A Defiant Blade

Defiance Against the Storm

"A sharp blade quickens the work."


At times like this, I wonder if things are worth fighting for. I wonder if I should let myself go into this swarm of metal blades and glowing pupils if I can finally rest forever, for the first time in a long time. If this could just be over once and for all.

And then I quickly remember that if I die, the Organization would laugh over my corpse, relishing my demise as a punishment for defying their order and not selling my soul in the first place. That they would deem me as a personal failure, just another teenager who dies earlier than most—for the right reasons. That they would desecrate my corpse, siphon the remnants of my powers, and use my own Catalyst to fuel usurpers with powers they do not deserve. That's the cruel fate I think about, the ones who I fought with faced in the end.

If I die here, then the Organization wins. But I'm not going to let that happen. I can't afford to lose everything again. They'll pay—they'll all pay. I will not rest or waver. Not until every last one is cut down.

I've spent eight hours and seventeen minutes exerting all my time and effort into the occupation of an executioner; a conductor of a steel massacre under a full moon and a cascade of cold rain. I can barely hear my frantic breathing, my ears deafened by lighting, as it cracks the sky. I shudder from the very echo of my beating heart, as it reverberates from inside my aching body. I'm without a scratch, but I feel like I'm about to pass out from the ordeal. But I know every breath I make, every step I take, I am alive.

The Oculi still outnumber me, at least twenty drones encircling me, like a pride of lions closing in on a lone gazelle. Bulbaceous, giant neon-purple eyes as their entire body, levitating in the air, wire tentacles with barbs, programmed to skewer with precision. Their demonic slit pupils glare at me, their light refracting in the puddles on the sidewalk. They ignored the corpses of the ones I have already dismantled, scattered piles of scrap metal littering the streets, soaked in their own oil and mud. This street is a scrapyard, a cemetery for fallen robotic souls I put to rest. Lovecraftian entities left to decay and rust.

I've dismantled so many that I stopped keeping score at 37.

The nearest Oculus screeches, and rockets towards me in a frenzy. All eight appendages whirl around it like propellers. But I don't flinch. I don't run. I don't back the fuck down.

I keep my ground, arch my right arm back, and dart straight towards it on the wet pavement. I lunge forward and impale my blade right into the bastard's beady eye, a fixture of solid red light pulsing with crimson lightning. The Oculus' light flickers on and off as a result of the electrocution and falls on the wet earth, its heavy husk joining the rest of its people.

"Is this your friend? Is this your friend? Don't worry, you'll join it soon, like the rest!" I casually goad, arms extended out, as I step onto its lens with my moistened sneakers. Their screeches break the short silence and charge at me in a do-or-die assault. I wonder if robots get pissed off, but if they do…nice. As its lights dim for the last time, theirs gleam a hellish violet, brighter than the sole lampposts that clings to life.

But my sword is the brightest; it flows with neon bloodlust. This is just another night for the both of us.

I lift my heels off the pavement and soar towards my next target. All eight prongs spiral in front of it like a drill, aiming straight towards my heart. It's quick, but I am quicker. My blade cleaves through the second eyeball like softened butter, and the two bifurcated halves tumble down towards the street. I can feel the adrenaline surge through my veins as I cut through the assembly of machinery one-by-one, saber in hand, illuminating this empty night with my own scarlet light, as I snuff theirs out.

Left. Right. Up. Down. Side-to-side. Forward and backward. Deactivated corpse continues to litter the streets, sparks flying out from their severed and pierced shells. I pay my respects by trampling on every platform I can leap off of. I make it my sworn duty that everyone pays in full. No one tries to kill me and gets away with it. I brandish out Blade No. 2 from my left and cross-cleave two Oculi in my way. I see all of my enemies approaching closer, their blades stretched out and honed for the kill. Their blades are sharp, but mine is sharper! I rotate the sole of my feet 90 degrees and swipe the wet air with both of my hands, neon-rouge shockwaves pulsing out like an EMP. Each Oculus caught in the wake detonate in a streak of flames, utterly decimated. They decay and fall like shooting stars before their empty lives break into the nothingness.

Droning blared across this empty shell of a metropolitan environment. Lights illuminated the streets, on these dilapidated shells of machinery; busted, broken, butchered, executed. I turned around and viewed the next wave of Oculi swarmed in the air, staring at me with their beady eyes, demonic and hollow. Too many to count, but I guessed there had to be thirty of them, all filling the empty space in the air, giant mechanical eyeballs with lashers flailing like maces.

All of them are programmed to eliminate me under a sky filled with oblivion. I inhale my first-again breathe, and exhale into the cold night. Each drop numbs my skin, each vein pumps adrenaline-filled body across my entire body. My heart races through the anxiety and exhaustion. And yet, I stand ready to go, alive and unwavering. I'm outnumbered, but they are out of their league. This changes nothing.

My scarlet blade surges, and I charge into the distance.

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A Letter To High School Seniors On Graduation Day

The rest of your life begins today.

