Writing Prompts

Prompt: A fair has come to town with a strange funhouse. Inside is a mirror that shows the viewer that last thing they will see before they die.

“Come on, Cam!” He shouted. “It’ll be fun.” I should’ve known he wanted to come here. The annual fair was his favorite place to go. I just didn’t think he’d drag me here on our 7 month anniversary.

“Why don’t I just wait out here while you go in?” I laughed, trying not to ruin his mood. I really didn’t want to spend ten minutes in a mirror maze that’ll leave me with a headache as soon as I come out.

He used his infamous puppy dog eyes on me. “Please…You know it’s no fun if I go alone.”

I sighed. I really didn’t want to be the kill of his excitement. I smiled and followed Jay through the doors, preparing myself for the vertigo. The space behind the door opened up into a hallway of mirrors with dark lighting and a door at the end. I started to walk towards it when I realized it was only a reflection of the original one, bouncing off the other mirrors. Other than that, there wasn’t much excitement in here. About to ask if we could go, I was interrupted by a sigh.

“Shoot. I think my hat fell off outside.”

I turned back to him and laughed. Relieved that I had an excuse to leave, I replied, “Let’s get it then.”

“No, you stay here and enjoy it. I’ll be right back.” Before I could answer, Jay was already out the door. I rolled my eyes and made my way to the exit. No way I was staying here by myself.

I reached for the handle on the door and was met with a hard surface. I tried again and the door handle wasn’t there. I looked up at the reflection I had thought was real. Unbelievable. I turned around and walked down the hallway, seeing my figure follow me with my peripheral vision. When I got to end, the door did the same thing. No handle. Just a reflection. I groaned in frustration. How did I get so turned around?

I looked at my surroundings, trying to find the way I had come in. All I could see was my own confused face staring back at me. It filled the room, ceiling to floor. Then suddenly the lights went out. Just great.

“Hello?” I called out. “There’s someone in here. Could you turn the lights back on please?”

The hallway immediately filled with light once again, but the reflections were gone. In fact all that was around me was the wood of the walls, except for the screen at the end of the hallway. Walking to it, a movie starting playing. It didn’t seem like a movie that I had seen before.

The screen went into focus and I saw the funhouse. The same one I was in with it’s wooden door, leading into this hallway. I saw the carousel across from it and even Jay walking towards the entrance just like before when he beckoned me inside.

What the hell was going on here?

The image flashed forward to night. Jay was driving his beat up truck on the freeway towards home. Our favorite band was playing on the radio, and we both sang along. We screamed the lyrics with the windows rolled down and the wind whipping my hair. I smiled at how happy we looked.

But then the camera zoomed in on the speedometer the pin moved from 70 to 75…85…100…

“Stop!” I screamed at the video. But we just kept on singing. As the car moved faster, our voices got louder, louder than the cars around us, louder than the revving engine, louder than the honk of the upcoming truck as we crashed into it.

“No!” Tears filled my eyes, and I pounded on the screen. I wanted out of this hallway. I threw myself at the wall and felt the jab as the doorknob poked my side. The door! I twisted it and was met with the sun and the carousel and most importantly Jay, who was waiting just outside the door. Alive.

I flung myself into his arms. “You’re okay!” I hugged him tight so he couldn’t move away. Thankfully, he wrapped his arms around me, reassuring me that he was real.

“Of course I’m okay.” He laughed. “What’re you so worried about?”

I looked up at him through the water in my eyes. “You died. I died.”

He wiped at my face to clear it. “What are you talking about, sweetie? Everything’s fine.” He smiled and I couldn’t help but smile back.

“How long was I in there?” I asked, hoping for an answer.

“Only a second. I was coming right back in when you came out.”

I noticed the hat on his head. “But that’s impossible.”

“Are you okay?” He asked, brushing the hair from my eyes.

I shook my head. “It was so real,” I whispered.

He kissed my head. “It’s okay now, Cam. The sun’s setting already. How about I just take you home?” I nodded and let him lead me to the fair’s exit. “And don’t worry, it’ll be faster if I take the freeway.” He winked.

Prompt: An extra hour occurs at midnight but only a handful of people can experience it. It is called the Dark Hour.

When the minute hand landed on the daunting 12, the chimes were cut short as the second hand stopped. Silence rang through the still house. No one was moving, no one was breathing, for time was frozen. It was a time when the unknown could venture undetected. Alone in the world, they could roam with no humans in their way. That is except for the chosen.

These few people were able to experience the extra hour given to them. Some viewed it as a blessing, others a curse. When the creatures came out for leisure, they didn’t take kindly to the ones who disturbed them. If someone was awake, they’d know.

