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Slope Survival

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Old 02-13-2015, 05:40 PM
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The following piece is written by one of Krisjuljen 's grade seven students. Please post your comments accordingly. The goal here is to get the student use to the idea of receiving critiques.

The wind blasted his face, obscuring his vision. Snow particles were flying everywhere, stinging his face. It seemed as if the weather was a machine gun, and the wind and the snow were bullets. Ben was getting cascaded by them. The rescue group that he was to follow passed him by only 25 yards; yet they were still out of sight, though that was to be expected in these conditions. He skied gracefully, like a fish swimming in a white sea that doubled as an abyss. Even with a multitude of obstructions in the way, his confidence was still intact. He attempted another bend, yet there was a nagging feeling as soon as he made that turn. His suspicions were correct as he glanced at an out-of-bounds sign. Then, suddenly his ski hit a rock, and he heard a crack of plastic and metal snapping. Before Ben knew it, he was tumbling out of control down the powdery mountain slope.



Earlier that day, Ben had been overloaded with paper work. However, rescue missions on the mountain took up most of his time. The rest of his hours were spent at the 76 gas station where he worked as a night casher. This left little time for his studies at the community college. Sitting at his desk, Ben stared out the window in the midst of writing his report. "Let's see," he muttered, "there was one injury from one of the workers who was preparing the bobsled run. I need to let my boss know he's going to sue us since he's been anguished and raging at us all week long. Hmmm, should we shut him up by bribing him, or should we let him go to court and argue with the judge. My boss has been rather strict on our budget." He could have gone on all day thinking and writing his reports, but he instantly got a call. "Hello . . . There was an accident at the southern side of the mountain... What does this have to do with me, I'm not on patrol today . . . What was that, you're one man short . . . You want me to go . . . Ok, I'll meet you at noon near the express lift . . .Good-bye." He sighed, and dialed another number, this time to his professor to let him know that he would not be attending class that afternoon.


Two hours later, he had his rescue equipment all packed up as well as a few survival items which ranged from some flares to signify his location and a single shot plastic flair launcher to blast the flairs into the sky and simultaneously ignite their ends to make them glow. Also in his backpack he rammed in a box of matches, and a long pocket knife. Ben then clipped on his skies, waddled a couple of feet and joined his search group.

"Ok," yelled Dean the leader, "the person we are looking for is a kid, age 16. His name is Spencer and he has dark brown hair, a gray jacket, dark blue helmet, a black ski mask, as well as a pair of gray/navy blue skies." He then split the workers into five different groups. Ben was in group 4."Do you know your group?" the man yelled again. "Good, ok, I'll tell you where you’re going. Group 1...you go to the northeast side of the mountain, group 2... southeast region, 3... northwest, group 4...you go and take a look at the southeast side, but be careful, all of the runs on that side are black and double black. Finally, group 5, you stay at the base and go where needed in case of any emergencies, or if we need backup.” "If you don’t know how ski-trails are rated, they go in the following order, green for easy, blue for intermediate, black for advanced, and double black for experts/professional." All of the rescuers' heads nodded and they then departed.

As soon as Ben’s group departed, Ben knew that he was a lamb sent to the slaughter. Sure, the terrain was a slight menace, but the climate's torment was similar to fog. The water particles were ice, and 50 mile per hour winds were sweeping them everywhere. Also, his group was slowly sliding past him by a few feet, but then the feet became yards, and the 5 turned into a 10 and, to Ben’s horror, became a 15 and then a black dot, 25 yards ahead. The group seemed to be fish ready to be cooked, in which the rest of the group was the head of the sea creature. Ben suddenly felt like the scale, being swept off by a brush, and dropping down the drain pipe.

Ben jolted awake, with the rays of the sun directly in his eyes as he opened them. He shaded them with his hand only to feel severe pain from his arm. He predicted that it had taken most of the impact. Slowly, he moved it around making sure it wasn’t broken. Though he was lying on a thick layer of white, cotton-like snow, it his sore arm still though that it had landed on a block of cement after being flung off a skyscraper. Also, his head was throbbing with such pain that he could barely move his neck. He rolled around in the snow, moaning in agony, as his legs jerked uncontrollably. Finally, when the pain subsided for a moment, he reached in his pocket for his survival items. He pulled out three utensils, a pocket knife, and the box of matches containing four of the wooden sticks with their bright red chemical composition on the rounded tip. Previously he had twenty-four. Twenty of them must have gotten lost in the snow, thought Ben. One flair out of the previous five remained. The flare launcher was also missing.

