Archive for the ‘ Short ’ Category

The Doom Machine Review

Last year, during ELA (English Language Arts) in 6th grade, I wrote a book review for homework. After handing it in to my teacher, she corrected some mistakes and handed it back to me. She gave the class a chance to send their review to the Democrat and Chronicle or keep it. I chose to send mine to Democrat and Chronicle. Today, I found my review in the newspaper (yay!). I have posted the one from the newspaper’s website.

The following is taken from:

The Doom Machine by Mark Teague

Reviewed by Muxing Zhao, a student at Twelve Corners Middle School in Brighton

What would you do with a machine capable of getting you practically anywhere in space? Using it to research other planets is one thing, but takeover is another.

In Mark Teague’s The Doom Machine, Skreeps, the spidery residents of Skreepia, intend to use this very machine to invade Earth. They have to be stopped, but not by the military or even the U.S. Army Outer Space Division, but by four ordinary earthlings residing in Vern Hollow, 55 years before today.

Among the four are two kids, Jack Creedle, a juvenile delinquent who repairs cars and alien spacecraft, and Isadora Shumway, a smart, young scientist. The ship they were kidnapped onto is headed for Skreepia. But along the way, they sneak off the spaceship and onto the foreign planet Arboria. Filled with barren land, the planet looks sad and uninhabitable. Until the Skreeps came, it used to be covered with trees. There, they meet strange creatures and surprisingly, another human, claiming to be from the year 2207.

From there on, they venture to Skreepia, a planet that is in horrific condition. Danger lurks around every corner. Garbage is everywhere, even in orbit around the planet, causing garbage to frequently rocket back to the ground. However, the biggest problem of all is that the Skreeps are ready to dominate Earth.

I couldn’t force my hands to let go of this book. Non-stop action and adventure fill the book from beginning to end. It was almost impossible to stop reading. I just had to find out what was going to happen next.

For more about Student Book Reviews, call (585) 258-2721 or email Type “Book Review” in the subject field.

Reviews from students in grades three through eight can be mailed to Our Towns/Book Review, 55 Exchange Blvd., Rochester, NY 14614.

Please include a recent photo.



It was 2136, a Läep Yarek or 364 day year. Friday the 13th was coming on Halxins Kneit and the ghost star, Hokarius Frikes, will be crashing on the same day. Unidentified Paranormal Events were beginning to occur, especially in Zqi Leine, one of the numerous floating cities of the world. Recently, Holos were invented that could communicate, interact with its environment, and had a physical body of light, making it more realistic than ever. Dr. Rachfield Kanlyz created them the day before Halxins Kneit. Is this all just a coincidence?