So when Brian opened his eyes that night for his first Hour, he had no idea the things he would never be able to unsee. The abrupt stop of the clock awoke him, and his eyes snapped open to the chill of lifelessness. He could feel it in his bones; immediately he knew what it was.

Slowly, he shuffled his feet to the floor and was surprised at his silent steps when the floor didn’t creak. All there was was quiet. Nothing moved out of place. His discreet footsteps took him to the screen at back door where he expected to find the trees rustled by wind but there was none. Life was like a picture, a completely unmoving portrait.

Until the first monster ripped through the illusion and made its presence known with a roar.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

“In my hefty elf sack, your nightmares now keep. Better think twice before falling asleep.”
-The Nightmare Elf

welcometothedarkhouse_lauriestolarzThis chilling, nightmare-filled story takes place when seven fans of the famous horror film director, Justin Blake, enter an online contest. They are required to write about their worst nightmare, and the winners get the chance to stay at his legendary B&B, Dark House, featured in his movies. The fans also get to meet the famous man and sneak a look at his upcoming movie. Delighted to find they have won, the horror hopefuls, Ivy, Parker, Shayla, Frankie, Garth, Natalie, and Taylor, set out to have the scare of their life. Spending a weekend in the Dark House appeals to most of them like a vacation home, filled with effects that make the house really seem haunted and mysterious. However, their fun and games take a twisted turn when they are taken to an abandoned amusement park. Embodying the spirit of Blake’s movies, the park is like his own movie set with his wildly creepy characters running around. The seven lucky winners discover they must face their worst nightmares and survive them if they want to be set free.

This book grabbed my attention right from the start. It’s description of horror and thrill left me wondering about my own nightmares. I knew I sure wouldn’t last one night in that house, not with its scare tactics and lonely halls. Stolarz uses her characters’ different perspectives to create this nail-biting world. As a big fan of horror stories, I was really anxious to see how the ending wrapped everything up. I have to say I was a little disappointed that I was left with so many unanswered questions, but overall the plot line was very intriguing.

I encourage readers who like to be scared to give this book a try. I know some horror stories are a gamble because it doesn’t end the way the readers hope. But Welcome to the Dark House is definitely one of my favorites and I would love to read it again.

-Sabrina C, 11th Grade

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Gone Series Review

gone_coverOn a seemingly normal day, the town of San Perdido is suddenly hit with a phenomenon that results in everyone over the age of fifteen disappearing…all adults are just simply gone! To the confusion of the remaining children, a giant force-field now surrounds the entire area of Perdido Beach, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.

Abandoned and frightened, the children are exposed to the threat of conflict, danger and death, and life with no adults or form of authority. With no electricity and phones and televisions no longer working, the town becomes a prison for the “surviving” children who must find a way to maintain order amidst the chaos. To top it off, the children start developing strange powers, some even deadly, that causes extreme manipulation and sides to be chosen. The ensuing fight becomes a catastrophic battle for survival, while the thought of time running out looms over everyone—because the day you turn fifteen is the fateful day you disappear, just like everyone else.

Written by Michael Grant, the Gone series is breathtaking young-adult series that’s packed to the brim with mystery, action, suspense, and (of course) romance! The books are titled: Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear, and Light. In my opinion, the series is fast-paced and frighteningly gripping, for Grant is able to successfully write a dark, brutal account of a world of children with no authority that describes the death and moral dilemmas they must face.

The characters are all complex yet relatable, because they are all kids, just like you and I, who are struggling with the reality of the world they are thrown into. Even though there is some mature content, especially in the last three books of the series, I would certainly recommend the Gone series, which can be considered a modern-day Lord of the Flies, to those over thirteen years who are fans of The Hunger Games and hard-core dystopian-science fiction admirers!

-Kayle W., 10th grade

Book Review: The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

9th_judgmentThis is the ninth book in the Lindsay Boxer series so I recommend reading the previous novels before reading this one. However, if you don’t want to read the first eight books, you can jump right into this one.

Unsuspecting of being stalked by a murderer, a mother and her infant head towards their parked car. Upon reaching their car the man trailing them approaches the mother and asks to use her cellphone. As she turns to hand him her phone she finds him holding a gun. Panicking, she offers him money but to no avail. Without any mercy the unknown killer guns the woman and her child down.

Around the same time, a burglar sneaks into a million dollar home. Quietly she sneaks into the master bedroom and skillfully removes dozens of sparkling jewels from an open safe. Without making a mistake the burglar is about to leave when she accidentally tips over a table. Startling the sleeping movie stars, she has to find a quick way to escape.

