming week.
So, who’s that?
But she’s married to…
SCENE FOUR – INT – 3AM
The CAMERA exposes a quaint room, mostly hidden by deep shadows, except for the twin size bed pushed into the corner of the room, 2/3 of which is completely bathed in the bright moonlight of the only large bedroom window. All of a sudden, ERIN jerks awake.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSE UP of ERIN tucked in the corner of her childhood room, uncomfortably hot with slithers of flyaways stuck to all sides of her forehead. Completely sprawled out on her back, and trapped in the full moon, eyes too afraid to move around, she instantly feels exposed and on edge. She has always slept on her stomach, curled into herself, for this reason since before she could remember. She cannot move, even though she tries, and she is terrified even though she sees no reason to be. She feels vulnerable.
The CAMERA PANS OUT as ERIN breathes in spurts as to not draw too much attention to herself. Too petrified in her damp sheets to try moving right away, she slowly wakes herself up and becomes reacquainted with her surroundings before she begins willing her toes, her legs, her arms, and her wits to inch back to the safeness of herself. Not ready yet to emerge from the depths of her sheets she stays inside the sweltering stick of them as they cling to the damp edges of her body.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSEUP of ERIN’s beside table as she fumbles picking up her phone to check the time. Even though it is plugged in, it’s dead. Funny. She was pretty sure she remembered it charging before she went to sleep.
The CAMERA CUTS to her open bedroom door. You can hear ERIN breathing, almost panting now, as she realizes this isn’t right. She always shuts her door for the night when she’s ready for bed.
The CAMERA CUTS BACK TO ERIN facing her straight on as she sits up in bed and stares out at the bedroom door for several long seconds before she moves her head.
The CAMERA PANS with her gaze as she slowly moves her head, wide eyed, to the TV.
The CAMERA starts to pick up the ringing buzz of her old television. It gets louder the closer it comes to getting in frame.
The CAMERA STOPS PANNING when the back of the small, bulky television comes into view in the lower left hand frame. ERIN stares motionless at the TV.
The CAMERA CUTS to a front facing view of the television, slowly panning in just a little showing the SMPTE color bands signaling all channels have gone off air for some unknown reason.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A DOWNWARD SHOT of the entire bedroom as a long figured shadow looms down the hallway form the TV light in the living room down the hall. It quickly disappears.
The CAMERA CUTS to just outside the doorframe as ERIN stares out from her bed hesitating her move. She then lets her left leg drop down off the bed, ready to stand, but hesitates once more.
The CAMERA IS HANDHELD moving in front of ERIN, level with her height, as she slowly makes her way across the room to the door, arms spread out, eyes wide, mouth slightly parted. She stops just before the doorframe, gathering courage to leave yet another of her comfort zones.
The CAMERA keeps moving with her as she steps out into the hallway, covered in bluish white light, standing in front of a darkened hallway. At this moment, ERIN hears slight murmurs and increases her pace to the living room. Her anxiety pushes out from her chest into a heated, momentarily, searing flush all over her body as she bursts forth into the living room.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSEUP of her mother’s book lying face down on the carpet in front of the couch, pages bent under the weight of its spine.
The CAMERA UNFOCUSES on the book and moves up to where her lap blanket lays several feet away. At this point, the murmurs start to become crisper, understandable.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A WIDE ANGLE of the entire living room as ERIN enters frame. She notices the white static on the living room TV screen. The radio can be heard over all of this.
Again. We do not have much
information, but this is what we do know… They appeared this evening. Just after dusk. At first, they seemed to just observe. Just before midnight we started to hear of
attacks. We do not yet know what they want, where they came from, or how to best protect ourselves. For as long as we can we’ll be here. Stay safe.
The CAMERA CUTS TO a side view of ERIN, placed on the most left third of the screen, leaning down in front of the radio, hands placed on each side of the radio.
The CAMERA CHANGES FOCUS from ERIN to the dimly, green lit kitchen behind her. Two feet in white, wooly socks are poking out from behind the fridge. They suddenly, but slightly, shift. ERIN whips her head towards the kitchen she hears a rustle and low moan.
The CAMERA stays in the same spot as ERIN jumps up and sprints to the kitchen, then kneels down by her mother.
The CAMERA CUTS TO ERIN’S right shoulder looking down on her mother who lays on her side with her eyes partially closed, partially looking up at ERIN.
