Halloween Story Contest: Bonds In Silk

Blake Bouza

Dying is not peaceful. Not when you can feel two tons of metal squeezing your suddenly fragile body into the unyielding earth, not when you have adrenaline coursing through your veins like a freight train barreling down tracks.

First, there is the chaos as events leading to death suddenly spiral out of human control; the car whirling through the air, the sudden stop, the screeching of metal, a fiery flash of pain, the fluids that flood your mouth as your skull cracks -

- and I do not so much wake up on the table as I become aware that I am lying on it. A single, soft-lit light bulb swings overhead. When the bulb reaches the end of one swing, an accompanying tap resounds in the space I am in, like a nail on metal.

I cannot hear my heartbeat.

“My child,” says a deeply masculine voice in the softest of whispers that flutters against my eardrums like silk against the precious flesh of a newborn.

My back arches as a throat-searing scream rips from my mouth. I taste blood.

Shh. Shhhh.

Screams give way to whimpers. My throat burns.

“What?” I whisper hoarsely.

I feel its silken voice within me this time. Don’t be afraid, soothes the silk. Where had I heard that before? I want to give you your life back. To help me save the world. I need only one thing from you.

I don’t think. “No.”

The silk coils. Throat hurt?

The question catches me off guard. “Yes, it does.”

A warm, thick peppermint flavor floods my mouth, filling my sinuses with its refreshing aroma. My mouth instantly waters and I swallow.

It begins to burn. I try to gasp but my mouth and esophagus are on fire. Flames lick at my innards. My eyeballs burst into bright coronas of flame and when I open my mouth to shriek in perfect agony, fire plumes from my throat. There is no journey through a dark graveyard, no reliving the worst moments of my life. Just fire. Past, present, and future are only words. I see myself burn for an eternity for the instant the flame touches me.

Somewhere near the end/beginning of this torment, I am flung back onto the table. Naked, leaking everywhere.

I will return you to your existence, the silk breathes, as though the interim between its last words had been only a minor annoyance. You will go back to your friends, your family, your immoralities that plague the human existence. A single tap punctuates these words. There is a condition. In return for your continued existence, you will give me exactly one day, twenty-four hours, of your life. Gooseflesh rises along my arm as I feel the silk smile. Or you can stay with me down here.

“What does that mean?” I whisper.

The silk sighs beneath my skin. For one day of your life, you will be mine. Anything I wish of you. You cannot say no. I want you to blow up a building, you do it. I want you to donate to the Salvation Army, you will do it. No question.

I cannot stay here. “Yes.” My voice breaks.

A kiss, then. The silk ripples. To seal the deal.

An invisible force throws me to my feet. I blink rapidly but all I see is darkness before me. When I am embraced, I feel breasts press against my chest. My mind banishes the kiss from memory. All I recall is a slow song reaching a crescendo.

The light bulb bursts and I am blown backward into existence.

Halloween Story Contest: Quills

Jack Butler

In silence, Elizabeth rose from the quaint darkness of her bedroom.  Her waist robe clung to her hips and followed her feminine grace like silky, white honey.  She pulled at the drapes and peeked through a slit as the world burned in ultraviolet flames.  With a slow and wistful breath, she stretched, brushed the auburn hair from her deep green eyes.  A mélange of images and the cool dampness of the evening seemed like a memory to her, but never a promise.

As the crescent moon ascended the jagged peaks of the snow capped mountains, she flung open the wooden door and ran into the blossoming night.  Silver and blue moonlight rained to earth, sizzled as it cooled the day’s heat.  She danced in the radiance as it splashed her face and dripped from her long eyelashes, her almond shaped eyes captured the enchantment of her world.  Elizabeth froze, raised her head and sniffed the wind.  The late October breeze brought the scent of the Beast of Quills.  Sometimes the beast killed without reason and sometimes it licked the bones.  Still a child, her mother yelled at her to keep running as a quill tore into her mother’s chest.  She knew she couldn’t afford to look back and stopped only when the last of her tears ran out.  

