A Brown Thumb

All the grass around me dies,

For two miles as the crow flies.

And you should never think to doubt

That the seeds I plant will die as they sprout.

It’s been years since I saw a flower bloom;

When they meet me they meet their doom.

And you will not see a living tree

Within fifteen miles of me.

I don’t know why, just that I can’t

Prevent the death of any plant.

In fact, I kill them with greater ease

Than any insect, animal, vine, or disease.

At first, I thought it might be something in the dirt,

But I now know it’s me who causes their hurt.

I once hoped bad water might be the cause,

But truthfully the fault lies in my own flaws.

I cannot keep a plant alive,

No matter what amenities I contrive.

A good life I cannot provide,

For a potted plant kept inside.

And outside there is only death,

For any plant the feels my breath.

Not even a cactus will manage to thrive,

Not so long as I survive.

I may never see a flower bud,

For every seed I plant becomes a dud.

I’ve now given up on growing a garden,

And soon I think the ground will harden.

I know now that I’d have to be dumb,

Not to realize that I have a brown thumb.

Study of Cellphone Use Finds a Link to Cancer

We have been debating for a long time whether or not cellphone use can cause cancer. On Thursday, the National Toxicology Program, a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, concluded what experts called the world’s largest and most expensive experiment to determine whether or not cell phones are a cause of cancer.

The study began during the Bill Clinton Administration and it cost over $30 million and involved over 3,000 rats. The experiment ended on a positive note but found that some types of cell phones raise the chances of brain cancer developing in male rats.

John Bucher, a scientist with the National Toxicology Program, said in a statement to the New York Times that there is a link between radio frequency radiation and tumors in male rats.

He did warn us that the exposure levels and durations that the rats endured are far greater than what humans typically encounter and that this study could be used in comparison to the human’s experience.

Experts, however, are arguing that even a small demonstrated rise in cancer risk could be devastating, with billions using cell phones on a daily basis.

The lowest level that was used in the study was equal to the maximum amount of radiation allowed by the government, and that level rarely occurs in typical cell phone use. The highest level was four times the limit allowed.

So, in the end, the study was very beneficial to our futures, as we do need to know how much radiation is too much for human use. Hopefully, we can create a more powerful phone with less radiation, but that will be determined by the government regulations and what we want in our phones.

Amazon’s HQ2 Might Be Located in Northern VA

After months of discussion about the location of Amazon’s second headquarters, aka HQ2, with options that include Dallas and Los Angeles, a leaked memo may have the answer. Amazon may have decided the place for their newest headquarters, and it could be good news for Radford students as well.

On Saturday, a leaked memo that was released by the Washington Post (owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) showed that Northern Virginia has won the bid for Amazon headquarters. The post would not release the leaker’s name, and Amazon has not made a comment about the situation.

However, city leaders in Crystal City, VA are not happy with the leaker. Mike Grella, Amazon’s director of global economic development, said in a tweet that the leak was not doing Crystal City any favors.

Griella also stated that the decision would not be decided based off of Bezos’ travels. It has also been rumored that the selection of the new headquarters would be based off where his corporate jet flies as well as the Washington Post. That would leave the choices down to Northern Virginia and the New York area.

Of course, the area that wins the bid will be set economically as Amazon plans on investing over $5 billion into the local market, adding more than 50,000 jobs and yielding an average pay of over $100,000. As many as over 250,000 jobs will also be indirectly added as well, according to Enrico Moretti, an economics professor at the University of California Berkeley.

 

Castle of Crows – Part 1

Every summer for the past three years my sister Macey and I have stayed with our Aunt Penelope in Scotland. It started because Macey was having a princess phase and found out that the reason we never saw Aunt Pen was because she was restoring a castle. I hadn’t really wanted to go back then (Scotland was a long way from Virginia and I was pretty sure castles were for girls anyway), but Dad wasn’t about to send one of us and not the other, so I was overruled on the matter. So when I was ten and Macey was twelve, we flew to Glasgow and saw Aunt Pen for the first time since she’d left the US.

“Macey! Dillon! Oh, look how big you’ve gotten!”

