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W R I T I N G

from Higher and Advanced Higher Young People in Aberdeen

2011

NORTHERN WRITES

reative


CONTENTS Page Foreword

Steven Knox

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Authors’ Contributions Running With a Snow Leopard Coronach Blood from a Stone (Extract) Edith Piaf on the Metro

Pamela Beasant Stuart McHardy Euan Martin and Dave Smith Raymond Soltysek

Young Peoples’ Contributions Real Dinner for One Untitled Poetry in Death Tudor Rose: Prologue – Exigency Red Leather, Size 3 Dalaman to Glasgow 22:50 Bottle Top Girl Untitled

Sam Somers Veera Makwana Michael Stewart Linda MacKenzie Hannah Whitcombe Ellen Shand Clare Armstrong Ashleigh Newlands

9 10 11 12 13 14 15-16 16

Moments of Abstraction Innocence Age Feelings of Isolation Kaleidoscope Memory What Lies Within Untitled Photo Album Dreams Autumn Apple Drawn into the Light The Case of the Discontent Case Sourire Haiku on Haiku

Sophie Rocks Sophie Ewen Sara Sinclair Sam Nicolson Milne Megan Buchanan Martyna Biorka Lauren Ritchie Hannah Duthie Eilidh McRobert Dougal Thomson Angus McCann Kirsty Fraser Andrew Bartlett

17 18 18-19 20 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

4 5 6-7 8


Page Time, Place or Scene Untitled Ruben Room Ordinary Things Forty-eight Driscoll Road (Extract) Untitled The Misfortune of the Wise Ziggy's (Extract) The Elephant Girl Let Down Addiction Regret Untitled Untitled Untitled Deathly Chill (Extract)

Tom Fraser Rachel Elliot Rachel Buchan Lal Dhillon Josie Ball Jason Kelbie Ian Scott Rhiannon Irvine Nicole Autumn Philip Lisa Howie Alan Simpson Iain McDonald Gordon West Emma Morrice Carolyn Harper Ashleigh Chalmers

29 30 31 32 33 34 35-40 40 41 42 43-44 45 46 47-48 49 50

The Well Plotted Path The Magic Number Last Curtain (Extract) Untitled Found The Robbery (Extract) The Common Way The Scarlatti Tilt

Susanna Ingold Rowan Ah-See Oliver Miller Hannah Pirie Emma Thom Anne-Marie Leman Kirsty Groseneill

51-52 53 53-54 55-59 60-61 62 63-68

Mythic Learnings The Mermaid’s Song Apple The Dress (Extract) The Sunshine State Untitled Epitaph for an American Bitch (Extract)

Stephanie Burnett Nada Ralston Molly Broadley Jordan Anderson Chloe Gordon Andrew Fowler

69 70 71 72 73 74


Foreword O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us! For the eleventh year, or the start of its second decade if you prefer, Northern Writes saw a wide group of students from across the city gather together to consider writing and themselves as writers. The Belmont Picturehouse provided a generous venue and a selection of established writers proved equally willing to share their time and insight. The day hardly lacked scope and the selection you are about to read will provide evidence of its impact. How their experiences on the day lead each writer to their submission choices has made me consider their writing process with care; bringing the lines above into sharper focus. Burns’ lines of prayer can offer far more than the satirical warning of “To a Louse” and help us move towards one of the truer purposes of creative writing: the representation and reflection on self. For many of the pieces you are about to read the sources of inspiration are explicit and, in recreating the situation, the writers take one step closer to being able to achieve this sought-after perspective. In sharing it with a wider audience they allow us a vicarious and purposeful introspection. Several other pieces take steps to the focus and concentration of Burns’ poem; with a moment of observation awakening the writer’s thought-processes. Abstraction and depth becoming the end result. The final group are wilfully imaginative and either mask their inspiration or are too many stages removed for its presence to be discerned. For the most part they do seem to heed Burns’ warning in avoiding pretensions and achieving honesty. This is the spirit I would recommend to you as you turn the page as their reader. Enjoy.

Steven Knox, Conference Chair and Principal Teacher of English, St Machar Academy

Back Row: Raymond Soltysek, Stuart McHardy, Keith Gray Front Row: Steven Knox, Pam Beasant, Annette Bruton, Director of Education, Culture and Sport, Aberdeen City Council, David Smith

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Running With a Snow Leopard Pamela Beasant Eye to eye through the wire fence, no surface in the long, connecting silence. Your arm moves a fraction, the leopard flicks his tail. Suddenly you run the fence’s length like a young wind. He follows, full throttle, veering closer, mirroring the ecstasy. He crouches ready to spring. You copy. Both brimful of dangerous joy prepare to meet. The fence looks low. Reaching out, fearful, I capture you back, to the lesser, leopard-less world. You match a lithe pace to mine, nature reinstated; but in your glance back at the animal, I catch naked collusion. (Originally published by Two Ravens Press, in ‘Running With a Snow Leopard’ 2008)

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Coronach Stuart McHardy Ower the day, dark clouds gurlin thru the glen, a snell wind whippin, on the hillside, black clad fowk staun still as stanes circlin an open grave, new howkit fae the cauld, hard yird. splinterin on the wind like torn clouds, a coronach skirls as a skitter o snaw blaws frae the hill nae celebration here o life lived weel nae castin back tae ither times, as the hoodie sits oxtert in a crook o the auld rodden tree watchin, een like beads o coal, as the bairn’s banes gang tae the mools (Originally published in Lallans 71, 2008)

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Blood from a Stone (Extract) Euan Martin and Dave Smith First performed in Inverness in November 2011.

Garry, inspired by an article in the local paper, forms his plan. "Ruined cottages on remote Highland hillsides are the new frontier of the latest travel boom... ancestral tourism. New DNA techniques called New Generation Sequencing - NGS - mean that amateur genealogists can now pinpoint the exact croft from where their ancestors came." Garry ...miss out all that rooting about in libraries, trawling through fusty old documents? Hey! I was sold! DNA in the actual rocks? It's official - you can get blood from a stone! And I thought to myself, a short cut! That's for me! I know what you're thinking - taxi driver. Always taking the long way round... He mimes casual taxi driving, arm out the window, one hand on the wheel. Garry …when you can go straight there? But we're not really like that. We do like to go as quickly as possible from A to B. That's what appealed to me about this. So I had to get a sample of DNA, but as I wanted to track down the adopted ancestors, I had to get some adopted parental DNA. Apparently swabbing the inside of a cheek is the standard method. Which is easy enough if the subject is willing, but not so easy if they're not so keen.

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I mean my Dad always sleeps with his mouth open, but still, the thought of him waking up with me poised over him with a cotton bud and a plastic bag... Well it would take a bit of explaining. But then I thought - cotton bud... Of course, ear wax! He's always cleaning his ears out. It must have been all those years working in the Cloud Factory out the Nairn road... The dust, it clogged him up. And so there was always a cotton bud in the bin every morning. Perfect. Well, perfect in a "let's-fish-my-dad's-old-Waxy-cotton-bud-outof-the-bathroom-waste-bin-and-send-it-off-tothe-lab" kind of perfect. So, I make sure I'm round at their house early one morning and straight away after he's been in, I'm in the bathroom. Which was a bit suspicious as everyone usually gives it five minutes after my dad... I don't know why I was so nervous. I was sweating and my fingers were trembling. But I'm in and there it is - a perfect specimen... Into the placcy baggie and into the padded envelope and off. I had it all ready addressed to the DNA Clan Identification Association, with a cheque and a wee covering letter asking for any information on our clan origins, both genetic and geographic. Because that's the beauty of this whole business. Geographic. They match up your sample with records that the archaeologists have started taking from ancient sites from all over Scotland. And they tell you the oldest site that has any connection with your DNA. So there I am, fishing about in the wastebasket at 7.30 in the morning, hurrying down to the post box with my precious sample and sending it off - just so as I can find out something about me. 7


Edith Piaf on the Metro Raymond Soltysek Characters to me are the beginning and end of fiction. This poem arose out of seeing an old woman on the Paris Metro and then doing a writing workshop a few weeks afterwards: during it, this popped out! Old Edith Piaf is on the Metro. She sits opposite, asleep, buttoned tight in a burgundy coat which falls aside so slightly at the knee, revealing the colour picked out in the stripes of her dress. She is muffled in one, two, three scarves, layered thermally and aesthetically, purple, green-purple, green, and her sky blue headscarf matches the audacity of her handbag. She wears, though, sensible brown shoes, scuffed and worn smooth like the tiniest and oldest of otters. The train rolls into Falguière: I reach across, touch her elbow, “Madame, excusez-moi,” my fearful French supplemented by an eyebrow raised, “votre station?” She blinks, wipes a drool from the corner of her mouth, flusters to her feet. Bustling through the door she remembers her fading charm turns, gap-tooth smiles, flirts a wink and says, “Merci, Monsieur.” Having woken her and been so blessed I have not one regret.

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Real Dinner for One Sam Somers, St Machar Academy Casually sitting Chinese takeaway, Catching faint, brief smells of my tea, My stomach eats itself away inside. Yet still no sign of my meal Three builders, spread out either side of me; Gossiping about their suffering appetites. The 3 musketeers, left home alone, For the worst part of two whole days. “God it’s horrible!”- Musketeer number 1. “Had to cook chicken korma last night, Just bunged it into the microwave.” Pride drawn and raised for affirmation. Musketeer number 2, Aramis to his Porthos In kindness, turned and said; “It’s nae really cooking is it?”

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Untitled Veera Makwana, Dyce Academy On the night of 26th November 2008, I switched on the television, desperate to escape reality and relax for a while. But was I to know, the rest of the world to know, that this would be impossible? “Breaking news: ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks have taken place in Mumbai, India’s largest city.” The headline repeatedly flashed across the screen, alongside the brutal images of the injured and the dead, sprawled in the pools of their own blood. Since the word ‘Mumbai’, only one thought registered in my brain. Not my family. Please. Not my family. I continued to stare at the television, absorbing each word, as if hoping my family will soon be mentioned, that they are all safe, all alive. Again the opposite happened. “The attacks are spread out across the city, including Oberoi Trident, Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Vile Parle, Cama Hospital, Nariman House…” On the screen flashed a video of a road, the road down which I had walked numerous times before…the same road which the flames were now engulfing. The road in Vile Parle, barely five minutes from my grandparents’ house. This cannot be happening. Just then the phone rang, the shrill tone pulling me back to the harsh reality. It was my dad, asking if we had heard the news. The rest of my family assembled around me as I switched to speakerphone. My mum muted the television, saving us the task of listening to the journalist, whose news was punctuated by the bangs, screams and sirens in the background. “I’ve called everyone there,” he reassured us, “They are all at home, safe.” The feeling that flooded through me at that point is yet indescribable. At the exact moment that I discovered my family was safe, I looked at the screen and again saw bodies. It was at that moment I realised the amount of luck involved. Although mine was thankfully unharmed, hundreds of families were torn apart that night.

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Poetry in Death Michael Stewart, Torry Academy Violence imposed on youth, heading for battle. Childhood wars seem so small. Boys, not men heading for a war that is not theirs. Youth is precious. Grown up. Laughter and joy fades to cries and moans of wounded men. Friends lost forever.

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Tudor Rose: Prologue – Exigency Linda MacKenzie, Harlaw Academy My earliest memories are my dearest. Even as an infant of just three years, boldness was not permitted by any children of nobility at court. We were taught to remain collected, pleasant, and remain shunned out of the politics our relatives made their living from. I, however, did not take heed of this. I did not play and dance with the children of the King of France and his wife during the celebration of the treaty between England and France, nor with any other noble children I met. No, instead I chose to remain by my father, the King of England. My elder sister of seven years of age, Mary, remained a quiet and unnoticed child at the right hand of my father. She respected that children were a rarity at social events – this one the celebration of the alliance between England and Spain to war with France – and did not speak unless spoken to. Of course, I knew my pleasantries at the age of three to exchange with anyone of political standing, but I possessed, even as a young one, a fiery spirit which would never be quieted. I remained a cool, collective child with a secretive smile. But no. My earliest memory is of this celebration of a treaty of universal peace. I remember looking up at my father, a handsome yet calmly terrifying figure, and smiling boldly while addressing him as Father. The nobles, allegedly, were astounded at my forward attitude, for King Henry VIII was renowned for expecting severe obedience from any in his company. However, my father was not stern toward me, but instead gave a cheerful laugh and announced to the French King that I took after him greatly and boldly. My fierce personality bonded me with my father that day, for he did the unknown for a King and placed me on his lap for a short time. My mother, Queen Catherine of Aragon, whom I didn't see often but possessed a motherly love for her children, had frowned at me with a slight smile on her face. Only a mother could understand her children even when they themselves could not, for I myself retained a cool danger in my personality throughout my life. It was blatantly obvious that I did not possess such a kind spirit as my Spanish mother, who never failed to tenderly touch the hearts of the English people. Whenever she summoned myself and sister at night, the Queen would smile motherly, despite a woman of such standing not being expected to love her children, and ask my sister Mary if she had said her prayers before hugging her dearly. I, ever the contrast to Mary with my long blonde hair and small secretive smile, would stand patiently for her attention. One such time, she had taken my hands and said, “You have a strong spirit, Anne. You will make a lucky man a challenging wife one day, my beauty.” I could never find my father a threatening figure. As a young child, my maids attempted to convey that I must keep clean, put all effort into becoming an accomplished young woman, and never embarrass the King by being any other manner than polite towards guests and nobles. I saw this merely as a warning, not a rule. Possessing such a defiant and audacious personality rendered me a troublesome child - often I forgot to curtsy when introduced with his Highness. The people of the court foresaw that I would become a most challenging beauty of a woman, due to my calm courage, and would exceed the expectations of any of my siblings before me. Where many, including Mary, would cower beneath the King's gaze and be weakened by the pressure of pleasing the man, I would challenge his authority in every way – as was not proper and considered a horrid trait amongst noble children. People of the court would hold their breath in trepidation as I, a mere child of five, dared to dispense with the formality of calling my father 'Your Majesty', and instead smiled - sweetly, challengingly, and dangerously. However, more than once, my father would narrow his eyes in amused confrontation and give a jolly laugh, naming me his 'young darling'. Whereas Mary was her own person, I took after my father – impulsive and uncouth. We understood each other very well, strengthening our relationship, and leaving poor Mary to remain a plain and unloved daughter.

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Red Leather, Size 3 Hannah Whitcombe, Aberdeen Grammar School You skipped in them, At the park, to school. Running free before the Fßhrer’s rule. You stumbled in them, Pushed and bruised. Your innocence, liberty and rights, abused. You marched in them, Assembled, aligned. Six-point star: unfairly defined. You stood in them, Like cattle, carted. Destination. Your family parted. You worked in them Without hope, without choice. Persecuted, you had no voice. You cried in them, When you knew the truth. An unbearable, abrupt end to your youth. You died in them, Your life denied. An example to all, because you cried.

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Dalaman to Glasgow 22:50 Ellen Shand, Aberdeen Grammar School I am not a wee sardine That salty smell comes not from me It emanates from the chips I see On the lap of the man in 14 C Hostesses give instructions for avoiding decease But my real escape is provided by Rob and Reese Performing for me on a tiny screen In a film about elephants that I’ve never seen My Mum gave up sitting down after the first hour Playing games on her iPad before it ran out of power She opted to stand like the leaning tower So tired, she was wired and dreamt of a shower From Turkey we did leave On that journey I would embark I’d have only a cubit in which to breathe A measurement used for Noah’s ark The passengers store their duty free In overhead compartments Some Marlboro cigs and Lambrini And shampoos from their holiday apartments Thank you for flying with us We hope you enjoyed the flight No actually it’s ruined my holiday Goodbye and Goodnight

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Bottle Top Girl Clare Armstrong, Aberdeen Grammar School Hanging in the centre Of my house is a picture; A simple seascape jumbled From flotsam, jetsam And a childhood perspective. Worthless and ignored, the ash cloud Of time sits heavily upon A bottle top girl, and turns her Perfect world from blue and yellow To an uncertain, faded grey. Hanging stubbornly in the centre Of my home is a picture; The flowing years should have washed It away, and the sure staccato stripes Of the paper sun be replaced By expectation and doubt. Yet Still the girl with wire for arms clings on in innocent hope, and beams with her unfaltering marker pen smile When the world of money and Monet Laughs long, long and loud At her dreams. Hanging blissfully in the centre Of my childhood is a bottle top girl, and she will never die. A hundred better portraits have been and gone, yet still she looks on From behind her googly eyes. Not once Has her vision been clouded by fear, nor suffered The slow drizzle of disappointment Into her soul- all those plastic windows know Are sun, sea and golden sand; A trio of warmth, light and hope safely framed And protected from the harsh sands of time.

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Hanging in the centre Of my life is a picture of a bottle top girl; A child made of rubbish, clothed in scraps And set against a confusion of crude Colours and simple shapes. I know now That humans are not mere bottle tops and that the sea is more than blue. But I would give purple, orange and dazzling green To go back to those days of being sure.

Untitled Ashleigh Newlands, Hazlehead Academy My dad now lives with this woman. Jackie she’s known to by most, but to me its psycho Jackie because the name Jackie has connotations of innocence and merriness, and psycho Jackie is to the point. I was nine when psycho Jackie came on the scene. It had been a year since the split and we, and me and a four year old Poppy, had moved in with my mum again. But to a different house, my dad lived in the old house – home. And I stayed with my dad on a Wednesday and Friday night. So along comes psycho Jackie and she moves in. And I didn’t like this very much, because A) everything finally seemed as normal as it would ever be, B) because a four year old is much cuter than a nine year old, so poor old me didn’t get any attention, and C) this woman was now looking out for Poppy, and that was my job. Poppy loved her, she got to bake cakes every weekend and psycho Jackie never got sick of a four year old because she didn’t live with one all week. I didn’t like psycho Jackie because she didn’t like me, or perhaps it was the other way around. Anyway, you’re wondering how the psycho prefix came around and this is where I get confused. I'm unsure of exactly when Jackie became psycho Jackie. I can’t remember when my dad became a complete idiot, blind to psycho traits and actions. Jackie turned our lives upside down, she began to throw things and destroy our home. She threatened us. She called social work and told them that me and Poppy were living with two dependant alcoholics and that my dad was a violent drunk. None of that was true but in case you don’t know how social work works, they have to check up on serious accusations and they were at it for weeks. Jackie used my mum’s past against us and dug up stuff from years ago. She threw my dad out, accused me of stealing from her and sent herself letters of abuse then called the police. Then she pretended that nothing ever happened and begged my dad for forgiveness. He took her back and then it happened all over again and then he took her back again. This story is a long one, and that’s one of the reasons I never tell it. But I’ll tell you. Why? Not sure, but listen up.