“Darn It!" muttered Ben, his cheeks red from the wind, for the flairs were the only item to signal his position, and he was missing the only way to properly use them, the launcher. An idea then formed into his head, he reached for his left pocket for his phone, but found it in pieces. Taking apart the phone, he found the battery in perfectly good condition. He pried off some more trivial, broken components, and found the LED light for the camera in working condition. The part he was looking for, the cellular chip was broken in half. Well, he thought at least I can create a makeshift flashlight and he began to construct it, ransacking through wires and, eventually finding some more undamaged wires. He hooked them to the battery and the light, generating a bright light to prepare for the night. However, he still had many more tasks to accomplish before he was to be safe for one night.

The hiss of a knife came down on to the wet wood, splitting it in two. Ben, holding the knife in a backhand pose, cut on the piece of tinder. This tedious procedure continued for an hour until Ben heard a slight snarl. Turning his head, Ben saw an unmistakable black blur, wavering in the little sunlight that was left in the frigid winter evening. Ben held his knife, ready to slice the beast in half. The bear, its eyes like beads of black ice, made an ear-pearling growl, and charged. The four legged mammal ran vigorously, conquering the rough terrain as if it were a smooth paved road. Ben was stunned, his eyes transfixed on the sharp black claws of the bear which were, in Ben’s mind, no different than a set of brand new, extra sharp utility knives ready to tear at his flesh. The bear, increasing his momentum, was speeding towards Ben like an express train on steroids going at its maximum velocity; not to mention that this train was prepared to ram him head on. At the last minute, Ben grabbed the knife with unprecedented speed, and holding it by it's rubber handle, flung it with deadly precision at the monster and as an extra precaution, rolled to the side. The beast dropped to all paws and with another eardrum breaking yell, turned over on its side, and laid still. Ben, who was breathing uncontrollably out of fear and surprise, for this was the first time he had killed a bear, walked to where the bear was and picked up the knife. Then, after sitting down on a log, he glanced up at the sun. It was leaning in the sky and preparing to drop as if it were tired since it had given nine straight hours of luminesces to this region of the world. “If I am going to survive this night, I better make a shelter” muttered Ben, remembering how brutally cold the nights could be in this particular area. He then began to plan how to withstand the cold and not get attacked and/or eaten by bears while he was asleep.

By dusk, Ben had already scavenged the bear, and used some fur to create a blanket. He then used the kindling he had chopped earlier and a match to start a fire. The sun had already set, and the darkness that was seeping closer and closer as the wind began to blow at the flame, sending a shiver down Ben’s spine.

A few hours later Ben woke up to find himself drenched in ice cold water. Was it all a dream...his skiing an accident? Ben prayed for that, but looking around at his surroundings, Ben's heart dropped. He was still at the bottom of the mountain, with foliage surrounding him. The fire from last night had long gone out. The snow beneath him had melted from his body heat, causing a large puddle to form. Ben rested his back on a log, and took out another match. An idea came to him. If he started a fire during the day, wouldn’t the smoke signal rescuers? Though the headquarter area was on the other side of the mountain, it was worth a shot. He still had some leftover logs from last night. Tossing them into the ashes from yesterday, Ben lit a match and ignited the wood.

Hours later, Ben’s hard work paid off. He had only one match left, and was obtaining more firewood when a voice behind him said “so, you're lost too?" Ben froze as he felt his heart stopped beating. He then turned around and saw the kid that the search team had been looking for. As described, he had a gray jacket, a dark blue helmet, a black ski mask, as well as a pair of gray/navy blue skies. He had a tired look in his eyes, and seemed to be surveying him.

“I assume your name is Spencer,” replied Ben. Spencer nodded. “Good, now, I have one question for you,” Ben paused “WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN! You parents have been worried sick about you. Search and rescue had been searching for days and they have not found a trace of you, and that’s the reason why I’m in this mess right now! If you hadn’t gotten you sel-” Ben was about to finish his sentence, but he never got the chance. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a black object that was vaguely familiar. It took him only seconds to lay his finger on what it was. “Bear” shouted Ben at the top of his lungs, and reached for his knife. However, when he got a hold of his weapon, he heard the crack of a pistol, and saw the animal on its side. He turned his head to look at Spencer, and found him with a .45 caliber handgun in his palms. “What, how did you?" stuttered Ben.

“I found this a couple of days ago," replied Spencer. “It was underneath the place that I last slept."'He then pocketed the firearm. An idea suddenly came to Ben’s mind.

“Spencer?”

“What?”

“Are the bullets you used tracers?”

“I don’t know, it’s not mine.”

“Let me have a look," said Ben, ending the conversation. Spencer handed over the weapon and Ben inspected the bullets. He fired a round into the snow and noticed how bright the bullets were when shot. They were definitely tracers. (For those who aren’t gun geeks or don’t own a firearm, a tracer is a bullet used for night time target practice since the back of the bullet is on fire as soon as the trigger is pulled. This causes the bullet to glow green or red). Ben planned to fire the weapon at night to alert the search and rescue crew where they were. Fire it during daytime, and it would be too hard to see, thanks to the sun. With the plan in mind, he explained the basics of what was going to happen to Spencer. Now, all that he needed to do was wait for the sun to set.