Aunt Pen started fussing over us immediately, ruffling my hair and fawning over Macey’s princess dress. She was an eccentric lady, too. Every move she made was accompanied by the clinking of her bright gold bangles, and her dress was maroon with long dragging sleeves. Her nails were long and painted red, and her hair was pulled back by a flowered headband. Before we got to the castle we stopped in a nearby village, and she bought us each a cinnamon bun before going to the butcher and getting a bag of scraps. It smelled awful, and when Macey asked what they were there for, Aunt Pen just smiled at her, which put us both on edge.

Aunt Pen’s castle was about five miles from the village. The road curved through the woods, and the trees were so tall that we couldn’t see the castle until we were right in front of it. It was a large building made of stone, built at the bottom of a hill and overlooking a big lake. It was old, but it looked well taken care of, and I could feel Macey’s excitement finally rubbing off on me. As soon as the car was parked we jumped out, racing to the doors, Aunt Pen trailing behind.

“Just a moment, kids!” Aunt Pen called after us. “I want to show you something.”

We followed Aunt Pen around the side of the castle, towards the treeline. There was a wooden fence separating the castle grounds from the forest, which was dark and made me uneasy. Aunt Pen whistled. For a moment nothing happened, and then suddenly crows started lining up on the fence, cawing as they landed and eyeing us curiously. Aunt Pen started pulling the scrap meat out of her bag and feeding them one by one.

“This is Macey and Dillon, my niece and nephew. They’ll be spending the summer here.”

“Er, Aunt Pen? Are you talking to the crows?” Macey looked mildly terrified, and I couldn’t help but feel the same. One of the larger crows cawed at us, and Macey took a step back.

“Yes dear, crows are very clever and very loyal. One never needs to fear if they’ve befriended the crows. Would you like to feed them?”

Macey was horrified, but I was curious. The crows were a little bit creepy, but Aunt Pen seemed so at ease with them that I couldn’t help but feel more at ease too. So I nodded, and I reached into her bag of scraps.

“Hold it by the very edge, and reach out carefully,” Aunt Pen instructed,  guiding me towards the large crow. “This is Baron; he’s the largest crow in the murder.”

“Murder?” Macey asked.

“Yes, that’s what a flock of crows is called, dear,” Aunt Pen said. “Now say hello and introduce yourself. Then give him the meat.”

“Hi Baron,” I said, only feeling a little bit silly talking to a crow. “I’m Dillon. It’s nice to meet you.”

Baron cawed at me, then snatched the meat out of my hand and scarfed it down in seconds. Baron cawed some more, and I smiled at him in return.

“Well done, Dillon! I think he likes you. Would you like to try, Macey?”

“She’s too scared to try,” I said, grinning smugly. Macey glared back at me.

“I’m not scared! If you can do it, I can too!” Then Macey marched forward and grabbed a piece of meat, only looking slightly disgusted by the feeling of it.

Aunt Pen led her to a smaller crow and had her hold her hand out. “This is Nixie. Go ahead and say hello, dear.”

“Hi Nixie, I’m Macey! Your name is really pretty,” Macey said, holding out the scrap meat. Nixie cawed softly, then grabbed the meat. Macey jumped a bit when she did, and Nixie cawed at her again.

“Well done, Macey! You two are going to be very popular; I can already tell,” Aunt Pen said, turning to look at the sunset and frowning. “It’s getting a bit late, so we’ll have to head inside now. While we’re out here though, I need to tell you the most important rule of staying here with me.

“See this fence? It goes all the way around the castle grounds. It is very important that you don’t cross it without me. The woods are tricky to navigate, and as you might have noticed during the drive up, the castle isn’t visible if you get too far away. So stay out of the trees, alright?”

“Sure thing Aunt Pen!” Macey said, smiling.

“Good,” Aunt Pen said, returning her smile. “Now let’s head inside and get washed up for dinner.”

We followed after her, and I quickly forgot about crows and forests and rules. For that night, all that mattered was me and my sister and our joint effort to keep Aunt Pen from making haggis for dinner. It was the first simple night we had at the castle, and, though we didn’t know it then, the last simple night.

Cloud Gazing

The dawn creeps up from beyond the trees,

Cutting sharp silhouettes out of indistinct shadows.