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Moments of Abstraction Innocence Sophie Rocks, Dyce Academy Hand In hand We’re running forward Tumbling down the hill Rushing through the crowd

Fingers intertwined We’re running forward Not thinking, not worrying Just laughing, just smiling

Not letting go We’re running forward Not realising our future Not recalling our past

Just living, just breathing Forgetting everything Running together Hand in hand

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Age Sophie Ewen, St Machar Academy Distant With an image my walled memory merges I am empty, a shadow of what was. The paths I walked are as one my train of thought derailed I cry out for those I knew Who can catch me now? I arrive at the blurred edge.

Feelings of Isolation Sara Sinclair, Kincorth Academy Another brick in the wall, grey and grey; Nothing but another wave, disappearing into the horizon. Going afar, Drowning in its own waters Falling and falling into the Dark waters. They swallow me as if they Need me. A good friend, The only friend. A blade of lush grass, green just green In a field I sway from side to side I am alone No friends, these duplicates of me are strangers. Forgotten: Trampled on and wrecked, I am no longer Wanted. Remember me, Remember me friend.

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One singular grain of sand, brown not gold; Not a luxury, one trillionth of a scene, Beautiful and serene. I am Not beautiful, I am a forgotten segment. Miniscule and unwanted. They have no desire for me, Me alone. No friends, Notice me friends. Branched arms, calling my name, Give you my hand, you give me yours: holding Us together. Dearest Companion, I need you to be My friend because I am Forever in isolation. Call my name: Don’t leave. Be here. Friend?

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Kaleidoscope Memory Sam Nicolson Milne, St Machar Academy Dreaming of a past previously forgot. Games taken part in and bicycles bought. This kaleidoscope memory brightens what was dark. Warping shadowy memories and smudging their mark. A clumsy red viewfinder clicking through thoughts. The knowledge that is lost is currently sought. With selective shards of memory I believe my lie. Each grain of glass providing refracted honesty

What Lies Within Megan Buchanan, Cults Academy All colour had completely deserted her face, a small sheen of sweat glazed her features and her bottom lip maintained a slight tremble. Her tiny frame gave the impression she was weak, like a bird struggling to fly in a strong wind. Anyone who knew her would say that this could not have been further from the truth, but Emma knew how accurate this impression really was. Steeling herself, she glanced at the reflection of her eyes and as expected she saw the same demon-like creature staring vindictively back at her that never failed to appear at times like these. Frozen, she took in its ghastly distorted features, loathing the way its baleful smile sent ripples of apprehension through her body, forcing her to shake violently. A long dirty fingernail attached to a spindly finger plagued with blisters poked out from the darkness of its body and pointed menacingly at her, making her shudder. The guilt had grown stronger now; she could feel it pressing hard against her insides, desperate to burst out, to punish her. It was forcing her to tell the truth but she could not muster the strength to do so, this made her even more aware of how selfish she was.

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Untitled Martyna Biorka, St Machar Academy Sordid. She never said it, They never asked, But it didn’t make it disappear. Flashes of memories haunting her mind. His voice. His smell. His touch. She could feel it; Loathing her mind for reviving it. Denial. This couldn’t have happened to her. Guilt. It’s her fault, she provoked it. Anger. Why was it her? What has she done? Loneliness. She’s all alone in this, Pride holds her tongue hostage. Emptiness. She doesn’t want to live with this anymore. Darkness imprisoned her, Embraced her lungs, Absorbed her screams, Paralysed her body, To have her. Darkness.

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Photo Album Lauren Ritchie, Kincorth Academy Miniature memory-machine, Take me back to a simpler time, when we were care-free, when we were young, when we were naïve to the world and its cruel ways… Glass smiles, easily broken by the crushing weight of reality. It’s curious, how they never break within the four corners of this realm. I shake it, but there is no earthquake, no destruction, the scene lays intact. Like a God, I look down upon the lost souls, forever trapped in these snapshots of a life long forgotten Our bodies? Tear stained, but intact. I took this photo, but how, I will never know, For I was truly blind not to realise that our time together was limited That every grain of the sands of time would whoosh past me like a whirlwind, Tearing my soul apart. I rest in pieces whilst you rest in peace.

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Dreams Hannah Duthie, Oldmachar Academy Life’s too short to wake up with regrets, In dreams your last worry debates debts. Meaningless anxieties, hardship and depression subside. Factors of happiness override. Lucid dreams conquer all, Throughout the troubles of life she stands tall. Smiling, and shining life flies by. The last major segment of the life circle stumbles by. The meaning of life still remains shy; With hope, peace, and love, The chase for answers stems to be senseless. Thoughts drift to the beauty of nature, love and friendship, Her guard is down. She is defenceless. Dreams become reality, and reality becomes dreams. In partnership. Rolled into one, Together they shine, like the light from the sun. Vividly flowing together as one, days pass quickly Life has begun. She gazed, she grinned, she giggled, All in harmony. Somnolent. Her head rested on his chest, her long chocolate brown hair tickled gently across his skin, She smiled. By twilight, thoughts escape, eyes glaze and dreams become reality. Perfection. Ambition.

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Autumn Eilidh McRobert, Aberdeen Grammar School Farewell, Leaf drifts down through the gentle breeze To join its curling fellows, Decaying confetti, scattered below Lands on a whisper. Branches stark; bearing Amber torches, aflame Held up in sacrifice To appease the fierce grey skies, Bruised, shot with crimson. Flowers, once triumphant Now falter Drooping on their browning stalks Transparent and frail as lace, They break off with a sigh To join the swirling fan dance in the wind. Ripe fat berries, Spill droplets of deep purple Which collect in the yellow brown Stars, scattered below, Their once green hands grasping for a Taste of the wasted life.

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Apple Drawn into the Light Dougal Thomson, Kincorth Academy Awkwardly shaped by the hands of God, plucked from the natural mother tree premature. Life began early yet it seems so short, the end is always close. Different to all brothers and sisters but relatives none the less. Another falls down, one more for the chopping block worn by the cruel figure of gravity. Never to be seen again. Into the glitzy back doors, sitting next to the other rotting fruits trying to determine the torture of the long day ahead. The pain comes down the mountain with fantastical pace hurling any resistance aside, the long dagger edges further through the skin. Life in the light. Purely and simply. Humanity in all its bloody glory. Getting from one day to the next is becoming harder, harder until the day comes, and there is nothing. To be human‌

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The Case of the Discontent Case Angus McCann, Aberdeen Grammar School He was a standard Disney affair, coupla shorts and a feature length-I think maybe the Jungle Book, but from the smudging on the front it could easy be Robin Hood. God this whole thing made me wanna puke my warranty right up. I glanced round, not for any particular reason, guess I just wanted to look more like I knew what I was doing, keep up appearances and all that. I could tell Modern Classic and Arthouse over there were both staring at me; sometime soon we’d have to announce it, but…I just couldn’t handle it today, y’know. It’s so sickening seeing something like this - ten, maybe twenty, twenty-five bucks worth of prime home family entertainment strapped together and then just ruined like that. I knew by the markings that there’d been a second bonus disc-it had a two hour making of that would now forever go unwatched. I took out my episode list as a sign of respect then announced the death. The shelf looked especially drab tonight, but probably it was the morning’s events still affecting me. I wasn’t even close to being in the mood for happiness. Fearing where my current train of thought might lead, I proceeded to get on with some work but just then I heard a knock on the door. I could tell by the dramatic pause- tasteful, yet not overlong- that it was HBO. Even worse, they had a documentary with them. This was legit. I was a Quintessentially British Comedy, maybe one day I’d becomes a cult hit, but for now there was absolutely no reason to be of interest to these fellas! No, this was suspect, and try though I wanted to, I couldn’t shake the feeling it was all related to this morning’s incident. I beckoned for Attenborough and Artistic License to come on in, hell inconvenience or not at least it’ll distract me from my more morose thoughts and special features. So Mr. Golden Globe then starts to tell me I’m being reissued overseas, that they’re all gonna try relaunch the show in Hollywood. This seems too good to be true. So then it occurs to me yeah, what if someone’s trying to take me away from the case of cartoon boy earlier? Trying to kill the heat, bring this investigation right back to root menu...But to what end? What could a children’s animated film possibly know that’s got HBO and the BBC all rattled up?

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Sourire Kirsty Fraser, Oldmachar Academy Watch as the unswerving line twists and arches Into a contented hammock, The hidden white pebbles resurface, Luminous in the framed rouge oval, Enclosing petty imperfections, blemishes, faults, None matter in this seamless crescent.

A breeze escapes as windows flutter closed, Glaciers melt and armies retreat, Knots unknot, skies clear, fires flicker out, Leaving only a cloud labelled as ‘nine�, A feeling as light as helium, Sourire, sourire, sourire.

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Haiku on Haiku Andrew Bartlett, Cults Academy Haiku is odd. Often doesn’t make any sense. Cannibalism…

Symbolic, Impressive, Thought-Provoking. Grammatically Awry…

You take some words. Muddle them around a little, Then you just create.

Haiku are simply words, The sentiment attached is what really counts.

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Time, Place or Scene Untitled Tom Fraser, Aberdeen Grammar School It was a room that left the National Cat Swinging Society (NCSS) a lot to desire. The first thing that hit you as the door was opened was a pungent odour - and intrusive scent to the senses, not dissimilar to cat food, vinegar or rotting flesh. The single window was framed with cobwebs that looked as if they had been meticulously placed by the proprietor - a spider, curled on the sill; its last breath had clearly escaped days ago. This window looked out onto the less than inspiring sight of next-door’s wall – a red brick structure severely lacking in cement to keep it stable, but nature had compensated by contributing what seemed to be a vast quantity of the Earth’s moss supply. If the window was to be opened (if the window could be opened) then all the sounds of the world would be drowned out by a cacophonous symphony of the traffic moseying along a nearby dual-carriageway. But of course, this sound would fall on deaf ears. This view only complimented the rest of the room – a claustrophobically small space with few defining features. The desk adjacent to the north wall provided the most entertainment for a voyeuristic eye. A plethora of profaned plates littered the desk, and each had cultivated more life than that which had entered the room collectively, or would enter it again. A fountain pen bled onto an empty notepad, adding another shade of black to the dingy room. Along the wall were books with spines smoother and straighter than a heavily botoxed finishing school veteran. The table leg furthest from the door acted as a central support beam for an artists interpretation of the Himalayas, recreated with tissues and ‘homemade adhesive’. If your gaze wandered along the four walls, it would eventually fall upon the mountain range of a non-descript-poster-girl’s breasts, and the paper eyes of the solitary witness. Blue tack marks were the only remnants of her companions who now resided in the bin – A3 incarnations, his fallen heroes, crumpled and torn. The carpet was once white. Its job used to be holding the room together, but now, it existed as a beige memory of its former self. It also did an excellent job of holding onto the shadow cast by scuffed shoes, swaying from the strained cord of the lampshade.

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Ruben Rachel Elliot, Aberdeen Grammar School Ruben pulls back his curtains, looks out onto the street beneath him; a cul-de-sac in the middle of a swarming suburbia. His house is exactly the same as the others on either side of him, pale boxes with straight sides and flimsy plastic lining the top. A pair of expensive sports cars, both designed to seat two, are parked outside beside the beds of artificial flowers, their rigid heads turned away from the sun which is clawing its way above the never ending horizon of chimneys. Ruben has never seen any of them choke out even a hint of smoke. He can hear the hum of a few cars as the estate wakes up, the bathroom door along the corridor snaps shut. Ruben turns from the window and walks over to his desk. On the side is a pile of science textbooks and pieces of paper showing complex chemical formulae and scrappily annotated diagrams of cells and organs. Beside them is a medical dictionary, the spine intact and the pages crisp. On the other side is a simple wooden frame, the photo is faded and of a much younger Ruben with his parents. They are grinning behind his 5th birthday cake, three pairs of eyes shining with happiness. Ruben picks up the photograph and can’t help but be drawn to the place where he can see his dad’s hand clenching his mum’s arm. With every look at the photo, he can see the contentment in his mother’s expression fading. All the walls are thickly decorated in various posters and cards. The bottom layer is barely visible anymore, only a couple of dozen elements in the periodic table can be seen and most mathematical theories are cut off before they can reach a solution. Everything is blocked by adverts for concerts; rock bands, orchestras, arena tours, acoustic gigs in tiny bars. But still some of the wall is visible, flashes of the dull cream that every room in the house is painted with. Ruben wishes he could cover it all up but no matter how much he pins on his wall; there is still always a stubborn spot of cream that won’t be covered.

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Room Rachel Buchan, Harlaw Academy You are standing in a room, though at the moment you aren’t taking much notice of it as you are staring out through the window, appreciating the beautiful garden you see there. For an average sized garden, the size has been very much taken advantage of as it completely jam-packed with many elements for you to admire. First off the flowers of many vivid colours: fiery oranges and reds; sunny yellows; cheery pinks and radiant blues, not to mention the healthy green that is seen almost everywhere. Your eyes are drawn to a bush of perfect white roses on top of a rockery where a beautiful marble woman stands, her brilliant smile glowing as she stares up at the sky. There is a quaint cobbled path which passes the rockery and the green house and the pond to lead you to the tall ivory archway, where beyond you notice a slight change in scenery. Surrounding the grassy stretch of what’s left of the garden, flowers are still found but bang in the centre is a climbing frame, a climbing frame of which many children would be envious. Not only is there a swing set containing three swings, but monkey bars, a firemen ’s pole, a sheltered den and a long curved slide; which would take hours of sliding to get bored of. As you take one last, long glance at the breath-taking garden, you can’t help but notice the fact that the grass looks slightly overgrown, as if its carer hasn’t seen to it in longer than it’s accustomed to. You turn around to take in the room and are immediately drawn to the floor- not through choice, but because you stumbled on a blue jumper that was left there. In fact the floor is quite cluttered with clothes lying around and various pieces of rubbish scattered about. You look up at the dimly lit room and see the two wardrobes on either side of the back wall and the chest of drawers between them. You look at the three remaining walls which surround the room and focus on the pictures hung there: the first a wedding photo of a young couple that radiate happiness, standing close and staring deep into each other’s eyes while smiling smiles of complete bliss; the second of beautiful young baby boy with his Dad’s thick hair and his Mums eyes. Among the rest you see photos of another two lovely babies and a collection of family portraits, you allow your eyes to rest on what you can assume is the most recent with all five members smiling brightly towards the camera, as if sharing an inside joke. How had you not noticed that before now? The sound of the far too loud rock music coming from another room down the hall, ignore it, and look at the room once more. You look at the unmade, double bed and notice around a dozen cards scattered there as if thrown carelessly. From what you can see the senders of these cards are ‘sorry’ and the person they were sent to is ‘in their thoughts’. Before you have a chance to investigate further you are interrupted by a cry from the room next door, despite the loud music that cry is all you hear. It is followed by a heart wrenching wail for ‘Mummy’, you can assume it’s the youngest child, a boy of around five. You wait for the child to be comforted, but his Mother doesn’t show. After a few moments you can hear small footsteps and the murmuring of soothing young voice. The music stops and you can hear heavier steps walking towards the child’s room, while this person opens the door you can hear soft sobbing and once it’s closed; nothing. Deciding you don’t want to look at the dark, messy room much longer you turn again towards the window, and notice a change. The colours of the flowers are duller now in the receding day light and seem quite unruly as the all fight for space and dominance. The wind has picked up rustles the tree branches near the window. You look again towards the glorious climbing frame, though it doesn’t captivate like before, instead it looks empty and quite eerie as the wind moves the childless swings slowly back and forth. Though the biggest change you notice now is the dark figure hunched over the rockery where the woman stands, shoulders shaking violently. When perhaps the person has had time to compose themselves they make their way inside. You look again at the angelic woman surrounded by pure white roses, both the most well-kept and comforting area of the garden. As you begin to turn away from the woman you notice the unmistakable clear drop of a tear slowly making its way down her smooth, cold cheek. The rain falls. 31


Ordinary Things Lal Dhillon, Cults Academy Once upon a time, in a quite ordinary town, in perhaps the most unremarkable of houses, there lived a rather ordinary group of children. Or, to be more accurate, in what appeared to be the most unremarkable of houses lived a group of children who appeared to be rather ordinary. This distinction may seem small, but I encourage the reader to ignore such distinctions at their own peril. In fact, if you are the sort of person who finds ‘un’ordinary things to be somewhat perturbing, I would suggest that you put this book down right away. The house in question, when viewed from the outside, appeared no different from any other along its street. Now, by that I do not mean to say that it was identical to its neighbours. It was, like everything else on that street, an individual creation, with quirks and eccentricities all of its own. But as its neighbours were also ‘individual creations’, and it was neither the most elaborate nor decrepit, nor old fashioned nor contemporary, nor towering nor quaint, it stood out very little from it companions. The garden was large, and alive, with climbing vines along the walls and flowers carpeting the floor, and grass just on the verge of overgrowing, so that if you were to wander through the gate and forge a path to the doorway you would have to watch very carefully just where you put your feet. It wasn’t the ideal garden for visitors, but if you were to look closely you would find that it wasn’t made with them in mind. Keep your eyes open, and every now and then you might spot the flick of a short white tail amongst the undergrowth, or a few short spines shuffling about under the bushes. There were sparrows throughout the entire street, that flitted about daily from house to house, but only in these trees would you spot a ‘sparrow’ with blue-red wings and a long, pointed beak. If you were the observant type, you might just spot why. Amongst the leaves and branches of the trees, there sat possibly the most unorthodox collection of bird boxes that had ever graced the front of somebody’s house. One was round, the other square, another some strange contraption, all angles and edges that formed a vague sort of pyramid. They were made of what looked like branches that had fallen from the trees, and they seemed to be tied together with cord, although the pyramid had a few nails sticking out of it at odd angles, as if someone had tried to put it together properly but had given up after the first sore thumb. There were similar shelters on the floor, rolled over on their sides to form little cairns of dried twigs. Most were rather well camouflaged amidst the undergrowth, but there was one that stood out proud from the rest. It was a little smaller than the others, and unlike them it wasn’t made from twigs and string. Instead, it was a carved wood box, turned on its head with a small hole chiselled in its side, and a short wooden doll stained dark by the rain standing guard over the entrance.

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Forty-eight Driscoll Road (Extract) Josie Ball, Cults Academy From July through to September, Mrs Rosenthal (she was only ever Erica to her dear Reginald) wakes up at six thirty to enjoy the cool morning sunshine before it gets too hot. The wooden porch is aging and is coated with a thin green film of algae. She is careful not to slip. She sits in her rocking chair, once coated a striking red, but the paint now curls and flakes off, exposing the bare wood underneath. She rocks gently, her latest unfinished embroidery in her lap: a Beryl-spangled Tanager on a periwinkle background, to hang in her great grandniece’s bedroom (it is her favourite bird). The neighbourhood children often come to see Mrs Rosenthal during the summer when they are out of school. They are fascinated by her, and she smiles warmly as they ask her questions about her life. They listen patiently and attentively, wide-eyed in wonderment when she tells them her stories. She waves at everyone who walks by, even the boys who find her strange and stare, wordlessly. In the autumn, the grass is overgrown and is littered with leaves of burnt umber, crimson and golden yellow. The trees are soon bare and sinister; the dwindling daylight upsets Mrs Rosenthal. On Halloween night, some of the crueller, rowdier neighbourhood boys throw eggs or stones at her house, which she can do nothing about. They are too fast and she is too old to catch them.