Upon the first shot, rescue crews began skiing to their position. Minutes later, both Ben and Spencer were transported back to the lodge. The boys were greeted by whistles and cheers as they entered the main hall and were led to a warm fireplace.
All was well on the mountain this night. Tomorrow; however, was another day where a new group of skiers would soon arrive looking for new adventures on the powdery slopes.


Ben eventually got a degree in engineering, and began working as a network manager at Dell (a computer business). Spencer eventually grew up to become an accountant at Key Bank. Both continued to spend many hours on the snowy slopes; however, neither of them ever got lost skiing again.


Last edited by Elisa/win; 02-16-2015 at 10:09 AM..
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Old 02-13-2015, 09:08 PM
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Nice story! I like it.
Though the editing could use some work.

Early in the story, you aren't breaking new paragraphs when your character speaks, and you missed a few understandable spelling mistakes. (Such as FLARE instead of FLAIR.)

Overall nice concept and good plot progression.
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Old 02-14-2015, 06:40 AM
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Thanks tremor, one of my seventh grade writing students wrote it. I'm trying to get him to understand the whole feedback thing.
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Old 02-14-2015, 06:48 AM
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Nice. That's a good idea. It's teachers like that that could've done me good when I was in school

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Old 02-16-2015, 10:03 AM
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First of all, if you were to post more of your student's works on here, it might be good to put a disclaimer up front that the piece belong to your student. It might help in preparing readers and perhaps increase comments.

Several comments:
1. Generally good flow and pace throughout. Your student definitely has a good sense of drama.

2. While descriptions are good, and there are several good ones here, try to cut down on the "ly" words. At least don't use them in such close proximity. Use owns as descriptors instead.

3. There was some information dunking near the end, which would be smart to stay away from unless it's absolutely needed. For example, instead of the explanation of how the flairs work, it would be more effective to have the MC fire the gun and say what he sees, example, like so "Ben aimed at a nondescript part of the ground and fire, noting with a smile the green street that marked the passage of the bullet." something like that. Better obviously because i came up with that in a few seconds.

4. Since this is generally a strong piece, it needs a strong ending too. It feels like these:

Upon the first shot, rescue crews began skiing to their position. Minutes later, both Ben and Spencer were transported back to the lodge. The boys were greeted by whistles and cheers as they entered the main hall and were led to a warm fireplace.
All was well on the mountain this night. Tomorrow; however, was another day where a new group of skiers would soon arrive looking for new adventures on the powdery slopes.

Ben eventually got a degree in engineering, and began working as a network manager at Dell (a computer business). Spencer eventually grew up to become an accountant at Key Bank. Both continued to spend many hours on the snowy slopes; however, neither of them ever got lost skiing again.
can be removed. I guess the student wants to come to a definite close, but rushing through those events just takes the focus from the main story and so weakening it. Where as if he/she ended with "...to wait for the sun to set.", it retains a certain openness to the feeling and we as readers would still be part of the story world.

Grammar and stuff like that I will not go into since a good edit would fix them. It's nice to see a teacher doing this for a student it's fantastic! I think your student can be assured that he/she has potential.
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Old 02-17-2015, 08:47 AM
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Thank you so much for the feedback, Elisa.
I wasn't sure how I should post his work. I have been apprehensive about sharing this forum with him because of some of the adult content. I am actually a writing tutor and have worked with him for a few years. I have a few exceptional writers who are children. Their work is normally published in children's magazines. Kevin is in seventh grade so his writing is becoming more advanced. I think I will let him join this forum at out next session so he can post his own work.
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Krisjuljen View Post
Thank you so much for the feedback, Elisa.
I wasn't sure how I should post his work. I have been apprehensive about sharing this forum with him because of some of the adult content. I am actually a writing tutor and have worked with him for a few years. I have a few exceptional writers who are children. Their work is normally published in children's magazines. Kevin is in seventh grade so his writing is becoming more advanced. I think I will let him join this forum at out next session so he can post his own work.
That's brilliant. It's great to see a teacher actively helping his pupils like this. I really wouldn't worry about exposing him to potential adult content. Context is everything and he's never going to understand context if he's not exposed to it. We protect children far too much ... and to their detriment. I worked at a charity for disability once and we had a teacher who taught history. Part of the history was local and he decided to share an old play with the pupils. The main character was called 'Fanny', and of course some pupils found it funny. But the teacher knew the context and pressed on, fully aware of the reactions. He was a good teacher. Then the pupils left for break and one or two of them were laughing about the name. Another teacher told them off for swearing. I explained to this teacher that it was just the name of a character from a play, that the pupils were just in the process of understanding and it was quite natural from young pupils to react like this. He was outraged and thought the teacher should never teach the children words like that. Clearly as a child he was never taught context. He was a bad teacher.
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