Off Road

By Michael Staudt

The car motor stopped, and the gas tank icon blinked red. My family and I were in the middle of nowhere and had been off to California for our Fall break excursion.

“Dad, how come we aren’t moving?,” stated our son Jimmy, anxiously.

“The car is out of gas Jimmy. Without gas, we can’t move. Fiona, where’s my cell phone?”

“It’s in the camping bag. I’ll grab it for you”

Her smooth hands unzipped the dusty, grey bag and a plume of dust flew in my direction. Coughing, I cleared my throat as she handed me the cellular device.

With adrenaline running through my veins, I dialed our triple A insurance company.

“I am sorry, but you are not in a service zone. Please try again, thank you.” stated the calm computerized voice.

“Honey, we aren’t in a service zone! Do we still have the water bottles that I packed?”

“I’ll check!,” she responded, solicitously.

“Daddy, I think we should have brought our extra gas tanks,” Jimmy said, apprehensively.

“We’re out! I guess we drank them all on the way over”

“I don’t remember drinking all ten of them. Are the bottles still in the trunk?”

“No they’re all gone! It looks like someone salvaged them”

“Let me take a look”

The green LL Bean bag was unzipped with blade marks across the fabric. Clothes were scattered across the trunk of the vehicle as if they had been thrown about.

“Jimmy, did you take the clothes out of the bag on the way over?,” I demanded.

“No, why?”

“Just wondering. The clothing looks like it’s been taken from the bag”

“Let me look”

Jimmy’s crystal clear blue eyes became wide and pusillanimous. His small hands felt the blade marks, and his hands jerked back.

“Did you see anyone open up the trunk door when we stopped?”


“Well than how did this happen?,” whined Fiona.

The bushes in the distance rustled, and we turned around alarmed. Jimmy began to walk towards the bush.

“Jim get back here!”

“I just want to see what’s behind the bush”

I ran towards him and grabbed his wrist, but it was too late. A bear trap clasped around his ankle, and he screamed in agony.

Fiona dashed to the scene and began to sob. The blades sliced through the poor boy’s leg, and he collapsed onto the dark dirt. Lifting Jimmy off of the ground, Fiona took him from my arms and embraced him. He gasped and began to hyperventilate as he went into a state of shock. Her tears dropped like raindrops onto his bloodstained face.

Dashing to grab the bandages, I examined the bag and grabbed the coil of tattered cloth. Turning around I gasped and dropped the bundle of cloth. Jimmy and Fiona had vanished.

“Jimmy, Fiona where are you!” I desperately yelled. I dashed to the passenger’s seat to grab my portable phone. As I opened the door, the cellular device was gone. I screamed in frustration. Was I going mad? Was I insane or in shock from the previous incidents?

I heard footsteps behind me and I turned around ravenously. Whatever had stolen our items was going to pay for what they had done. With my fists up against my chest, I looked up onto the roof of our silver Toyota.

A crouched muscular man, holding my cell phone, stared at me, abnormally. I gazed into his eyes and saw calamitous, eternal, darkness. Slowly walking backwards, slowly, I felt a wooden bat smack me in the back of my head.

I regained consciousness in a small cavern with old blood stained beds surrounding me. The smell of rotting flesh was nauseating, and I regurgitated onto the dusty floor. I was chained on a hospital table, and I began to breathe heavily. I saw shadows of moving figures holding knives in their hands. A blazing fire filled with body parts was to the left of me.

As I groaned in panic, I yanked at the steel chains. I began to silently weep as I gazed at the ominous, figures. I closed my eyes and began to think of my fate. Terrifying thoughts filled my mind as I began to hyperventilate. A loud clang interrupted my thoughts, and I jolted upwards. The sound of a blade being unsheathed sounded across the spacious room.

A hunching figure approached me with a steak knife as he licked his chomps. I began to scream in fear as the demented being approached me. His breath smelled of devoured human flesh as he aligned the blade to my thigh.

In panic I fell unconscious as a slight pain vibrated through my body. I was about to become a meal for a family of cannibals.

Studying Effectively

By Amanda Bertsch


Finals are fast approaching, and many students are at a loss when it comes to studying effectively. These five strategies will take the stress out of the end of the semester.

  1. Get other work done: There’s nothing worse than scrambling to finish a final essay or an honors project instead of studying for that math exam. Aim to finish projects, essays, and hours logs before the week they’re due. This allows time for any projects that take longer than expected and also frees room for studying later on. Plus, final projects are often a significant portion of the semester grade. Procrastinating on these projects doesn’t just hurt study habits; it also damages the semester grade.
  2. Study with friends: Studying doesn’t have to be a solitary and boring endeavor. Set up a table with a few friends in a coffee shop and work through the material together. A group can quiz each other, explain difficult concepts, and compare notes. However, it’s important to not get caught up in socializing –study groups should actually study!
  3. Do a little every day: This can be easier said than done. The most effective way to study is a little at a time, over a period of several weeks, but finding consistent time and motivation every day can be tough. Try working with friends to keep each other accountable for material, ask family members to quiz you on certain days, or set goals far in advance. The more studying you can accomplish before finals week, the less stressful exams will be.
  4. Take personal time: Studying is important, yes, but so is mental health. Enjoy the holiday season! Once you reach a studying goal, reward yourself by going out with friends, watching a holiday movie, or doing whatever you like to do to unwind. Overstressing yourself leads to poorer exam performance, so make sure to have some fun and get plenty of sleep in the weeks before the exams.
  5. Review old materials: Try to make connections. Does the teacher favor multiple choice vocabulary? If so, it’s more important to associate words with general concepts than to memorize every detail. Does the teacher enjoy essay questions? Concept-based studying will help in these classes. Does the teacher provide word banks? If not, be sure you know all the vocabulary terms for the semester. Does the teacher tend to give open-ended problems or vocabulary questions? These questions will show the best way to study for a class and may give clues as to the content of the final, so that there are no surprises on test day.