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Untitled Jason Kelbie, Kincorth Academy My boots clicked ominously on the cobbled floor, my long legs giving an unhurried sound to my furious pace. The solid rock looming claustrophobically above, merged with the damp air. A barely tangible sense of dread emanated from the barred door that had suddenly risen up in front of me like the fangs of some monstrous snake. My guide looked up expectantly, greed overcoming any fear he felt at my reputation, I briefly considered disposing of him, much the same way I would a fly, or a torn shirt. No. A silver piece and the implicit threat of violence would suffice. A rushed and mumbled “thankin ya milord�, a noticeable improvement in the ambient aroma, the sight of a dirty, pockmarked and above all terrified face receding into the darkness was the last I knew of him. I find people have trouble turning their backs on me... Rightly so. I glided forwards, a hand darting out from my leather riding cloak to absently caress the mark branded into the hollow of my throat; such small gestures helped to focus me, remind me of why I do what I do. Even a man such as me needs small comforts. With a slight gesture of my hand, creating a sensation that seared down with tendrils of burning agony, and addictive sweetness driving into the very core of me, the door in front of me buckled and contorted. I darted forward, my momentum carrying me through the buckling mass of... of not quite solid door, to fill the room I now found myself in. The burning sensation trickled down to its previous, bearable intensity and from that I knew that the door, too, would have reverted to its usual, unremarkable state. The walls of the room, whose air of still foreboding I had just shattered, seemed to recoil, as if sickened by my unnatural appearance. And if unspeaking rock seemed moved to revulsion, the rooms sole other occupant reacted as if my presence was toxic to him. In a wondrous slowness, as if the waters of time had become like glue, I saw the deep green irises of his tired, defiant eyes dilate widely, saw the nostrils of his bronzed, hooked, aristocratic nose flare open in animal terror, his golden hair haloing his head as it reared backwards, causing the chair he was buckled in to topple, in the slowed down fudge time had become it seemed very much to me like the toppling of an old building, brought low by rot and ill care, quite fitting I realised in hindsight.

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The Misfortune of the Wise Ian Scott, Oldmachar Academy Mercilessly, the sharp clusters of water bruised the roof of the box, bronze against the brown earth, as salty drops of aging memories and growing futility fed the weeping grass. The sun hung still and low beneath the line of trees before it, its light fluttering between the soft, moistened leaves which rustled and quivered in steady gust of wind. Figures and forms of white marble and yellow sandstone, that glinted in the morning light haphazardly flooded the yard and stood, with varying shapes and sizes, in imperfect rows. The rows were confined into roughly marked sections by winding yet narrow streams of shattered sandstone with only a haze of yellow and green to separate grass from path. At the foot of each stone sat a plinth, patient wise, awaiting gifts, around grew the grass and dandelions and madder. The procession had been shadowed by the two large red-and-yellow brick towers whose presence dominated the sky and whose shadows darkened the already bleak cemetery as the sun rose in East. Cirrus clouds that were spreading overhead, passed towards the glow. Congregating around the Hollow, the Procession was silent. To begin with it was together, it was whole. Each man curled his arm around his sobbing mother whilst his other hand lay in the clammy palm of his wife. Daughters embraced the sons of strangers; sisters were soothed by the withdrawn eyes and idle words of their brothers; the hardened old men stood alone, indifferent but troubled and mindful also, for they knew of their luck and of their eventual turn. However, once Father Adonis uttered the ancient hymns in his mother-tongue they became solitary, isolated beings. It did not matter that they were being embraced, that their pain was being eased by their own people whose arms they had nestled each other inside. By the time that the last goodbye was due, each was a sodden mess, shrivelled with thought. They were thoughts of their lives and their livelihoods; of their dearly beloved and of the pain that would arise at the time of their passing. At last there came silence as the Father removed himself from the group and the gap where he had been given a berth to carry the proceedings in, at the head of the grave, was filled in as the Procession removed itself from its thought and congregated once more, watching their feet so as to not trample on the roses, the prayer beads, and the portraits of Christ and the Virgin Mary that circled the Hollow. At the opposite side of the Father’s ground stood the only dry-eyed mourner in the Procession besides the old men and the children too young to comprehend such an affair. He held the part of her shawl that lay on his widowed mother’s right shoulder as his arm lay limply across the stout woman’s arched back – though he was too far removed to be disturbed by her wailing and trembling. In his left hand he clasped tightly a six-hundred dollar, sixty-year-old, mahogany Martin steel-string. Its aged, beige surface was grazed and callused from a considerable amount of time that had been spent playing it and a prolonged exposure to the brash Western heat, with old strings that had frayed along the fretboard due to the impossibility of them being replaced. The steel fret markers had been worn down to mere nubs that were almost level with the fretboard and the burgundy tortoiseshell pickguard beneath the deep, ominous soundhole was scratched and tarnished. Around the soundhole there was a delicate it rosette – one of the only untainted feature of the instrument. The rosette sported a Hellenic meander that encircled the orifice and expressed the origin of its owners. He stood forward, silently, slipping his arm lazily off his mother’s shoulders with his stride. He did not look up, nor down, nor left, nor right but just dead ahead where the Father had been standing. Eventually he looked down but he did so immediately so as to avoid gazing in the Hollow. Walking forward he placed one foot directly in front of the other, clearing the matter around the grave with the tip of his sole as he moved. It was dry now and the rain had subsided. The sun had just begun to glance over the row of trees at the entrance to the yard and he could feel his hair and skin prickle as the temperature rose. With his free hand he reached to clear a film of cold sweat that had congealed itself on his neck and also to massage it quickly for he had jerked a muscle in looking towards his feet. Soon he no longer saw green and the rubble of loss but a thick, distant mud. His eyes began to level and he glanced slowly yet uneasily from the foot to the head of the coffin, at which a large and ornate cross of a lighter pine could be seen embellished in the mahogany. When his right foot reached the edge he knelt 35


before the Hollow and placed the Martin down on the grass and the beads immediately to his left. From his neck he removed a loose, wooden-beaded necklace at the end of which swayed a plump, worn crucifix. He lifted it to his lips to kiss the cross and threw the necklace over the casket to the head of the grave. Glancing back at his mother he saw that she smiled weakly in appreciation. The he returned to his duties. With a hand that started to shake he gripped the neck of the Martin and brought it to his front. With one swift and final bout of effort he forced a tear upon its top. Closing his eye as tight as he could he thought of his nightmares – of the thing he thought that he feared most – and to his surprise he managed to conjure on tear that fell as a feather on the instrument. Gently he leant over on to his knees and placed the Martin on its sides against the wall of dirt, facing the coffin. Before standing and returning to his life some many miles away he muttered, “Yiá sas, Poppa.” On a ridge of dirt he slumped. His black tie hung, limp about his torso, flanking his broad breast bone, held only by his collar at the back of the neck that pinned it down. Angled in the breeze, it would be occasionally repositioned by the solemn right hand of its wearer. With his toes he eased off his fatigued black shoes pushing with tiresome effort from the heel forwards and removed his soggy, socks from his exhausted feet, likewise. He dug his biggest toes into the dirt before pursuing with the others and felt the granulated earth, which had been seared by the sunlight, cool and collect between his long and narrow toes. Kicking his socks and shoes aside to the foot of the nearest tree, he reached to his head, with a spread hand, and created curly, black bundles between their tips, forcing his hand to the rear of his skull with the intention of removing the dirt that had fallen to his scalp from the trees. Ahead he watched once the darkness had come once more and gazed at the sky beyond the hills. The line of hills frequently caught his attention when he watched. He pondered as to what had formed them, what was there; who was there; and how something could be so still and so simple yet so beautiful in the haze of the darkness. Once he had acquainted himself again with the spot and adjusted his attire and sitting stance for the upmost relaxation, he leant back using his arms as supports. His palms like his toes and the soles of his feet graced the dirt but somewhat more delicately. Heavily he breathed, swallowing generous gulps of air that moistened the back of his throat and whose temperature had begun to diminish. Shortly he heard a sound of a light tread in the dirt behind him. The dry earth could be heard to scuffle and shift beneath their feet. But the boy was not worried and remained indifferent to the sound for he knew who it was. “Knew you’d be here,” said a delicately voiced, short, slender figure - somewhat excitedly - before placing herself alongside him near enough to whisper, but not near enough to touch. She was especially cautious in sitting so as to not disturb him, but he didn’t notice her efforts. “Y’alright, Kos?” she asked. He withheld his response with a short pause for thought. “Yeah, s’pose,” he replied with a voice so wistful and tender to her, but so harsh and monotonous to him. “Long journey, huh?” she quipped to her melancholic friend. “Oh well,” she whispered cheerfully, “The day went well and tha’s that. It’s what your ol’ man would’ve wanted.” In an attempt to soothe she reached for his shoulder until she was hastened to stop by his reply. “I’m fine!” he cried. She could hear the lack of control in his voice and his infantile tone, and knew that any expression of sympathy would inevitably give way to what he was struggling to stop. Her suspicions were confirmed when he jerked his head to the right, suddenly, and raised his sleeve to his eyes. The smiling blonde could feel the tension yet also felt helpless and upon seeing how glum her companion looked soon withdrew her welcoming smile. “I’m worried about you Kostas,” she sighed with an emphatic outward breath.

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“Wha’ for?” he responded after another emphatic pause. Having managed to abate his quelling eyes, he inclined his head slightly backwards to catch her line of sight and he saw that she looked only at him. “You haven’t been actin’ right recently. You know, like you haven’t been yourself, an’ you’re bottlin’ it up. Why?” “Ain’t been feelin’ right neither.” She sensed this exchange was going nowhere except into an intense discussion from which neither of the pair would come out any more contented than before and knew that he was deliberately being awkward but still she understood and remained patient. Both of them looked ahead now, flat faced but both as thoughtful as the other as they stared across to the Sierra. Changing the subject, she smirked and joked, “You always come here, don’ you? When you got stuff to think about, that is.” “Nah, Meg, we do,” Kostas corrected playfully and she knew it to be a compliment, “Ain’t no use thinkin’ if you ain’t aroun’ to talk to.” He leaned his head over in her direction and turned it to look at her before feebly yet affectionately emulating her smile. And upon seeing this, her smirk evolved into a broad yet beautiful grin. “Been coming since we was kids, you ‘n’ me. ‘Member we would sit here an’ sing all them songs we learned at school? “Yeah! And we used to play hide-and-go-peek in amongst the trees.” “Yeah, but you used t’always cheat an’ stick you’ head beneath them leaves and see where my legs was from far away!” then paused, “Them days was great,” he added quietly and heavily. Megan giggled softly to his left and looked upon him with sentimental, intelligent blue eyes. With the ice sufficiently broken Kostas leaned forward, but returned to acting like he wasn’t any more contented or pleased than he had previously been. However, he could not help but break a subtle grin and pretended rather that he had an itchy knee instead of being more interested in the conversation, all the while smiling to himself. Megan shuffled closer along the ridge so that her curvy thigh was almost pressed into Kostas’ then reached with a soft, gentle touch for his left hand that had newly attended to the false itch before taking its place in scratching his knee, albeit more of a hearty rub. When she stopped she then rested the attentive hand on his knee. The grove behind Kostas’ house was vast, nearly consuming about half of his family’s land, stretching from the peaceful creek, East, across their lot to the road where it curve around the road’s form, separated from it only by a small, weedy ditch and a white picket-fence whose coats of paint had worn and aged alongside the generations of Kyrakiou farmers. Kyriakou was the family name, Cypriot in origin, yet Kostas family came from Greece, himself being the one and only of the third-generation of Kyriakous to have lived in the United States. Living off the land near Thessaloniki, Greece, his paternal grandparents grew the finest grapes in all of Macedonia on land that had grown the seeds of the family and the seeds of the crops inherently for six generations. Times were well and money was plentiful in the family Then their continent plunged into six years of darkness that would witness the growth of a monstrous, murderous machine and the strife of the nations who vowed to stand against it. The Kyriakous watched their country collapse whilst the Hellenic Parliament became a puppet at the monster’s control and the nation fell into its own war – in taverns, in homes, in restaurants, in churches. They marvelled at the violent, covetous, predatorial sides to their neighbours; at their banker’s greedy refusal to pay them even a penny; and at the slow and gradual death of their quaint home, of their land and of all but two of their children. The couple and the lonesome, middle son, Giorgos fled to the San Joaquin Valley, California near Fresno, to live on a humble family farm where they sought survival and success from a lucrative but not so unfamiliar crop. Their eldest son stayed at home. 37


Kostas and Megan were settled beneath the orange trees of the grove in silence, now lying on their backs immediately side-by-side and hand-in-hand, they watched the moon whose showing crescent dimly illuminated the valley and the stars that seemed to dance about it when they stared at them for too long. Megan arose and leant her back against the narrow stalk of an orange tree using Kostas’ jacket, which he had given to her to keep her warm, as a cushion and found it to be surprisingly comfortable. These trees did not have trunks for their supports did not merit a name of such girth, they were stalks. Tall, skinny and tan in colour, Megan could feel the rough, gristly bumps behind her unsupported head, through the long, straight, yellow curtain that was her perfectly maintained, blonde hair. Just above her head hung the canopy of green leaves that danced silently with the light of the moon that shone through the gaps of the captivating edifice. At her feet Megan saw Kostas lying supine with his hands cupped behind his wisely large head. She always watched and admired his dark-skinned face for wonder at what he was thinking about, for he was a very mysterious boy in her eyes, but for the time being she assumed his thoughts were of his Poppa and dared not mention his name in conversation again. His face seemed to glimmer in the light and through his closed eyelids she saw that his eyes were rolling and writhing about his mind. She admired how his curly black hair always looked so neat and was amused by the fact that no matter how windy it got, it never moved. Following the line of his face, as she often did, she took a mental note of what he looked like from the last furl of hair, curving her sight around his forehead, across his now open and ornate emeraldgreen eyes, over his broad button nose and lastly to his moist lips where she saw him mutter out of puzzlement. Beyond she saw a sea of dark red soil out of which shot at least one-hundred identical tan stalks. No trees had oranges on them, nor lemons, nor did they bear limes not a single fruit, only wilted white flowers and green leaves. Above her view of Kostas she could one such flower but this one was unusual. It was untouched and unaffected by the bombardment of sunlight that the others had faced during the daylight hours. With a nervous hand, she reached for it, picking it swiftly and pulling it down between her tucked knees where she played a certain game with its petals. Kostas sat up, rest on his elbows feeling the coarse soil again with his feet. “Megan, you still goin’ to Fresno after summer?” he asked, looking troubled “Yeah, how come?” she replied, “You okay?” “Yeah, fine. Sorry. Jus’ thinkin’.” Her face shrivelled and her miniature button nose was almost level with her eyes. “Kostas, what is it? What you not tellin’ me?” she question, interrogatively, “Oh yeah, you hate the city. Forgot.” He replied that he did and she added, “Well you’ll still come see me there right? I mean, I know I’ll be buried in books an’ all, but I’ll still make time for my best friend.” And she giggled slightly. Kostas was not amused. “Been thinkin’ a bunch,” he explained, “Been thinkin’ what I’m gonna do I leave,” and also about how he feared losing the key to his biggest dream, which he would never admit, “And I was kinda gettin’ scared. Listen, I ain’t gonna have nothin’ here. Didn’ do well at school, I ain’t movin’ to no goddamn city – I don’t wanna be no lawyer or doctor or none o’ that – I ain’t gonna have this place neither!” “Woah, hold on! Chill out! What you talking about? You got you’ ol’ lady and you got the farm, why won’t you have this place?” “Mama won’t stay, I know her. She won’t cope. If I can’ cope, how the hell is a fifty-year-ol’ sack o’ nerves gonna hold out?” Megan couldn’t help chuckled slightly. “And, besides, you seen this place? They’s flowers on the trees – that means it’s nearly picking season, and 38


not one dang fruit. And it’s almost June! We ain’t got the money since,” and he stopped himself, “Ain’t got no benefits o’ his, he ain’t gonna be helping aroun’ no more, bank says we gotta pay up soon and how we gonna do that with no goods?” “What did you’ Mama say?” “Doesn’t say nothin’, ain’t said a peep since he was diagnosed. Man in a gray suit comes to the porch and knocks and shouts for, ‘Miss Kyriakos,’ the prick! I mean, ‘Miss,’ the ass. Who does he think he is, jus’ ‘cause he got a suit an’ wen’ to college means he can say stuff like that to Ma! Wasn’t like he didn’ know what he was sayin’ neither! Firs’ thing he says is, ‘Understand you’ husban’ died, shame,’ the prick, ‘Well I gots some urgen’ matters to discuss with you. Miss, you ain’t been payin’ up an’ we can’t keep you in no house if you got a purty place like this that would easy pay off you’ debts.’” “Well didn’t your mom say anything?” Megan exclaimed. “Barely. Whimpered some’n then shut the door, sat back in her chair an’ wen’ back to whateve ’ she was doin’ before. Didn’ say nothin’ to me, not nothing! We ain’t been gettin’ on.” The two sat awkwardly for a moment in silence before Kostas finally confessed what he was thinking about. The sun had was totally gone now and it began to get cold. Neither teenager was anxious to get home though for they admired the company and both sets of parents knew from years of experience and countless repetitions that they would not be home until very late from their spot on a night such as this. Some nights when they were younger they would fall asleep in the grove, together so that they would keep warm, because each would stay out with the other, talking endlessly. “I wanna travel, Meg.” “Aw, tha’s great! Go road trippin’ or somethin’, Red Hot Chili Peppers style!” she joked uneasily, before asking hesitantly, “Which states?” Her suggestive questions were in vain though for she knew exactly that that was what he meant. “No! I mean real travellin’, not like the US, or Canada or whateve’! I wanna see Europe.” And her fears were soon realised. Kostas eyes soon widened and his eyes glistened for he had foreseen his plan of escape and he knew of what he wanted. He saw beaches, and beach huts, bars, guitars, the food his mother used to make and the place where he would feel like he belonged. The moonlight pranced upon his widening eyes and his mouth opened with an almighty gasp. He stated quietly yet excitedly, “I got it Meg, oh God, I got it,” and paused to read her reaction. Her face dropped and her ocean-blue eyes reflected despair and confusion into his. Casting his eyes around her face he marvelled at the perfection of her skin and how much her fair complexion seemed to glow at night. Her open mouth revealed the tips of her teeth, pearly whites whose smile made Kostas freeze and shiver. His tone became more considerate and careful now, “I wanna live someplace else. Thought about it ages ago. Maybe go back to Greece. Or Cyprus, - tha’s where my name ’s from an’ where Aunt Agatha and Uncle Chris in Fresno are from. Came over in the seventies after the Turkey thing.” Megan looked perplexed, then the perplexity on her brow soon turned into anger, “Now why in the hell would you want to do that? You’re just a fool! Think you’re being so wise an’ mystical going ‘home’, well tell you wha’ , this is you’ home! What about your poor mom? Jus’ gonna leave her too?”

