All posts by radiophile

Dia de los Muertos Art Show, Playathon, Cookie Contest and More

Playathon Wrap-up by Liam Harris

Justine Intemann-Milligan with her piece Tide Pool by Stewart Olmstead and Annalee Gorman

Marwa Mayor and her Dia De Los Muertos Piece by Zainab Abbas and Mahlet Ababa

The Artwork of Olivia Patitucci by Amelia York

Charlene Delucy’s Project by Bailey and Chloe

Interview with Christopher Galinato about his Playathon Experience

Hannah Nauretz Sea Turtle

Olivia’s Playathon Experience

Hayden and Joseph interview Gabby Klemer DeLasse

Enter the Cookie Contest!

Josh Zezzo and James Montecillo intrview Nicole Dominguez-Lopez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Festival 2017!

And Rio Americano’s Third Annual Scariest Horror Movie Award Goes to…

ROMAN PEREZ!

and his movie EIGHTEEN!

Congratulations to Roman and all of the contestants!

 

 

 

IF PLAYED AT SCHOOL YOU MAY NEED TO CLICK THE YOUTUBE ICON AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT IN ORDER TO BYPASS THE GOOGLE FILTER

 

 

 

 

Roman Perez wins the Horror Festival: Fright Factor 9 (Virus)

Amelia York Comes in Second: Fright Factor 8 (Stalker)

Matt Grossman, Steward Omstead and Brian Davis come in Third: Fright Factor 7 (Psycho)

Liam Harris: Fright Factor 6 (Spoof: Deleted Scene explains everything)

Kanai Kalama: Fright Factor 6 (Spoof)

Scott Fado-Bristow: Fright Factor 6 (Demon)

Joel Spaid and Connor Ebersberger: Fright Factor 6 (Psyche!)

Adelyn Fowler: Fright Factor 5 (Poltergeist)

Henry Sue: Fright Factor 4 (Psycho)

Zainab  Abbas and Mahlet Ababa: Fright Factor 4 (Monster)

Macoline Irvine: Fright Factor 4 (Mask)

Hayden DeBencik and Jospeh Billeci: Fear Factor 4 (Killer Doll)

Jake Harouni: Fright Factor 2 (Aliens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Festival Trailers 2017

Get Ready! Here Comes Rio Americano’s Third Annual Horror Festival!

Form a team of any size. Rio Students, Staff,  Alumni and Parents are all welcome to participate.

Come to Room I-6 Friday October 20th After School to Choose a Genre, a Line of Dialogue and a Prop. These are required elements that must appear in your movie.

Upload your completed film by Sunday 11:59pm October 29th. Send a link to abearson@sanjuan.edu

Scariest Movie wins a $50.00 Gift Certificate!

Here are a few trailers to get you in the mood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Necessary Disguise by Camille Kistner

The Necessary Disguise

By Camille Kistner

 

I stepped to the edge of the worn concrete steps leading up to our apartment. Warm, dust-filled air lifted the hair off my shoulders and my hair danced in front of my face. I tucked my hair away behind my ear and bent down to pick up a dirty newspaper that was dated July 17th, 1992. A bolded headline read, Hekmatyar Refuses Peshawar Accords. Bombs Falling. As I turned to walk back inside with the bucket of water I had filled at the faucet, I heard a whistling sound that had become all too familiar in recent months. There was an ear piercing explosion and the ground beneath my feet rumbled. I hurried inside. My parents had moved our family to Kabul during a time of peace, but things had changed quickly. Rival militias had begun to fight for control of the city and it was no longer safe to be outside. Women and girls were not even allowed to walk the streets without a male relative.

For months, I had been cooped up in the small apartment while my father attempted to arrange our family’s passage back to the U.S. Then suddenly, my father didn’t return from work in the evening as usual. We spent days wondering if he was alive until a man he had been working with stopped by to inform us that he had been arrested. We were practically starving and had already consumed all the food we had stored.  My little brother and sister were so hungry they had stopped playing and spent the days just laying around. We had a small amount of afghani but it would do us no good since my mother and I didn’t dare to venture into the streets alone to purchase food. If we were to be seen, we would be arrested, beaten, and most likely killed. I couldn’t just stand around and watch my family starve to death. I had to figure out some kind of plan.