Still concerned about upcoming finals? Check out our earlier articles on doing well in math, managing your time, and memorizing information.


By Sairachana Darira


What does it take to be grateful? Does one derive happiness from wealth, popularity, fame, abundance? These are questions my mind contemplated over Thanksgiving and the holiday season. And to find the answer to these inquiries, I looked around me. Many people decided to spend this holiday standing in endless lines, to shop for deals. There seemed to be this unquenchable thirst for more, more, and even more, which felt wrong. Thanksgiving is a holiday where we look within ourselves, to see what makes this life worthy, instead of looking outwards, at what we don’t have.

When one inquires, one experiments. So, I threw myself out into the world, and decided to take part of the shopping frenzy called Black Friday. I found myself in stores on Thursday night, instead of home. It was an authentic experience – yet I felt like I lost myself in this process. I kept on contemplating what I wanted, instead of seeing what I needed. And what I needed was what I already had. Continue reading

How to Avoid Confrontation at Thanksgiving Dinner: A Guide

By Amanda Bertsch

With the recent election, politics is bound to come up over the turkey this year. Struggling to cope with your relatives’ political choices? Looking to avoid the subject of Aunt Muriel’s political theories? Just plain sick of politics? Denobis has you covered with your last minute guide to the holidays. These five simple strategies are guaranteed to turn the conversation to safer subjects.

1. Announce that you’re going to school for 18th century artistic portrayals of Nigerian literature.

This is the time of year for many to get caught up on their family’s business, so don’t hold back! Memorize this absurd major and you’ll be sure to impress. Your grandparents will be too busy enumerating the ways you’ll fail to get a job and be a productive member of society to even ask how you voted. Plus, doesn’t it sound interesting?

2. Poison the cranberry sauce.

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a little family feuding, and what better way to do this than with a little sabotage? No one will think to bring up the election results when they’re wondering which dish you’ve targeted this year, and let’s face it, no one would notice the difference in the cranberry sauce anyway.

3. Hold the potatoes hostage.

Now potatoes, on the other hand, are the true star of any Thanksgiving table. At the beginning of the meal, assert dominance by grabbing the entire dish and holding it tightly above your head. Warn your family that if anyone mentions politics, you’ll smash the potatoes on the floor. At dessert, try the same strategy with the apple pie to give your family a sweet surprise.

4. Speak only in Sanskrit. 

Yes, Sanskrit, the ancient and dead language. No one will be able to argue with you if they can’t understand what you’re saying, and if they bring up politics, you can just speak louder. Feel those verb conjugations. Let them fill the room. Sanskrit has no word for partisan fighting.

5. Release a ton of bees.

If all else fails, just release a whole bunch of bees into the room. They’re good for the environment, you know.


Denobis regrets that all strategies are undertaken at the reader’s own risk.

Mountain Biking Finishes Season Strong

By James Nebrig


The TCP Mountain Biking team had a great final race down in the White Tanks Mountain Regional Park as they wrapped up their season.

348 racers competed in the dry desert sands as they represented their schools in fighting for the top spots in four divisions.  The racers representing TCP were seniors Eric Anderson and Kate DuBroy, juniors Toby Merz and Kim Zamora-Delgado, sophomores Kevin Anderson and Ethan Krafft, and freshman James Nebrig and Garrett Cummings.

Our sophomores led the way with Kevin Anderson in 3rd and Ethan Krafft in 12th.

Senior Eric Anderson also pulled off 12th place finish despite a flat tire!

This was the fifth and last race of the NICA season, so the racers now get to take part in the MBAA (Mountain Biking Association of Arizona) races during the spring.

Even though not all of our racers competed in this last race, all deserve equal praise. Good job to seniors Eric Anderson, Tyler Kuckuck, and Kate DuBroy; juniors Toby Merz, Kim Zamora-Delgado, Clayton Evans, and Max Baker; sophomores Ethan Krafft, Kevin Anderson, and Hudson Coggins; and freshmen Peyton Kuckuck, Garrett Cummings, and James Nebrig.

We also had some riders come in with impressive season overalls, with sophomores Kevin Anderson and Ethan Krafft in 5th and 7th, respectively, and senior Eric Anderson in 12th.

Coach Krafft’s daughter, Ellie Krafft, medaled in all 3 of her races! Congratulations to Ellie, and TCP looks forward to her joining the school team in a few years.

Finally, the team would like to thank its coaches Jonathan Krafft and Ed Marman, as well as the parent riders Mr. Anderson and Mrs. Nebrig for helping out all season.

The TCP Mountain Biking team would also like to thank their generous sponsors, without whom they would be unable to compete.  This year’s sponsors are High Gear Bike Shop, Patterson Orthodontics, Horizon Dental, Watters Garden Center, Yavapai Pediatrics, Better Deal Printing, Prescott Import Car Service, and Premier Eye Center.