Writing by young people

This is my contribution to helping young writers get published.

Another outlet is Young Writer magazine: Young Writer, Warners Group, Fifth Floor, 31-32, Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JD.

Email: youngwriter@writersnews.co.uk

Website: www.youngwriter.org

Telephone: 0113 200 2929

Post your work here!

Stories from Alderman White school, Nottingham.

Summons of Death

By

Beth Heery

Y8

Alderman White School

 

I read the dreadful letter a third time, willing the words to change, to give me an escape from my terrible fate. My hands trembled as I turned to take one last look at the beloved cottage, the silent tears flowing down my frozen face. Up the steady slope I staggered, the immense emerald firs surrounding me. The last of the sun’s rays leaked through gaps in the tightly-packed forest. The wild wind wailed and screeched in my ears.. A wild shudder shook my body as I clutched my thin cape, to escape the biting cold. The immense castle loomed above me. My eyes widened as I clutched the rosary beads that hung from my icy neck. I trembled as I took a step towards the giant castle

The drawbridge lowered at my approach. I gazed over the tall stone walls that held so many mysteries. The airy courtyards surrounding the gigantic castle, enclosing whatever lay within. I entered through the doorway and there was no maid-servant or butler to guide me. My footsteps echoed through the deserted corridors. I soon stopped at a large oak door and took a deep, shaky breath. There I stood, nervously anticipating what awaited me.

The door creaked open, it’s rusty hinges screaming in protest. It was as if my blood had turned to ice.

She stood there, a look of anticipation on her pale face. Her dark, cold eyes swept over me. Black hair flowed down her back, past her waist, shimmering as she moved

 

 

 

Night Hunger

By

Duncan Cox

Y8

Alderman White School

 

I recoiled at the sight of the mangled corpse. I forced myself to look again and what I saw horrified me. The chest was ripped open, blood pring out like a scarlet river. The eyes stared, sightless, piercing me.

I struggled to get my phone, maybe I could get help? But there was no signal. I glanced around desperately but I could find no reassuring signs of life. What was going on? Who was the dead body? Where was I? The moon slid out from behind the black clouds, like a ghost, silent and remote.

 

Seconds later, I was dashing through the woods. Smashing through thickets and springing over bushes and fallen trees. Energy coursed through my veins. My head was crowded with thoughts as black as shadow..blood, flesh, the crunch of bone, evil things that controlled me, spurring me on.  A fox walked into my path but darted away as it saw me, its eyes wild in panic.

I soon reached a busy road, but as I attempted to hail the traffic, something strange occurred. The vehicles seemed to get out of control. A van ploughed into a road sign. Three other cars went skidding off the road, horns blaring.

What was wrong? Why did the drivers fear me?

I slipped down the verge, unable to understand what was happening until I saw my reflection in a little pool. It couldn’t be me. The wild, bestial features, the piercing, yellow eyes, the gaping mouth filled with razor teeth,  the thick tongue like a fat, black worm…

 

Rise of the Blood Moon

Orange suns and misty skies,

Blood sealed curses and unloyal ties,

Family trees as old as hell,

And distant promises too cold to tell

Shadows creep through the walls,

To eat at tables in hallowed halls,

The floorboards creek, invisible walker,

Cloaked in darkness, not much of a talker

Blood red nights and bright white lights,

Forces of darkness and forces of spite,

Lonely demons and creeping killers,

Blood curdling nights, lots of thrillers

The Blood Moon rises,

It’s time has come,

To spread the darkness,

For years to come.

By Natasha Baker

 

A Faerie Tale

By Charlie Alcock

Once upon a time there was a pawnbrokers shop. It lay on the very corner between Capricorn Street and Leeland Street in a sparsely populated corner of London. It wasn’t a very big pawnbrokers, and it didn’t have much custom. The paint was peeling from the sign at the top-‘North’s Pawnbrokers’-and the windows were grimy with the polluted air and months of not being scrubbed. Only just visible through the graffiti were the few measly items the most recent items, which had been pawned at least five months ago-an old, coffee-stained teddy bear, a moth-eaten lampshade, a couple of dirty cigarette lighters.

For the billionth time, Julian North wondered why he was still here. He had had enough of the grotty shop. He slumped down onto the dusty counter and sighed. A nineteen-year-old shouldn’t be doing this! He never got any customers any more. But, however illogically, he still hoped. He had given himself a month before he finally packed up and left. This was good, because if he had just given up a month before, there would be nothing to tell.

On the 19th June 2007 (he would never forget the date) at precisely 12:05 (or the time) the door opened with a jingle to let Julian know that this was the day he finally had a customer.

The customer looked a couple of years older than him, but not much, but his eyes had the look of someone who had seen too much. Those eyes flicked left, then right, and then left again, before finally settling on Julian. He jogged over to him and placed a large, rectangular book onto the counter.

Julian realised that he wasn’t here to buy-he was here to pawn.

Julian sighed and sat up. “And what, may I ask, is this?” he asked, entirely fairly.

The man tilted his head to one side. “Are you Julian North?” he asked.

Julian silently sighed. It was one of those ones. Very well.

“Yes. I assume you wish to pawn this?” Julian replied, leaning back in his chair.

The stranger leaned forward. “Not exactly, no,” he said hesitantly, “You see, as I said, this is an old book. A very old book. A book that dates back to before your great great grandfather was born, before your great great great great grandfather was born, even. It dates back to the very dawn of humankind.

It is also a very special book. There are no copies like it anywhere in the world. It is the only one of its kind left.

I don’t want much for it. All I want is something from your shop, anything, just an old lampshade or something will do. But I tell you this; if you want some money out of it, make sure you sell it within two days. That’s all you have, two days. On the second day, when you close, give it to somebody on the street for whatever they have in their pockets at the time. Make sure you give them this warning too.

Oh, and one more thing. Whatever you do, no matter what the circumstances, never open it. Do not open it. If you open it, you will regret it. Remember that. Don’t open it.”

And with that, the stranger walked over to the lampshade, grabbed it and was just walking out when Julian asked his name.

The stranger looked down, his expression forlorn, as if remembering something from long ago, something he wished to forget.

“Wesley” he replied, “Wesley Philips”

Then he left the shop, making the bell tinkle as he did so.

Julian sat there for a moment, reflecting on the bizarre conversation. Then he snapped out of his daze, and leaned over to look at the book.

It was a very big book, the biggest that Julian had ever seen. It was roughly half a metre by half a metre and the cover was made of wood with ornate carvings in it. The carvings were of little winged fairies, but their faces were grotesque, being slightly oval in shape with a pointed chin, with evil, smiling mouths and tiny fangs and malevolent eyes, seeming to mock him.

The title was in gold lettering and in a language that Julian couldn’t recognise. It took up most of the cover, yet there was no author.

Julian was entranced by the hypnotic design of the book. He stretched out his hand and touched a fairy carving. He could feel that this book was special merely from that, but quite how special he didn’t realise. For the moment he touched the carving, he began to hear whispers in his head. There were many whispers, all together, telling tales of sprites dancing in the night, of the brave but foolish setting out on vain quests, of poor souls lost forever to wander in the Faerie Realm.

Julian snatched his hand away, stood up and looked at it like it had just been bitten. Then he noticed that the voices had stopped. The book was just lying there on the counter, like a normal book.

Julian breathed out deeply. Perhaps he had just imagined it. He quickly extended a tentative finger and touched the book again, just for a second. He wasn’t expecting it to, but, sure enough, just for one second, the voices started again.

Julian swallowed and backed away from the book. Grabbing a pair of gloves, he put them on and picked up the book. It was lighter than he had thought, but there were no voices. He put it in the window, next to the teddy bear. Then slipping off the gloves, he went to buy himself a coke from the shop next to him.

He had to get rid of that book. He just hoped that somebody would actually want it first.

Wesley wandered down the deserted street to the left of the pawnbrokers, feeling a mixture of feelings, all jumbled up inside him at the same time.

He felt ecstatic, in fact more than that, because he had finally got rid of the book. He also felt sad for that Julian person, because he had just been given a terrible thing, and was obviously very confused. He was also extremely nervous, terrified even, that Julian wouldn’t get rid of it within two days.

The transformation would start, and Julian’s life would shatter.

Julian’s dreams were troubled the night after that. The voices came to plague him, all of them whispering stories, endless stories of Tam Lin, who was captured by the faeries but regained by his lover, of Tír na n’Óg, the land of eternal youth, and of the Faerie King and Queen, sitting in a lonely, echoing hall, never dying, doomed to live forever…

He blinked his eyes open. Today was the day he had to get rid of the book. Tomorrow, he must not have it.

A whole day had passed since Wesley Philips had given him the book. Yesterday he had simply placed the book in the shop window and waited. But that had gained nothing. Today was a time for drastic measures.

He flicked his eyes across to the bedside clock (Half past 8), yawned and got out of bed. Walking over to the door, his foot trod on something that felt like wood. His breathing accelerated as he heard the whispers start again in his head. Slowly, he looked down. The book was beneath his foot. He took it off, and stepped backwards in shock, sitting down on the bed.

He knew he had left it in the shop window, he just knew he had. Well, obviously, a little voice seemed to say to him, you didn’t. So hurry up and get to the shop.

Julian stood up, shook himself over, and stepped out of his bedroom door into his flat, avoiding the book on the way.

One hour later, Julian was sitting outside the pawnbrokers behind a table. A little sign was in front of it saying: Extremely rare antiquarian book for sale. Will accept any price.

The trouble was that there weren’t really many rare antiquarian book collectors in this area of London, so Julian spent the day watching passers by look at him sitting there and laugh at him. Even when he crossed out ‘for sale’ and changed it to ‘free’, nobody cared. By nine o’ clock he’d had enough. He started shouting.

“Could somebody please take this book?”

A few people jumped at that, and most moved on quickly. A few stared for a couple of seconds and then moved on.

It was only when a couple of drunks arrived and began laughing manically at him that he got the message and packed up. He began to unlock the door of the shop, but then he thought, I have to get rid of this thing.

So he turned around and, slightly stupidly, walked over to the drunks. He pressed the book into one of their hands and said, “Take it. Please take it,”

The drunk looked at his friends and laughed. He turned back and handed it to him. “I don’t want it,” he sneered, slurring his words.

Julian pressed it back. “Please take it. I have to get rid of it before tomorrow,”

Now the drunk was angry. “I don’t need your book. Go find someone else!” he snarled.

Julian, in a fit of madness, gave it back saying, “Take it! Please, just take it!”

This was the worst thing he could have done. The drunk fiercely pushed the book back into Julian’s grip, making him stagger, and then suddenly flung his fist into Julian’s face. Julian wasn’t prepared for it, and it snapped his head round at an awkward angle, and made him collapse in a pitiful heap on the ground, bleeding from his lip and his nose, out cold, with the book lying next to him.

Julian awoke to someone slapping his face. He opened his eyes. It was the early hours of the morning and there, in front of his eyes, was the face of Wesley Philips.

Julian groaned. “I didn’t get rid of it,” he mumbled.

Wesley pulled him up and said, “I know. We’ve got to hurry. Don’t worry, this trip will wake you up a bit. Now open the book.”

Julian reached out, too tired to argue, grasped the book and wrenched it open. A fierce yellow light burned out of it, like a beacon, and both Wesley and Julian flinched and looked away. There was a ferocious wind coming from the book, and Wesley had to shout to be heard.

“Touch the front page on three!” he shouted, the wind growing louder as he spoke, “One…two…THREE!”

They both placed their hands on the book, and as soon as they had, they vanished from this world into a swirling, bright vortex of blind terror.

Julian and Wesley crashed down onto a hard rock surface. The landing pummelled the breath out of them and they lay there gasping for a few moments before sitting up and observing their surroundings.

They were at the bottom of a valley made of rock. The sides sloped upwards towards an ink-black sky, with ravens perched on the top. Their cries of Caw, Caw penetrated the grim silence of the place they were in. Ragged, barren trees stood either side of them, the only sign of vegetation they could see.

Julian looked at Wesley, his mouth open. “What is this place?” he asked.

Wesley snorted. “Welcome to Fairyland” he said sarcastically.

Julian just gaped at him. “Be serious!”

“I am,” Wesley sighed. “Tír na n’Óg, Land of Eternal Youth, the Faerie Realm, call it what you will, but it’s still the same place.”

Julian looked around him. “I thought it was supposed to be, well, you know, all grassy and happy, with little winged people dancing around toadstools, people turning into frogs, handsome princes rescuing damsels, that kind of thing. Not this,” he said, gesturing around him.

“That was how it used to be,” replied Wesley.

Julian paused a moment, digesting this. “Hold on,” he began, “Are you saying you’ve been here bef-”

“C’mon, Julian. We need to get to the Faerie Palace quickly. I’ll talk to you on the way. Don’t forget the book,” Wesley interrupted, and indicated the book, which was next to Julian. Julian had completely forgotten about it. He reached out to pick it up when it began vibrating violently. Wesley wheeled round, frowning. “Oh, no” he whispered.

At that moment the book exploded open again, but this time the pages flicked to somewhere in the middle. On the pages was a glowing picture of a palace.

Then the wind began.

This time it was sucking them in. Julian grabbed hold of a tree, but Wesley just fell on his face and began sliding towards the book on his front. As he neared it, he was flung in the air and fell in to the picture, headfirst.

Julian watched all of this while clinging onto the tree. Now the wind grew stronger, and it picked him up so he was not on the ground. He tried to hold on, but his fingers were slipping. He tried resolutely to pull himself round the tree, but the wind gave such a ferocious tug that he couldn’t help himself. His fingers slid off and he flew backwards into the book, which slammed shut behind him.

The wind died down, and all was still in the valley. A bright light shone out from the book, then it, too, was gone.

Julian was surprised to find himself, in the same instant he had entered the book, hurled into another stone place. He hit the floor and groaned. The sound echoed. Puzzled by this, Julian opened his eyes and took in his new environment.

All around him were creatures that he thought didn’t exist. Most of them were fairies, but he spotted others, including little scuttling warty frog-like things he supposed were goblins, huge lumpy beasts with clubs that looked to him like trolls, the odd unicorn, and many others.

“Hi, Julian,” said a voice. Julian looked behind him, and there was Wesley and the book. He came over and helped Julian to his feet. Still reeling with the shock of seeing animals he never thought existed, he tripped over his words as he spoke.

“W-w-what is this p-place?” he asked Wesley. He was about to answer when a cold woman’s voice came from in front of Julian.

“You are in our palace”

Wesley stepped out the way to reveal two people, a man and a woman, sitting on two plain thrones made out of the same stone as everything else.

The two people both wore unadorned crowns of granite. Their skin was as pale as the moon, and they both wore simple robes of deep scarlet. They both had jet black hair, and the woman’s tumbled down her back while the man’s only reached his shoulders. They were both beautiful, but it was a cold beauty, their faces uncaring and resigned.

“Julian,” Wesley proclaimed, “Meet the Faerie King and Queen”

Julian just stared at them in a state of shock. All of this was too much for him to take in, and he collapsed, his legs giving way beneath him, but still in consciousness. He tried to crawl away, his eyes still fixed on the King and Queen, but their stare held him, and he found he could not move.

The king turned his head to Wesley. “Who is this other boy?” he asked quietly.

“I passed the book on to him, and he did not get rid of it within two days, your majesties,” replied Wesley, “So we came to see you.”

Then he spat in front of them.

At this a great murmuring went up around them. Evidently the creatures didn’t approve of this behaviour.

The Queen raised a hand for silence, and Julian found he was able to get up again. He jogged over to Wesley, and stood beside him.

“Ah,” smiled the Queen, mockingly, “You wanted to save him.”

The creatures around them began to laugh, but the Queen silenced them with her hand again.

Wesley stared the Queen in the eye and simply said, “Yes.”

Julian turned and looked at Wesley. “Save me from what?” he whispered, his voice trembling.

The king sneered, “Yes, tell him, Wesley. Tell him of the book. Tell us all a ‘Faerie Tale’”

So Wesley looked at Julian, and, in a loud voice, he began.

“Once upon a time,” he said, “There was a Realm of Faeries, creatures that could not die. There were sprites, trolls, goblins and unicorns, as well as many others. They had a King and Queen, too.

“Their world existed next to our own, just within grasping but always out of reach. Some people accidentally managed to find their way through to the Faerie Realm, but they so loved the beauty of it that they wanted never to return.

“The King and Queen noticed that in our world, there was death. They laughed at the humans, and how fragile they were. But soon they came to realise that death was a blessing.

“For if you live forever, you cannot die. The years stretch ahead of you, and it seems terrifying. Certainly, it gives you time to do as much as you want to do, but once you have done everything, there is nothing left. Ever.

“And worlds die as well. The King and Queen found this out when theirs began degenerating. And if you live forever, you live on when your world dies as well. You drift in the void that is left forever, only the immortal part of you living. Mindless, immortal husks, drifting in nothingness for eternity.

“First, the Faeries built a huge palace and brought the entire population inside it to keep them safe from the dying world outside.

“Then the Faeries started stealing babies from their cots and replacing them with changelings in order to gain their mortality. But as the years went by, folklore began to die out, and there would be a risk that, in searching for the babies, their world would be discovered and plundered by the foolish humans. So they made the book.

“The book will be passed from person to person, as these things are, and if the owner has it long enough, the Faerie-spirits inside the book come out and steal their mortality. However, if the book is given away within two days, the amount of time the Faerie-spirits inside it take to get used to the owner, they become very confused and it takes them longer to figure out where they are. If this continues happening, they will become so confused that they will eventually have to return to the Faerie Realm and start again.”

Wesley finished the tale and turned back to the King and Queen. “How long is left until your world dies?” he asked, scornfully.

“Not long,” the Queen replied sadly, “The valley and the palace are all that is left.”

Now Julian spoke to them for the first time. “And how many mortalities have you gained?”

The King looked at Julian, surprised he had spoken. “Many changelings have been given and babies taken, but only one gained using the book.” Then he looked across at Wesley.

Julian stepped back and looked at him too. So Wesley was immortal?