Sitting on the pile of blankets I sleep on, I watched out the hole in my wall where a window once was. Black puffs of smoke linger in the sky where puffy white clouds should be. All I could see from here was a city in ruin. I knew that there was a market nearby where men would sell and trade food. I’d seen a boy named Khalil who lived on the floor above us bring bread and rice back to his family. I didn’t think it was fair that he could go out and earn food when I couldn’t even leave my apartment. My mother had a few items I could trade if I could just get to that market.

“Mom, I need you to cut my hair short. Like a boy.”

She was confused at first, then quickly understood that this was probably the only way we could survive until my father returned. I convinced Khalil’s little sister to give me some of his clothes. The clothes hung loosely on me which worked well to hide my feminine body. I selected a small, exquisite vase that my parents had been given as a wedding gift and tucked it into the waistband of my pants. My mother handed me the small pouch of Afghanis that she had saved, kissed my forehead, and told me to be careful. My legs trembled like those of a newborn colt as I took the first few steps outside the safety of my home.

I tried to appear confident as I made my way to the marketplace. I walked down the narrow streets, brushing shoulders with men of all ages and climbing over debris from recent bombings. I kept waiting for someone to stop me, but apparently my disguise had worked. I made it to the market and my stomach lurched at the thought of speaking with one of the strange men selling food. My nose was filled with the scent of fresh bread and my hunger overpowered my fear. I casually strolled up to a man behind a table filled with dried fruits and bread. I handed him the pouch of afghanis and the small vase. He studied the vase carefully and counted the money. He held out a small loaf and two packets of of dried fruits. I bowed my head to him and tucked the bread and fruit into my waistband. Then I ran as fast as I could back to my apartment, my heart beating like a bass drum. We were going to be okay.

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found by Emma Hutchinson

Emma Hutchinson

Mr. Bearson

Honors English 1

5 September 2017

Lost and Found

I step out of the cab that I picked up at the airport, and a wall of heat slams into me. I toss a few pesos in the metal tin hanging off the back of the seat, and I hear them clatter against the bottom.

The man murmurs “Gracias”, and departs. As I drop my duffel bag and backpack on the road, a dust cloud rises into the hazy sky. I wave the dust away and see that I stand in front of a small shack with jagged holes cut into the adobe, acting as windows. A curtain hangs in place of a door. A piece of cheap plywood hanging next to the curtain reads, “Casa de Maria”. The sign indicates that I am in the right place to see Maria Ramirez, the head of the orphanage in the poor, violence-riddled sectors of Ciudad Juárez. She is supposed to tell me how I can help the children in the orphanages maintain hope. Pastor Kiernan chose me for my joyful spirit and ability to make people smile. However, now that I am here, seeing all of this poverty, I feel my positivity waver. Nonetheless, I take a deep breath and move towards the house.

I reach the door, and suddenly realize I don’t know what to do. There’s no door! Should I yell, walk in, knock on the brick next to it? What if no one’s home? I consider my options and finally decide to yell into the house, “Hello? Is anybody home?” There is no response and all I hear is the taxi moving further down the street. I yell again, this time in Spanish. “¿Hola? ¿Hay alguien en casa?” Still nothing. As I lean towards the thin curtain, however, I think I can hear a baby cry. I pull the curtain to the side, and peek into the house. It smells musty, like it hasn’t been aired out in a while, peculiar, considering the windows are open to the outside air. I call out again as I walk down a short hallway, which opens into a large room that appears to be the kitchen. I look upon a chaotic scene. Dishes are strewn on the dirt floor, one is shattered, a chair is tipped over backwards, and a tattered moccasin lies in the middle of the floor. The disarray makes me uneasy; I remember scenes like this from movies I’ve seen, and they don’t have happy endings. Something must have happened here, but what?  I hear another cry which seems to be coming from somewhere else in the house and instinct urges me to investigate. I tiptoe around the corner, though there is no one to hear me. As I step into a small bedroom, I look at my surroundings. Against the back wall is a plank with some threadbare blankets on it, passing for a bed. A cardboard box sits next to it, supporting a Bible and a glass of water. Along the side is half a dresser, nothing more than just a pile of wood and some knobs. There is a cradle in the corner, and it catches my eye. I peer over the edge, and discover a tiny baby wrapped in a thin, pink blanket. By the looks of her bright red face, she has been crying for a while. She whimpers, and I reach down and stroke her cheek. She blinks at me through tears and begins to cry again.  The baby’s mother must be the owner of the moccasin and since she’s not here, this tiny human being’s life is in my hands now.

