Flash Fiction & Way With Words Winners

As part of Culture Warrington’s LitFest 2014, the Way With Words and Flash Fiction competitions were sponsored by the Colonel Edelsten Bequest and Waterstones Warrington.

This was the first open writing competition to be held as part of Warrington LitFest – now in its second year – and which saw a wide range of events including poetry, performance, written word, workshops and talks.

Local author Gill Hoffs – who featured in LitFest with a solo talk for her new book The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Victorian Titanic and Curtis Jobling presented the awards to the winners.

The winning Stories of Flash Fiction and Way With Words – 9 & Under, 10-13, 14-17 are below:

 

Flash Fiction

 

Winner:

Welcome Sunday Morning by Penny Aldred  £150 plus £25 Waterstones voucher

Penny lives in Todmorden and works part-time in a shop. She enjoys writing short and very short stories.

The initial inspiration for Welcome Sunday Morning came from watching ants walking in a line along the base of a wall in the garden (and being glad they were outside and not in the house!) The rest of the story emerged over a few days.

Of Penny’s story the judges said “A great use of language. Very visual with fabulous imagery – a very high standard of short story, it really stood out.”

Welcome, Sunday Morning

Sunday morning she sees the ants.

She’s making breakfast: coffee pot and two cups on the tray. There’s a new man in her bed. (Very new, only fifteen hours since their first meeting). She glances at the newspaper on the mat and decides against it. (Too domestic, settled). Turns to the fridge and sees a thin dark link of determined ants walking along the work surface, down the wall, across the front of the cupboards and disappearing under the skirting board. She drops on her knees to watch them walking, together.

She boils a kettle, pours the water over them, along the floor and along the work surface and watches the bodies tip over, legs wave, slow then stop. She sweeps them up, drops them into the bin, takes the bin outside. Pours some yoghurt with honey into a bowl, takes two spoons, fruit, all on the tray, goes upstairs, to her fifteen hours and ten minutes man. (Who’s counting?)

Later, a few hours later, when they’ve finally disentangled their bodies and he’s in the shower, she comes down to make tea, toast with a slice of tomato, basil and crushed garlic. In the same place as earlier, there’s another line of ants marching. Or maybe the same ants: there were some legs still moving slowly as she swept them aside.  Whatever, the same ants, or new ants, an invasion is on.

She pulls her dressing gown round her, opens the back door and crosses to the garage. Three years ago there were ants in the house. She was married then. Her husband took care of problems like ants, with varying degrees of success. The ants have returned.

There were projects he started and abandoned. There was the pond, now just a hole. No frogs, no weeds, no water. There was making the box room into a nursery. For two years they hoped. For twelve weeks they planned: colour charts and catalogues. Peter Rabbit or tropical jungle?  Pink or blue, lemon or wait? Then all hope drained away, and a marriage lasting ten years and five months was the biggest unfinished project of all.

She finds the ant powder.

Back in the kitchen, squeeze the carton, puff out white killing clouds. A thin coating,  just enough to dust their feet, not enough to harm them. They need to survive for the moment. Let them walk it back to the nest and kill the queen. Her husband explained this. She watches the dark bodies moving through the thin layer of powder, scarcely slowed by the powder on their feet.

The shower’s stopped; she hears the man moving about upstairs. He’s the first man who’s stayed here since the husband, the not-to-be-father left. Toast under the grill, slice the tomato, pick basil from the pot on the window ledge. Serve it outside at the table on the patio; whisk him past the destruction in her kitchen. Sit with her back to the sun, so he can see the highlights in her hair.

Runners Up:

 

Tea in a Badly Stained Mug by Eric Twist £100

Eric is a former a college teacher who lives in Great Sankey and runs Great Draft Writers Group at LiveWire’s Library in Orford Neighbourhood Hub. Though he has been writing for a long time, this is the first competition he has ever entered. In October 2013 the First Draft Writers Group published an anthology of short stories and poems available in all libraries called ‘Thinking in Ink’.

The judges commented on its very open, strong narrative and that it was reminiscent of Alan Bennett.