Erin. It’s here. It happened so fast. So fast. It’s so fast. Baby, you gotta get somewhere. Go get
somewhere. I think it’s still in the house. Get out. Get out now.
What? What are you talking about?? Tell me what’s happening? What
happened to you? Are you alr-?
SHH. Keep your voice down. It’s here. Oh, my god. You gotta get out. Keep your voice down, it’s here. I saw it. It’s really here. You need to go before it gets back.
I have no idea what’s going on! Let me help you up, PLEASE, let me help you up!
The CAMERA CUTS TO A WIDE ANGLE of the kitchen. Her mother slowly sits up, making a short gasp of discomfort, as ERIN places her legs apart in an attempt to sturdy her stance as she leans her torso down towards her mother, reaching her arms out to help her up.
I got you. Okay.
Get us to the basement.
SCENE FIVE – INT – 4AM
The CAMERA CUTS TO A LOW ANGLE looking up the gloomy staircase. The darkened outlines of ERIN and MARA shuffle into view surrounded by the sea green light of the kitchen. They take their first step down.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A HIGH ANGLE looking down the staircase as the backs of ERIN and MARA make their way down the steps, one by one. MARA has her right arm slung over ERIN’s shoulder, while ERIN wraps her arm tightly around her mother’s waist. Their backs slowly lose the glow of the light as they descend slowly down the staircase and turn left into the basement’s only room.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSEUP of an old tattered couch pushed up against the cold cement block wall. ERIN helps her mom onto the couch with a plop and a grunt. ERIN leans back, mostly out of frame. Only the front half of her body from her shoulders down are visible. MARA wrings her hands and looks up at ERIN, who is watching over her; ERIN can only be seen by MARA.
Are you okay?
…I think so, yes.
Wha… What happ-?
Who?? Who did this to you?
They’re here. Everyone knows it now. Not just me. I’m not crazy. It’s not me. Everyone will know it now.
ERIN pauses, and whispers.
Okay, you’re scaring me now.
The CAMERA CUTS TO a higher shot where only ERIN’s head and shoulders are visible. With a sudden gasp, MARA scrambles to get up so she can face ERIN head-on. ERIN bends slightly as she grabs her mother, giving her support. They face each other. MARA grasps ERIN’s upper arms, wide-eyed and with a sudden fervent goal.
Erin! The radio! Please! Upstairs! Go get the radio. We have to know what’s going on out there! Please! Be
careful. Please, please be careful. It’s probably still up there. Go
quietly. We need that radio.
ERIN and MARA stare at each other for several seconds as ERIN decides what to make of this request and whether or not to follow through with it. With a sigh she relents.
Oh, thank you, thank you, thank yo-
The rest of MARA’s words are lost on ERIN’s face as MARA brings her hands up to the sides of ERIN’s face and kisses her over and over again.
Okay, okay… Let me go if I have to go…
SCENE SIX – INT – 430AM
The CAMERA CUTS TO THE SAME HIGH ANGLE of the stairway as
before. This time ERIN slowly inches her face from behind the doorframe, eyes zoned into the kitchen light from upstairs. ERIN pauses when her face is about halfway out from behind the wall. She brings her hand up and wraps her fingers around the painted white doorframe. After a few seconds, she regains enough courage to continue. She quietly tiptoes over to the bottom of the staircase. With one hand on the wall, the other on the banister, she stalks her way up stair by stair.
The CAMERA CUTS TO THE SAME LOW ANGLE as before as she reaches the top step and begins to look around the corner. Slightly hunched over, ERIN slowly turns into the kitchen. She disappears from view.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A HANDHELD OVER THE SHOULDER SHOT, as ERIN steps into the kitchen. ERIN’s nervous breathing can be heard with every shaky inhale and exhale. As she walks into the middle of the kitchen, ERIN hesitates when she hears the kitchen faucet.
The CAMERA turns with her body as she faces the kitchen counter where the faucet is running.
The CAMERA CUTS TO behind the running faucet. Water pours into the sink. Was it on when they were here last? She can’t remember. ERIN is out of focus in the background of the shot behind the running water. Abruptly, ERIN hastily jerks forward, grabs the faucet handle, and shuts it off.
