The Panther Post features talented Primavera students with a love for the arts. In this February post, we’re sharing a thrilling story written by Book Club member Antonio Folcarelli.

“I decided to write this story after thinking about story elements that excite me while also wanting to try out some interesting characters. In my mind the setting snowballed into a much more expansive world but I wanted to write a short story first to see if all of the elements would work. Ultimately, I wanted to write about an underprivileged character in a world of royalty, combat and technology with a somewhat Steampunk vibe to it.”
-Antonio Folcarelli, 17, 10th grade

Desperation

Nora is a rookie at an alternate universe academy. She’s training to be a Civil Angels Guard, knights who protect and serve the kingdom.
Unfortunately since she doesn’t come from a life of royalty and isn’t particularly gifted she has to seek other ways of getting by. She’s starving and willing to fight for her food. 

The Starving Soldier (Continued)

Nora yelled in exasperation. Her frail frame sped along the arena as fast as it could take her, but the knight continued to nip at her heels. She desperately cycled through the few battle tactics she’d studied but was having trouble thinking at all. She launched herself forward through the air with a hop, spun her body around and spat fire at him, the shambling suit of armor stumbling back. She landed on her back and skull hard but she still gave a small smirk. Maybe I can pull this off, she mused. Except the smirk quickly faded upon the knight’s saber sliding through her sternum and to the floor.

The room was spinning, her ears were ringing. The flame behind her eyes snuffed out. She felt numb.

The black knight was grinning from ear to ear, she could see it even if she couldn’t see much else. This was his sport. He probably ate an hour ago! What could he do now? She supposed no one could stop him if he just wanted to lop her head off, but he didn’t seem to be the kind of warrior who prefers the quick solution.

Nora forgot all about her gauntlet which was now resting next to her wound. It beeped at her annoyingly which prompted her to raise it to her face with the last of her strength. A message blinked on the nixie tubes: “PSN2C” Or, shorthand for “Second-class poison” She was being given a choice. Walk out of here with nothing or die in agony? Screw that.

She grabbed a hidden switch next to a big red “E” with her teeth and yanked it back. She only owned one elixir and it cost her everything she had, what with not coming from a life of royalty and having to spend the rest of her money just to get into the Civil Angels program.

As soon as it released into her bloodstream she began to thrash and scream. Out of the corner of her eye she could swear the knight was laughing at this.

She thought about the ads she’d walk by for “luxury” elixirs. The kind she could never afford, the kind that rich brats injected and drank for paper cuts. They were perfumey, your nose fills with the scent of exotic flowers. They were ecstasy inducing. They outclassed most alcohols. Not this kind though, she could only afford the equivalent of dirty water that was somehow healing – but they worked.

Nora snapped back to her feet revitalized. She glared at the black knight smugly. Inky poison and old blood poured out and around the blade still stuck in her chest, then the skin stitched itself together. Finally the blade dropped to the floor with a clang, but the tip appeared to be rusted off. She felt like saying to him, look at that, for once in your life you realize you made a mistake. The knight was furious.

A great big shambling beast in several layers of black armor pieces charged toward Nora as she idly inspected her gauntlet as if nothing serious was happening. The blood and saliva which dribbled from her chin made it look like she was enjoying a plate of berries moments ago.

“This girl seems a little too calm if you ask me.”

Nora headbutted the knight, a great metallic crack ringing up and down the arena’s elevator shaft. The knight went down, his helmet melting like it was left in a blazing forge. Nora sauntered over to his struggling body, her arms completely covered in sizzling flesh that glowed like the sun. “I don’t want to leave here empty handed. Why don’t we make use of the minute and nineteen seconds I have left?” She spoke down to him as if it were nothing. With one smooth motion a fireball traced an arc between her and the All-seeing Eye fixtures, destroying them.

The man and woman from the prep room, if you could even call it that, stared at Nora nervously.

“Well? Where’s my payment? I got you proof and everything. If I don’t see the meal tokens I know who’s the unfair ones here.” Nora attempted to sound sassy but it really came out more like a hoarse intimidating command. She was fine with that. Her grimy hands dropped the burnt and bloodied knight helmet on a nearby desk. Within moments she was walking towards the steps with four large sacks of meal tokens. Something felt missing though. She glanced back at the confused two.

“I’ll be watching.”


We want to hear from you!

Whether you like to write or have a passion for another form of art, your work can be featured on our Panther Post.

To apply, email June.Brockmeyer@StrongMind.com and include a brief description of your artwork or piece, a few sentences letting us know more about yourself and anything else that can tell the story of your masterpiece!

  • Tell us what you think about this second part of Antonio’s story in the comments below!