Dear High School Senior,

Today's the day you've been waiting for your whole life. You'll wake up a little earlier than usual, brush your teeth and go downstairs for your last breakfast as a high school student. Your mom will look at you with tears running down her cheeks wondering how her baby grew up so quickly. Your friends will be texting your group message non-stop with words of disbelief, wondering where the time went. You guys made it to the day you've been counting down to all year long.

You'll start to reminisce on things like your first pep rally and the dorky outfits you wore freshman year. You'll laugh at things your old teachers did and remember the ones who left to teach somewhere else. You'll wonder how the guys in your grade actually managed to grow up and laugh at how young you all looked when you had just begun. You'll remember all of the football games you attended and consider how strange it will be seeing other people wearing your guy friends' numbers when the Thanksgiving game rolls around. You'll drive by the soccer field and think of all the blood, sweat and tears you gave to it over your high school career.

You'll recall your first real kiss and joke about how upset you were when the first boy broke your heart. It'll feel like yesterday when you walk through those doors for the final time and look around at all of the empty lockers. You'll gather with your classmates together in the same place for the last time and think about how you're all going to be in different places next year. You'll be excited but nervous because in a few hours, life as you know it will change.

So before you sit down to hear the Valedictorian's speech and walk the stage to receive your diploma, make sure you take the time to appreciate the memories you made in those halls. Thank your teachers, even the difficult ones, because when you're sitting down in your first college class, you'll feel grateful for the work they made you do. Thank your parents for supporting you. It's not easy raising a teenager, but they did not give up on you regardless of how brutal puberty was.

Thank your friends. They're the ones that got you through your first heartbreak and made sure that you were going to be okay. They listened to your complaints after a big fight with your mom, even if they thought you were wrong. They forgave you when you were wrong and understood your bad days. They stood up for you when you got yourself in a bad situation. They brought you coffee when you didn't have time to get it yourself. They took you home when you couldn't make it there alone. They celebrated your good news and helped you through the bad. They made you laugh uncontrollably and created memories that you'll hold on to forever. They made you who you are today.

After you receive your diploma and throw your cap in the air, make the most of the time you have left with your high school friends before you all head off to college. You only have a few months before you're sitting in a dorm room surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Work, but don't forget that memories last longer than money. Go to the beach, take lots of pictures, go out on Friday nights and enjoy the days that summer has to give. Trust me, college will be awesome, but you'll never be the same person that you are today.


Your College Self

SEE ALSO: 11 Pieces Of Advice All High School Students Need To Hear

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College Can Be Difficult, But Trust Yourself, Girl

Life can throw you curveballs sometimes, and times can get tough, but it is SO important to pick yourself up and trust that you can do anything.


I'll be honest, this school year was one of the hardest years of my life. There were lots of moments throughout the year that I just wanted to go home and get away from it all. I had to be reminded that I have been raised to try as hard as you possibly can, and I was doing that. It took some determination and time, but I didn't give up.

No matter how bad I felt, I stayed and persevered.

Now that I am home for the summer, I have been reminiscing on the past two semesters of school. At the beginning of the school year, I had a much different idea of how it would go. It was going to be "my year," but somehow while the year was going on, I felt that I had been completely wrong. It's easy to come to quick conclusions when life doesn't exactly go your way. Conclusions like "this year has been the worst year ever" and "I can never get a break" were often popping up in my head. My grades weren't where I wanted them, and I was surprised by a lot of occurrences that I never expected to happen (imagine a wild ride). I found out who my true friends are and who I could rely on, and luckily, my circle only grew. Being extremely extroverted, it was hard for me to get out and just do something. Being in this "rut" took a toll on me. I had to make those hard decisions about doing what was best for me in the long run instead of doing something just for the moment. Trust me when I say, this was NOT easy at all.

Through all the tears and change all around me, I decided to proceed to the finish line because I am NOT a quitter.

I decided that it was time for me to allow myself to fully, undeniably be me. I wanted to start doing the little things I enjoy again like working out, taking pictures, and simply just going out to do anything. I started forcing myself to take any opportunity that came my way, and it helped. One of the things that brought me so much joy was kickboxing – talk about therapeutic, people! Kickboxing at least three times a week helped my mood shift so much, and it was a start to seeing me again. I am so blessed with friends who would come over at, literally, any time of the day. Spending time with them helped me more than they could ever know. We did anything from just hanging out in my living room to splurging on a fun dinner. Through everything that I was doing daily, I was learning how to rely on myself. Looking back now, I have never really had to know what it felt like to rely mainly on myself. I did get so much help from my family and friends, but what good could their help do if I didn't want to help myself first?

Even though I felt like this was one of the worst years of my life, it taught me so much more than I ever expected. Looking back now, I grew so, so much. I learned how to smile when times get tough. I learned that it really is okay to not be okay sometimes, and it will be okay eventually. I learned that it's okay to ask for help because we weren't made to do life alone. Most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. My hope for anyone reading this, you will learn from my experience that the worst seasons get better. I am in such a good place right now because I never gave up, and I will continue to never give up. In a short amount of time, I am seeing how far I have come and how much I grew.

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