Suddenly, Elizabeth heard the sound of a quill splitting the air in front of her.  She turned to run just as a quill shredded the delicate lace of her wings.  Another grazed her stomach and a fourth blasted through the flesh of her upper arm.  A searing heat slammed into her right leg while another plunged into her back and lodged in her left lung, stifling her scream as she fell.  She could hear a cacophony of demonic voices as the beast drew down upon her.  The quills dragged through the dirt leaving sticky canals of blood as she pulled herself to a fallen log, laid her head against the rough bark.  Her breath came in ragged gulps as a deep crimson froth streamed from her lips.  Dark red dripped from her breasts and pooled by her side.  

Elizabeth turned her head and gazed at the clouds stealing the moonlight.  “Please, father,” she prayed, teeth chattering from the pain.  Thick clouds slipped away and moonlight bathed her face with a gentle flowing mist.  The whippoorwill’s songs played in her mind while the frolicking laughter of the forest animals rang in her ears.  She could smell the fragrance of the white and purple flowers near the lake but longed to feel a mother’s joy.  Warm arms wrapped around her as she tasted the sweetness of the blood throbbing in her lover’s veins.  Elizabeth never felt the quill that split her heart in two.

“Does not seem proper, Sir Richard, killing something this beautiful just to see it dead.”  

“And what would you have us do with her…them, Master Thomas?  She was just a damn vampire.”  

Halloween Story Contest: Five Minutes

Barry Waggoner

But I did nothing to die for.  I keep repeating that in my mind.  The seconds are going by, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.  I have a mere five minutes in which to live.  But I did nothing to die for, I repeat in my mind.  I know why I have to die, but it makes it no easier to process.  Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.  I slowly get up from my chair.  I have no choice but to walk to the airlock knowing I have but few minutes to live.  Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.

Do I blame the person who is going to kill me?  Do I hate him?  No.  I know that if I do not die now, then he and I will die in a fiery crash and six others will die if they don’t get the serum this little ship is carrying.  I could never be so selfish as to try to live just for an hour longer.  Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.  I am too young to die, or so I thought.  I had my whole life in front of me, my brother would have been there in a year and we would have been happy.  I am only eighteen, a mere child.  Unfortunately, to nature I am a cold equation. I am something that has to be put right or more than I shall die.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.  I am in the airlock now.  He says nothing as I walk by the man that is going to kill me.  What can he say?  What can I say?  I know this is difficult for him though he gets to live and I did nothing to die for.  I want to see his face, but cannot through the tears in my eyes.  The airlock is so cold, yet only a small taste of what is to come in mere moments.  Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.

He shuts the door and I am in total darkness.  Any stoic thoughts or ideas I may have had, flees from me now.  I am so very glad I was able to talk to my brother, I know this will be hard for him and for my parents but they will survive.  I try not to think about my imminent death.  Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.  I hear the inner door lock.  I take a deep breath, knowing it will do me no good, a force of habit.  The outer door begins to open and I feel the pull of vacuum upon me.

I hit my back on the opening door and lose the breath I held, knowing I shall never be able to take another breath.  I am in terrible pain.  The worst pain I have ever had in my young life.  The vacuum of space is not easy on the human body.  I feel like I am going to explode!  I quickly fade away as death mercifully starts dragging me with it.  I have one last agonizing though:  But I did nothing to die for.

 

Tick, tock, tick, tock, ti-

 

How to Find 100 Trillion Dollars

Dustin Hodges/ Contrinuting Writer 

 

Over the previous few years there has been a growing sentiment about the evils of the “one-percent.”  Yet many have no real concept of whom they are demonizing.  From this growing and often loud group of miss-informed and ill-advised individuals has caused a recent rise in the support for socialism in the United States.   These people have been raised in the safety and comfort of the life capitalism has provided. Yet they desire to turn back the clock and live under the dangerous and unrelenting horror that is socialism.  

Looking back at the past century, many nations and governments have implemented Marxist and socialist ideologies, only to create mass-starvations, extreme poverty, and eventually destruction of the rule of law.  This is the future currently being promised by presidential candidates who are promising government supplied healthcare for everyone, government supplied college for everyone, and government supplied food and housing for everyone.  The promises being made are that these things will be “free,” yet anyone who believes anything is free is highly uninformed.  

