Story Competition Winners - Aged 11-14

1st Place - Emily Warner

I’m sick, I know that, but I have the kind of sickness that won’t get better, the kind that will only get worse. I’m scared, I’m always scared because I know that soon I won’t remember. I dread the day that my wife will come and I’ll say, “Who are you?”  I am scared, sorry, did I already mention that?  Dementia, that’s what it’s called, dementia.   

Typing this even is making my calloused hands tremble over the keys from fear because my mind has gone blank. I can see and feel the memories but I just can’t quite reach them to focus the blurred images. “It’s completely normal to feel this way.” That’s what the doctors say. I know I should listen but I can’t, and yes, I worry. I am going to write about my discovery, the one that seems so small, but to me was my salvation. Please don’t laugh and tell me it’s stupid and please read until the end. I promise you, one day you will be glad you did.

My brother, he is dead. I know who he is because I have recorded every single detail in my journal but I couldn’t remember his face, how he died. The pencil lines are thick and dusted with graphite because I was angry, so angry. Here is what I wrote.

January 2nd 1941
He’s gone. The casual, but confidant swagger that inhabited his every step and the glint of mirth in his eye as he cocked his head to the side. You knew you’d got him when he did that nonchalant smile, you knew that he was laughing. He would always fire a witty comment back that left us sore from laughter. He was the kind of person who told the jokes that could brighten your mind days after. I remember my friends would find me chuckling to myself and roll their eyes in a ‘he’s laughing at another of his brother’s pathetic jokes’ way. They have stopped doing that now he’s dead.

I need this journal because it contains this precious memory. I need it so badly that I would die for it.

It’s something so simple, a single word in fact that prompted me to draw back the memories that cling to the base of my hollow skull. “Just try to remember something,” soothed my doctor.

Remember something.

Remember.

And that was all I needed for the pictures to come rushing back. My brother with his brow creased and that familiar dimple in his left cheek. He was going to die, I knew it and he knew it. He was serving for the army in a suicide mission. I can see how he turned to behold my upturned face, stained with infinite tears and the sad half smile that pushed the tears from his eyes. “Don’t go,” I choked, seeing the hard resolve in his eyes. “Cameron,” he wept, “Always remember me.”
That’s it. He said to remember and I have.

Despite dementia.

I remembered.

2nd Place - Adam Boyce

Jack was going home from the pub. He was heading back to his dull, dull apartment, drunk. I would not know, but I imagine being drunk would mess with your vision – shed light on things not previously noticed, and this happened to Jack today. He saw a crack in the road, and came to a halt. In the hole, was an amazing…ly average piece of equipment. A stopwatch, of which none of its features were out of the ordinary. Any normal person would have stopped, put it down, and walked away. But Jack was intrigued. He was intrigued by a lot of things, for instance the hole that started all of this. But Jack had a strange feeling about this. He did not like the feeling, but he felt he had to examine this further…

            In the morning, while nursing his hangover, (I may over or under exaggerate the concept of hangover, as I have no idea what it is like,) Jack had forgotten everything. The crack in the road, the stopwatch – everything. This made the fact that he had put the stopwatch in his cereal box all the more rewarding. That feeling had returned, and he was pressing the button to start it before he even forgot about the excruciating pain his headache was causing.

            Jack had now been transformed. You see, this was no ordinary stopwatch. If it was, this would the most anti-climactic short story ever written. But this was more extraordinary than any stopwatch a boring person’s mind could think of. (Luckily, I’m not boring, so this story was born.) This stopwatch had paused time in Jack’s brain, and a demon from hell, with red eyes, had taken his mind over. This was, unfortunately, the bad demon’s stopwatch. The good demon’s stopwatch story could come next year, if this competition is around then. This bad demon, however, was diabolical. He was bad at everything – even lying! He was bad at treating people well, he was bad at controlling himself. This makes him positively evil, (as he got in a fight with and killed his conscience). He had not been allowed into the human world for 10,000 years, so he decided to cause some unholy mischief…

            “Order, order!”

            “The jury finds the defendant… Guilty!”

            “I hereby sentence you to ……. years in prison.

            These were the only three phrases that Jack had heard over the course of the 24 hours he had spent under the control of the demon. He could not process them in his mind, as he was not deciding what to think about, say or even do.

            In a flash, Jack awoke, and found himself gnawing at the bars of his cell, in prison. He saw 3 guards shout at him to stop, all crowded around that small hole in the door that you find in cells. He was only inches away from them, but they still did not notice the change of eyes, from the evil eyes of red to Jack’s own blue.

3rd Place - Kaitlin Wilson

Kelly opened her eyes, brushing the sand off her face. Where was she? How had she got there? Kelly sat up and looked around. She was on a beach and water was lapping at her toes, yearning to surpass the previous wave. Then it all came back to her in a deluge of recollection. She had been on a beach day out with her friend Lola-Marie at the lake Loch Lochrie… 

“Apparently, if you dig down far enough, you can get to Australia!” Kelly enthused digging the damp sand quickly and efficiently.

“Hmmm… Maybe.” Lola-Marie replied. Kelly yelled to Lola-Marie that she had found something.

“What is it?” Lola-Marie gasped, jumping to her feet.

“It’s a gemstone!” Kelly cried holding it up to the light. “A beautiful green one at that!” 

They put the gem in their backpack and tried out their new rowing boat on the clean water. 

They quietly rowed on the tranquil water in their small boat, Lola-Marie looking over the side in an anxious manner, Kelly’s flaming red hair fanning out in the Spring breeze. Lola’s, however, quite the opposite, in her tight, blonde, sensible bun. Lola-Marie was clutching the sides of the boat, looking nauseous and quite shaken, whereas her vivacious friend was whole-heartedly rowing, her freckled face scrunched up in concentration as she rowed. 

Out of the blue, the miniature boat hit something just below the water. The girls glimpsed over the edge of the boat to see a circular platform just below the water.

“What is it?” Lola-Marie stuttered.

“I don’t know.” Kelly replied, reaching out towards the platform. Kelly’s fingers skimmed the white ledge. “Look, there’s an indent in the stone! It says below the dent…” Kelly squinted at the writing. “The emerald of Loch Ness!”

“Hey, remember the gemstone we found?!” Lola-Marie exclaimed. “That looked like an emerald!”

“You’re right!” Kelly realised pulling the jewel out of the backpack. “That must fit in the indent!” Kelly leaned out of the boat with the emerald and placed it in the dent. They waited a moment. “Nothing’s happened.” Lola-Marie pronounced, disappointed.

Suddenly the water started to evaporate and the girls were engulfed in steam. Kelly and Lola-Marie yelled as they and their boat were sub-consciously floating further down to the bottom of the lake as more and more water disappeared. The girls hit the bottom of the lake only to find that it wasn’t a lake but an undersea town. There were houses on streets covered in seaweed, a tiled village square and the boat was currently sitting on a flower bed. They could see that they were still beside the ledge with the emerald in, so Kelly removed the emerald. Just then, they were catapulted skywards and landed on the beach. Then Kelly had awoken.

Kelly had realised what had happened, so she scrambled to her feet and looked at the lake. It had refilled and was now as it had always been. “What a discovery!” Kelly and Lola-Marie breathed simultaneously.