“It’s coming!” screamed Alex as he rocketed out of bed.
His twin, Martha, woke up with a start. “Ow! That was loud!”
“Sorry,” Alex apologized. “It was my dream. There were weird dead things coming for us.”
“What? That’s the same dream I had!”
They heard their parents’ footsteps running hurriedly towards their room. The door opened. “What’s wrong?” asked Mom.
“It was my dream. I had a nightmare,” Alex replied.
“Oh, thank goodness. I thought you were in trouble.”
It was six-thirty. After breakfast, their parents left for work. The twins got to stay home because there was no school that day. Alex played video games and Martha started to read.
A ghost appeared in the game Alex was playing. The figure wasn’t very clear. It was misty. The phantom spoke in a haunting voice, “Returning…” It struck the screen.
“Darn! I died again!” said Alex angrily. “Wait a minute. Where’d that ghost come from? There aren’t supposed to be any ghosts in the game.”
The house suddenly shook. There was a boom in the backyard.
“What was that?” asked Martha nervously.
“I dunno. I’m gonna go check.” Alex ran to the window with a view of the backyard where the sound had come from. He found nothing.
“It’s nothing,” he called to Martha.
Martha came to the window. “That’s weird. There has to be something that caused that noise.”
A faint glimmer caught her eye. “What was that?”
Alex had noticed it too. He shrugged. Then he realized, “It’s a ghost star!
The grass began to die around the invisible shimmering ghost star. The dead grass formed a perfect circle.
“A ghost star doesn’t do that, I don’t think,” said Martha slowly as she stared out the window. Her voice was starting to quaver.
A line of light drew a star inside the circle. All of a sudden, the circle gave, creating a deep chasm of never-ending darkness. Dead creatures crawled out from the hole, moaning and groaning. The light of day turned into pitch-black dark and the sky churned with dark uncontrollable clouds. A clap of thunder sounded in the distance like a bomb. Lightning struck right into the abyss.
“This is just like our dream,” stated Alex.
They stood there, their eyes transfixed on the rotting creatures. The creatures were humans. One started for the window, staring at them with its black, lifeless eyes. Realization struck the twins. All of the beasts were dead humans, zombies, the living dead.
“Call the police!” Martha screamed.
They scrambled to the 3Dvid Voice Phone. Scared, they called for the police. An officer appeared above the Hologram Pad. “What happened?” he asked.
“Z-z-zomb-b-bies!” stuttered Martha.
A breath was released. “You prank callers! Get out of my business!” He thought they were lying, but of course, they weren’t.
“Good-bye.” The holographic representation of the officer disappeared.
“No,” whispered Martha, losing hope. “We’re going to die.”
“No we won’t,” said Alex confidently.
The window was made out of a special glass that couldn’t be broken. Then the “unbreakable” window shattered. Creatures poured in. “Come join us,” they moaned, looking directly at them.
They screamed and ran for the front door bursting through it, running as fast as their legs could carry them. The chase was on. Martha and Alex were fast but the dead were faster. There were only a few inches until the zombies got a hold of them and dragged them to their death. Their arms reached in front of them, trying to grab them.
To the sides of the road were houses. The zombies were bashing through them, destroying anything alive. Shrill screams sounded, breaking the calm silence of the night.
Cars veered sharply off the road and the creatures quickly broke into the car, looking for the helpless people. One lucky car went straight through the crowd of zombies, crushing hundreds of them. The car passed but there were no crushed zombies visible. Unfortunately, there were still thousands more, pouring out of the hole. Finally, a zombie got a hold onto Martha and pulled.
“Help!” she shrieked.
Alex faltered in his step, that let them catch up and he was down too. They were going to be killed.
“Hey!” shouted an anonymous person.
Alex looked up to get a glimpse at who it was but got quickly pounced on by a skeleton full of rotting flesh. Its breath was freezing cold. A stream of hot, blinding blue-white light streaked above Alex. It came so close that it scorched the hairs on the back of his neck. The zombie got whipped off of him. He was free! Slowly, he lifted himself up to his feet and started running towards the man who held the laser gun. The man holding the gun was Dr. Rachfield Kanlyz, their parents’ friend. The trigger on the gun was pulled and a shot blast the zombies above Martha with extreme accuracy. Soon the twins were back together with Dr. Kanlyz. Running like an Olympic gold medallist, they got to the professor’s house, slammed the metal door, and locked it with the holographic lock. A zombie slammed against the door uselessly.
“Thanks for saving us,” Alex said between breaths.
“Yeah. We would’ve been dead,” said Martha. She was pale and looked to be about to faint.
“It was no big deal. Well, to you probably not. You should be happy I was out there,” Dr. Kanlyz said calmly.
“Why were you outside?” Martha asked.
“I was testing the new Holo I made. It has several new features, including a physical body that is formed by light. If it were to punch you, you would feel it,” he said proudly.
Alex seemed a bit angry. “No time to brag, doctor.”
“You said that if it were to punch you, you would feel the effect?” Martha asked. She seemed to be deep in thought.
“Yes, that would be correct,” he said. “What are you thinking?”
“You think we could use them to get those dead guys to stop?”
“Ah! What a bright idea! Of course, the Holos are relatively new and could malfunction…” He trailed off. “But we could always give it a try.”
“Great, I think.”
“I’ll have to explain it first.”