The horizon is a blur of pink and gold, which fades into pale blue

And then into a still dark purple.


There’s beauty in the sunrise, but magic in the clouds.

They cast dark shapes above the horizon,

Painting pictures in the early morning light.

A killer whale breaches waves of water vapor,

While a pirate ship bursts forth from fog.

A manta ray is flying across the horizon,

And a swordfish leaps into the air to strike a pose.

There’s a pelican sitting above the treeline,

And the ship’s captain is calling for a toast.

 

An ocean outlined by the dawn won’t last forever,

Or even for an hour,

But it will always be remembered.

Remember Fall

The air is crisp and fresh after rain

It’s chilly outside but not yet cold

And while the sky is filled with dark grey clouds

The trees are turning yellow and orange and red

And when the leaves drift off on the breeze

The ground gains the colors of fall too.

 

The clouds tell of storms to come

But they don’t yet cover the sky entirely

And the gaps they leave are bright blue

And when the sun peeks out you can feel it

Bright and warm against your skin

A reminder of the summer that’s now passed.

 

It won’t last forever.

 

The sun will pass again behind the clouds

The trees will be left barren

And their fallen leaves swept away

And the wind will grow harsh and biting

As the temperature drops below zero

And the ground begins to freeze.

 

Fall is a transitory season

But there’s beauty in its liminality

Because nothing will last

Everything is precious

Pictures won’t do it justice

So instead we must remember

 

Remember wind.

Remember color.

Remember sun.

Remember fall.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Sets New Records in Sales

The critically acclaimed game, Red Dead Redemption 2, was destined to be one of the games of the year, but most people could not have seen what RDR 2 would end up accomplishing.

Rockstar announced on Monday that within the first three days of release, Red Dead Redemption 2 sold over $725 million in copies, around 10 million units sold. Rockstar is also projecting that the game will have made a profit by December and will have sold over 20 million units by then.

Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two also has stated that RDR 2 had the most pre-order sales in PlayStation Network history.  However, RDR 2 is only second behind Grand Theft Auto 5, another Rockstar game that was released in 2013, for most sales in a three day period, with GTA 5 hitting the billion-dollar mark within that time period.

Most people don’t think about the cost that goes into making a game like RDR 2, and they may wonder why the game is not profitable as of right now. But if you think of it, this is very normal.

Since the release of the original Red Dead Redemption, developers have been working on the second one. There was controversy regarding paying employees, with some developers working over 80 hours in a week to get RDR 2 to the point where it is at now.

Not to mention, Red Dead Online has not been released as of press time. Take-Two will break even before the release of the online mode (release date is unknown), so do not feel bad for them as we will be giving them our money soon enough.

Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in 1899 in the Wild West where you play as Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang. The game follows the story of the gang as well as a young John Marston, the protagonist of the first game.

Despite Pleads and Warnings, FDA Approves a New and Powerful Opioid

The opioid crisis is stronger than ever. Just last year in the United States, there were 72,000 drug overdose deaths, and over 49,000 of those people died of opioid overdoses.  Despite a bill that was signed by President Trump to help tens of thousands battling opioid addictions, the FDA has approved a new opioid which is one of, if not the most, powerful opioid ever to be produced.

The drug, which is called Dsuvia, is the tablet form of sufentanil, a synthetic opioid that has been used since the 1980s. It is 10 times stronger than fentanyl, a parent drug that has often been used in hospitals. Fentanyl has been illegally produced in different ways, which has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths in recent years.

Even though the FDA’s advisory committee approved the drug in a 10 to 3 vote, the panel’s chairman, Dr. Raeford Brown, wrote a letter to officials that expressed deep concern about allowing the drug to be used by the public.

In the letter, Dr. Brown predicted that the new opioid will lead to abuse and death within a few months of availability on the market. The letter questioned if the FDA would succeed in the enforcement of restrictions on the drug if it were to hit the market.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, gave the drug final approval and released a statement that defends the decision, stating that Dsuvia will only be allowed for use in hospitals and other medical settings. He also stated that the drug is ideal for serious situations and that more soldiers wounded in the battlefield would have died without the strong painkiller.