The CAMERA remains on ERIN’s hands gripping the faucet handle, knuckles turning white. She remains this way for several seconds, breathing heavily.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A DOWNWARD SHOT of the living room as ERIN walks slow taking measured, soft steps.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A HANDHELD PROFILE SHOT of ERIN looking around the room.
ERIN breathes deep and exhales.
ERIN remembers why she is upstairs and looks over to where the radio still sits, surrounded by the small, scuffled chaos she came into not long ago.
The RADIO music swells up and out.
The CAMERA CUTS TO THE SAME SHOT as before; a close up of the radio on the left side of the screen, sitting on an antique doily. ERIN walks over to the radio, all you can see are her hips and upper thighs. She turns her hips and squares off with the radio, her hands balled into fists beside her legs.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Friday night’s old-time broadcasting of In the Night, They Came, by Frederick Pelts! Brought to you by the Columbia Broadcasting System and its
affiliated stations all across the country! This rounds off the third month of our weekly series of
old-time broadcasts brought to the 21st century airwaves! Next week we
promise a just as riveting dramatic presentation of The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells! So grab those crazy millennials in your family, gather round, and show them how it all began! Until next time! Have a wonderful night, America!
Oh, my god…
The CAMERA CUTS TO inside the basement room looking out to the open doorway of the stairwell. ERIN appears in the doorway, looking bewildered, confused, and exhausted. She holds the radio in one hand, the other hanging lifelessly beside her body.
The CAMERA CUTS TO ERIN’s POV as MARA stutters a gasp and jerks backwards on the couch. She looks up at her daughter, eagerly leaning on the armrest awaiting her daughter’s report. When ERIN doesn’t speak, MARA nods her head as if to ask, “Well?”. When ERIN doesn’t speak yet again, MARA vocalizes her questions.
So?? Did you get it? Did you get the radio? Tell me what happened. Are you alright? Did you see it?
The CAMERA CUTS back and forth as they speak.
(louder, slightly annoyed)
Yes, I got the radio.
Did you see it?
ERIN holds up pill bottles.
Mom, what are these?
These bottles. What are they?
MARA pauses and narrows her eyes at ERIN.
They’ve been recently prescribed.
What are they for?
What! Are! These! For!
“What are these for?” What are these for! Early onset Dementia! There! Are you happy now? I am not making this up! I am not making this up! I know what I saw.
Why didn’t you tell me…
We were having such a nice time
MARA is silent, looking around wildly, and un able to focus.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A FRONT FACING SHOT of the couch. ERIN walks over and sits down next to her mother. She sits close, angled towards MARA who is still looking around the room confused. ERIN places the radio on the small table in front of the couch, and places on hand on her mother’s leg.
Mom, it was just a radio show…
MARA makes inaudible mumbles as she looks at ERIN.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A HIGH ANGLE CLOSE UP of the radio as ERIN’s hand comes into frame and turns up the volume.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A LOW ANGLE behind the radio looking up at ERIN and MARA as they listen to the radio’s message. MARA sits, intent on whatever is about to be said, while ERIN keeps looking back and forth between the radio and her mother.
Welcome back from the break and
welcome to our final presentation of the evening! The Columbia
Broadcasting System and its
affiliated stations from across
America invite you to listen to In the Night, They Came, by Frederick Pelts! We will return to our
regularly scheduled morning program around 6AM EST! So, if you’re a night owl like us-
ERIN leans forward and switches off the radio.
It says here your doctor’s name is Dr. Helem. Do you think maybe we should call in the morning and see if he can fit you in? Maybe?
MARA is silent.
Let’s go upstairs, huh? Let’s go to bed. C’mon.
The CAMERA CUTS TO THE HIGH ANGLE of the stairwell as ERIN and MARA stare up into the light of the kitchen. It is completely silent. MARA grips ERIN’s forearm for physical support, while ERIN has soothingly placed her hand on her mother’s. After a few moments, MARA places her right hand on ERIN’s unconsciously. They continue staring, holding, unmoving.