Government income comes from taxes, which are paid by every adult American.  Therefore anything the government promises to pay for is actually being paid for by every Americans hard work.  The common theme among people pushing for socialism is to “tax the one percent.”  This plan is highly flawed, as the entire assets, not just income, of even the top 10% would not cover the 100 Trillion dollar price tag that would come with all of Bernie’s promises.   

The so called evil one percent is a much misunderstood group of Americans, as most people believe these are the billionaires, sitting in high rise offices on Wall Street.  There are a few issues with this theory, as the real one percent are not all billionaires, many are working right here in Sumner County. Many of you may know someone who still operates a family farm, with equipment and land amounting to much more value than you may realize.  Trying to increase quality of life of one group by utilizing other groups hard work has never been feasible, as Margaret Thatcher put it best, “The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Religion and Christian Privilege Panel

Blake Bouza

Volunteer State Community College hosted its Religion and Christian Privilege panel at the Great Hall in the Ramer Administration Building as a part of Diversity Week. The panel began at 11:30 and ended at close to 1:00 p.m.

Kenny Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives at Vol State, moderated the event. He greeted the gathered students and faculty and thanked them for attending. Faculty members Deb Moore, Sherri Person and Peter Pagan made up the panel.

Yarbrough said he hoped the discussion would be beneficial to the thoughts people had toward religion before asking the panel their opinion on how religion had impacted or divided culture.

Pagan answered this by saying “divisions have arisen because of an unwillingness to question our convictions.”

Deb Moore went on to deliver her presentation on religious literacy. “Within our communities we often are raised isolated within a bubble. We have a tendency to believe the entire world sees things the way we see them.”

Moore continued by saying that when people are introduced to a world with others who view things in a very different way, rather than reach out, people tend to isolate themselves further in what they find familiar.

By the time she was twenty, Moore said she knew her religious tradition inside and out.

“If we equate that to language, it is like saying I just know pronouns up and down. But if you just know pronouns and not nouns or conjunctions, you are not a literate person,” Moore said.

After this, Person proceeded with her presentation on interfaith. “A simple definition of interfaith is honoring and respecting the many and diverse religious faiths, beliefs and traditions or lack thereof throughout the world,” said Person.

Person continued by saying interfaith is all about inclusion. “Perhaps if a Christian were to engage in an interfaith discussion, they might think they would have to give up their understanding of Christianity in order to engage their Buddhist brother or sister in their religious walk.

Person said this is was not true. Interfaith means a person can still hold to their faith-based traditions, she said.

After Person, Pagan presented the final talk. Pagan said people tend to downplay the importance of reason in favor of faith. Reason is the capacity rational creatures possess to form concepts and arrive at conclusions.

Pagan said faith is an act that pertains to reason, not exclusively rational. “Some may make reference to saint Paul saying to beware of worldly philosophy. Some may take it to mean that philosophy is the enemy of faith.

“Consider that Paul did argue with thinkers of his time about their views. He engaged in dialogue. You can engage in rational dialogue and argumentation in a positive, respectful fashion,” said Pagan.

After the talks, the floor was open to students who may have questions for the panelists.

The panel was collaborated between the Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee and the Office of Student Life and Diversity.

 

Volstate App To Be Released Mid November

Kalynn Meeker

Volunteer State Community College students will have a new app available for download by mid-November of this year.

Kevin Blankenship, Chief Information Officer, said the existing app from a company called Campus EIA had limited functionality.

The new app from a company called Dub Labs will be a mobile portal.

Students will be able to access their courses on eLearn, D2L, bill pay, maps and records of students and staff. Downloaders will also have the capability of being connected to campus events.

Push notifications are a feature offered to increase the level of interaction and reach students quicker and easier. For example, if a student has a financial aid problem, a notification will show up on the mobile device to alert the student. The student has to allow the push notifications on his or her mobile device to obtain the feature.

In an age where paying bills can be done on the go via mobile device, having a mobile portal for students to access to assignments is next.

Blankenship said Dub Labs is making it easier to add features to the app.

“The course interaction at this point is read only but eventually you will be able to respond to assignments,” said Blankenship.

When asked if staff will have access to their portals as well, Blankenship said it is mostly geared toward the students to begin with but that it is a possibility that the app will branch out to them.