My thoughts race.  What? I can’t take care of a baby. I don’t even know how to hold a baby! I don’t want to hurt it. Not it, her. What happened to her mother? What do I do? Where do I go? Why me? As these thoughts scurry back and forth, tears run down my cheeks. This poor child will probably never know her parents, and there’s nothing she can do about it. The baby startles me out of my grief by starting to cry again, so I reach into the cradle and pick her up. I hold her close to my chest, and sway back and forth, the way I’ve seen other women do, trying to soothe her. She calms, but still whines, and I realize she must be hungry, and I have nothing to feed her. I turn, and retrace my steps until I am outside; then I begin my search for help. There is no one in sight. I start to walk toward town, looking for someone who can help me. I know the general direction from my drive in from the airport.

Before long, the baby’s cry becomes desperate, she is wailing now, her hunger intense. I start to panic, and quicken my pace, disturbing the dirt and creating dust clouds with every frantic step. I bounce side to side as I walk, so it looks like I’m ballroom dancing. This time it doesn’t work, and the baby just cries louder, demanding food faster than I can supply it. I stop my bouncy walk, clutch the infant to my chest, and break into a cautious run.

Eventually I make it to town, sweaty and covered in dirt and tears, but relieved to have resources in the form of people, buildings and businesses. I see a large building, a church I presume, and I go up the steps and inside. I find a young woman with olive skin and long, dark hair who looks up when I enter.

She looks up at me, inquiring, “¿Este bebé es tuyo?”

I shake my head and say, “No ma’am, she’s not mine, I found her in an empty house. I believe something awful happened to her mother.”

She nods, changing to English when she realizes I am American. “Oh no, here, let me take her.”

I hand the baby to her, relieved of my tiny burden. She tells me that there was a young woman who was abducted earlier that day from her home and they found her body a few hours ago in a ditch. This woman must have been the baby’s mother. Tears stream down my face, not only for the baby, but for the woman, who would never get to see her daughter grow up, never see her take her first steps, tie her shoes, dance at her quinceañera, or get married. The woman from the church goes to get the baby some milk and some water for me. I collapse onto one of the pews, overcome with exhaustion and emotion, and I fall into a fitful sleep, my dreams haunted by thoughts of orphaned babies, grieving communities, and how I will ever be able to complete my original mission of delivering hope in the warring Ciudad Juárez.

 

Adventure in Afghanistan by Molly Ford

Molly Ford

Period 3

Adventure in Afghanistan

Emma steps out of the airport and is confronted by the smell of smoke. The atmosphere is hazed by a thick layer of dirt and dust. The city looks torn apart, buildings are half collapsed and people with dirty faces scurry around chaotically. The rest of the bus full of medical undergraduates follows behind her. The leader shouts, “Everybody, follow me to the hospital!” Emma grabs her suitcase and trails behind the large group of adults.

After forty-five minutes of walking through dirt and debris, she ends up at a building with decaying stone and windows cut out of the walls. She steps through the broken door that is half off of its hinges. When she steps in, she sees a room full of broken down hospital beds and skinny, grimey kids. She sits one down on a bed and looks at the nametag, her name was Ara.

As she checks all of Ara’s vitals, she notices that she is malnourished and nearly starving. As she looks at the other patients, she realizes that they are all lacking proper nutrition. Her coworker comes up to her and says, “Emma, I was looking over the results, and this is going to be more difficult than we thought”. But Emma knows that this is what she was here for. She and all of these other students were sent on this medical mission to save these children. No matter how long it takes, she is ready to take the time and help these children get better.

As the days progress, she realizes that the illnesses that the children require much more than vitamins. These children have very serious diseases, many of which have not been able to be treated. Majority of them have been diagnosed with pneumonia and diarrhea. It will take many months to help them, but Emma and her team work very hard to help them.

Suddenly, as she is giving the medication to one of the children, she hears a sharp cry come from outside the building. Emma steps cautiously toward the window and peers out. Through clouds of dust, she sees a large group of of soldiers clothed in all black enter a building. After cries of pain, they leave the building with around ten people with their hands bound and gagged. It did not take long for Emma to realize what is about to happen.