 

Tea in a badly-stained Mug

They gave me tea in a badly-stained mug. I could see it was stained when the lady took it from under the counter. I didn’t say anything. Well, you don’t like to, not when it’s charity.

Even so, you’d think they’d be more particular. My mother was very particular; she used bleach when the cups got stained. Oh yes, we had cups, not mugs. Our family had a bit of class. And once you have class, you never lose it – even if you’ve fallen on hard times.
‘Fallen on hard times’. Funny expression that. Old fashioned. I suppose ‘Down on my luck’ sounds better. And it’s true. I’ve just had a run of bad luck. That’s all. Bad luck.

It was a white mug so it really showed the staining. I expect if it had been brown I wouldn’t have noticed. But it was white.
I drank the tea. It wasn’t just that it was a cold day; I didn’t like to offend the lady. She was a volunteer. And when somebody volunteers their free time to help folk like me you don’t want to appear ungrateful, do you.

But that’s not really the point. It’s the fact that because you have to turn to charity, they think they can give you a stained mug. One of the residents – Harry – said that he’d drunk tea out of a jam-jar before now. I said: Well, Harry, that may be all right for you, but I was brought up to appreciate the finer things of life.

I’ll bounce back, though. Once I’ve got the drinking under control. I used to drink whisky. Can’t afford that now. Still, white cider’s just as good – once you get used to the taste. Alcohol isn’t allowed inside the building. If you’re caught with a bottle in your room you’re liable to be kicked out.

I used to hide a bottle in the bushes just behind the wall. But I’ve had a couple stolen – there are some bloody thieves in this place, I can tell you. So, you know what I did? I got myself a flask – of those cheap plastic ones. It holds a pint. I buy a litre of cider, and drink some in the alley behind the off-licence. Then I pour the rest into the flask. That way, I can sit in the park and it looks like I am just having a cup of coffee. Also nobody questions me when I take it into the hostel.

If I can get into the kitchen when no one’s looking, I’ll break that mug. Drop it on the floor. I mean, it’s not just a question of hygiene; it’s about keeping up one’s personal standards.

 

Moving by Nicola Fisher

£100

Nicola from Warrington said ‘Thank you so much, I’m totally shocked… I’ve never written anything before, I’m so happy!’

 

Moving

It always ended the same way.

She’d start out eager to please like a new puppy. Everyone agreed how lovely she was, kind and accommodating. They would invite her over for coffee or lunch.

She hoped each time that it would be okay and she could stay, make a life, have long lasting friends, get to dress for dinner, take flowers and wine and chink glasses with old friends, reminisce about parties they’d all been at, weddings and christenings their children would plan. It would all be so normal.

She looked around the playground at mums with their sisters who lived in the same village and grandparents collecting their children from school. She smiled and told them how kind they were for helping out with family chores. They would say they didn’t mind, it gave them something to do and they would tell her they were lucky because their daughters were such good daughters and how proud they were of them.

People would eventually notice that her family never came to the school to help collect the kids, and when friends came to her house for coffee she didn’t have family photos of her parents or sisters, she would say she hadn’t finished unpacking and needed to decorate first. She’d said that so many times that she’d lost count.

Her home was beautiful, tranquil. She filled it with paintings and objects she had collected over the years from the myriad lives she had led. She knew how to recreate this setting quickly. It gave the children a sense of home and familiarity.

She realised that without a back story, she wasn’t really a full person. People need to know the back story and without that she wasn’t interesting or important, and she could tell people quickly became suspicious if she didn’t have an entourage of family coming and going regularly, so she invented one, which included family living in Australia, death and divorce, anything to avoid the truth slipping out.  Of course her husband and kids knew the truth, they’d had to move to, they had created their own back story in order to fit in and they too could only take their friendships so far before people started to ask questions.

When the time came to move again she would be hopeful and positive, but not this time.  She wanted to stay, she was weary of the lies, the upheaval. She needed to let go of the past and move on, so she confided in a friend, told her the truth. She felt a massive sense of relief, it couldn’t be any worse than living a lie, she was exhausted mentally and this was the only way she would ever be able to move on.  At last she was free.

Moving day came around quickly this time. She photographed the rooms before she packed up so she didn’t put anything in the wrong place at the new house. Maybe this time would be different.

