Winning secondary short story
Dark crows gathered in the blue sky. They swept and swooped, dancing in the air as they mocked the marching POWs with their ease of movement, and their brazen displays of freedom. Often, they would dive-bomb the men, torturing their ears with grating squawks and penetrating their minds with their sinister, knife-like glares.
The POWs, drained by ceaseless marching and the oppressive heat of the Burmese sun, did nothing. Every vital ounce of energy wasted, brought them closer to the grim hospitality of the grave. They trudged on. Eventually the crows tired of their pestering, and retreated off into the distance.
THUD! A POW crashed to the ground, exhausted. His skeletal frame crumpling like an old newspaper. Drunk with fatigue, his comrades turned towards him. A spate of whispering erupted. Murmurs of “death” and “he’s next” echoed across the column, enveloping it in a portentous shroud.
A Japanese soldier strided swiftly towards him, revolver drawn. Slowly raising his gun, he fired. BANG! BANG! The gunshots resounded across the dry plain, rattling the men’s eardrums. Silence then engulfed the landscape.
The soldier peered at the POWs, with a loathing look, daring them to speak. Silence. Satisfied, he turned towards the fallen man, who lay wheezing like an asthmatic. The soldier, narrowed his eyes, and cooly levelled his revolver. The POW tried scrambling to his feet, but was forced down by the sheer weight of his weariness.
BANG! BANG! BANG! The POW convulsed violently as ice-cold metal mauled his body, before shuddering to a final halt as his life seeped away in a stream of crimson. After the column had trudged off, the crows returned. They perched themselves upon the lifeless man and began to snigger as they picked at his cold corpse. Sinister grins flashed upon their impish faces.
Swans International School
Winning primary short story
“If you two go out, just make sure you hide that ball of yours,” Mum jabbed the shattered pieces of glass in to the dustpan. “The Taliban will not give you any second chances.”
“I wish the government let us play football in the street.” Karim was already taking our sock-stuffed ball into the dusty yard. We didn’t have much ground to play on because of all the sharp metal shrapnel that lay about. “Let’s play passes.”
Karim always wanted to pass the ball - he didn’t like change. I’ve adapted. I’ve invented ‘who can bounce the ball on their arm the longest’ and things like that. Games where you don’t need space.
“Yassen! Yassen!” It was Karim yelling, “The ball has gone out of our gate. What will Mum think?”
“Quiet! You don’t want Mum to hear,” I slowly opened the rusty gate that dad had fixed after the last bombing.
“What are you doing Yassen?” Karim was probably scared about being caught by the government. Then his eyes widened as he saw the long street in front of him. It was strewn with pieces of cracked tarmac but I knew what he was thinking, “We can play Liverpool verses Manchester City.” Karim was a hard-core Liverpool fan. He knew every player’s shirt number and old legends even I hadn’t heard of.
We were kicking the ball back and forth before we even knew it.
Suddenly, the ball left my foot. It was a powerful shot - as fast as a landmine exploding - heading for old Mr Salah’s remaining window....
CRASH! The whole world stood still. My face was blank. Little droplets of water were swimming in Karim’s eyes. Mr Salah was never going to return our ball. But worse than that - Mum! She was standing at the gate, arms folded, and we knew our troubles had only just begun.
Age 10, Laude San Pedro International College
Runner-up secondary short story
I hang and watch my rainforest as each day goes by.
Watching visitors paddling steadily upstream against the current, the river water splashing against the bows of their canoes. The heat, the work and the humidity makes them sweat and soon countless flies and other insects are buzzing and whizzing around them.
I prefer the fresh, cool smell of river water. The smell of the rotting vegetation on the forest floor is strong, but it doesn’t make me move.
The river water is a dirty reddish brown. Riverbanks with tall grasses and bushes dipping into the water. Trees seem to grow closer to the river bank as the river narrows. A Caiman lies on sandbanks watching me, but it doesn’t make me move.
A whirlwind of butterflies, big, bright and blue fly by. A huge snake, an anaconda, swims out of the path of the canoe and slips noiselessly into the bushes on the bank. On the forest floor masses of butterflies, especially azure tipped winged ones feed on rotting fruit. Ants go about their business, leaf cutter ants building nests, soldier ants marching in search of a dead animal hidden in the undergrowth, but they don’t make me move.
A relentless torrent of birdsong and a background of insect noises. Eagles screech and small birds twitter, Flights of brightly coloured parrots and macaws fly home from feeding grounds, squawking noisily. Red howler monkeys launch into their evening choruses which will go on until long after dark. When they finish, quails and whippoorwills take over and whistle through the night. Somewhere in the forest, a jaguar growl, full of menace, flows through the trees but doesn’t make me move.
I feel my branch under my claws and keep still to sleep. I hang and watch my rainforest.
Year 7,Laude San Pedro International College
Runner-up primary short story
The first rumbling of the mountain went unnoticed. Skiing speedily through the icing-sugar snow, eyes concentrating, Olivia ignored the warning of her family not to go off piste. Daylight shone intensely on Olivia’s dark green eyes while the wind tickled her face like a massage. Had she looked behind her, she would have seen her mum waving in desperation. Had she looked up, at the top of the mountain, she would have seen a dust cloud of snow.
The insistent rumblings of the mountain brought her back to reality. Feet wobbling unsteadily, body shivering, she glanced up cautiously and saw the dusty snow cloud grow bigger. And nearer. The rumble grew louder. And louder.
Eyes fixed on the mountain, heart thumping, Olivia skied for her life. But it was too late. She heard the first “O…” of her name leave her mother’s lips before the rest was stolen by the rumbling of the mountain. Rumbling, tumbling, turning, balls of snow, gasps of breath. Then blurry, then silent, then white…
Then light. “Olivia! Olivia! Are you OK?” A familiar voice. Turning her head, she gazed into the concerned eyes of her mother and found herself safe.
It had passed, as all avalanches do, and Olivia promised to always listen to her family who were now hugging each other tightly.
Irene González del Castillo Lara
Laude San Pedro International College