Emma has to think quick about how she is going to help the people in the hospital. This is what she came here to do, to save the children. Emma scans the room, looking for a way to escape. The windows are too small to fit through, and if she walks through the door the soldiers would see her. Come on Emma, Think. She looks around the room once more, this time she notices something, another door. She sees the medical supply closet. “Everybody follow me!” she exclaims. The kids and staff scurry after her. As she gestures toward the cabinet, the staff finally understand. But, Emma feels a tug at her shirt. Ara looks up at her with wide eyes and asks, “But Emma, what about you? What’s going to happen to you?” Emma kneels down and wraps her arms around Ara says, “Don’t worry Ara, I will be okay, just make sure everyone stays in that closet”. Ara nods and tears well up in her eyes. Emma directs Ara toward the cabinet and she jaunts over.

Emma stands up, closes the door, and locks it. After she takes the lock out she slides it under the door. She stands up just as she hears shouting from the doorway. Emma takes a deep breath as she slides her and up and down the door. Emma slowly moves toward the shouting, as a tear rolls down her cheek. As soon as the soldiers see her, that grab her arms and ties them then puts a rag in her mouth. Emma does not resist or make a sound. Although she is sad that her life has come to an end, she gets dragged outside with a smile on her face. She will always be reminded that Ara and all of the other children are safely locked in the closet.

 

Green by Amelia York

Green

By Amelia York

 

Green was always one of Amber’s favorite colors. She admired the hue, even when she was merely a little girl. She loved the appearance of glossy green apples, the pigment of shimmering emeralds, and the tone of viridescent treefrogs. Maybe that was why she was so fond of the sight of grassy green hills decorating the earth in front of her. They gave her a sense of calm, especially when placed against the pale, dull mist of the morning sky. Her imagination lit up, as it created images of sheep and deer grazing along the untrimmed rolling hills. However, her favorite part of the premises was the view that was behind her. Tan, brick buildings lined open streets, castles were scattered around, and heavenly churches were everywhere- it was Rennes Le-Chataeu, France.

Amber wouldn’t be able to look at the village or the mountains for much longer though. The twenty four year old had decided it was time to return to the tragically compacted and never ending list of responsibilities called her life. She had already graduated from Cornell, had already made cash off of computer engineering, and had already found her New York City life incredibly boring. She completely despised having such an average routine: waking up in her expensive, modern apartment, taking the taxi to her job, going back home, binging Netflix, and going to sleep. So, she took a break. She grabbed a backpack, a plane ticket to Europe, kissed her dog goodbye and took off. Rome, Paris, Barcelona, you name it. Amber didn’t quite end it with a bang though. Although the views were enchanting, and the mysteries were amusing, Rennes Le-Chateau was more of a tourist trap than an awe-inspiring adventure. That didn’t matter though, because no matter where her last location was, she would still have to backpack back home.

And that’s what she began to do. Despite the sky being grey and the winds still whisping her ginger curls back, she walked with her chin up and her backpack on. Except she didn’t have her backpack on. She ran her right hand up her back to feel for the bag material, but it wasn’t there.

Nice. Cool,” Amber mentally sighed, spiraling around. Her brown eyes scanned the entire pathway. She noted a few overgrown weeds growing off the sides of the stones, dust, and no backpack. “Really cool,” She sarcastically thought to herself. “Well, this backpack isn’t going to find itself.” Reluctantly, she backpedaled into the very village that she was just walking away from.

As she walked through one of the many openings of the small community, she was enveloped by familiarity with the streets. Within the week that Amber had resided in Rennes Le-Chateau, she had already roamed every corner and mysterious twist and turn that were shrouded by trees and crumbling walls. She had grown to find comfort in the off colored houses that ran up the streets. Their chipped roofs and the uncut weeds surrounding them gave her a cozy, warm feeling that her cold and compact New York apartment could never give. She even knew most of the residents. There were only about one hundred or so after all. So of course, she recognized the young pig-tailed girls who were skipping and giggling down the path.

“Bonjour Adeline et Madison!” She waved to the two brunettes. They both flashed toothy grins upon hearing their names mentioned. Madison flailed her arm in an excited wave back.

