Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Contest First Place Winner, Men Among Monsters

Written and read by Anna Lee

Her screaming woke me but the guttural howling forced me out of my tent. 

Her cries were muffled by a wolfish gurgle as I entered the forest.

The moonlight cast a light through towering trees. A metallic scent cascaded down the mountain and settled in the mist. 

The smell frightened me, but the sight of the monster tearing and feasting on the women terrified me. 

The beast was hunched over the woman. His eyes raised and met mine. “Ezra, go back to the tent. It isn’t safe out here.” My father turned away, focusing his gaze again on his prey.

Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Contest Second Place Winner, Past Life

Written by Emily Barnes Read by Joe Fisk

The floorboards creek with weightless feet, explosions in the night. Pictures once face filled now empty spheres of white. Reflection in the looking glass, imageless and bare, this house was once a home now there’s a stranger living there.

 A chill rushes through the windows, shadows engulf the walls, hairs begin to stand as you peer out down the hall. One final lap to recheck all the locks, your breath escapes your body, inside you hear a knock. There stands a figure, one you know too well, the ghost of who you used to be, bidding thee farewell.

Multiplayer Halloween Video Games for a Virtual Party

Written by Lori May

With many Halloween festivities canceled for 2020 due to the global pandemic, many students have been disappointed to lose spooky activities they can share with friends this month. However, a virtual world allows for lots of online interaction – a skill gamers have been employing for decades! Thanks to Steam and voice chat services like Discord or Skype, friends can meet up and indulge in scary, interactive, Co-Op titles in lieu of gathering in person for the Halloween season. The games listed below are all currently available on Steam, and a few are accessible on PS4 or Xbox One for our console, classmates! Gather up a few of your friends, boot up one of these horror genre titles, and we can almost guarantee a fun blend of shrieks and laughter for your Halloween weekend! 

Phasmorphobia Phasmorphobia is one of the hottest video games of the 2020 Halloween season, and for great reason: It is incredibly addictive, challenging, often-terrifying Co-Op fun! Players take on the role as paranormal investigators, going to homes of various sizes and trying to identify exactly what supernatural thing is tormenting the location. There are many different monster types, all A.I. controlled, which have different traits and patterns, identifying behaviors, and weaknesses. For example, a Demon behaves differently than a Spirit, and you use those key traits to figure out which monster you are dealing with. Lights turn off, strange sounds abound, and your friends can randomly be killed in the dark. With gameplay for 2-6 players, Phasmorphobia offers a ghost-hunting multiplayer experience worthy of a virtual Halloween party, and the $13.99 price tag is very reasonable for the replay value. This title also is VR enabled, with cross-play for VR and non-VR, and is enjoying frequent updates in the Early Access program on Steam

In SilenceIn Silence is a multiplayer title released earlier this month, and since then, it has enjoyed a fast climb in popularity among gamers who love a horror-multiplayer blend. As with many of the video games on this list, In Silence employs the Us vs. One mechanic, and one player is assigned to be a horrific monster while the survivors try to either escape or hunt down the creature. One unique mechanic in In Silence, hinted by the name, is that the monster is blind! His “vision” is based entirely on sound, but if he hears you, he is incredibly fast and lethal. Players have Perks available, which allows you to further customize your character and playstyle, and if you cannot convince any friends to join you, there is a single-player gamemode option. Priced at $9.99 on Steam (currently discounted this week to $7.99), In Silence is a scary option for 2-6 players.

PacifyPacify released early in 2019, but frequent updates, new maps and new monsters have kept it high on the charts for horror Co-Op games. The modest price tag and shriek-inducing gameplay have also undoubtedly contributed to its success. In Pacify, there are several different scenarios to choose from (and another due, hopefully, before Halloween!), and players team up to defeat ghosts and other monsters. Playing as a paranormal crew, you investigate evil locations, being stalked by something in the shadows. With a pervasively creepy atmosphere, jump scares are almost inevitable, but players are always on a team vs. the A.I. monster, making it great for a cooperative Halloween party. Grab it on Steam for only $4.99 and gather in groups of 2-5 players.