Now it is up to hospitals and the FDA to prevent this opioid from hitting the market. If they fail, it could be very bad news for addicts and families.

 

The First Week of November

The phony cobwebs are swept away,

But the carved pumpkins have yet to rot

And still sit on the steps in front of many houses.

The leftover candy, marked down after Halloween,

Has been cleared from the stores,

Their festive designs gone for another year,

But the children who spent their night walking

From door to door now have their own hoards

And like dragons they stand guard over their goodies

Waiting for their parents to turn their backs,

So that they can grab another piece of chocolate,

And keep their sugar high going strong.

 

Meanwhile, families make plans for Thanksgiving,

Searching for recipes to flaunt in front of friends and families,

Or thinking up excuses to avoid visiting in-laws.

There are still pumpkin spice variations of every product that could manage it,

Including those that should never have tried such a crossover.

The trees are still mostly covered in red and gold,

Though more leaves fall with every breeze,

And the ground is in desperate need of a rake.

Football season is in full swing,

And every sports bar is playing at least three games on any given night.

Charlie Brown will be making his way onto the small screen once again,

Forever famous for falling while trying to kick a ball.

 

Fall is heavy in the air.

Halloween has barely faded,

And Thanksgiving looms on the horizon.

And yet as I listen to the radio I can already hear them,

Christmas carols, playing through the first week of November.

What is GAB?

After the shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people and injured numerous others, we are left to question: how did this happen?

The suspect, who has been identified as Robert Bowers, appears to have a history of anti-Semitic posts and speech on this social media platform called GAB. Yesterday, PayPal banned GAB from using their platform while Apple and Google have previously banned the social media platform for posts that were also anti-Semitic. So, what is GAB?

GAB describes themselves as “a social network that champions free speech.” However, it has turned into a “haven” for Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the extreme right.

GAB has also been compared as the right-leaning Twitter, which GAB has neither accepted nor denied.

Founder and CEO of GAB, Andrew Torba, has cited himself that GAB was inspired because of a “left-leaning monopoly on social media.”

Now, people will say that Torba has a right to keep the freedom of speech on GAB, while others will say that he does not. However, the 1st Amendment does protect hate speech but it does not protect GAB from the “wrath” of other companies banning it from its platform.

So for now, GAB is fighting to stay online in general as along with being cut by PayPal, they were cut off by their web host. Luckily for them, they were able to find another web host. After finding a new web host, GAB took to Twitter (irony at its finest) and tweeted out: “FREE SPEECH WILL ALWAYS WIN OUT.”

On the moral side of things, it should not be true, but in regards to the US Constitution, this statement is very true.

Moonrise

The setting sun leaks colors of pink, orange, and yellow.

Diffusing through the sky, spreading into blues which fade,

First to purple, and then to black.

The moon rises in the East as the sun falls West;

Oranges and yellows blink out of sight,

Leaving a pink glow within the clouds.

Stars wink into existence

And purple overtakes the sun’s rosy glow.

Darkness sweeps over the day’s final rays,

The lights of night the only guide that remains,

As the moon reigns over the sky.

The Audience Is Bigger At Netflix But So Is The Debt

Have you ever wondered how Netflix is able to have your favorite movie on their website within a matter of months after first appearing in the movie theaters? Of course they have to pay a licensing fee but those fees cost a ton, which is why Netflix is facing a huge debt like MoviePass.

But unlike MoviePass, Netflix has been willing to raise the prices of their service, which currently costs $13.99 with all of the benefits. But the biggest problem Netflixfilx comes with the original content that is produced.

Shows like Orange is the New Black and Big Mouth cost money to produce and a ton of it at that. This has resulted in Netflix selling over $2 billion worth of bonds earlier this week, which has multiple investors and rating agencies saying that Netflix is selling below market value. This also includes a current debt of $8.3 billion.

The good news for Netflix is that they will eventally break even, but as long as they keep spending cash faster than they collect it, Netflix will be in debt. The biggest issue for Netflix is its stock value, which is currently at $299. This number was at a high of $400, but numerous people have felt that even the $299 value is way too high.

