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An Excerpt From My Latest “Sci-Fi” Story

I recently finished the first draft of my latest short story for my creative writing class. It’s set in a lone spaceship transporting cargo from one planet to another. I still revising but I figured that I can share excerpt so everyone can get a taste.

“What do you mean something bit you?”

            “I mean something fell on me from the ceiling and bit my neck!” My brother, John, seemed to be in a hysterical mood. He barged into the clinic, sweating like a pig. Something probably happened to him, but he was most likely blowing it out of proportion.

            “Do you know what it was?”

            “Um…” My brother hesitated. “No, I didn’t get a good look. I was listening to some music when it happened, so I wasn’t really paying attention to my surroundings.”

            “Alright. Let me see what all the fuss is about.”

            I moved his hand off his neck to take a better look at the mark he had. It was a tiny little scratch, hardly noticeable.

            “It’s nothing to worry about,” I assured him. “Most likely, some sort of bug or rat that fell from a vent.”

            “No, no, no, no. Whatever it was, it was too big to be a rat.

            “I thought you said you didn’t get a good look?”

            “I didn’t, but I felt how big it was when it landed on me. It was big and slimy.”

            “What? Like a slug?”

            His face scrunched up. I could hear the gears in his head turning as he thought it over.

“Uhm… maybe?”

At that moment, the door to the examination room cracked open. Dr. Carlson peeked his head out, an angry glare plastered on his bulbous, wrinkled head.

“Excuse me, Ms. Watson. I’m sorry to bother you but I am about to finish Jeremy’s physical examination, something that you should be helping me with.”

I turned my head slightly away so he wouldn’t see me roll my eyes. “I’m sorry, Doctor, but if a crewmate reports some kind of injury, we have to make sure its not life threatening.”

Dr. Carlson fully opened the door and let out a deep sigh. “What happened?”

“A cockroach bit him.”

“Hey,” my brother objected. “I told you that it was definitely bigger than a cockroach!”

At this point, Jeremy walked out of the exam room, past Carlson. “Thanks doc. Talk to you next month.”

“Goodbye, Jeremy. Try to be more careful of what you eat in the future, ok? Despite the no gravity, you seemed to have put on a little weight.”

He tried not to look irritated by what the doc said. “Ok doc. Bye.”  

As soon as he left, Carlson dropped his “nice” demeanor. “What are you standing around for? We have another examination in ten minutes.”

I point to my brother. “What about him?”

“Just take him back to his room. If he doesn’t drop dead on the way there, then we can assume the bite isn’t fatal.”

“Should I prescribe him something for the pain and any possible infections?”

“No, he doesn’t need it.” And with that, he walked back into the exam room and shut the door, like the caring physician he is.

“Prick,” I said under my breath. “Come on, get up. I’ll walk you to your room.” I went over to one the cabinets and grabbed a small bottle of Tylenol. As we walked out, I handed it to my brother.

“What…” he stuttered. “Didn’t the doc just say no to this?”

“It’s fine.” I assured him. “He’s not the one that takes inventory so he’s never going to find out.”

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The Latest Adventures of Fantasy Iowa

For the past seven Months I have been running a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for my Greek life fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. We have been having trouble finding time to have sessions during February and March because of Spring Recruitment and Midterms but now we have been going at it again.

Right now, my players are stranded in the middle of a frozen tundra on a quest to save Christmas. It’s April now, which probably gives you an idea just how long of a break we had to take from this campaign.

I have also started to run a brand new campaign that includes some players from the first campaign and some other members of Alpha Tau Omega who did not join the original campaign, either because they were too busy when we started the first campaign or were not yet a part of our fraternity. This new campaign takes place in the same world, in a town that has been affected by the actions of the original party.

Our first session of this new campaign started off with a bar fight as way to introduce the new people to the rules of combat. This party was comprised of a fighter named Kublai and a bard named Avdir. Since there were were only two players for this first session, I also added a gnome NPC named Gerbo to the party.

Kublai started off the fight by rolling a natural twenty, instantly killing someone with a single punch, which was pretty shocking for everyone around the table. During the tavern brawl, Kublai also ended up flaying the skin off a man’s back which was pretty horrific.

Of course, with the party having killed three people, the guards were called and it wasn’t hard for them to figure out who was at fault, what with Kublai being covered in blood. He tried to convince the guards that it was just raspberry jam, but that did not help him much.

