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The Mustang Messenger

The Mustang Messenger

The student news site of Kennesaw Mountain High School

The Mustang Messenger

The student news site of Kennesaw Mountain High School

2023 Writing Contest: 1st Place Winner “A person. Not Quite Tall”

Photo by Eleni Witte, 12th grade, Dec. 1, 2023

1st place winner for the 2023 Creative Writing Contest.
Writer = Jeff Kimani, 11th grade

A person. Not quite tall or short. Not quite wide or thin. A person. Walks on one of two sidewalks in a city. Not a busy city. Quite a mute city. The street is empty—clean as paper. No cracks, no bumps, no holes. Only two stripes. Buildings line the adjacent sidewalks equidistant, rising high, with no end in sight. The windows emit a glare that remains no matter the angle of view–as if they hide a secret. No shops. No restaurants. A tight mist grips the surrounding air, a blanket, as it congests the nose. Not quite sunny but not quite dark. Grey. Ten feet beyond any immediate position is invisible to the eye. A film coats the retina as the landscape fades into an infinite abyss. It is as if new buildings rise, the sidewalk expands, and the air further coagulates upon walking onward.

         The city is silent, but not devoid of a population. Take the person for example. That is a unit of the population. The rest line the sidewalks, leaning on the unbounded architecture, in synonymous positions, eyes closed. They sit on the floor, legs extended and open, like scissors. Clothing is dull, but prim. Some have sweaters, some have shirts, some with shoes, and some without. Do they speak? Maybe. Look at each individual upon overtaking, sauntering over their extended limbs. Put more force in the step while passing by each one, an audible stomping, examining for a response. A vocalization. A sign of life. Maybe they’ll hear, and wake. Step over their legs, advancing deeper, further, closer to the abyss.

         The mist continues, the road stretches, and the sidewalk elongates. Eventually, the population stops appearing along the sidewalk. Articles of clothing appear as if occupying their designated positions. All strangely dirtied and tattered, showing signs of struggle. Continue ambling.

         The buildings begin to have visible tops. All flat. They increasingly shrink ahead. Height of a skyscraper, then an office tower, a mid-rise apartment complex, a residential home. Until they depress into the ground. Sinking. Until bottomless pits line the peripherals. Continue ambling.

The pristine sidewalk begins to age. Every passing section gains more vegetation and cracks, overgrowing and breaking. The clothes become encapsulated within the overgrowth, further disheveled. Shoestrings slip into the tendrils of weeds and moss, simulating desert snakes burrow into the sand. Shirts and bottoms sink like ships swirling into their demise within whirlpools. Slowly, the weeds and vegetation grow enough to overtake the sidewalk entirely, masking the fractures underneath. Continue ambling.

         A building appears ahead. Faint to the eye initially. A small, wooden shed, clad with a teal door. Centered on the road. Unassuming, except the road ends, visibility discontinues, and the sidewalks fade into true grass beyond its entrance. As if there is no other choice. The shed shows considerable age, with the wood displaying blotches of darkness along the surface, signs of rot. A moment of hesitation. Some instinct to refrain from this shed, its teal door; the unknown. It is almost audible.

However, all that I have known is the unknown.

I approach the teal door, reaching for the knob. I twist the clammy brass. Its shape is reminiscent of a radish in spring.




The door opens without a creak and closes itself softly upon entry. The surroundings are blank, containing a dark hue only present in the outer bounds of the universe. The size of the interior is not bound by the exterior, there are seemingly no walls. A fluorescent lightbulb shines overhead but does not seem to provide any light at all. Not even a moth is attracted to it. The body is visible, but the floor is not. There is no illumination beyond the one bulb at the entrance, at least none visible. Walk deeper within the midnight, but something feels unsettling. Footsteps echo, and it feels as if the room is small, a cage. Cannot feel any walls or boundaries, yet it feels choking. The light is dim in the distance.

