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Featured Student Work: "Exam Story"

by Alex Inkinen Ruiz, 7-I | 15 Jan 2021

It was three o'clock in the morning when the city was woken by a shattering explosion and plunged

into deep black night - the power had gone out. The ground shook violently, causing furniture and

objects to fall. James is woken up abruptly by this sudden shock. He gets up, moving towards

the window. Everything is pitch black, except for an exceptionally brilliant light in the distance, the cause of the explosion. James hears the jarring sound of sirens outside. Ambulances, firefighters and police cars are hurtling through the streets, trying to keep the chaos in control. Police officers are speaking into megaphones, trying to get people to evacuate.

James struggles to keep track amidst the cacophony of sounds, but he manages to get out of his apartment down to the street with the rest of the crowd, who all appear to be tired and exhausted, just as he felt. They were moving down the streets, trying to get as far away as possible from the immense mushroom cloud, which could be seen from miles away.

A month later, and life, in the city of New York has degraded significantly. The city has been going through an economic crisis, just barely holding up. The explosion from the power station caused many unfortunate deaths and destroyed nearby buildings. They have had to use their emergency back-up system, renewable energy from the countryside. This is less efficient than their original source of energy, which harnessed lightning thunderstorms. Unfortunately, something went wrong in the harnessing process, causing it to explode.

Since the city has been in a state of decline, it has caused our main character’s working life to be far more difficult. As a detective, James pierce tries to solve crimes, which were already common in New York, but were amplified after the explosion. He had been undoubtedly been working harder in the past month. And that day he got a particularly obscure crime.

He goes to the police station that day, where he is expecting his new case. His boss, Stanley, a big intimidating man who had long been on the police force, tells him of a case. He explains that certain people have been going missing, and that he needs to find out why. So that day, James went traveled around the city. Asking people who were close to the victims. This takes him a few days, because most of civilians had either gone into hiding or left the city. Eventually, he managed to contact them all, and manages to get some clues to solve the case. They had all said that the last place the victims were seen were at a jazz club, now run down, called blue dream.

Naturally, the next day he goes to look for clues there. As he is searching the abandoned, ominous club, he finds fingerprints on the tables. After examining them, he takes out his camera to take pictures of the evidence, but as he does this, he feels a sharp pain on the side of his head, and blacks out.

When he wakes up again, he is in chains in a pitch-black room. His head hurts, and he is uncomfortable. As he looks around, he sees that he is there with other people. Specifically, the missing people he had been looking for. They all appeared to be pail and drained, as if they didn’t have the energy to anything. He tried talking to them, but they either ignored him or simply didn’t want to risk making a sound, as if it were crucial to keep the silence.

He tries to undo his chains, but they were tightly locked, as if the more he moved the tighter the chains would get. In the darkness, he hears cluttering, as if someone were tinkering with objects, trying to make something. He can’t make out who or what was making that noise, but it struck fear into his heart.

Time passes, he doesn’t know how much time. The sun didn’t penetrate the walls of whatever building they were in, but it felt like an eternity. The kidnapper continued to tinker and construct something, but James couldn’t seem to deduce what it was. The kidnapper did give them food and water, but it was so seldom that he soon felt as drained as the other victims there. Every once in a while, the kidnapper would leave for long periods of time. Sometimes he would come back with a new victim, other times he would bring back new things to tinker with.

One day, while the kidnapper is away, he drops a pen cap. James then has an idea. He uses the cap to open the chains and escapes. He tries to set the other people free, but when he hears footsteps, he has to run. While running he snags a blueprint which he finds on a desk, he assumes it’s the kidnapper’s desk. He manages to escape the building, and the first thing he does is try and get to the police station. But he feels so drained and devoid of energy that it takes him so long to get there. But while running, he realizes where had been held captive, in the abandoned energy plant. He doesn’t know why but in that moment he doesn’t care.

When he does get there, the officers are shocked to see him. He tells them the whole story, and after some skepticism for the officers, he convinces them to come. They manage to get to the power station as quickly as possible, but when they arrive, the victims are nowhere to be found.

James walked back to the police station, shellshocked at what had happened. He had difficulty processing what had happened. How did the kidnapper manage to move everything out so quickly? What was the thing he was constructing? And why was he kidnapping so many people? Why were they being held captive in the abandoned energy plant? Why was he being held captive? All these questions raced through his head. So quickly, that he doesn’t even realize when they arrive at the station. The grumpy police officers reluctantly walked back in. He did the same, but before he could get anywhere, the chief asked him to come to his office.