Wesley sighed. “They took my baby sister. They snatched her from her cradle at midnight.” Wesley gave a cold laugh. “So I went looking for her. One year I searched, and not a trace I found. Then I discovered the book in a marsh. I think someone threw it there when they found out about it, but I didn’t know then. I waded out and picked it up. The only reason I didn’t give it to anybody else was because I didn’t want anybody else to suffer. I only gave it to you when the voices, the whispers, overwhelmed me.”

“How long have you lived?” asked Julian.

“320 years,” came the reply.

Now the Faerie King stood up. “Enough! Falim, take them to the dungeons.” he barked.

A troll stepped forward and wrenched Julian up by his collar in one hand and grasped Wesley in the other.

“No!” Wesley shouted. “We want our mortality back!”

The Queen held up her hand a third time and said “Stop, Falim. I have a wonderful idea. Let’s make them fight for their mortality!”

Falim let out a bellowing laugh, provoking excited chatter from the Faeries around them. He dropped Julian and Wesley and stepped back as two swords swirled into existence in their hands.

The Queen stood up and began to talk.

“Now, you are both immortal.”

This was news to Julian, but he had had the book too long.

“Therefore nobody will die.”

There were boos from the other Faeries.

“But there will be considerable pain involved.”

A cheer.

“The winner will be determined by who strikes a blow that would have killed the other. Now, begin!”

The two stood up. Straight away, Wesley advanced on Julian. He brought the sword up and attacked, but Julian parried the blow easily. Wesley continued the onslaught with vicious linked attacks, one after the other. All Julian could do at the moment was parry.

That lasted for a matter of seconds, then Wesley launched such a fierce blow that it knocked Julian to the floor when he parried.

When Julian looked at Wesley, he was surprised to see tears streaming down his face. “Why are you going along with this?” he hissed.

“I’m sorry, Julian,” Wesley sighed, “I’ve had enough of living!”

Then he stabbed down, but Julian rolled aside and began his attack. He swung the blade down at Wesley, but Wesley easily brought his own up to defend himself. “I’ve had more experience with a sword than you,” he said, and punched Julian in the mouth. Julian reeled back, clutching his lip. Wesley lunged again, but Julian parried and slid his blade underneath Wesley’s to pierce his right lung. Wesley gasped and struggled for breath. A tear trickled down Julian’s cheek as he pulled the blade out and let Wesley collapse on the floor, still struggling for breath and unable to speak. He leaned down to him, the tears flowing freely now.

“I’m sorry,” he sobbed “I’m so, so sorry, Wesley.”

Then he clutched him to his chest as the bloodstain around them grew.

After a couple of minutes he stood up and looked at the King and Queen, fury in his eyes.

“This is for Wesley and his sister, you cruel, heartless monsters,” he said through gritted teeth.

Then he turned to the book and stabbed it.

A screaming ensued from the book and it started vibrating violently. The sword became red hot and Julian released it with a gasp. Then he turned to the King and Queen, smiling as he registered the looks of shock on their pale faces.

“It’s over,” he said, and then the book exploded with a flash of light so bright it lit up the whole hall.

When the light subsided, Julian and Wesley had disappeared. The Queen looked across at the King. “Can we make another?” she asked.

The King looked back at her. “Would you want to after all the pain this one has caused?” he replied.

Julian and Wesley reappeared in the very place they had left. Wesley looked up at Julian, happiness in his eyes and a smile on his face.

“Thank you,” he whispered, and then he breathed out, and was dead.

After Julian had cried all he needed to cry, he paid for a small funeral to take place in a churchyard, just him and a vicar. Julian thought it was too short a time to convey such a long life, but there it was.

Eventually the ground was ready for a gravestone, and Julian chose to have it simply engraved:

Here lies Wesley Philips.

He lived an unfair life,

and welcomed death when it came.

May he be happy, wherever he is now.

Julian sold the pawnbrokers, and went to university to study mythology. So, in a bizarre way, he lived happily ever after.

Addicted

By Charlie Alcock

Gordon James tipped back his hand and let the small, white pills drop into his mouth. He picked up his can of beer and washed them down. In a while they would take effect. He was addicted to that sensation, the feeling of being apart from the universe, separate from everything. He snorted. He was becoming a slave to these drugs!

He was almost broke, reduced to theft and selling stuff on the black market, or eBay. And every penny he got he spent on these drugs (or beer). He knew that the police knew about him. They would probably come for him soon. But he wouldn’t tell where he got the drugs. Not ever.

“OK, you all ready?” Inspector Kilbride asked the team. They nodded solemnly. They’d been monitoring this Gordon James for months, and they were at the flat where he lived, ready to arrest him.

“Good. Let’s bust him,” Kilbride said earnestly. He held his gun up and kicked open the door. James was just sitting there, on the couch, staring at him, drunk. “So,” he stated, slurring his words, “You’ve come forme, then. I’m not coming quietly.”

With that, he pulled out a gun from underneath him and pointed it at Kilbride.

Kilbride stared at it and raised his own weapon, aiming it at James’s forehead. “You don’t want to do that, James. Come with me and you’ll live. After all, would you really want to become a killer?”

James smirked. “No. I don’t. You’ll be a waste.”

Kilbride breathed out. “Good. Now, I’m placing you under arrest for armed robbery, handling stolen goods and carrying an unauthorised weapon. We know about those drugs, we were watching the flat. What are they? Where did you get them from?” he questioned.

James laughed. “That would be telling,” he chuckled. He raised the gun, and fired.

Kilbride opened his eyes. So he was still alive. That was something, at least. But whom had he fired at? Then he looked down, and gasped.

Gordon James had shot himself in the head. His body was on the carpet, in a growing pool of blood. The entrance wound was wide open and Kilbride could see the inside of his head. Kilbride retched, turned round, and violently threw up over the carpet. This was not supposed to happen! Kilbride had never seen anyone die before, in all of his fifteen years in the force. This was worse than in the films, because it was so unbelievably, shockingly, and hard-hittingly real.

Kilbride looked up at the rest of his team. It wasn’t good to let them know your weaknesses. However, some of them looked a bit queasy, too. “I…I need some air,” he gasped.

He stepped outside and vomited again. It was the classic ‘I’d rather die than tell you anything’ death. This needed to be investigated and cleared up fast. It was the biggest thing Kilbride had come up against. Drugs. The scum of the earth. Kilbride had lost his father to alcohol two years ago. Since the he had vowed to do all he could to stamp out drugs from London completely. But Kilbride had a feeling that these were no ordinary drugs. Who kills themselves over some pills, anyway? Something was beginning, and a man was already dead. They needed more leads.

Kilbride straightened up and turned on his walkie-talkie. “Sir? It’s Kilbride,” he said sharply.

The superintendent replied almost immediately. “Kilbride? What’s to report?”

Kilbride filled him in on the details. The superintendent was shocked. “Dead? How can he be dead?”

“He shot himself in the head, sir. He did that rather than tell us about the drugs.”

“Right. Right,” the superintendent replied, “I’ll send some people round right away. This is serious.” Then he turned off the walkie-talkie.

“OK, how are you doing in there?” Kilbride called to his team. There was no reply. “Guys?” he called again, and, after there was no reply again, he stepped in to check on them. He was shocked at what he saw.

He began breathing faster. “Oh my…but that’s impossible…how could that be…oh…oh no…”

And with that, he fainted in front of the disembowelled bodies of his team-mates, a broken window, and a pool of blood where James’s body had been.

“Kilbride! Kilbride! Wake up! Please wake up! Oh no, he’s dead like the others. Such a loss…”

Kilbride groaned and opened his eyes. He saw the face of Jones, a paramedic, up above him. “I’m not dead,” he murmured, “I passed out. I’ll be fine.” Then it all came flooding back to him. The attack. The deaths. The disembowelled bodies of his colleagues. He sat up, and lay back down when he saw that they were still there. “Why did you try and wake me first?” he asked Jones.

Jones snorted. “You weren’t disembowelled, sir.”

“Good point, now get the forensic team up here ASAP,” Kilbride ordered. Jones nodded and stepped over Kilbride, grimacing at the gruesome spectacle. Kilbride stood up and followed, feeling nauseous. “I’m going to take a look at the rest of the flat,” Kilbride said to Jones, “Don’t wait for me.”

And with that, he gingerly stepped over the bodies and the blood and into the next room.

A grotesque, half-human creature sped along an alleyway, near to James’s flat. The left side of the creature’s face was half red and jelly-like, but the right was half normal, and the half red part was throbbing madly. Most of it was like the face. The left hand had three deadly claws on it. The right arm, a space around it, and the right leg were the only parts that were still remotely human and clothed (although there were claws on the right hand too). But none of it was human, really. It was dead.

The thing turned a corner and found itself face to face with a stray cat. The cat hissed and its fur stood on end as soon as it saw the thing. The thing roared at it with a harsh, guttural roar and ripped its claws along its belly, spilling blood and guts onto the pavement. The hissing stopped, and the creature fed with a hole that resembled a mouth. It heard something behind it, and rounded, roaring. But it was just a can falling off a bin. The creature resumed feeding and, when it was done, wiped its mouth with its human arm. The sleeve on the arm was the top that Gordon James wore when he shot himself, and the face was also James’s own.

James’s bedroom was the vilest bedroom that Kilbride had ever stepped into. The powerful stench was what hit him first. The room reeked of alcohol, and there were as many cans of beer littering the floor as there were ants in an anthill. The bed had a nasty yellow stain on the sheet that smelt strangely like urine. There was a laptop on a desk by the wall, which was switched on. Kilbride walked over to it and looked at the screen. James was selling a computer on eBay. It was probably one of the stolen ones, so Kilbride cancelled the sale.

Then he decided to have a look around. He went over to the bed and lifted up the mattress. Underneath there was an average-sized gym bag. Kilbride picked it up and zipped it open. It was full of those strange drugs. Kilbride sighed and rummaged around in the bag in case there was anything else. Sure enough, there was a small card in there that had a phone number and an address on it, handwritten. Kilbride left the room with the bag and the card. He put the bag down by the door and asked a policeman if the drugs could be taken for analysis. The policeman nodded and Kilbride looked down at the card.

33 Garnsfield Road

Catford

London

L43 6FS

Phone: 927 3045

Was that the place that held the key to all this mess? Kilbride needed to visit there, and fast. He strolled over to the door and told the person there that he was going out. Then he exited the flat.

The creature stopped feeding for a moment. It straightened, as if listening to something. Then it bounded off, leaving the half-eaten, bloody corpse of the cat behind it. It had to answer its master’s call.

Kilbride steered the police car into Garnsfield Road. Number 33 was pretty much in the middle.

Garnsfield Road as a whole was a sorry sight. The houses were deserted, the windows shattered, the doors broken into. Not that there was much taking anyway.

But number 33 seemed to be an exception. It looked…different. The door was intact, and it just didn’t look as bad as the others, even though the windows were broken.

Kilbride drove up to it and opened the car door. He got out, shut the door and locked it, and walked up to the front door. He had a look around and saw a trail of red footprints. He squatted down and looked closer at them. They were the colour of blood, and they seemed to be pulsating.

Kilbride straightened, feeling nervous, and pushed on the door slowly. It opened without resistance, which made Kilbride even more anxious than he already was. He opened the door wider, and entered 33 Garnsfield Road.

It was like entering another world. The corridor that lay ahead of him was metal, and there were three doors on both of the walls. At the end of the passageway the corridor forked in two and there was a door there, with the words ‘Storage Bay 7’ on it. Kilbride started walking slowly up the passage. As he’d expected from the door at the end, the six first doors were storage bays 1-6. But what was being stored in them? Kilbride walked over to number 1 and tentatively pulled the door open.

Cold air streamed out into his face. He shut his eyes and waited for it to stop. When it had, he opened them again.

The room was filled with shelves, and on the shelves were boxes. They had no writing on, so Kilbride opened one to see what was inside.

The boxes were all full to the brim with the drugs.

The creature had arrived at Garnsfield Road before Kilbride, and now it lay dormant with the others. Creatures like him, dead but alive, blood creatures. They would soon be activated, and then the plan would become reality.

James was one of three who were mostly red. The rest looked normal. The drug had got into them and killed them. Their blood, however, had only been poisoned by it, and it lived on as a separate life form. James had shot himself, so the blood had spilled over him, attaching itself to the body.They could not be killed by bullets, or knives, or even by being hacked apart. The blood lived on, no matter what.

Soon they would be activated, and the world would fall.

Meanwhile, a billion miles away…

A man kneeled in front of the darkness. He spoke to it: “They are nearly ready. But there is one who interferes, who has entered the sleeping place of the blood creatures,”

The darkness replied, I know of him. He has a part of the mind of the Guardians inside him. I have always suspected it was this way, ever since I turned against them and slayed them all, aeons ago.

The man looked up at it. “I shall bring him to you”

Kilbride carried on looking in the 7 storage bays, and every one was full of the drugs. 33 Garnsfield Road seemed to be just a big storage cupboard, really. Still, he carried on to the left fork. There was nothing in there except more drugs, but there was also a flight of stairs with a sign pointing up them, saying, ‘Cryonics Area’.

Kilbride frowned. Cryonics was freezing dead people, in the hope that they could be revived later. Was this what it was all about? Cryonics? Kilbride began to climb the stairs.

At the top he found a door saying ‘Cryonics Area. Do NOT enter’. Kilbride pushed open the door to be met with a terrifying sight.

The room had eight glass cubicles along the walls. Inside them there were eight people with huge claws. Three of them were half-covered in a red, jelly-like substance, not unlike the footprints he had seen outside the door. One of them was Gordon James. He was the most red. But that couldn’t be possible! James had shot himself in the head!

Kilbride began to back out the door, but a metallic voice began repeating the words, ‘Intruder. Intruder. Intruder. Intruder…’

Then the glass cases swung open, and the frozen people, howling with rage, darted out. Kilbride pulled out his gun and shot James in the left lung. He reeled, but he did not stop. The red jelly came crawling out of the wound, spreading itself out over James, like a disgusting shield. Then Kilbride twigged. It’s their blood, he thought. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, he ran back out. The things were fast, and following easily. James leapt down the stairs as Kilbride just reached the bottom and landed in front of him. He roared so loud that it almost shattered Kilbride’s eardrums. Kilbride dodged past him and bolted down the corridor. The rest of the blood creatures followed in hot pursuit. Kilbride swerved and began to run towards the door, but a metal guard door was sliding down. The things were closing in. Kilbride dived and shattered the wooden door, only just making it out. The security door touched the ground, barring all hope of entering. Kilbride breathed a sigh of relief. Then he realised he couldn’t investigate the rest of the building. Swearing under his breath, he got into the car and began the journey back to the police station.

As he drove, Kilbride remembered an incident from his childhood, long ago.

He had been sitting on a swing in his back garden aged about three. He had been swinging, perfectly happy, when a little bit of smoke like stuff had arrived, dancing in front of his eyes. He laughed, and started running after it. Eventually he caught it and, for some reason, it liked him. It drifted up and went inside his head.

Kilbride had no idea what that was, but he thought about it most days, puzzling over it. He sighed and turned left to the police station.

There wasn’t much to be done. Kilbride filled the superintendent in on all the details of the incident, and then went back home. He’d had enough excitement for one day.

But he couldn’t escape from it yet. He went to bed at eleven and was straight asleep, but he was plagued by nightmares.

A man shooting himself in the head. A creature, covered in living blood. Disembowelled bodies. Drugs, boxes and boxes of drugs.

And then came things he hadn’t seen before. A man, screaming in agony. James, tipping drugs into his mouth. Then he saw a vast spaceship, billions upon billions of miles away. Something in it seemed to be reaching out, looking for a mind to possess. Then a voice. Calling his name. Swirling darkness. A face, with blood red eyes, coming out of the dark, roaring…

Kilbride woke up sweating. What was that? That face? It was evil, whatever it was.

“That’s right, Kilbride. He’s totally evil.”

Kilbride sat up and looked around the room in shock. The man from his dream was leaning against the doorway, smiling at him. It wasn’t a nice smile.

The man seemed quite young, really, in his twenties, maybe. He wore a leather jacket with a casual top underneath, and jeans. He seemed normal, but when Kilbride looked at his eyes, they burned with malice, like something possessed.

“Who are you? What do you want? Tell me. Tell me now, or I shoot,” Kilbride snapped, grabbing his gun from the bedside table.

“Oh, come on. You think that’ll stop me?” the man laughed, waving his hand. The gun dropped onto the floor.

“Right, straight to the point. I’m here to take you to my master. You’ll come without a fuss, or your blood will spill over the floor. Stand up by the side of the bed. Now!” he ordered.

Kilbride, shakily but obediently, got out of bed and stood beside it. The man smiled and nodded. “Good. Let’s go,” he said placidly. The room was, for a moment, bathed in a hazy red light. Then it evaporated away and was replaced by a gargantuan metal dome. The roof was so high that it couldn’t be seen, and the walls stretched far away from the centre.

Kilbride’s eyes opened wide and his mouth dropped open. “What is this place?” he whispered, his voice echoing in the cavernous dome.

The man smiled, clearly enjoying this. “This is the Ancient Being’s dwelling,” he whispered, grinning, “He came for me when I was at my lowest, helped me, guided me to salvation. In return, a part of him entered me, and I became a vessel for him. That is what he wishes to do with you.”

At that point, Kilbride sensed a presence in the room. He looked up at where the roof would be, and saw darkness. But the darkness was alive. It churned and swirled, like a pitch-black, stormy sea, and out of the darkness was formed a face. Its eyes were red as blood and seemed to pierce you when they looked at you, seeing into your mind. The face was twisted in a grimace, staring at Kilbride, and then it let out a gigantic, gut-churning roar that shook Kilbride to his bones. He covered his ears, howling in agony. The man beamed throughout all of this. He was staring at the face, a look of ecstasy on his face, as if worshipping it.

Then it was over. Kilbride let out a stream of breath and sunk to his knees, shutting his eyes, half-defeated. Then he remembered what it had done, and stood up, renewed determination in his eyes. He fixed his gaze onto the eyes of the evil above him, and allowed it passage into his mind.

What the Ancient Being saw merely confirmed its fears. When it had destroyed the Guardians, parts of their minds had spun away into the distant corners of the universe and entered the minds of others, who were not aware of this taking place.

Kilbride had a remnant of one of the Guardian’s mind tucked away inside his brain, and it had been growing inside him since he was three years old.