Matteen Mansoori and John Robert, students at Vol State said they would both download the app if they had access to eLearn.

The Vol State app will be available through the Apple Store and Google Play Store for free.

Food Fair Preview

 

Kalynn Meeker

Volunteer State Community College is hosting a campus-wide Food Fair on Oct. 27 through Oct. 28.

The Humanities Division, Thigpen Library, Healthy Pioneers, and SGA are the sponsors for the events.

Kelly Ormsby, Assistant Professor of English and coordinator for the food fair festivities, said it will be from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Oct 27 on the Quad if weather permits. If it rains it will be relocated to the Mary Nichols Dining Room.

It will feature a Lexicon of Sustainability Pop-up Art show.

The Sustainability Committee will be present to teach about the new single-stream recycling program.

Other festivities include a pumpkin carving contest and soup tasting

Ormsby also said participants at the food fair will also include Second Harvest Food Bank’s Farm-to-Family Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Dept. of Agriculture, The Sumner County Agricultural Extension Office and Master Gardeners Group, and SGA.

On the 28th, the Sumner County Master Gardens will be having tours through Vol State’s garden at 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tours will be given by Jeff Kent. Signups for the tours will be during the Fall Festival.

Students will also have the opportunity to help pack healthy snack bags for the local Shalom Zone as part of the Food Day Effort said Ormsby.

The Thigpen Library will have food themed books on display both days.

Also, research poster projects from students will be on display in the Wood Campus Center.

Ormsby said, ““This idea grew out of my desire to provide a meaningful context and service-learning opportunities for my English composition students in their research projects.”

Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities, said the main idea behind these events is to educate students on healthy food choices.

For student first time freshmen, Madison Rivers, healthy eating habits are important.

“I think that it is very important mainly because of all the stress that is put on us. So, we are more likely to stress eat and learning what is better for us to snack on could be very beneficial,” said Rivers.

“10 Questions For the Dalai Lama ” Review

Melissa Farmer

Who is the Dalai Lama? The Dalai Lama is a monk who grew up in Tibet. He is known around the world as a great leader and a peacemaker.

In the movie “10 Questions For The Dalai Lama” a man named Rick Ray goes on a journey through India to meet the Dalai Lama. He journeys through the same areas that the Dalai Lama grew up so he can truly try to relate to him once they get to meet.

The Dalai Lama has monks that help him set up meetings and appointments with him. Each appointment is 40 minutes long and the interviewer may ask 10 questions.

Coming up with the questions was a tough decision. When faced with the option to speak to one of the most influential people in the world and you are limited to only 10 questions what is important and what is not?

Do you ask ethical questions or personal? Can the questions be two parts? What if he doesn’t want to answer one, can you pick a different one? Rick Ray spends a lot of time thinking up good questions.

The most popular one was  “Why do the poor seem happier than the rich?” That is often times the case. Now, I won’t tell you the answers because you should watch the movie yourself. Take a break from American Horror Story or The Walking Dead to watch something that is rich in culture and gives you good questions to think on.

As I watched the movie I started thinking to myself about the way I would answer these questions. I also thought of the questions that I would ask.

One of the questions that struck me the most was this one “Should countries be dedicated to preserving their traditions or embrace modern culture?”

I think that there should be some kind of middle ground. While preserving traditions can help to keep a spirit of community and nostalgia, there can also be a stunt in growth if the area doesn’t learn to embrace new things that come along with time.

To hear the Dalai Lama answer this question I would highly suggest looking up the movie and watching it. This is an awesome way to learn about the Dalai Lama’s background, and what a Dalai Lama is historically without reading books or articles for hours.

At the Grand Festival Award it won “Best documentary”. It is a great film and worth the time.

Dr.Ming Wang’s “From Darkness to Sight” Presentation

Melissa Farmer

 

On Oct. 22, Dr. Ming Wang came to Volunteer State Community College to give a presentation called “From Darkness to Sight.”

Wang has published at least eight textbooks that are used for students to study the eye and the science behind it. Wang does surgeries for people that help them get rid of their glasses permanently. People who could not see without a heavy prescription could see after Wang performed a surgery for them.

Wang has performed on many optometrists so that they can continue on with their practice. He is well known all over the world for his Eye “Ball” that he holds each year where ball room dancing is the main event.  

