Category Archives: My Insane Manifestations

Now What?

Now What?

For starters, I never saw myself going to college. It just wasn’t a future I could picture for myself, right up there with having kids and getting married. But here I am now, a recent college grad, sitting at home with my Bachelor of Arts in Media Communication wondering: “Now what?”.

It’s not as if I haven’t given it any thought; on the contrary, how could I not think about it when the entirety of my last year all I heard was: “So what are your plans after graduation?”, “Do you know what you’re going to do?”, “What do you want to do?”, etc.
I HATE THOSE QUESTIONS. I loathed those questions. By the end of it all, I was ready to stab the next person who asked in the throat.

It’s scary. I don’t know if anyone realizes it, but it is scary. Yes, I graduated with a degree and whatnot, but like I still have no idea what I’m doing or what I want to do. Okay, maybe I do, a little. I want to travel. I want fun and excitement. I want to be happy. I’m so scared that I’ll end up trapped in a “9-5” corporate job (though I’m not saying that it would be terrible, but the fear of being restricted, of having a monotonous routine, of being stuck is so real). I’m so scared that if I do end up with a job that I like, I’ll stop liking it–I’ll hate it, I’ll be so bored and tired of going to work that it’ll feel like a chore. I don’t want that.

So my dilemma. Now what? When I first started college, I was in the Education program on my way to becoming an elementary teacher, but I couldn’t handle it. I really couldn’t handle it. I had my first mental breakdown and left school after a semester into my Sophomore year. Once deciding that Education probably wasn’t the best route for me, I came back and declared myself a Media Communication major. Why? Honestly, still to this day, I have no idea why I chose that major. It wasn’t a mistake, but at times I sort of wished I had tried to double major even though I’m perfectly happy with my two minors (Creative Writing and Theatre). I don’t regret Media Communication at all because I’ve learned so much and had a lot of fun. I met really cool people and got to do amazing things (such as make two films and a half hour of my own radio show)!

Bless you Carolyn Thompson, you literal angel and my saving grace. So my wonderful (used-to-be) Advisor (Carolyn, if you haven’t caught on) is a HUGE advocate for people having their own business. This woman of greatness advised me to do my own food-travel blog business because she knows how much I want to travel and that I really like food. Do you know what a great idea I thought that was until I sat down to think about the logistics? First, I don’t even have a car to do the traveling part in. Second, it would take me a while to build up a reputable name that businesses would actually want to pay me to come to their place to eat and post about. Third, it’s also scary. What if it didn’t take off? Then what? I have no backup plan (I never have a backup plan, you would think I would have learned by now).

So I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat. If you know me, it doesn’t seem likely. There’s a lot of pressure though; everyone telling me that I’m going to do amazing things and whatnot. Am I? It sure doesn’t feel that way. I only know the concrete things that I don’t want to do as jobs and that doesn’t really help because my options of what I do want to do are hard to achieve and it’s not that I’m not willing, but I’m scared to fail this time.

Acting? Hard. Hard to do, hard to get in to. I’m so worried about money and my debts that I won’t stop working a part-time just yet to go after it even though every fiber of me is screaming to just give it a go. I’ve grown so much as an actor and I’ve always wanted to.

Writing? Hard. Any author worth their salt will tell you that it is not easy. I have so many notebooks filled with ideas, but I’m still struggling in trying to finish them. And don’t even get me started on even trying to get published. That’s a whole other ball game that I can’t even remotely touch until I can finish writing a single story.

Traveling? Hard. Hard to fund. Sure there’s tons of bloggers out there that tell you it’s not hard traveling on a budget–I’ve read those blogs! They’re very discouraging to me, in all actuality.

So I sit here, lost. I see my friends and classmates that are getting married, finding jobs, having kids, and just doing things with their lives. I know we all move at different speeds and have different things going on in our lives, but looking at all of them makes me feel more stuck. If you can help a sister out, then please do. As a matter of fact, please just help each other out. We’re all here trying to survive. Why make it any harder than it has to be? Living shouldn’t be a chore.


the semicolon project



FullSizeRender-1FullSizeRender Today I went to a tattoo artist, and for $60 I let a man with a giant Jesus-tattoo on his head ink a semi-colon onto my wrist where it will stay until the day I die. By now, enough people have started asking questions that it made sense for me to start talking, and talking about things that aren’t particularly easy.

We’ll start here: a semi-colon is a place in a sentence where the author has the decision to stop with a period, but chooses not to. A semi-colon is a reminder to pause and then keep going. 