As it was doing this, the Ancient being told Kilbride of itself.

It was the last of a race of supreme beings, the Guardians of the universe, created to protect everything from evil. However, it had become greedy, and hungry for control over the others. So they expelled it from life completely, or tried to. For though its body had mind had been utterly annihilated, its intent, its motivation, was so strong that it had lived on.

It had slayed the other guardians and then recuperated for one million years. Then it noticed the Earth, a bustling, thriving world, young and naïve. It decided that it needed soldiers to conquer the rest of the universe. So it selected the Earth and its population for transformation. It chose the man who had fetched him as its prime servant, and set him off, doing his bidding. It noticed that one of the most popular things on the planet was drugs, so it made its own ‘brand’, creating the blood creatures. They would lie dormant in a converted HQ, on Garnsfield Road, until all the people who willingly took the drugs were transformed into blood creatures, and then the carnage would begin. The drug formula would be sprayed onto the planet, infecting everyone, and then the blood creatures would massacre everyone, killing them so the blood would take over. Six million blood creatures, all serving the terrible being that Kilbride was looking at now.

After this, the Ancient Being reached deep into Kilbride’s mind and found the mind of the Guardian. It reached out and began crushing it. But it resisted. Gradually it used the Ancient Being’s power to its own advantage.

Then it was ready.

The power exploded in Kilbride, the light shining out from him, expelling the darkness in his body. Then it began to push

The two minds were locked in a tug of war in reverse, neither one winning control of the other. The man, Adam Wilter watched, silently rooting for the Ancient Being. He would worship it for as long as it was alive. It had saved him from himself, entering his mind. It had been agony at first, but ultimately he’d got used to it. The old Adam, the binge drinker, kicked out his flat, was dead and gone, replaced by this new, saved Adam.

Kilbride was gaining the upper hand in the battle. His body was glowing with energy, repelling the Ancient Being, forcing his way into its mind. Then, with a final yell, he pushed through the mental barriers. Then he began to pull it apart from the inside. It was thrown into a state of turmoil, gradually being eaten away. Finally, it was dying.

The wails of the blood creatures reverberated around 33 Garnsfield Road. Their controller, the thing that gave them life, was dying a thousand miles away. Their brains were being scrambled.

The one that had been Gordon James dropped to the floor, jerking and twitching like a fish. Then he exploded, the living gunk that was inside him covering the walls. Gradually this happened to the seven others too.

It was soon going to be over.

With a bone-shattering scream of torment, the Ancient Being died at last. It vanished into wisps in the air, which faded away quickly.

Adam Wilter dropped to the floor, dead. His brain had died with the part of the Ancient Being inside it.

Kilbride, the last of the Guardian’s power spent on the killing move, collapsed onto the floor, drained. The glow faded apart from the index finger on Kilbride’s right hand. He looked at it. “Will this be enough to take me home?” he thought out loud. Focusing his energy on that, he closed his eyes. Around him the ship swam out of existence, being replaced by is bedroom. The glow in his finger was now gone, the last of the Supreme Guardian’s power spent.

Kilbride opened his eyes. He was home again. This horrible mess was finally over. He’d survived. The universe was saved. He just wished he could forget all of it.

He got into bed, and a troubled sleep descended upon him.

He awoke up with his mind made up. He wouldn’t tell anybody about this. Nobody would believe him. He’d just get locked up in a mental institution or something.

So he got dressed into his uniform, and went to do good where people would actually notice him doing it.

Meanwhile, in a dark corner of space, a tiny piece of the Ancient Being lay, gathering its strength, waiting….

Purgatory

A Fable

By Charlie Alcock

The bullets slammed into the OmegaDroid, destroying its main power supply. It toppled over, damaged beyond repair.

Captain DS Jameson had just fired those bullets. He was the best sniper in the Galactic Colonial Army, and everyone called him Hawk. He called to his comrade-in-arms, “That’s the last of them! Now get to work on that transmitter! Be careful, there’ll be more inside! Now go!”

The man nodded and ran off to the transmitter controlling the Droids. He never made it. A huge explosion catapulted him into a tall barricade. He dropped to the floor, dead.

But what had caused the explosion? Hawk looked in horror as a DeathDroid rose from the ground. It had blown a hole above it, enabling it to get out.

DeathDroids are the worst kind of droid to face. They have a 2500-megavolt shield generator inside, making it impenetrable to all weapons, so the only way to kill one is to get inside it and place a bomb in the heart of its mechanisms and then run faster than you’ve ever done in your life. They are equipped with a huge sub-machine laser gun, a rocket cannon and a self-destruct mechanism to wipe out large numbers of enemies. It has four legs and a teleport mechanism. It is shaped like a huge thumb…or a gravestone. In front of the captain stood the best weapon an army could have.

Hawk sprinted towards one of its legs immediately. He had to move fast. Shots from the sub-machine gun rained all around him. The cannon fired. Hawk swerved aside, the rocket hurtling past his face. Hawk reached the leg and began to climb. There was a hatch he was aiming to reach, right at the bottom of the DeathDroid. It was meant for RepairDroids, but Hawk could just about fit in. Soon the DeathDroid would notice him. Then-well, who knew what would happen? Best get it over with, thought Hawk. He reached for his grappler gun and fired it at the hatch. It attached with a metallic clink and Hawk yanked the hatch open. He was about to fire it again-when an OmegaDroid blasted it out of his hands. Hawk grabbed his gun and fired three shots at the Omega Droid. It collapsed. Hawk knew he could do only one thing. He had only one chance. He braced himself, and leapt.

He had calculated the jump almost perfectly. Almost. He hadn’t launched himself inside as he would have hoped. His hands scrabbled for the edge and, luckily, found a hold before he fell. He hung on tight, and began hauling himself up. His head and elbows were in before he noticed that there were two large inactive ArmourDroids along the walls in glass boxes. “Oh no,” he breathed. Perhaps they were for intruders. He pulled himself up as quietly as he could. Then he tiptoed up to an ArmourDroid and tapped it gently on the head. Nothing happened. Hawk breathed a sigh of relief. They were obviously reinforcements or something. They’d be destroyed when the DeathDroid was. Hawk turned and started to walk down the corridor towards the heart of the Droid.

It was basically a giant battery. It stood in the centre of the room in front of Hawk, a giant lump of metal, wires coming out of it all over the place. Hawk walked up to it, reached for a bomb-and the room shook. Hawk was thrown to the floor. The DeathDroid was moving!

Even now his troops could be in danger. He had to plant the explosive and get out!

He grabbed a time bomb, set it to three minutes and ran for his life. But then something happened that Hawk didn’t expect. The ArmourDroids began to move.

Hawk scrabbled for his gun and held it up at the droid in front of him. These ArmourDroids were obviously the DeathDroid’s defence system, as they were armed with double-blades. Two blades attached to one handle, essential for hand to hand combat. Hawk drew his own out, and began the battle.

ArmourDroids have a weak area on their backs, which Hawk was aiming for. He parried their blows successfully, and ran to the wall to climb up the ArmourDroids’ boxes. Clambering over the top quickly, Hawk leapt down and stabbed one in the weak area. Sparks flew out, and the other ArmourDroid turned. Hawk wrenched his sword out and faced his enemy. The deactivated ArmourDroid clattered to the ground. The other lunged at Hawk…and the battle began.

Both fought brutally, Hawk deftly attempting to reach the back and the ArmourDroid attacking, Hawk parrying and trying again. Hawk was getting desperate. He stole a quick glance at the bomb-and gasped. One minute left. He locked swords with the ArmourDroid and pushed it at the wall. It stumbled and fell on its front. Hawk seized the opportunity and stabbed it. Sparks flew out the ArmourDroid as it died. Hawk sheathed his double-blade and glanced at the bomb. Thirty seconds left. Hawk ran for it. He could hear the bomb ticking. Twenty-five, twenty-four…

Hawk was halfway down the corridor. This was the hardest 100 metres of his life. He stumbled, losing precious time.

Fifteen, fourteen, thirteen…

Hawk was almost there.

Ten, nine, eight…

The hatchway was right in front of him.

Five, four, three…

Hawk dived, his head exiting the DeathDroid.

Two, one…

The bomb exploded. The flames enveloped everything in and around the DeathDroid. Including Hawk.

Kevin thumped the keyboard angrily. That DeathDroid always got him in the end. He just couldn’t avoid that metal thing that made him stumble. He clicked on retry…

Hawk was spinning in a world of numbers. Endless ones and zeroes streamed past him. Where am I? Hawk thought. He had died, he remembered that, but where was he now? I must be in purgatory, he thought. Purgatory, the place between life and death, not hell and not heaven. But what was happening now? There was a blinding green light, not one he could see, but one in his head. It was taking away his memories! He tried to grasp hold of them. The green light began to fade and a white light appeared. Hawk sensed that this was his light, combating the green light. For a moment they were locked in conflict, neither of them winning nor losing. Then a visible green light appeared below him, and he raced towards it, still in combat with the green light…

The game was finally loaded, and Kevin stopped drumming his fingers on the table. He reached over to the arrow keys and began to play…

Hawk stared in disbelief at what was in front of him. The DeathDroid was rising out of the ground again! This was impossible! It was as if he had gone back in time. Maybe this was purgatory! But if it was, how did you explain the memory wipe? For he was still fighting the green light, and winning. The green light was growing more feeble by the second. Then, with a final tiny push of resistance, the light went out. Hawk felt strangely free.

But there was still the DeathDroid to deal with. This time he wouldn’t bother fighting the ArmourDroids; just leave them to die in the expl-WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW? thought Hawk. His limbs were moving of their own accord! He was dodging the lasers in exactly the same way he was before, the rocket hurtling past his face again, his feet making footprints he’d already made but weren’t there anymore. He reached the leg and began to climb, again…

“Kevin! Bed! Now!” a voice called up the stairs. Kevin groaned. He paused, saved the game and exited.

Hawk looked around him. Everything was disintegrating! The walls, Droids, ceilings and floors were dissolving all around him, and he was too! His legs broke apart into small squares and flew away, becoming a part of the swirling void around him. He screamed. The rest of him was disappearing into the churning blackness, too.

Kevin dreamed he was on trial.

He was standing in the dock in front of three huge figures. Two wore helmets and had beards. The one on the left was shrouded in shadow, and the one on the right held a gargantuan hammer. But the one in the middle spoke first. In a great booming voice he stated,

“You, Kevin Andrew Jacobs, are charged with causing pain and death too a great many people. We have tried you and you have been found guilty. We sentence you to-”

“But that’s not fair! I’ve never killed anyone in my life! Never!” Kevin shouted in protest, his voice a tiny squeak next to the giants, “I swear to God, seriously!”

“WE ARE THE GODS!” thundered the one with the hammer. “YOU SHALL NOT INTERRUPT AGAIN!”

Kevin fell silent.

“As I was saying,” the middle one continued, “We sentence you to swap places with one that you kill. Now, let the will of Odin be done!”

The left giant finally revealed himself. He looked younger than the others, and as he looked at Kevin, a malicious grin crossed his face. His eyes lit up in spiteful glee. He raised his hands above Kevin and murmured, “I, Loki, god of mischief, place upon this boy a switching curse. Har sawu aghahjid shes edadmind…”

What followed was a stream of words which made no sense to Kevin but were obviously powerful. The god’s hands glowed electric blue by the time he had finished speaking, and then, with a flourish, he swept his hands away, completing the curse. The blue light moved to Kevin. For a moment, searing pain, but then-

He awoke with a cry.

He saw it was light outside, and looked at his bedside alarm clock. It was 8 o’ clock already! He was really late for school! Then he remembered it was Saturday. Deciding his dream was just a dream, he rushed over to his desk and turned on his computer. Kevin rested his chin on his hand and tapped the table while he waited for it to load. Finally the desktop came up and he inserted the Droid Wars CD.

The game booted up instantly. Kevin clicked on the load button and began to play.

Hawk faced the ArmourDroids once again. This was, inconceivably, the very same point at which he had disintegrated into nothing. He advanced at them, not of his own accord, and began to fight. He killed them quicker this time, and had more time to get away. He leapt out of the DeathDroid and executed a perfect three-point landing. Then he took a quick glance about him-and gasped.

Kevin was ecstatic! He’d finally beat the DeathDroid! He looked at the screen as Hawk landed. Hold on…something was wrong. Hawk’s shirt was-but no. That couldn’t be. It must be a fault in the game. Kevin glanced at the keyboard to reposition his fingers and subconsciously looked at his camouflage shirt.

Hold on, he thought.

I don’t have a camouflage shirt.

Hawk stared in horror at his shirt. It was white and had the word ‘Adidas’ on, and a strange triangular symbol. This wasn’t army uniform! He looked down at himself and saw he wasn’t wearing camouflage trousers either. He had some baggy shorts instead! And his legs were hairless and younger. What was happening with his life? He must be going mad! This all started when he’d ‘died’ and nearly lost his memory. It must be a punishment for crushing the light. And talking of light, there was an intensely bright one in the sky, drawing him in. Perhaps this was it…perhaps he’d gone through purgatory and was going to heaven. It grew even brighter and drew him towards it, and he followed its call.

He woke up almost immediately in a strange room. In front of him was a desk, and on the desk was a screen. He got up and sat on the chair. On the screen was-him! Or a likeness of him at least. He looked across into a mirror. His jaw dropped. He was a twelve-or-so-year old boy with black, spiky hair and rosy cheeks. He looked down at a slim box with the words Droid Wars on it and a picture of how he had been. He picked it up and skimmed over it. So…the Droid War had been a game. Just a simple game for a boy. All those men were dead because of this. But if he was the boy…

He looked at the screen again.

Then the boy must be him!

Kevin was terrified. He was in the game. He was actually in Droid Wars. So it hadn’t been a dream! he thought. He really had swapped with someone he’d ‘killed’. Suddenly his limbs began to move of their own accord…strange, big, hairy limbs. He started to move towards the Droid factory.

Hawk was enjoying this. He’d speed-read through the manual and began to play. He grinned broadly.

He could finally have his revenge.

(example of a newsletter about my visit to Reading School, Berkshire)

Here is some new writing by four students at Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College in Bedworth, Warwickshire

Time Slip

By Chloe Charles

I stumbled over a blunt, metal object, brutally poking out of the ground. Spinning round, I stared at it thoughtfully. It was bronze and sphere shaped, which glistened blindingly in the sunlight. I quickly bent down, straining my arms out in front of me. Resting on my knees, I used my fingers to chip away the mud around the object. With one hard tug it smoothly slid out of the ground. As I carefully inspected it, I noticed that I had seen one of these in a book at school. As I ran my fingers over the rusted cheek guards I realised it was an ancient helmet, maybe Roman. My heart started to beat out of my chest as I wondered what it was worth. Scooping out the crusted mud out of the inside of the helmet, I proudly put it on. I soon found that a big mistake as it started to tighten. As hard as I tried, it wouldn’t come off. Suddenly, I felt myself falling into a deep sleep, it grew darker around me as I started to fall. There was nothing I could clutch hold to.

Suddenly, it was calm, and as I opened my eyes I felt a soft wind whistle around me. The cold, stone floor stung my cheek. As I lifted myself up, I peered around at swords and shields. I was terrified to hear what sounded like an enormous crowd chanting and the roar of lions! The only light guiding my view was a single, flickering candle. This couldn’t be happening, or could it? I was in the dungeons of the coliseum! My whole body started to shake as I heard footsteps coming closer towards me.

The thick, metal door swung open, revealing a muscular, middle aged man. He walked towards me and handed me a glistening shield. I stared as my eyes caught the reflection of myself in the metallic shield. I was a gladiator, dressed from head to toe in armour, I was speechless! He pushed a sword into my open hand.

“Right, you,” he shouted deeply, “get into the arena, you’re next!”

As he pushed me up the stone steps, light blinded me as I entered the arena. Thousands of people were chanting for blood. My clothes were wet with sweat as my body froze. My stomach tightened as my glance of the arena fixed upon the other gladiator I assumed I had to fight. She was around 6 feet tall and had thick ginger hair, tied up brutally in a tight bun. I quivered as I spotted what she was clenching in her fist, a giant battle axe smeared with blood.

I stepped into the arena, the crowd roaring viciously around me. As petrified as I was, I took my position, clenching the sword in my sweaty palm. As soon as the ivory horn blew, the deafening sound of the clashing of metal drowned my confused thoughts.

My eyes filled with tears and I jabbed out, unable to see. I held my shield in front of my chest, protecting my heart from the vicious axe. Quicker than lightning, the battle axe swung at my right arm, smearing blood up the dusty wall behind me. I let out a scream but kept on stabbing out, wincing with pain. As hard as I tried, my weak body was no match against the gladiator. I gripped the shield above my head to block the blows. It was so heavy and painful my arms felt as if they were going to break! After one final blow at my shield, I fearfully fell to the floor, trembling with fear. I was so terrified I couldn’t breathe at that moment, with all my might, I tugged ferociously at the helmet.

Once again I started to fall, and when I opened my eyes I was back in the shadowed wood where I first found the helmet. Exhausted, I lay back on the mossy floor and looked at my watch. Amazingly, only a minute had passed since before the time slip. How did it possibly happen?

Time Slip

by

Ellie Burn

*           *          *

I stumbled over an object that was bursting from out of the ground. Turning round, I gave a quick glance back behind me to see what it was. It was shimmering in the light and as I looked closer I saw it was a rounded shape.

Suspiciously I started to scratch off the dirt, making it more visible to me. I yanked ….. yanked it until after what seemed like a 100 years, it broke off from the ground into my sweaty palms. Carefully I observed the mystery object. What could it be? It had a dome and cheek guards. Now I knew – it was an ancient helmet. Of course! It looked Roman to me. All of a sudden my heart started beating so hard I thought it was going to come right through my chest.

Pulling out the bugs and rotten cobwebs, I delicately placed the helmet, which was extremely old, on my head. It was very heavy and I had trouble keeping my poor little head up. I closed my eyes tight and imagined that I was a Roman soldier all those years ago. Suddenly my head was spinning. The trees branches were swaying so hard, I thought they were falling off. Then everything faded. My eyes only looked into pitch, calm blackness. Down, down, down. I could feel myself falling ever endlessly. Until I saw a gold light flash. I felt a bit bang in my bum. I was on the ground at last. But where was I? What had just happened? …… I didn’t know.

