Welcome to Lion Print 2019 Welcome to the fourth edition of Lion Print, Hampton’s Creative Arts magazine highlighting some of the writing and artistic talent of First Year to Sixth Form Hamptonians. Some of the pupils’ writing was produced independently; other pieces are their responses to stimuli provided in School during lessons or co-curricular activities. The publication includes the finalists’ entries from this year’s Creative Writing Awards, held in the Spring Term. Author Sara Grant, who writes Young Adult fiction, hosted masterclasses for the finalists. Her original competition brief for entrants was to write a 750-word story opening in a genre of their choice. In the subsequent workshops, the finalists had a chance to fine-tune and develop their submissions, with Sara providing each pupil with personalised advice. She gave them guidance on their creative writing, with emphasis upon description and setting, dialogue, action and orientation.
I was impressed by their ability to take on board my feedback and improve their already brilliant work’’. Most of the artwork in this edition of Lion Print was inspired by three GCSE or Pre-U themes - ‘Viewpoints’, ‘Connections’ and ‘Track’ – all interesting, open-ended titles to inspire varied and individual responses. We hope that you enjoy Lion Print 2019.
Sara found it very difficult to select the best pieces from the “fantastic, clever, original stories’’ submitted. Winners and runners-up were awarded book vouchers and one of her books. “I read some amazing story openings from incredibly talented writers,’’ observed Sara Grant. “The pupils worked so hard and
Kevin Knibbs Headmaster
2019 Prize Winners Ben Green (Fifth Year) The Diadem Senior Winner Creative Writing Awards 2019 Charles Maddox (Lower Sixth) The Dossier Senior Runner-Up Creative Writing Awards 2019 Will Mathers-Jones (Fourth Year) The Lady in the Veil Intermediate Winner Creative Writing Awards 2019 George Garofalo (Third Year) Death’s Note Intermediate Runner-Up Creative Writing Awards 2019 Isaac Tarragano (First Year) Rebellion! Junior Winner Creative Writing Awards 2019 Artwork: Kabir Sait (Fourth Year)
Nathaniel Taylor (First Year) Come Back Dizzie! Junior Runner-Up Creative Writing Awards 2019 1
The Beginning LILY Of course the beginning, before it happened, is the bit I remember the most clearly. For everything that happened up until I went to wait outside the bathroom door, I could tell you every detail. I could tell you the different brands of every bottle and can on the table. About the mixed sweet and salty popcorn (a violation, but anyway.) How the lights were off, the toaster and microwave unplugged at the wall. Brockhampton and Post Malone on repeat - the windows quivering. Watching increasing numbers of unfortunate chancers mistaking the glass French window for an open door. Anyone outside bunning, chunning or crying. It was pretty much just Ben’s standard piece. I remember leaning against the wall with my rosé, cursing under my breath as I watched Nic getting off with some Josh kid in the corner. She’s gonna regret that, I thought. I’m gonna be the one she comes crying to tomorrow. Whatever. I mean, she’s gonna have to sort this one out herself. I’m not gonna be telling her boyfriend for her. Mia walked in from the garden, and, after immediately making a beeline for the table to pour straight peach schnapps into a glass, came up to me. ‘Stare much? You like her, don’t you?’ I snorted. ‘No, mate.’ mia: haha ok sure me: forget that. absolutely not. anyways, it would mess up our friends. wouldn’t it mia: not what I was asking. but you’re not wrong, I guess me: trust me, I’m not about that. I was just staring at them because I’m already done with whatever type of drama this is gonna cause. if you want the, um, tea, then there is someone. but they’re not here mia: tell me who! me: hmmmmm mia: I don’t like you. Cara is my best friend now. she tells me everything me: like what
JAY mia: who she likes me: who does she like? mia: no one, at the moment. she finds people hot me: sweet mia: she finds you hot me: sweet She poured some spirit into her throat. me: you’re obviously friends with them mia: okay me: it’s kinda awkward really mia: is it Ella me: nah mia: is it Rin me: nah mia: is it Cara me: maybe mia: is it Cara??!!!??!??! me: maybe mia: awwwwwwwwWWwwwwWw me: mia: shall I text her? me: alright, this chat seems over now. I’m going toilet The bathroom door was locked but one guy I didn’t know was waiting outside. I mean, obviously I’d seen him around at school. Think he might even be in my Chemistry class, come to think of it. Anyway, I’d genuinely never heard him speak. Don’t know how he actually got invited to this, really. Not in a mean way. But in any case, it was kinda hard not to notice him at that point, because as soon as I realised there was someone in the bathroom and went to stand next to him to wait, his eyes went massive and he suddenly started shaking and gasping and just as he looked like he was going to faint he grabbed hold of my wrist and burst into tears.
I already knew something was wrong like five minutes after we got there. When I say ‘there’, I mean Ben’s party. (Ben is my cousin and he’s popular. People like him. He literally never talks to me at school but I guess he must have felt bad if he didn’t invite me. Either that or his parents forced him.) And when I say ‘something was wrong’, the very first thing Cat (my best friend, who Ben let me bring along so I would actually have someone to talk to) did when we arrived was head straight for the toilet. So far so normal - but when she hadn’t come out after 15 minutes I was starting to get frantic. Aside from anything else, her abandoning me meant I either had to wallflower it, or speak to one of the millions of people there who I of course recognised from school, but had never had a non-homework-related conversation with. But I didn’t want to panic - not here. I guess it was sort of inevitable, being so far out of my comfort zone, but I really, desperately, did not want to panic. Trying to get across the pulsating, sweaty room to the corridor to find the toilet was genuinely harrowing. Having to focus my entire existence on breathing regularly and deeply, I ploughed through this dark, foreign jungle of undulating limbs, this intrusive, noxious cloud of sweat, perfume, booze and breath, this chaotic fugue of thumping beat, shuddering bass and hoarse, disembodied voices screaming lyrics at each other.
By Felix Elliott (Upper Sixth)
Artwork: Albert Cloud (Fifth Year) 3
Captain Catastrophe’s Great Catastrophe! He was one of the most cunning pirates of all time according to the fascinating stories and his legend had grown hugely. This was, of course, far out of proportion with the truth. When people spoke of him winning large battles against inconceivable odds, it was almost always an accident. He once tripped over a lantern, which allowed him to avoid a direct hit to his body and sent a cannon ball directly into the weapons cache of another ship, blowing it to smithereens. A similar incident allowed him to defeat ten men when a rope he was nervously gripping tripped the men and sending most of them overboard. His name was Captain Catastrophe. He had dreadlocked hair down to his shoulders, and a good-looking face. He had a slim but strong body. His hat, which was white and sewn with gold thread, was worn by his grandfather, Captain Calamity. He always tried to help people whenever he could. He liked to be on his ship which was called ‘The Golden Fortune’. The ship was beautiful: it had tall, wooden masts that creaked in a fairly strong wind and large white sails that flapped and rustled in the wind. There were neatly organised barrels of salt fish, fruit, flour, water and rum on the decks. Next to them, coils of thick braided rope. Slaves, carpenters and gunners were swarming the ship, their bare feet thumped against the cold wooden deck. They were sailing across the Pacific Ocean and the sun was close to fading away. The horizon stretched across their entire field of view in the most spectacular fashion. A massive expanse of crystal clear water was all they could see ahead of them. The breeze caressed their skin, keeping it pleasantly warm in spite of the slowly fading sun. Beautiful colours which seemed to be a mix of orange and pink filled the dark blue sky and coloured the puffy white clouds. The calm ocean reflected the most amazing colour in the way which only it could. The smell which the waves conjured was not fishy and disgusting as it was sometimes but rather a little salty.
Suddenly a great loud ‘BOOM!!’ had taken place at the bottom of the ship. Captain Catastrophe looked through his telescope from the ship’s lookout and found a black flag with a red skull and crossbones in the middle, he then zoomed out of the strange image and soon found out that it was the ship called ‘Scourge of Satan’. This ship’s captain was Captain Dreadnaught. He had a reputation for looting, killing people and destroying ships. Captain Catastrophe immediately ordered his men to get their guns and cutlasses ready and especially the canons. Soon the beautiful scenery was destroyed by the wisps of silver grey smoke that curled and danced their way through the air and the yelling and thuds of people running on the deck. As the enemy ship was getting closer, a second canon was fired: this time it was from Captain Catastrophe’s ship. It shot across the water and created a small trail behind it and hit the ship straight into the deck. Splinters and large pieces of wood scattered in all directions; some people got blown away by the huge impact and fell into the watery depths below. Then, when the enemy ship was close to theirs, the swordsmen swung onto the ship and set wooden planks between the ships so that they could get across easily. There were loud yells and screams.There were deafening shots and explosions. Dark, maroon shades of red were everywhere on the wooden floored ships. Captain Catastrophe was surrounded by Dreadnaught’s men with razor sharp cutlasses. He climbed up one of the masts and tried to keep distance between them. He then heard strange sawing noises. He looked down and soon found out: they were sawing the mast. Captain Catastrophe noticed a sail a few metres away from him. To his shock, the mast leaned forward with speed and he lunged towards the sail. The mast then fell on the men with a horrible crunch. And hanging on to a very high sail, was Captain Catastrophe.
By Vaibhav Neela (First Year)
Artwork Opposite: Arjun Paintal (Fifth Year) 4
Artwork: Alex Colvin (Fifth Year)
A View From Above It was a curious thing. A view many would never be able to see. This is how he saw it. Round and pompous yet charming and refined. He had first seen it as small and shy, but rewarding on closer examination. His heart felt light as if it had just floated out of his chest and was gazing at him from a distance. It was as if billions of minds had come together just to give one man a new perspective. It was like a watch, cogs spinning, hands moving. It worked perfectly, yet was so flawed. He moved back a little, gliding through a calm, silent storm of wonder and fear. He looked at it from a different angle. Still the same. Always the same. Still small, yet making him feel insignificant. Humbled, he closed his eyes and let his mind, and himself, drift through a sickening maze of questions. Then he saw himself. Yes, himself. Just there through the mist, looking up at him, or down at him. Surprisingly he felt a sensation that he had never felt, or at least not in a very very long time. Cautiously, he opened his eyes and scratched his lip, seemingly considering an enlightening dream, an engrossing concept, or both. Giving him hope, he suddenly felt a connection. A connection to everything, creation itself. He looked up and sighed. “On to the future,” he whispered, his words slowly stolen from him and replaced with nothing. A wonderful nothing. He looked into this nothing, creation and logic collapsing in on each other. A nothing of a thousand miles. A nothing separating you and me. He spun around in the faint hope that something, anything would happen. After all, what was impossible any more? He scratched his lip again, then started to fiddle with his hair. He felt his concentration waver, for just a second and, for that second, he forgot. He forgot what it had taken him, what it had cost. Slowly, he blinked. He remembered how
rewarding it was, how special it made him feel. In a fit of sadness and a pure overwhelming sensation he looked behind himself. Just over his shoulder he saw darkness, a brutal truth, a final end. He looked away and yet, no matter how hard he tried, his gaze was always drawn back. He looked back into honesty, a dark, evil honesty. He looked down, no one ever looks down. He felt an emptiness, an emptiness caused by an overwhelming sense of everything. An everythingness filled with nothing. Too much filled with too much nothing. Quietly he spoke into the nothingness surrounding him. “I can see that we are together. What separates us is just simply in my head. In your head. I have been given a chance. It would be tragic for me to not be able to show others what I have seen and yet I believe that it’s impossible. Impossible and yet necessary. So, so necessary.” Again he looked out over all. He saw connections, walls built, walls destroyed. Gingerly, he reached out. He swore that he could touch it, hold it, feel it. He felt like he was moving at a million miles per hour, spinning wildly out of control. Terrifyingly, his head started to spin and swirl, tearing his mind through a psychedelic vision of green and blue, fire and burning. He looked out, not in awe, but in terror. Terror of what it had become and what it was becoming. The immediate danger and the present evil. He turned away and buried his face in his palms. Not in order to never look again, for he feared that that may be impossible, but so when he looked again he would see it, yet again, in a completely different perspective. A new perspective for a new age. A new view. He felt together, connected, just as he was meant to. Just as he was always meant to.