SCENE SEVEN – INT – DR. HELEM’S PRACTICE – MORNING
The CAMERA FADES IN on Dr. Helem’s waiting room where ERIN and MARA sit among several other patients. There are quiet murmurs among those sitting together as people shuffle in and out of the morning light. The scene is a typical waiting room. Mild to moderately sick individuals, dressed comfortably sitting in uncomfortable, poorly patterned, mass produced chairs surrounded by tan, white, or off-white décor. A tiny TV hangs in a random corner, tuned into some daytime talk show, which cannot actually be heard. People are sitting a socially appropriate amount of chairs away from one another while children noisily complain to their parents, completely ignoring the magazines, books, and weird tabletop toy with all the blocks and figures you move around on colorful, twisted poles.
How are you doing? Do you want me to get you some water or something?
MARA turns her head away and shakes her hand no.
The CAMERA stays in place as ERIN and MARA stay still, slightly leaning apart and looking away from one another, as everyone else moves in fast forward, figures blurring into the next. Time passes by quickly, but switches back to a normal speed as a nurse comes out from a door to the left.
Mara? We’re ready for you.
ERIN and MARA begin to pick up their belongings. They stand up and start walking to the door the nurse still stands in front of to keep open. The nurse smiles routinely at ERIN and MARA. They politely smile back and disappear into the hallway. The nurse turns after them and the door swings shut.
The CAMERA stays on this scene until the door eventually becomes still once more.
The CAMERA CUTS to inside a room where ERIN and MARA are sitting once more. They look up as DR. HELEM walks into the room from the right, crosses the camera to the left and sits down with his laptop.
Alright, Miss Renato! I hear things might not be the best with the new medication we gave you.
My daughter thinks I’ve had an
The CAMERA CUTS backs and forth between the three as they speak.
Yes. Thank you for making room for us today.
Absolutely. What’s the issue?
Well, she DID have an incident. It was…intense. She thought there was something in the house. She almost had ME convinced there was something in the house. She hadn’t even told me she’d been having problems, let alone been diagnosed with anything… I
haven’t been home so I haven’t seen the changes, I guess, but ever since I got home yesterday evening I’ve
noticed her zoning out, or forgetting things. Odd quirks. I don’t know if she told you, but I found her on the floor last night. Hurt! She’d hurt
herself. Had herself convinced an
alien (MARA looks sharply at ERIN) or something had come into the house and hurt her. It’s scary. She kept
repeating things to me or to herself. She was totally out of it at times. Angry at me. She was frantic. She can’t be alone like that.
My daughter thinks that since the medication should have set in by now that maybe we should try something else. Dosage… Something completely different… I don’t know.
MARA waves her hand dismissively.
What do you think, Miss Renato?
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSER UP SHOT of MARA than previously.
I don’t think anything’s going to make much of a difference.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A WIDE ANGLE SHOT of the room at the end of the appointment. Everyone is gathering up their belongings once more.
Miss Renato, if you’d go with Frida there for your blood tests before you go, and we’ll call you if we find
The CAMERA PANS from ERIN, MARA, and DR. HELEM over to same NURSE FRIDA, the same nurse from before, who is standing in the doorway waiting for MARA.
NURSE FRIDA raises her arm and hand ushering MARA forth towards the direction of the blood tests. MARA walks in and then out of frame as she obediently goes on down the hallway.
The CAMERA PANS back to DR. HELEM when MARA and FRIDA are gone. He catches ERIN before she leaves.
Mara? I’d like to have a word with you if you don’t mind. I think I have some information for you that would be helpful.
This is a new diagnosis that your mother is struggling with, I’m sure. Naturally. I’ve offered her
information of local support groups that help families or newly diagnosed individuals cope with their
situation. She didn’t express much interest, as I’m sure you’re shocked to hear, but I’d like to extend the invitation and information to you, as well. Just in case you’d like to go yourself which is the case for
several other people there. Their family member who’s been diagnosed isn’t interested in these sort of groups, but they like to have
somewhere to go… Anyways, here are some pamphlets and information for you if you’re ever interested.
Thank you. I just don’t know what to make of all this.
I know. I’m sorry you had to find out the way you did. It was probably a rude awakening, but hopefully we’ve figured out the problem today and she’ll be on her way. I’ve also given
you some general informational
packets about Dementia. She’s going to be a bit irritable, and she may experience some memory loss and
confusion from time to time. Try not to take it personally if she gets
upset with you when this happens. I’ve also given her a different sleeping aid. She’s mentioned before she has trouble sleeping and nothing has helped, so fingers crossed we got it this time.
Yeah, she’s had trouble sleeping for as long as I can remember.