 

Way With Words 

9 & Under

The Secret Door by Olivia Wood Age 9

A decade ago, there lived a 10 year old girl named Lizz. She was very inquisitive, with short strawberry blond hair. One morning, she went with her mum to see The Hobbit at the Westbrook Cinema in Warrington. Lizz REALLY didn’t want to go but her mum was potty about anything to do with ‘Lord of the Rings’.

When they got there, her mum said “Go and find a seat.”

Lizz nodded and went to go but then saw a tiny door in the very corner of the room.

“Huh?” she muttered.

Glancing back to see if her mum was looking she opened the door and stepping through, she found herself in a warm, isolated valley.

“Ha-ha-ha!” laughed a creepy voice, making Lizz jump.

Lizz saw a faint light in the distance and decided to investigate. Brambles scratched her face as she trotted through the spooky trees, which looked like creepy hands in the darkness. Finally she came upon a dingy, little cottage.

“I wonder who lives here,” she murmured to herself as she knocked on the door.

“Who’s there?!” shouted an angry voice.

“My name is Lizz, Lizz Shockel-Buckle.”

“Well Lizz Shockel-Buckle, please come in,” replied the voice.

The cottage was owned by a dwarf. He was hairy, with a bulbous, red nose and in his right hand, he held a knobbly, old walking stick.

Inside the cottage were strange items of furniture that looked vaguely human.

“I like your furniture,” commented Lizz.

“Thank you. Would you like see how I make it?” asked the Dwarf.

Lizz nodded but felt nervous about what she was about to see.

“Okay. I make them like this!” and he raised his walking stick and aimed it straight at Lizz.

She dodged and a spark hit a chair. Quick as a flash, it turned into a person who quickly fled the cottage.

“Arrrrrrrrg!” screamed the Dwarf and aiming again and again, he released more people. On the seventh attempt, Lizz saw a mirror and used it as a shield. The curse hit the mirror and rebounded back at the Dwarf, who turned into a wobbly legged table with one of its legs being the old, knobbly walking stick.

The first person to be released from the curse reappeared at the door.

“Thank you so much for releasing us. Some of us have been like that for 300 years,” said the man.

“You’re very welcome. Do you know how I can get back?” asked Lizz.

“Yes, when I was a young man, there were rumours about a little door in that clump of trees over there.” replied the man.

“Thank you. Hopefully I will come back some day but I must go now.”

Lizz fought her way through the trees and came to the small door, leading back to the cinema. When she got through, she saw ‘THE HOBBIT’ on the screen.

Come here Lizzy Lollipop,” called her mum softly. Lizz sat down to watch the film with her mum.

 

Cromwell’s Coin by Abigail Finney Age 9

“Wait for Me”, bellowed Sophie as she raced after Laura through the busy maze of Saturday shoppers on Bridge Street in Warrington.  The Sun was shining lazily when Sophie and Laura finally stopped to catch their breath next to the River of Life. “This is the statue I was telling you about” Laura said to Sophie, who was staring, fascinated by its beauty.

“If you like, once you’ve got your breath back. I’ll take you to see the statue of Oliver Cromwell”

Minutes later when Laura was smiling up at the statue of Cromwell, a dark shadow crept over his face, as the sun was smothered by a lone cloud.

A piercing scream broke the silence, Laura looked around, but Sophie was nowhere to be seen. “Sophie where are you!” yelled a panicky Laura!                                                                           “Down here, I’ve fell down a hole” at the back of the statue” shrieked Sophie. Laura was scared and hesitated, but knew she had to help her sister; she saw the opening in the ground and sat on the edge, took a deep breath and dropped down.

She found Sophie in a heap on the floor, looking dazed.  As Sophie pushed herself up, she felt something cold under her hand.  It was a small piece of dirty metal. She picked it up and showed it to Laura. “It’s a coin,” she said smiling, and slipped it carefully into her pocket. “Shall we see what’s at the end of the tunnel?”

“Okay! “Said Laura nervously. So slowly and cautiously they crept through the tunnel.