In April I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. By the beginning of May I was popping anti-depressents every morning with a breakfast I could barely stomach. In June, I had to leave a job I’d wanted since I first set foot on this campus as an incoming freshmen because of my mental…

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17 Signs You Really Just Want A Dog, Not A Boyfriend


Love this and slightly sad at how true this is.

Thought Catalog

Mike BabiarzMike Babiarz

1. You want someone to snuggle with at night. But the second they start humping your leg, you can kick them off the bed.

2. You want someone to join you on hikes, late night jogs around your neighborhood — just generally have some company when you decide to try out that “exercise” thing.

3. You don’t want to play the endless “Where you do want to eat? I don’t care” game. You just want to feed them at scheduled intervals, no fuss, no hassle.

4. You could use a healthy dose of unconditional love.

5. You’d love to just walk down a hallway of a shelter and pick your favorite. And be pretty much guaranteed they like you back.

6. You want someone who considers any tiny thing you do to be the most absolute greatest thing a person could do ever. “OH BOY, YOU ARE SO…

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Do You Feel This Too?


It’s a kind of suffocation that can’t be compared to drowning and the sort of claustrophobia that isn’t like having the walls close in. This . . . feeling can’t seem to be described, only felt.

A pressure on the mind and chest with an aim to drive you mad, not kill. It distorts the thoughts and makes you rethink everything you had once believed to be a solid affirmation.

And no one can seem to understand, leading you to think that maybe something is wrong with you. So it’s also a lonely hopelessness. Unless! Unless they too have the need, the impulse, the yearning–as indescribable as it is–to just go. To leave. To . . . escape.

It’s a restlessness from deep within. You’re trapped and dying. Your skin crawls because you’re static. It feels like everything yet it’s nothing. Nothing tangible–nothingness. A void with too much clutter. It can bring you to tears. It will drive you insane if left unsated.  There is no explanation for it’s cause and you’re most likely a victim of this epidemic already.

. . . Maybe, just maybe this feeling is a haunting of identity crisis . . . and the uppercut of your purpose in the world. It’s overwhelming and absolute terror. Questioning you. When I die, what am I leaving behind? How will others remember me? Is it how I want them to remember me? Was I who I wanted to be?

If you have this, just know that NOTHING is wrong. You are NOT alone. That itch, those shackles that keep you in the birdcage, they will evaporate. It is the pursuit of finding you–of creating who and what you want to be. What is now–WHO is now is insufficient, is not you. Those big dreams, those wishes at 11:11–the ones on shooting stars, dandelions, and eyelashes, the hopes of being happy with your future: you CANNOT let those go. To massacre your past is to exist without oneness.

Dreaming On Butterfly Wings


This is an unfinished ramble, but then, aren’t most rambles just unfinished thoughts?

What to do to a dream deferred?
Or, when opportunity is more persistent than Roger from Sister, Sister was and you find you never act like the fat kid in the candy shop. Greedy.

     I’d say it’s simple, except for the fact that rarely anything is simple these days and it’s getting even more Riddikulus. (Yes, I did just make that Harry Potter reference. I know *gasp* pop culture! Well, le duh.) Remember when we would stay out late just to count the stars on a warm summer night? Or when everyone had birthday parties where everyone was invited, no exceptions because we genuinely enjoyed everybody’s company–didn’t matter how weird the kid in the back eating glue was because we all did it at some point in time? How about the time before all this technology when we would talk to people face-to-face and actually go out in the world to do something instead of laying in bed staring at a computer screen? Back then when the people in the world mattered.

Simplicity has been taken for granted and I fear that it’ll only be a memory, worn at the edges and stained yellow.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find genuineness. Everyone hides behind a piece of advance plastic to share their  feelings and it’s only a wonder why so many people have died, whatever the cause.  There’s only so much a person can take before they break. Which explains why so many give up on dreams. After all, fairytales don’t exist and those that have the “good” life, deserve it. Right? Their dreams weren’t postponed for, let’s say . . . Eternity.

I guess so many of us are waiting for the opportunity to snatch our dreams that we begin to act like Ted Mosby and jump at every woman we meet hoping she’ll be The One, when really all you’re doing is missing out on what could be right in front of you. Patience is a virtue, but many of us lack this discipline. We get discouraged when it doesn’t work out and often, it’s hard to pick yourself back up from failure when all you wanna do is runaway to some little dark hole in the ground so you can wither away.
So that dud goes to the back burner where it marinates for some time until the aroma entices you to look back at what had been left behind.

