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The Library

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Far above the towering mountains that stretched for the heavens, and higher than the strongest most fearless birds dared to rise, above the dark water-laden thunderclouds and beyond the delicate semi-formed mists rose the gigantic city of Theoria. Ancient and proud it had floated between the clouds and stars for countless generations, bustling with activity and progress.

The streets were paved with stone, the houses a mismatched puzzle of brick and metal. Street lamps framed the sidewalks like silent sentinels, throbbing with artificial light all through the night, while the day was presided over by life.

Children ran through the streets, their parents calling after them to be careful,  workers climbed aboard the overflowing trains while their bosses commuted in chauffeur-driven limousines, and the persistent wildlife lurked and expanded within the overlooked cracks of society.

Two large national parks had taken the journey along with the city up into the heavens. One grew at the centre of the constructed jungle, small, quiet and peaceful. While the other grew ravenously to the north, untamed and cautiously explored. Both had allowed animals to flourish, and were the only source of nature that the occupants of the city had. However, isolation from the wild was a small price to pay for safety.

Thriving at the heart of the city were the four colossal skyscrapers that resided over the entire enterprise, each as different and as arrogant as the next. Government met in a steepled spire, carved and opulent like a castle from the ancient stories. The city’s administration was conducted in an elongated oval tower. The tower that spiralled up to a gigantic point marking the highest building in the city and the nerve centre for all communication.

The final and stoutest of the skyscrapers was the building of experimental science that consequently was frequented by explosions every few weeks—it was regarded with a fair amount of confusion and suspicion, as nobody really knew what went on there.

The entire city was encompassed by an electromagnetic dome that allowed the occupants to breathe while artificial gravity kept them walking on the ground rather than the ceiling, and although the systems were old they were kept in pristine condition, as was the engine that had raised the city into low orbit.

Countless generations ago when the ancestors of Theoria lived on the surface they were faced with a near impossible decision: to destroy a unique and unparalleled wonder or to leave Earth behind.

Discussion waged for decades and ultimately divided the globe. Scientists attempted desperately to find other solutions but to no avail, and as the nations tore each other apart a new order emerged. Lead by a man worthy of legend, but whose name was no longer spoken after his death, the cause grew in power as the least likeliest people found something to fight for and the discussion was closed.

Another twenty years passed and society was further ravaged by the danger that had initially divided them, but finally the space city was completed and named Theoria: the Vision.

It rose above the clouds with a noise like the end of the world and a shaking that collapsed almost half of the buildings, but the occupants rebuilt and thrived in the safety and freedom of their new haven, while those that remained behind on the surface fought for stability.

With the departure of the city the surface became more dangerous; the outbreaks more unpredictable and unstable. Half the population left on the planet were wiped out and with every update the occupants of the city became less and less hopeful that the surface could be saved.

And then one day everything went silent.

A semblance of control was established on the surface and casualties were reasserted to a minimum. The occupants of Theoria could rest easy, high above the danger and those on the surface were able to preserve their charge. Slowly and carefully the guardians reshaped the world in order to protect it until it sat, slumbering like a lounging dragon in its hoard: an endless expansion of corridors.

The Library covered the entire planet, stretching far across every landmass and connected by determined tunnels that traversed the ocean floor. It was a feat of apparent impossibility and extravagance, but also a feat of utter beauty.

The bookshelves stood tall and magnanimous, books reaching high into the dark recesses towards the towering ceiling, rows upon rows extended far beyond the size of any reasonable building, corridors twisted and turned like Daedalus’ Labyrinth and every surviving book that had ever been written on paper with ink, resided upon the shelves.

A plan had been commissioned to reconstruct the Library with marble floors and dazzling wide windows, with crystal chandeliers and giant staircases that seemingly led to the heavens. But it was all impractical and abandoned. The logistics to build such a thing was impossible to accomplish without setting off the slumbering enemy.

Silence hung thick and deafening through the aisles. There was no breeze to make noise or stir up the dust, and no movement of any kind. To walk through the stacks was to freeze time, to leave the world, to never die and yet never live. It was another world, never-ending and eternally drenched with stillness, yet buzzing with energy. It sent shivers down one’s spine, caused the hair on the back of your neck to stand on end, movement in the corner of your eye, whispers just out of earshot and the terrible, constant feeling of being watched.

And the knowledge that you were.

The greatest enemy and wonder the world had ever faced was so simple and so complex that it had been impossible to predict, defeat or understand. The unquenchable enemy were the books.

It was discovered that the combination of organic ink, organic paper and abundant passion that had been directed into each page had resulted in immortal energy being forged within the covers. It was the unbreakable bond of thought and life that resided within the paper-thin pages that could never be snuffed out. It was imagination stronger than love and spirit. It was hope. It was magic.