Sign of SilenceSign of Silence is another new release horror title on Steam, with terrifying monsters and a team of intrepid explorers. In this title, you and your friends fill the roles of a group of pals who decided to go camping in the mountains one weekend – only to find themselves stranded and being hunted by things in the darkness. The maps are large, and you have several options for escape, IF you can work together and defeat the challenges of the mount forest. Sign of Silence is still developing, working out bugs that were reported at launch, so with some known framerate issues this title is better for gamers fortunate to have a hardy gaming rig. Please shop accordingly! The $14.99 price tag is competitive with the other games on this list, and 2-4 players can team up and try to escape the forest.
Dead by DaylightNo horror multiplayer list would be complete without DbD, a spooky title that arguably established and refined the Us vs. One subgenre of spooky Co-Op video games. Released back in 2016, Dead by Daylight has seen extensive licensing of famous Halloween and horror characters, including Michael Myers, Ghostface, and Freddy, all offered as DLC with their own killer mechanics and often a Survivor as well. Players choose between being the murderous Killer or a band of Survivors – but please note, if you want to team up with friends you’ll need to be Survivors for Co-Op mode, with a random Killer-player assigned to your game. The Survivors must repair generators to escape the map, and there are lots of locations both indoors and out. Each character has a “bloodweb” of Perks (abilities you can unlock and use during the match) and power-ups, and there is a halloween-specific event live for October. With a price tag of $19.99 for the base game, Dead by Daylight is a bit more of an investment than some of the other titles on this list, but it has proven longevity on Steam and an active community if you can’t find 2-4 friends willing to face a famous murder with you!

Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Contest Third Place Winner, Wölfin

Written by Seth Keown

Read by Joe Fisk

The full moon shines in the undergrowth puddles, shattered by your sprinting feet.  A guttural howl fills the air and resonates in your chest.  

It’s close.  

Your legs are burning, lungs heaving, hands numb.  You trip and fall, mouth full of decaying leaves.  Scramble on your hands and knees.  Claw at the dirt and kick your cramping legs.

The sound of crunching sticks and leaves rapidly approach.  Snarling and huffing fill the air behind you.  Two great lupine feet land on your back.  You feel hot frothy spit and dagger teeth on your neck.  

Inky clouds cover the silver moon.

Voting On Campus

Written by Joe Fisk

Adams County voter center and polling will be located in the FRCC Westminster Rocky Mountain Room, C0770. Voting will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 30, Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters should use entrance 2 and will exit the Rocky Mountain Room’s exterior doors. If voting in person, an ID is required, and if the ID shows an address, it must be from the state of Colorado. If unable to provide ID, you can still vote on a provisional ballot. If voters are looking for a site in Jefferson County, the closest voting site is at the Westminster City Park recreation center and is open only on Nov. 2 and 3.

What is Amendment B and what are its consequences?

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

An amendment is on the ballot this year that could affect many Colorado community resources, including all  FRCC campuses. It’s called Amendment B, and it centers around whether or not to repeal the Gallagher Amendment. To be clear, a “yes” vote is a vote to repeal the amendment, while a “no” vote means keeping Gallagher in place.  

A “yes” vote to repeal the Gallagher Amendment, an outdated attempt to lower taxes, will go a long way to building better communities in Colorado. The reality is that a 10 percent home value increase on a $300,000 home amounts to an increase of $175 in property taxes yearly. That’s $14.58 per month, or about the cost of Netflix. This amount, while nominal to many homeowners, adds up significantly multiplied over many residences. That increase in revenue, now more than ever, is something our communities need. In the face of greatly reduced sales tax revenue, our local governments are struggling to provide the same services most of us use and enjoy.

According to Wikipedia, “The Gallagher Amendment was an amendment to the Colorado Constitution enacted in 1982 concerning property tax. It set forth the guidelines in the Colorado Constitution for determining the actual value of property and the valuation for assessment of such property.”

In plain English, the Gallagher Amendment took the tax responsibility off of residential homeowners and shifted it more to business owners in a 45-55 ratio. This helped ease the property tax burden as home prices rose rapidly in Colorado, especially since 2012. 