He walks up the stairs to the chief’s office with him. He sits down at the other end of his desk while Stanley sits at the other side. He looks at him sternly, with concern in his face and tells him that he will be given a leave of absence. James can’t believe it. He cannot process everything that has been happening and he has never felt more overwhelmed. Stanley tells him that he isn’t mentally healthy and stable enough to do his job, so he will be given a paid leave of absence to recover.

James can’t reply. He just sits there, trying to make sense of everything. On one hand, he is relieved that he doesn’t need to work and will be taking a break. He felt bewildered and exhausted after the whole experience. But on the other hand, after experiencing the kidnapping, he felt obliged to try and save the victims. He felt it would be cruel to leave them after fully experiencing what it felt like. And in the end, he believed that he is obliged to help them. He tries to get out of it, trying to debate it and negotiate, but the chief is stubborn, and will not let him take another case until he has recovered. And with that, sends James out the door.

6 months have passed, and James shows no signs of recovery. He hasn’t returned to his job as a detective yet, and he hardly leaves his apartment. He constantly feels uneasy after the experience of being kidnapped, and he cannot rest on the fact that he left the victims there, without help or hope. His unhealthy obsession has led him to trying to solve the case by himself. He collected clues from the crime scenes and revisits the abandoned energy station as much as possible. But without the help of the professional equipment from the police station, it has been significantly more distressing. But it gives him the sense of progress and fulfilment, and he believes that he has been able to track the victims to a new location, a warehouse on the edge of New York.

After six months of tracking and deciphering, he finally has been able to find them. He is hopeful that he will be able to find the kidnapper and do them justice. He walks onto the streets, waves down a taxi and tells him to take him to the warehouse, and after a long monotonous trip, he finally arrived. He double checks to see if he has his phone, fortunately he does. He plans to use this so that he will be able to call the police station if all goes well.

He walks into the warehouse carefully and stealthily. He continues to go in, looking around the large room in which he was in, then he spotted them, the victims. Tied up with metal chains and leaning against a metal container on the back wall. The warehouse was dimly lit, so he couldn’t see much. He was able to make out some storage containers, similar to the one the victims were leaning on. But then, he heard tinkering and clattering, coming from the general direction of the victims. He stares into the darkness and he sees a figure, sitting at a desk, and still tinkering. He wasn’t able to make out what was being built in the dimly lit room. But that didn’t matter. He had now found the person he was looking for. The kidnapper.

He dives behind a metal container and begins to creep up on him. As he does this, he finally gets a good look at the kidnapper. A tall, lean man in his mid-forties, hunched at a desk, constructing something which could be compared to a lightning rod, only this time it was larger and slimmer than a typical lightning rod. James continues to creep closer, and closer. He manages to get within an arm’s reach of him, and when he did, he pounced.

The kidnapper was completely off guard when James pounced. He struggles to get out of the lock which James has him in. They punch and kick and wrestle enduringly, as the victims watch shocked at what they are witnessing. But the kidnapper was a formidable fighter, and nearly managed to knock him out. But when he saw who he was brawling with, he was caught off guard. He realized that the escaped victim had returned, and he couldn’t believe it, and James managed to hit him hard enough to knock him out.

James stood up in pain with a bleeding nose. He staggered around the warehouse before leaning on a metal container to catch his breath. But he shook of the pain and ran to the victims. After 8 months being held captive every single one of them looked depleted. He helped them out of their chains, but when they were set free, they didn’t even move or wince in any way. He used his phone to call the station. At first, they were furious that he had gone there by himself, but they decided to put it aside for later, and come help them.

When they arrived, they arrested the kidnapper, helped the victims into an ambulance and helped James into the ambulance, since he was clearly injured from the fight. But he didn’t care. He felt at peace knowing that these people had been saved and that this kidnapper has been punished. He felt that he could rest now, and for the first time in 6 months, he could be at peace.

One week later, and the kidnapper has confessed to the reasons for why he committed these crimes. His name is Jeffery Paul, and he is a scientist. He was one of the many scientists who were supposed to come up with an efficient way to power the city. When he presented his plan to power the city, the rest of the scientists disagreed with him because of the power source being too dangerous. But it was the most efficient.

Jeffery wouldn’t take this criticism. He was still determined to try and convince them to use his model, but because of his stubbornness, he was fired. Out of spite, he was still determined to try and still build the power source. But he didn’t have the resources or materials to build it. So, he consulted the black market. Criminals would give him the necessary materials to build his power station, if he did them a favor. This usually involved them wanting some form of revenge against them. This explains why he kidnapped so many people.

The deal was that once he finished building his power source, they would be able to get the victims. But now since he is arrested, he wasn’t able to finish building it. And because of this, James could now recover properly from the incident during his leave of absence, and be calm.


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