The energy had of course remained dormant for thousands and thousands of years until something awoke it. Theories were abundant.

Had it been the meteorite that crashed into Australia’s desert? Was it the sudden increase in temperature from global warming? Did it have something to do with the destruction of the Bristlecone Pine Forest in California? Or was it an indicator of the end of the world—the dead rising again to plague the living?

And rise the books did. The energy stated discharging randomly, lighting fires and burning entire buildings but leaving the books themselves unharmed. They began to move by themselves, falling off shelves then throwing themselves across the room, at people and through windows. Some seeped black goo, others leaked water and then they started affecting things completely separate from themselves.

Four nuclear bombs exploded in their silos, three previously extinct volcanoes erupted and five dams burst from increased pressure.

The episodes were impossible to predict and grew worse and worse, until it was realised that it was the interaction with life that affected the books worst of all. For the pages were created from trees and became decomposing dead life, as was the ink, and the addition of an everlasting idea, emotion and imagination forged something more powerful than science.

The Library could never be renovated, for the interaction with life would be too unpredictable; and so the shelves stood as they had for generations. The ground was metal, the walls coated with glass, the bookshelves twisted pieces of wrought iron, and each book separated from the next by a piece of inorganic material that had never lived before.

Slowly the complex became more difficult to care for, the tunnels begun to leak, sections collapsed and the books discharged once more; but the guardians remained vigilant, continuing their sacred job of protecting knowledge and imagination. The surface remained relatively stable and Theoria neither understood nor cared about the working of the giant Library and never interfered.

But curiosity cannot be prevented, and in time there comes someone new who isn’t sated by stories read through screens, who is intrigued by stories that take up space rather than gigabytes, and who may be related to the hero whose name was forgotten so long ago.

“Is it true I’m related to the hero?” A small wavering hand shot into the air, and a small face with round eyes blinked eagerly up at him.

“Well—”

“No stupid, he was talking about me!” The boy next to her snapped.

The girl’s face grew red, her eyes flashing angrily with the tell-tale sign of the beginning of another fight; and the teacher in the corner stepped forward with the intention of ending it, and story-time, before it started.

“In actuality, no one knows what happened to the hero. He could be related to any one of you.” The storyteller continued swiftly, settling the dispute and salvaging the rest of his lesson.

The small hand shot once more into the air. “But didn’t he stay on the surface to protect the books?”

The storyteller leaned back slightly and nodded. “That is what he did at first. He was one of the original hundred guardians that remained to protect the Library, but it is said that prolonged proximity to the books changed him; it gave him long life and extensive knowledge of all things. He could be anywhere; he could be in this very room.”

The children all gasped and looked around, suddenly suspicious of the cupboards, tables, ceiling and even each other.

The storyteller fought back a chuckle and addressed them once more. “Of course this is just a story, and although the magic isn’t quite so real the Library itself remains on the surface. It needs new guardians who care for the books like they are living things, because they just might be.”

“Okay then.” The teacher smiled widely and strode decisively forward. “If you will all thank Mr Wyle for his enchanting story we will then return to our maths.”

The children obediently burst into applause, the occasional thank you was called out, and the storyteller bowed before making his way to the door.

“Miss, is the story real?” A young boy blatantly asked the teacher.

“No, of course not Jared. Now go get your computer.”

The man paused, one hand on the doorknob and turned around. The young girl who’d interrupted him was staring, her face scrunched up in confusion and deep meditation. He smiled, brought a finger to his lips and winked.

Maybe the Library could still be saved. Maybe there were still some guardians to be found in the new generation. Guardians that still believed in magic.

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Creative

Human Collisions

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The policeman swings his gaze over the railings into the grey river. Beside him, a mother crouches in a paramedic’s
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​Not Fine

Climbing Rose copy
  This isn’t really a story, but the memory of one, preserved like dried flowers between paper pages. Boy meets
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SCRIPT FOR DIVA CUP™ COMMERCIAL: BLEEDING BEGINS

batman with tampons

A shadowy figure is perched on top of a tall building overlooking the busy streets of Gotham. Their cape billows in the wind, casting a sinister silhouette against the night sky. Sirens suddenly blare in the distance, swelling in a crescendo. A crazed cackling and gunshots echo across the city. The figure turns their head towards the chaos.

 

FIGURE The city needs me.

 

Their armour gleams in the moonlight, a dark knight to defend the citizens of Gotham from the threats of those who wish to bring chaos and harm to its streets. The figure straightens up to a stand, but pauses suddenly and looks down at their crotch area.

 

FIGURE Shit!

 

The figure steps into frame, the moon and street lights from below illuminating their face and entire torso to reveal a woman, clad in a jet black armoured body suit, a bright red lipsticked scowl underneath a bat mask. Batwoman turns to face the camera.