However, the result of this is that many community resources remain underfunded year after year, as mill levies fail to pass and property taxes are often cut instead of increasing. The community resources range from public schools to community colleges to libraries to fire stations to disability services, just to name a few. With more tax money, Front Range could provide more affordable tuition to its students. In Colorado, residents are required to vote on any tax changes, and often vote against increased taxation. This creates a cascading effect, where services remain annually underfunded and are limited in the resources they can provide. 

What does a “yes” vote to repeal the Gallagher Amendment mean? This year particularly, it means that any service funded by the government won’t continue to have its budget slashed (aside from what already occurred at the beginning of fiscal year 2020 in July). Repealing the Gallagher Amendment also won’t raise property taxes. It will freeze them in place. This means they won’t be cut, whereas if the Amendment stays in place, next year property taxes may decrease by 18 percent. 

A “no” vote means that the Amendment will stay in place with its 45-55 ratio of property tax to businesses. In many rural communities, this causes the local government budgets (that rely on tax revenue) to stagnate as property tax assessments fall from year to year. In places where home prices are rising rapidly, like the Front Range, the taxes don’t fall, but they also don’t increase. This also leads to stagnation as community resources can’t deliver to their full potential. 

Top 7 Video Games for Halloween on Steam under $20

Written by Lori May

The spooky season is just around the corner, and given our pandemic-fueled world, more and more students have expressed frustration over the lack of activities to attend in person for the 2020 Halloween season. For gamers, there is a plethora of spooky, creepy, unnerving, or terrifying video games All Hallow’s Eve. But sorting through the extensive options on Steam is daunting to even the most spooky-loving PC gamer, so the following Top 7 list of recommendations are vetted, tested, and worthy of your consideration. As a bonus, we have limited our Top 7 list to titles that can be purchased for under $20, because no one needs to go broke for Halloween!

Amnesia: The Dark DescentNo Halloween, spooky, or horror video game recommendation list can be complete without the infamous, incredibly terrifying Amnesia series. With Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the franchise started, helping to make Frictional Games a household name among the Indie Dev community. Amnesia is a first-person horror experience that challenges the perceptions of the player and the character they control, twisting reality, adding sanity elements, and making you terrified of the dark. The storyline is compelling, and the admittedly dated graphics – this title released in 2010 – make it a friendly title for gamers who do not have the most upgraded PC. This title is suspenseful and alarming, even unsettling as you discover plot key points, and it is a lengthy game experience. Replay value is minimal once you know all the twists and turns, but never underestimate how fun it is to ambush a friend with this title and send them into the abyss unaware! Amnesia: The Dark Descent is available on Steam for $19.99.

Layers of FearFew titles can rival the psychological aspects present in Layers of Fear, which blends suspense, horror, perception, and delusions to create a rich, highly atmospheric world. Players fill the shoes of a tortured artist in his Victorian mansion and search through increasingly disturbing, distressing halls of his home to unlock clues about the plot – both the obvious themes, and the implicit meaning beneath the surface. Each playthrough differs slightly, and two people playing at the same time can end up with vastly different locations, occurrences, and endings. Released back in 2016, Layers of Fear continues to be one of the strongest, most popular (and award-receiving) horror titles on Steam, and the story-focused exploration leads to all kinds of psychedelic, horrific discoveries. Buy on Steam for $19.99.

OutlastOutlast has become a definitive example of the horror genre of video games and is notorious among the gaming community for its atmospheric, terrifying, engaging style of survival horror. Capitalizing on the popularity of an insane asylum for a location, players delve into a twisting, turning, tormenting experience as they take on the role of one very brave – or very foolish – journalist. Without any means of defense, players must learn quickly how to hide well, or how to unrun scores of horrific monsters inside the asylum. Outlast challenges perceptions, and the variety in enemies blend from deceptively normal but deadly to truly outrageous and monstrous. The developers claim that the scenes and stories within Outlast’s asylum are based on true stories and legends surrounding these increasingly well-known haunted locations, and the AAA-level graphics, audio, and score make the Outlast world come alive in compelling ways. Pick this one up on Steam for $19.99 and find out what all the hype is about!