This is enough change. Enough of the unknown. I pivot and my legs barrel back towards the glowing bulb, arms splitting the air. I have never sprinted before. A mix of exhilaration and sickness comes over my being. What could this all be? Why is this happening? Breathing is rapid. I reach for the knob and burst through the door. The hinges groan as they swing open.


The habituated scene is not what meets the eye. Yet the nose is still congested as if it is. A room, surrounded by mirrors? The ground is clad with grey, moist carpet, yet it is rough to the touch. There are bounds to this room, walls where the mirrors lie, though a reflection is not visible. Approach closer. Closer. No reflection is present. Something else is visible. The street. The sidewalk. The population. And the neighboring buildings.

Sweat beads like rhinestones on my forehead. This is not happening. It cannot be real. Checking all the other windows, I find that each of them has the same scene. The street. The sidewalk. The population. And the neighboring buildings. As I frantically transition from one mirror to another, in utter doubt of my sight, I notice a trace of movement along each view of the city. I fixate on one window’s image. I cannot comprehend the paradox. It makes me hysterical to see my own character walking along the sidewalk, sauntering over the comatose.

I scream. Howl. I strike the window with such force capable of collapsing the entire building. Incoherent wails escape my lips as I try to warn the character on land what is to come. A tear escapes my eye and flows down my cheek from an emotion I cannot label as sorrow. What does it mean? How can that be me if I am here? I want to know who that is. Who I am. Who we are. I wipe my tear with my hand, drawing it across the window as I watch them—me—continue walking. Soon, the person is out of sight. Turning back to the door, I blaze towards the handle, with purpose. Intention.


Darkness again. All four sides are empty, yet full of a void, except for the teal door now closed. I consider going through the door once more when suddenly, the void around me begins to take on hues of color, and structures of familiarity. Slowly, rising from the sea of black. Like watercolors blotched on a canvas. The street. The sidewalk. And the neighboring buildings. However, something seems off. My perspective. Unable to move. Seated. Legs extended. I become filled with dread.

I have become one of them.

But no; I am different. I can observe the thick fog surrounding me, feel the cool, coarse sidewalk, and become saturated with the thick air. All signs of life. Not like the others, right? Right?

An audible noise. I can hear too. I look to the source, within the fog. What will emerge? I begin to feel my emotions bubble with various labels of fear, interest, and anticipation. I realize I cannot express my emotions physically, with an inability to move, speak, or even swallow. Does my heart even beat? The sounds draw nearer, nearer, now recognizable. Footsteps. It cannot be. Please. I beg.

The murky air slowly clears. I see myself, ambling in my direction. I attempt a scream. A vocalization, a sound of some sort to capture the attention of my character. It is as if the thought was not communicated to my body. I began to feel crazed, making deranged attempts to grasp attention. Attempting to pulse my diaphragm, blinking violently, shaking my head vehemently; To no avail, I tried tirelessly to warn of the impending change. It was as if my soul was looking through a shell, with no control over it. As they—as I drew nearer, up to a whispering distance, there was no sign of acknowledgment. Simply walking over my limbs, stomping.

The door is gone. I can only see the city. I cannot leave. I rush into a panic and glance in the direction of the passerby. The one who is numb to their surroundings. Numb to the changes around them. Looking for something that they cannot possibly understand. Watching them cascade away feels like seeing a leaf drift along a babbling brook.

The mist clears around them as they—as I walk. I can see the articles of clothing engulfed by the overgrowth on the dilapidated sidewalk, the buildings progressively shrinking down into the ground, and low and behold, a little wooden shack, with a teal door, and a wall of haze behind. That is what I want. A destination. Somewhere to go. Purpose. They get closer to it. Closer. Reach for the knob. I shout a conclusive warning; warning of what there is behind that door. The anguish to come. There are other options. Turn back and retrace steps. Enter the haze and it may clear up, just as it always has. Just do not enter that shed.

I see the hesitation. A glimmer of hope, a recognition of my existence, but they enter.

I enter.

And I cry in despair as the fog consumes me.

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