If Netflix were to drop down lower than $200 a share, we could see companies like Disney, Time Warner, and Comcast try to buy the multi-billion dollar corporation. A result like that should have you worried about your “Netflix and Chill” nights.

However, that is only speculation. For right now, just realize that Netflix would have to collapse before we see results like these.

Flames

It started small;

Just sparks and a match.

The flame barely flickered,

Barely lived, and any breeze,

No matter how slight,

Would have been enough

To end the matter.

 

But fire’s nature is to grow,

And it was so sheltered,

So well fed and protected

That the flame grew steady,

Melting wax and burning through

The wick that played its nursemaid.

 

Fire is warmth and fire is life,

But with any life, it must not be left

Alone and unattended.

Just as a child grows unruly,

Running through the house

With no sense of order,

Growing wicked and wild,

So does a flame.

 

It may have burned itself out

When it reached the wick’s end,

But this flame, that had started so small,

So unassuming and frail,

Was determined to live,

To grow, to spread.

 

It sparked, just as Mother Match

Had done and it jumped,

From candlestick to parchment,

Just a little spark, but the ember caught.

Slowly burning a ring into its prey,

Until ember turned to flame

And spread once more.

 

No page was left untouched,

And as records and letters and clutter

Were cleared away a flame became a fire.

And the flames dripped off the mahogany,

Which only minutes ago was a beautiful desk,

And spread to a rug with swirling patterns.

Geometric shapes that brought to mind nature,

Flowered paths and tall oak trees and bird songs.

 

But the fabric forest turned to black,

Smothered by the intensity of fire’s passion,

Eroded away to reveal the polished wood below.

And fire takes that too, feeds and grows,

Running from desk to rug to floor to curtains,

And then up a wall and onto the ceiling.

The fire branches out, growing faster now than

Any match or candle may ever dream of doing.

 

Flames spiral around the room now,

Blazing through the walls and ceiling,

Just as embers blazed through parchment.

They dance through the air as they surge onward,

Moving from room to room, devouring all they can.

Feasting on kitchen and servants’ quarters and hallways,

On dining room and bedroom, parlor and nursery.

Never satisfied. Never sated. Never stopping.

 

The fire is ablaze, engulfing all it touches.

Glass windows shatter under the heat’s pressure,

And smoke swirls out into the sky, free at last to flee the flames,

Though fire’s tendrils rise to follow the ashen air,

Dreaming to touch the sky and know the feel of flying or floating or falling.

But fire takes too much too quickly, and the house it used to grow,

To feed and spread and rise and soar, can take no more of fire’s roar.

The wood is weakened, and the roof is sagging, and still the flames

Grow higher and higher. Until there can be no more.

 

The wood bends and breaks, and the roof falls.

Fire drops down once more and sparks fly—

But flames die.

First impressions on Red Dead Redemption 2

NOTE: This will not have any spoilers until the author of this story has completed the game.

Rockstar has finally released the most anticipated game of the year in Red Dead Redemption 2. It took 8 years before gamers around the world got to play as Arthur Morgan, a thief and lead enforcer of Dutch Van Der Linde’s gang. This gang has gone through anything and everything, and now, you can experience it yourself.

However, most people are very impressed with the graphics of the game and how the characters act towards you. Here are a few things that RDR 2 does differently from other open world games.

The world that you are playing in:

I can’t even begin to talk about how your interactions in the open world in this game can affect your playing experience. The way that you hunt to what you eat and how you dress for the weather—it feels like you are living in a real-life simulator and I freaking love it. Rockstar has finally produced an open world game with factors like these. This stuff matters to a gamer who wants to live like they were in the late 1890s and not have to deal with the real life heat.

The animals in the game

I don’t remember ever playing a game that shows the diversity of the animals in the world that you are playing in. I have seen animals as big as bison and bears and as small as songbirds and rats. And by the way, you can hunt all of them. This is one of my favorite parts of the game. You don’t need to hunt them, but it is fun to explore the different animals in the game.

The weapons and maintaining them

Of course, the weapons in a western game are very important for your survival. Another new thing that has started in this game is the cleaning of your weapons. If they get too “dirty” then you need to clean it; otherwise, it will affect the strength of the bullet and the path of the bullet as well.