39


“Wha’ d’you mean ‘too’?” Then without warning, Megan crawled out from beneath the tree and stood up without casting a glance at Kostas’ baffled expression. She ran down the line of trees behind Kostas, who swivelled around to see her go and call her back out of shame, towards the house. She could be heard far to Kostas’ left whimpering uncontrollably as she scurried alongside the road for home.

The misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool. Epicurus*

Ziggy's (Extract) Rhiannon Irvine, Cults Academy From the rain-soaked, muddied tent a stifling atmosphere of mediocrity emanated. Ziggy’s circus loomed ever closer, in the most underwhelming of fashions, simultaneously failing to inspire either excitement or whimsy in its patrons. On the outskirts of the arena, a man stood charged with the duty of checking and distributing tickets. The man leant upon an improvised fence, a fence to which a dog, presumably his, was attached. The dog clearly felt the task was below its station. It sat bedraggled and begrudging, buffering any advances with a curt growl and teeth bearing. Meanwhile the vexed creature’s equally vexed companion greeted the thronging masses with the enthusiasm and pleasantness of a man greeting his executioner. Tickets were, without exception, accepted with a rough grunt and then the holder was waved on past the outer fortifications. The vast majority were families, families with excited children and exasperated parents. For the children “Ziggy’s” was a veritable pantheon. For the parents, who had aged sufficiently to lack such a childishly quixotic outlook and become knowledgeable enough to recognise this was a circus long passed its prime, it was what it was: something to be endured. The lights dimmed then brightened, refocusing on the ring, heralding the arrival of the ring leader. Dutifully, he appeared with a flourish, bowing as though this evening he and his troupe would be entertaining countless foreign dignitaries rather than countless gelatinous children and their equally viscous parents. Oddly attired in an orange suit with a purple collar, Felix introduced himself and the remainder of the ensemble. “The ensemble” lined up behind Felix, thickly painted and vacantly smiling. They did not have the same energy as their leader and were apparently uninspired by his enthusiasm. Felix was an entity solely comprised of confidence and panache, moving with such certainty and speaking so decisively he seemed to be without humility. Felix quit the ring to be replaced by a tedious balancing act involving oversized urns. Despite the initial brilliance of this act, audience attention wavered after the fourth tier of chairs was piled and the second most sizable pot was carefully positioned upon the performer’s chin. As the act grew gradually more disenchanting and the cheers between tricks less enthusiastic, Felix’s disembodied voice crackled in to actuality and drifted throughout the arena entreating the audience to warmly welcome the next act... While the masses wrestled their way back to their seats, Felix’s voice once again echoed enigmatically through the tent proclaiming the end of intermission and the introduction of the next performer: the “fantastically flexible Fenella”. Fenella flounced her way on to centre stage and, adorned by a leotard constituted solely of glaring yellow sequins, announced her presence with straight spine and a curlicue of her hand. 40


The Elephant Girl Nicole Autumn Philip, Cults Academy The streets are alive with the cheers and laughter of the people; with the smiles of children and the calls of parents. The most dominate feature, however, are the decorated elephants. It is the annual Elephant Festival, where elephants crowd the streets of Jaipur in their masses; their bodies painted in bright shades of gloss, depicting various scenes: a pouncing tiger, the elephant God, Tiah, in battle, or the more tranquil choice of lotus flowers drifting down stream. The female elephants are the most delightful, their anklets tinkling as they walk, filing the air with a subtle music that can barely be heard over the cacophony of animal calls. Somewhere at the back of the procession, a young girl walks alongside an even younger elephant. The girl’s name is Asha. The week before was her twelfth birthday, but there had been little to celebrate since her father had lost his job. The Elephant Festival was their last chance of celebration this year. But the enjoyment had been ruined for Asha, who was feeling the pressure from her family to win the competition. Asha’s young companion had been orphaned, her mother no doubt killed by hunters for the animal’s white gold - tusks. She had been close to starvation, huddled against the side of her dead mother when Asha found her. When the little girl approached, Hathi hadn’t put up a fight, and hadn’t run; but Asha could tell the orphan was terrified. Asha sat in the dust with her legs crossed and told the innocent creature the story of The Blind Men and the Elephant, careful to keep her voice gentle and reassuring. The sun was setting against the dusty horizon when the calf eventually ventured out of the shadows, touching Asha’s cheek delicately. Slowly, slowly, Asha had coaxed the little elephant back to her home using nuts from a nearby bush. Upon arrival, Asha had presented her find to her father. He had quickly acquired a greedy gleam in his eye, waving his arms enthusiastically, which had caused the elephant to cower behind Asha, her ears flattened, the whites of her skin showing. A frown had formed on Asha’s brow as her father informed her she must train the elephant, to enter it into the Elephant Festival competition. It would be their ticket to money they could only dream of. It is with this thought that Asha now parades down the crowded streets of Jaipur. Hathi is painted in scenes from The Blind Men story Asha had used to win the elephant’s trust months back. An embroidered Jhool sits perched on her back, one which Asha had spent all of her money on from her secret pennies she kept hidden in the garden. It had taken a great deal of nerve to lie to her father and claim she had made it for the Elephant Festival. Hathi’s ears are flaring out, her eyes bright as she walks amongst her own kind for the first time in months. It is all Asha can do to hold onto the elephant’s tether and control her excitement rather than contain it. Hathi lifts her trunk sniffing the air, which is now filled with the sweet smells of the Festival meal being prepared in the open air. Suddenly, Hathi lets out a call, causing Asha to instinctively flinch away. Somewhere farther up the line another elephant returns the call. The volume and tone of the reply reveals it to be an adult. Asha realises that she has so far not seen any other elephant calves entering the competition parade. Her suspicions are verified as Asha enters the main street. As she walks proudly beside her adopted charge, she notices some men laughing at the baby calf attempting to perform a majestic walk similar to the adult elephants. Some women sneer, whilst children point at the funny little creature. Colour flares in Asha’s cheeks, but she takes strength from Hathi and holds her head high. Asha is now too worried about the fast approaching pen where they will then be entered into the only competition they will be eligible for…

41


Let Down Lisa Howie, Cults Academy There’s something about knives that send a rush of blood up and down my arms and tingles across my neck. I clutched the cold metal in my hand and smeared butter over it. What a waste. This knife should be put to better use than for spreading bloody butter. I looked around me, assuming someone must be watching me. And without thinking I hastily shoved it into my pyjama bottoms pocket where the butter left a greasy stain and cold feeling on my leg. I swiftly made way to the doors where “WAY OUT” was printed. I could feel the blood thumping in my ears; I’m going to get away with this. The excitement of having my own knife made me feel slightly dizzy in the head and I quickened my pace. If it’s 8.44 now, then that means I have till half nine on my own; well I can slip into the toilets for a while without being noticed for a good twenty minutes. My mind flew at a rapid pace, making calculations about how long I could be in the bathroom alone with my knife. Maybe you don’t need to. Today, things don’t seem too bad. Just hide it and keep it for a rainy day. Things are OK today. The rational thinking of my brain stepped in, and my mood presently told me that I didn’t need to. I approached my door to ‘my room’ and I stopped mid stride. My insides projected up towards my throat and I could feel a hot sensation building at the point of my neck, craftily straining on my circulation. The pale green, laminated card reflected menacingly from the light above my door. “VISITORS NOTICE: 09:00” the scribbled black ink stared at me; picked up my previously light hearted mood and threw it full force at me. Who is visiting me? Shit. Maybe it’s my mum. What the hell does she want? No. No. No. I can’t handle this, I need more time, I can’t deal with this. I need out. Please let me disappear. My mind spoke to me in a frazzled fury. I needed to escape, my eyes searched all around the empty, gleaming, long room. My chest panted, needing more air than I could physically supply it with and a cold sweat broke out in tear shaped droplets on my back. I ran as fast as I could towards the toilets; they were my only possibly escape.

42


Addiction Alan Simpson, Oldmachar Academy Winter time. The most fearful season that May Collins encountered. May detested Winter. She felt it would be more appropriately named as the season of death. The chills the winter wind could send were enough to take life. May knew this far too well. Aged five she lost Floppy the bunny to the eternal footman that is known as winter wind. This was May’s first experience of death but was far from her last one. Aged 15, May attended her first human funeral service. This one was slightly bigger than Floppy’s quiet service that consisted of May and her Mum and Dad. Mum and Dad were at this one too, so was May’s aunt and uncle and the rest of the family, and lots of old people, May remembered staring bleakly into the old generation. Their eyes said it all, they weren’t bothered about the death that occurred, they sat just thinking about how soon it would be before it was their time. Many, as bitter as it sounds, wanted their time to have come before Grandma Agnes’s time but it hadn’t. Despite loving Agnes dearly, Floppy’s funeral was still the one that made May’s pulse stop for a second. Five years old is too early an age to be introduced to the beginnings of the end. Aged 26 now May was a graduate of St. Andrews University and a qualified Doctor. The pretty young brunette had left her home of York and moved up to St. Andrews to study, now she was settled in Edinburgh working at the hospital as a drug abusing specialist. May’s job was to investigate the type of substances that patients had been taking and how much they had taken, whether the patients were dead or alive. However she had kept a secret from her employer and it was why May was addicted to her job. She herself was a drug user. Since University she developed a fascination about drugs what they felt like, what they could do, how you could do them, anything about drugs. She was not proud of this but she was in a viscous cycle -her work and research dominated her life. At work she would carry out research on patients at home, she would experiment on herself and on her boyfriend - Ben. Ben was from a well off family. The couple had gone to university together and now lived together. Ben a promising architect, was madly in love with the beauty and persona of May, an addiction you could say. He got her the drugs she experimented with then got him to join her. Ben was too scared to betray the beautiful creature that he called a girlfriend. May was a creature, she had the power to get Ben to do anything for her and she loved it. However things were going to change, May could sense it. Winter was here. May had only been in her job five months and already encountered four overdoses that had resulted in death. They were just strangers. Bodies to May not people. Just mindless bodies that had been stupid enough to become a research project of hers. The fifth came in on the 3rd of December. Number five meant something to her, he meant everything to her. Lying motionless, she stared at number five’s body and she knew that he had a mind, he could create something out of nothing, he had a talent for designing futuristic and fascinating buildings. A real talent snatched away. It was May that had grabbed the life out of his body. May began to think of guilt. It was just her and her lover, Ben in the room. She glared into his face and thought to herself I forced this to happen. I forced him to take “it”. I forced him to give me “it”. I forced him to this examination table. Suddenly May sensed that they weren’t alone in the room, somebody else was there but she couldn’t see anyone. The person grabbed her lab coat and wrapped it around her and squeezed. Tighter, tighter, tighter and tighter still. The person was attacking and punishing her. May looked at Ben and instantly realised who was attacking her. She couldn’t shrug the attacker off though who was taunting her by now, May covered her ears and screamed “Leave me alone…. Please just leave me alone.” She began to throw punches trying to fight back. It didn’t matter, it was only her and Ben again, guilt had already left the room. May walked home that night. She was in no state to drive. When she arrived at her empty flat every teardrop was a waterfall. They streamed down her face. She had managed to hold it in up until that point. She had killed a man, a man who she loved. Heroin her weapon, she had created the thing she detested the most - death. She tried to sleep, wasted effort. The following weeks insomnia invited back guilt, who did his job of terrorising May, punishing her. Every night was a constant reminder to her of what she had done. 43


Aged 25, May attended her third funeral. Ben Porter was buried on the 12th of December. The funeral was the typical affair you expect. One thing May had realised was that funerals are never on pleasant days. Maybe it was because it was winter and the weather is just naturally miserable. Or maybe it was disrespectful to have a mournful occasion on a bright beautiful day. May didn’t care, she was getting used to funerals and the mourning now. She had done her mourning before the occasion had even started. Everyone was in black. She looked across to see Ben’s parents. They came over to comfort May. They had no idea she was part of why their son had been stolen away from them. They hugged her. How could she ever tell them? She expected the regular visit of guilt but he didn’t show. Instead Barbara - Ben’s Mum whispered into May’s ear “stop blaming yourself”. This somehow comforted May. She watched the coffin being lowered into the ground and stared at the box. Ben had died for her addiction. He never overdosed on heroin that day, it was on his love of May. Desperate to please the girl he loved he had simply tried too hard. Ben was addicted to May not drugs. She knew that but now she had to ditch her addiction to be able to get rid of her stalker - guilt. May knew it sounded sick but she had been blessed that somebody else had paid the price for her addiction. The snow started to fall. She found this ironic as the white flakes started to cover her black dress, was this a symbol of purification, maybe it was time for May to be purified. She hoped that her life would now follow a similar pattern and the black dark days of her life would be in her past.

44


Regret Iain McDonald, Oldmachar Academy The old man sank remorsefully back into his chair, the soft warmth of the cushions providing little comfort from the multifarious aches and pains he experienced. Wincing, his old joints cracked and groaned, grudgingly moving to their new positions and sending a sharp jolt up the man’s spine. Adjusting his thick rimmed glasses, the man tried again to focus on his book. Once more to no avail, finding himself skimming through a section he had read dozens of times that afternoon already. Slumping, he allowed his glasses to slide down his nose and come to a gentle landing on his chest, held in place by a gold coloured chain that glinted dimly in the soft warm light of the room. Perhaps without even thinking, he slowly straightened out a twist in the chain and ruefully ran a hand through the small amount of white hair his head still retained. But for these occasional movements, one might have been forgiven for thinking the man was asleep, but the stillness of his body was deceptive. His mind whirring with a plethora of thoughts and emotions. A mixture of regret and sorrows, rushing through his mind like rivers overflowing their banks, flooding into every area of his consciousness. The flood barriers erected in his mind over years of controlling his emotion were overwhelmed. The great deluge continued to spread all the way to the old man’s eyes as he closed them tightly to control himself. Regret had plagued the man for most of his life. A tormenting demon, bringing misery to everything he tried. A creature so terrible, that it could bring even the strongest men to their knees and keep them under its wicked rule for all eternity. Its grip tightened on the old man as he conjured up an image from the past. Dressed trimly, he and his friends along with many others, paraded in front of their friends and families, cheering as they marched past. The old man knew what followed this image but was unable to resist the oncoming memories. Next, the same men, hunkered down now. Shells exploding all around and bullets kicking up the dirt. Finally, the same men, now lying motionless, face down in the ground. Crouched in a bush, the man sat frozen with fear. Unable and unwilling to risk his own life for his comrades, instead choosing to watch them fall from a safe distance. The reprimands for disobeying direct orders from his superiors had been severe. A jail sentence and exclusion from the army, but these were minor to what the man considered his true punishment. The scars he carried from watching all of his friends fall that day haunted him still. He clenched his fist into a tight ball and suddenly slammed it against the sideboard. Regret smirked gleefully, continuing to thrive in his sorrow, as it had done for almost 50 years now. Reaching out his left hand he fumbled for his glass. Unwashed for several days, but it would have to do. He knew of only one way to get through situations like these. Opening the small cupboard next to his chair, he wrapped his hand around a large bottle and brought it out into the light. It was almost empty, but that was not surprising given the rate he had been going through it lately. He began to contemplate what he was doing, this was the reason he’d lost his only job after leaving the army and still he insisted on drinking. Letting out another sigh, the man slowly raised his glass, the intricate patterns detailing the lower sections cast strange lights around the room as it refracted the dying rays of sunlight peeping in through the gaps in the thick curtains. As he hesitated, the fear of his past actions began to once again creep up on him. Almost in a panic he poured himself a large glass and promptly drained it. The glass tinkled as he gently put it back on the side board and relaxed in his seat. Regret politely took a step backwards as another of his acquaintances stepped out of the dark depths of the old man’s mind. This new monster was well acquainted with the man, and assumed his well-rehearsed role as tyrannical ruler of the man’s life. As the old man gradually drifted off into feverish sleep, the sun finally slipped below the horizon and the gentle twinkling of the stars took over. The man had temporarily escaped from his world of torment into a world of peace and sleep, but as the sun began to rise the next day the man was roughly awoken by a dream. His taskmasters had no intention of allowing him extended respite from their torments. He was required of them, and so he dutifully went about his tasks. Continuing to wallow in his own self-pity and remorse. 45


Untitled Gordon West, Aberdeen Grammar School Steam rose gently from a battered steel chimney and the sun began to bleach the bottom of the horizon while a slowly dissipating mist from the cold air began to diverge the light, creating the effect of a ghostly cloud of lethargically swirling gas accompanied by the sombre column of steam. Lina looked out the battered window of the wooden hut, now not even noticing the wire that sat across the frame, she stared out into the marshalling yard and gazed out at the horizon, the light and the gas. Mesmerised she observed for several minutes, until the bottom of one of the guard towers was exposed and she was returned from her morning dream to the reality, the harshness, the camp. Following the base to the top, she looked upwards, the peak of the structure still enveloped in the fantastical display of swirling gas; but it was clearing, killing off all but the last remnants of her solace. Abruptly disheartened she looked to the left observing the noses and heads of the women in the bunks at her side, a young hand hang down in an act of youthful indulgence, permitted in the sleeper’s dream. Returning to her window she looked once more at the tower, inspecting the cleanly painted wood and the dull lustre of the pins and nails, to which it owed its towering height. Then up she trained her eye once more, the railing at the top, protecting her jailors from a timely stumble, the roof and its shingles, which protruded over the observation point in the place of a gutter. As if unbidden Lina’s hand suddenly trembled: not knowing why, she diverted her attention from the window, she looked down then remembering something she looked up- the tower was empty. In a panic, for she had so long seen the men pace hatefully back and forth, she recognised that in their absence she felt lost. Sitting for a few moments, checking and then stealing another glance, unwilling to believe that the guard had left his tower she eventually summoned the courage to search the other outposts within her glance. One, two, three, all clean and pure, free of the faceless jailers. She uttered a dry whisper, soon rising to a scream, waking the women about her, and prompting wild investigation into her claims. Then as if to compliment her cries and to allay the concerns of the groggy company of women men emerged from the remnants of the mist. Wearing the uniforms of allied armies they walked forward tentatively, weapons clutched tight and knuckles visibly whitened. Then stopping short of the centre of the yard they turned to one another, conversing in hushed tones and gesturing toward a central figure. Moments later one of the soldiers walked a few paces ahead of the rest, loosening his grip from his weapon he placed it under his arm and placed the other hand next to his mouth, as if he were about to shout. He seemed ill at ease with his surroundings and blushed before shouting the slow request, all persons present to show themselves. It was now that the fog cleared enough to expose their captors under guard from a second, larger company of liberators who had packed them into a tight formation and slowly jostled them into the centre of the square. A moment of silence fell over the camp, it endured and eeriness fell on the entire scene like a thin blanket that couldn’t be lifted.

