Short Story: The Tower

01-09-16_8-43-24 PM

“A water game? Isn’t that a little far-fetched considering what we saw in the game trailer?” Makenna asked after watching yet another speculation video that Derek had found.

“It’s kind of a tradition within the community to find some sort of a hint that it’s going to be a water game,” Derek explained, “even though we know that it’s something that FIRST would never do.”

“Remind me again what FIRST is.”

“It’s the organization that puts on our robotics competition each year. They’re the ones who come up with what the game is going to be and organizes most of the events that we attend. FIRST is an abbreviation for ‘For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’.”

“I can’t believe that you can remember all that.”

“You just ‘accidentally memorize’ it, as our precalc teacher says.”

Makenna laughed. “You’re the only person I know who would go around quoting him.”

“Well, that’s what I’m here for. See you tomorrow!” Derek replied as he walked to his car.



The flash of lightning and boom of thunder made Makenna look up. A tower stretched into the sky, and on the top of it was an empty flagpole.

You need to get up there and capture the tower.

Makenna looked around, wondering where this voice was coming from.

01-09-16_8-36-47 PM

She looked back down and realized that there were now several obstacles in her path. The first was a large array of rocks that were all shapes and sizes. Makenna stepped up onto one, holding her arms out for balance.

Some of those rocks have sharp edges- if you fall, you’ll be done for. That’s why you should always wear close-toed shoes.

Always wearing close-toed shoes? Why was the voice repeating things that she had heard in robotics?

Makenna hopped down from the last rock. She turned around, meaning to smirk at the rocks in triumph, but they were gone.

Remember Gracious Professionalism. If you win, that’s great, but make sure that you treat your competitors with respect in your celebration. If you lose, make sure to congratulate the winners and not blame them for your loss. In the end, it’s not about winning or losing- it’s about learning new things and having fun.

Makenna turned around to face her next obstacle, which was a wall that looked low enough to step over. She walked up to it and was about to swing her leg over when the voice popped into her head again.

Before doing anything, make sure that you know exactly what the problem is. Look at it carefully, from all angles, and pay attention to all of the little details. Not noticing one little thing could result in a big mistake.

She put her foot back on the ground and knelt down so that her eyes were at the same level as the top of the wall. A row of small, conductive coils that she hadn’t noticed before was placed on top of the wall. If she had swung her leg over she probably would’ve gotten electrocuted.

Two heads are better than one. Look to your teammates and alliance members for help when you get stuck.

Then she saw someone who was too far away to recognize. They were making hand gestures, acting out a rectangle and a pushing motion. She turned back to the wall and noticed a seam around a section of the bricks. She pushed them and they moved to the other side of the wall, forming a space that was just tall enough to crawl through. She stood up when she reached the other side to face the final obstacle: a gate with a drawbridge in the upright position directly behind it.

Makenna observed the obstacle carefully. The gate would only open if it was pushed, but the drawbridge behind it was preventing it from being pushed open. There was a moat on either side of the bridge, but the murkiness of the water prevented her from being able to see what might be in it. She knew that the risk of what might happen if she swam across it made her work even harder to find a solution.

Then she heard the sound of a cannon behind her. She instinctively moved away from the sound and ducked. When she looked up, she saw that a boulder had been shot right through the place where she had been standing and that it had pushed the gate open, lowered the drawbridge, and weakened the tower.

01-09-16_8-21-31 PM

Makenna cautiously placed a foot and the bridge, and when it didn’t fall she crossed over it. Finally, she had reached the tower. She was about to look up at the top, where she knew that a flag was now displayed when a loud beeping noise distracted her…..


01-07-16_6-56-30 PM

Makenna opened her eyes and reached her arm out to turn off the alarm. She blinked a few times, her eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness of her room. Then she got out of bed and went downstairs to have breakfast before showering.

01-07-16_6-50-52 PM

As she ate, Makenna looked out the glass doors at the sky. It was weird, being up at this time on a Saturday, and the world looked a little different in this light. She didn’t dwell on it and instead ate her breakfast quickly. She didn’t want to keep Derek waiting when he came to pick her up.

01-07-16_7-58-35 PM

As she went through her mundane morning routine, Makenna thought about her dream. All of those statements were things that she had learned at the weekly robotics meetings, but none of them had really made sense to her until now. Having a situation to apply them to had helped her mind make sense out of them, and she was confident that she could use them to help the team.

01-07-16_5-56-30 PM

“Welcome to our high school’s 2016 robotics kickoff!” Ashley, the team’s captain, exclaimed. “Today we, along with many other teams across the globe, will find out what this year’s game is. Derek, is the Livestream set up?”

Derek gave her the thumbs up as he plugged one of the computers into a cord that would connect it to the projector. A countdown appeared on the screen.


“5…4…3…2…1!” the team counted down with the numbers. Everyone watched and listened attentively as the game was explained to them.

At the end of the Livestream, Makenna gasped. “You guys… all of the game elements were in a dream I had last night.”

Author’s Note: This was written for the monthly short-story contest on the Sims Forums. The theme for this month was “the countdown”. FIRST Robotics is an actual event where teams get a new “game” or challenge each year. They then have six weeks to design and build a robot for the game. After this, they are not allowed to touch the robot until it’s time for their competition(s). The teams on the winning alliance at each regional competition go on to compete at worlds in St. Louis, Missouri. To find out more about the FIRST organization, please click here to go to their official website. The events that take place in Makenna’s dream are based on this year’s game, which is called FIRST STRONGHOLD. You can find the trailer for the game here and the game reveal here.


12 thoughts on “Short Story: The Tower

  1. This was so much fun! I always find when you spend a lot of time thinking about something, it shows up in your dreams. So I loved to see that reflected… and not only reflected, but with the twist of precognition! Really awesome! And I hope you have a great time in this, since you’re really doing it! How fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you incorporated one of your hobbies into this story. It makes it carry a lot of meaning.

    The dream sequence was so interesting. It really felt like Makenna was living it, despite the limitations of The Sims. Awesome job!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good luck, Mak! The library where I work does a robotics program with our teens — not for competition or anything, but just teaching them the basics of robotics and programming and letting them do builds for fun. We got some pretty cool stuff through MakerSpaces grants (like a 3D printer to make robotics parts) and they’ve done some fun programming, like building mazes around the library to send their bots through! (We had a lot of fun the day our IT guy was testing his bot out in the Technical Services department and it kept getting stuck under the bookcarts, hahaha!)

    Dreams are the subconscious’ way of helping us work through the things that are on our mind — its a good thing Makenna remembered it all when she woke up! (I’m terrible about remembering my dreams…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That’s awesome that your library has a robotics program. Makenna’s dream was very fun to play and write and gave me the opportunity to introduce some other aspects of FIRST into the story as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this story! That dream sequence was so neat. I love the concept and practice of gracious professionalism. Are you competing in FIRST? If so, good luck!

    The dream also reminded me of the game Unraveled, which will be released in early Feb. All the puzzles in it are physics based! 🙂 And it’s also all about good relationships, which it sounds like your robotics team is all about, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I will be competing- this is my second year on the team. Gracious professionalism is one of the things that we learn, and was coined by Woodie Flowers. I remember seeing Unraveled last summer when EA revealed Get Together, and I agree that it looks pretty cool.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice job with this story! I liked the idea of the dream helping your main character make sense of it all and prepare herself for the competition 🙂 And I think this was a nice way to incorporate an interest of yours into the story ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hadn’t heard of a robotics team, but that sounds like fun! What a way to introduce us to it. I really enjoyed your story! I’m sure Makenna’s team will do well. I would love to see if they win the competition. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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