“Bonjour Amber! Comment allez-vous?” Adeline responded, doing a small curtsy with her lavender skirt. Absentmindedly, Amber exchanged the basic French smalltalk that she was taught from Cornell with the two young ladies. Before they said their goodbyes and parted ways, Amber realized she should ask if either of them had seen her backpack.

“Oh! Avez-vous vu un sac à dos sarcastique?” Adeline had to articulate before beginning to shake her head, but Madison interrupted.

“Juste là!” She shook her index finger towards what was indeed Amber’s backpack- being carried by a hooded stranger.

“Hey!” Amber broke out of her French and back into the English voice that she usually only used when she had to scold her dog. Her lengthy legs broke off straight into a sprint, one shoe moving right in front of the other. The thief attempted to throw her off by zigzagging through the sharp turns of the village, but she wouldn’t let her eyes wander off the bandit, like how a mother keeps her eyes on her wild child. And just like that same mother, Amber eventually grasped the wild child by her clothed arm. It was hard to keep a solid grasp because the figure kept wriggling around in the manner of an undomesticated creature. She held strong, forcing them to turn towards her. She yanked the hood off only to discover that this was no creature.

It was a girl. A little girl. A little girl with ratted orange hair, disembodied freckles, and green eyes.

“Why…” Amber trailed off, her pupils nearly dilating in shock. The girl shook her fists, the backpack weighing her down. This snapped her back into why she was in the situation she was. “Give me my backpa- I mean, donnez-moi mon sac à dos.” There was a moment of silence where the thief scanned around the niche between the church and the decorative wall where the two stood, almost as though she was paranoid of someone else creeping around the corner. She looked like someone who was used to having to do this. Reluctantly, she shook the backpack off and shoved it into Amber’s arms. She quickly dug into the bag as to make sure nothing was stolen from the inside. “Thank goodness..” She thought with relief, feeling a sigh escape her lungs. “Why would a kid do this?”

She looked up only to see that the girl was looking up at her. At a second glance, there was something else besides a lack of hygiene that the raggamuffin carried. There were scratches. On her pearly skin lied bruises circling her knees and shins, and even some lines on her angular face where deep cut wounds must’ve been. But that wasn’t the only place the scratches were. They were internal. The wounds rested within the green eyes of hers. The eyes weren’t the shade emeralds, or treefrogs, or apples. They were the hue that an abstract artist would use to paint his feelings of sorrow. They were the favorite color of someone who could only find comfort in their own pity. They were the eyes of someone who had nothing, nowhere, and no one.

Amber dug into her bag once again, and she had something in her mind that she was looking for. She dropped a handful Euro’s into the girl’s cold palms, and pushed her hands close to her chest. She wanted to wish her good luck, or at least farewell, but just as rapidly as the bandit had appeared, she ran away. So, Amber decided it was probably her turn to do the same.

A few minutes later, she had reached the same entrance she was at less than an hour ago. Despite the short time frame, it seemed the view had already changed so much. The wind was blowing the trees around. The sky had transformed into a blueish color hidden behind clouds. But, the hills were still green. Amber knew that she still had to leave Europe and continue her life as a busy New Yorker, but Amber also knew that because she had a home and people there for her, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

 

The Treasure of Rennes Le-Château by Margaret O’Brien

Margaret O’Brien

Honors English 1

Mr. Bearson Period 2

30 August 2017

The Treasure of Rennes Le-Château

Parker walked the dirt path up the clifftop. A bare blossom tree hung over the road. The church towers above everything surrounding it. The looming church looked like it was about to topple off the face of the cliff. He reached the church at last, and looked back at the green countryside. Shafts of light shone through the rolling, puffs of cloud and onto the ground below. Parker turned around and headed to the church, excited to discover the secrets hiding within the weathered stone walls. He entered the church.

The inside was dark, but he could still see the beautiful architecture. The pillars were painted in bright colors that curled in delicate designs around the intricate carvings in the stone. A round window let in rays of light from the blue ceiling that shone upon two lifelike sculptures above the altar. The statues were so realistic, that they looked as though they were alive and praying. Parker walked up the old stone steps to get closer to the altar. As he stepped up, he passed the flickering votive candles that created a foreboding feeling. Flowers adorning the altar were dying, in desperate need of water. To Parker, it looked as though no one had set foot in there for years. After all, it had been a hundred years since the famed priest of the church had died, Francois Berenger Sauniere, the man of myth. One hundred years since he had taken the secret of the Treasure of Rennes Le Château to his grave. The legend was, that Sauniere found buried treasure somewhere in the church, but died before he could tell anyone where it was. It’s said that the treasure is still somewhere in the church. The story was widely believed and drew many people to the small town of Rennes Le Château at first, but they soon came to think it wasn’t true. But not Parker, he wasn’t ready to give up yet.