Just make sure you at least check out the information I’ve given you on both fronts. I think it will at least help you understand better what’s happening. Hopefully, she won’t give you too much stubbornness, huh?
ERIN holds up the pamphlets and smiles quickly.
SCENE EIGHT – INT – RENATO RESIDENCE – NIGHT
The CAMERA CUTS TO the same living room shot as before, the couch is completely centered in frame, the TV is behind the camera, and ERIN and MARA are preparing for another night in with some movies and popcorn. The couch sits empty as they walk back and forth in the background, seen only from the chest down, grabbing things for the movie. ERIN half throws the blankets on the couch beside her as she plops down, into view, with a slight sigh, finally done.
(from the kitchen)
Erin. The curtains, please.
ERIN with an eyeroll and an exasperated huff gets up and walks over towards the TV. She leans over the camera, once more out of view, fidgeting with the curtains to close them. The sound of the curtains’ fabric and ERIN’s fingers on the actual camera make noise. With yet another sigh, ERIN walks back to the couch, deed done, picks up the remote, points it towards the TV, and begins looking through Netflix.
Oh, look! American Horror Story? We started that last time but didn’t get very far. Looks like we’re on season two. I’ve heard people don’t like this season, though.
MARA walks in from the kitchen.
Really? I’ve heard people love it.
The CAMERA CUTS to several episodes later, ERIN is pressing buttons on the remote, while MARA is gathering up some emptied mugs and heading towards the kitchen.
Well, that was a poor choice.
I’m making myself another root beer float, want one?
The CAMERA CUTS TO the kitchen doorway where MARA has just entered. ERIN follows a few seconds later.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A PROFILE SHOT of MARA in front of the kitchen sink where she is depositing their used dishes, she has set the mugs aside. ERIN walks up and puts down her dishes by the sink. She turns and leans back on the counter next to MARA.
Can you get the ice cream?
ERIN leaves the shot.
The CAMERA CUTS to face MARA as she starts washing some of the dishes quickly. ERIN walks straight behind her to the freezer.
Mom… We haven’t talked about
anything yet. You haven’t even
ERIN returns to MARA’s side. She hands her the ice cream. MARA wipes her hands off on a dishtowel, sighs, and takes the ice cream.
The CAMERA CUTS TO MARA’s back. ERIN is leaning once again, face out, against the kitchen counter. MARA notices the window behind the sink. The curtains are pushed to the side. She exhales loudly, leans over the sink, and slides them shut. MARA places the ice cream back down, next to the sink, and turns to face ERIN.
What’s there to say? Everyone thinks I’m nuts. I don’t think I’m nuts. I know I’m not nuts anymore.
I wish you wouldn’t say that. It makes me think you’re nuts.
I just want you to consider going with me to the support group Dr. Helem mentioned to me. I think it’d really help you. I think it’d really help me… I’d better understand how to help, you know?
Look… I don’t-
You don’t want to go.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore. That’s all I want. And I have been afraid for a very, very long time. But more than that I don’t want you to be afraid. I’ve started to accept this for myself, and if this…
Support group…can give you some sort of relief, that’s the least I can do after everything.
ERIN stares at MARA.
I don’t get it. A long time? What do you mean?
Don’t worry about it. We’ll go to the support group. I hope it helps.
Yeah, me too…
Now, get me the root beer.
MARA turns her back to the camera once more and begins washing what’s left of the dishes in the sink. ERIN stares at her for a few seconds before she turns, defeated, and starts walking to the fridge behind the camera.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A WIDE ANGLE SHOT of the back of the couch where ERIN and MARA are ending their night. They are glowing black outlines sitting in front of the TV. The curtains are closed.
I’m going to bed. I’m tired. It’s only 10, but whatever.
Alright. I think I’ll stay up a
little longer. Maybe watch one more episode.
ERIN gets up off the couch, kisses her mother goodnight, and walks out of frame. MARA continues looking on after her daughter for an uncomfortably long time. The same ominous music that played in the credits begins to play as ERIN walks away.
SCENE NINE – INT – 3AM
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSE UP just above ERIN’s bed. She sits up suddenly, in frame, with a gasp. The moonlight isn’t touching her this time. She sits in complete darkness, except for the glow of her TV.
