Sophomore Ore places first in short story contest


Sophomore Italo Ore is the winner of Mrs. Settembrino’s annual short story contest.

Becton Regional High School sophomore Italo Ore placed first in a short story contest hosted by Mrs. Settembrino.

His writing piece, “Happy Go Lucky,”
 centers around a man who stumbles upon an ancient artifact that grants him supernatural powers. The main character’s newfound abilities allow him to complete dangerous tasks and take risks throughout the story, which forces him to have to face consequences. The tale concludes with a cliffhanger, allowing readers the chance to use their imagination to think of an ending, which was the young author’s intent when writing the story.

The English 10 CP student expressed much satisfaction when he had found out he won. In fact, due to his prior experience, he found it easy to write for the competition, and he hopes to continue writing and storytelling as he gets older.

Mrs. Settembrino, the teacher who established the short story contest, has been hosting it since 2011. The winner of the competition is selected based on certain criteria that students have to meet in their stories. “They need to use a certain amount of literary devices,” she explained. The English teacher recommended that when composing a writing piece, students must check their grammar and think outside the box.

Once the stories are submitted, Mrs. Settembrino selects one nominee from her three sophomore classes and allows her students to vote on whose narrative they feel is best written.

“Happy Go Lucky”

Gordon saw the exit chamber in the room across the hall. The only problem was that it was his only way out and had guards at the door. All of this trouble, breaking into the national bank, just for a single coin, he thought. I should’ve been paying more attention to what exactly the lords and his holiness himself were guarding. This took weeks of planning, and all I get is one measly coin for all my troubles. Gordon took out the coin and examined it, wondering what was so special about it. He quickly shoved it back into his pocket when a guard began approaching the room he was hiding in. In a flash, he had retreated into the corner of the room where he was well hidden by a shelf full of prohibited books that Gordon had deemed useless. Thanks to his quick thinking, the guard did not notice anything and was leaving the room. Perhaps he truly was god-blessed.

“Beeeep! Beeeep!” Gordon’s phone shrieked as it announced an AMBER alert. Of all the times I needed to be alerted about some missing kid… I even put it on do not disturb! He jumped out of his hiding place and reached for his taser that he carried just in case he was discovered and needed a quick getaway.

“What the- Hey! Get back here!” the guard ran back with the other two guards to detain Gordon. The thief aimed and fired, but the guard tripped just as the dart-like electrodes passed over him.

“Of all the rotten luck,” he muttered and jumped over the fallen guard. He sprinted through the hallway and crashed into the second guard who had come to help out. As quick as a flash, Gordon was up with a can of pepper spray as his second line of defense. He closed his eyes and a thick stream of chemicals erupted from the can.

“How’d you like that! Bet you weren’t expecting- Gah!” Gordon still had his finger on the trigger while waving the can around and had sprayed himself while he was celebrating.

“Unbelievable! You harmed yourself with your own strategy,” The guard cried out.

“I breathed it in,” Gordon coughed and hacked.

“W-Where are you…?!” the other guard had finally arrived, but Gordon’s stubborn finger was still on the trigger and had hit him full on.

“Hah! You’re not catching me!” The spray had finally been used up and thanks to furiously rubbing his eyes to remove the spray, Gordon was slowly recuperating his sight.

With freedom just a few yards away, he sprinted until he reached the door. He grabbed the handle and pulled, only to realize that it would not open no matter how much he pulled. One of them must have the key to this door, he realized, and with a heavy heart he relayed back and tackled the first guard he saw and began to frisk him.

“What kind of robber are you?” the guard yelped and managed to land a punch.

“Just give me the key to that door, and I’ll leave you all alone!” Gordon cried out as he pushed him away and went on to the second guard. Having already seen what the thief had done to the previous guard, he pulled out his stun gun, but it was too late.

“Stop! No! Ack! The door isn’t even locked! You were just pulling when all you had to do was push!” the poor guard admitted defeat, anything to make the desperate thief leave and stop all of the chaos. Gordon busted through the doors and kept running until his lungs were about to burst.

“That was the strangest encounter I’ve ever had while on a heist,” Gordon panted, finally stopping at his hideout to even his breathing. “This coin better be worth a ton of money,” he grumbled as he stepped inside his lair only to find a small army surrounding him.

“Freeze! Not a single step further! You are hereby detained as a prisoner of the royal court!” the officer barked, securing the target. “Take him to the dungeons lads!”

“How did this even happen? I made sure my hideout was completely obstructed from view!” Gordon wailed.

“You fool! The pepper spray you used is fluorescent! It was all over your hands and body! You literally left us a trail to follow!” the officer cried out triumphantly.

“Of all the rotten luck!” Gordon raged while he was dragged into the castle’s dankest dungeon room. He was left there in a dark room where he soon lost track of the time. As much as Gordon struggled to stay awake, he soon was not able to keep his eyes open…

“Bang!” The metal gate crashed against the stone wall, causing some debris to fall onto poor Gordon, who had been in a deep slumber from all of his excitement of his last escapade.