PacifyPacify is one of the newer releases on this Top 7 list, and it has enjoyed numerous updates and improvements since its release in 2019. With a new map pending any day now in celebration of the Halloween season, Pacify is one of the few titles on this list that offers both a single-player and a multiplayer experience. Each map has a different scenario and monsters, forcing players to adapt to the specific elements of the monster in question, and figure out how to defeat the creature and escape the farm or the mansion. Full of suspense and some jump-scare moments, Pacify is an engaging experience that forces the players to investigate haunted locations and try to escape. There is a PvP option as well, not just Co-Op interaction as the paranormal team, allowing players to choose how they want to play. Priced at $4.99 on Steam, Pacify is one of our most affordable, versatile options for Halloween video games.

DarkwoodOriginally launched on KickStarter, Darkwood released on Steam back in 2017, and since then it has become a go-to classic for modern survival horror. Featuring a top-down view with an expansive world full of unspeakable horrors, Darkwood challenges players to face the things that go bump in the night while scrambling to balance survival needs and terror in the darkness. Part supply scavenger hunt, part cowering in a corner while things shuffle around you in the shadows, Darkwood gives no quarter – there are no quest markers, no helpful map navigation, and extremely limited resources. The world is randomly generated, so each playthrough is unique, and the NPCs in the world range from helpful and diabolical, and each are intriguingly weird. You can tailor your character with customization through perks, and by concocting potions and materials in the in-game crafting system, but as with most decisions in Darkwood, there can be dire consequences to your choices. Purchase on Steam for $14.99 and see how long you can stand the long nights.

Five Nights at Freddy’sFew horror video games have spawned quite the franchise that Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNaF) has enjoyed, but the original remains one of the most popular games of this style on Steam. With a surprisingly compelling storyline that follows FNaF into its sequels, the original experience is a showcase of jump scare terror, spooky atmosphere, and challenging muscle-memory mechanics. This title is great to play in the dark, especially if you want to be startled, and frequently. The cast of menacing robots are coming to get you, and each has its own dynamics and tells. Relying heavily on both audio and visual cues, FNaF lures you in, gets you hooked, and then (probably) wrecks your face repeatedly. There is a bit of a learning curve as you figure out how your enemies work, but once you know the gist of the game, the next step is to get faster and faster at operating the pizzeria controls after dark. Priced at $4.99 on Steam, Five Nights at Freddy’s is an inexpensive addition to your horror library. 

BIGFOOT BIGFOOT is a multiplayer survival horror title featuring the infamous creature of legend, taking place in the vast forest of a wilderness reserve. With many weather conditions and generous maps, players must use their wits and an arsenal of traps to try and find Bigfoot’s lair. Players can choose to go it alone if they wish, as BIGFOOT offers a single-player option, but the game is enhanced by the presence of an entire team of brave adventurers; up to four players can team-up and try not to become the prey in this game of mythical cat-and-mouse. With an active Discord community and frequent updates, BIGFOOT has more on the horizon, and players are eager to see what traps and maps could be in the works for later updates. You can pick up BIGFOOT on Steam for $15.99 and find out once and for all if you’re capable of catching this elusive missing link.

Halloween Flash Fiction Writing Contest Fourth Place Winner, The All-American Diner

Written and read by Luke Lopez

Disparate, desperate people crowd highway diners… I am among them and it is night. 

The dirt and dust from the desert just outside the door sticks to my wet skin. 

They stare at me from every dark, menacing corner in the joint. 

There’s one with spots… another with horns. 

Passing by, the waitress flicks her forked tongue out at me. 

The plump, bumpkin cop in the corner takes off his hat revealing the eye-stalks poking out from the crown of his head. 

I am far from home and with this crowd I don’t think I’ll be home any time soon.

Colorado Voter Resources for the 2020 Election

Written by Rhiana Bilderaya

Voting is important, but it can be hard to dive in without knowing much about the different amendments, candidates, and propositions on each ballot. If voting feels overwhelming, it can help to read about each candidate and amendment on the ballot. Here is a list of resources that break the 2020 Colorado ballot down into concise, readable information.

CPR News is one of the most comprehensive resources for this year’s ballot. Readers can click on each link to learn more about candidates, amendments, and propositions.

https://www.cpr.org/2020/10/12/vg-2020-colorado-voter-guide-november-election/

Colorado Sun has live updates with graphs on Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump approval and poll ratings.

