William Barnwell

The Dungeon Below Bling- Bling High


What is the horror beneath BBHS? A mysterious young man at Bling-Bling High takes action when slogans like Excellence and High Standards mean nothing to the students, who must invent their own winning ways while trying to avoid being taken to the mysterous dungeon under the school, where students and teachers disappear almost without notice. Freeing the people inside the dungeon, and the school itself, is dependent on two students who stand up for what he and she believe is best for themselves. But can BBHS save itself?

The Dungeon Below Bling-Bling High


Bling, also used as bling-bling, refers to something attractive but cheap; or, rarely found, as in the sound that is produced from light reflected by a diamond.

Nicklebee. NCLB (Public Law 107-110) is the 2001 federal legislation which….is based on the belief that setting high expectations…can improve individual outcomes in education.

Dungeon (noun). A prison cell, often underground, especially beneath a castle.


Chapter 1. Four Years Prior

8:45 PM

There was a bleeding slice across his bare upper chest. Looked like a bright red pencil mark on black paper. Inside the old warehouse, De’Quan Johansson wiped the sweat off his brow. Tall and thin, the color of obsidian, he used to go to school at BBHS. He dropped out when the local Black Knights asked him to join. He would make lots of money, they said, selling crystal meth and cocaine. Make his name too. Girls all over him. He be kinghenry.

Didn’t quite work. His father kick him out. He slept in the streets when he could not find a girl to take him in. He had some cool left, but not a lot.

He missed his younger brother Donneel, who was at Seymour Middle School. That boy could run and throw a ball! And he wasn’t dumb either.

He did not see Donneel much anymore. But he was sure of one thing. He did not want Donneel caught in the same dumb thing he was caught in, and it looked like he was going to have to kill somebody to keep that from happening.

The gang member following him with his own wound was just outside. The door squeaked open. De’Quan was in one corner of the big and almost empty warehouse off Bedford and Quail. It was damp and smelled of oil and kerosene. The windows painted over in black. He wondered why they did that. Weren’t windows supposed to let in light?

“De’Quan?” said the voice he knew. It was Quikie Roe, almost the best of the gang in a knife fight. Had nearly gotten him a few minutes before when De’Quan wasn’t ready.

Quikie was quick as a snake, but not quite as quick as him, which was why Quikie now had a long gash on his own left leg. Quikie had a tattoo of a snake and a rose circling a sword on his left arm below the elbow. De’Quan had gone for the artery in Quikie’s leg and almost got it.

De’Quan remained silent, reckoning the distance to the rear doors and guessing what Quikie would do. If he could get Quikie to talk some more, make him think on his feet, maybe he could circle to the back and escape, say goodbye to Maureen and keep going to Memphis, maybe. Get cleaned up. Come back cool again.

He was caught in the warehouse because his required cash and sales drug quota had dropped way low. The gang knew where the cash was going and De’Quan knew they knew. Right up his nose. He was making money, but he was sniffing it, which was making his nose bleed, among other things.

He knew they were after him, but there was nothing else he could do. He had thought of the old warehouse as some last resort, some last place for a stand. He sure wasn’t going to give up. He knew what that would mean. Have the soles of his feet burned off with a clothes iron for starters. Donneel lost for another.

Quikie shouted at him. “De’Quan? U know u done bad, man. U know u don’t snort profits. What kind of businessman does that, works for no profit? The Chamber of Commerce don’t even do that. They do, they fold, drop out of the club, grow embarrassed, don’t get talked about anymore as up-and-comers-under-forty in the newspaper, man. U know that.”

Still silent, De’Quan was almost to the back door.

“Harris and LaShawn are waiting out back, De’Quan. Where u go, huh?”

Damn, thought De’Quan. He wasn’t going easy, though. That was just lucky what Quikie done to him already. He would finish him off and go out the front door where he come in.

“Yo, Quikie, what u waiting for, dog?” hollered De’Quan. “U already dead, same as me! Come on, I give u some more what u already got!”

Quikie chuckled low and menacing. “There u are. OK, let’s do this, u feeling so good. But I still get yo little brother. Blood money, u know, in return for what u did. He run as a mule, pay us back in ten years maybe. I hear he fast.”

De’Quan knew Quikie was the only one of the BK gang who could be after Donneel. Under BK gang rules, Quikie claimed the blood money. That was the way money recovered in a case like this. But blood money could be had by only one member, and that member had to fight De’Quan and live to get it. So if Quikie dead, Donneel was free.

It was evening. Summer, the sun just down. People be at home eatin’, feelin’ good. Ribs, hash, greens. Damn, he hungry, thought De’Quan.

As he moved around quiet as a spider, a stack of empty cardboard barrels caught his attention. They stood next to the rear door. Now he had a thought how to end this thing.

Quikie was circling toward De’Quan. He was bobbing and weaving. When he reached the backdoor, a cardboard barrel fell off a stack and almost hit him in the head. Quikie reacted to the barrel by raising his free hand to ward it off. De’Quan was right behind the barrel and stuck Quikie near the left kidney while his hands were up. There was a hard grunt.

But Quikie wasn’t out of it. He squatted and came in low and thrust up under the barrel where he thought De’Quan would be. De’Quan wheeled back. He could feel a burning in his stomach like somebody had thrown hot tea at him. He felt his stomach and his hand was wet.

But he did not hesitate. He rushed Quikie and swept his blade like a long scythe. He heard another grunt and saw Quikie stumble back from him. Blood pumping from his neck, and he had to use one hand to cover it.

“F**k u, man,” whispered Quikie and flipped his knife sideways at De’Quan. It quivered as it slid under the sternum and touched De’Quan’s heart.

“Shi…..well, at least…u ain‘t got…Donneel,” snorted De’Quan, gulping for air, as he slowly fell to the concrete floor of the warehouse.

“Maybe,” sighed Quikie, as he fell to one knee. “We see.”

Last thing De’Quan heard.


A contemporary thriller. See insert of part of Chapter 1.
When a group of over-the-hill entrepreneurs are working on at least one scheme a month, one of them has to work, right?
Barnwell has recently finished his ninth novel, a contemporary economic thriller, Practicing Resurrection, about a man who feels he was personally responsible for starting the Great Depression, and a family that has held the secret of an even bigger economic conspiracy dating back to 1913, but leading to bizarre murders in our time.
This novel is a prequel to the Blessing Papers series when an ancestor discovers a living metal that can destroy the world. The Blessing family vows to stop it.
With the loss of the ability to read, the world disintegrates. In the afterlife, in an Ireland of the future, a young man searches for reasons for the Fall and how to put it back together.
With all his doubts, how will Turly Vail/Blessing safely unlock the precious secret of the Blessing Papers?
Turly Blessing makes his way through arid valleys and the Lower Mountains, and his courage becomes the final test for the future of all things in the rise and fall of the sigma curve.
Young Adult Novel
In school, students, drugs, gangs and new challenges clash at an inner-city school under great pressure to do well. A strange narrator and a compelling outsider act together to either meet the challenge, or lose everything. I, Lord Several, an alt/punk rework of an earlier short story is being issued as a magazine serial as in the days of Charles Dickens. See first page of website with overview. See insert of Chapter 1.
Writing as a craft
Try this site for some of the ins and outs of writing fiction or nonfiction.

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