You tell yourself, if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, right? Things happen for a reason, whatever the reason you believe. Well, sort of. People tend to forget that things require effort. I mean, that bread isn’t going to butter itself. You can’t just wish to win the lottery, you gotta go out and buy tickets. Not all of them will be winners, but if you wanna win then you gotta play.

The universe will only give you what you have put out and it all takes time too. When things happen instantly for some but not for others, why is that? Perhaps they put forth the effort and the work it took. No? Well, then this will probably be too good to be true for a while.  Because is it really fair for you to get everything you’ve ever wanted–and sure you say you’ll give back or use whatever you’re given wisely–without having lifted a finger (eyebrow maybe, but we all do that and it doesn’t count); while there are those that break their backs and suffer each and every day for years only to go home with nothing except their hopes and dreams they’re still holding on to. The rest just slap a restraining order to keep those dreams away because they didn’t happen immediately and now we want nothing to do with them unless they make themselves happen. We can’t live with failure.

Fair? I think not, but then again for us of those in the strength of a chokehold of a WWE two-time champion title winner, we’re outmatched and see this as fair because we’re thinking that maybe we brought this upon ourselves. Everyone always says that life isn’t fair though.

So point #1: Work for what you want. Work hard, receive much. Work little and you may as well just be a Pilot fish and feed off the leftovers from the shark’s mouth. Don’t give up. I know, easier said than done, but if everything was easy, nothing would be worth having.

     Mentality is another key attribute. As the saying goes, mind over matter. But how does that come into play with the real world? Sure, it’s inspiring when athletes say that they conquered Mt. Vesuvius and pushed past the toddler wails of their body to come out on top because their mind was Batman against a mind reader: an iron fortress backed by Kryptonite and the glorious Bat-defenses, but that really gets us normals nowhere.

I’ve lived with a pessimistic all my life–my brother. Nothing ever seems to go right for him. He can see some silver linings on a cloud ahead of him, but when he gets there it winks and disappears, just flirting like a nymph. He expects it though. In fact, that’s all he seems to expect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for expect the unexpected, but how can he be prepared to handle the good things if he never keeps his eyes open for them? They just fly right by him. And it always seems as if nothing goes right for him, so he keeps the mentality that nothing will ever go right. The “Why bother”.

So be ready for the good and the bad. It’s out there. Many of us have already seen it, many of us are not prepared. You’re only as lucky as you believe you are. Hasn’t anyone noticed that when your days starts out with something going right, that the rest of it just seems to get better? Unless you’re Debby Downer. In that case, Ain’t nobody got time for that. With what is going on in the world today, why waste our time dwelling on the negative? Especially when you can also make someone’s day by just smiling at them or offering a compliment? Spread the love, we’re all stuck here together so why not make the most of it? The more good you spread, the more good you’ll see.

Now, I’m not encouraging this “YOLO” thing. Sure, we only live once (unless you’re reincarnated, yeah? Or you’re a cat . . . in that case, you can read human words?) and we should all definitely take advantage of that, but let’s not be dumb about it. If we’re going to live once, make the most of it by setting an example, being a role model, helping others out, spreading happiness and love, and make an impact for future generations to see. We copy what we see. Do we really want people to see all the destruction and continue it because that’s all we left them with?

Point #2: Not exactly sure where I went with that, but um . . . See and think the good? It’s all about what you want to think and see. You control your thoughts and feelings even if everything feels out of your control. Positive outcomes only!

     Many of you will roll your eyes (you all probably think I’m a raving lunatic at the moment, anyway) when I tell you to appreciate what you have. Yeah, right. I’ll admit, I am a hypocrite, so how can I tell you to appreciate what you have, when I’m not even doing that. Well, fine! I won’t. Simple as that.

BUT, I do appreciate the little stuff. A smile from a stranger on a busy day. You know they could pass you, pretending you’re not even there and that stings. Someone telling me to have a good day. Yes, those mainly come from store employees when I’m out and about, but you know what?! I will have a freakin fantastic good day! Try and stop me!  When you get one of those random really pretty days. The sun is warm and there’s that breeze that isn’t too cold, but refreshes and the grass looks insanely green and the world’s just a bit better. Or petting a puppy. You can’t beat those days when you just randomly get to pet a puppy.