By Jamie Reger (Third Year) 7
Artwork: Tobias Droy (Fifth Year)
The Great Rhino Chase It was deep into the tenebrous night when a soft click and the crack of a branch disturbed the tranquillity of the moonlit evening in a small corner of the African bushveld. The animals, however, appeared oblivious to the disturbance. Four rhinos continued their march to satisfy their insatiable appetite for the umphafa1 branches. Without warning, one of the prehistoric animals collapsed onto its side with a heavy thud as its body hit the parched earth of the savannah. Startled, its comrades dispersed into the bush, ignorant of the tiny tranquiliser dart piercing their mate’s callous hide. From the shadows of the bushes, a group of men skulked towards the majestic beast, the squeak of the immense jack they were dragging, trailing behind them. The men groaned and grunted under the strain of rolling the mammoth onto the jack. With their last reserves of energy, they hoisted the load up onto the truck and clumsily pushed it into the cargo container mounted on a truck parked out of sight under a canopy of branches. As the truck pulled away, the roar of its engine disturbed many animals from their dormant state. Among those who stirred, was Quinton, a twelve year old boy, and the son of the owner of the game park. Hearing the screeching tyres, he hurried to the window of his room to see the truck racing towards the motorway. His tummy turned as he heard the agonising grunts of the rhino on the truck as it regained consciousness, only to find itself trapped. Quinton flicked on the light switch, his eyes darted over dozens of rhino photographs on his wall. ‘Which one?’ flashed through his mind. Frantically, Quinton dashed to his sister’s room. Shaking her shoulders to wake her from a peaceful sleep, he exclaimed “I think one of the rhinos has been taken!” Drowsily Lauren responded “When?” Quinton hurriedly recounted the event he had just witnessed. The news plucked Lauren from her sleep into action. “We have to wake Mandla!”
Zulu name for the Buffalo thorn tree
Within minutes, the teenagers were dressed and setting off to Mandla’s hut armed with a head torch and cell phones. But there was no need to wake Mandla. The head game ranger had always been a light sleeper and they found him about to start the Land Cruiser. Mandla was quick to issue instructions, “We can’t waste any time we have to stop the poachers! They cannot get away with one of our prize rhinos! Get in the Cruiser!” Quinton curiously asked, “But how would we know where they are heading?” Mandla responded “I have heard they traffic animals through the ports in Mozambique. Quinton can you phone the police and describe the truck to them?” he continued; Quinton nodded and got on the cell. Mandla sped north along the N2 highway. It was not even dawn and there was no traffic to delay the journey; passing prosperous farms the only sign of activity were the headlights of Goliath tractors slowly passing through freshly ploughed fields. Mandla and his two passengers had their eyes on red alert, looking for the truck. After reaching the end of the farmlands Mandla turned on to the R22, a back road towards Mozambique. “If they reach the Mozambique border it will be too late!” he remarked. Quinton got off the phone and reported, “The police will set a road block on the N2 at Pongola, but they will not be able to mobilise on this route very quickly.” Sneakily the orange sun had stuck his head out on the horizon and pastel colours of dawn filled the sky. A sign post announced “Mozambique 50km.” The cruiser’s occupants did not say anything, but all three had the same thought in their mind. Would they be able to catch up with the truck? Then Lauren spotted the glinting of metal hidden under an acacia tree. As they approached the tree Quinton recognised the container on the truck. Mandla slowed the vehicle down and reached for his rifle.
By William Greenfield (Second Year) 9
Artwork: Oscar Nolan (Fifth Year)
Atlantic Ocean, August 1610 Suddenly there was an almighty crash, followed by the shrieking of timber. It was as if the gods had thrown a lightning bolt at the ship! Jack was thrown to the floor from his hammock. Jack snapped awake. “All hands-on deck!” bellowed the Bosun, “that means you too Jack!” The Bosun’s weather-beaten face loomed out of the darkness at the teen. Jack hastily got up off the floor of the ship’s middle deck. Jack Fleming, age 14, was tall for his age, skinny with a muscular build from three years at sea. Buried beneath the straggly mess of fire red hair he inherited from his dad, his eyes were azure blue with a glint of courage and fight far beyond his years. Men weary from a long voyage on board the “Old Mary” slumped from their bunks pushing past him, urgently heading for the upper deck. Jack threw the Bosun a helpful smile. “Get moving boy!” snarled the Bosun. The lantern suspended on a beam swung wildly, its flame spluttering, slowly dying like the ship. Jack landed on a pile of thick rope from a sudden jolt from the ship, sending his
back into pain on the soaked floorboards. He struggled to find his footing as several other grime-ridden, half-starved crewmen stumbled past in the flickering darkness. A hand grabbed him and dragged him to his feet. It was Hans. The short stocky German grinned at Jack, revealing a set of jagged teeth that made him look like a sea monster. Despite his severe appearance, the man treated Jack like a friend. “Another storm’s hitting us hard Jack. It sounds as if Hell itself has opened its gates!” he growled. “Best get your hide up at the foredeck before the Bosun has your hide!” Jack hastily stalked Hans and the rest of the crew as they scrambled up the companion way and emerged into the heart of the storm. Menacing black clouds thundered across the heavens and the complaints of sailors were immediately drowned out by the relentless wind ripping through the ships rigging. The sea salt spewed across the deck stinging Jack’s eyes and cold rain slashed his face, stinging like a thousand needles.
But before he could take it all in, the ship was rolled by a mountainous wave. The deck was flooded with sea water and Jack was instantly drenched. This wave, stronger than the first swept Jack off his feet and he barely managed to grab hold of the ships rail to stop himself going overboard. Jack recovered his footing as a jagged line of lightning scorched its way across the night sky and struck the main mast. For a brief moment, the entire ship was illuminated by a ghostly light. The three mastered ocean traders were in turmoil, the crew was scattered across the deck like pieces of driftwood. High up the yardman, a group of sailors battled against the wind attempting to unfurl the main sail before the storm ripped it away.
against the ship was unlike a normal cannon ball sound. This was a dull lifeless thud as if it was a ball of hay. With sickening horror, Jack looked at his feet. It was no cannon ball, or fireball. It was the burning body of one of the crew members struck by the lightning. Jack had barely apprehended what had happened when another colossal wave ploughed into the ship. This one was so powerful that Jack was whipped off his feet and walked all the way across deck to the starboard rail. The ship lurched again and he was tossed over the side, swallowed by the dark seething ocean.
By Ali Sharma (Third Year)
The crew immediately headed out for the bow of the ship, but as they crossed the main deck, a fireball plummeted out of nowhere, and straight towards Jack. Jack had experienced attacks before, however the fireball’s impact
Artwork: Nik Yazikov (Upper Sixth)
Creative Writing Awards 2019
“Come Back Dizzie!” “Dizzie, Dizzie!” “Come back boy” I yelled. I was beginning to feel desperate. My cheeks now ached from the biting cold, that was my tell-tale sign that it was time to return home to the warm, inviting fire and the delicious smells of Sunday emanating from the kitchen. “Dizzie come back you damned dog”, I muttered under my breath. Dizzie by name, Dizzie by nature. I jogged to my bike, “We`re going to be late at this rate”, I thought as I mounted my bike and began to ride after him. Dizzie raced into some nearby woods with surprising pace and I was pumping my legs as hard as I could to keep him in sight. I finally lost him. I had to find him or I was in big trouble. The conversation with Mum suddenly flooded back into my head. “Don`t venture near Wyatt`s farm Jake, you`re only young and you know what people say about that place.” “You listen to local gossip too much Mum. It`s just rubbish. We moved out to the country to get away from trouble in the city, nothing ever happens here!” As I burst into the winter sunlight in the neighbouring field, I struck a tree trunk and ricocheted off onto the still frozen, solid ground. I found myself shaking on the
floor. My vision swam but I came to and I felt a familiar, rough sandpaper-like tongue on my face. It was Dizzie! He must have heard me fall! His dark eyes were filled with fear and worry, I hugged him tightly, feeling his wet nose and tongue dancing over my face. I relaxed slightly at his presence but I couldn’t contain my feelings of unease. By the time the swirling sensation in my head had cleared, Dizzie had run off again, running towards Wyatt`s farm and building that suddenly loomed into view. Barbed wire surrounded the ramshackle, derelict farmhouse, with large signs shouting “Keep Out!” at me. CCTV cameras were at regular intervals along the top of the monstrosity, like beady eyes spying on me. I was beginning to think that mum might have been right. Dizzie raced off through a small hole in the wire, I quickly followed and wriggled my way through the gap, trying to evade the protruding barbs. Dizzie was now sniffing around and then entered the building’s ajar outer door, a dark orifice into the unknown. I followed his muddy pawprints, calling for him every now and again but the trails just kept on going through the half-lit, twisting
corridors of this strange, dank building. Something brushed against my cheek. I tried to flick it off, but then I realised that it was just a fly. My skin began to crawl, my heart pounded as if it was going to burst out of my chest. One fly turned to two flies, multiplying with every step, until I was frantically batting them off my face. “I just need to get this dog and get out”, I thought to myself. I looked around. Standing in a doorway at the far end of the corridor, was Dizzie, making a strange whimpering sound. I ran towards him and tried to drag him out of this labyrinth. But he remained defiant and his gaze was locked on a closed door with fragments of bright light peeping out around the edges, illuminating the wicker dolls standing guard at the door, their eyeless faces expressionless and blank.
A foul, rotting smell caught in the back of my throat, a sickly-sweet concoction. Flies swarmed the dolls and my hair, and whatever was on the other side of that door, Dizzie didn’t like it. I crept up to the large door handle, trying to figure out what people would want to do in a derelict building in the middle of nowhere. I slowly pushed on the door and looked inside. That was my mistake.