The CAMERA CUTS TO a front facing view of the old, bulky television, slowly panning in just a little showing the SMPTE color bands once again. A distinct ringing can be heard.
The CAMERA CUTS BACK TO THE CLOSE UP of ERIN’s profile as she takes in this information, still staring at the TV. She turns to look down at her nightstand.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSEUP of ERIN’s nightstand as she grabs for her phone once again. She wants to check the time, but it doesn’t turn on. She pushes the ON/OFF button, but the phone just continuously flashes a blinding, bright white screen at her. Frustrated, she drops the phone back on her nightstand with a big thud. At this moment, she hears a series of short clicks, a shuffle, and a thump on the floor. ERIN’s head immediately swerves to look out the door, which is halfway open.
The CAMERA IS A HANDHELD moving in front of ERIN, level with her height, as she, this time, only slightly hesitates to stand up. She walks confidently to the doorway, but stops just short of looking out down the hallway, into the living room. ERIN smoothes her hair back and wipes the sweat from her face. She is frightened, but the image of her mother laying on the kitchen floor, hurt, keeps urging her to move forward. She gathers the courage to leave the safety of her room, yet again.
The CAMERA keeps moving with her as she steps out into the hallway, covered in bluish white light. She stands in front of the darkened hallway she just emerged from.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A HANDHELD POV SHOT of ERIN’s. In the distance, down the hall, looking into the living room, ERIN can see her mother still sitting on the couch, staring straight ahead at the TV. Walking further, she enters the living room and sees the only light comes from the white static on the living room TV screen.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A SLANTED VIEW of the couch as ERIN gingerly sits down next to her mother. MARA continues to stare straight ahead at the white static. Shakily, ERIN moves a hand over to her mother’s leg.
MARA’s eyes start to well up. Her eyebrows frown and her lips purse together. She continues staring toward the TV.
MARA shakes her head, becoming more emotional, tears rolling down her face, but remains silent. ERIN turns her head slightly to look at the living room’s side window.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A WIDE ANGLE SHOT of the room. The curtains have all been opened.
The CAMERA CUTS back to ERIN as she turns her head to look at the other window, just above the TV. It’s also open. Their white reflections stare back at them.
The CAMERA CUTS BACK to the couch. ERIN notices two thin, long bruises on her mother’s neck. She sweeps MARA’s hair back.
What is this?
At ERIN’s touch, MARA snaps out of her trance. She looks at ERIN, slowly coming back. As she takes ERIN in, a slow, warm smile spreads across her face.
Hey… Did you change your mind? Gonna watch with me?
Mom, that was hours ago.
I’ve been asleep for hours. What are you still doing out here?
MARA begins to point towards the TV but notices the white static. She looks around the room noticing the open curtains. She feels something on her cheeks and wipes it away, only to realize it’s her own tears. She pats at her face and stares at her hand confused.
Have you been out here the whole time?
You were just here.
ERIN shakes her head.
The CAMERA CUTS TO A CLOSE UP of MARA. She turns to ERIN, eyes welling up again. The TV reflects brightly in her eyes.
I told you.
At that moment, the flash of a bright light, seemingly from outside, completely floods every inch of the house. A huge sound like an electric surge pops.
The CAMERA CUTS BACK to ERIN and MARA sitting on the couch. ERIN looks around, surprised. MARA reaches for ERIN’s hand and gives it a squeeze. ERIN looks away from her mother and over to the direction of the TV.
The CAMERA CUTS TO AN EXTREME CLOSE UP OF ERIN’S FACE. Her face slowly contorts into bewildered horror as the CAMERA slowly zooms in. Her breathing becomes more and more panicked.
The CAMERA CUTS TO THE WINDOW above the TV where ERIN and MARA’s reflection sits framed perfectly on the couch. MARA is still looking at her daughter, holding her hand. ERIN is staring, horrified, into the reflection. A tall, long body stands behind them slightly shifting its weight.
The CAMERA CUTS BACK TO A CLOSE UP of ERIN’s face, but now the figure is seen behind her. She lets out a gasp of air as if she hasn’t been breathing. At this moment, what we can see of the figure jumps forward.
The CAMERA CUTS TO BLACK as ERIN inhales harshly. After a few seconds a second definition for the word “onset” appears on the screen:
n. 1. the beginning of something
Photograph made available by Benjamin Lambert via Unsplash