Those little things add up. Like seemingly useless pennies in a coin jar. It only takes a hundred to make a dollar. It may seem like a lot, but you can collect those faster than it takes Goku to defeat any threat to the Earth.

23 Earnest, Totally Legitimate Pieces Of Advice For College Students


Thought Catalog

1. Get a real email address. Even if you don’t plan on going corporate when you graduate, trust that your high school moniker does not translate into the real world. No one wants to hire, date, or bang

2. And while you’re at it, make sure it’s a Gmail account? Maybe y’all know this already, but AIM basically doesn’t exist after college. Gchat or bust.

3. Do not miss out on huge opportunities (like living in another country for a little more than your regular tuition, if that) because you’re afraid or because you don’t want to miss out on what’s happening on campus. Campus will be there when you get back, and leaving the country will never be easier or cheaper.

4. Understand your finances. Like, go to the financial aid office and figure out what moves you need to make (if any) to get on the…

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Fall of the Mighty


*Work In Progress: Rough Draft*

I see you looking out at the crowd, a faceless sea of darken blobs. Gods among humans. Eyes tired, but alive. We drain you, but we are your drive. On a whole other platform of existence where we can only dream and never touch and I feel sorry for you, but I admire the strength of your character. This is what you love, but we humans are so demanding, so needy, so greedy. Want, want, want; more, more, more; always asking and not taking into consideration that even gods can exhaust their worth. They too are alive, breathing as we, and so we must not worship but honor. Because all gods fall one day, even the mightiest have a breaking point, so it’s only a matter of time. Even the sky brought Atlas to his knees.

And our proclamations are just empty words. Love. We don’t know you. We know of you and about the image because in order to know, we must have an understanding. It’s the idea and concept of you that have captured and catapulted you above us. I am thankful for what you offer.

I refuse to bow, though. Not out of dislike but out of respect. I will not grovel and put you on the pedal-stool. I will not weigh your shoulders down with the infatuation of yourselves. To demand from you without giving is wrong. I acknowledge the sacrifices made for us humans and know that you deserve so much more in return from all the taking we have done. Stars burnout and the earth crumbles under harsh conditions. To watch you cave under the pressure is to watch you die. I refuse to witness this. I will not be a human as they are.

Giants can fall down to David and humans can bring down gods. You can cease to exist if the fate befalls you, but alive I will keep you. Idolize I will not, because you were once a mere mortal. With that thought, I will treat you.



Screaming on the Inside

I tune out the world because sometimes it’s better to be left alone, but then I see how happy everyone is and how much they enjoy life. I begin to hate myself a little bit . . . a lot a bit. I don’t understand why I can’t be like that. This self-hate, the downgrading, is just exhausting.

what’s exhausting is keeping up a facade. It takes so much not to just break down and cry, not to just cut, not to just release, to just be happy or pretend to be happy because I don’t want anyone to worry. I hate when people worry, but I hate pity even more. That’s why no one knows, cause no one can understand my torment. I keep going though, because I think it’ll get better, and for her. I have to keep strong for her, make things better for her. I can’t let her down.

And life sucks.
Nothing goes right, does it? And I wonder if I’ll ever meet someone who will help me get through this, who will help me see that I have so much to live for and that it’s not a chore. Someone I can let in. Because my “friends” don’t know. I never tell them everything. Some don’t even listen.
No, because that’s my job. I’m the listener. There is no reciprocation for me. There never is and I wonder why I even bother, but I know why.

Cause I hate being alone.
I can’t stand the loneliness, even though I push everyone away for that purpose. I don’t like knowing that there is no one that truly stays for me. I’m just a replacement for others. When they need someone, I’m the one they use.
Where is the justice in that? How come I can’t get anything real? So I’m giving you up, because you are a disappointment. Hearing others enjoy themselves when I’m close-by, without being acknowledged, makes me want to scream, but I don’t.

I’m reserved.
I’m nice.
I have to be.

Because what if they all just disappear because I said something wrong or did something because I couldn’t control myself. Like you did? What if everyone left me like you? Writing doesn’t soothe me anymore and I blame myself. It’s not me anymore. I’m not me anymore. I don’t even know who I am. Why do I refuse to cry?

I hate me, every day. Because I keep thinking,

‘I’m alright. I’m just fine. It’ll all get better. Just be patient. Don’t scare her. She depends on you. And we promised we’d make her future better.’

I’m not alright, am I?
No, I know I’m not.

