The Raven

2015

Autumn

Crystal Clear

André Stanley, Year 12

“I’m home,” were the words that echoed through his hollow apartment and met with no response. David was consistent in his unavailing attempts to obtain closure in what he considered was his desolate life. A dead-end accounting job and failure on the human relationships front, the constant buzzing of traffic forty-six stories below were, bleakly and often, his only companions. Apartment Building 12, a cheap, late on maintenance and rundown repossessed office building retrofitted into a substandard residence that David was imposed to live within, an adult sized guinea pig cage.  In this part of town, row upon row of apartment and office buildings had been planted like a crazy architect’s vegetable garden.  Opposite to David’s monolithic row stood a state-of-the-art apartment block – Apartment Building 13, separated by ten lanes of roadway, unreachable by David.  He was however unaffected by this seemingly juxtaposed state of living as he had her.  The woman who lived on the forty-sixth floor of Block 13… his very own Eve.

Proceeding the habitual hanging of his jacket, pouring a glass of wine and checking the cameras, David was struck by the obvious silence that walked his hallways.  “My day was fairly monotonous,” he said to the photograph.  “Matt was trying to grab the attention of Hannah but then… Matt, the socially reptilian master….”.  Matt, a fellow office worker who seemed to be the exact opposite of David, had a strong head of hair and gifted facial features, irresistible to almost any woman.  With a jealous obsession David often studied key aspects of Matt’s personality and features as a hobby.  Whether that be his unnecessarily long hair length, always making any woman giggle whenever he wanted her to or his signature golden ring with three ocean blue sapphires encrusted in the surface.  A one of a kind accessory, hypnotizing to any money-hungry woman.  David rambled on about his jealousies of Matt to the photographs in his living room in an attempt to disrupt the quiet, a normal strategy that he used every evening in order to comfort himself and to expel some energy.  Self-soothing.

Differing from the ordinary ornamental items that hang on walls of family homes, David was quite fond of displaying his own photographs in collages around his apartment.  On the walls of his entry hallway, around the kitchen and in his bedroom, a single room was never without a photograph.  Lounging on the sofa David gazed past the tripod and through his window looking directly towards her living room.  No lights were on.  She is not home.  “Probably out partying again,” he snickered.  She had left her blinds to her bedroom open this time.  David could not resist the urge to pry.  The room was chaos.  A bed that was not made, the sheets covered almost every part of her room but the mattress, click.  Copious amounts of clothes covered the room from one corner to the next, click.  David could not distinguish where one piece of clothing started and the other one ended, click.  The wardrobe was spewing forth rather than sucking in.  The unpredictable and disorganized nature of her life style excited David.  All of her apartment was a clutter, so finally witnessing the bedroom’s state was no surprise to him.  He was the opposite.  Keeping a very organized and structured living area was very important to David.  His stomach grumbled, breaking his eagle focus.  It was time for dinner.

Classical orchestra filled the air throughout the forty-sixth floor, a personal favourite genre of David’s.  Cooking dinner was one of the few ways that he could really express himself.  David began to assemble ingredients, taking utensils and pans out as he prepared, whilst also being accompanied by a generous glass of Shiraz, a most favoured assistant in the kitchen.  “Tonight’s meal will be parmesan-crumbled lambs brains,” he announced to his collage on the kitchen wall as he began cooking.  Producing a meal held more significance to him than just the physicality of the dish.  It wasn’t just about using the perfect ingredients or having a flawless technique, but the emotion and energy that surged through the essence of the meal.  Every manoeuvre David made reverberated with a master’s technique, making it appear to be progressively easier as he constructed each delicious component.  Concomitantly he assembled the dinner table.  A rose red tablecloth draped over each end with freshly polished silverware laying atop, lit up by candlelight.  A lone photograph lay rested against the base of the candle stand.  A glamorous display was nothing but orderly in David’s dinner preparation ritual.

“Ah, dinner is ready,” David rings.  Lifting the lid off the pan, a beautiful aroma strikes almost instantly, an obvious sign of success.  To his delight, he had yet again created a marvelous dish.  He never felt alone at dinner, as he always had her by his side.  Smirking, like a juvenile boy, every time he looked up at the photograph while he ate, he spent countless time with her, just looking.  As the last drip of wax melted off the candle a spark of light was captured in the side of David’s eye – she had arrived home.