Opening my eyes, I jumped back, scared out of my life. A fearful lion padded his way towards me. Behind him was a heap full of deadly weapons, swords, spears daggers. I let out an almighty scream. I couldn’t believe where I was. The lion edged closer…..closer…..closer. I slid back, my heart pumping out of my chest, a lump growing in my throat! “Help!” I screamed. Just my luck, a strong looking middle-aged man jumped up behind the lion and threw me a huge sword with an extremely sharp point at the top. “What?” I thought to myself. “I couldn’t fight a lion, I’m not a gladiator, and I’m only a boy!” But to my disbelief I was a fully grown man wearing heavy armour, muscles bursting out of my upper arm. I soon realised I was in someone else’s body! “You!” the scary man shouted whilst pointing at me, “You’re next!” he barked.

As I stood in the tunnel waiting to enter my death bed, my heart was pumping out, my head, thoughts, terrible thoughts rushed to my head, my palms sweaty, my scalp prickled, my stomach flipped, my ears caught the sound of the lion being released. It was time! I was scared out of my life!

As I crept on to the rubble in the arena, I caught a glance of the roaring creature. As soon as I approached the middle a rush of screams brushed past my now white face. I stood in the middle and glared at the fierce lion, I was so scared. I thought this was the end. This would be my deathbed. The last place I would visit. A rush of fear went through me as I saw the leader raise his horn. He blew it. I couldn’t believe it. The first few seconds were a blur as the lion raced speedily towards me. I gritted my teeth as the beast hauled me to the floor and rubble. I raised my sword, as the lion jumped back. I threw him a punch right round his left cheek. That made him angry. He gave an almighty growl and showed his scary, huge, sharp teeth. He raced towards me again. I managed to avoid him but I dropped my weapon. Frightened to death, I let out a massive scream. “Carry on!” screamed the leader. I tried to pull him down by his ear but he pushed me down to the floor and had me trapped. He opened his mouth wide as if he was going to eat me. My heart pumped out of my chest, blood rushed to my head. I nearly jumped out of my skin. His mouth grew wider …wider …wider. But then my saviour the helmet shook, everything waved, my head span. I was going home. I was saved.

I fell with a thud and soon realised I was back in the woods alone. I looked round, it was dark. “It’s night!” I thought. I must have been dreaming. No, the helmet was on my head. I couldn’t believe it. I ran home.

10.3.08

Wild Thing

By Jake Copson 7NHA

It was in the yard, a navy blue Chevvy. All autumn Adam had been fixing the doors, painting it and getting it ready for the M.O.T. We sat in the Chevvy polishing everywhere and adding the finishing touches. Adam suddenly had a cheeky grin on his face.

“Adam come and get your drink please” called Mum. Off he strolled.

Looking over his shoulder he said, “Jake keep polishing the car.”

I sat there listening to music on my I-pod. I searched in the glove compartment to find a new duster and my ear phones fell out.

I bent down to pick them up and suddenly the radio began to howl. I sat up and tried to turn it off. As I did the locks slowly slid down and the seat belt came rushing across me. It held me so tightly it was digging into my ribcage. I screamed and tried to get out. Where was everyone? Why can’t they hear me?

I tried pushing the buttons but they would not move, I tried slipping under the seatbelt but the more I wriggled the tighter it seemed to get. Then the gear stick took on a life of its own and the car crept forward. I rapidly started to press the brakes but instead of stopping the car accelerated away. It went faster and faster – BOOM! I had gone through the garage door.

It went straight through the rows of roses and was now heading for the main road. The car swerved frantically. It was then I realised I was not alone!

Sitting next to me was a person with blood-red eyes and talons for fingernails. I was terrified – I could not look into its face. It was then I noticed the pitch black shoes, I instantly recognised them, they had belonged to Dad’s most famous arrest “Sean Deegan!”

He felt under the seat and dragged out a gun.

“Why are you doing this?” I cried.

“Ten years from today I died and now you shall die. Revenge will be mine!” he replied raising the gun and pointing it directly at my head.

I panicked and kicked it into the back of the car.

“That don’t make any difference – you are trapped!” he laughed.

Suddenly we were surrounded by blue flashing lights. I looked out of the window.

“DAD!” I screamed.

BANG, BANG, BANG! We slowed down …. they had shot the tyres. Instantly the seatbelt released itself and I was catapulted out of the windscreen. Everything went black. I could not see or hear anything!

One month later, I heard 5OCent playing loudly. I slowly opened my eyes – the bright light sent a pain all through my head. I tried again and gradually looked all around the room. It was all painted white. Where was I? This is not my bedroom!

Suddenly a nurse ran into the room, took one look at me and shouted to my father that I had come out of my coma. Dad rushed in, whilst the nurse went to fetch the doctor. He was giving me a big hug when the doctor arrived.

I froze – the doctor was “Sean Deegan!”

*                 *                  *

 

The New Kid in School

By Emily Taylor

The moment the new kid walked through the school gates, some big kids called Hannah and Lauren stared at her and giggled and whispered. The newcomer looked petrified and shaky, she looked slowly at them. Hannah and Lauren walked quickly like a predator catching their prey. That’s when the school bell howled across the yard. The students charged and nudged people into school.

In class, Mrs Adams introduced the new pupil. “Everyone, this is Lucy” she explained. “She is new so I want you to make her feel welcome.” Hannah and Lauren immediately sat behind Lucy. First of all they kicked her foot (her bad one) and hurt Lucy’s neck by slapping her. While Mrs Adams was talking about punctuation, Hannah got out a cigarette lighter and put it under her hair. Lucy screamed and the teacher shouted, “What is it Lucy!” Then she saw the cigarette lighter on Hannah’s desk and told her that she should have an after school detention for two hours. At break time, Lucy went out first with Hannah and Lauren following her. Just then they heard the children rushing and crowding outside hiding Lucy away from the bullies. Then they saw Lucy and rushed at her like a battlefield with the evil side charging at the good side.

Her tormentors got up to her and started to hit Lucy and just then, the teachers came out and gave Hannah and Lauren an after school detention for two hours and an exclusion for three weeks.

The End

Ring of Destiny by Luke Richards

Somebody was coming. I squinted into the distance. The person was flying of course. It was Hawkman. Who else could it be? I looked at my ring. Hawkman gave it to me. He looked odd this day, different like he had changed. I expected to see his warm, friendly smile, his golden feathers and his stretched out wings, his long, sharp pointy talons and his razor sharp beak. but he looked different somehow. I jumped back in surprise and horror. My faced turned as white as a ghost as blood drained from my face.

I stepped forward, leaning to make out the approaching figure, his body alight with robes of flame. His face was red with fire and his eyes were like black holes. His nostrils were slits. then I saw his fangs. His forked tongue ran across his lips. He landed gently on the battlements and pointed a finger accusingly at me. He jumped down.

“You’re the one, the living prince.”

I stepped back in horror.

“Give it to me, give me the ring now boy!” he demanded in a spine tingling hiss.

Slowly I slid the ring off my finger and offered it to the flame demon. I closed my eyes waiting for the ring to disappear off my finger when I heard a thud. I looked down and I saw Firestar lying entangled in a net. I heard a voice, a calm, familiar voice, Hawkman’s voice. He grabbed me tightly around my chest. We swept off in a gush of wind. After about an hour we alighted in the middle of a thick rainforest and I asked my question.

“Who was that?”

“That was Firestar,” Hawkman replied. “He killed your parents.”

There was a silence.

Jaws by Harry Cantwell

The first thing I knew about the adventure to come was when the waves went higher and splashed against the hull. We were ten km from Florida, Captain Peabain, Toby and I. I saw a big, blue log. But what was making the waves? I think it was that big, blue log. I peered over the side. A massive shark rose from the water. It opened its big pearly whites. they still had blood on them from a kill. Finally it collided with the boat. I started to stumble. I nearly fell off the boat as it rocked.

The shark kept hitting the planks on the hull. Every time it hit the planks they got weaker and weaker. Eventually they broke. Water came flooding into the boat. The siren went whizzing off. Toby burst the door open and dragged me inside. Finally the captain climbed on deck. He aimed at the target. There was blood all over the water. As the shark kept bashing and crashing against the boat. But we were starting to sink. We all slipped and hurt our heads on the railing and fell into the ocean.

“Here he comes again,” wailed Toby.

Jaws by Frances Littler

The first thing I knew about the adventure to come was when I heard the waves splashing on the deck. We were ten km from Florida, Ian, Sofia and I. I saw something that looked like a submarine under the water. I gazed over the side. A gigantic shark burst out of the water. I could see its glistening white fangs coming out of its gums. I could also see its massive mouth snapping at me.

Finally the shark dived onto the deck and crashed into the cabin. The boat was rocking from side to side. I was very scared. The shark was slamming its nose against the wooden planks of the hull. A ball went off. the boat was trying to rurn but the shark was too strong. Sofia slammed the door open wondering what was going on. At last Captain Ian came out and had the harpoon ready. There was blood in the water but the shark was eating all the wood. We were starting to capsize and the water was going up my nose. We were all drowning.

“Here he comes again,” wailed Sofia.

Raptor! by Jacob

There was an ear-splitting scream. As I looked up I saw a small drop of scarlet liquid coming from a crack in the ceiling. I looked up again and noticed that it was clotting. One thing passed through my mind, blood. Heart thumping like a drum, I stared Alex in the eye. As I looked down I found a crimson stain on the floor.

That’s when it happened. Footsteps resonated down the stairs. I could hear the creature’s head brushing agains the ceiling and claws clinging onto the woven carpet. The strip lights flickered as it made its way down the staircase. Alex was trying to open the automatic door whilst I looked outside and noticed the body of a lab assistant. The creature made its way to the bottom of the stiars. One of the test tubes fell on the floor and blue bubbles effervesced on the carpet. By now I knew only one thing, I had to try to escape but the automatic door was jammed. I picked up a hammer and hacked at the glass but it didn’t smash!

I heard the faint sound of breathing. I looked over to the door that was guarding the staircase and as I examined it I noriced some mist on the bullet-proof glass. As it cleared I saw something blink. I saw fangs like Stanley knives.

“Good thing it doesn’t know how to open doors,” I said with a sigh of relief.

Just then the door hatch lifted up. I shouted to Alex.

Raptor by Megan Hancock

There was an ear-splitting scream. A tiny droplet of crimson liquid had formed on the ceiling. I exchanged glances with Sophie. In a few seconds the liquid had expanded across the ceiling. Blood . It started to trickle slowly onto the laboratory carpet. Something was going on above our heads. We just didn’t know what.

Footsteps reverberated across the ceiling. The creature was just above our heads. Heart thumping, I followed the echo with my eyes. The strip lights sparked as the reptile moved across the floor. We could hear its’ head brushing across the ceiling. As it thumped along, Sophie peered through the glass panel to check it hadn’t come down the stairs. Just then, we heard it coming down the stairs, getting closer and closer to us. Hearts in our mouths, we ran to the computer. One footstep after another, the Raptor was getting even closer to us. It was so close I could feel it making the ground vibrate.

We decided to take another look through the glass. The shadow silhouetted at the end of the corridor. It was there coming for us. We hid behind the computer, hoping the beast wouldn’t see us. We tried not to scream because it would give us away.

“What are you going to do?” I asked Sophie.

“Let’s barricade the door,” she told me.

We rushed to get as much furniture as we could: tables, chairs, the computer all stacked against the door. We felt much safer now. Steam compressed against he glass. It was there! We heaved at the door but it wasn’t enough. The Raptor broke through with its terrifying claws. As Sophie grabbed for a chair to defend herself from the beast, I scrambled rapidly out of the door. Quickly, Sophie followed me out of the door and slammed it shut.

That was it. It was over and just a bad memory. A shot rang out and I saw the dinosaur lying on the floor, blood spurting up the window. Our rescuer’s footsteps were approaching. The dinosaur was dead.

The Red Room by Lewis Fletcher

Some houses are born evil. On September 10th, 2002, it was my Aunty May’s wedding which was held in Blenheim House, an old pub in the Kent countryside. I was asked to occupy the kids with a game of hide and seek. As soon as I entered the first corridor of the north wing, I knew that something was wrong behind that worn door. It was as if I had woken the floorboards.

I turned the corner and glanced at my surroundings. I found myself in an old looking corridor. Cracks crept across the peeling yellow wall and boards covered the windows. In one corner a mouse hole glared at me. At this point, I noticed a worn black door with a distinctive red cross painted at its centre.

I entered the room and noticed two torn brown beds. There was a black metal fireplace full of grey ashes. There was a damaged table with a red vase, full of dead flowers. But what caught my eye the most was a larg, dark, reddish stain on the dusty carpet.

At that moment the room roared. My fear turned to confusion. Everything seemed to change and I saw movement in the mirror. I glanced around. There stood a tall man in a stove pipe hat. rotten teeth hung from his gums like bats in a dark cave. His eyes were red with fury. Tangled tufts of hair hung from his hat.

Writing about paintings by Alan Gibbons

I was working at the National Gallery recently. Groups of young people would come and together we would visit some of the great paintings, dramatise them, then write accounts based on what we observed. We looked at Luca Giordano’s great painting Perseus turning Phineas to stone. In this dramatic scene Perseus has brought the head of the monster Medusa to turn King Phineas and his courtiers to stone.

Here’s some of the work from one school, Woodfield in London.

Perseus by Jake Fiddes

Perseus strutted into the hall. the bag in his left hand squirmed. Next a viper sprang out of the bag. Three warriors froze still without any movement. Their eyes went stiff.

Perseus walked through the darkness, through the crowd. He then froze the King. The King cried for mercy. Perseus could hear screams from outside. He then finally became King.

Perseys by Cole Williams

Perseus burst into the grand hall. The bag in his left hand wriggled, squirmed and hissed. Just then a serpent slithered out of the bag. Three warriors were frozen like statues. The King tried to flee. But before long Perseus caught up with him. And he, the King, was like his followers, another statue in the grand hall.

Perseus by Anthony

Perseus strutted into the hall. The bag in his left hand wriggled, moved about, squirmed and hissed. Next a cobra exploded out of the bag. Three warriors turned to stone. Their eyes looked like rocks.

The King was walking and the soldiers spoke to him. They told the King to get a spear to kill Perseus. Then Perseus hit him on the head with a stick. He went POOM. The King said Ouch and was crying. Then the soldiers picked up the King and put him in jail. He didn’t move anywhere because he was dead.

Perseus by T’Shai

Perseus held up Medusa’s head high. The King’s men turned to stone. The King panicked and tried to run. The King was shaking, he was crying with fear. There was nowhere to run. Perseus chased the King. He was looking for a way out of the castle. Then all of a sudden they both heard a shout. It was Perseus’ father and the King held a knife to Perseus’ neck.

“Don’t worry son. I’ll save you.”

His father swung down from the roof and kicked the King. The King his his head on the wall and was unconscious then died. Then Perseus became King and they lived happily ever after.

Perseus and the King by Rosie

Perseus stalked into the hall. The bag in his left hand moved about. Next, a cobra crawled out of the bag. Three warriors froze like statues. Their eyes were like stones. Their bodies were like granite. Perseus sprinted towards the frightened King. Perseus then stomped through the crowd. He slashed the King. The King cried for mercy. Perseus decided to kill the King. They could both hear the fighting from outside. Once the King had died, Persey finally became King.

Perseus and the King by Ronit

Perseus swaggered into the hall. The bag in his left hand was crawling with snakes. A cobra exploded out of the bag. The warriors froze. they stood paralysed. their eyes went stiff. Their bodies were like granite.

Perseus held up Medusa’s head. He wanted to kill the King. The king ran out. He was terrified. Perseus rang after him through the palace. Then the King fell down. Perseys came and got his sword and threw it at the King, straight at his neck.

The King said, “The soliders…will…kill…you…afterwards…”

and he died.

The soldiers tried to kill Perseus but he ran and hid in a tree.

He went far away but the soldiers found out where he was and they put a big knife in his tummy and then Perseus died forever.

Perseus and the Gorgon’s head by Richard

Perseus swaggered into the hall. The bag in his left hand wriggled and squirmed about. Next a horrible viper swirled out of the bearskin bag. Perseus put his hand into the bag and grabbed Medusa’s head. Three warriors ran with their spears. Perseys looked away and showed the innocent people Medusa’s head.

The warriors turned into stone. Their feet were paralysed. Their eyes were like rock. Their bodies were like granite. Phineas gasped and sneaked out to the hallway. Perseus was looking for Phineas. He turned and saw his hair and his crown and cloak and then saw Phineas running away.

Perseus went foot by foot down the corridor. He felt angry and moody. He shouted, “Phineas, where are you?”

He heard footsteps down the corridor. Then he heard a ‘ding’ sound. It was Phineas’ crown!

Phineas ran down the corridors and Perseus chased after him. Where was Phineas hiding? Was there a deadly trap?

Perseus had his mighty chance to get his revenge on Phineas. Perseus swung his heavy sword and cut through Phineas’ neck and blood spat out with gore. There was no longer any more Phineas. He lay dead on the floor!

The Adventure of Perseus by Kesha Chantel Sergeant

Perseus marched into the hall. the bag in his left hand hissed. Next a viper crawled out of the bag. Three warriors froze, their eyes like black diamonds, their bodies like mud.

Perseus stormed towards the frightened King. he then shoved through the crowd and slashed the King. The King cried for mercy. Perseus decided to freeze him. Perseus could hear screaming from outside. He then finally became King.

Perseus by Jonathan

Perseus marched into the hall. The bag in his left hand hissed. Next a snake crawled out of the bag. Three warriors froze. Their eyes were hard and their bodies heavy.

Persus held up Medusa’s head. More people turned to stone. The King was feeling angry because he wanted to kill Perseus.

The King had a sword to gight with. The word made a ssng, ssng noise. In the battle Perseus fell down on the floor. His sword spun away into the warrior’s room and got lost. He had to fight the warriors to get it back.

Then Perseus got his sword and he stabbed it in the King’s stomach. Then Perseus stabbed him again in the chest and he died.

Perseus shouted: “Go to Heaven!”