I wonder how I became like this. Surely, I wasn’t ever like this. Because if I was, wouldn’t someone have noticed and helped me before it escalated to this? Surely someone would’ve. I’m scared to get help. Because that shows that I’m not alright. And if everyone found out, who would want to be with me? I don’t want to be with me. I’m just waiting, praying, no maybe hoping a little, that something in the universe will end this. I don’t want to die, because I know that would be a waste and I can’t do that to her, but I want something that will erase all the hardships from my memory.

I want to start over.

Life doesn’t have a redo, though. So I’m stuck, I’m screwed for life. I can’t take anything of what I did back. It kills me. Can I just forget?


I’ve sunk too deep to help myself and I know that no one will help me. Why? I won’t let them. There’s no way. So I am a masochist. I dwell in this pain. It’s become my life. Maybe this is who I am. I just want to hide, but I know that I can’t. That would bring questions and I don’t do questions. I hate questions. I hate people worrying, sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. They don’t deserve to know what wrong. None of them do.

I’m drowning here.
There’s no one to save me and I can’t even save myself. I can literally feel a pain in my chest. It hurts so much to be like this.  I can’t force myself to fix this. Even though I desperately want to.

My head starts to hurt.
The pain in my chest hasn’t gone away yet. I don’t expect it to until I do something.

Like run.

That helped last time, but even my body won’t move. All I have to do is change and go. Run for a bit, but I can’t. I’d rather wallow here. And then this rage consumes me. And it’s directed at those who are happy. Those that laughing and enjoying themselves. I hate them. I hate how happy they are. It’s not fair. I just want to hurt them. But I can’t. I have to restrain myself. I don’t know how much longer I can last. It’s too late to do anything tonight.

I just want to curl up and cry.

Thoughtless Wanders


“Thoughtless Wanders”

Ergh! It was frustrating!

There had been a TV special on famous—or was it infamous?—serial killers, her brain helpfully supplied. Right!

Ew. He was disgusting! How was it possible for anything to have beady eyes if it wasn’t a bug? And apparently his mother never taught him good hygiene. Unless . . . oh, right! Dead ladies. The mom was probably the first. Poor thing. May her soul rest in peace and her body in . . . pieces? Uh, nevermind. Still, the greasy hair—not even pulled off well, like those greasers in that one book turned movie—and ugh cakey skin, needed to be washed. Multiple times. And thoroughly.

Aw man! She was supposed to be getting ready for tonight’s fundraiser gala. She was gonna be so pretty, too! Her mom was even nice enough to pay for—

Okay, just because he was some twisted sicko didn’t mean he had to neglect his mouth, either. Rotting teeth and sewer breath: turn off! But he probably wasn’t trying to impress or he wouldn’t have to kidnap at the dead of night and drug his victims. If he was better looking.

Jack! Not Titanic Jack, but mmm! Leo was a delicious man. Why did he have to fall for Rose though? Stupid girl was too fat and killed him. There was enough room on that plank for the both of them!

Right. Jack. Like the fairytale Jacks. The beanstalk boy and the candle jumper. Along with the kid who went tumbling down.

No! Wrong Jacks. All of them.

Think! Think! Think!

TV special, serial killer, Jack, victims were all ladies . . .

Well crap! That meant she was gonna die! There was still so much she wanted to do and she hadn’t even written her will! Granted, she had nothing to her name, but it was the principle of the thing.

Holy cow! That was a knife. A very sharp and big and—A butcher knife. Huh. Wasn’t that a tad cliché? Kind of like that parody movie filled to the brim of old clichés. Man was she thirsty. A nice cold glass of milk filled to the brim would be nice. And can’t forget about milk’s favorite cookie: OREO!!!

“Prepare to join your sisters in hell.”

Sisters? She was an only child, thank you very much. Having siblings wouldn’t be too awful, though, would it? They’d all have red hair like her as well, right? Even though her parents were both of the black haired gene. It seemed as if the carrot tops were becoming extinct. What a tragedy. The world didn’t even know. It didn’t help that this beast killed four of her fellow reds.

Oh. Oh! OH! Five, well four—she wasn’t dead . . . yet—murders. Brutal murders. Mary, Kate, Elizabeth, Liza, and her, Emma.

She couldn’t see a connection, though. Other than the red hair, but that couldn’t be— Aw crap. Was it because she was a ginger?

“You are no gift from God.”