46


Untitled Emma Morrice, Oldmachar Academy I ventured into the room, eyes slit against the darkness as I silently waited for any sign of movement. Like a vulture searching for prey, I’d snuck up on my latest victims and their manic heartbeats gave away their position within the house. One beating in the room to my left, one in the far end of the house and one upstairs which was hammering away faster than the others. It was always such a task to me trying to pick which to go after first in my little game. A game, that’s how I referred to it. The newspaper coverage didn’t quite agree and called me evil and psychotic. In my opinion they were quite callous and rude about it, I thought i’d done a good job of not leaving any evidence. I’d long since stopped leaving the bodies at the scene of the crime though; too messy and I needed them for my research. Choosing the room to my left, their death was quick and... Well, I’d love to say humane but I don’t think that anyone else who hasn’t experienced the joy of doing what I do would quite understand what I mean, or agree with me. My next victim was also dealt with as fast as I could due to the fact that I don’t like to waste time. I also don’t like gore. Way too messy. The house was silent except for the deafening sound of the heartbeat coming from the person hiding upstairs. Every step I took was like treading on a minefield and I could almost smell the bitter scent of fear emanating off of my next victim. The door was already ajar, moonlight spilling into the room through the window. Opening the door fully, knife poised and ready to attack, I entered the room and stopped, swaying as a wave of nausea washed over me. It was a child. The knife dropped from my hand and landed with a clatter against the wooden flooring. I bit my lip and the metallic taste of blood filled my mouth, sweat running in a rivulet down my back. I couldn’t kill a child. I was a doctor, no matter how many people I killed for my research. The child stared at me; her eyes as wide as saucers and lip trembling. She was only about six years old. I couldn’t kill a child... Could I? NO. I pushed the thought out of my mind and backed out of the room with my back to the wall. The girl sat motionless, staring at me. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t kill the girl, I wasn’t that cruel and she wouldn’t be much use for my research anyway. Children are much too small and compact for me to get a proper dissection. I was panting now, reaching into my mind for an idea of what to do. If I killed the child it would mean that my secret was safe but I would have the guilt of killing a kid on my conscience. On the other hand though, if I walked away I was running the risk of the child going to the police and being found out. Running my hand through my hair, I made a split second decision and cautiously approached the child. Kneeling down in front of her, I could feel her terror pulsing through the air, making me shudder. “Alright, I’ll make you a deal,” I rasped in what I hoped was a menacing tone, “I won’t kill you if you keep your little mouth shut. You breathe a word of this to the police and...” I made a slicing throat gesture and the girl flinched. “Well, let’s just say that you’ll end up the same way as your precious mummy and daddy.” I finished. It wasn’t really in my nature to go around threatening children but a guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do. The truth is, I had always feared this moment and I usually picked victims who I knew didn’t have any children. Tonight had just been an impulse killing, a need for new, fresh corpses. I used to rely on the grave diggers but the corpses just weren’t fresh enough for me I guess. I’m not a monster, I’m a doctor. Venturing back downstairs, I picked up the bodies of the parents that I had so painstakingly laid out neatly and slipped them into the back of my transport cart. I had no worries that anyone apart from the child had seen me, the house was in the country about 5 minutes out of the town’s main housing schemes, and it was the dead of night. No, the only person I had to worry about was the child who’s life I spared. What a nice guy I was. Navigating through the narrow roughly laid out streets I didn’t encounter a soul, although the cart was pretty inconspicuous anyway since almost everyone in the town owned one. I lived in the nicer part of town due to my profession as a doctor. Another reason why I was so paranoid about that child telling the police. I had a reputation to uphold, and I don’t think the country’s most famous doctor killing citizens would do very well for my business.

47


You see, I wasn’t killing just for the sake of it. Although I did get a slight thrill from watching their life force ebb away from their body. It was hauntingly beautiful to watch someone in their dying moments I thought, although that’ s most definitely not a socially acceptable thing to say to anyone. Can you imagine the conversation? “Oh good evening there Mrs Blackwell, don’t you find that killing people is just so fun? Don’t you just enjoy watching their life slip away?” I do believe that I would either be locked up or hung on the spot. Especially since my profession is as a doctor. Neither of them seem particularly enjoyable. I carefully transported the bodies from the back of my cart down into my makeshift morgue. My breath billowed out before me in clouds and I quickly deposited the bodies into a space that I had made on the table. The room looked fairly normal for a morgue, nothing out of the ordinary if the police were to come looking. A couple of femurs lay on a side table and the heart that I had been examining still lay out, delicately wrapped in a towel. My research was most dear to me and the more I could research, the more I could help people. Bottles of chemicals lay strewn on a trolley next to some beakers holding some interesting looking concoctions, as one of the only things I hadn’t yet been able to master was anaesthetics and painkillers. From what I gather, sawing straight into someone’s leg isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, and usually makes the person scream a great deal. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with the bodies. I couldn’t stop pacing. My heart was leaping madly and I had a lump sticking in my throat. I wiped my sweaty palms on a towel and took a deep breath. I had a feeling, a very bad one. Sleeping it off, I awoke the next morning to a normal, peaceful day. The newspapers weren’t full of stories about my latest killing, everything seemed quite hush-hush. How strange. It went on like this for a few days, everyone – including me- going about their normal business (except from the killings of course.) It wasn’t until a week or so later that anything actually happened. It had been an unassuming day, nothing out of the ordinary. It was past six in the evening and I was down in my morgue working on the bodies of my latest victims when I looked up and saw a shadow out of the corner of my eye. I froze, trying to accomplish a facial expression that did not resemble total horror mixed with guilt. Turning slowly, I came face to face with the intruder. A child stood there, a girl to be precise. It was the girl from the house. My blood ran cold and I felt prickles running along my skin. She just stood there and stared. Two men entered the room and their faces turned pale at the sight of the bodies on the table. “Someone’s been... busy.” One remarked whilst the other strode over to my side of the room. I backed up, feeling cold hard metal cut into the bottom of my back. “Do you know what they do to cruel, inhumane... freaks like you?” He spat, towering over me, intimidating. Grabbing my wrists, he pushed me face first against the wall, hitting my head off the concrete again and again. After a while I just blacked out. Weirdly, I didn’t wake up sporting a noose for a necklace the next day. Although the bars of the prison cell weren’t exactly welcoming. So that is my fate. I’ve been literally left to rot and fester in this stinking hole of a cell, destined to live out the rest of my days in solitude. I’m not sorry though. I think all the newspapers and the authorities expect you to plead and cry and say how sorry you are and how much of a disgusting human being you are for taking the lives of other humans. But I’m not sorry, and I never will be. The face of the girl who ultimately made me meet my demise still haunts my dreams, watching and waiting. I fear I’ll never be rid of her.

48


Untitled Carolyn Harper, Oldmachar Academy I sit on the edge of the bed and look down at my hands. The room is cold, perhaps I’ve left the window open. If I’m being honest, I do not care about the temperature. I continue looking down. If I were to look up, I know exactly what I would see. A plain bedroom; cream walls, a tastefully framed painting, a rich mahogany cabinet with an untidily stacked pile of books carelessly strewn across it and a large king sized bed, one side slept in, the other made. The room seems to scream out in loneliness. And the cold temperature of it seems to conveniently match my mood. Who knew it was possible to be so discontent in one’s own company? I certainly did not. When I was young, I strived whilst being alone. It gave me time to think. What I wouldn’t give to be unable to think now. My days of youth seem long gone, and with them my happiness also it would appear. Though it hurts unbearably, I think back to happier times. Where my smile wasn’t a painful attempt to fool those I occasionally interacted with. Back when I was happy, back when I was in love. It had been years ago. I try not to remember how many, thinking about it makes me feel ancient and I run my hands miserably through my thinning grey hair. I remember picnics, days in the park, walks on the beach and happiness. That was in the beginning. Our relationship had progressed into one that revolved around the telephone, long distance and very difficult. Though I missed her terribly, I convinced myself that working away and travelling was a good thing. I was able to buy her the things she wanted, take her places. All I wanted was to do the very best for her. Little did I know, in my eagerness to do so, I was pushing her away, bit by bit. I remember the day my world came crashing down around me. It was autumn, the street was covered in leaves, the pavement barely visible beneath the sea of crunchy brown and faded green. I had arrived home from a two month trip abroad and couldn’t wait to see my sweetheart. I opened the front door, and my eyes immediately fell on a small black suitcase sitting at the bottom of the winding stairs At first, all I felt was confusion. She was sitting in the sitting room, in the chair she always did, looking down. Her eyes were red rimmed, and her lip trembling. My heart sank. She told me, as kindly as she could, that we could not go on. She couldn’t bear to be alone, that I loved my job more than her, so much was said that I have blocked it out, simply because it is just too painful to remember. I begged and pleaded; I cried and fell to my knees. To no avail. She left that day, and with her she took my heart, my happiness and everything that made my life worth living. Nowadays I try to keep myself as busy as possible. I work away for the majority of the time, because I can’t bear to walk this empty house that was once our home. It hurts most to look at the half slept in bed, knowing that it will probably always be that way. I sigh and stand up. I despise my crisp white shirt, smart waistcoat, trousers and polished shoes. I hate what I have become.

49


Deathly Chill (Extract) Ashleigh Chalmers, Cults Academy In Italy, that morning, the winter had truly arrived. The ice cold air penetrated my core through my thin, flannel shirt. The temperature reflected my mood: emotionless and extremely truculent. On the street I couldn’t help but feel that the other businessmen were purposefully avoiding me. I searched endlessly in the airport for any sign of a suspect and upon finding no such person, moved my search to the streets of Naples. I spotted a man with a black leather brief case. He wore dark glasses, which was not unusual seeing as the snow had a tendency to burn the retina of anyone who doubted its force or intensity. Personally, they made me feel uneasy. I followed him, at first from a distance, but then, as he gradually pulled away from the crowds of tourists outside the busy airport, I could see a black Rolls Royce lurking in a side street waiting for him. Deciding that I would pursue him, I began walking at a swifter pace. He flicked his gaze over his shoulder for a split second; doing a double take, and with an expression of apprehension, he began to walk faster. I could see that he was intimidated by me. The muscles in my legs and arms tensed as a fresh flow of adrenaline surged into them. I lurched forwards, with my eyes stabbing into his suited back and kicked at the back of his heels. It was an uncoordinated and altogether poorly planned action but it seemed to paralyse him for a second or two. As he recovered, I threw a well-driven punch into his spine, forcing him to the floor. It was as though I had begun to fire a machine gun. Men burst from the car’s doors and came tearing towards me. It was an attack of five men against one. Fury flowed through my blood as my pulse raced. Soon I was surrounded, barely able to twitch without being threatened by one of the burly men. My mind was racing, trying to find a way out of the situation, until one of them made the mistake of smirking at me. He was the first to go. With smooth and practised actions, I jabbed at him, first into his chest. It made a deep thud, followed by the whoosh of the air being forced out of his lungs. I followed this action with a swift yet perfectly placed uppercut punch on the side of his jaw. The cracking noise was, unfortunately, inaudible, seeing as he was screaming. I turned to face the rest of the group, but they had fled. Had I frightened them off? Or had they been told to return to the car? I was left standing over a wailing and blood stained man, with an indecent amount of my own blood trickling down my hand from the split skin on my knuckles. Stepping over his body I slipped into a small alley. My self-conscious was awash with guilt. I looked down at my hands as they shook with the realisation of what they had just done. Injuring the man had got me no closer to retrieving the object of my desires yet I had continued to cause him pain. Turning, I walked back to the end of the street. Peering around the corner, I looked to where the man had been lying- but he was nowhere to be seen…

50


The Well Plotted Path The Magic Number Susanna Ingold, Aberdeen Grammar School The antique grandfather clock clunked in the corner of the bright room. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Nathan chanted them out loud, waiting until the ornate hands reached a neat forty five degree angle, before rising from his chair and leaving the house, making sure to lock and unlock the front door precisely three times. He could feel his house mocking him; mocking his routines. The clock whispered sneering comments to the armchair, who in turn passed them on to the fireplace with a cruel laugh. But today, like every day, Nathan would ignore them and continue on his way, with three deep breaths. Nathan smelt the airport before he reached the doors. He could smell the germs and the grime of the thousands of people who had passed through the generic building. Adopting the stance of a crab, Nathan walked in, relishing his last breath of real air before the smell enveloped him, being sure not to touch any surface. The air was suffocating him, crushing him down, making him feel sick from claustrophobia. Just remember to breathe, he reminded himself with a feigned confidence, three deep breaths. Security was the worst. Nathan eyed up the infested hands of the security officers, ready and poised to examine him for any unwanted substances or materials. “The irony,” Nathan muttered bitterly to himself. It was their hands that were filled with the unwanted substances and materials. He closed his eyes, unable to watch his bag journey through the hollow black tunnel - an unknown area meant unknown germs. As he passed through the barrier, he smiled for the first time that day. The day would be a good one, he was sure of that now. Yet, Fear still loomed before him. Fear was an unwanted but persistent companion that Nathan had never been able to remove from his life. Fear cackled as his ticket was checked and returned to him and Fear dragged him forward with his cold, gnarled hands, onto the plane. Even once there, Fear sat on the top of the seat in front of him, grinning his psychotic grin, content to taunt him. Fear had no mercy, not even on this tormented soul; forcing Nathan's head around to watch the ground swirl away from beneath them. As the ground melted into a dozen thick, dark clouds, Nathan pulled his head around. Three seats on either side. Three seats, three people, three oxygen masks. Three. Fear did not like the number three as Nathan did and let out a groan as he vanished with the sound of clanging metal. “Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to be experiencing some light turbulence...” came the announcement overhead and Nathan closed his eyes to wait for it to pass. He counted to three. He counted to three again. And he counted to three for the third time. The plane continued to shudder and shake, being tossed between the threatening clouds like a ticking time bomb. Nathan heard an intake of breath next to him; the kind of breath that could only ever proceed a sneeze. No. This couldn’t be happening. Hadn’t he done everything this morning? Three deep breaths and Nathan went through his mental check list. Tap? Check. Clock? Check. Door? Check. Gate. His hand gripped the armrest, his mind so consumed by flashing through his morning to think of the germs. His memory drew a blank on the gate. It was his fault. 51


The breath was exhaled with a powerful force and Nathan flinched, his eyes snapping open to stare down at his hand. Fear had changed his form now. He had split into a million small particles that sparkled and danced on his hand. Their laughter filled his head, getting louder and louder, his ears burning with the sound. I have to get off this plane, Nathan decided, I have to get off this plane, I have to get off this plane. Nathan mumbled his excuses to his neighbours and began striding down the aisle. His own funeral march unless he got off this plane. “Excuse me sir, I’m going to have to ask that you return to your seat and fasten your seatbelt,” a weathered air hostess squawked as she stumbled after him, in her regulation heeled shoes. “Sorry, but I’ve got to get off this plane,” Nathan replied, calmly and politely, continuing his passage through the plane. Before he could take three steps, he felt pain shoot through his right arm as it was pinned behind him and he was forced to the floor, amidst sounds of chaos around him. The last thing he remembered was Fear escaping from the plane before the world fell to dark pieces around him. A dull haze settled around him, through which Nathan could vaguely hear only a familiar noise. Tick. Tock. Tick, Tock. He could see shapes starting to take form around him, lines hardening into chairs, a table, a bed. Everything was white, soft and the silence of the room echoed through it. This must be heaven, Nathan thought dreamily, somewhat content. Yet, the white was a clinical white not a clean white. The furniture was scattered, no order, no hand of control had touched this desolate room. Maybe all of that could be acceptable, just maybe, if it weren’t for the two flowers in the flower pot, the two paintings on the wall, the two pillows on the bed. Nathan wasn’t sure where he was, but he knew he couldn’t stay there. Not with the number two looming over him, waiting for him to break. He wouldn’t break. He would just find three. Familiar, comforting three that kept him safe and made him happy. Through the door, he could hear a soft voice, so beautiful it could have been musical. The voice pulled Nathan back to fifteen years ago, when the voice had been calling him from across a park, begging him to come back, please come back. No, he wouldn’t think about that now. Not that day, with all wrong numbers and his family; his family who he had never seen since. Like it or not, the voice was undoubtedly becoming clearer. Behind him, the door opened and clicked closed. Only once. Nathan took three deep breaths to steady himself, a feeling of accomplishment rising within him that he’d beaten the room and its lack of the number three. His sister stood before him, her hair shining in the light, just as it had those fifteen years ago, her eyes soft with kindness and pity. He wouldn’t accept pity for him or his neat life and before his sister could speak, he closed his eyes, a blissful smile playing on his face. “Sorry, but I’ve got to get off this plane,” Nathan repeated, standing up and walking out of the room.