I am looking forward to playing more of this game and finishing the story mode on there, but so far, so good for Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2.

 

To Drown

The ship rocks and the waves crash over the deck.

Lightning splits the sky and thunder roars.

The world creaks and moans.

And then it shifts—

Sliding screaming silence sinking—

The water churns and spins him around

Until he doesn’t know which way is up.

The world is dark except for a few seconds of lightning,

Or is that glint something shiny that was lost long ago?

It’s impossible to tell, and there isn’t time to think about it now;

The cold seeps into his bones even as his lungs start to burn.

They say it’s a peaceful way to go, to drown,

But the sea knows no peace,

No calm in the center of the storm.

The world is dark, except the spots in his vision are darker,

And his lungs are still burning, even as he opens his mouth,

And the cold rushes in but offers no relief.

The salt stings but he can hardly feel it now.

He can hardly feel anything now.

They say that it’s a pleasant way to go,

To drown.

They’re wrong.

AT&T Says That They Have The World’s First 5G Connection

The race to 5G has been up and down for the top-tier cell phone companies in the United States. We have seen a merger collapse, and we have seen what turned into a merger for Spirit and T-Mobile when they joined forces against Verizon and AT&T to be the first to 5G. But according to one of the “Big 3,” the race is over.

AT&T made an announcement saying that they have produced the first 5G signal in Waco, Texas. This could be our chance to move from our current world to the world that we have seen only in movies.

Why make a big deal out of this news that just came out of the blue?Well, if it is true, then you can expect to see a line of 5G phones sold by AT&T.

AT&T has also promised to launch 5G service to Waco and 30 other cities across the nation. Most of those cities are in the southern part of the United States.

AT&T has a current goal of 5G on the road while rival Verizon has focused on producing a 5G product for the home.

As a reminder about news like this—we should not expect to see 5G service starting tomorrow or next week. It is just like flying cars and drones delivering our packages; it could take until the next decade before we see results.

The Kaleidoscope

The dim yellow glow of a simple flashlight illuminates the barely-there path. Black dirt, littered with the thick roots of trees hidden by fallen leaves, gives way to unruly vines scattered with orange gourds. The old house looms above the pumpkin patch, its sloping rooftop dropping shingles every time the wind picks up. The cold breeze could cut through any coat, and my hoodie offers little warmth. As I carefully move towards the house, vines crack underfoot, and the flashlight’s beam jerks with the unexpected noise. Dark wings flutter into the night as I try in vain to get my rapid breathing under control. I finally reach the house, and hesitantly knock. There’s no reply, and the windows are so stained with grime that I cannot see inside. But the wind starts again, and the cold pushes me to try the door’s handle. The old door creaks loudly as it swings open, and I tentatively call out a greeting as I step inside. The musty air is heavy with dust when I breathe it in, and I wonder if I was wrong. The rotting floorboards moan as I tread upon them, and the intricately patterned wallpaper is stained brown and peeling off the walls. This place seems abandoned, but I was so certain I’d seen a light come this way. I hesitate in the entryway. Should I leave? I’m not certain I could find the road again so late at night, and I know the battery in my flashlight won’t last forever. My mind is made up for me when the door slams behind me with a resounding bang.

I spin around and rush to open it again, but the door is stuck fast, and it won’t budge no matter how hard I pull. I pull too hard, as it turns out, because the handle pops off and I end up falling. The floorboards creak and a cloud of dust rises all around me, tickling my nose and setting off a fit of coughing. I twirl the handle in my hand; it’s old enough to have been worn smooth, but the faded brass still shines when the light hits it. I sigh and pick myself up off the ground. It’s time to find another exit. I make my way out of the foyer and into the parlor. There is furniture in this room, but it’s old and dilapidated, and the floral couch looks like it would fall apart if I so much as brushed by it. There’s a rug, but it’s too clouded in dirt to distinguish a pattern, and every step I take on it sends up little puffs of dust. There’s another doorway to my right, and based on the rancid smell of rotting food, it leads to the kitchen. I decide to save that room for last. I cross over to the windows. The grime is just as impenetrable on this side of the glass as it was outside, and I feel along the edges of the window pane for the latch. In the end, finding it doesn’t matter, because it’s rusted shut and I nearly cut my hand trying to pry it open. I sigh once more and move back into the foyer. To my left is the front door, still shut tight; to the right there’s a staircase, and across from me is the dining room. My flashlight passes over the room quickly. There are a table and chairs that have been covered by grey cloth that may once have been white, curtains that have long since faded from pink to brown and now hang limp and rotting from iron curtain rods that look as though they’re one strong breeze away from falling, and a crystal chandelier that somehow still manages to sparkle through the dust and cobwebs that cling to it. I turn from the dining room, The kitchen is my last hope of escape, unless I want to try jumping out of a window on one of the upper floors. I do not.