As they spoke, their voices echoed through the dark. The sound of water could be heard, slowly trickling under their feet.  Cobwebs stretched down from the ceiling, desperately trying to touch them as they wandered through. The damp, cold, earthy smell of fear hung in the air and Laura began to feel scared, she wasn’t a fan of the dark!

After what seemed like an eternity, they saw a faint whisper of light.  Frantically they clambered towards it.  It was coming from above their heads, but their relief turned to dismay as they couldn’t find a way to reach it.

“Over here” Laura shouted as she found some metal rungs in the wall.  They pulled themselves up rung by rung until they were both standing on wet grass and feeling the warm embrace of the sun on their face.

Sophie pulled the coin out of her pocket and examined it!  It was bronze, had eight sides and had a picture of a castle with some writing on it.

“Let’s go and show Mum “said Sophie excitedly.

Their Mum had never seen anything like it before and suggested they take it to the Warrington Museum.  They were all flabbergasted when they were told that it was a Pontefract Shilling from 1648 and it was very rare.  It was so rare that the girls decided to donate it to the Museum and that is where it can still be found today!

 

Zero Goes Missing!! – Alisha Armitage Age 9

Before evening fell, all the calculators in Warrington were working perfectly normally until….. Zero decided to leave all the calculators in Warrington because all the other numbers did not treat him with respect. They treated him like he did not exist just because he was nothing. Then Nine and Two realized Zero had gone missing, as the number they were trying to put together was 920. As soon as all the calculators had been turned off, all the numbers suddenly set up a big search party for Zero. They sadly didn’t find him. ANYWHERE!!

So for another day all the calculators in Warrington had no Zero. He didn’t even come back after a week. All the numbers were getting very worried and frantically searched many different calculators, but there was no sign of him. They even went into the DREADED HUMAN WORLD OF DOOOOOOOOOOOM!! All numbers try to avoid the human world because the HUMANS OF DOOOOOOOOOOOM can squash you if you’re not careful…

When they were in the Warrington they looked in Warrington Museum and Art gallery, The Parish Church of St. Elphins, Warrington Bank Quay, The Golden Square and Warrington Hospital. They still didn’t find him. So in the end they very reluctantly had to give in because number Seven had been stepped on and sadly died! They had a funeral for Seven and then decided not to carry on in case anymore numbers met similar fates! Zero was missing for another 4 months so the remaining numbers decided that they would brave the HUMAN WORLD OF DOOOOOOOOOOOM once more. When they got to Warrington they tried different places including The Parr Hall, Warrington Central Station and the Peace Centre. They didn’t search anywhere else in case any more numbers got squashed. They returned to the calculators empty handed.  The people of Warrington soon stopped using calculators because no calculator in Warrington had a zero on it. That meant that the numbers were free to go and look in calculators all over the world for Zero. They searched calculators in Brazil, France, New York, Spain, Australia and even The North Pole!! They returned to their own calculators with nothing more than they started with. All the numbers (apart from poor old Seven) spent the rest of their days trying to track down Zero, although they never did.

A month later, there was a surprising visitor.

It was Zero!!!!!!!!!!!

But he didn’t look like Zero. All the numbers wondered what had happened to him. He suddenly declared that when he had left them he had found some other zeroes that everyone loved -although they were doughnuts. Zero had won the best looking doughnut award. His prize? A lifetime supply of doughnuts!!!  Everybody wanted one, but Zero didn’t share. Zero said that he did not want to share them with the others because they all treated him like nothing. The numbers all apologised. Zero grinned a huge grin…….and offered them all a doughnut!

 

Alien Invasion – Joe Inman Age 9

One sunny morning in Warrington, there was a normal rugby match on at the Halliwell Jones stadium, the crowd were wild.   Outside the stadium it was a normal day, cars were driving around on the roads and people were doing there shopping.

Suddenly the sky went black, the clouds seemed to meet each other and the darkness seemed to creep over the town of Warrington with an eerie silence.  There was a BANG! And a big shiny light struck through the ghostly sky.  A shadow covered the town and everyone looked up.  There in the sky was a ginormous flying saucer.  Fear spread through the people of Warrington.