52


Last Curtain (Extract) Rowan Ah-See, Cults Academy "...The streetlamps didn’t extend behind the hall but bright, fresh snow acted like a screen of luminescent light on the ground. Michael approached the shadows of the alleyway behind the huge building, avoiding the commercial refuse containers and the empty cardboard boxes lying around them. Head bent down, he used the snow as his lantern, but all he saw were unfortunate rubbish items that hadn’t made it into the containers and some cat paw-prints. He was in the right mind to turn back and give up on the wild fancy that he would find something there when suddenly he saw intense red blotches in the beautiful white snow crystals. The metallic odour of blood invaded Michael’s nose and he retched. He didn’t immediately understand the sight when he raised his head to a hand dangling from one of the rubbish containers; it was white as the snow on the ground, squashed awkwardly beneath the heavy lid of the bin. Michael’s mouth gaped, why was he here, within this scene from a horror story? His trembling hand stretched to lift the lid, grasping it as far from the limp hand as possible. Michael braced: he lifted the lid... The hand led to an elbow, hyper-extended in an impossible direction; the humerus was distinctly snapped and a large purple patch could be seen at the surface of the skin where the broken bone was causing internal bleeding. This elbow led to a bruised, bare shoulder, crushed against the bottom of the voluminous tank. Its deep blue colour made a stark contrast against the translucent white of the mangled body... Michael buckled and vomited on the blood-stained snow. He had recognized the face, contorted like a lifeless lily, amongst the black waste bags. It was the face of Dorothy Lynch, second trombonist in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra: the orchestra Michael was to play in that evening…"

Untitled Oliver Miller, Cults Academy Only on a crisp summer morning can the lights of London’s towers be seen from Tottenham. It was a normal winter evening and snow was falling heavily from a foreboding, black sky. The night held its breath under the pressure of silence as the moon fled the dangerous streets for the comfort of richer, safer ones. The street was littered with broken glass and abandoned beer cans but was empty save a few travelling salesmen – and not even God knew why they came here. Richard Obduro shivered in his freshly ironed suit as he trudged the snowy path home. He knew that there was no way of seeing the hundreds of new skyscrapers that stood alongside the city’s river but was disappointed he could not anyway. Continuing through the rough, boarded and damp passages of Tottenham; occasionally passing gangs of stereotypical hooded youths, tramps and even a few prostitutes; he felt the air grow colder. After winding through roads leading to his bed for the night he turned in on his desired Road. Half way down the street he entered by the side door to his brother’s tenement flat and walked up the circular, narrow stairs. He pulled the key from his pocket, unlocked the three roomed dwelling and flopped on the sofa-bed. He could hear groaning and murmurs of pleasure from his sister’s bedroom – but that 53


was natural these days. He started to fall into a dreamless sleep, listening to the almost rhythmic sound of a banging bed board against the wall, thinking of how the next day would bring more of the same. He did not like the world he lived in; a world where everyone was only interested in the drug trade and not education, a world where someone was judged on the expensiveness of their sweats and Nike Air Max’s, a world where rap music about sex and violence was the only accepted option. But this was his world. He had known it since his parents had lost their small grocery store in a distinct middle class, and very White, area after it was bought out by a Japanese supermarket chain when he had only been eight years old. The family of six had to move in with the father’s mother but after her death two years later, forgetting to write a will resulting in the Government seizing all possessions, they had to find the nearest available property before being forced to live on London’s rough streets. Unfortunately, as Richard was told, the nearest available home was in the borough of Haringey. So the family moved and looked to make a new start on its grimy streets. Although things initially looked positive, with Richard’s father Kenyin, and his brother, Simon, both finding local jobs, the six of them fitted in well to the three bedroomed house, everything quickly went downhill as the deadly Fausi plague struck. A total of four million Black and Asian men and woman across Britain caught a skin disease that caused the outer cells to shrink. This meant that not enough minerals could be taken into the body and the victims of this new, horrible illness died because the nutrients they need to survive could not be absorbed into the body. And although it was very easy to recover from after treatment, it took medical experts three years before they understood the disease well enough to realise how to fight it. As a result, Richard’s father, brother and youngest sister had all died during the years before the cure was found. Now, ten years after his parents lost their business, Richard, his-fifty-year old mother, Martha, and twenty-two year old sister, Anita, lived in a tiny apartment in the roughest area of Tottenham – now the only area of London with men and woman of a different colour to everyone else. So, as Richard lay on the sofa, drifting off to sleep, he thought how his life so far seemed to be some sort of article from a newspaper for White people, encouraging them to treat Richard and his ‘kind’ like anyone else, because “they had it tough whilst we sat drinking tea and thinking: ‘Oh, what a pity this exotic disease is’”. He did not mind the White people so often insulted on the streets, but did not appreciate their clearly fake attitude of brotherhood with Black and Asian people. Richard forgot about the struggles of his life as the branches of sleep fuzzed his thoughts, and slipped away, content with the knowledge that it was not all bad for him. His mother loved him dearly and Anita was engaged to the apparent ‘soon to be controller’ of Tottenham’s main gang; meaning he was granted considerable protection from the local violence and held a stable job at the gangs shop looking after the finances and making sure it remained legit. Yeah, we’re doing all right, he thought to himself as he fell asleep.

54


Found Hannah Pirie, Oldmachar Academy The sky was black and cold, with not a twinkle of stars to be seen it seemed to embrace the tall dark buildings. Not a sound was to be heard in the silence of night when all rested. Nothing but the quick and light footsteps of a slender man who walked purposely down the deserted streets, his head bowed. He wore a long coat of which he pulled the tall collar over his face; his steely eyes darted as he twisted and turned down the alleys. He never looked behind only in-front with a stiffened posture and urgency in his speed. As time drew on he had picked up a run as he was nearing his destination. He held a phone in his hand and he risked a quick glance behind him and immediately hit speed-dial on his phone as he brought it to his ear. He said very little as he knew he had no time, “They’ve found me, take them and leave far from here. I have thrown away all I had to as discussed; they should be safe now, hopefully. If not, you all know what to do. I love you all dearly - goodbye.” He then ripped the battery and Sim-Card from the phone and threw a bit of the phone into each of the separate large bins as he passed a group of them. It wasn’t his anyway. He stepped out of the alley and onto the street his eyes cast up at the buildings in a grim stare. He then stopped and held his arms out spread-eagled and stared up at the sky and let the lids fall over his eyes with a deep breath. Within seconds he was on the ground blood spewing all over the pavement around him and a hole in the middle of his head. The person who had followed him stood over him and spoke into a phone and then pocketed it once finished. It was a man with short greying brown hair and a tight jaw and small eyes of green. His stature was light but strong and covered in his black attire. With no other words he took out a torch and searched the area surrounding the lifeless body unaffected by it. Using gloves the man picked up a bullet casing which had landed somewhere near the wall of the alley and pocketed it also. He looked around at the high buildings before putting his hands into the pockets of his black open Mac and walked down the street whistling leaving the body to lie untouched and alone in the vast chilly street on the sharp stoned pavement. * Hopping off the mostly empty bus I shouldered my schoolbag and turned my music up. I waved and shouted a ‘thanks’ at the bus driver before he shut the doors and drove off. He had smiled in acknowledgement before he did so. I tugged my dark purple, soft woollen scarf tighter around my neck as the wind snapped at me and buttoned my black coat and thrust my gloveless hands into my pockets. I nuzzled my face into the warmth of the scarf and strode quickly home. I was intent on treasuring the hour or so I would have all to myself with my younger brothers still having to stay until the end of school. My short hair whipped back in the wind so it stood on end and I regretted not wearing a hat. It hadn’t been as cold this morning and I grumbled at the weather as I made my way along the street towards home. My house loomed before me in its small but satisfying glory. It looked non-descript in appearance and blended in with every other on the street but was cast alone at the end with no neighbour. It was a simple grey bricked building with white windows and slated roof with a neat but simple garden. I had lived there for a few years now and it had grown on me as a home. It was nothing in comparison with the last one - it was the best of many we had - but this one did come close. Mother had chosen well, despite being on her own, and that was probably why it took second place. I reached the door, pulling out my headphones and stuffing them in my pocket, and scrambled in my bag for my keys. I drew them out and put them into the door and turned the key and I found I couldn’t. Puzzled I tugged on the handle and it gave way. I clutched the handle tightly and pushed the door open slightly. I took the keys out and put them in my bag as silently as I could. I then pushed the door all the way open at speed, catching it before it slammed the wall. I cautiously walked into the hall and glanced around me. The door was never open. That was a rule we never ceased to live by. I instantly dropped my stance and closed the door carefully. I searched the hall, keeping the echo of my footsteps on the white tiles as minimal as I could, and picked up one of our standing umbrellas from the hook on the wall. I tried not to think of its inadequacy as a weapon. I prowled down the hallway listening furiously for any sound. The house was quiet. I looked up the 55


staircase from the bottom. Nothing creaked and nothing moved. I decided to start downstairs as I couldn’t bring myself to be stuck upstairs should anyone roam about. I stood at the living room door and stepped in. The living room was chaos. Lamps were smashed on the floor in glistening pointy shards, picture frames and ornaments were littered on the floor amongst cushions and the remains of the coffee table scattered. I held my breath as I walked - my shoulders tense as I held the umbrella before me defensively. I checked either side of the door and then my eyes fell on the centre of the room. Lying there motionless was a woman with bloodied hands and a cracked skull. A pool of red liquid soaked the beige carpet beneath her. Her black hair splayed around her head and was soaked in her blood. I edged closer and saw the bullet hole in the centre of her skull -execution style. A chair stood beside her covered in loosened rope and blood. At the sight of her wide glassy eyes and tear-streaked face I crumbled. “M-mum.” I whispered as I fell against the sofa, gripping it to steady myself as my knees buckled. I edged closer around the sofa until I was near her and dropped my bag from my shoulder. I let myself fall to my knees beside her. I choked on the tears that spilled from my eyes and the constricting of my throat. My heart was racing and my breathing was erratic. I reached out a hand shakily towards her and took her cold lifeless one in my own. I shook my head as the tears fell and I shuffled closer to her and brushed her cheek with my fingertips. “Mum, please wake up. You can’t be … you can’t… what will I tell the boys…oh mum please. I beg you,” With no stirring from her I then screamed, “Please. Wake up! You can’t leave me mum. I am not ready. I can’t.” My body shook as I gazed into her helpless eyes nothing but pain left in them. I bowed my head over her and let my tears join hers. I raised my head with a sniff and sucked in a breath and blew it out to steady my nerves. I moved a strand of hair from her face and tried to ignore the round hole in her forehead. I placed my hand over her eyes and slid the lids down gently. More tears fell at the sight of her peace; she could have been sleeping. Already her death had shackled me and pulled me down; grief was gripping me with bony fingers. It had whipped its fraying gauze like cloak around me and was numbing my senses with its cool touch. It was isolating me from my surroundings and holing me up inside its dark cavern where it would scrape away at my mind with its pointed nails and scratch over happy thoughts. It washed my eyes with its water as if to cleanse the visions I had seen. Its haunting mist swirled around my head and I felt exhausted and lost. It whispered softly in my ear such sorrows and pity as it reached out and hooked its nails into my heart and squeezed it tightly, constricting it, causing me to gasp in agony. It weaved thread through my mind carrying utter nonsensical statements of confusion and misery and then proceeded to cause me to mumble them out loud as I tore at my hair to remove them. I then became silent and grief gazed at me with bulging eyes and began to scratch at me some more. I shook my head and stood up shakily my eyes red raw and my hands sticky with the blood of my mother’s hands and wrists. I pushed all ominous thoughts to the back of my mind and pushed them down into a chest and locked it. There was no time to dwell and I could already feel it seeping out. I focused my mind on the task at hand and it kept my mind busy and I tottered over to the chair and put two and two together. The cuts on her hands and arms were torturous and the ropes had burned and cut her wrists as she struggled. From the fraying of the ropes I deduced she had gotten free since she was shot on the floor at short range with her head against the rug. I searched carefully and spotted what I expected; the little silver pocket knife. She always carried it in her belt without fail. I managed a small smile at her fighting back. I knew my mother wasn’t one to give up easily. The mess of the room suggested she had definitely fought back hard. Again this was pleasing to her memory. Her memory. That’s all she was now, her and dad both. They were gone forever, correction: both taken from me forever. I steeled myself from that moment and my pragmatic mind switched back on for that moment as soon my brothers would be home. I tried to not think about their reaction as I might let myself fall into the pit of my current mind resident with open arms at the thought of them. Fresh tears fell from my eyes but I ignored them as I stormed from the living room and up the stairs to my room. Nothing else in the house was touched and the alarm bell already howling in my head rang louder, these people were quick and efficient. I had to get ready.

56


I flung open the door to my wardrobe and began dragging out my possessions all jumbled at the bottom of it. I dug down to the floor furiously and ran my hand over it until I felt a nick in the floorboard and I pulled. The floor board shifted and I pushed it away to reveal a compartment underneath. I unclipped the torch slyly attached to the underside of the board and clicked it on. I cast the beam down into the compartment and dragged up a black rucksack and tucked it close to my leg. I then replaced the floorboard and piled the stuff from the bottom back on top of it. I unzipped the bag hurriedly and checked what was inside. Everything was accounted for; my new phone, emergency cash, spare car key which I took out, maps and some other bits and bobs. My hand then grazed something cool and metallic and I froze. I lifted it to the brim of the bag and stared at it as it lay heavy in my hand –my gun. I gulped at the sight of it. I thought of my mother’s body downstairs and before I knew it I was clipping the gun into a holster. I didn’t have long before the boys came home and proceeded to change out of my school uniform and into jeans, t-shirt, boots, a hooded jumper and leather jacket fastening my holster underneath. I stuffed some other clothing into the rucksack and began to scan the room for anything else I needed as I put the car key into a buttoned case I had found and attached to my belt. “Meredith? Are you home?” It was my brother Marcus who spoke I could hear his low quiet tone hiding the caution I knew he must have felt. I had left the door unlocked and that was message enough that all was not well. I walked to the stairs with my backpack over my shoulder, my eyes were teary again and I tried to keep a tight lip to stop it trembling. I began to descend and the moment my feet touched the step I could see Marcus’ eyes widen in horror and he dropped his schoolbag and ran up the stairs to meet me. His hands were on my shoulders and I stared at him my composure slipping so much I didn’t trust myself to speak. “Tell me she isn’t? Meredith please this can’t be happening. Is she…” His eyes were fierce now as he didn’t finish his sentence and his grip was strong as his fingers bit into my shoulders. “Marcus, Meredith is something wrong?” The sweet voice of my youngest brother, Alec, echoed up the stairs. I could hear the uncertainty in his voice and I peered over Marcus’ shoulder to see his face gazing up at us in confusion and worry as his brows knotted together. I bit back a sob and nodded to Marcus who stuttered, “W-where?” his eyes bore into mine and I couldn’t focus. I looked away towards the living room and tears made tracks down my face. Marcus released me and tore down the stairs rushing past Alec who cried out and followed. “No! Marcus don’t look, there’s nothing you can do! Alec is behind you, please stop! ” He didn’t and burst into the living room. The cry of agony will haunt me for the rest of my days. I rushed downstairs after him. “Mum…mum, no. You can’t be. You’re not. I can’t…” Marcus was bolt upright with his arms rigidly by his side as he stood beside the sofa. I managed to just grab Alec as he saw her lying there and in an instant he was sobbing in my arms. He tried to lunge out and go to her but I held tight and nestled my wet face into his hair and held him close to me. “Mum! Mum wake up. We are home from school you have to wake up. You can’t leave us here where the people who got dad can find us!” I tried to soothe him by repeating ‘shush’ over and over and the words ‘It is going to be ok’. Comforting lies for his 13 year old mind. “Please mum, don’t let them take you too.” He choked then and turned round to hug me back and stopped struggling. I cast my gaze up to Marcus who had fallen to his knees as I had and was reaching out to mum but frozen just before her. I knew he couldn’t believe it but the evidence in front of him was too overwhelming to comprehend. I saw the shaking of his shoulders and knew he was crying and I cried harder at his pain. Marcus never cried and nor did I often. Today we couldn’t stop. I held Alec close and we walked over to Marcus and sat beside him. He didn’t move or acknowledge us. “We have to go as soon as possible, don’t we?” He spoke so softly my heart panged. “Yes, you and Alec will have to get your bags and we leave at once after that.” “We can’t just leave her here Meredith. She doesn’t deserve that. She fought them. Our mother fought back and I don’t think she gave them the list.” I put a hand on his shoulder. “You know the drill, we have to leave her as she is and get out of here with as little notice and disruption as possible.” “Screw the drill we have to do something for her. Anything, light a candle, lay flowers – just something!” his voice grew. He scrunched his eyes tight to fight back more tears. 57


“I closed her eyes Marcus it is all I can do. I am responsible for keeping you safe now and I won’t jeopardise mum’s efforts. She wouldn’t want that. Plus I have the list and they will come back for it soon when they realise we must have it.” “That list is the reason she is dead and it is not worth the blood spilt! I say burn the bloody thing! It has caused nothing but problems. We are orphans now Meredith in case you hadn’t noticed!” Alec started crying again and I held his close. “Watch your mouth! You don’t think sometimes, do you? Your heart is in the right place but you head isn’t thinking like dad taught you. We have to go and give that list to dad’s contact. Now that mum is gone it is the only thing we can do, there is nothing else. They are both counting on us! Let their sacrifices be not in vain!” Marcus sniffed and stared at me his eyes ablaze. I could almost feel the resentment and hate oozing from him. I knew he felt cheated. I did to. But I honoured my dad still; he was a brave, intelligent and brilliant man even for his flawed career choice. I couldn’t let the people who hunted him kill mum without bringing down the whole goddamn corporation that started this. From that moment when he defied the evil they spread and refused to kill for them no more our family was finished. We were, and still are, living on borrowed time, waiting and wondering when that bullet will sail through our skulls. I can only pray it is not today. I took Marcus’ hand and he gave a start and I ignored him and I pulled it towards mum’s hand and lay it on top. The red mist that had gripped him seemed to fade slightly – the feel of her cool skin a reminder of what has been done and what they now must do. Alec reached out and put his hand on her hand next to Marcus’. They both had tears streaming. I then hugged them both close for a while before standing up and they did also. I turned them from her bloodied body and pushed them gently towards the door. Mechanically they walked upstairs to get the rucksacks from their rooms. Night had fallen due to the incoming winter and I knew the boys were taking ages upstairs in their reluctance to leave. I was scared to turn on any lights as they would draw attention. I went through to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water. I looked out the kitchen window into the garden. A shape moved. I paused and peered harder at the window leaning over the sink. A face loomed in front of the glass and I leapt back with a scream letting the glass fall from my fingers. I stumbled against the kitchen unit and threw myself at the door. “No… get away!” I yelled as I ran through to the living room looking behind me as the patio doors were thrown open and the figure walked in. I tripped in the dark and looked ahead and saw two more figures loom into the living room. I skidded to halt and whipped my head behind me and in front. I kicked back at the figure from the garden and he stumbled into the table behind and I tried to run past him but one of the men from behind grabbed me round the waist. I cried out as I was dragged backward and I kicked out madly and struggled in their grip. I heard grunts and I lashed out blindly. One of the men faced me and I pushed back on the figure holding me and smashed my booted foot into his face. He recoiled and fell to the floor. I think he was knocked out because after that I was pulled backwards away from him and a knife was pressed against my throat. “I suggest you quiet down girl or you will end up like your pathetic mother.” He turned my head towards her and I gritted my teeth. I thrashed in response. The other man came up to me and grabbed my jaw in his hand. I glared at him with as much hate as I could control. He glared back with a sneer. “Stop that or he will slit your throat and I will put a bullet through your brain, got it?” “I won’t stop fighting you, you will be caught. I won’t let you kill me without a fight, you twisted…” he raised a finger to my mouth and shook his head patting my cheek before moving back. I was panting now as the strength of my Restraint’s arm pressed onto my ribs. I looked at my mum on the floor and blinked back tears. I hadn’t even attempted to do what was asked of me yet. I didn’t have a chance. I slackened my stance and tried to retrieve breath. “You don’t want to be doing that boy, come now put the gun away and we can talk. We both know you won’t use it and even if you manage I am going to have killed you very soon after anyway. It’s your choice kid.” I could almost feel the heat of the glare Marcus had for the other man. I looked between the two and I felt scared of Marcus. The determination and calm of his manner unnerved me and wasn’t sure if I felt safe or not. The sight of the gun in his hand put it in perspective for me. This was a sick game and we were trained far too well in it.