 

BATWOMAN Don’t you hate it when you stand up on your period, only to feel like half the contents of your uterus has fallen out in the span of a few seconds?

 

She turns to face a camera on the side and the shot changes to follow her.

 

BATWOMAN Normal sanitary products always leave me feeling like I’m wearing a glorified adult diaper. They’re uncomfortable and even the most absorbent ones do little to combat my heavy flow.

 

She turns back to face the front camera head on.

 

BATWOMAN Now what’s a woman to do?

 

She disappears in a twirl of her cape, only to reappear clutching a pink translucent menstrual cup.

 

BATWOMAN Say hello to the new menstrual product, the hero Gotham deserves – the Diva Cup™!

 

Camera zooms in on the cup brandished by Batwoman, then a close up of her beaming face, switching to a wide shot again.

 

BATWOMAN The Diva Cup™ can hold up to 30 ml of menstrual flow and can be kept in for up to twelve hours! That’s twelve hours I don’t have to waste worrying about if I’ll leak all over my enemies as I send them flying through the air into the Marvel Universe with a roundhouse kick!

 

Sirens start blaring again and sadistic cackling can be heard. Batwoman turns to the noise.

 

BATWOMAN Excuse me, I have business to attend to.

 

She jumps down from the building, landing in the middle of the streets of Gotham. A cluster of police cars in pursuit of the Joker, cackling as he rides two motorbikes at once, one foot on each with a revolver in each hand, shooting into the sky.

 

BATWOMAN (muttering to herself) What the fuck.

 

She presses a button on her arm that seemingly triggers a signal. A moment later the batmobile speeds towards them, stopping right in the path of the Joker. Speeding towards the batmobile, there is no time to swerve and the Joker brakes his motorbike so hard that they both topple over and he falls off, rolling back onto his feet. The police cars screech to a halt, surrounding him.

 

BATWOMAN Just what do you think you’re doing?

 

JOKER (smirking) Having fun?

 

BATWOMAN No more fun for tonight, surrender.

 

Police officers edge towards the Joker but he points his guns towards them, making gunshot sounds provocatively at them.

 

JOKER The night is still young. Let me play some more.

 

BATWOMAN Gotham isn’t your playground for you to endanger the lives of citizens for your own amusement.

 

JOKER (cackling) Aww what a party pooper – are you on your period or something?

 

BATWOMAN As a matter of fact I am.

 

JOKER (looks visibly uncomfortable) Oh –

 

BATWOMAN Does the natural workings of the menstruating human body make you feel uncomfortable?

 

JOKER   (uncomfortable) … yes –

 

BATWOMAN Ha! I have discovered your weakness – anything to do with menstruation!

 

Batwoman reaches into her pockets and pulls out two menstrual cups, brandishing them as weapons in her fists. The Joker looks apprehensively at them.

 

BATWOMAN (tauntingly) You know what these are?

 

JOKER (gulps) Some kind of portable drinking device?

 

BATWOMAN (sadistically) No, these are for catching menstrual blood when I’m on my period. What makes these products stand out from the typical pads or tampons that you no doubt would try to avoid the aisle entirely in a supermarket, is that these cups are reusable! They are made of strong durable silicone, perfect for sticking inside my vagina every month, or using as nunchucks to kick your ass!

 

Batwoman jumps at the Joker, who is frozen in extreme discomfort at hearing about vaginas, periods and menstruation products, and enacts impressive martial arts moves to knock him down, punching him with the aid of the versatile Diva Cup™.

 

The Joker passes out, dropping to the ground. As a final touch, she suctions one cup on the top of his head, a perverse unicorn, as a parting gift to him for when he wakes up. Batwoman stands in front of his unconscious body and turns towards the camera.

 

BATWOMAN (hand on her hip, winking) And that’s why I choose the Diva Cup™.

 

The bat signal beams bright and high into the skies of Gotham. Batwoman turns to face the backdrop of the night and smiles.

 

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Creative

The Animals

The Animals (Sa Pasa)
  Kelowna Secondary felt enormous to Ahmed, too big to be an actual school. But in reality, because Ahmed’s year
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Has Youth Culture Gone Too Far?

Gamer Culture (Hugh Brooks)

 

If you have attended university, you have probably run into some of the more “unpleasant” individuals roaming the campus. You can’t always tell at first, but as you get to know your fellow peers, it quickly becomes apparent that some of them have an agenda to push. It can start out as an innocent joke or remark, but the more you learn, the more you realise these people spend their days living in a fantasy, detached from reality. You soon understand that they spend their evenings sitting in a dark room lit solely by a computer screen, typing furious replies to anyone who dares to question or challenge their views. I am, of course, referring to ‘nerds’. Join us as we break down just how detrimental this group is on the good, wholesome experience that is Tertiary Education.