From out of the flying saucer came small green figures.  The figures were smaller than a meter in height and had spotted bodies. People starred and could hear strange noises coming from the figures, “blawcom   lu bla” they heard.  The figures seemed to realise that no one understood them and looked to each other before scurrying away down the road towards the stadium.

The figures appeared on the ground in the stadium just as Huddersfield were about to take a conversion.  As the player went to kick they ran over and picked up the ball and ran so fast all that remained was a flash.  The crowd looked on in astonishment at what had just happened.  Stephan Ratchford looked up towards the crowd and shouted “I will be back”.  He sped out in a flash the same way the small spotted figures had gone with the ball.

Out in the street people were screaming and shouting “Help, Help”.  Stephan asked “which way did those spotted figures go?”.  “That way” said a young man, pointing left towards the waste land car park.  When Stephan looked over that way he saw a ginormous flying saucer.  On closer inspection he could see the figures scurrying in.

Stephan ran like the speed of light to the wasteland before the ship could leave.  He managed to climb into the ship quietly and saw the figures all starring at the ball that they had placed on the floor, waiting patiently.  Stephan crept towards them but tripped over a shiny remote that was placed on the floor.  The figures jumped in fright and looked suspiciously at Stephan who was now lying face down on the floor of the spaceship.  “Don’t be afraid, I come in peace.  We need the ball back or the match can’t continue.”  The figures started shouting “agg, agg, agg”.  It was then that Stephan realised that they thought the ball was an egg.   He explained to the small spotted figures that it was a ball not an egg, and suggested they came and watched the rest of the game.

The crowd went crazy when Stephan returned with the ball and were shocked to see the figures by his side.  The figures enjoyed the game so much that they never returned to their own planet and stayed in Warrington for the rest of their lives.

 

10-13

Silence – Jessica Petherbridge Age 10 

Blackness, the lights went out, nobody was awake except me. Like a mouse I crept to the window, letting the amazing silence, which only a few people experience, drown me. As my eyes lay on the cold forbidding town if Warrington, a devil of a thought came over me…

It’s midnight now and I am out in my old tattered pyjamas. Creeping through the streets whilst watching the illuminated moon, slowly moving through the cloudless sky. Towering above me the clock, which must have been there for a thousand years, kept ticking away waiting for the hour to be finally up.

Every house looked different, even the sweet shop, which I go to every Friday. It looks like an alien has taken over the once colourful shop, and turned it into their dark, dingy home.

Treading softly, I walked more and more through the town I grew up in and now live in. It seemed strange. Not like home sweet home more like away from home! Shadows lying on every corner waiting for their next victim to come strolling along the dusty street. Not one word being spoken, not one word to be said, the night went on and on.

At last I came to my school, Broomfields Junior School, with its pure white flowers, which covered the lush green grass on our field, that in this darkness looked a lot less pure. As well as the dark playground which looks like ghosts are haunting it in the moonlight. With that menacing thought stuck in my head, I ran scared, passing the church on my way, wanting my mum and my warm heavenly bed. I thought to myself about what I could do in this night but it all seemed too gloomy. With one glance it was decided, I am going home.

Rushing past the shadows. Scampering past the alien invaded sweet shop. Darting past the old clock, back to my house.
Creak, I closed the door praying that nobody heard me. Tip toeing up the stairs and slipping into my room.

Before getting into bed I looked out of the window one last time saying goodnight to the silence and see you soon.

 

Last Christmas by Jacob Stokes aged 12

Last Christmas my nose was running, my toes were frozen and my hands were blocks of ice. me and the rest of the choir trudged from house to house in the freezing cold snow. We walked to some houses near the big, imposing Golden Gates of Warrington. It was very cold and snow was falling rapidly. The big town hall building was lit from the ground upwards and had an eerie glow and the Golden Gates sparkled as the snowflakes danced about them. Usually your average 12 year old lad would be sat at home scoffing mince pies in front of the fire and playing video games. But no, mine is significantly different!

My mates thought it would be funny signing me up to sing in the choir. Ha ha! I wish my friends were nicer sometimes. Last Christmas something bad happened though.