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“Oh I do believe me. You have taken my dad from me and now my mother, trust me there is not a chance in hell of you taking my sister too. Now tell this oaf to let her go or he dies. Simple.” The stare out with the other man was unbearable and I began to squirm. “Prove it.” He said in reply and I felt my Restraint tense up. There was a crack of a shot louder and more ear shattering than any sound I had heard. I felt the grip loosen and the knife hold slacken and pushed his arms away from me and lunged forward letting him crumple to the ground. I saw the shock on the face of man before me and he pulled his gun up to aim as anger reared its head. Without thinking I leapt at him grabbing the gun and moving it out of line with my brother and with the motion we fell to the floor with a thud. I thrust my knee into his stomach and torn the gun from his grasp after twisting it round. He lay gasping for air beneath me as I tossed the gun aside and pulled from my holster, my own. I pressed it to his head between his eyes. Marcus ran to me and stood beside me looking down upon my target. “I just did.” Marcus spat at the stunned and disorientated man. He stared up at us in disbelief. “How does it feel hmm? Having a gun held to you, having your life threatened, seeing death. Does it bother you? I certainly hope it does,” I leaned in closer to his face, “Because I want you to suffer for what you did to us, you and your whole damn company.” I pulled back and turned to Marcus. “Alec?” “Upstairs, hiding.” I breathed a sigh of relief then nodded my head at the unconscious man beside the table. Marcus strode over to him and held his gun on him, just in-case. “Do you think this is what all your victims felt like before you silenced them hmm? What thoughts do you think they had? I hope yours are all very lonely. I hope that the last thing you think is that you underestimated my dad and his family, and lost. Got it?” I mimicked him in my last words and let a low humourless laugh escape me. It was a slithering, cold laugh that mocked his very being. “Your mother screamed for mercy and your dad was a criminal and now he is nothing but a traitor. We just helped him re-join the dirt he rose from. He was scum just like the rest and he did some awful things that would give you some nightmares.” “Shut up!” I pressed the gun harder against his head. “He killed for money and you still treasure that man? His job got your mother killed and almost you. We won’t let you rest. We will hunt you down till we find you and what you keep. What is on there will destroy us and your father so I wouldn’t take to using it so lightly. Your father would no longer be a hero. Is that what you want? Mind you, his son is now quite like him perhaps you feel left out eh?” I trembled with rage, I could only see red. Grief took a side step to make way for the snarling razor teeth of anger. Its horns were raised as it rampaged and tore through me clawing its way out. I didn’t hold it back. “I don’t have to listen to any more of this; he was a better father than anyone could be! He was honourable and has given up everything. You are just pathetic! Think your last thoughts and better make them good because frankly I am disappointed that I am not getting to hear you scream. This is for them and your attempt to kill us!” I pulled the trigger and all I saw was red; the red of his blood coating the floor and me. I then heard another shot of Marcus finishing the other man. Wordlessly he walked over to me and pulled me off the dead body I sat upon. We then left the room our arms around one another not saying a word of what was done. We set off in the car soon after, not one of us explained to Alec what had happened and he knew not to ask. Marcus and I shared a deadly secret now- we were murderers. The terrible burden would sit on us forever, at least it should have. Our training had paid off and no regret was felt for the worthless mess we left behind. We were different people now; not just in our new fake identities for protection but in mind and soul.

59


The Robbery (Extract) Emma Thom, Oldmachar Academy I gasp as my heart stops for a moment. BANG. CRASH. A scream. The ear piercing noise whirls around me as I stand outside waiting for the robbery to take place. The scream is like one I have never heard before, full of horror and fright, followed by a pleading individual. “Please leave me alone! PLEASE. Get out my house! HELP!” cries a frail voice from somewhere inside. The pleading stops abruptly as a laugh dances around the home, travelling outside. The maddening, humourless laugh is from Calrita, a friend I had met in college, a manipulative, controlling individual who will do anything to get her way. The cold air runs through me, almost feeling like it was punishing me for what I was doing. I shook with fright. “Should I run? Get out of this before it is too late?” I thought as I stand outside waiting for her to finish the deed. I am on 'watch' in case any neighbours become suspicious and I can alert Calrita before it is too late. The cold, damp wall holds me up outside, as all feeling in my body is starting to cease with fright. I look carefully down the street, left and right. No one. A faint noise of cars rumbles constantly, from the motorway beside the street. The identical grey houses stare out onto the street looking more ominous than ever. More crashes and bangs escape from inside the old lady's home, but all voices were silent. A strong smell of dogs is wafting out the kitchen door, round my noise making me feel sick. But before I know what is happening, running footsteps hurry towards the door. “Lets go. I got all the rubbish from inside in this bag. Mad old bat, she is. I told her she wouldn't live to see another day if she didn't shut up! That told her. Then she flopped onto her bed and fainted! Haha!” said Carlita, breathlessly, but with an air of enthusiasm at the sheer terror she had caused. Before we could take anymore steps out the garden, I heard a faint siren. After fearful, split second looks at each other, we run. Run as fast as our legs carry us. Along the dark street that seems to be never ending, the houses watch us race down the street, as the dark grey, cloudy sky judged us from above. The moon shines weakly, giving very little light. We run further and further, but the siren screamed louder and louder. I feel helpless. This isn't a stupid sports day race, this is real life. I plead with myself to become invisible. An extremely stupid idea but I was so desperate. I can't think straight. “I knew this was a bad idea. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!” I thought as tears roll down my cheeks. I am about to be caught for a robbery. A stupid, spontaneous robbery that I was insane to ever agree to. I stop, wheezing for breath. Carlita pants uncontrollably. Brakes screeched to a hault. Four police men step out of the car and throw me against their van, handcuffing me. A small push gave me the signal to get inside the back of their van. Everything was going in slow motion, all sound seemed to have stopped and I felt awfully dizzy. The police van's doors slam shut, shaking the vehicle. My name is Amelia, I am 19 and I am a criminal. * * * * I hung up my latest painting in my art room, I admired it proudly as it sat next to the other canvases. I looked through my camera lense, taking a picture to upload to my internet site. This one was by far my favourite. I studied my work, almost being able to hear the deep blue waves crashing against the small beach hut, as the dark clouds swirled around the ominous black sky. “Fantastic. This one will be fifty pounds I think. Once I get about 10 more paintings sold, we will be able to afford that car we've been wanting for so long!” I said excitedly to Jeffery, as he smiled at me fondly. He was sitting at a computer desk in our home, sorting out finances. Our home sat next to the sea, giving me most of my inspiration for my landscape painting. It was placed delicately on a street, next to other neat houses. All the gardens were preened to perfection, not a blade of grass out of place. Everyone on my street seemed to be friends, but I was aware of their obsession with their postcode, and the pride they held with it. People looked down on those less fortunate than them. However, I (selfishly) didn't mind. I was glad to have people accept me. Jeffery and I moved here 5 years ago, in the same street as my best 60


friend Jasmine, who I had met when I was 20 at college. She was the only person who knew everything about me. Jasmine knew about my stupid 10 months in jail after that robbery I have always regretted taking part in. One day it just all came out, and Jasmine listened to everything. I was so happy I had someone to confide in. We agreed that it would be better not to bring up anything about my jail time, in case it endangered my future. This meant that Jeffery knew nothing about it. I sometimes tossed and turned at night, having nightmares about the robbery. But I couldn't tell him. I couldn't risk my reputation with the neighbours either, they would never accept me, and the amount of people buying my paintings would dwindle, as the gossip would spread about the internet. “Famous painter is a robber!� I could just imagine the crushing headlines. Jeffery would never stay with me knowing I was a criminal. If my secret ever got out, I would lose everything. I had completely lost contact in Calrita after I got out of jail. I had never seen or heard from her again and furthermore I did not care. I first met Jeffery at Jasmine's 23rd birthday I was slightly intoxicated, dancing madly to Geri Haliwell. He watched me, amused, while sitting down with his friends. Each man seemed to be eyeing up a potential candidate to slip their number to. Some girls were aware of this, and kept themselves looking clean and preened, but I didn't care. Alcohol was much more fun and I completely believed I was as good as Geri Halliwell's backing dancers on the dance floor. My friends and I drank the night away and by the end I was finding it difficult to stand, however, that man was still looking fondly in my direction. The man came over to me, confidently smiled and winked, however, I was unable to string many words together, so what made him give me his number is beyond me. In the last 4 years, my painting selling had really taken off. I was so happy that I had finally chased my dream, after a rough few years when I was about 19. This time next week, it was to be our 7th year being together.

61


The Common Way Anne-Marie Leman, Cults Academy Sarah’s head shot up when she heard the drumming of Nathans’s feet abruptly get louder, as he careered along the cobbles. He shot round the corner almost flattening her. ‘Did you do it?!...well, did you?!’ Sarah tried to ask him over the noise of his panting. ‘Huh?’ ‘I said did you manage to get it?’ ‘Yeah but- ’ ‘Well did they see you then?’ ‘No.’ Just then the street lamp glimmered its last sign of life as the oil burned out. ‘Come on, let’s find somewhere to sleep before we get caught. I don’t want a repeat of that again.’ She said with gazing eyes as she gave a quick shudder. ‘I know I’m starv-’ ‘Well hurry up then, why do you always have to take ages?’ ‘Sorry sis.’ ‘Shh! Keep your voice down, take the loaf and just keep up will you.’ Together they scurried along the shadows of the black night, just like last night, the night before last, and every other night for almost two years now. ‘Here take this.’ She shoved the gangly filthy rug into her younger brother’s already full arms. ‘Can I plea-’ Nathan attempted to ask. ‘What now?’ ‘I was just going to ask if-’ ‘Hey look! There’s space under the bridge! Quick let’s get there before there’s no room left.’ ‘Ok but can we eat before we-’ ‘Oh, alright then if you’re going to make such a fuss. We don’t want to have to be sharing our food again, I thought I was going to pass out that night I was so hungry. In fact I think I did, didn’t I?’ He stared past her tangled hair and into her eyes, deep with worry he might answer wrongly, as apparently he always did. With a winey voice he answered: ‘I can’t remember, maybe?’ She groaned. ‘Useless. Your memory is pathetic. You finished your bread yet?’ ‘N-’ ‘Good. Right come on we will go round the back where it’s not as cramped.’ ‘Bu-’ ‘Don’t make a sound now, don’t stand on anyone we don’t want to be thrown out. Oh and don’t fall in, that’s the last thing I need.’ ‘I won’t, I promise’

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The Scarlatti Tilt Kirsty Groseneill, Cults Academy The year was 1948. In a jazz club deep in the heart of Isola di Capo Rizzuto, a young American woman named Evelyn ‘Billie’ Scarlatti was sitting drily sipping a martini. Surrounded by the happy faces of Italians she retained an air of mystery. She was seated at the back of the club in a corner where there was only one oil lamp. A trail of smoke twirled around her head striving to reach the ceiling. She was an extraordinary kind of beautiful with big brown eyes that were fringed by delicate brows that had a tendency to arch in an almost comical manner when her suspicion was aroused. Her lips were painted red and despite having lived in Italy for several years now, her skin was almost porcelain in colour, a stark contrast to the deep red of her mouth. She sat completely still except for the occasional flick of her wrist to tap the end of her cigarette. Nobody dared approach her except for the bartender. She was on her third martini when a tall gentleman with an expensive looking tail coat walked in, barked a command in Italian at the bartender and sat down opposite her. He remained silent until he had lit a cigar and inhaled deeply. The bartender came scampering over with a large whiskey. The gentleman picked the glass up, eyed it thoughtfully then knocked it back. The woman giggled a most delightful sound of mirth that turned heads at the other end of the club. The gentleman waited until the pianist had struck up another melody before reaching across the table and taking the woman’s hand lightly in his. “Ah Carina,” he sighed deeply, gazing into her eyes. After a moments contemplating, “The damn strings are still out of synch with the rest of the orchestra,” his shoulders were tense as he spoke. She stroked his hand soothingly. Slowly, the gentleman’s breathing became regular and his back muscles relaxed. The gentleman was an orchestral conductor, one of the best in fact. He was notorious for pushing musicians to their very limits to meet his perfectionist demands. Evelyn was his greatest achievement to date. Her lithe fingers could coax the most beautiful yet technically demanding music out of a piano. Often she could be heard playing late at night in the studio apartment she shared with an artist, Antonio De Sole, who painted exquisite portraits and oceanic landscapes. He was unusual in his approach to hanging his paintings, always tipped slightly to the right. He called them his ‘Tilts’. In the apartment all the paintings tipped towards the French doors that led out onto the terrace, pointing you in the direction of the view as Antonio would say. The gentleman, noting that Evelyn had finished her martini, motioned to the bartender to bring another round. “Are you trying to get me drunk?” she slurred in her southern way, arching her swan like neck as she laughed. The gentleman winked at her before downing another whiskey. She surreptitiously sipped her martini turning her attention to the dancers a little way away from her on the floor. The gentleman flared up another cigar and sat watching her contentedly. The gentleman’s name was Jackson Turner. Born in Meriwether County, Georgia, 1923, to a reasonably wealthy family, Jackson was tall, of a strong build with stern features. His father owned a construction business which Jackson had been due to inherit. A rebel even in his tender years, Jackson travelled to Italy when he was twenty one to follow his passion of music. Now, he was a conductor for the Italian Orchestra and was desperately trying to prepare them for an upcoming performance at the Festival dell’Aurora in Crotone in two days. Evelyn studied the dancers twisting and spinning around together, the hem of their cocktail dresses rippling as they twirled. She drained her martini and on impulse leant across the table to kiss Jackson on the cheek. She stood up and walked to the stairs indicating that he should follow. Jackson threw some lire on the table and bid farewell to the bartender. 63


It had been raining lightly outside, a typical late April shower and the air felt compressed. Evelyn was laughing her charming laugh again as Jackson took her hand and danced with her through the streets to her apartment. Antonio was sitting on the terrace with another man, around the same age, with dark hair and mid-length sideburns. Evelyn made her way through the French doors to greet Antonio and his friend. Jackson followed suit, interlocking his fingers with hers after she’d shaken hands as though to show the friend that she was his. The friend was a Mr. Clemente from Agrigento, Sicily. He played the flute but was attempting to learn the violin. Jackson acknowledged this apprehensively. After the day he had had any mention of a stringed instrument overwhelmed him with a sense of despair. He excused himself and moved to the cocktail cabinet. To his dismay Mr. Clemente followed, “Billie tells me you are a conductor?” he said politely, as he played with a silk red handkerchief, pulling it through his fingers. The hairs on Jackson’s neck stood up and his brow furrowed in silent fury. He hated it when other men used his pet name for Evelyn. He nodded by way of reply and turned back to the cabinet to locate Billie’s new boston cocktail shaker. Mr. Clemente sensing his change of mood began to apologise but was interrupted by Billie’s raised voice. “So what? He’s just going to live here now Antonio?!” “Evelyn it is...ah... for few days only, he will pay his way he promise,” Antonio’s soft accented voice came floating back through the doors. Jackson heard Billie breathe deeply as she agreed reluctantly. Mr. Clemente gave him a slightly amused look and held out the boston cocktail shaker. Billie came into the room, her stiletto’s clicking on the floorboards. She gave Mr. Clemente a nod and he smiled warmly in return. Jackson handed her another martini and led her out to the terrace. Antonio was sitting pretending to admire the stars, absentmindedly playing with his lighter. Jackson sat on the terrace wall with his ankles crossed. Billie stared pointedly at Antonio before he stood up in one fluid motion and bid good evening to them both. Billie waited until she heard Antonio and Mr. Clemente’s voices down on the street outside, before moving to sit on Jackson’s lap. He kissed her brown curled head, then her cheek, then gently parted her lips with his own. From the French windows the couple were silhouetted against the orange moon which would have made for a remarkable painting. * As the sun rose, casting shadows through the town, an almighty wailing sound echoed around the apartment. Jackson sat up, his usually perfectly coiffed hair in disarray as he blinked blearily. Billie was still asleep, the sun’s rays creating a rosy glow on her porcelain face. Jackson stumbled out of bed pulling on trousers as he went. Mr. Clemente was sitting on the terrace wall, where he and Billie had sat the night before, aimlessly drawing the bow back across his violin. A vein in Jackson’s temple began to pulsate violently as Jackson clenched his jaw. He slammed the French doors aggressively and stormed back to the bedroom. Billie was sitting up in the bed. She snatched the sheets up around her when she heard Jackson come in and then relaxed. Jackson was breathing heavily, his hands curled up into fists. She looked at his face alarmed, her big brown eyes widening in fear. “Jackson, honey what’s wrong?” she asked attentively. Jackson’s breath was coming in gasps as his temper grew. “Jackson, baby you’re really starting to scare me now, wha...” She didn’t get to finish as Jackson threw a fist into the wall knocking one of Antonio’s canvases to the floor. Billie shrank back against the headboard in shock.