In our second session, our party was making its way to a new town after Kublai and Avdir’s incident at the tavern. During the first night camping, Kublai got the idea to go hunting for a bear. Why? Just because, I guess.

he ended up finding some bear poop and tracking the bear to it’s cave. When it came time for Kublai to roll a stealth check, he ended up rolling a critical failure.

It was at this time that Kublai learned that bears are really strong. Much stronger than he was be himself at least.

Long story short, Kublai survived the bear’s mauling just barely.

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Producing a Podcast For My Internship

Since freshman year, I have been working with a book publisher on campus called The Drake Community Press. The DCP focuses on community writing and student involvement and has published books such as “Above and Beyond Cancer,” “Spectrum of Faith,” and “Zakery’s bridge.

We will soon begin preparations on a new project that covers climate change, climate refugees and environmental witness. We have already assembled a planning council and will be meeting sometime in the future to discuss more of the specifics of what this book should be. We will also be offering classes on campus related to the topics of publishing and environmental witness.

The Drake Community Press is also known for its program, “Writing With,” which allows students to become a part of the publishing process, which is a two year cycle that involves writing, editing, designing and marketing the current book.

Another project that we are working on is a monthly podcast series called “Speaking With,” where we interview members of the Drake Community Press or associates that we have worked with on previous projects. We plan to distribute this podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. We are also considering adding it to the Drake University’s student run radio station, “The Dog” and maybe eventually YouTube.

Below is the official description that we are putting on our Anchor page for “Speaking With.”

“Every month, CJ interviews someone who works with the Drake Community Press about all things DCP as we document our book-writing process. Follow along as we begin our new project on climate change as it affects Iowa and the globe.”

“A unique small-press publisher in the heart of Des Moines, Iowa, Drake Community Press features an undergraduate publishing laboratory at Drake University that ‘writes with’ a selected non-profit community partner dedicated to community betterment.”

And to leave us off, here are some statistics we kept track of during our last project.

  • Number of Fridays sacrificed by our interns – 16
  • Ounces of coffee consumed during meetings – 496
  • Number of times someone accidentally hit ‘reply all’ – 3
  • Number of tears cried reading Above and Beyond Cancer – countless
  • Number of Zoom meeting links sent out right before the meeting – 16
  • Number of Zoom meeting links sent out during the meeting – 12
  • Chance that someone will have internet connectivity issues on a Zoom call – 1 in 4
  • Times our incoming and outgoing senior interns told each other they were doing a great job – 76
  • Minutes spent nerding out about community writing theory – 421

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An Excerpt of My Latest Short Story

For my first blog post, I decided to share an excerpt from the short story I am currently working on.

“Do you really think its possible?” Her voice quivered as she asked the question.

I turned away from her, towards the window which spared a brief glimpse of the urban skyline and pondered the easiest way to break it to her. They were no stars shining above, only brief glimpses of a full moon between the drifting clouds.

                        “I think it’s more likely that we’ll be killed.”

            “That’s comforting.”

I turned away from the window to see her lying on the bed. I knew that the situation weighed on her heavily, but I didn’t know what I could say to make her feel better.

            “No one’s ever left before. Once you’re in, you’re in for life.”

            “Why is that?” She already knew the answer, but I humored her anyway.

            “It’s too risky for the higher ups. If someone left the organization, that person could rat everyone out. That’s why they don’t allow runaways.”

            “And there’s no way to convince them to let us go? Not even a pinky promise not to tell?”

I chuckled a bit. Even in the worst of times, she could still make me crack a smile.

                        “I mean… I don’t know if anyone has actually tried that.”

            “We could be the first.”

            “And most certainly the last.”

            She sat up, clearly distressed. “So what? Are we just going to stay trapped here? Wondering when he will find out about us? When they’re going to kill us?

            Silence permeated the air.  It was the kind of silence that would’ve felt awkward with anyone else. But for us, it was normal, and comforting. It separated us from the rest of the world. These moments were fleeting though because one of us always had to break the silence.

            “Do you remember the night we first met?” I asked, hoping to draw her away from her despair.

            “I don’t want to talk about that right now.”

            “And the song that played when we danced together?”

            “Stop.” Her voice cracked.

            Once again silence struck us both. And once again I felt that I had to be the one to break it.

            “It’s a long shot.”

            “I know.” Tears began to well up in her eyes.

            “But I think I know how we can get out of the country.”

Thanks for stopping by. Here are some links to social media for the Drake Community Press, an non-profit organization I work with.

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