Tiffany Dawnn Washington was born in Atlanta, Ga. She has recently graduated from The University of Georgia with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Film Studies, and in the fall of 2014 she will be pursuing her Masters degree.
Tiffany has written articles for a student fashion magazine as well as published scientific abstracts for psychological research. Aside from all the school work, Tiffany has a strong passion for filmmaking. She has been a part of five student films and plans to continue her filmmaking during the summer with local filmmaking groups.
Tiffany has an even stronger passion for writing. She wrote her first novel in middle school about a girl and her bad dream to grandma’s house. It was filled with grammatical errors, but it also displayed her innate interest in tales with darker themes and fearless voices. It was not until her senior year in high school that she seriously started another novel. She titled it The Forbidden Secret, and she recently finished writing it her senior year in college. It is filled with fantasy, animals, diversity, war, peace, and darkness. She hopes to soon have it released to the world, after she finishes editing it and has gotten an ample amount of critique from fellow writers/readers. She plans for it to be a series, and the sequel is already complete and ready for editing.
You can find her on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/25238562-tiffany-washington
(The first half of her suspense Short Story)
I wake up to a slammed door and scurrying feet. On my chest is a book of children stories, which my father reads to me every night. Though, I don’t remember being read to last night. Actually, I don’t recall the last couple of months. As I try to think up the past, I hear my mother’s voice approaching my bedroom.
“Otono! Are you up?”
Mother, with her thick curly black hair, swings open the door with two packed bags over her petite shoulders.
“Are we going somewhere?”
“Otono, I don’t have time for this-”
“Mom.” I stand, but it feels like I have not stood in weeks. I lean on my nightstand for balance. “What’s going on?”
“Is Otono ready?” asks my father while entering the room. His messy dark brown hair is sticking to his sweaty face.
“Still in his PJs.”
“Why aren’t you ready son?” Father looks worried and in a rush.
“Where-are-we-going?” I ask with growing frustration.
“To Kepler,” he answers, “And it isn’t just we, the entire world is leaving…Stop playing around and get ready, the military escorts will be here soon.”
My parents hurry out of my room. Kepler, I ponder. The name is unfamiliar. I decide to research the place. I find my laptop, but it won’t turn on. I try the lights, and nothing. The only light in my room is coming from my drab windows that have thin torn sheets on them. Losing interest in Kepler and the loss of electricity, I put on some clothes before my parents return.
With my Power Ranger shirt, old blue jeans, and black Converse on, I make my way downstairs. My parents are still running around in a hurry. I bypass them and head for the living room. Besides the many lit up candles, I notice the windows have steel covers. With further investigation, I see all the windows downstairs sealed shut. There are extra locks on the front door as well.
A raspy voice says, “Is that you Oto?”
“In the living room. Come here my boy.”
I did not spot him in there before.
Grandpa turns on a large flashlight and places it near his face. I grab a candle and sit on the aging hardwood floors. Grandpa is reclining in his faded blue La-Z-Boy with a cigar in his left hand and a glass of ice water in his right. His long hairy legs hang over the chair. The remote is snug in his lap.
“What are ya doing in the dark Grandpa?”
“Watching invisible TV,” an intense cough disrupts him, “Excuse me my boy.” I cannot quite tell, but I think there is blood dripping down his chin.
“Are you okay Grandpa?”
“Better than most my boy. Now,” he wipes his chin, “Tell me, of all the cartoon characters you could take to outer space, you choose the Power Rangers?”
I laugh, “No one’s going to outer space grandpa.” Saying it makes me laugh even harder.
“Oh yes, your mother told me you were playing like you have amnesia.”
“It’s when you can’t remember things from the past.”
I can’t remember anything though. Hearing my name even sounded a little unfamiliar at first. My stomach starts tingling and my palms sweat. I don’t know why, but I feel nervous. Worried that everything I have forgotten from the past couple of months is currently changing everything for the rest of my life.
“Why not a Marvel character son?” asks grandpa. He coughs again, but this time it’s more severe.
“Are you okay grandpa?”
“I believe I answered that already. Now, why don’t you answer one of my questions?”
“I just like Power Rangers mostest.”
“Most,” corrected my mom, “You know mostest is not a word.” I do know that, but I think it’s funny how disturbed mom gets when I use improper grammar. Grandpa also thinks it’s funny when I speak like a hooligan, as mom would call it.
“Sure it is,” grandpa defends me, “The boy said it like any other word.”
Mother puts a black coat and a blue Superman skull hat on me.
“Look grandpa! A hero betterer than Power Rangers for you.” I say while pointing at my itchy skull hat.
“He’s DC but I’ll take it my boy.” Grandpa smiles. I get up to give him a hug, but my mom aggressively snatches me up.
“I just want to give grandpa a hug!”
“Calm down Cynthia!-”
“Dad, you know I love you, but stay away from Oto. Okay?”
“Why mommy?” I ask
“Alright Cynthia, I know,” says grandpa softly, “I wasn’t going to let him get too close.”
“Why not grandpa?”
Before Grandpa can open his mouth, strange sirens go off. I had never heard the sirens growing up. Then again, they could have started going off only months ago. The sound of them is distressing. I cover my hands over my ears and fear grows inside of me.
“Those damn things been going off every five hours for the last few days!” Complains grandpa
“Oh dad, you know they’re needed for evacuation.”
“And our neighborhood is today’s Chosen Street,” says my dad while putting on a brown trench coat. He hands my mom a purple coat. “Is everyone ready?”
“No, not grandpa,” I say, “Go get your coat grandpa.”
By the sadden look on my parent’s face, I realize that Grandpa is not coming with us. I start tearing up. I don’t want to leave with out my grandpa. He’s my best friend.