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Do you like spooky stories? If you do, try this one by Kate Mikhaylenko. It’s a cracking good story with a great structure.

Too Real by Kate Mikhaylenko

Kate wandered in between the library’s shelves, wondering what to read next. It had to be a book that wasn’t too scary; she had finished Dracula the previous week and suffered terrible nightmares and become afraid of every pale-looking person she came across. Kate hated scary books; she like novels about happy life, not real life, which was disappointing and horrible at times. Kate loved reading and imagining whatever the author wanted her to; sometimes her imagination would go too far and the unreal would become too real.

There was a book that caught her attention that evening. It was a very old-looking book which looked like it would break any moment. Kate carefully and slowly picked the fragile book from the dusty shelf and gingerly opened it. she couldn’t decipher the title for the book’s binding was so old and battered that the golden lettering had long ago faded away. It was written in old-fashioned English and the pages were very thin and made of the same material as most Bibles are- the thin, tissue-like type.

She leafed through the pages, looking for illustrations to help her understand what the book was actually about, and soon she found her answer. On page five hundred and three, she saw a small picture of a beast, its arms long, its legs short, its fangs pointy and sharp. It was bright red, the colour of blood. The illustrator had gone a little too far in revealing the creature’s savageness; he had even drawn human bones and skulls littered around the monster’s bird-like feet. This was exactly the type of book Kate disapproved of.

Shaking her head, she tried to shut the aged book, but couldn’t; it was as though the beast was pushing up through the pages, not letting her close it. A seismic wave of panic overwhelmed her and she threw the book with all her strength at the wall; she knew it was wrong to throw books but she couldn’t help it. At least, she tried to throw the book. It seemed glued to her fingers. Kate gulped, and realised that the book wanted her to read it. I must be going mad, she thought, a book can’t possibly want me to read it! Yet it seemed the only solution to her dilemma. Bracing  herself, she began to read the old-fashioned book.

The story it told was very familiar in a way she couldn’t recognize, about a girl aged eleven called Ekaterina who loved to write stories. One day, her teacher, Mr Donald, told the class to write a story about them getting chased by a creature from Hell. Ekaterina did so, for whe wanted to get top marks for her story, and the story got a bit too real. the monster came out of her words and into the real world. The day after that, Ekaterina disappeared and was never seen again. Kate carried on reading, transfixed to the pages. She especially enjoyed reading the detailed description of the way the beast slaughtered Ekaterina. What is happening to me, she thought, normally I would have hated reading something as savage as this!

Suddenly a low moan filled the empty library. Kate’s head snapped around, alert and scared. The creature is coming, she thought. The story was too real. Fear gushed out of her mouth as a scream for help. She saw the creature limping around the long shelf from where she had picked up the wretched book. Her breathing became rasping and irregular as she realized a dreadful fact; the story told on page five hundred and three was her story.

Kate was short for Ekaterina. Kate was eleven and so was Ekaterina. Kate loved writing stories and Ekaterina loved reading; in conclusion, they both liked English. Ekaterina was told to write a story about a monster by her teacher and Kate was told to read a stoey about a monster by the book, however crazy it sounded. The creature coming towards her right now looked every bit the same as the creature drawn in the book- blood red, long arms, short legs, and terrific fangs covered in blood. Ekaterina died doing what she loved doing, story writing. Kate was doing what she loved to do- reading.

Ekaterina is me and I am Ekaterina, and my fate is her fate, were Kate’s last thoughts as the beast lunged towards her, growling and sending saliva and bits of Ekaterina’s flesh flying through the air towards Kate’s face.

In the morning, a girl called Rina, aged eleven, walked into the library, looking for a book to read. Nothing too scary, of course. After reading Frankenstein, Rina had nightmares for a week; however, this did not put her off reading books. She didn’t just love reading; she lvoed to write beautiful poems. In conclusion, she loved English.

Suddenly, her gaze fell on an old-looking book with no title, and she picked it up from the floor. The book was open on page five hundred and three, and there was a picture of a blood-red Hellish beast with long, curved fangs with blood dripping from them. Rina did not know this, but the beast was going to get even more fresh blood that morning. Her blood.

Frances handed this story to me at Harrogate Grammar School. Don’t forget, you can post your own stories and poems here by sending them through my website: www.alangibbons.com

The girl in the wardrobe by Frances

Holly got into bed, drunk, dizzy and drugged. She’d spent eight hours in a night club and she got to bed, knackered. There was a knocking at her wardrobe door. It was continuous. Her brother, Jake, came in.

“Please stop knocking on your wardrobe. It’s so annoying!” he said.

“I’m not knocking on it! Look, I’ll prove it!” she said.

She opened her door wide. A shriek came from inside it. Holly screamed. As something grabbed her, Holly screamed. Her flesh went into the wardrobe. The wardrobe shut automatically.

“Jake, Jake, JAKE!” Ash said, shaking Jake. “Huh? What? Her flesh is in the wardrobe?” said Jake.

“Jake, have you gone mad? What flesh? What wardrobe?” Ash said.

“Huh?” said Jake.

“Jake, have you gone insane?” Ash said.

“Oh, no,” said Jake.

“OK, OK,” said Ash, biting her lip so unsurely.

They both got on the bus home.

“OK, OK, Jake, what’s the biggy?” Ash said.

Jake took Ash upstairs to Holly’r room. Jake opened the wardrobe door. Something shrieked from the back of it.

“What was that?!” Ash exclaimed.

“I don’t know, Ash,” he said and shut the wardrobe door.

“Jakce, I just need to go to the loo,” said Ash.

“Um, OK…” said Jake unsurely.

Ten minutes later Jake knocked on the bathroom door.

“Ash, Ash, are you OK?” he yelled.

No reply. Jake opened the door and saw Ash lying down on the floor. Blood on the wall. Flesh and skin peeling away from her body to the wardrobe.

“Oh, not again….” said Jake.

“Jake, we’re home!”

His parents had come back from parents’ evening.

“We’re just going to get Holly’s clothes fromt he wardrobe to give away,” they said.

“No!” Jake yelled.

They ignored him and went to Holly’s wardrobe. A shriek and slither sounded. That was it. Jake was in a heap collapsed on the floor. An evil laugh sounded from the wardrobe as footsteps came. Jake hid under his bed.

“You can run but you cannot hide!” said a feminine voice.

“Yes I can, yes I can,” said Jake.

He got out from under his bed.

“Well, I can hide, but I can’t hide from my fears. You are my fears, but deep down inside, I’m not scared of you. You can kill all you like but you can never get me, from all the dreaded volcanoes, to the roughest of mountains, to the ends of the earth, the hottest deserts, you’ll never get me. Never, ever, ever.

The monster looked shocked, a mix of Ash’s sadness, a mix of Holly’s anger and a mix of his Mum’s misfortune.

“You will die, die, die!” said the monster.

“Well, if that’s what I want, I’ll have it. No matter what, I don’t care if I die or live. But life will remain unbalanced. As you are. As equal,” said Jake.

“Your words, they touch me,” said the monster.

“So life will remain as we know it?” asked Jake hopefully.

“No, I was just trying to distract you as the leeches suck your blood,” she said.

Jake pulled off the leeches and aimed them straight at the monster.

“Ha! The only thing that can stop me is an unstoppable, brave, fearless human, but that’s not you,” the monster taunted.

“Oh yeah!” said Jake raising his eyebrow.

As he peeled the flesh and skin off the monster, it was left in a puddle of blood.

“Beat that!” he said.

“I’ll come back for you to rip you, to taunt you,” said the voice.

I recently judged a writing competition staged by Cranbrook School in Kent. The submissions were all by more experienced writers, from Key Stage Three, Four and from the Sixth Form. I thought it might be an idea to publish the winners as an example to younger readers of the Blog to see the kind of standard they can aspire to as they develop as writers. Sophia Nasif’s story is beautiful, lyrical and touching. Just as affecting is Matilda Dawe’s piece which is celebratory and evocative with a crisp, satisfying resolution. Finally, Serena Qayyum, with admirable economy and compassion fashions a marvellous evocation of a country far away. Avoiding sentimentality, she delivers a crushing conclusion on what happens to humanity when it is reduced to a condition of mere subsistence. Here are the stories for you to enjoy.

My friend by Sophia Nasif (Year Nine)

I closed the book gently and wiped the tears dribbling down my cheeks. I sighed. I had just finished the moving tale of a girl with terminal leukaemia. I glanced at my watercolour painting of a red hibiscus. The book had made me think of her.

I closed my eyes and remembered…..

I watch a red hibiscus fall from the sky; watch it float to the creamy sand. The sun is smiling at the earth and the palm trees sway like dancers in the late afternoon breeze. The koveli bird calls out to the skies and the ravens take flight.

I am young, sitting with an older girl with the dark Asian colouring of the locals. We sit, and chat. She is grinding leaves which I am handing to her, into a thick, odorous paste. She has made enough. She traces patterns onto my hands with the paste. When it dries, we wash it off. The deep brown-red of the henna stains my pale skin….

We are in a dark bathroom, my friend and I. There is a deep well, and my friend is scooping the water up and showing me how to do the vuluu, the ablution. I copy her, repeating the Holy words of the duaa, wincing at the icy cool splashes of the water.

My friend places my veil upon my head and tucks a stray curl away. She takes my hand and we walk to the women’s mosque. She shows me how to kneel upon the mat, to recite certain surahs, prayers, and how to do it correctly.

Unfortunately, I mess it up. The other women look at me and laugh.  I feel tears prick at my eyes and my cheeks burn with flame.

Then my friend hugs me, comforts me like an older sister and whispers not to worry. I thank Allah for such a good friend….

We are with other children, playing with marbles in the sand. My friend is helping with our language, as I am not yet fluent. I struggle with the harder words, but it is worth it for she smiles and I know she is proud of me….

I am back in the city. My mother has told me that my friend is visiting and is coming over today. I excitedly get out my toys and put on my best dress. For some reason, my mother wishes to hide my long curls instead of showing them off as usual. She ties them up then tucks them underneath a hat.

“Listen to me.” Mother puts the brush down. She tells me that my friend has been ill and looks a bit different. She says that I must still treat her the same, she is still the same person.

But I am shocked when I see my friend, see how pale and sallow-looking she is. She has lost her vivacity and laugh and the only thing I recognise abour her is a slight brightness in her eye but even that has faded. But most of all I understood why Mother chose to hide my hair.

My friend’s hair has all gone, disappeared. She is completely bald, and not like her hair had been shaved off like Daddy’s crew cut.

Who is she, this bald stranger, looking like a ghost of my friend? I am too young to know better, that it is really her. I hide in a corner, playing alone. She sits and looks at me with sad eyes. I feel too ashamed and scared to talk to her.

She begins to cry, softly at first then sobs. Mother takes her home and then later tells me off. I tell Mother that it is not her, it is someone pretending to be her, but badly. Mother sees how frightened I am, and she hugs me….

I am at the flat my friend’s parents are renting out in the city. I see my friend lying on the sofa. She is racked with coughs and resembles a skeleton but she still smiles at me and holds my hand. She tells her brothers and sisters to be good when she’s gone, to be tidy and help their parents. She tells them to assist their mother when the new baby arrives and that if she is not there to see the baby to tell it that she loves it. She tells them that she loves them all, and embraces them. I see the tears in her eyes, and wipe them away for her. I watch her growing weaker, and then falling into slumber…..

Mother tells me to put on my black dress. She says that my friend has died. she tells me that we are going to pay our last respects, that I must pray for her. I nod, numb. when we get there, I cry at her emptiness, her stillness.

We go out, for the ladies at the cemetery wish to prepare her for her burial. I hear the sound of sloshing water, and see a tiny daisy poking its head out by the wall. I tug my hand away from my tearful mother, and pluck the flower.

Heedless of the mourners’ shouts and grabbing hands, I run to my friend. She is wet, covered in water, but I don’t care. I grip her hand on last time. Her pregnant mother is next to her, hysterical with grief. I hug her and hand her the flower.

I do not need to say anything. then the ladies shoo me out, and I look back at my friend for the very last time. I walk out to my mother. The air is filled with the sounds of sobbing, but I can hear a bird singing in the distance. The trees seem to bow their heads in sorrow and when we leave I turn my head towards my friend’s grave and see a red hibiscus fall, floating towards the creamy sand…..

The Story of How My Courage Grew by Matilda Dawes. Year 11.

Dear Mum,

For the last week I have been living the way I thought I always would. The atmosphere of this place is so calm, but at the same time, so lively. I wish you could be here; it would be the cherry on top of the cake for me. I’ve mostly entertained myself by venturing out early in the morning for the breakfast run at Tesco’s. We take it in turns. It’s probably the most exhilarating feeling in the world, to step out of the door, first thing, onto an empty street, still haunted by the shadow of the night. If you get up that few minutes earlier there’s usually a thin ground fog, hovering a few inches above the ground.

I barely notice the frosty touch of the morning air. I stroll down the middle of the abandoned road, taking full advantage of the absence of vehicles. The food cravings are always the same. Four croissants. One half litre of milk. A bunch of bananas. there is often a lonely figure outside the store, wrapped in torn and moth-eaten rags. His eyes sunken in with a weary expression on his face that tells me he has been through hard times, to the point where he has given up all real hope. I can’t stand to see him ignored; people walk past him like he’s as real as a ghost. As much as I know I shouldn’t, I have made it my charitable duty to offer him one of the croissants from my goodie-bag every time I see him. He has yet to reject me.

My favourite day is Wednesday, market day. I’m off feeding duty then, and so my day begins with waking up to the familiar chant of: “Three pound, five pound ‘av a look,” which emits from the cluttered stall of wondrous bits and bobs across the road. This day is the day that everything comes to life. Stalls upon stalls of everything you can think of. It’s all here in Portobello.

The stalls spread all the way from Spices &Rices (my aunties’ sweet smelling herbal shop) to the newly renovated video store. The best deals are to be found to the left, beneath the graffiti-smothered railway bridge. Here you can find anything from second hand, and weather-worn leather jackets, to the most delicate of necklaces with a faint antique shimmer. There is a slightly splintered, crooked table, polluted by the spread of rust opposite the wall from which the bridge emerges. It is laden with every type of music record you could imagine. Behind his merchandise stands a tall man with a matted, grey beard, and a deep blue headscarf wrapped around the crown of his balding head. His immense height is crumpled by the ever increasing arch in his upper back, making him all the more menacing as he towers over you. His skin is not that of an old man, it is leathery and well looked after. However you are not to be fooled by this threatening outward appearance, for when he speaks, it is soft but gruff, like the purr of a cat.

In the wall of which his eyes face for many hours of this day, there is a rather shabby yet friendly looking Chinese take away. I suspect it is owned by a family as the men that I have encountered here have belonged to a range of generations. it makes me laugh when the ones closer in age, feebly attemtpt to engage Eloise in conversation, even with their limited English.

If what I seek is more on this subject of food then my feet need to travel back the way I came and a little further. the first of the many stands that sell options of edible goods would be a large box full of fish. I cannot say whether or not the sea food he sells is tasty, because I have never managed to stop at this point for very long due to the incredibly strong smell of fish. In fact, I would say my standing record is about five seconds. It has become a rather bad habit of mine to hold my breath as I go past, I do make it subtle, but I doubt he would notice anyway for the pavement is so jam packed it is barely possible to make out a face before it has been swallowed by the surging tide of limbs, clothing, and plastic shopping bags.

Neatly fitted between the large box of fish and the little group of chatty fruit sellers, is another large box. However this box has quite another effect on my senses. I could drift in front of it for ages, breathing in the fresh, sweet smells, wafting through the air towards me. I stand there in awe, frozen like a statue as I watch the kind-faced French man create the most heavenly tasting crepes before my very eyes. I love the cacophony of so many languages and origins that fill Portobello, and so does Dad, as you can imagine, he spends hours upon hours practising some foreign tongue with the stall and shop owners, discussing history and geography. I may not share his same interest in such matters, but it intrigues me to hear those tropical words, like a stranger humming your favourite song.

Being here makes me feel like I’ve been on a six year long trip, and only just returned home. I have missed this place so much. The smell of the pavement on a wet day. The noise from the market. The constant booming from the bar beneath us. Jumping up to high-five Wayne, my Rastafarian friend, from the shop next door (though I no longer have to jump). Non of it’s gone, but I feel like I’ve missed so much. I was scared at first, but now I feel warm courage burning in my heart. I’m ready to live my life. Independently.

With all my love,

Matilda.

Tokai by Serena Qayyum, Year 12

The first mail train of the day arrived rather in advance of the sunrise. Rusty brown carriages ground to a slow screeching half on the tracks and soon dark shadows in the half light were hauling goods onto the platform. Huddled amongst the pillars at the back, Joshim was struggling to lift his eyelids free of the leaden somnolence that weighed them down. He lay in an angry stupor. It was quite rare for the train to actually arrive ehen it was supposed to seeing that all trains here operated to Bangladeshi Standard Time, that is, the driver’s convenience. But he forced himself to stretch out his ten year old frame and rise.

Joshim, a waif with tousled black hair and a wide grin, in a red check shirt that only had two holes in it, was a ‘tokai’ or street child, one of the hundreds that took refuge in the Kamlapur Railway Station. He had no one but his best friend Sami, but as he ferociously asserted, he didn’t need anyone else either.

**

Joshim’s nimble fingers were sifting through the garbage with magpie urgency. The moment he spotted a fragment of glass or plastic glinting underneath the scrapheap, he snatched it and stuffed it in his sack. He was immune to his odorous, filthy surroundings. Good pickings could sell and earn him up to thirty taka a day, enough for a hot meal from one of the slum women who cooked rice by the roadside. His ears froze out the argument of two other tokais near him, scratching and squabbling over the same prize like savage rats, locked in the petty territorial conflicts that are routine for the hungry and desperate. Joshim was oblivious as his hands closed in on  a large pane of glass. He held it up for Sami to see, displaying it like a trophy. He registered with satisfaction the envy glowing in Sami’s dark eyes.

