M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Tales of a 6th-Grade Nothing (Apologies to Judy Blume)

November 26, 2021

I started writing stories when I was in 5th grade. Our teacher gave us a list of vocabulary each week — about 10 to 12 words, I think — and said we had two choices: 1) write down all their definitions along with a sample sentence, or 2) work them into a short story to show that we understood the meaning of the words.

I chose the 2nd option. In fact, I was the only one who did out of a class of about 25.

The thing is, the teacher wanted us to read them at the front of the room.

Man, that was not something I was looking forward to. But somehow I managed.

I wrote nothing but detective stories, all in the first person. At some point, I borrowed my mother’s old manual typewriter (originally my grandfather’s, from the 1950s) and typed them all out. I still have most of them.

But my peak as an elementary school age creative writer came part-way 6th grade, when I attempted to write my first horror story.

I don’t remember the assignment details, but evidently the teacher had asked each student to write and illustrate a short creative fictional story. Most of my classmates wrote simple things about everyday life events – meeting grandparents, playing sports, going on a trip.

As before, we were asked to read them aloud in front of class.

The cover of my story looked like this:

Basically, I described an airplane crash in which the 30 survivors out of 300 had to stay in an old hotel somewhere in a dark mountainous countryside.

One person is eaten alive by rats.

Another has his skin melted off by steam in the bathroom.

A third is eaten by the ceiling, his bones spat onto the bed.

Several, including the pilot (who for some reason has a pistol he fires at the door), are trapped in a room and squished by moving walls, blood spurting out into the corridor.

As I read, my classmates made sounds like “Eeew” and “Blech.”

The story ended with the remaining survivors huddled in one room as the floor pushed them up toward a laughing face on the ceiling…into which one of them throws a chair.

In horror at eaten part of itself, the face howls and the building, people still inside, slowly blink out of existence.

“…began upwards,” no verb, shows the limits of 11 year old editing acumen…

The last line reads, “And every night, those people go through that experience throughout eternity.”

A silence fell.

Later, my teacher contacted my parents and suggested I needed psychological counseling.

But I still got an A+. For a “creative plot.”

I decided to switch back to detective stories after this…

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