“Hey! I know I’m a prisoner and all but don’t slam the gate when I’m sleeping!” Gordon sprang out of his cot ready to bust himself free.

“Can you pipe down?” the stranger hissed, “I’m trying to free you and you’re shouting and causing all of this ruckus!”

“Oh, my bad..”

“Roger. And hurry up, you’re lucky that your distraction earlier helped me get away with my ‘little’ message to the King,” he chuckled to himself as he led Gordon through the winding passageways to the main entrance.

“What distraction?”

“When you were being chased by those guards, and when you got caught by the King’s Royal Army, I was able to sneak in the castle and let the Royals know exactly what I thought of them!”

“What did you d-”

“Boom!” An explosion answered Gordon’s question as he saw the royal villa in flames, a mass of wavering ruby scarves, hung out in the cold air of the morning.

“Look at the army go! This was never prepared for and now they don’t know what to do! If only I had that wretched jester’s coin! Things could have gone so much better or so much worse!” Roger cackled. By this time, Gordon was able to realize that Roger was broken, but curiosity got the better of him and so he cried out.

“What’s the jester’s coin?” he asked.

“It is a mysterious coin that appears completely normal to the naked eye.

“What’s so mysterious about it if it’s just like every other coin?” Gordon was intrigued.

“On the contrary, this coin dictates your life since the moment you hold it. For every decision, you are either absurdly lucky or awfully unlucky. I used to have it in my possession, but I lost it after I received too many unfortunate occurrences.” Gordon had to know if the coin he had stolen was indeed the mysterious artifact Roger had described. He pulled it out and immediately regretted his decision.

“Give me that!” Roger had immediately recognized the coin that had previously been in his possession. “I need that!”

“Never! I went to great lengths just to get this!” Gordon crowed, “I won’t just be handing this coin over, powers or not!”

“You fool! The coin has the power to change everything you thought wasn’t possible! It changed my life completely!” Roger screamed and took another running start to tackle Gordon. Gordon dashed back into the castle to escape his attacker. In the hallways of the castle, Gordon paused to get his bearings. As he leaned against the wall, he felt one of the bricks push in. A low rumble that quickly intensified began to fill the halls. When Gordon turned around he found that the ground beneath him was beginning to fall apart into a deep pit. He dashed away and quickly headed off into a different hallway direction so the fissure would not follow him.

“Jeez… what an old fashioned trap.” Gordon panted, full of adrenaline. But something’s off he thought. Then he realized that there wasn’t even the slightest sound to be heard. The deafening silence made him uncomfortable, so he hurried along.

“This path looks safe,” he reassured himself. “Gosh, how long does this go on anyway?”

“Click!” Gordon looked down just in time to see that he had stepped on a hidden pressure plate.

“This is… the same thing that happened earlier,” he yelped as the familiar rumbling sound returned, this time as a huge boulder rolling down on him. “Jeez. What truly basic traps!” Gordon squawked as he zoomed away as fast as his legs could carry him. He arrived at a room with huge, wooden, double doors, and deciding to take his chances inside, he opened the doors and quickly closed them from the inside. Panting, he turned around and squealed like a boy who had found 20 dollars on the sidewalk. However, Gordon had found more than just 20 dollars. The room he was in was the King’s treasure rooms where his riches were kept. In one corner, the sterling silver sparkled surreptitiously as it was overshadowed by a mountain of mile-high gold, rubies, and diamonds next to it. Gordon whipped out a bag and began stuffing everything that his hands could reach. When he was finally done, he dragged his haul out of the room and began to look for another exit.

He ran and ran until he almost turned into the corner full of the King’s Royal Army. I won’t be repeating that same mistake again! He chided himself and ducked into another room. Looking around he realized only too late that he was inside the King’s throne room. He turned around, only to see that the King and his army had barricaded themselves inside the room.

“Give it up. There’s no escape boy,” the King commanded harshly. Gordon looked around nervously, looking for anything to help him escape, but the only thing he had was his bag full of riches. “There is nothing for you to do, nowhere to go,” the King growled, “The only way you’ll be getting out is that window, which would lead to your untimely death as it is 12 stories up.”

“Then I’ll take that chance,” Gordon shattered through the window with the jester’s coin tightly clutched in his hand. He held on to the King’s banner and swung on it until his momentum let him land on the roof of a lower tower, and not a moment too soon, as the rope snapped from the strain of his weight. He pulled the rest of the rope, along with the banner that it was holding up, but a huge gust of wind caught the banner he was holding and blew him off the roof. He glided around the castle until the squall became a zephyr. Once again, gravity took hold, and Gordon was free-falling until the banner got caught on one of the flag poles on a balcony. Fearing his end was near, Gordon climbed up the rope with a desperate man’s strength until he lay down on the balcony finally having escaped his terrible nightmare. Gordon gasped when he realized that the coin in his hand had grown red-hot. No matter how much the coin burned his hand, Gordon kept an iron grip on the only reason he was still alive. He rested against the balcony railing to study the coin closer… Maybe it wasn’t as bad as that lunatic had claimed it was, Gordon considered. Then he felt the railing give way…