As the day drew to a close, Sami and Joshim had sold their pickings and headed to the black twisting alleys that lay at the heart of Nilkhet Market like a rotten core inside a plump, crimson apple. While students flocked at the outskirts exploring the famous bookshops, deeper inside the two boys instinctively drew close together as they approached the notorious drug dens. They had come to pay their monthly cut from their revenue picking garbage and pockets near the station, to the Dada of the local begging and crime syndicate. As Sami nervously made the payment, Joshim looked with pity at some of the beggars in line, mutilated by the crime lords to arouse pity and collect extra alms.

He reflected how much he would like to escape this world. But he was grateful for his freedom from the life he had left behind, far away in his village. Cowering in the corners of their hut, praying he would not bear the brunt of his father’s rage again, he had decided to run away to the capital. He had felt little fear because there seemed to be no future whether he stayed or left. Anything was better. When he wound up, confused and starving on platform 9 at Kamlapur with two policemen raining blows on him because he had no money to pay the bribe they demanded, it was Sami, a complete stranger then, who stepped out from the sidelines and paid his last fifty taka to rescue him. Sami was an orphan with long, tapered fingers that artfully deprived strangers of their wallets, a skill he taught Joshim because it was the only way they could survive. He was a loud, vivacious boy with a gutter-honed vocabulary but from their first meeting, they were inseperable.

***

Do not cross the yellow line. An unheedable instruction at Kamlapur Station at four o’clock when the ever-growing crowd spills onto the tracks. A place where the concept of personal space cannot exist. Hundreds of people, their worldly possessions rolled onto their shoulders, elbowing and jostling in an intricate tug-of-war. In that cacophony, it is easy for Joshim to sidle into a crack in the crowd. The suited man in front of him has alighted from the first class carriage. In a split second when no one is looking, he slid out the leather wallet that dangled precariously from the man’s pocket and put it in his own.

Later in seclusion, he and Sami, for they share all their spoils, opened the wallet eagerly. In the front pocket, they found only a grey plastic rectangle. They didn’t know what it was so they tossed it aside and opened the second pocket. Inside lay five thousand taka.

Joshim’s eyes did a double turn. The exultation in him was tumultuous and he hastily hid the tears clouding his vision. At last. Their golden chance. His mind raced ahead. The cinema, a cricket bat. Or perhaps they could pay a carpenter or plumber to apprentice them. He was surrounded by promise and possibility. The world lay at his feet.

He woke up the next morning, his heart bathed with sunshine. He turned to wake up Sami. But Sami wasn’t there and for the next hour there was no sign of him. His mind suddenly leaped to the worst conclusion. It was impossible. He drew out the wallet and it was empty. The money had vanished and so had Sami.

He couldn’t physically handle the shock. He curled up as the world collapsed on him, shivering violently. The other tokais ignored him because his misery was his own and there was enough to go round already. The stark truth hit him. The hard fact that friendship means nothing on the streets. Friendship, the sole balm, to life’s bruises, pales next to the higher instinct of self-preservation. Sami had done nothing illegal according to the rules of the tokais. The tokais’ world is insidious and all-wrecking and it denies even the comfort of human relationships. Survival is a higher law.

The Red Room

by Adam Noble

Some houses are born evil but not this one, well not until June 20th, 1857. A rich man called James Raven was drunk silly and angry with his wife and a servant who was protecting her. He chased the servant into a white room and beat him to death with a chair, even when he was dead he wouldn’t stop, when his wife came and stabbed him in the back. Then she ran out of the room then the house and was never seen again. The bodies flooded the room with blood climbing up the walls and onto the ceiling. The door sang closed and there was a click. It was locked.

One hundred and fifty years later it’s Aunty Caron and Uncle Alan’s golden anniversary and they had rented out the Stanway Hall for a big party. All my cousins, uncles and aunties and all my family came to the party. Later on in the party I was asked to take the younger kids away. I agreed. We went outside into the corridor and I asked them what we should play.

They all answered in one big voice: hid and seek, so I said count to thirty and then come and find me. I ran as fast as I could up the corridor and stopped about half way up and looked to my left. There was a long, dark corridor. Cracks splattered along the walls. All of a sudden a strong wind whipped wildly down the corridor, almost knocking me clean off my feet. I walked cautiously down the dark, damp and dingy corridor. I tripped up on a buckled floor board. I lay on the floor for a couple of minutes then I threw myself back up onto my feet. I looked to my right. There hung a painting of a young man sitting in the study alone. But then I took a closer look and in the background there was a woman upset, with a shining knife clenched tightly in her hand.

I then heard a screaming creak. I turned slowly feeling a cold breeze running down my neck…..There was the woman, the woman from the painting with the same knife waiting to strike. She plunged for me. I ran and ran. I saw an open door. I threw myself through the door into a Red Room.

I ran over to the other side to look for a place to hide from the woman. There was a mirror. I looked into it for a good few minutes then I blinked and my clothes changed. The mirror enlarged itself to the size of the wall and a wind the strength of a tornado forced me into the mirror.

I was in the same room but in a Victorian styled room. I heard an angry voice below. Down the hall a man came in with his sword outstretched. I turned and saw a knife. I picked it up and ran behing a piano and pushed it at him. I then ran to the small table. I picked it up and threw it at him. I ran for the door but tripped up. I staggered back up and threw the knife at him hoping it would slow him down. But I missed. He picked it up and threw it back at me. It went straight through my arm. I turned to see how far he was behind me. What a mistake that was! He lashed at me and cut from about one inch to the right of my eye to the bottom left of my right eye. I ran and ran as fast as I could. I saw my cousins.

I said: “Run, run, run for your life.”

I prayed that he would stay in the room but it was all invasive. He came out of the room. I was brave, took the knife and let him run up to just before he could lash at me. It tripped him up and slit his throat and that was the last I ever saw of the ghosts.

The next day I set the hall on fire and it burned down to ash.

Writing from Belfast

Here is some writing from a recent trip to Belfast. You will find the winner of a writing competition at Orangefield High School, based on my novel The Edge. There are lots of other stories, all of which are of a very high standard and thoroughly enjoyable to read. Finally, there are some comments from some of the people who took part. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Belfast is a great city and always offers writers and artists terrific hospitality. Read on!

Alan Gibbons                         

TheStruggle1ST prize

 

In life you think everything will be perfect, but evil couldbe lurking around the next corner waiting for you, just like it was waiting for me that day last year…………………

My gaze swept down the hillside and I noticed a shadowy figure. As I narrowed my eyes to look closer, I saw its features, blond hair and pale white skin. I shivered; my knees were trembling, my whole body was shaking with fear.“It’s him,” I hissed under my breath. “ Chris.”That moment of fear, my heart wouldn’t stop its rapid beating, I felt chills all over my body; my hands trembled with the sight. For a moment, my legs were fixed stiff to the ground.Immediately, terrifying images raced through my mind. Those clenched fists, those fearful furious eyes; the night mum was brought to the hospital, those terrifying moments. The severe bruises he caused mum, all those images haunted my mind.I raced down the hill with clenched fists and thumping heart. Down the hill I sprinted. I needed my mobile phone. I frisked through my body, searching, digging through all my pockets, no phone. I cursed under my breath, remembering my phone was recharging.My breath was rapidly panting, my ribs rattled with pain, my lungs bursting for more air. I leaped over the gate, and reached for the door, trying to get in faster than him. I swung the front door open. I saw the back door wide open. My heart was racing. “Mum!” I yelled. “Where in the world are you?!” The house was a total wreck, broken glass everywhere, vases shattered on the floor and everything in chaos.I searched the living room and the hallway until I heard a pleading screech; it was coming from the kitchen. “Chris, why can’t you just leave us alone?!” mum screamed desperately. “Cathy, I won’t let you go this time! You’re mine! You belong to me and me only!” Chris yelled with anger.I rushed towards the kitchen and glanced at a man whose behaviour could only be compared to an animal. Beside him I saw my Mother who was frozen with fear. “Mum!” I panted. Chris and mum stared at me. “Danielle, what are you doing here?! Get out before he hurts you!” She shouted frantically.“Well, if it isn’t little Danielle. I see you haven’t changed a bit, you still look like a sissy.” He sniggered cruelly. I stared at him with disgust and fear.“Tsk, why should I even deal with such a wimp as you?” he almost spat out the words.He didn’t notice the hatredburning in my eyes. His misjudgement was a mistake.I grabbed my hockey stick and swiftly swung it around his head. He, on the other hand, managed to dodge the swing. He looked at me with those furious eyes and evil smile. “ So, little Danielle thinks she can put up a fight with uncle Chrissie? Well, then you’re in for your last breath!” He said menacingly. I rushed out through the back door to lead him away from mum. He rushed after me into the back garden.“Danielle! Don’t you’ll gethurt!” Mum yelled frantically.“Mum, don’t worry! You call the police while I’ll hold him off!” I screamed. Mum bit her under lip, holding back the tears She hurried into the house and picked up the phone. “Oh no you don’t!” Chris shouted angrily. He tried to get back into the house, but I blocked his way. I won’t let him pass through me, even if it costs my life! He won’t come anywhere near mum!“You better get outta my way or you’ll be in for some deep pain!” he screamed heatedly. “ I wouldn’t let a vile person like you come anywhere near my mum!” I sneered into his cruel face. “ Acting tough now are you? Well, you’re going to regret standing up to me!” he shouted wrathfully.He started to approach me and swung his clenched fist towards me, I managed to dodge the full force of his fist, but he still hit my mouth a glancing blow.The wound on my lips started to bleed.. It stung. but I wouldn’t give up just because of a little wound like this. I lifted my fist and tried to strike his face, he was about to dodge it, but instead of striking him in the face, I lifted my leg and kicked him in the stomach. It was an unexpected blow, so he wasn’t able to dodge. But still he continued to smirk at me.I started to step back. That face, he was up to something and it wasn’t something good at all. He ran towards me and put his hands round my throat, trying to strangle me. I struggled to get out of his iron grip, but he was just too strong!“You know, you’re really getting on my nerves! I’d best get rid of you now!” he yelled furiously. He held me up against the wall and tightened his iron grip around my neck. I was running out of air, my lungs were bursting with pain. Everything started to go black andI knew I couldn’t take this punishment for much longer.In an instant, I managed to raise my hand and formed it into a pressure point position, and quickly pressed it against his collarbone, forcefully. He let out an agonizing moan and fell to the ground. Strugglingfree, I gasped for air. I saw Chris who was yelling painfully, “What the hell did you do to my arms?!”“I paralysed them. You won’t be able to move them.” I sneered. “ What are you laughing at?! Once I get my hands on you, I’ll kill you!” He hollered through the garden.Just at that moment, the Police finally arrived and rushed towards the paralysed Chris and me. They arrested Chris and shoved him towards the police car. Mum came running after me, hugging me and hugging me and asking through her tears, “Are you alright?” The policemen reassured us that Chris wouldn’t be going anywhere except City Jail and he would probably stay there for more than 6 years. We thanked them and watched the car drive into the distance with the man that had haunted us for so long.We were finally free from this evil man who had blighted our lives for so long. Maybe we could start to live again. However, in life youthink everything will be perfect but evil could be lurking round the next corner just waiting for you…………………….MillicentMaloto10 SMCOrangefield High School Running Man2ND prizeFear burned a hole in me. It’s Chris, he’s back! The police said he wouldn’t be back. He’s a thug, dangerous and sadistic. A lunatic if you will. A thought jumped into my head. Then there was that terrible moment of despair…I had forgotten my phone. The police were out of reach. Why? Why shorts with no pockets? Why was I jogging for that matter?I was immobilised, standing there with memories flooding back. I was thinking of what Chris might do to mum…but I already knew. The past gave me all the answers I needed. I tightened my fist and silently said, ‘This time will be the last that no good waster will ever bother us again. Ever!Me at the top of the hill. Chris thrashing at my door. Time to act. I raced down the hill faster and faster trying to hold myself up so as not to fall. My feet pounded the ground, my heart pounded my chest. I had reached the street still running. I reached the front gate. Chris wasn’t there. He must be round the back… I reached for the door. Locked!I banged the window with my open palm, eventually getting mum’s attention. I silently mimed to her. I told her my phone was upstairs. She rocketed to my room. As she did, Chris turned the corner…

By John Hughes :10B Corpus Christi

Running Man:L Kelly 10BCorpus Christi2ND prizeHe’s back! I could see Chris’s bulky figure lurking around outside the house. He was excluded from the house as he received an ASBO and told to stay away.A thought burned into my head- phone the peelers. Then there was that horrific moment…my mobile is on the charger in the kitchen. By the time I get home it would be too late. This day of all days I had to be out jogging!As I stood there on The Edge the memories came flooding back. I sat there helpless and terrified. The tyrant who is Chris had clenched his huge knuckles and pounded. The images kept coming. Mum shrieking with pain, Chris’s maniac laugh, me cowering behind the door. That’s when I made my decision. I was going to put an end to this once and for all. So there’s me on top of the hillside. Chris up to no good below. Time to act!I steadied myself and sprinted down the slope, my legs straining, my knees starting to buckle. But I forgot the temptation, I wasn’t going to give up- not me! I swished through the wet grass. All the time I was searching for Chris. He wasn’t in the garden. He must have gone round the front. Then I tripped on a jagged rock. I whirled round and round then …crash! I was sprawled in front of the back gate. My head was thumping from the fall. I reached forward clawing for the handle.Finally I ran to the window and was immediately crashing my hands against the window. ‘Pick up the phone!’ I was crying out. ‘Pick up the bloody phone!’ Mum was paralysed, rooted to the floor with fear. Behind her I could see the silhouetted figure of Chris.I threw the deck chair. Bang! Right through the window and ran towards the phone. Chris was climbing through the back window now. I grabbed the phone but Chris was grabbing my leg. He smirked but mum smacked him with a bat. Chris fell to the ground unconscious. Mum dialled for the police and Chris was taken away. Finally there will be peace in my house again!By Liam Kelly

10BRunning Man by Paul Owens Christian Brothers’ School 3RD prizeOh my god Chris is back I thought he had an ASBO on him.My heart is thumping in my chest I wanted him to go away. How did he know?Of course I’m always up here jogging getting ready for boxing fights.I focus on his right hand in it a half of a brick.I watch with horror as he raises the brick up.Down the slope I dashed.I slapped my pocket and the phone wasn’t there, oh no it’s on the kitchen table I dug my fingers into my skull.On and on I ran, leaping and stumbling towards the house.My top glued to my back it smelt of sour sweat.My field of vision was blurred because I was leaping up and down on the hill.As I dove over the gate images from the past flew through my mind as mum lying there while that sicko punched and kicked at her face. As I got to the door I slammed against it for god sake why did we get those windows in, the new ones.As I knocked at the window to tell mum to get out she just sat there watching TV then I saw him creeping up to the window ready to smash mum’s head in. What do I do? Do I smash the window in?I found an old rusty bar finally…Show Time! Running Man by Paul Owens Christian Brothers’ School 3RD prizeOh my god Chris is back I thought he had an ASBO on him.My heart is thumping in my chest I wanted him to go away. How did he know?Of course I’m always up here jogging getting ready for boxing fights.I focus on his right hand in it a half of a brick.I watch with horror as he raises the brick up.Down the slope I dashed.I slapped my pocket and the phone wasn’t there, oh no it’s on the kitchen table I dug my fingers into my skull.On and on I ran, leaping and stumbling towards the house.My top glued to my back it smelt of sour sweat.My field of vision was blurred because I was leaping up and down on the hill.As I dove over the gate images from the past flew through my mind as mum lying there while that sicko punched and kicked at her face. As I got to the door I slammed against it for god sake why did we get those windows in, the new ones.As I knocked at the window to tell mum to get out she just sat there watching TV then I saw him creeping up to the window ready to smash mum’s head in. What do I do? Do I smash the window in?I found an old rusty bar finally…Show Time!Alan Gibbons Visits Orangefield High School

Alan Gibbons, the author, visited our School last December. W e were all looking forward to his visit as we had read one of his books ‘The Edge’ in our English class. He gave us suggestions at each stage of our writing. We were asked to write a story as if we were Danny, one of the characters in his book. By the end of the session I was quite impressed by my story.

Frank Dillon 10SMC

Alan Gibbons used to be an English teacher but left teaching to become a full time writer. He told us that it is important to get your reader straight into your story in the opening paragraph. I hope he returns to our School next year .

Lauren Griffiths 10SMCAlan Gibbons, the Blue Peter Award winner, gave us usefuladvice about writingstories. He told us that using exciting verbs is the key to good story writing.Amy Gray 10SMC

Alan Gibbons’ visit was really enjoyable. He gave us pointers about how to write fiction. A brilliant morning! He told us to use long and short sentences in our writing.

Scott Sewell10SMC

I was impressed with Alan Gibbons’ visit.

Lee McAlesse 10SMC

Alan Gibbons ,The Blue Peter Book Award Winner, visited ourSchool in December. He guided us through a piece of writing, showing us at each stage how to create tension and interest in our writing. I thought his visit was great.

Millicent Maloto 10SMCAlan Gibbons, the writer of ‘The Edge’, one of the books we are reading in English, visited year 10 in the Library last December. He showed us ways of making our writing more interesting and lively by using similes, metaphors and personification. I thought it was a great morning.Lorraine Kane 10SMC

Alan Gibbons has written 15 books and we have many of his books in the library. Gideon Dolo in 9JY is Reading ‘Chicken’ by Alan Gibbons at the moment. It is a great read. If you want to read it next, hurry down to the library andput your name down on the waiting list for this book.

Miss Gardner

All the writing that Year 10 produced following Alan Gibbons’ visit have been compiled into an anthology of stories for parents and pupils to read. There are copies in the Library, English Roomsand Reception.

Miss Gardner

 

Self publishing- a case history

When I visited Licensed Victuallers’ School in Ascot, I met Julianne Cook, a Year Eleven student. She has published her own book Legacy through www.lulu.com.

Now, self publishing isn’t for anyone but Julianne seems to have it pretty sussed. She is writing the sequel to Legacy and enjoying every minute of it. She gave me a link to her work:

http://web.mac.com/descook/Thraxis-online/Thraxis-online.html

Dead on the Fourth of July…

All Writing and Artwork done

by Daniel Martin 8B.