By Nathaniel Taylor (First Year) 13
Intermediate Runner-Up Creative Writing Awards 2019
Death’s Note It was a spitefully cold night and death was watching him a little closer. Jordan ran through the desolate streets, the eyes of the moon burnt his back and the chill of the wind carried him forward. He couldn’t go back. Sweat slid down his spine like a poised knife. Jordan’s shallow eyes wandered down the the dark path ahead; his family was dead and they were coming for him. His sodden clothes hugged him and waltzed in the wind. An ecstasy of hail came crashing down on Jordan’s blood-stained hair as death followed him through the narrow alleyways. He had been running for half an hour feeling the hard constant touch of stone in his heels and toes. His heart pounded like a war drum as he tasted sweet blood washing his mouth. The faint cacophony of a helicopter engulfed the area. Salty teardrops slid uncontrollably down his course skin as the sirens got louder. Jordan passed windowless cottages which lined the streets like little perfect soldiers. He was high on adrenaline – was that the sour taste at the back of his mouth? Hearing deadly shouts behind him, he turned onto a small backstreet. Death was at his heels as a man dressed in a black suit stepped out of the shadows. The man reached inside his pocket and pulled out a pistol. Jordan’s muscles froze, paralysed in the face of death. His eyes lay fixed upon the man. His mind was racing from God to his beautiful wife and child who he watched die a few hours ago. He remembered his son Michael’s first step and first Christmas. Soon he would be with them; soon he would be free. The man in the black suit pulled the trigger and a silent bullet swirled through the air, puncturing Jordan’s chest. Death moved through his body with an unstoppable solemn force turning man to mannequin. Warm blood trickled from the wound like a little stream and collected in a puddle with hailstones and dirty rainwater. Rocking backwards, Jordan held onto his final thoughts of his family and friends as time slowed and his vision blurred. Pupils dilated, he lay awkwardly on the bloody moonlit ground surrounded by men in black suits. It was a sort of funeral. The body was disposed of in a nearby river whilst all traces of blood were carefully removed from the pavement as if it were a crime scene. Rain poured down in a melancholic world where Jordan never existed. Five Years Earlier…
By George Garofalo (Third Year)
Artwork: Joel Malam (Upper Sixth) 14
Artwork: Alexander Persson (Upper Sixth)
Bloodshed and Avarice
He could see two men but couldn’t make out what they were saying, as if he was underwater. But it was clear to him that they were angry. One had a resonant, aggressive voice and the other a more panicked, defensive tone. But they both looked furious. There was something ominously familiar about the second man, he looked like someone Seth knew, but he couldn’t quite place him.
barrels and each had more. It seemed impossible that there could be so many in one place.
Then he heard one line, spat with hatred, clear as day: “Tell me where they are or I swear you’ll pay!”
Ecstatic, he hurried over to the barrels that Seth was concealed behind, a mighty grin engulfing his wrinkled face.
Thud… thud… thud… His heart was beating quicker than a racehorse running at the Grand National. Thud… thud… thud… He had no idea where he was or how he got there. He knew only two things: His name was Seth; And there was a body on the floor.
The other man just smiled. Seth could see the aggressor reach into his back pocket and pull out a pocket knife, then raise it. He knew what was going to happen next…
Seth pressed his back to the barrels and held his breath. The man opened one and muttered to himself in a slightly disgruntled manner, put the lid back on and moved back to survey the room.
The man sprawled across the ground was about 25, in charcoal trousers, scuffed shoes and a shirt drenched in blood. As Seth moved closer, he felt a wave of nausea come over him as he saw glassy eyes and a lone fly, busying itself around the crevices of the man’s ashen face. He was dead. Steadying himself, Seth looked around the unusual room. It looked like some kind of abandoned storage hanger. The wallpaper was peeling from the wall as if it was trying to escape from the horror; the ceiling was decayed and rotten with slivers of light creeping through from outside, as if they too were trying to figure out what had happened. A door hung lifelessly on its hinges, as if it could fall off at any moment and there were two groups of what looked like beer barrels, one bundle situated by Seth and the other on the opposite side of the room. And the smell… it was almost palpable. The hot, meaty stench seemed to be clinging to every fibre of his being. He desperately tried to remember something familiar, but nothing came. Questions raced around his head: Who am I? What is this place? Am I in danger? He felt a sudden urge to escape. He needed to run, run as fast as he could, get as far away from this place as possible. Run, run, keep running. But something kept him rooted to the spot…
He saw the knife, he saw the look of loathing on the second man’s face as he brought it down, the pain etched onto the first man’s face as he was impaled, the blade piercing straight through him. And how he was frozen as he fell. And how… BANG! He was snapped back into the present. An intense tremor that reverberated around his body as if every bone inside him was shattering.
Then he pulled out something Seth hadn’t seen before, a square black box with a metal antenna, spoke into it and exclaimed: “Jack, get here quick, bring the trucks, we’re gonna be rich!”
Letting out a silent sigh of relief, he realised he had to get out as soon as he could, so, as silently as possible, he snuck to behind the barrel closest to the door. He was about ten metres away; he could just about make it. Peeking out from behind his cover, he saw the man start to turn away. He was almost looking away;
Swivelling round on the spot, he heard a second shot, then a third, getting closer with each one. He needed to take cover. He ducked behind the rotting barrels and waited.
It was almost time;
The shots were getting ever closer, until they were almost on top of him. Surely his ear drums would burst!
Then the door disappeared. Standing in its place he saw a tall, weathered man. He had a shotgun slung over his shoulder and chewed a piece of tobacco. Blood splattered his dampened shirt. He surveyed the shack as Seth tried to melt into the shadow of the barrel. Then the man’s eyes rested upon the body. “Well,” he muttered, as a smile flickered across well-worn face, “looks like someone did the job for me.” Spitting out the exhausted lump of tobacco, he missed the dead man’s head by an inch and sent the exploring fly into a frenzy. Irreverently, he stepped over the body and moved over to the barrels on the opposite side. He opened one, and laughed with delight. When he took a handful of what was inside, Seth could see why: diamonds. Hundreds of them glistening in the shafts of light. He opened the other
He made a dash for it, out of the door in a matter of seconds, he was almost away. Then he fell. He heard a crack in his leg, followed by agonising pain. He lay there, writhing in torment, looking back; he saw he had tripped on yet another body with two bullet holes in his head. Then a shadow loomed over him. “Wrong place at the wrong time, mate”, the man said, crouching down to look at him. “No eyewitnesses from this bust.” Seth saw the man train a gun at his head, he was completely powerless. “Bye, bye.” The man chuckled. Then all went black.
By Adam Gaunt (First Year) 17
Artwork: Milo Choudhry (Fifth Year)
The High-Value Target For the third time that day, I checked my weapon, a brandnew Carcano Model infantry rifle, complete with a telescopic scope and two magazines. It was a slender rifle, perfect for the job I was about to undertake. Rigorously, I cleaned its state-of-the-art barrel and silencer. They couldn’t fail me. Fifteen minutes to go. From the second story room of the hotel I was checked into, I had the perfect view of the anticipating crowd and the target. Furtively, I peeped out of the window. Men. Women. Children. All would be traumatised for the rest of their lives. A repeated itch on my elbow was beginning to anger me, tension flaring as I ripped at it, releasing a spurt of blood which slowly dripped down my black-clad clothing. Every movement outside my room was amplified by my brain into a relentless stampede of boots on carpet and the clicking of guns ready to fire and kill me. My knees were shaking, a tornado of nervousness mixed with hesitation to commit to the job rattling into my legs and travelling up my spine. Was I going to see the cash prize I was promised? I aggressively shook my head, trying to steer the clouds of doubt from my mind. Ten minutes. I paced around the room. The cheers and shouts outside were intensifying, a gradual crescendo of noise. It was driving me mad. Slowly, I brought my trembling hand towards my ear and firmly pressed the concealed earpiece. I was instantly greeted with a cacophonous stream of interference and crackling, which began to push my nerves closer and closer to the limit. ‘Come… in Blue … (crackling) Alpha. Do you .. copy?’ After I had given the affirmative, I was bluntly told that the target was five minutes away. My heart was pounding against my chest incessantly, reminding me that death was playing with my life, unsure whether to send it into the dark depths of hell or to spare it. My target was the man everyone in America knew. My name would be one which everyone in America would know. It was with this promise of fame, and of course the $1 million I was to be paid, that became my motive. I remorsefully looked around the hotel room I was in. Using a fake alias, I was easily able to purchase a gun from the many gun shops stationed in Texas. Within a week I found myself checking into a hotel
room with my rifle concealed inside my suitcase. It was too easy. I steadily gazed around the hotel room. There was a single bed, a light green sofa tucked into the corner of the room, a TV opposite and a door leading to a bathroom. As soon as I had entered, I had shifted the sofa next to the window and tucked my suitcase under the bed. Suddenly, a chorus of shouts and a fanfare of trumpets shattered my daydream and invigorated my body. My time was here. A blatant voice sounded in my ear. ‘Good luck.’ I ran a sweaty hand through my matted hair. I still had a choice. I could save a man’s life but destroy
mine, or kill someone and live a rich life. Outside, a motor car was inching along the road with my target, the Governor of Texas and his wife seated inside. A crowd of men, women and children from all the different classes were yelling with great delight, hoping for a subtle smile or a gracious wave. Having made up my mind, I nestled the wooden stock into my shoulder unsteadily. I lowered the gun, not from its weight, but from my nerves, which forbade me to commit the assassination. My mind scattered through the potential outcomes as it began to rain, a morbid symbolism of what was to come. The laughter and joyful shouts outside intensified as the motor car came into
view. I heard the distant yet unmistakeable thuds of military boots on carpet. I swore under my breath. It was now or never. I raised the scope towards my right eye. My training gave me a shove, and I felt more at ease; my arms steadied as I slowly took in the scale of the parade. The motor car was moving at walking pace, making it a sitting duck. The crosshairs rested on his head. I counted the rhythm of the trumpets, hoping they’d further mask the sound of the silenced shot.
