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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Outcast
By Shelley Ledfors


Elizabeth hesitated in the doorway, unsure whether or not she wanted to walk in.

She had nearly decided that the rumble in her stomach was preferable to what awaited her inside when an impact catapulted her several feet and left her sprawled on the sticky cafeteria floor.

“Oh, sorry...didn't see you, there.” One of the most popular guys at the academy smirked down at her.

Laughter echoed off the walls and ceiling. The cavernous space magnified its assault on Elizabeth's ears.

Without speaking, she stood, brushed off her jeans and t-shirt, squared her shoulders and walked to the serving area.

Elizabeth's dietary plan left her few choices. Finally, she spied an apple. It wasn't very appealing. Its once shiny skin had dulled and begun to wrinkle. No doubt it'd been long ignored in favor of the richer, more glamorous fare displayed elsewhere. There was a certain similarity of experience between her and the apple. She took it.

She scanned the room briefly. The hierarchy at the academy was understood by all; the spaces for each group, though not marked, were clearly defined. Elizabeth set her course for the far corner of the room—the outcasts table.

To get there she had to pass the middle-of-the-room tables of the in crowd.

“Have a nice trip, Dizzy Lizzy?”

“An apple? You've gotta be kidding! Who eats apples?”

“You know who...the freaks!”

“Ooh...love the shoes! Where'd you get 'em? Atlas Antiques?”

Although she knew she shouldn't, Elizabeth glanced down at her footwear. While her athletic-style shoes weren't new, they were clean and in decent condition. But, of course, they were nothing like what the in crowd girls wore.

Only a few more tables to go...

“What's the matter...is your Q-Pod out for repairs? Oh, wait, that's right, you don't own one!”

Again the crowd's guffaws resonated through the room, but by now she'd reached her destination.

The others at the table glanced up when she took her place. A couple of them nodded, but no one spoke. That, too, was against the unwritten rules.

Jennifer did dare a whisper to her once lunch was over, though, when the noise of the crowd returning to their study modules provided cover for the message. “We're going running after school...meet us on the deer trail through the Harper's Wood. It's too narrow for them.”

Elizabeth nodded. This time she didn't even try to hide her grin.

When the academy let out that afternoon she maintained the expected distance from the in crowd as they made their exits. But as soon as she was outdoors she ducked behind the building and hurried to the meeting place.

While she waited for the others, Elizabeth peeked out from the safety of the trees. A few in crowd stragglers maneuvered their Quick-Pods down the wide path. Perched on the wide seats of the hovercraft, their corpulent bodies were draped in yards of silken material. Since they didn't walk, gossamer slippers graced their feet. They were the ideal personified.

Elizabeth glanced down at her slim frame, still a little embarrassed but filled with new resolve. She would not change just to meet some advertising ideal. She loved to walk and run, and eat God-foods too much to give those things up.

Even if that made her an outcast.

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This article has been read 717 times
Member Comments
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Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
Ooh! This is begging for more story! I want to know more about this world and the things that make her do what she does, choosing to be an outcase when you have shown that it is not easy. ^_^ good stuff.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/09/09
Oh you got me with your surprising turn. I think I'd rather be with your outcast group! Creative idea!
Connie Dixon05/11/09
I was really drawn in by your writing (kids can be so mean) until I got to the end. It's probably just me but I didnt' understand the Quick-pod thing. Must do some research on this. I thought your story was very well written. Good job!
Mona Purvis05/11/09
Guess kids of the future are no better than the ones today. I was never one of the "in" crowd either. Good story.
Kristen Hester05/11/09
How clever. It seemed so "today" until the end when you revealed it was sci-fi. Fun! Good job. Creative take on a classic struggle.
Rachel Rudd 05/12/09
I really enjoyed this story! I could identify with your MC and it is really neat the way you ended it. I thought a q-pod was a way of renaming an i-pod until I got to the end. Well done!
Carol Slider 05/12/09
A very intriguing fantasy/science fiction interpretation of the typical in-crowd/outcast divisions at a school. It would be interesting to read more about this world!
Bryan Ridenour05/12/09
Nicely written and creative. Unfortunately the "ins" and "outs" will be around until heaven. Well done.
Carole Robishaw 05/12/09
Well done! I enjoyed the twist. I too would love to read more of this world.
Yvonne Blake 05/12/09
I didn't realize it was futuristic until you mentioned the hovercrafts!
I love the characterization.
Well done.
Karlene Jacobsen05/12/09
As one who always felt she was an outcast, I can attest to the freedom that comes once I realized whose I am. That knowing does change everything.
Lollie Hofer05/12/09
It was funny how my imagination had to regoup at the end. I wasn't envisioning a futuristic invironment. Surprising twist to an age-old problem.
Chely Roach05/12/09
Wowzers! SO out of the box. Loved this!