We arrived at a Small wooden house and a small boy knocked on the door. A shiver went down my spine. Light pierced through the small gaps in the door then two figures appeared in the doorway. We began to sing, someone whispered “This is the Melton’s place; this is where we get loads of free gifts.” I bet we end up with a cheap lump of plastic that will end up in the bin, I thought. “Who wants to collect the gifts?” asked a croaky voice. “You there!” called a voice “The one with the bobble hat!” I almost forgot I was wearing a hat. The group parted and I stumbled forward and looked up into the eyes of a girl shaking her head. I walked calmly into the Melton’s Place and the door slammed behind me.

Mr Melton said “Stay close you are in for a treat.” The corridor got darker and darker as we came to a halt. “This is where Gilbert stays.” Why I didn’t turn and run at this point I ask myself for the rest of my vampire days…

I was pushed inside the room which had a gloomy blue light. I approached Gilbert and soon discovered that he was small boy, who lay in the bed and had extremely large fangs poking out of his mouth. “Kiss him or else we will kill you and the rest of your pathetic choir!” moaned old Mr Melton. I knelt down beside him and dipped my head. I hesitated, but before I knew it he was sucking blood from my neck. I fell back and felt like I was staring into space. I felt my teeth sharpen and a tingly sensation went through my whole body. I helped myself up. Mr Melton said “Now come and get your gift.” And I felt like I was being pulled towards him.

Ten minutes later I emerged from the house carrying a bucket full of gifts. I stopped and thought “What just happened?”

That is what happened to me last Christmas… now who wants to come carolling next year…

 

Willow and The Wire Wolf – Gabrielle Styles Age 10

This is the story of a Victorian girl who, like many others, had to work at a very young age because their parents couldn’t.

“Get to work you useless children, “bellowed the employer “or you’ll get the sack!” Willow was terrified. After all her life working in Ryland wire works (Warrington), the employer’s soulless voice still sent shivers down her spine. Her heart was saying run but she couldn’t, or she would risk getting the sack and her wages taken. She had to get back to work, quickly.
Her job was so tedious and repetitive, she preferred to call it torture rather than an occupation. Chopping the wire into slices over and over again, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and almost all the year, every year.

In the morning she had to rush to the factory and get to work. She was already bored. She decided to get creative. As she was delivered with more wire supplies, she started to make a wolf, breaching the rules of the factory, she was bound to get caught, which she did.

“Bailies!” yelled the employer, “Get out, you’re fired”
Then he threw her out.

The blood-curdling crunch of her painful landing rang powerfully in her delicate, pale ears, already overflowing with pain.
She had nowhere to go. She couldn’t bear to go home and get all that grief from her family.
At least she had her wolf to keep her company, although he wasn’t even real.
“Are you alright, Willow?” questioned a mysterious voice.
Willow was shell shocked. Who was that, how did they know her name?
“It’s me Willow, your wolf. You created me! ”

After a long night, Willow awoke to find that her wolf was nowhere to be seen!
“Wolf! Where are you?” Willow exclaimed “Wolf”
Willow started rapidly searching for her beloved wolf.

From dusk until dawn she hunted for him.
Not stopping until he was rescued from loneliness.

Finally, after 1 week of continuous trekking across Warrington, the wolf was found playing with Warrington’s famous rugby team.
“Wolf! There you are,” shouted Willow excitedly “I was so worried about you!”
Suddenly wolf howled, as if he was hurt.

Willow beckoned him to come to her but he growled fiercely so Willow walked away reluctantly, not looking where she was going.

Splash!

Willow fell into the canal, overflowing with the suffocating stench of raw sewage from the great stink (as it is now known). “Help!”
Out came the wire wolf, running like the wind, diving into the canal below.

Now the whole population of Warrington was watching as he dragged Willow from the canal, dripping with sewage
The Mayor of Warrington was so impressed the he presented the wolf with a medal and renamed the rugby team Warrington Wolves.
“Hang on a minute! Don’t reward me, said the wolf, send Willow to school, that is what she’s always wanted.”

Willow was reunited with her parents and finally able to have the education that she had always wanted.