By Akshat Mathur (Third Year) 19
The Diadem The quiet clink was scarcely heard in the bustling street, but the coinpurse dropped neatly into Kyaru’s grimy hands. The bumbling fool was as drunk as he was rich, and scarcely felt the already-frayed strap from his jacket being crudely cut. Kyaru crouched down to examine his spoils. He weighed up the rough leather in his hands. In the dark he could not identify the coins by sight, but he was used to this, and by the sound of the coins hitting each other in the bag, he’d say it was around twelve hidras. That combined with the old trinket he had swiped from the shelves of the doddering old lapidary, Kyaru had amassed quite the yield from today’s larceny. Enough for a few days’ worth of meals, and if he was lucky: a warm bed for a night at Tawney’s. Tawney never asked where the money came from; partly because he didn’t mind, and because he had sympathy for the urchins of the Sanari slums, and knew what they tended to get up to. Kyaru grinned, thinking forward to the sound of the creaky old door and the warm air that would be rushing out to meet him. Tawney usually only had some cold, leftover potato stew to give to Kyaru, but Kyaru was damned if it wasn’t the best stew in all of Sanari. His reverie was quickly cut short by a gust of wind against his back, and the future warmth of Tawney’s was sucked away to the present cold, and the shouts of the main street. As Kyaru snuck along, staying close to the walls, a snowflake landed in his hair. Soon more started falling, and quickly the ground started to be covered in white. Kyaru beamed, but dare not laugh with joy, for fear of passers-by turning to him, and seeing the bulging purse he held in his hands. The narrow streets and winding alleys of the slums led Kyaru on for a while, and he started to shiver from the chill. He knew these streets like the back of his hand, and could navigate each nook and backstreet without much thought. Finally, he turned into a small alley of dark red brick, and saw the dilapidated door swing open, and a parliament of wise drunkards stumbled out, discussing and hypothesising intelligently about the things that they would do to the new barmaid. Before the door slammed shut, Kyaru slipped in. Tomorrow was Thrysda, and so nobody, even the drunkards, wanted to have too large a hangover to go to Temple. Anyone caught missing Temple would be fined or worse: put into the stocks. This very effective tactic from the Divine Order meant that Tawney’s was essentially silent after dusk on Sirsda. Knowing this, Kyaru had no issue stepping up to the bar and onto it proudly dropping the heavy purse he’d cut, with a tinkle of coins and a
Creative Writing Awards 2019
resounding thomp. Tawney looked over from the stein he was cleaning with a ragged cloth, and guffawed. “A hard day’s work, eh Master Kyaru?” he grinned toothily. “Let’s just say I was redistributing a bit of wealth today,” joked Kyaru. “Some delicious stew, hot if possible, and your warmest bed for the night”. The bed was exactly what Kyaru needed, and within seconds he was snoring. What seemed like a paradise in his dreams was quickly ripped apart by a loud clattering noise, and Kyaru was pulled awake. The banging continued, and Kyaru could hear a loud, gruff voice from below. It was definitely not Tawney’s pleasant drawl. Kyaru didn’t hesitate, jumping up and putting on his cloak. He made sure to pick up his dagger from the dresser – the only possession he had that was not stolen. It was wicked sharp, and had gotten him out of plenty of scrapes. He opened the door to his small room as quietly possible, and crept along the landing that oversaw the rest of the tavern. He made sure to roll his foot from the heel to the toe to minimise the sound. Kyaru spotted the source of the clamour. Some sombre looking men in black cloaks had thrown Tawney across the room. They stood over him, staying completely silent. The friendly inkeep was bleeding from a gash on his forehead, and the sound of him panting could be heard quietly. “Let’s stop playing games, Tawney. We know the relic is somewhere here,” the leader boomed. Kyaru gasped, scared, feeling the lapidary’s stolen trinket in his pocket…
By Ben Green (Fifth Year)
Artwork: Alexander Perrson (Upper Sixth) 21
Artwork: Joel Malam (Upper Sixth)
Creative Writing Awards 2019
The Lady in the Veil The little girl in a black dress fought back tears, barely old enough to understand that the vast mass of water tumbling out of the great, gloomy heavens was to be called “rain”. Her name was Anna and this was the day that would change her life… She stood there, atop the crumpling terrace, looking down into the crowded plaza whilst grasping her mother’s hand with the trepidation and childlike hope forgotten by adults. Lady Eleanor of the household did not respond to her child’s clammy grasp, instead she chose to look stubbornly onward as the bitterly cold rain lashed and swirled around her, firmly pressing her damp veil to the curves of her cheeks. The drunken mob bellowed and leered at the sight of once such a proud woman, now forced to witness the horror of what was about to occur. Not caring for the blatant fright that plagued her young Anna’s face, the hooting and catcalls continued as intoxicated men milled around the courtyard and its wooden stage at the centre of the square, laughing and joking in anticipation of what was yet to come. Suddenly, the pompous toots of trumpets echoed throughout the square, causing Anna to jump, and “Don’t look” was all she thought to herself, her tiny, frigid body shuddering from the unrelenting chill of the wind. Following the trumpets were the smug grins of old men parading forth towards the crowds with a series of chained men in their wake. Though her mother denied it afterwards, Anna could swear she heard her mother groan softly as the final man to be revealed, battered and bruised, was Anna’s father, a look of proud defiance across his face. Unfortunately however this act of defiance did little to alter his situation as he was heaved and dragged towards the stage like a bound animal to the slaughter. Anna knew little of her father’s crimes, but as the old priest preached God and condemned the line of men for their “religious decisions”, calling them “traitors to God”, Anna turned towards her mother, clearly afraid of the vulgar shouting and yelling. In years to come she would be
told how brave her father was, yet as she looked on, the defiance and blood drained from his face as the grizzled rope was slipped around his neck. The priest stopped his praise of the “Almighty” and all the eyes looked towards the shivering men atop the stage, cruelly loud drums started their merciless thuds as a ripple of excitement rose in the crowd. Anna’s mother looked forward with an air of unrelenting indifference, the look that Anna had grown to hate her for. Anna wanted to shout out, ask for her father’s forgiveness, yet she could only communicate in silence by squeezing her mother’s hand tighter, indicating the fact that she was afraid. Eleanor, however, dragged her hand away from her terrified daughter and readjusted the sodden lace on her chin. Bereft, terrified, words screaming silently around her head, Anna clasped her hands together and watched a burly man in a black hood wrench her father upright. She moaned as his hand found its way around a decrepit wooden lever at the far side of the stage, sliding around the sodden wood and wrenching it down in a pitiless fashion… Her breath stilled, her heart quivered as silence enveloped the moment. Rain dripped down her nose and the floor beneath her gave way. “Don’t look,” she repeated, “You don’t have to look” yet her body stayed as it was. She could not turn away. The steady “Guh-guh-guh” of the throttled men cut through the applause and whooping as their legs lurched back and forth seeking ground that was no longer there, slowly the faces purpling and the visible juxtaposition of her father’s neck to the rest of his body proved far too graphic to Anna. Tears welled up in her eyes, blurring the world shapeless and she recoiled as if burnt from the ghastly sight before her. Out of the corner of her eye, however, Anna could swear that she saw her mother, “The Lady”, her face barely visible through the thick lace veil, crying at the sight of her love dangling above the ground.
By Will Mathers-Jones (Fourth Year) 23
Artwork: Toby Kerr (Fourth Year)
Crocodile Mind WARNING! DO NOT EVER REPEAT THIS EXPERIMENT AGAIN! This is a tracking of the crocodile belonging to cell number 53785. This experiment aims to communicate with crocodiles, potentially enabling them to work with humans. This experiment was taken on 14th February 2156 AD. If you are thinking of repeating this experiment, don’t. I highly recommend this if you aim to keep all of your limbs. Proceeding to track number one, the first and what should be the last track recording of this menacing species… Loading… Loading… BEEP! Playing track number one. ‘What is this place? A hot swamp? It must be. I probably should look around. I start crawling around this anomalous kingdom. I maintain my excellent posture, after all, the monarch of the swamps must impress his guests. I am only seven years of age, young for a Croshwil king, but it was not my choice. My entire family died protecting me from a large brutish group of monsters, their hands were long with sharp teeth on the end, and it could come off on a regular basis, atypical in my personal opinion. Their responsibilities came down to me, I am the King of Austrilsh, and the murderers of my family have a complimentary appointment with my jaws.
One dropped his hand. It fell next to me, never to be retrieved again. Such insolent creatures, like mosquitos, their malevolent minds repetitively drive them towards my home. They interrupt me at all times during my daily life; incessantly they will enter my home without showing their respect to their superior. However I believe these low level “things” do not deserve my valuable attention. I shall lie down in this marvellous swamp until the nosy fools learn to mind their own business. However celebrities do gain a lot of attention, and these mere subordinates should be able to admire my presence. I have a rather large object stuck on my head. This is causing me a major inconvenience, as my gourmet course of sliced meat was degraded from my expectation due to a lack of being able to move my dextrous jaws in a manner where I can truly enjoy the dining experience. The monsters keep on pressing this with the hand while half of it has fallen off. My parents told me the part of the arm that falls off is a weapon. I think that the ‘weapon’ would be a rather advantageous body part to own. The villains give plenty of food though. Excellent room service I believe. I observed the discourteous beings that repetitively entered my house. I am taking a great umbrage at the sight of them dropping their hands, or ‘weapons’, into my luxury habitat.
The most obtuse members of this insignificant group though are the ones who try and embellish their repulsive skin, which is as revolting as the fact that they use my family’s skin to make it improve! My teeth are like the hands that stabbed my family; they were ready to make exquisite confectionaries out of them! Though this was not the only sickening skin they owned. Like snakes they would shed their skins on regular occasions, yet they appeared to be of different colours, bizarre yet intriguing. One of these creatures with the longer arm and a green skin approached me, he was one of the evil alliance of destroyers with a pointed, bloodthirsty tooth on top. I was so unwise to think this high quality hotel would come with security. I should give a bad review to the other members of my Austrilsh Empire. It came towards me like a cautious lizard, pugnacious and ready to attack. He moved his jaws in order to make a cacophony of nuances. The heavy problematic object on my head made a buzz. In our beautiful language it exclaimed: “We is humans. WE IN PEACE COME. Don’t us hurt, we you hit weapon spear!”
I learnt three things at once. These miserable “humans” speak in a curt manner to their leaders. They threaten us with “spear”, this might be what they call their hand. Also they are illiterate in the fine art of Croshwil. “What do you minorities need from me? CURT MORTALS! I believe I don’t like you, but my stomach would! Are you tastier with avocado or mango? Most of all, how are you talking to me? ANSWER ME!” The imbecile replied “you us to belong. You experiment 53785 are. You no in hotel. You here live forever!”
By Krishna Wijayasingam (Third Year) 25
Artwork: Alex Colvin (Fifth Year)
I Want My Mummy I stood at the edge of the muddy riverbank peering into the murky, heavy water. From time to time silver fishes were breaking through the surface like a drowning man gasping for air. At the edge of a riverbank, giant snow-white water lilies were stretching towards a purple moon, hidden by a thin veil of fog. The rain was drumming down on my head, but it didn’t bother me, and its monotonous sound couldn’t interrupt my thoughts. Still deep in my dreams, I raised my head and a granite rock caught my eye. It looked like an ordinary rock, apart from the mysterious symbols, which were engraved on it. Curious, I crept closer to it, but I couldn’t decipher the symbols. They were peculiar; I had never seen anything like them before. Some reminded me of a child’s drawing of a bird, another one looked like a snake with horns on its head, the third one was in a shape of a spiral.
“What makes you come here? It is very late,” a soothing voice whispered. My veins throbbed and I leapt backwards in shock. A magnificent Egyptian pharaoh stood in front of me, wrapped in white linen, which was studded with bloodred, flawless rubies and glorious emeralds. A golden chain with lustrous pearls and enormous diamonds, the size of pheasant eggs, hung around his neck.
the British Museum and return it to rest in its pyramid in Egypt. How dare you ordinary people, display the mummy of the greatest pharaoh in a glass box, poke your fingers at it, move it from country to country for exhibitions, and examine it with peculiar instruments? My spirit can’t be in peace until my mummy is returned to Egypt!”
Looking down at me, he raised his expressive eyebrows. The pharaoh looked like a spoilt child. “I have a job for you!” he suddenly exclaimed. “I am a great pharaoh, you should obey me. I order you to bring my mummy from
“It must be a dream or I somehow managed to get on stage of the open-air theatre,” I thought. The pharaoh reminded me of a despicable bully at school, whose family owned a helicopter. In a dream or not, I quickly replied
that I would not help him. “What?” the pharaoh said in a high-pitched voice trembling with anger, “You should be honoured that I have offered you that job! You know, slave, I am the greatest pharaoh that has ever lived. When I died, they buried with me hundreds of servants, my wife and my cat; all of them were killed to follow me in the afterlife!” When I still refused to agree to complete this ridiculous task, which can only come to the mind of a mad man, the pharaoh was seized by a terrible fury. He began shaking and yelled, “I give you five seconds to obey my orders, or else I will have your head chopped off!”
Terrified, I began running away as fast as I could, but suddenly I heard a squeak, and I realized that the pharaoh was bawling. I stopped. I felt sorry for him. He must be very lonely and could not rest in peace for over two thousand years! So, I went back to comfort him.