A Sparkling emerald jewel Tbird seers off the winding highway and

soars into Union High. The door flings open. Military style slop on shoe,

belts the blacktop with an almighty thud. The drivers wearing blue and

crystal glazed army trousers. A red and white nylon jacket with golden buckles for zips comes into view…the car owner looks up, the small wretched, crinkled face tenses up. His beady silent eyes, give a cold stare. The gray hair seeping unto the pale white of his face makes him noticeable by any person. The driver gazes at what he see’s before him, the silence he twitched at. Standing and twitching at the silence, he pushes his coat out. His name is Adi Gerstoffe.

He strutters around to the trunk, his shoes crunching on the black top. With one flip of his index finger, the trunk is raised. He lifts a distinctly noticeable rucksack, black with a silver moon embellishment at the top. Adi swaggers off, closing the trunk behind him to the gleaming Union High in front of him.

As he was passing the commentary building, he saw Georgy Polski, the renowned academic student. Adi doesn’t say anything only gazes in wrath in thinks “You rejected me, now the time has come to return the favor.”He chuckles, and then struts off towards the main building.At that moment the school bell shrieks out across campus. Adi has revealed his goal.Soon after the bell went, Adi began to climb the rickety old steps up to the bell tower.Smelling something like a jam sponge. It was the canteen. A crackling is heard as the zip is pulled from the black rucksack. The glimmer from the M1Carbine catches the sun. He clips the scope, and puts the barrel on the black arched stand, and positions the gun on its stand on the Bell tower window.Adi tenses up, as he see’s his first target sauntering from the mangled, gray scorched Art building.Georgy Polski, now lay dead… a pool of red garnished bloody lay drowning the body in a sink of despair. Adi grins an evil smile, as he re-arranges and cocks the gun, he feels the brassy barrel rub against his shoulder. He looks down the muffled scope. The red dot on an innocent leg, Sammy G from sixth form – the highest rated pupil in the school.

Mean while…The police had found and seized a tape and played it, it said on the black case “X Marks the spot.” The tape was playing.

“The Monstrous heaves of Satan have taken me in… I am Satan; I want my family to know all my actions are purely based on the ever-growing criticism towards society and culture.”

Sammy G was lined up ‘a shot fired’. The ringing noise of screams across the school echoed through Adi’s ears. Sammy, fell collapsed. A wasted life given by the good and taken by the bad. Now wallowing in a red concoction of pride and dignity, Adi just laughs a sinister laugh. A red fleshy hole, still remains, she cannot be saved a she screams for help nothing but a frantic birdcall from the American flag is heard. This killing would resemble the future of the nation. Adi just grins and adjusts his shoes as he searches and scans his sight for a new hatred killing. “X Marks the Spot,” he laughed, “There’s the X.”

The Vice Principal was quickly tending to the victim, wearing her suede leather jacket and smart black tie. In the next few moments, her fate was being decided. She got on her gray cell phone, Adi now becoming increasingly aware of police and ambulances.Adi suddenly becomes agitated, when he see’s the Cops surround the bell tower, armed and aiming on him, he could see the red dots glaring all over him. He shows a shiver of coldness. Union High state school was about to get a bad reputation.

Adi Lines his scope with the X, and presses the trigger feeling the extremely cold metal chaffing against his soft skin. The noises Rick chaise of each metal object, not to mention the gun which was now in shock unison with Adi. The Vice Principal, she lay staggering to the floor, weeping, trickling streams of sickly blood pour down the main entrance to the school. A stifling taste of oil in the air, Adi watches in joy. A glimmering cheery bombed can of tomato juice exploded, in violent array of screams and fleshy extravaganza.

Adi Clutches his heart, he tenses, as he see’s his heart with an X. He laughed “X Marks the spot,” and flinches. A shot is fired, Adi Gerstoffe is no more… Students fled the building and could see the blood dripping from the bell tower onto the clock. As they knew this was finally the end….

The Red Room

http://www.zillowblog.com/do-you-believe-in-ghosts/2007/10/

 

The Red Room

Some houses are born evil but not this one well not until June 20th 1857. A rich man called James Raven was drunk silly and angry with his wife and a protecting her. He chased the servant to a white room and beat him to death with a chair, even when he was dead andhe would stop when his wife came and stabbed him in the back then she ran out ofthe room then the house and was never seen again. The bodies flooded the room with blood climbing up the walls and onto the ceiling. The door sang closed and there was a ‘click’, it was locked.

150 years later its Aunty Caron’s and Uncle Alan’s golden anniversary and they had rented out the Stanway hall for a big party all my cousins, uncles and aunties and all my family came to the party. Later on in the party I was asked to take the younger kids away I agreed we went outside into the corridor and I asked them what should we play.

They all answered in one big voice hide and seek so I said count to 30 and then come and find me.

I ran as fast as I could up the corridor and stopped about half way up and looked to my left there was a long dark corridor cracks splattered along the walls all of a sudden a strong wind whipped wildly do the corridor almost knocking me clean off my feet. I walked cautiously down the dark, damp and dingy corridor. I tripped up on a buckled floor bored I lay on the floor for a couple of minutes then I through my self up back on to my feet. I looked to my right there hung a painting of a young man sitting in I study alone but then I took a closer look and in the back round there was a women upset with a shining knife clenched tightly in her hand.

I then heard a screaming creek I turned slowly feeling a cold breeze running down my neck………….. There was the woman, the women from the painting with the same knife waiting to strike. She plunged for me I ran and ran I saw an open door I through my self through the door into a RED ROOM.

I ran over to the other side to look for a place to hide from the woman there was a mirror I looked into it for a good few minutes then I blinked and my clothes changed the mirror enlarged itself to the size of the wall and wind the strength of a tornado forced me into the mirror.

I was in the same room but in an Victorian style room I herded an angry voice below down the hall an man came in with his sawed out starched I turned an saw a knife I picked it up I ran behind a piano and pushed it at him I than ran to the small table I picked it up and throw it at him I ran for the door but tripped up I got stagger back up and throw the knife at him to hopping it would slow him down but I missed he picked it up and throw it back at me it went straight throw my arm turned to see how far he was behind me what a mastic that was he lashed at me and cut from about one inch to the right of my eye to the bottom left of my right eyeI ran and ran as fast as I could I saw my cousins I said “RUN , RUN , RUN FOR YOURE LIFE “I tort prayed that he would he would stay in the room but it was all invasive he came out of the room I was brave took the knife and let him run up to just before he could lashed at me it tipped him up and slit his throat and that was the last I ever saw of the ghosts.

The next day I set the hall on fire and it burnt down to ash.

Written by Adam

 

The Hollow Mountain

By Charlie Alcock

I

The plane took off from Birmingham Airport at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Rebecca lay back in her seat and turned on her iPod, drowning out the noise of the plane.

She was finally off.

The music from the headphones reminded her of home – a memory she could have done without. Her brother, her twin brother, liked the same sort of music as her, or at least he used to, and he played it loud through the house. Until the divorce, when he played more depressing music. Then he’d done it…

No. She wouldn’t think about that now. Now she was heading for the mountains of France to go skiing. She’d deal with home when she got back.

The plane touched down a while later, at some airport which she couldn’t pronounce very well. The only thing she wasn’t looking forward too about this holiday were the locals. Not that there was anything wrong with them of course. It was just that her French was terrible.

As she stepped off the plane, she saw that the coach which would drive her and the other skiers to the mountains. As she boarded, the driver looked at her with a friendly smile and said, “Bonjour, mademoiselle. Ça va?”

Rebecca smiled back. She knew that one. “Bien, merci!” she replied, before choosing her seat.

Their luggage was piled on, and the bus set off for the Alps. Rebecca was about to turn her iPod on again, but she changed her mind, and began to read instead.

Soon, Rebecca could see mountains out the coach window. She gasped – they were beautiful. She could just about make out snow on the top. She imagined what it would be like looking out the window of her hotel and seeing them close up. But she wouldn’t just be looking at them; she’d be skiing down them! She still couldn’t believe she was here.

She put down her book and stared out the window the rest of the way.

By the time she actually arrived at the hotel, skiing had finished for the day, but that had been expected. All the group could do today was fit their skis and boots, unpack and wait for tomorrow.

Rebecca’s room was near the top floor. Looking out, she had an amazing view of the mountains. She could see chairlifts stationary above the piste, as if waiting for a passenger. On an impulse, she opened the window and leaned out, enjoying the fresh mountain air. She looked around, and saw they were right on the edge of a steep slope. It looked like it went all the way down the mountain.

She felt a cold breeze, so, shivering, she closed the window. Then she realised something.

The breeze had come from inside the room.

No, she scolded herself, stop it. It’s probably a draught, that’s all…

But even so, she hurried down for dinner a little more quickly than usual.

The food was nothing special. It was just pasta with a tomato sauce, but Rebecca ate with relish. The last time she’d eaten was on the plane.

Then she heard a voice.

“Can I join you?” it said, and she looked up. A young man who looked about her age was standing in front of her. He seemed alright, so she swallowed her mouthful, and said, “Yeah, sit down.”

He smiled and did so. They continued eating. Rebecca wanted to say something, but the man got there first.

“So, you’re on your own too, right?”

Rebecca sighed. “Yes, I am. It’s good to get away from…things. Although it doesn’t quite work, a ski trip alone.”

“I’m on my own, too. It’s my gap year and, well, none of my mates wanted to come.”

Rebecca looked up in surprise. “I’m on gap year too!”

The man grinned. “Nice! I’m Ollie Carter.”

“Rebecca Thornton.” Rebecca smiled. It was nice to have a friend.

After the meal, Ollie and Rebecca parted. Ollie was going to hang around the bar area for a bit, try and get to know the others. He wanted Rebecca to come, but she was just too tired, so they agreed to ski together the next day. Then Rebecca traipsed upstairs to her room.

She slumped onto her bed and was asleep no sooner than her head had hit the pillow.

That was when the dreams began.

She dreamt she was in her hotel room, lying on her bed, but somehow unable to move. She could hear whispers around her, and everything seemed distorted, as if she was looking through a broken mirror.

Then the shadow arrived. It was a hooded figure, creeping up the wall, sucking the light from all around…and holding a knife.

She flicked her eyes from side to side, but there was no-one else in the room with her.

Then the shadow stepped off the wall—although flowed would be more accurate—and slowly trod towards her.

Rebecca was petrified with fear. She tried to scream, but was somehow unable to move her mouth.

Then it stopped, to her right. It raised the knife up and brought it down, the black blade slicing through the air, about to enter her chest—

Rebecca woke with the morning light streaming through the windows. She realised she had broken out in a cold sweat. She took a deep breath in slowly, then out again.

It had been nothing. Just a dream.

She began to think again of her brother, but stopped herself before it got too much. Concentrate on the skiing, she told herself. You are on holiday. Think about your holiday.

So she did just that, and got out of bed to dress for breakfast.

Rebecca skidded to a halt in front of her chairlift. She sat down and began to ascend slowly, along with another skier. She attempted to make conversation in French, since most of the skiers spoke it.

“Bonjour, monsieur. Ça va?” she began.

“Bien, mademoiselle. Et vous?” the skier replied. But as soon as he spoke, Rebecca knew him immediately.

“I didn’t know you spoke French, Ollie!”

They began talking earnestly about their skiing so far. As they got to the top, they agreed to follow each other, and sped down the slope.

As soon as she had begun to ski, Rebecca felt that thrill, that incredible feeling as you sped down the mountainside. She had no time to speak to Ollie as she was hurtling down a bank of snow, concentrating absolutely on where she was going.

But it was over all too soon. Eventually she was back on the lift, alone this time. Ollie had been a bit slower, and was on the lift behind her.

Rebecca gazed at the peaceful scenery around her. If she looked up, she could see that the peaks of the mountains were invisible, shrouded in cloud, and if she looked down, she could see the town below, and a few people, going about their daily businesses.

She looked all around her, and she thought about how good times never last. Before long, they always end.

She was right.

A creaking noise came from behind her. Rebecca turned around and saw Ollie looking at her from his lift. He smiled, and she smiled back.

Then it happened.

With an almighty cracking sound, Ollie’s lift snapped. His expression changed from happiness to horror, but in an instant it was over.

It was three seconds before Ollie died. The lift fell for that amount of time before crashing to the ground. He was killed instantly.

There was a moment of incomprehension for Rebecca. She stared at the shattered lift with Ollie’s corpse inside it, blood dripping down his forehead, and she couldn’t quite understand what had happened.

Then the woman in the lift that had been behind Ollie started screaming.

And it hit her. Ollie was dead.

II

A sadness descended on the hotel that day.

Of course, the whole thing was investigated. The chair had fallen due to weakening by rust in the metal connection between the chair and the wire. A sad accident, that was all.

Rebecca didn’t ski for the rest of the day.

She couldn’t.

As her lift had slowly ascended up the slope, she hadn’t been able to turn her head away from him until she was gently taken from her seat and taken back to the hotel. She was diagnosed with shock, and sent to her room to rest.

Her whole body felt numb. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t think about anything else except for the sight of Ollie in his shattered lift.

At some point, somebody (she wasn’t entirely sure who) came up and offered her something to eat, but she didn’t respond, so they left.

Eventually, she managed to fall asleep.

And she dreamt again.

It was the same dream as before. The same black cloaked figure, like a shadow, flowed from the wall to her bedside, raised the knife up and—

A figure slammed into the shadow creature, holding it back as it battled to get past him.

The figure was a man. He had an extremely pale face that would have been handsome if not for the ugly scar running down his left cheek. He was bare-chested, but wore plain white shorts.

And the look on his face was one of panic.

“Rebecca,” he gasped, “Wake up,”

Rebecca frowned at him. “What?”

He sighed. “Wake up! This is a dream, but he’s invaded your mind—he can still kill you. I can’t hold him back for long. So if you want to live, wake up!”

“But who are you?” Rebecca begged, as the shadow creature screamed in anger.

“That doesn’t matter now, but whatever you do, don’t sleep tonight. I’ll come and find you and explain everything, I promise. Wait for midnight. But right now, what you have to do is wake—”

And he vanished.

The shadow creature advanced. Rebecca closed her eyes and—

She was in her room. Daylight shone through the open windows, and she was alone once more.

III

Night couldn’t come fast enough. The day’s concerns passed Rebecca by, including a gendarme coming to take a statement from her and the other hotel guests passing on their condolences.

However, in the early evening, everyone in the hotel gathered outside and each lit a candle, including Rebecca. A man said a few words, using the usual ‘tragic loss’ phrases, which didn’t satisfy Rebecca. She wanted to know where Ollie was.

But eventually all the guests had gone to bed and Rebecca stayed in her room, waiting for whatever was going to happen.

The hotel was completely silent. Not a sound was to be heard as the hands gradually made their way around the clock.

Rebecca stayed alert throughout the night, unnerved by the quiet. Wait for midnight, the strange man had said. Now it was almost here.

She wondered what would happen when midnight arrived. It filled her with a tingling anticipation mixed with a sense of utter dread.

As the hours gradually slipped by, she lapsed into a sense of somewhere between dreams and reality. Whenever she closed her eyes she was asleep instantly, but she soon realised she was asleep and woke herself up again.

But eventually the time came. The clock’s hands were precariously close to the very top of the clock face. Rebecca leaned forward, beads of sweat forming on her forehead. Midnight was almost there.

And then it was.

Nothing happened at first. There was just a sense of tension in the air.

Then it began.

It started with a small noise, a moan that gradually built itself up.

Then the screaming began.

It was a never-ending torrent of noise, a scream that carried on forever. It sounded like a nightmare. It sounded like hell itself.

Rebecca couldn’t take it. It was too horrible. She covered her ears and curled into a ball, moaning. She thought that she might be asleep, that this maybe wasn’t real, that she couldn’t hear the pain inside herself personified, that she could wake up, she could wake up, she would wake up, if only the screaming would end…

“You get used to it,” said a voice in front of her.

Slowly she looked up at the source of the voice.

It was the scarred man.

She stared at him, mystified. “How could you ever get used to this?”

He shrugged. “You get used to anything in 40 years.”

Her mouth opened in surprise. “40 years? You look about 20.” Then she realised “Oh. You must be—”

“Dead, yeah”

Rebecca didn’t say a word.

So he continued. “The screaming is because of a thousand souls trapped here. All they do is scream. I would be too if I’d given into the pain, but I don’t want to be like them, with no thoughts, no consciousness, just screams…”

Rebecca still hadn’t adjusted to the thought of him being dead, but she put that aside. “What pain?” she asked.

He sighed. “I don’t know, but I can feel it. I feel a scream building up inside me, and pain beyond your imagining, but I won’t let it out. Ever.”

Rebecca felt a sudden urge of sympathy for him. “It must be hard”

“We’ve no time to discuss that now. I’ll explain more on the way. But right now, you have to come with me.”

“But—”

“Look, do you want to save everyone trapped here or not?”

Rebecca frowned. “But—”

“Stop saying that and just come on!” He grabbed her hand and ran with her out the room.

It was pitch black in the corridor. The screaming was even louder. The man dragged Rebecca down the corridor to the stairs.

For some reason, Rebecca felt like they were being followed.

Then she saw it. A face, twisted into an expression of utter anguish, speeding at them through the dark. She screamed herself, until the man quickly pressed both of them against the wall. The face passed by, not harming them at all.

Rebecca looked at the man in horror. “What was that?”

The man looked grim. “That,” he said, “is what we can hear. That’s what I’ll turn into if I let the pain take over. That’s a Screamer.”

Rebecca swallowed. “Let’s go.”

Eventually, the two companions reached the front door of the hotel. It was pitch black outside. The hotel lights illuminated only a small patch in front of them. The rest was just darkness.

Rebecca turned to the man in horror. “Do I have to go out there?”

The man sighed. “Yes.”

She looked again. The darkness was total. There was no light anywhere.

Then she realised something. “Where’s the moon?”

The man joined her in looking out. “It’s not there. Well, it is, but its light is gone. He prefers it when it’s dark.

Rebecca looked at him sharply. “Who?”

“I don’t know,” was the man’s blunt reply. “All I know is that under this hotel is something that wants to keep us all here.”

Rebecca swallowed. “The shadow from my dream?”

“Yes. He was trying to kill you. Make you a Screamer too. Anyone who dies here never leaves. They’re trapped. I have no idea why he’s doing it. But he has unimaginable power. And you’ve got to stop him. For all our sakes.”