Colorado Election 2020 Poll Tracker

Ballotpedia has a breakdown of what’s specific to the Colorado ballot this year and how the votes are split. They also explore campaign contributions.

https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_2020_ballot_measures

Ballotready will collect your address, then you can research the ballot by clicking on the “Research Ballot” link. Once you do this, there are links with information on every candidate for your state.

https://www.ballotready.org/

Administrators Respond to COVID-19

Written by Joe Fisk

Administrative positions at FRCC have had to work quickly in response to the pandemic, organizing events around health and safety protocol and tracking COVID-19 cases through FRCC COVID-19 Reporting

Stacey Hogan, FRCC’s associate vice president of Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness works with the pages, where any member of the FRCC community can report a case.

“Somebody can report for themselves,” said Hogan, “Or for a classmate, or if a faculty, or instructor had a student come to them and say they are symptomatic, been exposed, or have tested positive, they can submit it on behalf of a student. It can really be anybody about themselves or another member of the FRCC community. ”

Cathy Pellish, vice president of the FRCC Westminster campus and Dean of Instruction, Mathematics, English and Communication has seen and experienced administrative positions work fast in response to the pandemic.

“The biggest impact on employees in general, but more specifically those who are leading some of the administrative positions is the amount of work and then the pace at which we have to work.” said Pellish.

The increased workload and pace has been in response to legal, health and Department of Higher Education requirements. 

“We have to work so much more quickly because everything was changing rapidly in the spring,” said Pellish, “How do we respond to public health requirements? How do we respond to the Governor’s requirements? How do we respond to the Colorado Department of Higher Ed. Departments? So there is a lot of change there.” 

Many FRCC employees are now working remotely. Pellish has seen productivity despite the changes.

“I think what I’ve seen is incredible flexibility and creativity coming from employees,” said Pellish. “I have also seen and been very encouraged by how well everyone is able to work efficiently and productively from remote. Those are really good lessons in how we can continue business moving forward.”

Others in administrative positions, such as Darrick Silversmith, FRCC Westminster’s Student Involvement Coordinator have been challenged by other COVID-19 related changes. The decrease of on-campus traffic has changed Student Life’s process of hosting events.

“It’s been hard in the sense that our entire programming was affected,” said Silversmith. “Because generally, students were on campus, and we had face-to-face interaction with them. Now we’re in a situation where there’s not a lot of students on campus so we have to get the word out about our events either through virtual avenues like the Online Student Union or Instagram or text message.” 

Although some events have gone virtual due to the pandemic, Student Life has still been able to do some events on campus. The events have been outdoors and follow health and safety protocols with contact tracing.

“During Welcome Week, we actually got approval to do Welcome Waffles,” said Silversmith. “Which was a food truck event that lasted for two days. Then the following week, we did a grab-and-go situation where we purchased breakfast burritos and then brought them to campus and gave them out to students outside. A lot of our programming on campus has been outdoors with six-feet social distancing protocols and masks. We’ve also had to keep a list of who were serving for contact tracing. ” 

With rapid changes over the spring, summer and now fall semesters due to COVID-19, the FRCC community has been adapting and continuing education.

“Our faculty, staff and college leadership have done an incredible job with planning and having a scenario B, C, D, E and F,” said Hogan. “And really just doing their best to make this not only safe, but also academically productive and valuable time for our students. And I want to commend students, I have not been on campus a lot, but I’ve been talking with some folks that have. For the most part, we have folks following our guidelines related to wearing masks and social distancing.”

With registration for spring semester classes opening in November, FRCC will offer more on campus classes. However, the increase of on campus classes will be gradual, and real-time remote classes will still be offered.

“We’ll approach it a lot like fall, meaning that many of our classes will be what we call real-time remote,” said Pellish. “But we are going to increase the amount of classes held on campus. So it will be a real gradual increase in on-campus traffic. We will offer more in person face-to-face opportunities in the spring than we did the fall, but it won’t be fully back to normal. We just can’t commit to that right now.”


Information and updates on COVID-19, case reporting and guidelines can be found on the FRCC COVID-19 Updates Page.