By Benjamin Hammond (Second Year)
Artwork: Sam Power (Fifth Year)
Something Lost In three minutes, I will be allowed to see. Ten minutes later, at the push of a button by some hand presumably no larger than my own and connected to a body with the very same physical properties, my vision will be inebriated, receding into nothingness with the byzantine efficiency of the drug imploding within. Footsteps sound, but the speaker pressed against my right ear makes it hard to decipher the direction, though I am sure the monitor has just finished with case 209. It won’t be long now before the footsteps are amplified, as the slow, repetitive monotony drags closer. There is another noise, a vague, staccato beep in my left ear, indicating the remaining minutes until sight. It doesn’t help, though. Time has no value, in darkness. If a lonely, blind man sits in his living room and decides to fast for a day, his atonement serves no purpose. Time will pass him by, and so will the world, meaning his reparation was futile, meaningless. Time is merely a measure of change. And so, when your eyes, once the only source of vision, cease to function, permanently moored in the sunken hollows of your face, there is not much time can do, except wait for the minutes of the day in which sight is restored. I know the monitor is walking towards me now, because he – I assume it’s the same person – always retracts the roof of my pod on the final beep. I raise my hands and feel as the cool metal slides away and brace myself for the uncoupling. The air vent above my head spits and churns. The monitor is behind me now, and I try to feel his touch, disconnecting the drug from my body, but I can’t, until the hissing noise and the first jolt of pain. It seems to course through my body, working its way through the many tributaries and channels until it is a part of me, and no longer damaging. And then three final beeps sound and I can see. In the videos we were shown at college, before the system dried up and those in power decided their money was better spent elsewhere, the characters would always wake in shock, as if their being conscious was rare and surprising. Here it’s different, as though the inevitable isn’t worth wasting time for, or the impending shock really isn’t.
For me, sight is an opportunity. I move myself into a sitting position and stare longingly at the walls. They are uninteresting, but I savour every detail, replaying the picture over and over in my mind until I am sure it will last me the day. The monitor walks over. His face is veiled, and he is wearing what appears to be a beekeeper’s suit. “The regular?” he mutters, holding out a dark slab of gum. I nod and take it from him, perhaps too eagerly, perhaps not, and wait until he walks out of the room before placing it under my bed. I never chew the gum, only store it. I think today I’ll have enough. There is a window to my right, allowing me to see the vast, sprawling warehouse filled with pods exactly the same as mine, dimly lit by the floodlights towering in the centre, a perpetual reminder of the monitors’ existence as humans who need light to see. I find the monitors comforting, despite the lack of intimacy in our daily routine, and the insensate manner in which they see to my condition our condition. I return my gaze to the door and hear a final beep, indicating one more minute of sight. There isn’t much left to see, apart from my body, to remind myself of my existence and prove that though my mind’s imaginings wander, I will always be rooted in this flesh and blood, a final act before descending into delirium once more. I lie back down and watch as the roof of my pod slides over again and try to ignore the air vent’s frenzied noise. And when the monitor plods back into my room, I am smiling. I feel for the chewing gum, knowing that the drug will be entering my bloodstream within seconds and clench the ball while the pain takes hold. The air vent screams. And suddenly I am slamming my fist into the cracks of the vent, pressing the gum into each corrugated slat, withholding my lifeline from the very thing it was meant to serve. And as the drug takes hold, and I feel my eyesight deteriorating, I enter darkness, the blackest I have ever known.
By Finlo Cowley (Fourth Year)
Artwork: Theo Bailey (Fifth Year)
New Beginnings As I began my new life, the possibilities seemed endless, but then again, so did the queue. I knew I was not the only person in Ellis Island’s Registry Room, but at that moment, as many people do when waiting in a long line, I felt I should have some sort of special access to the front. With the other immigrants filing towards the border officers in a speed that resembled that of an elderly snail, I thought I would be waiting for the rest of my days. The officers didn’t even seem to be in a hurry: they would ask about as many unnecessary questions as was humanly possible to the person they were serving, and would then rummage through a pile of papers before consulting their closest colleague. Their severe faces were not quite the welcome I had expected. If I had done their simple job when I was living in Italy, I almost certainly wouldn’t have been in such a rush to leave my homeland. While hope and optimism for the future were what had brought me to plan for this journey to the USA, these feelings certainly hadn’t been carried with me as I’d voyaged across the Atlantic Ocean. My trip on The Vittorio Emanuel remains a recent scar in my relatively young memory, and I am certain that it will stay there for the duration of my hopefully long life. I started my journey in the port of Genoa, and at first, that ship inspired awe in me. She was a beauty, with shining red paint that glimmered against the dense ocean fog, and two majestic chimneys that loomed above the port. I shuddered at the thought of ever having to spend another second on that vessel again, its beauty now filled me with disgust. Despite my fear of water and my inability to swim, I boarded with an open mind, full of anticipation of the adventures ahead of me. Fast forward a few hours, and I was spewing my guts out, as the ship surged repeatedly over the crests of tempestuous waves. I hadn’t the money to buy a cabin so I had no place to sleep and every time I began to doze off on deck, I would be woken by the spray of another wave, as it swept across the wooden promenade. Still, the apprehension I had then, pales in comparison to my excitement for what may lie ahead.
After a few hours waiting in the Registry Room, I began to notice that everyone around me had families with them. While this partly annoyed me, as they would take longer to register, it also made me realise that I was completely alone. Nobody in my family even knew that I was here, and neither would they have wanted to come, had they known. However, I was of the firm belief that I didn’t actually need a family, and could get by with just money alone. As I stood there, the people around me demonstrated that I was wrong: these people were supporting each other, not necessarily through words, but by just being there, as a sort of crutch when morale fell. This was something I didn’t have. Moreover, I began to ponder how much the odds were against me succeeding: I could only speak a few words of English, I had no money and only basic levels of education. I might as well have been visiting a strange planet filled with alien creatures. Even before it had begun, my dream was unravelling. It seemed that my ponderances and daydreams had brought me to the front of the queue, for which I was partly grateful: I could at least be free from this torturous waiting. As I stepped towards the officer’s desk, he glanced up at me. “Name?” He asked in a monotone, which didn’t make me feel comfortable. “Giorgio Rizzo.” I replied, in my best American accent, though I ended up sounding like a fool. “Uh, hm... That’s George Reese.” At first, I was confused: Rizzo was a name rooted in Italian tradition, and it seemed like blasphemy to disregard it. But then I saw: this marked my first step, not as an Italian, but as an American. And the life of George Reese was only just beginning.
By William Colvine (Second Year)
I Am William Daniel Evans I am William Daniel Evans, but people only ever call me Daniel. Most days, though, you wouldn’t even know I was called that. Most days I’m invisible; it’s better when I’m invisible. I go to Eastbridge Secondary School. This is my new school, my new life, my new start. It’s a short, direct walk from my house, which is perfect for me as I don’t need to get a bus. Buses are a bully’s paradise; everyone is in their own worlds and, with all the noise, laughter and chatter, no one can really see what’s going on. Believe me, I know firsthand what buses are like, I used to be on one with Billy.
Billy - only one letter away from being a bully all the time. Billy is the reason my family and I left our old life, everyone was scared of Billy. I was terrified of Billy. He nearly destroyed me. Billy wasn’t your average bully; he went to extreme lengths to get his own back. He was feared by everyone, even his family. It seemed like his heart was made of stone, without a single crack. Every time I remember him, and my life back then, I feel chills up my spine, goosebumps on my arm, pain in my hands. Billy ruled my old school. Billy was your worst nightmare. Billy was always out to get you. Last September, when my
parents felt there was no other way forward, they said we would move. They wanted me to believe I could start again, reinvent myself as a boy proud of who he is, full of confidence, hope and optimism. A boy no longer living in the shadow of Billy. Sometimes, it’s easy to think you can escape the darkness; but what if there’s actually no light? I have no real friends at Eastbridge, no one to sit next to in the school cafeteria. There is one boy, George, who says hello sometimes. Never more, never less. Enough to let me know he notices me, but little enough to avoid being
teased for chatting to me. He’s the closest thing to a friend I’ve got. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, he’ll even sit next to me at lunch but that’s very rare. My Mum and Dad ask me endlessly about school and whether I’m okay. This morning they asked if I’d like to bring a friend home later. As if! Today might be my birthday, but friends don’t arrive like presents and worries don’t blow away like candles. Tuesdays are PE. Unsurprisingly, I despise PE. Changing rooms deserve a special place in hell. Every time I enter them I go through the same strenuous routine. Oh look, my shoe is missing. Oh look, my sock is missing. Oh look, my SPORTS BAG is missing. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Stupidly, there are no teachers in changing rooms. No way of adults seeing the horrors committed. You can get away with murder in the changing rooms; I know that, the Eastbridge bullies know that. Billy knew that best of all. Irritatingly, there’s only fourteen lockers in the changing rooms, despite having almost thirty kids in the class. Unfortunately, I was given a locker when I joined, but I wish I hadn’t been; it creates more problems than it solves. My stuff still disappears and gives the idiots an excuse to hate me even more! Tentatively, as per usual, I open the aged, rusty, colourless locker with the creaky door, expecting the worst. Today is different though. Today an ordinary looking envelope lies slap bang in the centre of my locker. At first I just look at it and wonder why it’s there. Obviously, I haven’t told anyone it’s my birthday. I’m realistic enough to know they wouldn’t care. Nonetheless, there’s definitely an envelope sitting there - ‘DANIEL’, black pen, block capitals. Cautiously, I tear open the envelope. It takes a while to sink in and as it does I realise that it is true; it’s better when I’m invisible. Inside is a card, colourful and joyous, designed to bring happiness not fear. I read it and the words blur. I feel my whole world shrink down. ‘Happy Birthday Billy’. Three empty words to anyone but me. But this could be no coincidence. The person who wrote this card knows how to hurt, knows how to scare, knows my twisted and sinister past. I am William Daniel Evans, but until September last year people only ever called me Billy…
Artwork: Jamie Bird (Fifth Year) 32
By Isaac Crowhurst (First Year) 33
Artwork: Freddie Chapman (Fifth Year)
The Unmistakable Growl of a Timber Wolf It is dusk on a wintry day in the town of Beaver Creek. The snow falls thick and fast, on the rooftops of the picturesque log cabins and blankets the gardens. It piles on the ledges and windowsills, and on top of the creaky shop signs. The moon hangs low in the sky, catching each wispy snowflake as it flutters down to rest gently upon the frozen lake. The last bus to Whitehorse squeaks to a steady halt. As a few people leave, the bus splutters to life once again and starts to lug itself along the highway. Icy tendrils of frost creep up the windows. It starts to climb, amidst a sea of snowy spruce trees. Sitting a few seats from the front, with his father, is a fourteen-year-old, black-haired boy – Austin. Gazing aimlessly out of the window, all he sees is darkness, interspersed with bright areas where the snow has been whitewashed by the moonlight. He tries to fall asleep to the sound of his favourite playlist.
Austin is partially sighted, having gradually lost his vision over the last few years. He can feel his dad’s slow and rhythmic breathing next to him; as he slowly drifts to sleep, he can feel the vibration of the bus’s throbbing engine, the stench of cigarette smoke coming from somewhere at the back of the bus, the stubborn cries of a toddler refusing to fall asleep, every small turn the driver makes, weaving left and right along the narrow road. He turns his mind to the weekend ahead. His grandma’s ill; his mother is already there taking care of her. Grandma – to him, the fragrance of bee balms, peppermint and eucalyptus candles. Austin shivers slightly. He leans back and a little yawn creeps over him. All of a sudden, the shrill sound of a prolonged beep fills his ears. His stomach lurches.