“You’re the big eight today. Eight year olds don’t cry, do they my boy?
I wipe my tears, “No.”
“Grandpa is not leavin’ New York. I was born here. I’ll die here. But you be sure to send me a postcard from outer space, alright?”
As I nod my head, my mom picks me up off of the floor. My father urges grandpa to go down to Georgia. He explains that some place called the CDC is taking in potential Falllen Bait to try the medicines they have developed.
“I’m no Fallen!” screeches grandpa, “And I’m not turning into one!”
“It would be genetically impossible to turn into one dad, they’re not even the same species, but you can carry what attracts them. And…you can’t just sit here.”
Grandpa is expressionless. He just stares at the blank television, smokes his cigar, and sips his ice water. A bad sensation shoots through my body. I start trembling in my mom’s embrace. I reach for my grandpa. My tiny arm is nowhere near, yet I believe I can grasp him.
There are heavy knocks coming from the foyer.
“They’re here,” says mom.
My parents run to open the door. I stare at the living room; wishing grandpa is standing with us.
“Let’s go!” shouts a man dressed in green and black. He looks like a superhero.
There are three of them, and all are holding a very massive gun. Black masks cover their faces and a thick helmet that matches their uniforms is strapped on their head.
One begins shooting at something outside. I cover my tiny hands over my ears. The shot of the gun is so loud and disturbing.
The hero man’s voice is powerful, “How many in the family?”
My mother cannot answer as she holds me tight to her damp cheek. My father informs the man, who he calls a soldier, that there are only three coming.
“What about grandpa!” I cry. My mom covers my mouth.
The soldier stares at us for a while then asks, “Is he Bait?”
My parents shake their head in opposite directions. Mom is saying no, but dad is saying yes. They glare at one another.
“Well which is it?” demands the growingly impatient hero man.
My mother and father are talking intensely with only their eyes and facial expressions. I don’t know what “Bait” means, but I strongly hope grandpa isn’t it.
“Grandpa is watching invisible TV with his cigar,” I speak innocently.
They all ignore me. I can sense the hero man is still building up with irritation.
My mother whispers “no” to my father. She then mouths, “They’ll kill him”.
“You got one second to tell me, or I’m taking all of you out!” shouts the soldier as he raises his gun to my dad’s face.
“He’s Bait.” says my father. His voice is trembling.
The soldier pushes us aside and walks deeper into our home. The light from my grandpa’s flashlight turns off and catches the soldier’s attention. He raises his gun and walks cautiously inside the living room.
The other soldiers put masks on our faces and guide us out of the house.
My mother holds me tighter and begins to weep. I turn to where the shot came from. I see the hero man soldier coming out of the house with splats of blood on his uniform.
“All clear!” mechanically shouts the now scary soldier. “Let’s go!”
My parents and I are raced towards the weird looking car that my dad calls a military tank. I cannot see what is going on outside, or what things look like because my mother is covering my eyes with her shaky hands. I can only make out some debris and turned over cars.
To my left, I hear an unfamiliar snarl creeping closer to my ears. My mother screams. A gunshot goes off and the snarl immediately ceases.
We make it into the tank. There are other families inside. I only recognize one of our neighbors. They live on the corner of my street. The family consists of a father and his daughter whose name is Autumn. Seeing Autumn in the tank comforts me, because now I’m not the only kid. Flashbacks of the first time I met her two years ago intrude my thoughts. Unlike everything else, I remember past interactions with Autumn like it was yesterday.
We went to different schools but rode the same train with our parents. Last year, while I was waiting on the train, Autumn dropped crayons on the railings and rats carried them away. She cried so loud on that train ride. I was annoyed and constantly asked my mom why she would not be quiet.
“Because she lost something she loved,” answered my mother, who before this day, was always a patient and soft-spoken woman.
I decided to let her borrow my box of crayons. Just to shut her up.
“Tank you,” said Autumn while accepting my offer.
“Just don’t cry no more, okay?” I said
She shook her head gently and rubbed her eye.
“What’s your name?” asked her thankful father.
“Otono. What’s her name?”
“This is my daughter Autumn. Thank you Otono.”
I smiled and walked back to my mom. The next thing I remember, the train stopped abruptly and the lights shut off.
Snapping back into my current situation, my father suggests I go speak to my little friend. Autumn and I just stare at each other. I wave. She doesn’t wave back. I get up and clumsily walk over to her. The moving tank must be running over some large objects, because it is very difficult to keep my balance.
“Do you have my crayons I let you only borrow?” I ask
Her dad puts down a book he’s reading by someone named Julio Cortazar and smiles at me.
“Nope.” Autumn answers.
“Autumn.” Says her father while lightly tapping her shoulder.
She takes a deep breath and pulls out my box of crayons. I’m so glad she has them. All the colors are still intact too.
A soldier gently tugs on my shoulder. He hands me a crumbled piece of paper. Autumn and I sit crisscross applesauce and begin to color.
Something hits on the tank from the outside. The soldiers snappishly get up and grab their weapons. Two of them open a hole in the ceiling. All I can see are their legs. All I can hear are their weapons going off. Autumn gets scared and starts to cry. She even accidently breaks the red crayon, which I’m slightly mad about. I turn to my mother who still has not stopped crying since we left home. Father cuddles mom up in his arms.
I move closer to Autumn and wrap my little arms around her tiny body.
We all sit there silently.
I begin comforting myself with the idea of going to the outer space place grandpa mentioned.
From the sounds of things, it seems like we barely have a chance of getting off my street.
To gunshots, unruly screams, and the soft breathing of Autumn, I close my eyes and rest.