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In English we had a short story unit. We read a few stories and broke down the basic components of the really good ones to see what really made them up. Eventually we were tasked with the magnificent and honorable journey of creating a short story of our own, right from scratch. With inspiration from our peers and from our predecessors, we set about creating a universe in fewer than or exactly 750 words. It was a paramount task, and we were faced with deadlines and writer's block, but eventually we all came out of it, bursting through the brush with scratches and pride.

Vanderbilt and Rockefeller

Vanderbilt led his three legged goat amongst hills and mountains of stone rubble and overgrowth. He was in an empty and complacent Chicago, which had been blanket bombed and left alone by everyone else because everyone else had been blanket bombed too. No buildings were left standing except ones erected after the fact- only metal bones and glass veins eternally eroding away.

There were a few survivors who went on with life, leaving behind the world of structure and stability, and they had children, who then had their own children, who then had Vanderbilt. And so Vanderbilt and his goat went on with their lonely existence, carrying on, and now he had come to the desolate but beautiful Chicago that chilly autumn morning.

He was telling Rockefeller, his goat, that he really was very excited about this place, because he thought that Rockefeller was feeling a little down and needed some inspiration. It took a toll on you, living like this day to day, and the poor little goat’s beard was beginning to fall out. Inwardly, though, Vanderbilt was feeling a bit pessimistic himself. There was always enough grass and weed growing through the rock and rubble for Rocky to make it through the day, but Vanderbilt was quickly losing hope for himself. He was gray and skinny and his young face looked old with experience.

He had managed to climb upon a particular tall pile of rubble that overlooked the miles and miles of death and decay. The boy had a hard time connecting to the world before the bombs. Squinting his eyes, he looked off into the distance and tried to recreate the old world in his mind but instead saw a dust storm. The winds appeared especially vicious. Getting caught in dust storms made him upset, so he scooped up Rockefeller into his arms and made a hasty descent, dropping down from rock to rock on quick and nimble feet. Rockefeller used to be good at this, too, before he suffered a small tumble while following Vanderbilt and a rockslide left him one hoof down. He made it to the ground where the broken, rotting structures provided adequate cover from the dust storm.

Vanderbilt found a small crevice and he quickly crawled into it with goat in tow. It was dark and claustrophobic but it seemed untouched and therefore very promising.

Vanderbilt was in the remains of what had once been a very nice and successful bank with marble floors and potted plants. For a long time he walked until he came to a large steel vault door that seemed both determined and impassioned. It stood tall as man’s world destroyed itself, carrying on with its duty. At the same time, it was very easy for Vanderbilt to walk past it to see the room it guarded so obediently. He peered beyond the door and saw a miraculous sight: piles and piles of untouched bars of gold and he was intrigued because he’d never seen such a thing before.

He inspected them carefully, cautiously, wondering what their purpose was. They were covered in dust and when he blew that away he was astounded by its shine. He attempted to pick one up and found it quite heavy. He sat and held it in his lap for a while, stroking it softly with his finger. He attempted to taste it and found it distinctly unpleasant but he continued holding on to it, finding comfort in its shine.

“I think we’ve found something good, Rocky,” said Vanderbilt, “but there are far too many to carry home with us.”

He thought about it for a while, cradling his gold bar. Rockefeller tried to nuzzle him, but Vanderbilt lightly pushed him aside, defensive of his prize. Vanderbilt stayed there for a while, unsure of what action to take, and Rockefeller waited patiently in a corner.

“After all, if they gathered up this much of it, it must have some value,” Vanderbilt reasoned to Rockefeller.

And so Vanderbilt stayed, guarding his golden stash vigilantly until the end of his days. Rockefeller sat by Vanderbilt when Vanderbilt stopped pushing him away and fell asleep with him.