His left shoulder slams against the window as the driver sharply manoeuvres the bus. He can make out glaring headlights whizzing past him. A screeching sound of metal against metal. He squeezes his eyes shut, gripping the armrest so hard that his knuckles go white. They are falling. Screams and shouts. He wants to scream and shout too but his throat has gone dry; he cannot even swallow. His father squeezes his hand tightly. Then they hit the ground. The noise of glass shattering and more screams. The bus still hasn’t stopped moving. It slides along the snow, the grating sound so harsh that Austin covers his ears. The slope gradually evens out. With frightful suddenness there is a loud thud, and the bus comes to a stop. In the silence, he lies there. All he hears is the sound of his own heartbeat. His breath is shallow, his ears ringing. He can feel the cold, wet snowflakes on his cheek. Trembling, he unbuckles his seatbelt, reaching out to the seat next to him. There is no one there. He shouts for his dad. A voice, groaning. No, a few voices. But none of them his father’s voice. Austin tries to stop himself from shaking, and takes a moment to gather himself. Think. Reaching out with a gloved hand, he cautiously feels the glass remaining around the window frame. A few jagged shards jutting out on the bottom and the sides.
He brushes the fragments off. Placing his jacket onto the frame, he tries to hoist himself upward the best he can. He climbs out, getting to his feet, balancing himself steadily. Everywhere hurts; he is bleeding from a deep cut across his left cheek. He stumbles off the battered body of the bus and onto the snow, trying to fathom what has happened. No, he tries to convince himself, there can’t have been an accident. All of this just can’t be happening. It’s simply too much to comprehend. He knows there is no mobile phone reception in the areas between the settlements. His only hope now is reaching the road once again. Rummaging within his jacket pocket for his cane, he takes it out and unfolds it, trying to walk. After a while, it strikes something hard – the ridge. He guides it up and down, realising with a sinking feeling of despair that it is much too steep to climb. Austin throws himself back into the falling snow. He lets out a cry. And then he sits up, grabbing his cane. He heard it, amidst the reverberations of his scream. He is certain. The unmistakable growl of a timber wolf.
By Ishaan Das (Second Year)
Artwork: Alexander Perrson (Upper Sixth)
Creative Writing Awards 2019
The Dossier I rode into the village of Saint-Annies around about ten o’clock on Friday 19th June 1942. It was a quaint town that I must admit I was quite fond of, it reminded me of my own childhood up north. The cobbled streets ran out into the endless mirage of fields and led up into a main square situated in the centre. These cobbled streets I found to be hard to navigate, each looking the same as the other, small, claustrophobic and littered with Nazi propaganda. The air felt so quiet that the sound of my motorbike as I clattered through the streets reverberated, leaving everyone awake. As I neared the centre, small businesses started to pop up, bakeries, grocers, the bare minimum. The centre mirrored the rest of the town, small and unique but made worse by the obvious propaganda that consumed the town. In the centre there lay a fountain, a tavern and a church. Being more of a drinking man than a religious one, I made my way to the tavern. Besides, I had something I needed to do.
Waiting The man had been waiting for a long time by now. The chair opposite him had remained unoccupied for the best part of an hour and he was growing impatient. A trapper by trade he did not stand out from the group of men gathered in the inn. The clothes he wore were typical for his profession, simple yet practical. He had decided to don his heavy woollen hunting coat upon realising he had no fineries to wear to the meeting. The inn itself was the only one in a twenty mile radius and accepted the business of some of the adjacent town’s rougher inhabitants and any other stragglers it might attract with the promise of warmth and cheap alcohol. It was always crowded, even on a slow night. The man slowly rose from his seat and meandered over to the bartender. On the way he took the time to inspect the hunting trophies on the wall, admiring the taxidermy, and to run his fingers along the smooth, ivory keys of a piano which had been neglected since the establishment’s opening. He passed a log fire, which once crackling had now slowly faded to a dim glow of its former self, much like the inn and its patrons. Parting with what little money he had left he paid for another small glass of the cheapest whiskey the place offered. Drinking the syrupy brown liquid he reflected that he had drunken enough to give him the courage to execute what he came
here to do. While the inn was busy, the man was a stranger here and no one knew his name. After a brief look around the inn and a final sip of whiskey he returned to his table to find the man that he owed money to. A large enough sum and a dire enough situation to force him into desperation. He sat down without a word as his eyes met the other man’s piercing blue gaze. The creditor spoke first. “Smoke, Mr Wilson?” He ventured. Upon receiving affirmation he produced a small and opulent box from his pocket. It was made of ebony and inlaid with pale gold. Sliding the top open, he took out a quality cigar and replaced the lid. This he lit and began to smoke while he reached into another pocket, took out a cheap cigarette and offered it to his debtor. Mr Wilson took it out of politeness. He thought he should do the man the kindness of allowing him to feel in control as his hand slowly and carefully edged towards the revolver concealed in his coat.
By Johnny Dinan (Fifth Year)
The tavern lights were still glimmering inside, though there were only about five people there. Four at the bar and one lone man sitting by the window. He was who I needed. Not glancing up at the bar, I made my way over to him, taking off my gloves. I sat opposite him and he continued to stare right through me as if I wasn’t there. I coughed. His eyes flinched slightly. I coughed again. Then he spoke. “Mögen die meister” he said, his voice unwavering. Of course, the code. “Schlage weiter den sklaven” I replied. At this, his body relaxed as he reached down into his bag that lay by his chair. “I have been waiting” he scowled. After a long day of riding I was in little mood for his tone, so I added quickly, “well, don’t wait any longer then”. To this, he retracted and pulled out a document. I already knew what it contained, but nevertheless he explained its content to me. “I found this on an English spy last Tuesday in a village not far from here.” “Boulonge. I know.” “Then you would be aware that this is where Maximillian Schluss was stationed. I say ‘was’, he was killed by the English spy. It appears he was after this.” He handed me
over the document and I began to read through it, already aware of the content, though he wouldn’t know that. “What do you make of it?” he asked. “Plans of an invasion of Britain. Very dangerous in the wrong hands. If this fell through it would be hell for the Reich.” “Which is why I am happy to give it to you, General Anschlanf.” His pushed his spectacles up his long, pointy nose and began to pack up his bag. “Wait here” I ordered. He immediately dropped what he was doing and payed full attention. “You did well to inform us” I continued, “but how did you acquire this?” “I have been working on deciphering the English code for months, I’m a great codebreaker.” “I don’t doubt it.” “After months of work and tuning into different radio signals, I managed to pick up a signal from Boulonge of an English spy. He was attempting to alert another Allied operative in the area, I think I got the name down as Kasper Lørensen. Anyway, knowing he had something and where he was, the rest was easy.” He sat beaming at his achievement. I looked up at him and put down the document. “Well, you did very well”. At this, he began to blush, not paying attention to how my hand was leaving the table and reaching into my pocket. He realised too late. I fired three silenced shots into his groin, killing him instantly. No one at the bar was aware of what had just gone on. I picked up the document and made my way over to the exit. I walked past the bar and said to the barman, “just had one too many to drink”, indicating the dead man at the window. Then I made my way out. It’s a shame I couldn’t tell him why I killed him. He would have loved to know who he just gave away the Reich’s biggest plan to - the man who could stop it. To me, Kasper Lørensen.
By Charles Maddox (Lower Sixth) 37
The Wanderer He had no idea where he was going, but he knew that he was going somewhere. Memories of the interminable journey to this point filled his head, the strain of these memories weighing heavy. The road advanced in front of him, teasing him onwards, delighting in the pain he was in. Yet he knew that he could not stop. The miles of trodden road that lay behind him had beaten his body into a state of exhaustion so intense that every further step taken seemed like it would be his last, that his body would give up and leave him for dead, out on the endless road. His lumbering, lumpish legs heaved themselves up, metre after metre, mile after mile, yet this Groundhog Day of motion showed no signs of relenting. His legs had pressed stubbornly on long after his mind had told them to stop, because stopping when on the road was not an option, for it would allow the road to catch up with him. Manic flies besieged his weathered skin, like fighter planes hurtling around and taking merciless aim at the innocent civilians cowered below. Ash-black mosquitoes, with their surgical needles inserted into his veins, sucked every last ounce of energy that he had out of him, feeding themselves on his unending suffering. Bloated leeches lay swollen and satiated, having indulged themselves on the feast of his blood, smeared with the evidence all over their filthy anatomy. It seemed as if every last living being on the earth had schemed to find every possible way to torment him into submission. All the creatures of the earth seemed united in their desire to see him defeated, to see him overcome by the incessant agony of the long and winding road. But he would not, could not, stop. The blistering sun peppered him with sun rays, like a machine-gunner unloading his magazine on the approaching enemy. His skin, withered and cracked like an aged roll of papyrus, was pierced and probed by the onslaught of heat. Yet his skin could not fight this blitzkrieg of light back, all it could do was lay there, hanging off his body, defenceless. As his body faded and withered away, his mind took over, whispering thoughts to him as a spiteful child does to their siblings. â€˜Stop now. Stop. Stop. STOP.â€™ But he couldnâ€™t.
His body refused, obstinate in its conviction. He would not let the road win. His thoughts wandered to where he had come from, and why he could not go back. Many a time on his journey he had dreamt of returning. In those moments when the road had seemed longer than ever before, and when his faith in the voyage had dwindled so low that he forgot even why he was there, he had thought of his past life. So simple, so easy, but so very far away.
Artwork: Charlie Masters (Fifth Year)
He had never wanted to leave, but then again he had never had a choice. Staying had been unpalatable, but life on the road was no more appealing either. He longed for the days when he woke surrounded by the same four walls every day, when he could look out his windows at the same two, grand, old oak trees every dawn. But every second more that he thought about his old life, the further and further away it seemed.
He had never wanted to live on the road, but the road had chosen him. However much the rose-tinted memories of his faded past drew him back, he knew that he could never return. He was destined, now, to live the life of wanderer.
By Charlie Key (Lower Sixth) 39
The Butcher, the Accountant and the Barber “Transfer all my money back into my personal account now,” demanded the voice over the phone. “I’m sorry that is not possible,” replied Kasim Abboud. “If you do not do as I ask, you will regret it,” the man said in a menacing growl. Kasim said nothing and quietly put the phone down. Twenty years earlier, after graduating in accountancy from Baghdad University, Kasim Abboud had joined the government finance department. When he was approached by a government official to act directly on behalf of the president, Kasim agreed. As the years passed, his salary increased and the work became more and more demanding. The fact that Kasim’s actions on behalf of the president started to become more and more questionable did not appear to matter to him and he did not seem to care that what he was asked to do was illegal. As long as the money came in, he did exactly as he was told. Kasim was then instructed to leave Baghdad and move to London, so that the funds he was managing on behalf of the government could be less traceable. The money poured in from kickbacks from foreign companies doing business with the government, resulting in billions of dollars which were sent to foreign bank accounts. To make these accounts invisible, Kasim set up the accounts in his
own name. The United Nations officials investigating the country’s finances were unable to track it. Kasim read the newspaper reports which told how the people of Iraq were struggling to survive on meagre rations and poor medical care, but he continued to do as he was instructed. With so much money, Kasim’s lifestyle in London was lavish. He owned houses in some of the most expensive parts of London, including Mayfair and Knightsbridge. His drive was filled with Ferraris, Rolls Royces. He invested in all the latest gadgets, modern art and antique furniture. Not many people knew him well, but those who did were curious about the source of his money. He aimed to keep a low profile but such luxuries attracted attention. The week after the phone call, Kasim received a call from his uncle’s best friend who still lived in Iraq, informing him of a series of deaths. All his surviving relatives, friends and any other people associated with him had been brutally murdered. The friend told Kasim that he did not know who had killed them, but he suspected that they were murdered by government-paid assassins, as many people had been killed in this way. On each of the mutilated bodies was a note written in blood reading “In part payment for Kasim Abboud’s crimes against Iraq.” Kasim knew why they were dead, but did not tell his uncle’s best friend of his suspicions. A few months passed, and nothing out of the ordinary happened. Kasim decided to donate the money to charity
Artwork: Kieran Bouwmeester-Reid (Second Year)
– somewhere where the money couldn’t ever be found. He donated the money in small tax-deductible amounts to multiple charities.
arrive shortly. Kasim sat on one of the comfortable, reclining chairs and sipped the tea that the man gave him. Slowly his eyes closed and he fell into a deep sleep.