Parker searched the rest of the church to no avail. He had not found any sign or indication that there was a mythical treasure hidden there. Hoping to find something outside, he went around to the side of the church. Parker came across the graveyard, the sun getting lower by the minute. Cross shaped gravestones marked the final resting place of the people in this small town. The ground was still soaked from the heavy rain that came the night before. The trees surrounding the graveyard were barren, the leaves having been ripped off by the bitter, winter wind. A mist was starting to settle over the little village making the sinister scene even scarier. At the far end of the graveyard, he came to a crypt. A marble headstone read:

Francois Berenger Sauniere

11 Avril 1852     22 Janvier 1917

A stone arch framed the marble casket that held the famed priest. The area had become overgrown with weeds. It looked neglected. The flowers by the grave were completely dead, obviously laid there long ago and forgotten.

With the light constantly getting dimmer, Parker hurried to the other side of the church. He went in through the side door and saw a library of sorts. He looked around for a while, searching row by row, book by book, until finally, he came across a curtain. “What’s behind the curtain?” Parker wondered to himself. It wasn’t a window, so what was it? He carefully pulled it back at the corner. It was very dark, but he could just make out the figure of a door. He grasped the brass handle, his beating heart drowning out all other noise. Parker went into the hidden room, hardly containing his excitement. He looked around for the treasure he had spent years obsessing over, but the room was empty. Completely empty. He was shocked, there must be some sort of mistake. “There must be a treasure somewhere in here.” He thought. He examined every nook and cranny in the bare room with no luck; it was just an abandoned room.

Feeling defeated, Parker walked out to the edge of the cliff. He leaned against the wrought iron fence that separated him from the plummeting drop down to the fields below. The mist had become dense now, utterly encircling the clifftop village. The fog threatened to swallow up the little bit of land not yet devoured by it. The plateau town resembled a ship on a stormy ocean of cloud. Parker couldn’t believe that a place like this had disappointed him so much. His life’s work – all of it was for nothing. Had the whole story been a lie?

Parker started his journey back down the cliff, and into the encroaching fog below. As he made his way along the dirt path he had climbed with such high hopes earlier, he felt a drop of rain on his face. He looked up and saw the sky light up with a crack of light. The rain started coming down harder as he reached the road. Parker jumped into his car and laid back in his seat. As exhausted as he was, he couldn’t help but wonder what he would do when he got back home. Continue to study history and hunt treasure? Parker wasn’t sure anymore, not after such a discouraging adventure as this. He looked up at the dark, rainy sky. The occasional flash of lightning would illuminate the church at the top of the cliff, and Parker couldn’t stop thinking about what could still be up there. Little did he know, that if he had just pulled the curtain aside a bit further, he would have been greeted by a second door. Behind that door was the gleaming, gold treasure of Rennes Le Château.

The Riches of Saunière by Acacia Rains

Acacia Rains

Bearson

Honors English 2

5 September 2017

The Riches of Saunière

She was sitting in a cafe.

She sat next to a dirty window with a black coffee, laptop, notebook, and the picked over remains of a mediocre pastry. She pressed a few keys on her laptop, scrolled down a page, scribbled in her notebook – researching, maybe? You shifted in the ancient burgundy booth to better see what she was doing. She switched through several sites and forums, and you could see the name Bérenger Saunière repeated consistently across multiple pages. You leaned a bit further, and noticed that name again, written in big block letters in her notebook. It was underlined and circled, above a couple dates and numbers – 1892, 660,000 F, 1910-1911, 105 F. You looked down, thinking. Was she researching for a book? Was she an author or something? Or did she know? Maybe she was just a harmless cryptid hunter… Rennes-le-Chateaú did seem to be attracting a fair amount of those these days… You scratched the back of your neck under your hoodie, and your musing was abruptly interrupted by the sound of the girl jumping up and throwing her chair back in the process.