Rushing over to his window, David frantically set up the camera stand.  Amongst the overwhelming excitement he did not attach the zoom lens.  She looked exhausted.  “Definitely been out partying again,” David said in pride to himself whilst she walked into the kitchen to freshen up.  Crouched down leaning up against the window, in a highly vulnerable position to be seen, he watched her.  The underlying thrill of risk at being caught was a drug in itself for David, turning him into an adrenaline junky within these high-risk moments.  The pre-eminence of her beauty seemed to radiate more so through a lens to David.  She started to move towards the bedroom, click.  He could feel his heartbeat rising, pumping even more vigorously the more he focused.  Arriving at the bed she slowly began to lift her shirt, click.  Stopping just before revealing any breast and dropping the shirt back, kneeling down to the floor looking like she had dropped something underneath her bed, click.  As she stood up she looked up directly in David’s direction.  Instantaneously he dived like an acrobat out of the way, knocking over everything in his path including the tripod and camera, an eventual burst of his stored up adrenaline.  Agitatedly crawling underneath his dining table, he was stuck in a pit of embarrassment.  David was left unaware of whether she had finally seen him or not – only time would tell.

Waking a few hours later with a horrible neck stiffness, David crawled out of his cover.  Slowly, like a mouse at midnight trying to step without a sound, he made his way over to the battered camera.  Looking over at her apartment building, he noticed that she had gone to bed and turned off all the lights.  “Thank goodness she did not see me,” he thought in relief.  Raising the camera from the floor he saw there was still three percent battery, a last drip of power, just enough to check if the photos were saved.  As he shifted through the photo library of the camera he noticed that one photo had a particularly strange glare.  Originating from her bedside table, an object was reflecting the lights from the traffic below.  Intrigued by what it was exactly, David attached the zoom lens and had a second peek at her room.  Eagerly zooming in, David had just enough light glowing from below to highlight the object’s ghastly qualities… three ocean blue sapphires, encrusted within a glistening golden ring.

The Secret

Alexander Perry, Year 12

It is 6:48 pm.  I look out at the beauty of Agra.  I see the yellow glow as the sun kisses the top of the Taj Mahal and as it sinks over the horizon.  I see the man selling watches on the street corner.  I see a plume of smoke in the distance, and the skyscrapers looming over the city.  I am waiting for Shankar to return home.  Every night at 7:00 pm he comes home and I take him inside.  At last, I see Shankar running towards me.  He looks pale, and his hand feels cold and shaky on my arm.

“Qzki utf ingh.”

“Go inside Shankar, I will join you in a moment.”

“Upmf.”

I ache for the young boy, trapped inside a mind that will not let him show his true self.  I yearn for the day I can talk to him once again, and he can talk to me.  I go inside, and join the rest of the kids at dinner.

The next day, Shankar does not go out, but instead stays in his room.  I sense a disturbance in the peace that had settled over my home.  Something is coming, I can feel the sense of dread in my stomach, the anticipation of change, and it is not a feeling I welcome, nor experience regularly.  I take a breath and focus on the matter at hand: Ram, the new boy.  He has become something of a star around here – speaking English and working as an unofficial guide in the Taj Mahal.  At least he pays his fees, however illegal his job is.  There is a knock on my door.

“Come in.”

It is Ram and my stomach fills with dread.

“Yes, why have you come to bother me?” I ask.

He has a stony, yet triumphant look on his face.  “I have discovered your secret Swapna Devi.  I have discovered that Shankar is your son.”

A feeling of trepidation envelops me and I am unable to quell the uneasiness that has engulfed me.  He can’t possibly know, can he?  Even if he did, he can’t prove it.  I cannot admit Shankar is my son, it will change everything.  I regain my composure.

“You worthless boy, how dare you make such a scurrilous allegation?  I have no relationship with Shankar.  Just because I showed a little bit of sympathy for that boy, you made him my son?  Get out of here right now, or I will have you thrown out.”  I am almost yelling, furious that he has found out, but terrified of the repercussions this could cause.

“I will go,” Ram tells me, “but only after collecting four lakh rupees from you.  I need the money for Shankar’s treatment.  He has contracted rabies,” Ram reveals.

My heart jumps into my throat, a chill runs down my spine, seeping into every inch of my body.  I notice myself shaking.  “No,” I think to myself, “I cannot give in to this insolent child’s requests”.

“Are you out of your mind?  You think I will give you four lakhs?” I retort.

“But if I don’t get the money, Shankar will die of hydrophobia within twenty-four hours.”

He is lying.  He has to be.  He just wants my money, and I am becoming fed up with the conversation.