One Saturday, Kasim ventured out of his house for his monthly haircut. He had been going to the same barber for all the time he had been in London, so trusted him. Today the barber’s shop was unusually empty with no other customers and with a different barber there. He had never seen this man before, so he questioned him, asking where the usual barber was. The man replied in an Iraqi accent saying that his normal barber was unavailable but would
When he awoke, he heard the roaring of a plane engine and Iraqi voices arguing. His head hurt, his arms were tied back, and a thick blindfold had been roughly tied around his head. It dawned on him that the plane was bound for Iraq and that he was being taken to meet Saddam Hussein. By Joel Hawker (First Year)
The House The wind whispered around my ears, a sudden chill ran down my spine as I realised I was the last one left. I looked down at my hands, covered in blisters. I lifted off my helmet and ran my fingers through my greasy and dishevelled hair. I looked around, all I could see were ditches filled with my fallen comrades. A house was in the distance, I could see the orange flame coming off it. Its structure was exposed, crumbling, soon to collapse. Someone had once lived there, happy as can be. No one could have predicted this… this mess. My legs were about to give way. I stumbled back and slid down the walls of my trench eventually to become a heap of clothes and an empty husk of the man I used to be. Just one month ago I was with my wife, my kids. Happy as I’d ever been. I’d cook for them, clean for them, look after them but I never minded because those were the people I held closest to my heart. That I loved more than anything in this world. That’s part of the reason I left. I had to fight for them, they were worth dying for and now I’m here, not dead but may as well be. I scrambled my way onto my feet, I stepped out of the trenches and started walking, aimlessly. My legs were shaky but I didn’t care, I carried on dragging my feet across the dry soil. A gentle breeze encircled me. It was refreshing. I un-buttoned my coat and dropped it. I did the same with my scratchy, cotton shirt. I was now in my sweat stained vest. I didn’t bother taking the badge off of my coat, it wouldn’t matter in the long term. Well I guess nothing matters in the long term. I reached a path that trailed through the woods. Birds chirped in the trees, not a care in this world.
Unable to imagine the horrors that I’ve witnessed. Sunlight peaked through gaps in the leaves. The shrubbery was green and full of life, unlike the field just a mile away. Dehydration was starting to get the better of me. I was starting to lose vision, but just as if God had heard me the heavens opened up and the bliss that was rain began to land on my hair. A gunshot sounded, I looked up only to see a pheasant falling out of the sky. Relief filled my body. Not only did that mean I wasn’t the target, it also meant there were people nearby. An ounce of hope resided in my heart. I tore a leaf off a tree and began collecting water, gulping it down. I swallowed one last drop and set off towards the noise. I limped through the forest. I tripped over a tree root and fell to the ground, I was in excruciating pain. I’d twisted my ankle. My eyes welled up and a singular tear rolled down my cheek. I screamed, and my God do I wish I hadn’t. I heard the old familiar shouts of the Axes. I attempted to cover myself in the overgrown grass and herbs but it was too late. They screamed for their General. They dragged me out by my leg and started interrogating me, at least I thought it was interrogation as after a couple of seconds I blacked out. Next thing I knew I was in a stone cell, lying on the floor. My ankle had swelled up and was a dark violet colour. The only light illuminating the cell was from a square cut out in the ceiling letting the moonlight in. I heard the brass lock unlatching and a massive figure stood in the doorway.
By Felix Droy (Second Year)
Artwork: Joel Malam (Upper Sixth) 42
Artwork: Thomas Cross (Fifth Year)
Listening to the Silence Chapter One - The Captain of Redwentworth’s Legacy A gentle breeze tickled the surface of the ocean, doing so in a caring, kind manner. The ocean was calm, with the waves happily rolling gently over each other, before colliding with the earth in a friendly fashion. As long as the sea was happy, so was the Captain; he was very much at one with nature, his mood was predictable from one effortless glance out of the window. He was volatile like the winds, dangerous as the seas, cold as the snow or warm like the sun. He was known to tell the weather with his eyes closed! The Captain looked out over the waves, satisfied with its behaviour. ‘She be calm, today. She be calm…’ he told himself, with almost an element of content resonating through his deep, muffled voice. He whipped out a flask from his jacket pocket, which was noticeably dirty and in some places violently torn, and chuckled. ‘What a life!’ He laughed gently to himself. The moon looked big from Clavier Cove, as it glowed a radiant shade of grey, manifesting its beauty superbly to anyone willing to appreciate it. But yet again, as the sky turned the shade of midnight the Captain loved so much, no one was ever
anywhere near to witness it; well perhaps a few seagulls. It was late, yet the Captain was as alive as always. ‘Sleep, pfft. Sleep is for cowards!’ He would famously remark. He needed no sleep, years of ‘real life’ (as the Captain would say) taught him the futility of sleep. The wind never slept. The sea never slept. He took a long sip of Jamesons whiskey from his flask as seagulls mystically swooped in beautiful curving motions over him, singing nature’s song. The Captain whistled along. He knew it off by heart… The moon was far overhead, more of a prominent blotch on the sky’s surface rather than the main attraction. The Captain decided to make tracks and set the nets up for a day of fishing tomorrow. ‘A storm’s a-brewing, lass. A storm’s a-brewing…” He told the sea, as he would often do when he could feel a heaviness in the air. Never was he wrong in his predictions. He was either of three places, lying on Clavier Cove, living under the trance of his own thoughts. If he wasn’t there,
he was sitting in the furthest seat from the entrance at the local Tap Tavern, by the bar, where he would tell stories to anyone willing to listen of the distant, exotic lands that he had encountered in his many trips across the many seas. He was proudest of his ventures into Cornucopia, a land renowned for its rough seas, exotic sea life and welcoming tribesmen and settlements. No man in the sailing village had dared venture into the seas of Cornucopia, and as the Captain left, not a single person in the entire gathering expected him home alive. What did they care, as the Captain was rarely ever seen, he barely ever left his beloved boat, always on the seas somewhere. But, years later, as his ship ‘The Mary Rose V’ triumphantly wandered into the docks, nobody could quite believe what they saw. It is said, that on his return, the Captain handed out an exotic fish, caught on his own line (the finest in the East land) to each family in Redwentworth as an expedition ‘souvenir’. He knew it was to be the tastiest fish the locals had ever tried, as many had most probably forgotten the splendid taste of his freshly caught fish. The Captain, if not at either
of the last two mentioned locations, was out on the oceans or the seas, fishing, drinking and whistling. After all, the seas were his home. He, in many regards, was the sea. Looking out over the stern of his trusty vessel, the Captain spectated as the sun erupted over the horizon, daintily painting the sky’s canvas glorious shades of orange and red. In his last forty years of sailing, he had never missed this sight; it was one of life’s two simple pleasures, along with a good flask of Jamesons. The Captain needed no direction in where to go for the best shoal of fish in the area, he already knew. Well, his gut knew. He needed to know, as he was the only fisherman in the whole of the Bay! The seas, he would say, would tell him. He owed his life to the seas…
By Thomas Bainbridge (Second Year)
Creative Writing Awards 2019
The machine guns fired as he ran, bullets speeding past his head. Shouts cut through the darkness like blades. Running faster now, the boy swerved past the barbed wire; his wallet fell from his trouser pocket, but he ignored it and ran on. He had to, it all depended on him now. The smoky smell from the energy towers clouded his senses. As he sprinted out of the compound, dodging the searchlights and barbed wire, he realised he could use the approaching darkness to his advantage and he slipped into the cover of the forest. The men were not shouting orders anymore – it had all gone deathly silent. The boy wondered why; and then he felt, through the shuddering ground, the deep growl of the jeeps’ engines. Fearful now, he heard shots being fired at him and he winced in pain as he hit the dry earth. He felt the chill of the night and shivered in his light t-shirt and shorts.
As he ran, Hugo thought back to how this had all started. He had woken up that morning to hear his dad talking on the phone. He heard a soft murmuring but no clear words, and as he opened his bedroom door, he heard the words ‘government…this wasn’t how we planned it’. His Dad caught sight of Hugo and abruptly put down the phone. “Dad, who was that?” asked Hugo.
The jeeps came to a stop. What had happened? Had they seen him? He heard men’s voices: “Search for the boy – don’t let him get away!”
Hugo glanced at the clock in the hallway. If he cycled, he could deliver dad’s briefcase to work whilst still making it before the school bell. Grabbing the briefcase, Hugo ran out of the house, and disobeying every rule he had ever been taught, cycled full-pelt towards the towering compound of the government offices looming on the horizon.
Hugo needed all his wits if he wanted to stay alive: he would need to evade the government until he could reach someone trustworthy: then he could make sure this secret got out. He could hear heavy feet stamping through the bushes, thorns catching at the soldiers’ trousers and the men shouting out. Hugo heard rustling next to him and out of the corner of his eye saw the cylindrical black silencer of an M16 protruding through the branches. Hugo held his breath. More rustling, they were all around him now. With a chill, Hugo realised his identity card was in his wallet. They knew who he was and they knew who his dad was. The gravity of the situation dawned on Hugo, he was the son of a powerful government politician, and he knew everything that the government had done, all the lies that they had told, all the people they had killed to cover it up.
Artwork: Nik Yazikov (Upper Sixth) 46
Minutes passed that seemed like hours. More rustling as the soldiers hacked the undergrowth, flashing torchlights into the trees, hunting him down; and then a shout “Over here, tracks down to the river, let’s go”. The soldiers moved away and Hugo dropped to the ground, breathing short pants of relief. For a moment, he just sat crouched on his knees, silent. Then realising the power of the cards he now held, he ran. The capital was only an hour away - if he took the back roads, he might be able to reach the centre before the Government got there.
A flicker of unease flashed across his dad’s face and he briskly left the room, slamming the front door behind him with such force that the door-frame seemed to rattle. As the car engine roared into life, Hugo noticed his dad’s briefcase lying on the floor. He picked it up and ran to the front door only to see his dad’s car turning the corner of the road and disappearing out of sight.