 

Bad for your health

Nerd culture blatantly glorifies anti-physical behaviour, as a common point of pride for a nerd is how little exercise they have done. In nerd culture, traditional sports (such as football or the American national treasure, Super Smash Bros. Melee) are flouted in favour of foreign e-sports such as League of Legends, Starcraft, and Viva Piñata, where contestants play entire tournaments without leaving their chair. This self-destructive behaviour is being normalised, stranding nerds in a vicious feedback loop of sedentism, poor health, and skinny legs.

A staple food of the ‘gamer’ nerd archetype during their depraved meetings known as ‘LAN parties’ is the consumption of disgusting amounts of snack food. Doritos, Skittles, and Bega Cheese Stringers washed down with a hedonistic mix of Pepsi, Monster and Strawberry Rekorderlig. During these parties, ‘gamers’ will often compare how many litres of Dr. Pepper they have consumed over the holidays, commonly referred to as ‘Drs Per Season’, or ‘DPS’ for short.

Nerd culture also actively discourages healthy eating, as the effort required to learn to cook may impact the time spent on other, prioritised pursuits such as ‘grinding’, ‘cosplaying’ or ‘binge watching’. Also called the ‘Netflix Binge’, this activity sees nerds spending upwards of twelve hours watching television shows on the capitalist propaganda platform known as ‘Netflix’. This nasty habit leads nerds into erratic sleeping regimes, rousing in the late afternoon, and only knowing when to retire by the judging gaze of the sunrise.

 

Bad for the species

As well as being physically detrimental, nerd culture also encourages anti-social tendencies. The standard for comedy among this group has devolved into a cancerous cesspool of derivative content known as ‘memes’. Comedy is a way for a group of people to come together and agree on fundamental values. When society is pressured to find humour where none exists, we undermine the basic morals in our community that comedy instils. Where comedy subverts expectations, memes take expectations and repeatedly bludgeons them until there are no expectations left – only disappointment.

Nerd culture stifles disagreement as diversity of thought is strongly frowned upon, and agreeing on approved nerd viewpoints is how most discussions unfold. Someone will express an entirely uncontroversial opinion, such as The Princess Bride is an underrated gem or Fallout 4 took the RP out of my G, and the whole group agrees. Not only does this make for ridiculously mind-numbing conversation, but it doesn’t allow new ideas to foster in the group, which is why you will find most of them have not progressed past a high school level of introspection.

Beyond this, nerds will also try to simulate human interaction through online profiles and chat rooms, where there is no need for them to take care of their personal appearance or hygiene. Obviously, this has immediate adverse effects on society as a whole. For the species to continue to exist, people must be attracted to each other, and nerds take little to no action in making themselves desirable. This in of itself is not the worrying issue, however, when they try to drag society down by advocating for platitudes like, beauty is on the inside, and everyone is beautiful to someone, and it becomes an issue that affects everyone.

 

Not even real

Aside from killing people and bringing about the end of the species, ‘nerd culture’ is largely a sham. There is no such thing as ‘nerd culture’. In the digital age, when everything is accessible to everyone, typically ‘nerdy’ media such as Doctor Who, Star Wars and League of Legends are actually quite mainstream. Since its rebirth, Doctor Who has become a British national treasure. Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed 2.02 billion dollars at the international box office. The season finale of the 2016 League of Legends World Championship had 36 million unique viewers, more than the record breaking viewership of the NBA finals of that same year. Nerd culture claims to offer exclusivity, such that its members can avoid being ‘normies’. But the numbers are proof; the ‘normies’ have become the nerds themselves, and the nerds are becoming the norm. And clearly this now a global phenomenon, and it must be stopped.

 

How to avoid

Once a nerd has been identified one can arrange their schedule to avoid possible meetings, however, sometimes they may be unavoidable. In these scenarios, it is best to lay low and not draw attention to oneself, lest you be barraged with an onslaught of meaningless drivel and poorly concealed depression.

 

One way to diffuse an encounter is to bring a group of friends. Due to their absolute lack of social prowess, the nerd will be unable to approach you or anyone else in the group. This is a handy method but can be difficult to pull off if your friends are unavailable or otherwise non-existent.  Another technique one can employ is the ‘fake phone call’, which can be applied at a moment’s notice with little to no counterplay from the nerd. Overuse of this tactic, however, may raise suspicion and resentment from the recipient, which would usually not be of any great concern except that chances are, they know three different ways to hack your social media.  So even though nerds are a steadily growing part of the university experience, don’t let them discourage you from being yourself. There will always be challenges in life, and when you get through your degree, you will find yourself a better person for overcoming them.

 

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