Zoie Cole’s high school prize-winning story, “Survival of the Fittest,” is now live. Below is an excerpt from the beginning:
From under the cover of the rocky hill a long expanse of shade yawns out, slowly claiming back the land from the burning light. Anxious breaths and shudders echo all around the stones as the much anticipated darkness arrives. We have finally come of age, my kin and friends and I, and we have been told to leave the Center to find our own places to settle down. If we cannot find a new home or food we can always attempt to return to the Center, where food is abundant and partners are available. If we all stayed at the Center the supplies would run out.
There are more of us out there, others who had come of age and left. Some have established homes already, and once the nourishment runs out at the Center, the Center will move to their homes. That is the goal of every soul departing from the Center tonight: to one day host it in your own home with a partner at your side, sharing in the glory.
Finally the sun’s hideous glare is absent and our swift legs take to the ground. We race away from the Center, enthusiasm in every step. No care is taken to stay together; in fact we all try to separate from each other, and as the distance between us and the Center grows, so does the distance between each of us, until I can no longer see them along side of me, nor the rocky hills of the Center. Those I held close are gone now, lost on their own paths. Instead of my friends’ restless movements, brown, grainy sand shifts endlessly around me.
Brown gives way to black as I run, and slowly the black becomes unbreakable, reflective sheets of obsidian glass. The glassy expanse does not last long and my bare feet sound louder on it than on the grains surrounding it. It is almost as though the sun scorched the land here until the sand baked black and solid and smooth. Too soon, light begins to bubble up on the horizon as I leave the valley of glass, but there is nowhere for me to hide, no cover to shelter me. At the Center there was always cover to take, behind large rocks, and in the homely caves that lined the hills. We took great care in avoiding all forms of light. But there is no shelter here.
You can read the rest of the story here.
Zoie Cole was a senior in teacher Kendalynn Sutton’s class at Kingsford High School in Michigan, last spring, when she submitted this story. She loves creative writing and analyzing literature with a passion. The great deal of time she spends outdoors–kayaking, fishing, four-wheeling, camping, and hiking–helped to inspire this story. She begins attending university this fall.