Startled awake by the loud crash or her table, Casey Dowling jumps out of bed, only to be shot down. The next day her death is all over the news, and her husband claims that the burglar shot her while leaving.

How is Lindsay supposed to solve a crime where the only evidence is a cryptic message scribbled across a windshield in lipstick? The killer is quick, stealthy, and skilled. In addition, Boxer is suspicious of Casey’s death.

Can the burglar be somehow linked to the ruthless killer? And who killed Casey Dowling?

I got a kick out of this book. Along with being a suspenseful thriller, it was one of my favorites out of the entire series. I highly recommend this book for a fast-paced, easy read.

-Marilyn J., 9th grade

Book Review: The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

face_milk_cartonHow would you react if you found out that you were kidnapped because there is a picture of you as a toddler on an ordinary, everyday milk carton? 15-year-old Janie Johnson recognizes her photograph on the “Missing Child” side of a milk carton in the young-adult novel, The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney.

After identifying her picture on a milk carton at lunch, Janie is consumed by the notions of her kidnapping. As the story unravels, Janie discovers that “her parents” are actually her grandparents and her Mother was part of a cult when Janie was born. Temporarily relieved, Janie is still curious as to why her name on the milk carton said “Jennie Spring.”

Slowly unraveling the mystery of her past, Janie discovers that she was kidnapped by her “Mother” as a young girl and finds out that her real parents are in New Jersey. The end of the book leaves you with Janie talking to her real Mother. Does Janie leave her “adoptive” parents? Does she actually meet her biological parents? Does she ever find the women who abducted her? To find the answers to all these questions, one must read this book and the entire Janie Johnson series.

Reading this book for English, I was interested that it wasn’t mainstream like some other classical works. The storyline of the book is great, in my opinion. The execution could have been slightly improved. I liked how the first book ended in a cliffhanger and then you would have to read the next one and then the next one to find out what becomes of Janie. The last book did not have a very conclusive ending, but it was satisfactory enough. If you are interested in the mystery genre, then the Janie Johnson series is for you.

-Anmol K.,

Book Review: Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

sleep_no_moreHave you ever wished you could have magical powers? What would you desire? The power to see the future? That’s exactly what Charlotte Westing can do. But that is also what gets her into trouble.

In an attempt to change the future when she was six years old, an accident killed her father and permanently injured her mother. She has spent the past ten years fighting every vision that comes to her, pulling an imaginary black curtain over the scene. No one else knows her secret, except for her Aunt Sierra. Charlotte has lived her life covering up this secret, claiming to suffer from sudden migraines. But one day, a vision stronger than ever before greets her, one that she doesn’t have the strength to fight: One of her classmates being murdered. Afraid to tell her aunt, the only other Oracle she knows, Charlotte keeps this to herself.

After the second such vision, she gets a message that someone can help her stop these murders from occurring. Eventually, she gives in and receives help from someone, who makes up his name as Smith.

Also during all of this, her crush since fourth grade, Linden, becomes more interested in her, claiming she helps distract him from the brutality of the murders.

And then, like every good book, everything becomes twisted.

I loved the creativity of this novel, and I found it excruciatingly hard to put down. I could not wait to find out what happens next. The novel has so much going on. It was interesting to learn that this novel was dedicated to the survivors of Newtown and the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

-Leila S., 9th grade

Book Review: The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

third_twinLexi and Ava are identical twins, but sometimes… they are triplets.

When they were little, they made up a third twin, Alicia. Alicia was blamed for everything like when things were broken or stolen. Now that they are seniors in high school, their little game has gotten more serious. They pretend to be Alicia when they go out with boys who are hot but not the dating type. The kind of guys they would never consider being with in real life. However, Lexi wants to put an end to Alicia for good when one guy Alicia dated turns up dead. Ava thinks that as long as they follow the rules for Alicia (always wear the diamond pendant; never sleep with any of the guys; and after five dates, they are gone), everything will go back to normal. Before that can happen, another boy is killed, and DNA tests and camera proof reveal that there is only one possible suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. Lexi is on the run, and she has to find the truth before another boy dies. Because either Ava is the real killer…or Alicia is real.

When I first heard about this book, I knew I just had to read it. I even thought the title was interesting. I mean who’s ever heard of a third twin? The story is very compelling and holds so many surprises. The biggest surprise, by far, is who the killer turns out to be. Right away, the story picks up. I just couldn’t stop reading it. This book is meant for ages 12 and up. There is some mature content and language present, but other than that, I suggest you go out and get this book when it comes out on February 24, 2015.

-Sabrina C., 9th grade