Ah, a religious killer. Right! Gingers. No soul. Blasphemy. Not cool, man. Not cool. She really liked her freckles too. The fact that she couldn’t get a tan and got burnt like a lobster was the only downside. Food would really be good right now. A last meal. Oh! And another thing was that so many colors washed her out, so her wardrobe was limited. Luckily, her dress for the Gala was just so perfect. Too bad she’d never get to wear it out.

He—he drugged . . . her! So fuzzy. Is this what . . . what cotton head . . . no, a head . . . full of cotton . . . feels like . . . ? Muffled sounds. Knife . . . right. Throat . . . two cuts . . . dead . . . then . . . mutilation. Not like . . . kids, no . . . wanted, didn’t. Silence.

It was warm, but so cold. Her head pounded. Did she have a migraine? Did she forget to turn the air off last night? Or was the window open? Right. Neither. So was this heaven? If so, then it sucked. It should not feel like getting hit by a car after a soccer ball hits the head while hungover. Not pleasant. She’d have to talk to the people in charge.

“Some modern-day wannabe killer trying to make a name for himself, but he followed the work to a ‘T’ and left evidence a mile high. Only thing was, these girls weren’t prostitutes. You ain’t in Britain anymore, brother.”

England? Prostitutes? Jack the Ripper! Was it too late to go to the Gala? Gosh that policeman sounded nice.

Becoming a Good Woman (Short Story)


Becoming a Good Woman

When Martin Connors had first encountered the door, she told herself that attempting to open it would not be worth her time. She was not Alice and that door would not lead her to Wonderland or Narnia because she most certainly was not a Pevensie child; so then why couldn’t she explain what she was doing with the door wide open as a last resort?

The first rule when arriving to Bilstraud’s Academy of Fine Women was to never open the double oak doors on the fifth floor. Why? Well that answer they supplied stated that it let to the school’s abandoned shelter two cities away, but was now riddled with rather poisonous plants and other dangerous things, or something like that.

Bilstraud’s had been around for the last fifty or so years. It was founded by James Bilstraud, who is rumored to have executed promiscuous women in his hometown before fleeing. Of course, those were just rumors, but at Bilstraud’s, rumors are as close to the truth as anyone will ever get.

Martin was accepted at the ripe age of thirteen. Like her older sister before her, she was to attend and expected to graduate with outstanding achievement. Lucy never talked about her years at Bilstraud’s and came out the picture perfect at-home wife. Martin didn’t know what to expect and that should have been her first clue that something was amiss. Lucy never denied anyone the chance of gossip. The overlooking of this fine detail would later come back to haunt Martin.

Even thought the Academy was founded by a man, women have always headed the school. It is the belief of Bilstraud’s that only find young ladies will come out as competent women, ready to be what every man needs. There is no tolerance for any kind of risqué behavior or misdemeanor. The consequences are said to be severe, though no one actually knows what happens to those caught acting so wildly and no one ever speaks aloud at Bilstraud’s.

It started when Martin noticed Abby missing. It wasn’t the first time a girl just left, but Martin knew Abby and one is said to ever graduate within the first five years; only the most prestigious have ever completed quickly and those cases were rare. Abby continued to be gone for five more days when Cameron went missing as well.

“Stephanie,” Martin whispered as the two were setting up their room for sleep, “have you heard anything about Abigail or Cameron?” If there was anyone that would know, it would be Stephanie.

It was a risk the two girls were taking, talking this late at night when they should be sound asleep, and speaking about something that was clearly not their business. It did not involve them and at Bilstraud’s, if you are not included, do not include yourself. The distress clearly showed on Stephanie’s face. It didn’t matter how carefully they conversed, the walls had ears.

Stephanie shook her head. She may have heard something, but she wasn’t stupid enough to talk about it, even in the littlest of a whisper. There was something about the school that didn’t sit right. It was an ominous feeling that clung to every hallway and crept into every dream.

The next morning, Stephanie was gone. Whispers followed Martin around along with the sensation of being studied. Whatever happened to the other girls could very well get her next. It was only a matter of time. Martin had to watch every little action, but she wasn’t going to abandon her friends. Whatever got them, also struck two more girls a year ahead of her.

It was another day of attending classes and learning how to be a proper woman, but what made it different was that those analyzing eyes that Martin usually felt were gone.  Martin wasn’t sure how she accomplished this feat, but during rest time, she managed to sneak away. At first her search proved fruitless until she stumbled upon a button off of Abby’s favorite night gown. She found it on the fifth floor. The girls had to be somewhere nearby then. No one who went into Bilstraud’s came out without graduation. It is said that they had to restart and repeat all over again until they passed, no matter how old they got. So somewhere within the building had to be Abby, Cameron, Stephanie, and the two others.