“But why me?” Rebecca cried.

The man squirmed, unsure what to say. “You were sleeping in the same room I died in 40 years ago. You’ve experienced pain and loss, so you’re not really a stranger to this sort of thing, and…I like you.”

Rebecca gasped, incredulous. “You put me in all this danger; nearly get me killed; all because you like me? What are you dead people like? I don’t even know your name!”

“Jonas Fife. And I had to have someone to help me. Why not you?”

Rebecca stopped talking, turning things over in her mind. Then she reached a conclusion.

“What do I have to do?”

A ghost of a smile crossed Jonas’ face. Then it was gone. “You’ve got to get down to a cave near the bottom of the mountain. I think you’ll probably have to ski. And Rebecca, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. I can’t leave the hotel, the Shadow stops me. You’ve got to do it alone.”

IV

Rebecca tore down the mountainside. Jonas had told her she only had perhaps a few seconds before the shadow was alerted to her presence. She intended to make the most of those few seconds as was possible.

So she sped down the mountain as fast as possible.

Jonas was right. Almost as soon as she had set off, the whole mountain rumbled.

It was as if it was laughing.

Then it was over.

Rebecca frowned as she skied. Was that it?

Suddenly a huge pinnacle of rock grew out of the mountainside in front of her. She turned to avoid it, but another one grew almost instantly. She swerved quickly, just cutting her cheek on the razor-sharp stone.

Many more sprang up, faster than she could measure. She could barely squeeze between them, but somehow she managed. She knew that if she so much as faltered, she was dead.

Then she came to a narrow pathway in the snow. Down one side was a sheer drop to the bottom of the valley. The other was a wall of rock.

Rebecca realised the stone towers had stopped. She was just about to go onto the narrow path when—

A section of it fell away.

It was even narrower now. Her right ski was left dangling over the edge. She had to concentrate absolutely on her balance, or else—

She fell.

She was tumbling over and over in the air for what seemed like eternity. The ground, which had just a moment ago seemed so far away, was now so terrifyingly close, and she barely had time to register she was about to die when her limp body crashed into the snow.

V

Pain awoke her.

An intense anguish in her leg suddenly made her aware she was alive. How long she would be in that state, she didn’t know. But she was for now, and she planned to stay that way.

Gasping, she opened her eyes and saw the impossible.

She was inside the mountain.

She was in an echoing cavern, with the roof reaching up beyond her vision. She gazed in wonderment at the everlasting stalactites reaching like teeth from the sloping walls. It was as if the whole mountain had been hollowed out.

And she was lying down on a slab of stone.

Like an altar.

Then a stab of pain brought her back to reality. She clutched her leg and cried out. Her voice echoed around the cavern.

And suddenly the pain began to fade away. Rebecca, far from being pleased, was paralysed with fear.

Because if the pain was going this quickly, something had to be healing it. And that meant that something, or someone, was here with her.

The Shadow.

“Your leg was broken,” a voice said.

So it was here. Slowly, shaking with pure terror, she looked up at the fiend that was tormenting a thousand souls.

And it was the creature from her dream.

A man cloaked in black, sucking the light from around him.

A living shadow.

Then a face formed from the folds of the hood. A pale face, burning with cold.

“And I healed you. Surely this proves I am worthy of some compassion?”

It was mocking her.

So she replied with “What’s the point of healing me if you’re just going to kill me?”

The creature shrugged. “As you wish,” it said, indifferent. It raised its hand and the pain was back, greater, stronger, more agonising than it was before.

“Stop! Please!”

The Shadow lowered its hand, and the pain was gone.

“Good. Are you willing to listen now?”

Rebecca nodded.

“You were right, though,” said the Shadow, “I am going to kill you. And you will become another soldier in my army.”

Rebecca swallowed, and managed to stutter out “What army?”

The Shadow grinned menacingly. “My Screamers. What did you think? I’m going to destroy everything. I only wanted to find out what came after life, but no, they said it would cause the end of the world…HA! Now I’m going to do it instead!”

“Who did this to you?” Rebecca asked.

The Shadow’s face twisted in rage. “Them! The rest of my tribe! They cursed me, never to live, never to die, then hollowed the mountain and placed me inside, to be a prisoner forever! I hate them! I HATE EVERYTHING!”

The mountain shook, channelling the anger of the Shadow.

“Here, lying dormant, on the bridge between life and death, I was able to discover anyway! I keep the dead of the Hollow Mountain here, trapped, like me, until I have enough. Then I will rise, and we shall conquer and destroy!”

The Hollow Mountain was shaking more violently than ever. Chunks of stone were breaking off and shattering as they collided with the floor.

Rebecca stared at him, the personification of anger and violence. And she saw him for what he was. She watched this display with contempt, and uttered two words.

“You’re insane”

His head snapped towards her. He tilted his head to one side. “No. Never insane,” he replied. “I don’t think I want you to be one of my soldiers anymore.”

Rebecca gulped. “No?”

The Shadow grinned. “No. I just want to kill you.” And he raised his arms, and a wave of energy surged out of him. There was no way Rebecca could have survived it.

She was dead.

VI

Rebecca would have thought that heaven was white.

But no. All around her was just a sort of…greyness, really. No white at all.

She looked around her and saw that she was alone. The last thing she remembered was the beam of energy from the Shadow hitting her and then she woke up here.

She realised she would probably be here forever. She sighed. If only she could have stopped the Shadow…but she couldn’t now. Not ever.

“Oh yes you can.”

She jumped. She knew that voice. She’d known that voice for years. That meant she must be dead. As she turned around, she felt a mixture of apprehension, excitement and sadness. Because the person she saw as she turned around was the person she most wanted to see in the whole world.

Her twin brother.

“I still don’t understand why you did it”

Somehow she and Robert were sitting down on nothing. She didn’t care that she was dead. She was just glad to see him again.

Robert sighed before replying, “I couldn’t take Mum and Dad being apart. It was probably kind of an extreme reaction, you know, but…no, actually I do regret it. But I can’t do anything about it now can I?”

Rebecca smiled at him. “I would have thought you would have done something a bit more dramatic than pills, Robert. I dunno, jumping off a building or something.”

“That would have been a lot more fun.”

Rebecca giggled. It was so good being with him again. It was just like old times, where they ran to the fields near Parker’s Wood, lay down and looked at the sky, discussing very seriously what shape the clouds were.

“We always got into arguments, didn’t we, Becky? About the clouds.”

Rebecca smiled at the nickname she hated. “Yeah. You always ended up winning.”

Robert laughed. “I thought you let me win!”

Rebecca looked up at him with mock disappointment. “How did you know?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Then Robert was serious again. “What does matter is the Shadow.”

Rebecca’s smile faded away. “You mean…I have to go back? No. I’ve lost you once already, I’m not losing you again!” She was breaking down into tears already, when she had told herself she wouldn’t.

“I’m sorry. But you’re not actually dead.” Robert sighed and looked down. “I was sent from…you-know-where…to talk to you. You were pulled back into here because you’re too important. You have to stop the Shadow from destroying everything. And to do that, you have to go back.”

“But I’ll never see you again!”

Robert hugged her. “Oh yes you will. One day. And don’t forget me, Rebecca. Never forget me.”

Then a white light filled her vision, and Robert and the grey world disappeared into brightness.

VII

She was back in the Hollow Mountain again.

The Shadow was staring at her with an expression of horror. “But…that’s impossible…you were dead…you can’t have…”

Rebecca smiled, filled with a new determination. “Oh yes I have, Shadow. You’ve got to be stopped, I’m afraid.”

The Shadow smiled, showing his rotten, stale teeth. “How exactly do you plan to do that?”

Rebecca faltered. She didn’t know. But then she noticed someone standing behind the Shadow.

“Just ask Jonas.”

The Shadow grimaced and turned around. Jonas Fife was standing behind him. Grinning.

“You! The pesky one!” the Shadow growled. “I’ve been waiting for you to give in for 40 years!”

Jonas still grinned. “You shouldn’t have been concentrating so much on Rebecca, Shadow. I slipped through your net.”

The Shadow snarled, and lunged for Jonas. He quickly flew out the way of the Shadow’s clutch and perched on a ledge, high above the ground.

“Do you know why we scream, Shadow? We who have been kept here for years?”

The Shadow just looked at him, barely able to control his anger.

“Because it hurts. Being kept in between, never living or dying, torn continuously between the two, hurts so much.”

And with that, Jonas dived towards the Shadow and flowed into him.

Then he gave in to the pain.

Two voices screamed out the loudest scream of all; the pain of 40 years, and the pain of thousands. Rebecca couldn’t take it. She collapsed on the floor, clutching her ears, but even that wouldn’t block it. It was the sound of pure and utter torment, resonating around the cavern like a church bell.

The whole mountain shook again. Rebecca just managed to dodge a falling rock when she noticed that the whole place was crumbling. She looked at the Shadow. He was still screaming.

Then a large boulder fell from the sloping wall. She could see daylight again! It looked just big enough for her to fit through.

She scrambled towards it, evading chunks of rock as she ran. Soon she was at the wall. She grabbed at the rock and began to climb. She struggled for things to hold on to, still avoiding falling rocks as she climbed. One rock slid past her, knocking her hand off. She swung for a few petrifying moments before swinging her arm up and grabbing the wall again.

After what seemed like forever, she reached the hole. She took one look back at the destruction behind her, thinking of Jonas. Then she pushed herself through the hole and back into the light.

But she still had to get away from the collapsing mountain. She ran as fast as she could, and when she had got herself to a safe distance, she turned and watched as the mountain caved in on itself, destroying the Shadow forever.

VIII

She sat on the snow, crying for Ollie and Jonas, but most of all Robert.

“Hey,” a voice said.

She looked up. It was Jonas.

“But…you were a Screamer.” she said. “You let yourself become one, didn’t you? That’s what destroyed him. He became one too.”

Jonas sat down on the snow next to her. “That’s what killed him. He was destroyed. That means we’re all free! Rebecca, thank you. You’ve done more than I could have hoped for. We’re all free thanks to you. Look!”

So she looked up, and she saw.

A thousand butterflies, flying.

It was such a beautiful sight that it provoked more tears. She looked to Jonas and saw that he, too, was fading. He smiled at her.

“Thank you,” he said. “Now we can rest. Goodbye, Rebecca.”

And with that, he turned into a butterfly and flew to the sky.

She looked up at all of them, vanishing now as the sun slowly rose. But before the light came, she had just enough time to see him and Ollie waving.

And as the first light struck the snow on the top of the mountains, she said a silent thanks to Robert.

She would see him again someday.

And so she turned away, and began the long walk back to the top of the mountains.

 

The City of Eternal Doom

My eyes were slowly regaining enough energy for them to open. The first thing that came to me was where I was. Then I remembered the road trip with Mum and Dad. Mum and Dad! Where are they?

“Mum and Dad,” I yelled.

I looked down the vast hallway and saw the red cross. ” I’m in hospital,” I gasped.

I got up and ran towards the door to see if I could find Mum and Dad but I felt an odd sensation as I was thrown to the floor by a drip stuck into my arm. In anger I ripped it out of the machine and ran through the door but what I saw would haunt me forever…

I looked at the bloody leg in awe as the rest of the room was covered in blood. I screamed when I saw that it was fresh. There was a bloody and cut arm dripping with blood hanging over a strip light. In the corner of the room I saw an x-ray machine and the lower elements of a body covered in blood drooping over the side of the machine. The machine had clamped onto the belt of the man. I ran over and lifted the lid of the machine and the bloodied remains slid down it. I ran towards the exit at full speed and burst out of the hospital and screamed,”Help, anyone!!!” I ran over to an ambulance parked outside and opened the door to hide, but inside a man was pinned to the wall with bloodied syringes sticking out of his arms, pinning him to the wall, and a syringe sticking out of his head, I screamed as loud as I could, hoping to attract attention. I ran down the street into the closing night…

After days of running, I was exhausted and tired. I had managed to deal with my hunger and thirst by robbing the empty and bloody shops in the city. After thirty days of running, I came across a large barricade held by a group of well-armed humans. I saw Mum and Dad eating by the small fire. I ran over to them and hugged them and said hello to them. They explained about how the city had been razed by plague and how zombies roamed the streets. They told me it was Mum’s turn to be on patrol. I went to bed quietly that night, not knowing that hell had appeared outside the camp…

The zombies had come during the night and took Mum and two other guards. That was the last straw. The following morning we all marched into the city. We set up a barricade and prepared ourselves for a final attack. Victory or death was what we had in our heads.

I started to think that the zombies wouldn’t come…

They came in numbers that had us outnumbered 25 to 1.I knew we were doomed but then a picture of Mum’s desperation came into my mind and, before I knew it, I screamed, “Attack” and my feet lifted me up and over the barrier. My finger tightened on the trigger of my gun and rotten grey flesh started to fall from the zombies. Explosions and the dead soon started to rise from our guns. It looked like we could win…

I was the last one. I fought for hours until I, too, was dragged down into the dirt, the same as Mum. Oh well, at least we tried.

by Luke

Here is some writing from Cheltenham College

Helmet OfDestiny

It started with a fall. I picked myself up and stared at the object. It was made out of steel and was really shiny. It was a dome shape. I bent down and observed it. I pulled and tugged and yanked suddenly it came out with a POP! . I scooped off the mud and brushed the dust off, I took all the worms off and slid it on my head. I stood there feeling like a chieftain leading an army to battle.

Suddenly the helmet tightened to my skull! Then a huge earthquake started and a massive hole was opening up right beside me. I tried to run but I didn’t make it I fell down the hole!

I woke up on the ground. I got up and felt my head,the helmet had gone! I looked up and saw three huge Viking ships, the sail had a huge raven on it.Their oars were crashing the waves. I heard the drums beating and warriors shouting. They were jumping in the water to get to the beach first. Then the ships pulled up at the beach.

The Vikings charged at them then everyone charged. I turned around, ladies were saving there babies Men were praying for their lives, Monks were grabbing money and running away. There were arrows flying through the sky. People bleeding to death, children dying and women being caught as slaves. In the throng of battle I saw a fierce Viking charging towards the crowds. That was when I saw the helmet that could bring me home. I knew it was the one. The sun shone on it. My heart fell, I knew I had to get it off him but how?

Hours later the battle ended. They found me and planned to sell me as a slave ! It was finally my turn to be sold! I saw the man with the helmet and thought in my head, ‘please sell me to him.’ Then I heard him shout, “I’ll take the boy.” I was sold to the man with the helmet of destiny!

Iworked with him for a few days and we started to like each other so I asked him if I could try the helmet. On he said, “YES!” I was so pleased! I was going to return home! I tried it on and then another earthquake anda hole opened in the ground.I jumped down it! THUMP! I landed on the ground.And saw the helmet where it was last. I heard my mum shouting so I ran to tell her the great news. But she didn’t believe me!

By Edward Johnson

Helmet of Destiny

It started with a stumble. I turned around and glared. There I saw a shiny, glittery bronze hump sticking out from the floor, it was in the shape of half an oval. I hobbled over to it and slowly knelt down to have a look at the strange object .I had a look for a stick, I began to dig .I made a big hole and I scooped the muddy mud away and found that I had tripped over a Viking Helmet!

I rubbed and dusted the amazing helmet and excitedly put it on. As I put it on I felt as if I

was a warrior myself. I felt like I wanted to fight. The fun didn’t last long, suddenly thunder and lightning appeared in the sky. Thunder bolted overhead and lightening cracked and it made me jump and it started to hail. A swoop of terrifying gusts of wind swept me up and I closed my eyes tightly. When I opened them again I found myself floating. Where am I? I wondered. I closed my eyes again. I felt a bump- a BIG bump. I opened my eyes, staggered to my feet, put my hand on my head and fumbled around. Where was my helmet? Where was my helmet?

Suddenly I heard a warning horn. I looked around and saw I was on a beach. I cautiously looked to see and made out a dragon boat coming over the horizon! The amazing boat came closer…

Suddenly many men leaped out off the ship with a SPLASH and ran to the shore. Behind me the villages were hiding, women picked up their crying children, men were screaming. Monks were hiding their silver and gold. A blazing arrow fired overhead. In the throng of the battle a very brave warrior came rushing forward wearing MY helmet! Yes MY helmet !I felt my life depended on this helmet. I was very angry, suddenly a stone tripped up the warrior and the helmet rolled towards me -it rolled towards me ………

The End By Ellie Harding

It started with a trip. I picked myself up and stared at the object. It was a silvery sort of oval shape sticking out of the ground.I cautiously limped over to it to take a closer look.Moments later I started yanking and tugging, it took for me ages. Finally I got it out of the ground, cleaned off the mud and bugs. It was then when

I realised it was a Viking helmet! I put it on but obviously it was too big.

I felt honoured to be wearing a helmet that had been worn by a Viking. Suddenly there was a crash of lightning, I toppled over and landed on a beach. My head was in agony, were was the helmet? And were was I? Then I saw three or four Viking ships with ravens on the large white sails. As it got closer I heard a drum. Some of them dived off the boat, in to the water and ran towards me. My heart missed a beat, I ran as fast as I could and hid behind a large tree.

Behind me I heard women screaming and picking up their children. An arrow skimmed my head and hit a terrified monk then another and another, people were running about like headless chickens and some were getting ready for the ferocious battle.They charged, that was when I realised that the man leading the Vikings was wearing my helmet, the silvery helmet that got me in to all of this and the one I found in my back yard that morning.

I waited and waited for the helmet to fall off his head but alas it did not fall off. Suddenly he stabbed a monk, I ran and took his helmet and sward and stabbed the Viking. His name was Hairy Breast the Great. I grabbed the helmet ant put it on my head. I was whirling around and around and arrived just in tie to hear my mum calling me for supper.

I went down to supper it was sausages and mash, my favourite.

“Where’ have you been?” She asked. I said nothing.

By Lucy Meecham-Jones

Helmet of Destiny

It started with a stumble, I got up and glared at the thing in the ground .It was rusty and worn and made of gold! It was an oval shape with horns out the side .I staggered and limped towards it, inspected it and investigated it closely .I shoved and pulled, yanked and kicked and finally it slipped out of the squelchy mud. I scooped out the mud and pulled the rotten felt, finally I slid it on.

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