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Two Sample Stories

HeroicStories do not have to be about life-and-death struggles! In fact, most aren't. Heroes aren't just people who dive into rivers to save others: they're regular people who go out of their way to help someone else without expecting something in return. Or, as the first story below shows, they're very very busy people who still have time to help someone else!

Note this story (at 491 words) fits within the 500-word limit. It needed only a very light edit (the author carefully thought out the story before submitting it), and he made sure it was a story (that is, it has a beginning, middle, and end, and gets a clear point across of exactly how the event affected his life). That -- and carefully following the submission guidelines! -- is how to get a story accepted!

He Called it "Quits" (from the 13 May 99 issue)
By Fred T. Beeman
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

In 1978, my wife and I attended the Star Trek convention at the Regency Hotel in Denver, Colorado. Among the guests in attendance were Bruce Hyde ("Lt. Kevin Riley"), Jonathan Harris ("Dr. Smith" from "Lost in Space") and George "Mr. Sulu" Takei.

While in the men's room at one point during the convention, I was somewhat startled when George Takei entered. I knew he wasn't coming in to use the lavatory facilities, since he had them in his hotel room. I quickly figured out that he was "passing through" the restroom on his way to the men's exercise room, located next door.

I casually said, "What's up, George?"

He smiled and replied, "Two hours of exercise, every day! You never know when I'll be called upon for a part that requires strenuous physical activity." Those of us in the men's room asked if we could follow him into the exercise room to watch him work out, and he said, "Sure! Then I'll have someone to talk to!" We trailed him into the room and observed him going through his paces.

While he was grunting and straining against the various machines, I pulled out a pack of my cigarettes and politely asked, "Do you mind if I smoke?" (In 1978, one could smoke almost anywhere.)

Mr. Takei stopped his exercises, stared at me for a second (probably anticipating my reaction) and said, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do." I put my pack of cigarettes away.

For the next two hours, George Takei appeared to speak only to me, asking me questions about my smoking and saying, "You never saw anyone on board the Enterprise smoking." He explained that it wasn't because smoking was forbidden. It was due to the fact that by the 23rd Century, humans will have learned that smoking accomplishes no good and serves no needs.

The words from the "lecture" of TV's "Mr. Sulu" weighed heavily on my mind, but not because of what was said; it was because of who was saying it. For months afterward, I replayed our conversation in my mind and finally came to my senses. Later that year, I began a three-year effort to quit smoking, which was ultimately successful.

I again saw Mr. Takei at a 1981 Star Trek convention in Houston, Texas, and was flattered that even though he didn't remember my name, he did remember our conversation. I happily informed him that I had just completed my second year without cigarettes. He hugged me and congratulated me in front of a roomful of onlookers which included actor Walter "Chekov" Koenig.

George Takei did what no one else probably could do: He got me to quit smoking, and I've been free of the habit for almost 21 years. I was just one of his millions of fans, but he cared enough about just one person to go out of his way to try to save a life -- my life -- and he did.

Here's another that powerfully shows the idea: Tell it with power and a specific conclusion at the end that clearly expresses what was learned from the event. It is 478 words.

Matthew Sails (from June 29, 1999)
By Damon Guy
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England

About 10 years ago I taught a group of children to sail. They were bright, enthusiastic and as keen to enjoy life as any other child. All however, had a serious disability. Three were in wheelchairs, paralyzed from the waist down. One was nearly blind and had a deformity of his right arm. Two were able to walk with difficulty, afflicted with Cerebral palsy.

The seventh little boy I will never forget. I will call him Matthew. He too had cerebral palsy and was very badly afflicted. His hands and arms were both deformed from the disease and inactivity. His back was bent. His face was distorted and his legs did not work. Even his laughter was a tinkling cough, which racked his body. To speak, Matthew had the help of a letter board. Slowly, and with deliberate determination, he would point out with distorted hands, letter by letter, what he wanted to say. Sometimes he would try to talk. His voice was so distorted that even his constant caretaker could not understand most of his whispered growl. Yet he was always bright and cheerful and loved to try everything his classmates were doing, both in the boat and in the classroom.

I loved my time with them; they were always so cheerful and full of life. They learnt fast and most of all enjoyed every minute of the classes. But despite all that I was the one who learned the greatest lesson. One day the sailing centre was assailed by a storm. The wind howled and the rain came down in torrents. Rather than cancel the session we decided to work in a classroom. All the children joined in. Just like other children they all wanted to answer the questions I asked. It was important to get them all involved. I would ask questions of the quieter children to draw them out too.

Often they would loudly interrupt each other, trying to get an answer in before one of the others. But when Matthew wanted to answer a question it was different. All of a sudden they all quieted. Matthew whispered and gesticulated at his board. They waited. Matthew struggled with dogged persistence until the answer was spelled out. Then, if I did not understand, one of the other children would work with him until the answer was clear. When Matthew had answered his question the children were, almost magically, transformed back into a rabble of noisy and enthusiastic children.

All of these children were heroes in their own way. But the tolerance they afforded to Matthew with his most severe disabilities was inspirational. At just fourteen years old, these disabled children had learned to afford care, respect and help to someone less fortunate than themselves. If only the rest of the world were able to learn the same lessons. Bigotry, violence and intolerance would be gone.

Here's one more that caught so much attention, it was adapted into a story on TV.

See this page for a link to some of the most-recent stories. Ready to submit your own story? See the submission guidelines!

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