Martin returned the next day to the fifth floor, being very careful in her approach. This was how she found herself on the fifth level with the double oak doors just down the hallway. It still didn’t explain how she ended up with that door wide open, hoping for something fairytale-like on the other side, but the hurried footsteps of many heading her way, clearly indicated her predicament.  There was no time for Martin to think over her actions as she stepped through the forbidden oak doors.

Deprivation. A long winding staircase greeted her in the total blackness of the passage way. No plants or poison or death touched her exposed ankles. The voices on the other side grew in volume, so Martin cautiously trekked down the stairs, keeping her right hand on the wall as support. It was just like the books, where the mysterious passage led out to a light, expect this one wasn’t a blinding white nor did a glorious adventure present itself when she made it to the end. However far in deep into the school she was, she didn’t know, but looking at the poorly lit almost dungeon like surroundings, she figured that it was somewhere near the faculty housing since the build looked so old.

A muffled scream of panic reached her ears and caused her pulse to cease for a second. When Martin followed the sound, she wished she had drowned five years ago.

“Martin!” The voices wailed. Bloody arms reached through the cell bars for her.

Martin stumbled back, a strangled and alarmed sound escaping through her throat as bile rose and choked her. She recognized those startling grey eyes. Cameron. She dared not let her eyes travel around the chambers.

“Martin, help me, please!” It was Abby. She looked petrified. Naked, bloody, and shivering. Her normally lustrous blond hair was matted brown.  If Abby was in this condition, then . . .

“They’re going to kills us, Martin!”

Choruses of her name echoed in the dungeon-made-examination lab. The smell of feces, urine, and blood mixed with the sterilizing chemicals made her sway; nauseated, Martin collapsed back against a wall. It was too much. She couldn’t look away. Is this what happened to the others that had gone missing as well? Caught up by the whole situation, she almost missed the tall-tale signs of someone approaching.

“Darlings, what in the world has gotten you all so worked up?” The voice sent ice through Martin’s veins. “Are you going to beg for forgiveness, again? Begging is beneath women.”

Headmistress Rhonda was behind this? But why? Martin felt lightheaded and squeamish. The barrel next to her rattled at her sudden movement.

“I see we have a mouse. Is that what you were trying to tell me, lovelies?” Rhonda crooned.

Martin’s heart caught in her throat. NO, this couldn’t be happening. She covered her mouth to muffle her increasing gasps for breath. If she was found . . . the sight of Jamie strapped down on the slab and peeled like a potato burned into her mind. Those vacant white sheen layered eyes borrowing into her soul with her mouth opened in a silent, eternal scream . . .

A shriek caused her to jump. She had to find her way back to the stairs and get out. She had to escape Bilstraud’s.

“Martin, please,” Abby sobbed. There was a faint sound of a scuffle. Oh god, Rhonda was going to get another one. It wasn’t doing Abby any good by fighting back, she would be dead; she couldn’t be a woman with her floozy attitude and that’s what it all came down to.

“You have a friend down here?” Rhonda sounded positively delighted. A dull snap silenced Abby quickly. Martin felt the air rush out of her lungs and her legs jelly.

“Oh Martin dearie,” Rhonda called sweetly, almost singing, “I didn’t know you joined our party.”

No! No, she couldn’t get caught. That would be it. Martin pinched her forearm hard. She needed to get a reaction out of her body. She needed to run!

“Don’t be shy. We’ll have lots of fun. We’ll make a woman out of you yet.”

The second Martin moved, everything fell silent and caused her to freeze. One by one, the lights dimmed before blinking out. She pressed herself against the wet brick wall behind her and did her best to hold her breath.

“You don’t have to hide,” Rhonda whispered.

Martin screamed and bolted. Her body ice cold but pounding internally with the heat of fear. Rhonda was far quicker though, and snatched Martin’s rich auburn locks.

“Now, now love. If you run away we’ll have to do more than make you a woman.”

“No!” Martin shrieked in terror, clawing and scraping at the walls that let slip away. “NO!!”

A dull crack and Martin’s cries fell silent immediately. Rhonda caressed the sixteen year old’s cheek. “Welcome to Bilstraud‘s, Martin Connors.”