“I don’t care what you do, but don’t bother me.  Perhaps it is for the best that he dies.  The poor boy will be put out of his misery.  And don’t you dare repeat that lie to anyone about him being my son.”

His eyes widen, his jaw drops, he looks dumbfounded at what I have just said.  His eyes begin to tear up and he leaves the room.  There is emptiness inside me.  Five minutes ago my biggest worry was what I could do to reduce living costs of each of the children, but now, it is that my son is dying.  I have trouble sleeping that night.  My heart feels polluted, contaminated with a feeling I so rarely experience: fear.  My head is cloudy with thoughts, none of which are positive.  Sleep finally overtakes me.

I go about my day as normal, trying to shut Shankar out of my mind.  Nevertheless, I can feel it.  A parasite slowly infecting every positive thought in my mind, clawing its way into every crevice.  By the end of the day, I am tired.  I sit out on the patio.  I take joy in watching the sun set.  I look out at the beauty of Agra.  I see the yellow glow as the sun kisses the top of the Taj Mahal and as it sinks over the horizon.  I see the man selling watches on the street corner.  I see a plume of smoke in the distance, and the skyscrapers looming over the city.  I am waiting for Shankar to return home.  Every night at 7:00 pm he comes home, and I take him inside.

Eventually, I see him, stumbling through the street towards me.  He decided to go out after all.  I take him to his room and lay him down, praying silently for his recovery.

My mind is weary. My thoughts are jumbled and fragmented.

“Ykql nj kmpt,” rambles Shankar.

I can hear the fear in his voice and see it in his eyes.  I choke back tears.

His body is clammy and weak.  I pull him into a tight hug.  I feel his tears fall onto my kabeez.  I pull myself from his embrace.  He lies down again.

“I will keep you in my prayers, Shankar.”

“Ift unj ibz.”

I return to my room.  My heart feels as if it has a thousand knives piercing it.  I lay down on my bed and sleep overtakes me.

I am on the floor, the room is blurry and out of focus.  I see two figures, one lying on the bed and the other standing over him.  They look like children, both small and thin.  I try to get closer but I am unable to move, trapped to this ethereal body.  I see the figure on the bed double over, and see a scarlet liquid expel from his mouth.  He lies back down on the bed.  I see the figure standing over him raise his hand to his face, stroking it.  The standing figure bends down to embrace the other boy, then turns to me, and points.  The figure then opens his mouth and a surge of rage-filled words rush past through me, deafening me.  I jolt awake.  The sheets stick to my skin, beads of sweat run down my forehead, adrenaline courses through my veins.  I dress and prepare for the meeting.

The next morning begins like any other.  I am in a meeting with my associates.

One of them is talking, “If the boy’s parents press charges we’re in deep…”

The door clicks open and time seems to slow down.  I see the man next to me turn, the fly buzzing around the light, the drop of water running down the glass.  I look at the clock tick, tick, tick.  Two blurred figures step through the door.  I cannot make out their faces. I hear the gasp of my partners, the tiny scream of the girl next to me and the blurred faces come into focus.  It is Ram.  He is holding Shankar’s lifeless body.  I am paralyzed with shock.  This can’t be, this simply cannot be happening.  He lays his body down on the table.  I feel like I could cough up my heart.  I see his still face, unmoving body and his closed eyes.

Ram begins to speak.  “Mrs Swapna Devi, if this is your palace, and you are its queen, then acknowledge the prince.  I have come to deliver the dead body of your son Kunwar Shankar Singh Gautam to you…”

“No…” I whisper under my breath.

“He died half an hour ago, in the outhouse where you have kept him hidden all these years…”

“No…”

“You did not pay for his treatment.  You did not fulfill the duty of a mother.”

“No…”

“Now honour your obligation as a landlady.  Please pay for the funeral of your penniless tenant.”

Liquid realization seeps into my brain, numbing it.  I let my son die – it feels like sandpaper across my brain.  He then leaves the room; all the eyes are on me, piercing me with contempt.

I step outside.

I look out at the beauty of Agra.  I see the yellow glow as the sun kisses the top of the Taj Mahal and as it sinks over the horizon.  I see the man selling watches on the street corner.  I see a plume of smoke in the distance, and the skyscrapers looming over the city.  I am waiting for Shankar to return home.  Every night at 7:00 pm he comes home and I take him inside.  Countless hours later, I am still waiting for my Shankar to come home.