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After a moment there was an urgent knocking. It was Antonio. Jackson was staring at the wall where there was now a sizeable hole in the plasterwork. Antonio opened the door slowly before seeing Jackson’s mess. He quickly fussed around him, picking up pieces of plaster, in silence. Billie’s eyes were fixed on Jackson as he slowly thawed out, his expression changing from blind rage to a mixture of shock and remorse. Mr. Clemente gingerly peered around the door, violin in one hand, bow in the other. “Signor, I molto spiacente, I, how you say in Inglese, very sorry.” Jackson waved his hand at him. Mr. Clemente suddenly noticed Billie still leaning back on the head board. She stared at him. Jackson slowly turned his head from Billie to Mr. Clemente his eyes narrowed. Mr. Clemente hastily retreated from his hostile glare. Billie held her breath as Jackson ushered Antonio out of the room. However when he turned back to her, Jackson was his usual stoic self. He sat on the edge of the bed and began stroking her hair. “Sorry Billie, it was just that wretched violin. I’ve had it up to here with those fucking violins.” He gestured wildly, his hand cutting a line above his head. Billie nodded and slid out of bed over to her dressing table. She smiled at him in the mirror as she began concealing her anxiety under a mask of make-up. Today she was posing for Antonio. * “Antonio darling, how much longer must I sit like this?” she drawled several hours later. Her hair was coiffed, her make-up elegant and she was sitting with her legs crossed draped across a chaise. “No much longer la mia bellezza,” he replied smiling a crooked smile. Mr. Clemente was sitting on a stool behind Antonio his expression deeply approving as he plucked the strings of his violin. Billie nodded and resumed her stillness, her red lips pulled back across her teeth in a seductive smile. “And there we go, perfezione!” Antonio said clapping his hands together delightedly, two hours later. Billie stretched before bounding up to look, “Oh Antonio, you sure are kind to me!” she laughed. Mr. Clemente smiled shaking his head. “Ah sweet bambina, Antonio no need to make change because you, you are so perfetto,” he grinned at her. Antonio twisted around on his stool to face her happily and proposed a drink to celebrate. Billie clapped again, “sounds great hon, I’ll meet you at that cute lil bar next to the square?” Antonio nodded and clasped his hands together blowing her a kiss as he backed out of the apartment, leaving Billie to look at his latest creation. She followed the curve of her body down the canvas with her eyes picking out all the little details in her dress. She was gazing so intently at the intricate patterns on her shoes that she did not notice Mr. Clemente move silently behind her until he softly kissed her neck. Billie looked up forgetting Jackson for a brief moment. Mr. Clemente had intense brown eyes that did not look at her searchingly, the way Jackson’s did. He knew what he wanted. His certainty was compelling. Billie turned to face him. His brown eyes were dark, hungry. She felt her own expression melt from its surprise until it mirrored that of his face. His lips were so defined they looked fake. He wrapped a strong arm around her waist drawing her closer. He was now so close that she could make out each individual eyelash that framed his glittering eyes. She felt her heart quicken, her breath came in small gasps. She pressed her body into his and ran her fingers up through his hair pulling his lips to hers. Mr. Clemente kissed her sweetly but she could sense that he had a purpose. She kissed him again and again whilst he ripped her dress open. They stumbled back into her bedroom, Mr. Clemente kicking the door shut behind him. It was the middle of the day, the sun reaching its highest point. The air was so close. Sweat clung to their bodies as they lay there afterwards holding each other. Billie could feel the guilt rising up inside her as she thought of Jackson. Jackson who was so stressed right now. She bit her lip anxiously and pushed Mr. Clemente away. “This never happened, ‘kay doll?” she said forcefully. Mr. Clemente’s face fell but he nodded, dressed quickly and exited the room. * 65


“GOD DAMNIT, COL LEGNO NOT SPICCATO!” screamed Jackson at the string section. The violinists were getting on his nerves. They were incompetent players who were not open to his criticisms and appeared to have a blatant disregard to the musical directions on their sheets. The vein on his temple was twitching again. For what felt like the millionth time that night he dropped his arms to stop the swell of music. Turning his back on the players he took a swig from his hip flask. The Festival dell’Aurora was tomorrow. He shuddered slightly as the alcohol hit his system before turning back to the orchestra. “Dalla parte superior!” he called yet again. Darkness had fallen by the time Jackson stumbled out of the Opera Theatre. He hated violinists. He hated that Mr. Clemente. He staggered to a nearby phone box, drunkenly hammering in Billie’s number. “Hello?” “Billie!” “Jackson? Jackson honey, are you coming home anytime soon?” “I’m on my way now babydoll, just have a drink a-waiting for me.” “Honey, you sound like you been drinking an awful lot,” she drawled in a worried voice. “Carina, I swear I’m fine, just if I hear another violin, I swear, I will take a gun and shoot myself.” “Jackson! That’s such a horrible thing to say. You’re just stressed. You’ll feel better once the Festival starts. There was a pause and then a bang as the line went dead. Billie pulled at her hair anxiously. She was still sitting there on the chaise, nervously recalling the afternoon’s mistake, when Jackson fell through the door. “Oh my Signor, someone had bit too much bevande,” Antonio said winking as he closed the door behind Jackson. Jackson stared at him for a moment before roaring with laughter and clapping the artist on the back. Billie launched herself at him locking her arms around his neck. Jackson looked startled at her sudden overwhelming affection before hugging her back. Antonio moved beside them holding out a double whiskey. Jackson knocked it back without thinking. Antonio laughed again. His laughter had a slightly uneasy edge to it. Billie glared at him over Jackson’s shoulder. “Jackson, you must-a see my latest...ah...how you say, creation?” Billie nodded. “Sὶ, my latest creation!” He beckoned Jackson to the next room where he had hung the portrait of Billie. “Presentazione, the Scarlatti Tilt!” he said enthusiastically pulling the cover off the painting. Jackson stepped back from the painting. “It’s good’ he said, clapping Antonio’s back for the second time. “It is yours Signor Turner, so your amante will always be with you.” Jackson smiled warmly. “Thank you, Antonio. I love the dress, Billie, darlin’, will you go put it back on for me?” Billie nodded slowly heading for her bedroom. The dress was still lying on the floor from earlier, the front of it was ripped. She bit her lip. “Actually baby, I can’t find it...” she yelled, but was cut off by Jackson entering the room. His eyes flicked to the ripped dress then to her face. She fearfully chewed her lip. She made to speak but he took two swift steps over to her and grabbed the dress. He held the fabric to his face as he sniffed the material. “Cologne.” He started forward seizing her arm and sniffing her neck. “Cologne,” he repeated. The vein in his temple started to bulge. Suddenly, Jackson caught sight of a piece of material lying on the floor. It was Mr. Clemente’s silk red handkerchief. In the next room Antonio’s laugh came wafting through. Billie stood completely still keeping her mouth clamped shut even though Jackson’s grip was hurting her. He threw the dress to the ground and pulled his hand away from her sharply leaving angry red welts on her arm.

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“Play me something Maestro!” Antonio called merrily. Billie’s eyes widened. As the first few wailing, unpractised notes were bowed, Jackson roared, an animal sound that filled Billie with terror. His whole body was shaking and his face turned puce as his breath came in rasps. The veins on his arms were sticking up so violently it was as though small snakes were entwined around them. He banged through to the next room throwing chairs out of his way. “Jackson! JACKSON, NO!” Billie screamed, running after him. He twisted mid-step and threw her to the ground. Mr. Clemente was rigid with fright, his hands still tightly clutching his violin and bow. Jackson raised his arm and Mr. Clemente flinched as he brought his fist down and shattered the violin. Mr. Clemente was pitched onto the floor with the full force of the blow. “YOU AND BILLIE!” Jackson snarled. Mr. Clemente looked shell-shocked, he nodded his head frantically unable to deny or think. Jackson kicked Mr. Clemente in the face, splattering blood everywhere. Billie struggled up from the floor desperately trying to catch hold of Jackson’s flailing arms. Antonio had reached the telephone and was speaking urgently in Italian. Jackson snapped his head up and bellowed at him. Antonio started to yell into the phone, his pleads fraught and his voice catching. Jackson shoved Antonio out of the way as he made for the one locked cabinet in the apartment. Billie sobbed. She was lying in a pool of blood, some hers, most of it Mr. Clemente’s. He was not moving. Jackson could no longer hear her. Wrenching the cabinet open he found what he was looking for. “Jackson, please. Jackson, no. I love you, please, no,” Billie begged from the floor trying to crawl towards him. Jackson turned to look her straight in the eye. “You don’t love me, he has you.” Billie shook her head, choked with tears. “No, Jackson. No,” her voice was almost inaudible through thick blood that was now trickling down her throat. “All I have is the Scarlatti Tilt,” he whispered menacingly. “Not you. Never you.” He stepped over her and out onto the terrace. Not a second later the loud bang echoed around the apartment. Everything was still. Billie laid there, silent tears running down her face. * “So Ms. Scarlatti, you are suggesting to me that the deceased, a Mr. Jackson Turner of Meriwether County, Georgia, took his own life as well as the life of a Mr. Luciano Clemente?” “Yes, Officer, I am.” “And you are prepared to testify in Supreme Court under Oath that this is what happened?” “Yes, Officer, I am.” “Will you care to explain to me, exactly what would have driven Mr. Turner to take his own life and that of Mr. Clemente’s?” “Mr. Turner was a conductor. He was preparing for the Festival dell’Aurora and the violinists were not performing as well as expected. He was very stressed.” “I’m sorry Ma’am but I do not understand what his occupational problems have to do with this case.”

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“He told me on the phone that night, if he heard another violin he would lose it. Mr. Clemente was playing the violin...Mr. Turner has just found out about our affair.” “So, you and Mr. Clemente planned to kill him by tricking him into taking his own life?” “NO, SIR! That is not what happened at all!” “But it was your gun that was used to kill Mr. Turner?” The policeman slid Billie’s gun across the desk. She picked it up gingerly. “Yes, Sir, it was. But there was always going to be violin music, where we lived. Mr. Clemente was learning to play, you see.” “I do see Ms. Scarlatti. I would like to ask you one final question though if I may,” the policeman paused looking at her. “Go ahead.” “Do you think, in Mr. Turner’s mind and all factors considered that the violin music would drive him ‘crazy’ enough to commit suicide?” “It is very difficult to share a studio apartment with a man who is learning to play the violin,” she said to the policeman as she handed him the gun.

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Mythic Learnings The Mermaid’s Song Stephanie Burnett, Cults Academy

Closer and closer the light drew near. She felt the dawning surface draw upon her as she continued to swim, still, following the melodious drumming of the song. She’d heard it from so far off, outlying in the remote depths of the ocean; his gentle fingers strumming elegantly across coarse chords, holding tightly to and caressing every note before releasing it across the water, straight to her ears. She felt it like a calling, beckoning her to land; to where he sat, knees bent freely over the deck, music on his lap, feet hanging teasingly close to the lapping water below. As she surfaced, the heavy morning air thick and foreign to her taste, it was those feet she watched. Never had she felt so intrigued - so in awe - but behind the shock a fear grew, cold and black, an age old fear that was deeply imprinted within her core. Not even when she’d left the others behind, as her mothers and grandmothers had done once before her, had she felt so scared and out of depth. As a juvenile, she had lived with them in harmonious solitude until the time came when, like all before her, she would leave a fledgling and return a mermaid. But, of the rare few who remained, very few knew anything of men and those, like her birthmother, who did, never spoke of them. However, as she approached the deck, the sweet sinuous music pulling her close, she knew that whatever foretold and bequeathed fears of men would soon be tested, and the illusion vanquished. Following the call, she swam further, tail tickling the sea bed and pushing her precariously close to the deck and consequently, the man that resided upon it. She closed her eyes as she reached out to hold the wooden post that fed into the water. Damp, soft, worn. She wondered if his feet would feel the same, if she could just touch them, just once – suddenly she was on the deck, arms grasping the planked edges, eyes fixed ferociously on the boy - the man - in front of her. The music stopped. Careless fingers dropped the instrument, the mouth stuttered and paused dumbfounded, and his feet, his whole legs, rushed towards her. But she was shaking her head, terrified, an enigma of power growing within her as she continued to grasp at the planks – no, at arms, taking her, pulling her half out of the water. He was still staring into her eyes; she could feel it...she could control it. In that moment her eyes were like the ocean itself; both the bright shallows and the dark abyss. Slowly, gently, she let the ocean pull her back beneath, all the time holding on and taking him with her. He didn’t speak. Neither did she, but still they drifted deeper, further into the water, letting the power of her gaze engulf them both. Tentatively, she touched his face, his chest...his legs. Yours, the sea whispered as their heads submerged. Mine, she replied, running her fingers over them. She put her hand on his neck, taking his warmth and heart, kissing him softly then harder, fiercer, as her tail wrapped around him in a caged embrace and together they began to sink. 69


Apple Nada Ralston, Aberdeen Grammar School All alone in the centre of the table, Looking out of place. Plucked from nature for its enticing beauty. It’s unclear where one colour starts and the other stops, A swirling mess of oranges, yellows and reds. The dim light gives it a shimmer, Like a treasured jewel that has to be protected But the temptation to eat it is too strong‌

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The Dress (Extract) Molly Broadley, Cults Academy The design was simple and stylish: black with a silver embellishment down the left hand side of the lid that trailed down the back of the box before dipping out of sight. It was perched awkwardly on my lap, tipping over my knees every once in a while before I leant forward to catch the other side to heave it back on. It would have been easier to slide it to the floor to save the danger of damaging the packaging, but for some reason, I kept a tight grip. I could do little else but ogle at the sophisticated splendour of the box alone and wonder at the weight: it was deceptively heavy and not what I expected from a garment. My heart fluttering excitedly, my hands skittered over the lustrous lid, unsure whether, after all, they wanted to reveal what was hidden inside. This had all been triggered by a spur of the moment suggestion by my mother a few years ago; now we had finally got round to it, I was starting to regret agreeing to the idea. I was still sitting on the end of my mother's bed with the unopened package on my knee when she came in five minutes later. She looked slightly surprised as she realised I hadn't moved since she had dropped the box and abruptly dashed out of the room to answer the phone that was chirping impatiently in the distance. The bedroom door was open, and I instantly felt uncomfortable and stood to close it before any of my four siblings could appear to gawk. All of them have the honed skill of knowing precisely when something private is happening in the house and materializing to hover in the corner in ghastly curiosity... I didn't shut the door quick enough. My eldest sister barged in, face beaming as she realised something interesting was afoot. Mum leant over, ignoring the added presence, and lifted the lid of the box before unfolding dozens of gently packed sheets of ivory tissue paper. Eventually, she reached the buried treasure, and with a nostalgic half smile she lifted the dress and held it into the air. 'Take it.' She shook it towards me but her eyes were fixated longingly on the pale fabric. I stepped forward, in utter silence. My fingertips lightly pinched the material on the shoulders as the silk stroked my palms. I glanced at my mother. Her smile had slid to one side, pricking her right cheek. Her eyes seemed to swell and I saw myself reflected in the pupils, standing with my arms outstretched, enveloped in the wedding dress.

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The Sunshine State Jordan Anderson, Harlaw Academy The Sun is a religion, Warmth, its disciple. A hungry dog following its owner, A magnet of north to south, Attached. Evening appears, Sun lowers his head, And this is when the miracles occur, Water into wine, Blue sky in to divine Orange on Purple, with no exact divide. But he is only resting, surely? Surely? This beautiful sight, like an endless testament, Surely the eve will never end. Alas, betrayed by the unholy nightfall, In exchange for those silver coins Of darkness. And this is when heat the disciple fights the Roman chill, Eventually succumbing around midnight. The Sunshine State Becomes a cold, dark state. Upon his crucifix. Behind his stone. Then the stone is rolled back, And as I rise to the resurrection The only evidence of last night’s skirmish is the dew across The Green, Green Grass. The early morning birds sing like a holy choir, To the return of The Sunshine State.

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Untitled Chloe Gordon, Oldmachar Academy It was Halloween, such a clichÊd night for strange things to occur, but they did; and the dead did not care. That’s how the legends and stories came about, the night of the living dead was real and it was ready to torment anyone who didn’t believe in it. The thick black shrubs that lined the pathway shivered in the ice cold air, their rich venomous berries shining in the light from the single lamp-post that lit but a corner of the over-grown grassy trail. It stood tall like a proud demon hanging beside the trees and shone with a piercing white light that flickered as the wind grew stronger. The dishevelled slabs that had been thrown down to create a feeble path were barely visible and weakened, dead leaves blanketed the dew covered grass. The moonlight could barely punch a hole through the canvas of trees that shrouded the enclosed area. A small park was hidden in the corner, the rusted merry-go-round shrieked as it turned with the screams of the suffering. A small spring animal bobbed about with an eerie smile permanently tattooed to its face as it watched passers-by. The corners hid a secret, of demonic monsters waiting to pounce and tonight was the night that set them free. Darkness fell and set free the weakest of demons, a rustle from the bushes was all that disturbed the otherwise tranquil patch of land. Then came yet more darkness, unleashing the more aggressive demons, this time the light blacked out, the wind howled to the moon and the leaves on the trees were pushed and shoved until most fell away. Now the darkness was no more, the beaming moonlight froze the ghostly pathway and set free the most vicious demons of all. The merry-go-round screamed louder than ever, the pitch and volume increasing with every turn, the pain pierced the ears of anyone nearby and the windows in the few local houses smashed into a thousand pieces. Ten minutes of perfect bliss passed in the wooded area, not a creek or a screech. Then as midnight struck, the demons returned from their night of freedom, but they were not ready to rest quite yet. A youthful boy began pacing down the path in a rush to get home. The sinister atmosphere grew thicker around him the further he walked into the grassy area and the slower his walk became. Eventually he found it difficult to even move, his legs were being pushed back in a thick fog that rolled along the path. His arms were thrown into the air and he expelled a large gasp of air, a silent scream left his body and suddenly he flew into the thick shrubbery. Each bright red poisonous berry popped simultaneously and the rustle in the bushes silenced. There was no more movement other than the tiny twister that passed. The leaves rose from the ground in a swirl of wind, caught in a rapture as they danced in the moonlight. Rapidly the leaves dropped to the ground. The trees, still bare stood still and the light sparked back on. The animal on the spring was still smiling and still watching when sprung forward and back again with an evil, demented squeal.

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Epitaph for an American Bitch (Extract) Andrew Fowler, Cults Academy Every day the same: I quite disagree with mornings. In fact, I completely and openly oppose, detest and abhor them. The chirping birds bickering and nudging my ears relentlessly in a bid for acknowledgment, the burning light scorching my dozing face and blinding me, despite my tightly squeezed eyes, and finally, the evil overlord of mornings: an alarm clock with a tinny recorded voice. I was given it as a birthday present several years ago by dear old grandmamma and, at the time, I was very grateful. Unfortunately, I did not understand its curse back then. How foolish I was to accept such a burden without a moments thought or hesitation. The object appears at first to be a simple, standard clock: digital display and with a slightly retro fashion sense - plastic, metal and lots of right angles - but there, the similarity with its colleagues ends. The bedside ornament harbours a terrible secret: it is haunted by the ghost of an American woman who enjoys nothing better than to hear the sound of her voice each and every morning. And now I am placed with the responsibility of keeping her next to me while I sleep, exposed. I sometimes try to imagine who she was in her life: a news reporter? Most likely I think, with an upper class education, snooty attitude and blonde hair. Always looking down on people as if to say, “It’s 5:15. Oh! Didn’t you know?” But she died reporting in a clock factory whilst giving one of her unbearable speeches. Fell into machinery. Very sad. No one attended the funeral. And that is how she ended up as my room mate. I will be calmly doused in the splendour of a tranquil sleep when, at a sudden moment - often 7:30 - the American bitch screeches out in her cool voice“The time is…seven…thirty-two…AM…” Dear god, I don’t want to know the time; if I wanted that, I would look at the treacherous clock. I don’t need you and your cheap, disjointed, electric voice to grate the fact out to me, as if I didn’t already know what time I had set the alarm to.

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This is the 11th collection of higher and advanced higher creative writing produced by Children’s Services Team, Aberdeen City Libraries and English teachers in Aberdeen. It follows on from the latest Creative Writing Conference and includes, along with the young peoples’ work, contributions from the writers who led the workshops in September 2011.

Profile for Jacqueline Adam

Northern Writes 2011  

Collection of writing following the Northern Writes Creative Writing Conference in September 2011

Northern Writes 2011  

Collection of writing following the Northern Writes Creative Writing Conference in September 2011

Profile for jmadam
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