As Hugo’s recollections came to an abrupt halt, he saw from within the crowds gathered in the capital’s square, legions of jeeps, helicopters flying above and mercenaries atop of buildings. He would have to stay hidden. As the vehicles moved closer, Hugo noticed a figure he recognised on top of the leading tank: it was his dad. He ducked behind a wall, his dad had seen him, he was sure. By instinct, Hugo jumped into an alleyway to find somewhere to hide, but he was cornered and he heard the distinctive voice of his dad, softly but clearly: “Hugo, come out, it’s all okay, I won’t hurt you.” “Dad, I know your secret. Why did you hide it, why did you kill for it?” Hugo ran back into the main square and shouted it all out, everything: “This seemingly amazing place where we live – it’s all a lie, masked by the government.” And it all went black as Hugo saw his dad take aim and fire.
By Isaac Tarragano (First Year) 47
Artwork Opposite: Felix Elliott (Fifth Year)
A New Beginning A basalt spire emerged from the horizon, enduring the inexorable wrath of the violent waves, dominating the azure sky. It remained everlasting and indifferent to the crashing waves, adamant as a wall of stone, in the distance. As I gazed up at the daunting, awe-inspiring spectacle of the volcano, I was ever-aware of the stone-cold musket pressed against my back - the presence of my captors behind me. My fear of the crew far outweighed the menacing sight before me, primed for mass destruction, with the capacity of a thousand tonnes of dynamite. “You’re a traitor, and it’s time you paid the price,” snarled a faceless voice, a chorus of chuckling and jeering erupting behind me. The British flag billowed above, on the ship’s towering mast. It was a sour reminder of my betrayal, burning like searing coal in my mind. I was vaguely aware of the monotonous, nauseating sway of the ship - a vessel for my retribution as we neared the black shores, darkened by peppered ash spewed out by the volcano. The black shores, once pristine white sand, now a devastated battlefield, adorned with a plethora of sharp, craggy craters, each larger than the next. Suddenly a scraping screech resonated through the body of the vessel as it ground to a halt. Land. I turned tentatively to my captors. “Don’t do it. This is all a mistake, please forgive me!” I pleaded, my knuckles white, as I gripped onto the seasoaked oak rail. A blotchy, flowery face glared threateningly back at me and growled. “Look forward, boy, you made your choice,” he said and stabbed his rifle into my left rib; and with a sudden violent push sent me flying overboard. The shock of the cold strangled my throat as my arms flailed to keep me afloat. It seemed like hours had passed; my bones ached from exertion. Eventually, exhausting my final reserves of strength, somehow I managed to battled the waves and reached the black shores. Sprawled on the beach, I panted profusely as the afternoon sun beat relentlessly. The lacerations on my back stung from the
exposure to the salty water, and bled crimson rivulets of blood as my cracked scabs re-opened. Momentarily regaining consciousness, my eyes met with a row of gargantuan boulders which stared coldly, mockingly, back at me. Slowly I gathered to my feet; my head ached, the world spun around me. To my left angry waves, led by frothing alabaster crests, pounded the smooth boulders which were arranged in a curious semi-circle; and beyond these colossal rocks, a seething mass of trees and forest swayed in the gusty wind. I approached the towering pines - I needed timber - as a hurricane of leaves, swirled around. The air was heavy with salt and moisture; the forest, like the maw of a great beast, was alive with a cacophony of scratching and rustling. Embarking deeper into the stomach of the beast, the world was quieter and less threatening; in fact, it was more magical and wondrous. The dew-soaked blades of leaves brushed against my arms and the wind tugged at my hair with thousands of invisible fingers. It was then a sudden rumble of the earth under my feet turned my attention back to the obsidian monstrosity in the distance. Pausing, I watched the lava spewing like solar flares from the steaming crevasse; boiling magma gushed from the belly, smothering what little bare rock remained uncovered. It was followed by billowing, scorching ash clouds of pyroclastic flow, forming a deadly shroud over the island. Before long, carrying a load of bracken and timber, I returned to the shore, with the low tide the sand was now visible below the stubborn boulders. Tendrils of darkness were taking ownership of the Island. I noticed a small crevasse in an onshore sea-cave and ventured towards it with excited relief. Having set up my makeshift refuge and my hunger satisfied by a patch of berries, I looked out into the melancholy beauty of the night and watched the glowing silver orb command the sky. As if on cue, the jungle in the mountains came alive, as the nocturnal beasts surfaced to sate their hunger.
By Rohi Popham (Fourth Year) 49
Artwork: Louis Mason Pearson (Upper Sixth)
Follow the Money Sun seeped in through the curtains, sending slivers of light into the room. All was quiet, save the thrushes and blackbirds in the garden. It was a hot summer’s day which, though no one knew it, was about to become the hottest on record. There was a faint, warm breeze which lifted the blinds, flooding the room with sunlight, before depositing them back down, plunging it into darkness. An alarm clock went off. Scott Wight rolled over in the bed. He reached out to turn it off… and missed, instead knocking a glass of icy cold water over him. “If the alarm doesn’t wake me, at least the water will!” he thought. He stepped out of the bed, throwing the duvet away as he did so. He was a well-built man, with broad shoulders and light brown, close cut hair, slicked back from his forehead. His intelligent blue eyes sparkled in the daylight, and his muscles bulged in his arms. Handsome- the type never short of a girlfriend or two. But he was no ordinary man. He dressed in a black linen suit, and headed for the door. As he walked out, he realised that he had forgotten breakfast. “It can wait,” He thought. He noticed a cab going past and hailed it. The taxi stopped and Scott jumped in. “Where to?” the driver asked. “Vauxhall please,” replied Scott. They drove along the Thames for about ten minutes, before Scott got out. He had been careful not to get dropped off at his destination, and instead walked the last half mile or so. As he approached the building, he was scanned by dozens of concealed cameras, confirming his identity. Once the checks were complete, the doors opened, and he walked into the headquarters of MI6. He had been summoned by the Head of Special Operations, James Hunter, to a briefing on his next mission. He knocked on a large oak door, and heard a voice snap sharply, “Come in!”. Scott proceeded into a large marble room. Floor to ceiling windows – tinted of course – showed a beautiful view of the Thames, and at the centre stood an elegant glass table with Hunter sitting on one side. “Ah, Wight.” He said, with a clipped voice developed after years of heavy discipline in the army. He opened a black file marked CLASSIFIED in front of him, and read from the page. “Agent Wight has shown outstanding qualities in the field, and is one of our best men. His skills outnumber those of many others, and he can execute any orders you give him. A very capable agent, whom I would recommend for the most testing jobs.” Hunter put the file down.
“That was your previous CO. It seems you have made quite an impression.” The Head of Special Operations looked up at him. “You like the tough missions, I see.” Scott nodded. “Well this one shouldn’t disappoint.” Hunter picked up another folder - blue this time, again marked CLASSIFIED - and opened it. “Have you heard of Chris Trikman?” “He’s that businessman who sells mobile phones, isn’t he?” replied Scott. “He does more than that!” explained Hunter, “Trikman Enterprises is one of the largest companies on the globe! From televisions to teddy bears, computers to carpets you name it, he’s done it.” “But why does any of this concern me?” asked Scott. “We’re getting suspicious, Wight.” replied Hunter. “A couple of months ago, a whistle blower by the name of Tristan Davies came to us about something to do with Trikman’s taxes. He didn’t want to tell us too much then, but agreed to meet us at a later date, once we could assure his safety. Before we could meet him, however, we were told that he had died mysteriously. He dined with Trikman one night, and the next morning he was dead.” Hunter paused to take a sip of water, then continued. “Of course, we sent an agent out to Trikman’s residence in Sydney, posing as a security guard. Before too long, our agent was dead too. This, of course, fuelled our suspicions that Trikman was up to no good.” “What do you want me to do?” Scott enquired. “We’re sending you into Trikman’s house,” the Head replied, “You pose as a personal trainer - less obvious than a guard or PA of course. You have two main objectives: find out what happened to our agent, and what Trikman’s doing.” “When do I start?” “You leave tomorrow.”
By Sam Govier (First Year) 51
Nice Socks They say the eyes are a window to a person’s soul, but they’re actually just a mirror to your own. They reflect the deepest parts of yourself, the parts nobody sees. In someone’s eyes you see everything you despise about yourself, everything you cannot bear to admit nor reveal. As such, a catch of someone’s eye, even a fleeting glimpse, is torture. Every laugh. Every expression. Torture. I am walking down a street, I don’t know where. I am in agony. Not the kind of agony which makes you cry out in pain, but the kind which stops you doing so. Chaos, everywhere. I usually look down as I walk, it helps to muffle the looks around me. Well, usually I don’t venture outside at all. But I am in a crowd today, full of bustling shoppers. If I look down, I’ll crash into innocent people carrying bags full of shopping and knock them out of their hands and they’ll spill out across the pavement and I’ll get yelled at and then... I stop. I take a deep breath, this also helps. Calms the pandemonium around me. I stick in my earphones, start the music and continue walking. The music drowns out some of the looks, but others persist. He’s staring at you. She’s laughing at you. They’re talking about you. Everyone is inspecting you, judging you. This is what it’s like. Stepping out of the house into bright sunshine, I stroll freely along the busy street, soaking up the last colours of autumn before winter draws in, stopping only to adjust the song playing in my ears. As I walk, my steps synchronise with the beat, as if I were pumping it out myself. Eventually I settle in a cosy, quaint little café at the end of the road, and locate a comfy-looking armchair with my name written all over it. I seek refuge in the corner of a tatty looking coffee shop and catch the eye of a girl. She has nice eyes. Not mirrors, like everyone else. Kind, gentle eyes. Not the clichéd kind, just the type that don’t inspect you. They have a soothing effect, like ice on a searing burn. She’s actually very pretty,
I realise. This ruins the soothing. I am forced to look down, as the waves of uneasiness well up once more. I look up again briefly, and she is gone. Why am I such a creep? I just stared at some poor girl for God knows how long and she got freaked out that some weird stranger was looking at her funny and left and she will tell all her friends about it and they’ll see me in the street and then... I stop. I take another deep breath, and this time stare at my phone sheepishly to cover up my embarrassment. Still the looks wash over me like the hot, bitter cup of coffee I didn’t order because I couldn’t muster the courage to do so. This is what it’s like. ~ As I sit, I notice a boy sitting in the corner, alone, with his earphones stuck in. He is constantly glancing around the room, his eyes darting around. Eventually he meets my gaze, and I smile at him momentarily, but he quickly looks down and buries his head in his phone. Maybe he just didn’t see me. I walk to the bathroom, where I take a moment to refresh and clear my head, before I make my way over to the table he is sitting at and plop myself down opposite him. His head shoots up. ~ Suddenly, the girl appears in front of me. What is she doing here? Is she back to berate me for staring at her like a creep? As I look at her, petrified, awaiting her response, she smiles. Is she enjoying this? Relishing the anticipation of my fear? I brace myself for the torrent that is about to be unleashed, preparing to receive her withering judgement and maybe even a slap round the face if she’s really angry and people will notice and stare and judge and… She stops me. “Hey, nice socks!”
By Ollie Nixon (Lower Sixth)
Artwork: Jamie Bird (Fifth Year)
Hampton School, Hanworth Road, Hampton, TW12 3HD
Tel: 020 8979 5526 Email: email@example.com Twitter: @HamptonSchool
www.hamptonschool.org.uk Cover Artwork: Tobias Droy (Fifth Year), Oliver Hunt (Fifth Year), Thomas Cross (Fifth Year) Samuel Axford (Fifth Year), Joel Malam (Upper Sixth), Nik Yazikov (Upper Sixth), Alex Kavanagh (Fifth Year), Oskar Wallis-King (Upper Sixth), Milo Choudhry (Fifth Year)