A helmet was attached to their heads, a virtual reality helmet. It wasn’t really virtual reality. That’s because it was from the view of the Holo that they would shortly be transferred to. They could then control the Holo and fight the zombies without actually getting hurt. The transfer began.

The bright figures of Alex and Martha appeared on the street in front of the rampaging zombies, crashing through the streets, heading straight for them. They were prepared. Alex punched the first one he saw, actually making contact where its stomach used to be. It screeched and disintegrated. Dust fluttered to the ground and melted into it, returning to its underground home. More zombies tackled Alex and Martha. Martha fainted and disappeared. Alex quickly turned into the old-fashioned Holos that you could pass straight through. This resulted in the zombies accidentally hitting each other and disintegrating. He kept making more and more of the dead creatures fall to dust. A strike of lightning came out of nowhere and struck Alex. His figure blinked, and went out. Suddenly, they were back at the doctor’s house. Moaning zombies still roamed the streets.
“Did you get them to stop?” Dr. Kanlyz asked.
“A lot,” Alex replied sarcastically as he took off his Virtu Helmet.
His sister lay sleeping on a nearby couch. She woke up looking shaken. Still a bit drowsy, she asked, “What happened?”
“You fainted,” Alex said simply.
“Oh,” she said. She slowly became aware of her surroundings. “Whew! I thought we were still in that zombie nest. Did we win?”
“Of course not. It was two against a billion,” he scoffed, “What do you think?”
A crash sounded from the front entrance.
“What the?” the doctor said, startled.
Then they heard a rasping voice, “You won’t be getting away anytime soon.”
“They got in!” Dr. Kanlyz was so surprised that he shouted out loud. He struck his mouth. “Shoot!”
“I know where you are,” the zombie taunted.
They heard the sound of several pairs of feet stepping on the marble floor. Oddly, the sound of footsteps also came from upstairs, walking down the steps to the first floor.
“It’s my great-great-grandfather, Rizeimbor! I’ve been caring for him. How’s he coming down? He’s 178,” said the puzzled doctor.
Rizeimbor, as Dr. Kanlyz called him, appeared at the foot of the stairs. Lines of old age appeared all over his face and hands. He held a cane. In his free hand was a stick, a short stick. The zombie started for him. Then it froze as he spoke in a weakened voice,

“You have risen up from below the grounds,
Roamed the soil above like prowling hounds.
You have caused deaths,
You have helped none,
You have caused wrecks,
You have done wrong.
Stop your prowling,
Stop your moaning.
Return to ground,
Let peace be found.
Rosevf ierkand, traak deir lei fand.” (Magic arise, this is my last stand.)

The tip of the stick began to glow. Blinding white light lit up the night. The twins covered their eyes. All of a sudden, it came to an end. The light disappeared, along with Rizeimbor and the zombie. A stick lay on the ground, the one the doctors great-great-grandfather had held. No sounds came from outside. There was an eerie silence. Then Martha let out the breath she had been holding.
“What just happened?” Alex said silently, a bit dazed.
“I think he just made the zombies disappear,” said the wide-eyed Dr. Kanlyz.
“What’d he say at the end?” asked Martha, staring blankly at the empty space where Rizeimbor was just a few seconds ago.
“I dunno. Never heard of that language,” the doctor said slowly with a twinge of uneasiness in his voice. He walked over to the dropped stick and picked it up. A piece of paper was wrapped around it. It read simply, farewell. Tears began to form in his eyes. Light glinted on a teardrop as it fell from his eyes, splashing on the paper. He wiped his eyes with his sleeve. “You should head on home now. I think those dead guys are gone.”
“Okay,” said Alex, a bit unsure of what to do.
“Quickly please.”
The twins returned to the zombie cleansed roads and began walking back home. The disaster caused by them was still there. The storm had calmed down, reduced to a small breeze. The sun was beginning to lower into the distant countryside.
They reached home. Martha went to get some rest. The events of today were too much for her. Alex went to the back window. He looked at the green, healthy looking grass. There was a faint outline of a star on the grass. In the center…was grass.