 

14-17

 

Alone – Gabrielle Gibbons Age 14

Snow falls for the first time in years. I never really remembered what it was like – of course I would never admit that to Charlie. Being the big brother I had to have some things he didn’t. Sending sharp pains deep under my skin, the flakes feel weird on my already too cold hands. I want to cheer and run about but on my own? Who cares? Nobody. Nobody is here to care because of this stupid war.

Every step I take is another memory lost. Warrington just isn’t the same. There is still the golden square, though the fountains are little more than rubble and the shops destroyed beyond repair. In the distance I see the stadium of the wolves – our enemies. Personally I’ve always been a Saints fan, though seeing this wreck pulls at my heartstrings for the great sport. The town seems bigger now. There is nothing really connecting us. Roads have been closed for months, shutting the middle off from everywhere else. I used to go round Penketh and swim at Great Sankey with my friends. Now there seems to be nobody around. Only me left, walking alone.

Problem is there is not much left of me. Mum always said that family makes us; family comes first. I always thought it was a saying to make Charlie and me stop winding each other up. I didn’t know she was taking that to her grave.

I saw it happen. Heard the scream. They were screaming at me, telling me to run. I did. I shouldn’t have, shouldn’t have left them. But I did. I left them. I turned to look as the shot fired and the blood poured down their faces. My parents were dead. Charlie was always slower than me. He never made it. One shot through his back. He fell down. I haven’t seen the bodies since.

That’s what I tell myself I am doing – looking for them. The truth is I don’t really know. Just I need to keep moving forward. Keep doing something. Keep blocking the real world out.

I am at the stadium now. So close I could touch it. I think it was set on fire, maybe a week ago. Nothing else apart from a gap in the wall close by seems to be too damaged. I walk through to see the burnt tuffs of grass poking out here and there. I sigh and the sound is echoed through the standings. Sent back is the sound of an engine. Cars and buses don’t run any more. Or come from up above.

Now I can see it the enemy jet flying across the sky – carrying a bomb.

The sound is excruciating, the pain even worse. A scream is trapped within my body and only a weak gasp escapes. My vision is tinted with black spots. Images of happy memories float in front of my eyes. I feel it.

The cold seep through my body, as death settles in.

 

No Hero – Laura Williams Age 16

I live in a town called Warrington. I have lived here my whole life. Its population is massively decreasing as Mayor Ashton has murdered almost all of our people. I have stayed in the shadows, watching as one person after the other are hung at the Golden Gates that used to be our towns most favourite treasure. Now, the Golden Gates is just a place where man, woman, and child are hung just for existing. Only so many are left. I am one of them, but not for long. I was captured along with a small girl. I have been living in a cell, being tortured in the most brutal of ways. I’ve heard the girl’s endless screams, never important enough for her to be saved.

As I knelt before the new mayor, I felt all of the pain that I had succumbed to throughout my life. I clenched my jaw, not wanting to show any signs of weakness to the mayor.

“202153, you are to be hung tomorrow at dawn”, the mayor announces in front of me and the Seekers. The Seekers are his servants, and they are paid by the mayor to find the last of us. But they never will. It is in the most secluded of places, where no one can ever find them other forty seven people.

“However, you can get out of your death penalty if you tell us where those other forty seven are”, the mayor says.
“No”, I say, my voice hoarse.

Back in my cell, I pace the floors. I should have just told the mayor where they are. But who is to say that he will keep to his word?

BOOM! A loud crash vibrates through the roof. Another one follows quickly after, landing to the left of me. I can hear shouts from above me as I try to process what is happening. The last crash had made a hole to the right of the cell door. I take off down the row of empty cells, hearing a scream that I am all too familiar with. I follow the noise and break the door down with a slab of stone that had fallen in the crash.

I pick the screaming child up and run. I run out, finding that the Seekers are busy fighting the rest of us. I run past. I set the child down in an empty building. The child looks at me, her wound from the bombs a big, red hole in her stomach.
“You saved me. You’re my hero”, the girl says, her voice a croak.
“No”, I reply, looking at all of the ones who are fighting down in the street.
Most of them are dead, the blood mixing with the ash and grime from the road.

“I’m not”, I say, as the girls eyes slowly flicker closed, her breathing stopping all together, and the rest of us slowly dying away outside.

I am no hero.

I stand up and walk away.