United States, 2015

Liam Vaughan, Year 11

Lincoln!  Where is your freedom in this age?
Liberty yearns for wisdom, to reignite the fire,
That once was an object of the world’s desire.
You once freed the South from discrimination’s cage,
But now you’ve been lost in history’s page;
Your efforts bogged down in time’s vast mire,
America’s beacon of hope, once the world’s tallest spire,
Corrupted by prejudice, hate, injustice, and rage.
What unity is to be found when all are not the same?
When society judges based on colour and race?
America has conquered the land, sea and space,
But within she remains a deeply divided nation.
A hive of greed, unrest, conflict, and blame
‘Till her people live in harmonious confederation.

These Streets of Mine

Peter Cooke, Year 11

I wander down these streets of mine
Thoughts on shadows, I have behind
And mark each face’s glow
As their batteries begin to get low.

In every bleep and jingle
In every marimba tune
In every phone, laptop, kindle
Their lights like hellish moons.

How the people’s souls cry!
For the sound of a voice
Ev’ry one, a voice too shy
If they could see, then rejoice

That their lives have become shackl’d
Their faces have become addl’d
Indentured to their devices
O!  If only they could see what they have become!

Facebook Torment

Ben Skelton, Year 9

Jim tapped his fingers nervously, drumming on the wooden steps to the beat of his heart, quickly.  He gazed blankly at the illuminated screen of his phone.  Hours passed and as the battery continued to sink, the messages continued to appear.  It was not the first group chat on Facebook that had been dedicated to Jim, dedicated for the purpose of mentally torturing him, crushing any self-confidence or will he had.  There was no escape – he had been hooked.  Sure, insulting messages appeared over and over but a positive one might arrive, maybe, someday, Jim thought to himself.  The pain began to bubble up inside him, but he was too weak to get up, too weak to look away, instead he sunk.  Sliding down the hard wooden stairs, hitting his head on each one, and came to rest at the landing in the living room.

The living room and all adjoining rooms were quite simple and mostly functional.  No decorations or objects were placed for aesthetics apart from one old sunflower in a cracked pot, its leaves black and crumpled.  Jim’s phone finally burnt up, its last energy and went dark, much like how its owner felt.  Jim eased himself up, a scowl and a look of misery present upon his face and trudged over to the sole two-person couch.  No more room was necessary since his Dad had passed.

The front door swung open and a knock on the adjacent wall followed.  “Jim!  I’m home,” his mother called out.  “How was your day?”

Jim grunted a response, not forming any actual words and sunk back into the couch.  His Mum walked into the room carrying a single plastic shopping bag and wearing a uniform from the local grocery store.

She noticed the phone beside him and proceeded to prompt him.  “No Jim, you didn’t?  You can’t keep looking at what those bullies are saying about you; you’re killing yourself!” she insisted.

“No I ….” Jim spluttered.  “It’s not fair.  Why do I have to be the one receiving this abuse, no one else, just me!”?

“You just have to learn how to ig…”

“No!” he interrupted.  “Nothing is ever going to change and it doesn’t stay at school.  With social media they can torment me whenever they like.  I’ve tried going on without it but I can’t.  There’s no escape!”  Jim stormed off angrily.

There was nothing his mother could do.  She had tried countless times with no change or reward.  Jim took refuge in his bedroom, one of the few places where he was alone with his thoughts; no distraction or outside opinion.  His bed was small with thin sheets covering it.  Besides the old chipped desk, it was the only furniture in his room.  The lack of luxury did not stop Jim from using the few possessions he owned and was eager to escape his reality to enjoy his dream world.

When Jim awoke the next day he was happy for an instant until he remembered the endless torment that would await him in this new day.  Though the weather was beautiful, as sunshine streamed through all the windows bringing light to an otherwise dark life, this was all Jim could think about.  He exited his room, paid a brief visit to the bathroom and walked into the kitchen.  His phone awaited him, fully charged and ready to deliver a new wave of pain.

The smell of bacon and eggs wafted through the air as Jim’s mum appeared before him.  “Hungry?” she asked, a hopeful look upon her face.

“No thanks,” Jim grumbled, as he gathered his things for school.  You don’t have much of an appetite when you’re constantly depressed, he found.  He quickly got ready and rushed out of the house before any further conversation could be made, snatching up his phone as he left.  The screen illuminated as he pressed the power button down hard.  Hateful messages piled up on the screen, each more painful to read than the next.

Before Jim knew what he was doing, he had unlocked his phone and had replied to the latest message, “Just leave me the hell alone!”  Ignorantly thinking his problems were solved, Jim placed his phone back in his pocket, where it continued to vibrate with message alerts.