I turn around and steel myself to breathe the smell of rot once more, but then I hear a thud from above me. I pause, looking at the cracked ceiling as though it holds all the answers. Then I hear something roll across the floor, and a trail of dust shakes loose above to mark its path. My heart stops for a moment, but then the noise stops too, and my heart kicks into overdrive.

“Hello?”

There is no answer, and I try to come up with an explanation for the noise. Perhaps a raccoon got into the house somehow? And it knocked something over while looking for food? That’s a plausible enough explanation to slow my heartbeat, at least until I hear the soft laughter of a child. Raccoons are crafty creatures, but they cannot mimic small children. I panic for a moment; what if some poor child is trapped in this house too? I’m moving to the stairs before I even finish the thought, rounding the corner of the landing and making my way to the second floor in record time. The floor opens up to a drawing room, but as my flashlight scans across the space, the seemingly ancient furniture isn’t what catches my eye. The room is empty of life, and it doesn’t look like anyone has been here for decades, except for the shiny metal cylinder lying on the floor by the staircase on the other side of the room. I walk towards it before I have a chance to think about it, and when I pick it up I realize that it’s a kaleidoscope. I can’t help but play with it for a bit, watching as the colors shift into each other and create new patterns. There’s no telling how long I may have stood there, but then I catch movement out of the corner of my eye, and I hear the giggle again, much closer this time. I look up, and for half a second I swear that there’s a shadow on the stairs, but it’s gone so quickly that I’m sure my eyes must just be playing tricks on me. I carefully make my way up the steps to the third floor, cringing every time they creak.

When I reach the top of the stairs I find myself in the attic, but it’s been renovated into a nursery. There are toys scattered around the room, and the faded wallpaper looks as though it would have been colorful when it was first put up. Moonlight shines into the room from a large circular window, and I click off my flashlight as I take a few steps forward. I can’t see anyone, but I know that I heard someone laughing.

“I know you’re here.” Silence greets my declaration, and I take a few more cautious steps into the light. “Just come out, okay? I’m not going to hurt you.”

The giggle sounds again behind me, but when I turn there’s no one there. My heartbeat picks up again, but I do my best to keep my voice steady as I turn back to the empty nursery. “Please come out. This isn’t funny.”

The room is silent, and for a moment I think that I’m going to be ignored, but then the air shifts around me. I stiffen as I feel someone’s breath against my ear, and his whisper is barely more than a breath. “Boo.”

Halloween is Near….So, What to Do With Trick or Treating?

Halloween is this Wednesday, but you would not have known it by the way Radford students have been celebrating it the past two weekends.

Anyhow, the hunt for candy is always the best part of Halloween and it is one that cannot get you in trouble (unless you are trick or treating). But for those who have dietitian needs then Halloween is more of a trick than a treat. Look out for candy that may have peanuts or tree nuts. Someone with a nut allergy will know which candies they cannot eat but as someone who is passing out candy, make sure that you have an alternative like Air Heads or gummies.

Typically, the most popular candy has some type of chocolate base like Reese’s, Snickers, or Hershey’s. If you do pass out candy, passing out candies like those three will make you much more popular than the random guy down the hall who is passing out toothbrushes.

Remember to not give out too much candy. You want to make sure that everyone gets candy but also make sure that people do not get sick from eating too much.

Lastly, just remember to have fun as that is always the goal in mind. Another goal to keep in mind is to stay safe on this Halloween.