The presentation talked about how he was born and raised in China. Dr. Wang said he wants to help blind, orphaned children. He spoke of how he wants to encourage children young people to work harder. He wrote a book, and all of the proceeds of the book go to a foundation.

Dr. Wang grew up with an atheist family, who put a strong emphasis on education. Disaster occurred in 1966-1976. There was a massive deportation of junior and senior high graduates. The dictator did this so that he could continue dictating in China without any upraises or riots.

The children who were deported were condemned of a lifetime of poverty and hard labor. Any of the children that escaped would be jailed or killed. There was no option for the children to continue on with the education.

By keeping the next generation ignorant, they wouldn’t have the possibility of an uprising. Students in America get lucky enough to study for as long as they want. There is an infinite amount of knowledge available. For the children there was only one kind of exemption, if you could play an instrument or if you can dance, they wouldn’t send you to the fields to work. Wang picked up an instrument.

Eventually, the government saw that children were learning music to avoid being sent away and put an end to the music.  Wang began to pick up dancing in an effort to avoid being sentenced to a life of poverty. When he thought all hope was lost something good happened. In 1976 the dictator died and China reopened colleges. Wang skipped three years and started the 12th grade the very next day. Only 12 grade graduates will be allowed to participate in the college examination and they had to be in the top one or two percent to be permitted into college.

“Here in America we sometimes take freedom for granted. We think ‘freedom is here, freedom will be here tomorrow,’” said Dr. Wang.

Dr. Wang said if his father wouldn’t have pushed him into college that year, then they didn’t know what the next year would hold. They could shut down colleges at any moment.

“Freedom is what is most precious about America,” said Wang. We often take things for granted because we truly can’t imagine what it is like to not have freedom.

Halloween Party Preview

Halloween Party Preview

Barbara Harmon// Staff Writer

Volunteer State Community College will be having a Halloween Party Oct. 30, at 6:00 p. m., in the Tiled Dining Room.

“Student Life and Diversity Initiatives is paying for food and we are hosting it as our family event for October,” said Tabitha Sherrell, Coordinator of Student Activities for Student Life and Diversity Initiatives

“Artisans Alliance is going to do pumpkin painting,” said Sherrell. “And the International Student Association (Visa) is going to do the costume contest.”

Sherrell also said the cheerleaders at VSCC are going to be running the spider ring-toss game and corn hole, and the Veterans Club is going to have a photo booth to take pictures and print out 4×6 photos.

“Those photos can be taken to the foam picture frame making station that RSO will be running,” said Sherrell.

Sherrell said SLDI would be having a superhero-themed coloring contest.

[The contestants] will be given a flier for homecoming, where all their cute superhero colored pages will be displayed in the hallway. They will announce the winner of the contest at homecoming, and the winner will need to be present to receive their prize,” said Sherrell. The Prize will be movie tickets.

The food at the Halloween party will consist of pizza, chips and dip, Halloween punch, and cookies.

“Every station is going to have candy, so it will also be like trick-or-treating,” said Sherrell.

Only about 20 children attended last year’s event, but Sherrell said she is hoping for at least 50 children this year.

“I’m hoping since Student Life is trying this family friendly series; I’m hoping that helps,” said Sherrell.

This is a community event so anyone is welcome to attend, she said.

Brittany Villa, president of RSO, has been making the fliers and as well as the decorative, plywood frame with holes to have your picture made in.

“The Returning Students Organization has put a lot of effort into making the fliers and advertising for the party, and they are also supplying the games for each station,” said Sherrell.

Villa said she just wants people to come out.

“[People] can pick and choose which booths they want to participate in, and we are going to have music, so we can just hang out while the kids have fun,” said Villa.

She said that Artisan Alliance was able to get miniature pumpkins donated from a local church for their pumpkin painting booth.

Villa said the RSO is hoping, by making this a family event, everybody will get involved, both on campus, and in the community.

“I feel like community support, as far as school goes, is very important, and I like that we have the capability to make it something cool,” said Villa.

Jesse Versage, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said he wants to encourage participation at this year’s Halloween party.

“Halloween is once a year,” said Versage. “Better take advantage of it.”