Your head snapped up – this couldn’t be a coincidence. She slammed her laptop closed, and clumsily shoved both it and her notebook into the messenger bag leaning up against her chair. She fumbled her bag onto her shoulder, and threw a twenty franc bill onto the small, unstable table. On it sat the long-cold coffee, whose cup was in turn balanced on the crumb-ridden pastry plate. You slid out of the booth, quickly, but being careful not to get up so fast that it would call attention to yourself. You fished a bill out of the pocket of your dark jeans, tossed it onto your empty table, and strode out the worn, once artificial-cherry-colored door.

You emerged from the café, and squinted in the piercing midday sunlight. You turned your head left and right, blinking and trying to pick out which way she went. You caught a flash of a dark blue flannel disappearing into a dingy alley, and ducked after her, flipping up the hood of your sweatshirt.

She wandered through the cramped alleyways, prowling past neon signs and boarded up stores, which slowly but surely turned to cobble-paved lanes and century old roof tiles. You followed her past the old stone brick walls, down the street, and into the Rennes-le-Château.

Once inside the dimly lit castle, she ducked around worn stone columns of dubious structural integrity and passed under equally trustworthy arches. She snuck through the hallways, pausing to inspect every crack and oddly shaped scratch on the wall. Yeah, you thought. She definitely knows. There is no way this is a coincidence. You reached into your back pocket and retrieved an ornate dagger, with a gilded handle and an edge so sharp it could cut a single blade of grass laid on it. You slid it into your sleeve – you might need this very, very soon.

You suddenly noticed that the doorless, windowless passageway you were following was getting brighter. Please let her be leaving, you thought, but you knew this castle too well to believe otherwise. Sure enough, she turned a corner, and there it was. The door. You sighed quietly. Now you had no choice.

From inside the door, there emitted a golden glow, throwing exaggerated shadows onto the walls behind her. She gasped, and slowly approached the door, with one hand resting on her messenger bag and the other outstretched. As her fingers grazed the doorknob, a hand whipped out of the shadows to grab her wrist. Your hand. You pulled her sharply away from the door, and she stumbled backwards. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in there,” you murmured sympathetically.

She spun around, and for the first time you saw her face. She was pretty, with messy, soft looking hair and striking emerald eyes. It really was a shame that she had gotten involved. But who were you to decide who to spare? She drew in a sharp breath and her eyes darted frantically around the room, from your hand on her wrist, to the glowing door, to the exit. She tried to tug her arm away, but your grip was too tight. You flexed your wrist, allowing the knife to fall from your sleeve down into your hand. She struggled even harder, straining and pulling more and more in a frenzied panic. “Nothing personal, it’s just that you know too much,” you said apologetically. “If it helps, I’m sure you’re a lovely person…” She fruitlessly attempted to yank herself away one last time, and her phone fell clattering out of her pocket and onto the cold stone floor. “Goodbye,” you said simply. You raised the knife, and she screamed.

 

You knocked on the door, and a frail but authoritative voice from inside said, “You may enter, and approach the throne.” You pushed open the door, and fell to one knee. “It is finished,” you stated. The voice laughed softy. “Well done, my child. You may rise.” You raised your head to see your leader, clothed in elaborately embroidered robes and a mask of gold. The man sat in a throne hewn from a solid block of marble, inset with precious gems and metals. Around him were piled riches expressed in in every way one could imagine – jewelry, candelabras, crystal goblets, oriental rugs. You met the dark eyes behind the mask, and the man said once more, “My child, well done.”

 

Her phone vibrated, jumping up and down on the cold stone floor. It buzzed and buzzed and buzzed, eventually buzzing to a stop. After a few seconds, it switched to the caller, who began to leave a message. Through the muffled speaker of the iPhone, the most recent of seven calls and four messages from her roommate could be heard. “Uh, hey Maia, where are you? It´s like two AM and you’re still not home and I’m like getting really worried. If you’re staying somewhere else for the night I get it but like… you haven’t answered any of my calls from the past three hours. …Uh, I brought home takeout and I was gonna save some for you but uhhh, I got hungry again so I ate it. …Sorry. Um, if you get this- er, when- whenever you get this, gimme a call back or shoot me a text or something, but uh, stay safe, and I love you I guess. Seeya.” The phone screen went black, and never lit up again.