The rest of the walk to school was short but lonely.  Many thoughts entered Jim’s mind, but all ended in the sole depressing thought the constant bullying had left him with – “When was it going to end?”

After trawling around the school for about half an hour, clouds began to break out across the sky, giving an ominous ligh.  The school bell rang, tearing through the silence of the school.  Jim checked one final message before entering his class: “We’re coming for you.”  Jim gulped heavily and entered the class, the door creaking eerily as it closed.  He turned to face an empty seat and noticed a boy smiling crookedly at him.  Jim ignored him and sat down, attempting to forget what had previously transpired, but he couldn’t resist another look at the boy who, while still smiling, gave him a slow, evil wink.  Goosebumps rose all over his body and he opened his textbook.  He felt his phone vibrate, then again and for a third time.  Jim stole another glance at the creepy boy and received another wink.  This time Jim was sure of the intent.  Jim stood and began to walk to the exit of the class, slowly picking up pace and ignoring the teacher’s requests to sit back down.  One request stood out.  “Where do you think you’re going?” the student had asked.

Jim began to run.  He burst through the door and came face to face with four of the bullies from the group chat.  Their faces showed wicked enjoyment and hate, their muscles rippling with anger present.  Jim yelped in shock and turned a corner, desperate to escape the clutches of the bullies.  He turned another corner and was blocked by another group of bullies, incredibly similar to the first.  “Your luck’s run out,” one of them stated, as if it was fact.  Jim started to tremble, sweat running down his skin, almost instantly soaking him.  He began to whimper and cry, praying for someone to help, but to his dismay, none came.  “Don’t worry.  Everything will be over soon,” one of them sniggered.

Korsakoff or Truth? The Last of 70

Lewis Orr, Year 7

Here you will meet a young boy with a passion for recollection, a man with thunder on his heels and the battle they share for the determination of justice.  Thou shalt peruse the lines of a stiff and turgid epic, a sparse and awkward pondering, and a stark and lonely end.  May you, dear reader, enjoy the bitter taste of this narrative!

Korsakoff or Truth?  The Last of 70

or

The Gunshot

The debut work of Christopher Jordan.

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.  ‘Tis the business of little minds to … pursue their principles unto death.”

– Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

– G.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

Korsakoff or Truth?  The Last of 70 

I open the door.  A bit ponderous, life seems to slow as I grab my items and walk to class.  I exchange some greetings, shake some hands, nod my head some number of times, but it’s all on the periphery.  Somehow, today, I feel a bit detached.  Unusually solemn, and sincere.  Somehow, I think today should be different.  It should start with some reflection.

My family and its culture, whether by heritage or history, has long been defined by a set of moral principles gleaned from the actions and experiences of its members’ pasts.  As time goes on we have become more and more rigorously attentive in upholding these principles such that they have been fully integrated within every one of us relatives as a value code.

With family lost and sentiment rent, His resolve and fury begin to augment.

One of these particular values is to never lose control of one’s anger, and to never let the bitterness you save for life run away from you.  To channel it, or to inverse its severity in transmutation to some other less volatile emotion – that is the way of self-control and self-discipline, and that is the way we were taught.

We were also shown to never run from our enemies, and to never stand down in the face of adversity. But –

…With passion and ardour, he runs like the wind, And alas, the Japs render him much chagrinned.

– There must be some line to be drawn upon this matter, for there are unshakeable conflicts, unassailable contentions, and futile wars.  I am sure many a relative of mine has at some point in time failed to uphold this moral.  Yet –

Bullets and shrapnel pepper loam ahead, But Li doth try to cover his head.

– To never desist, to always uphold what one thinks is right – that is a standard never broken, always met.  For I know that in all hours of every waking day my father and all those who came before him would strive until the very point of death to pursue the endorsement of their beliefs and values.

To perhaps unnecessarily further the rigidity of this, we were even told that even when we heard –

The sign of a comrade now dead in the grass; A penultimate scream, with him as the last.  But Li laboured on, until he fell down,
to a bullet in the leg and a crop to the crown.

– a sign that perhaps all is not what it seems, we were to linger on, persist in any journey to attain our goal, whether it take any form or shape.

Now my grandfather, see.  He was called –

Li, though of small remembrance for a long while, Saw an image of Aimi and Akiko’s broad smile.  For alas, he had not fallen dead in the fray, but rather run down and been taken away.

– many things for loving my grandmother, for sympathizing with a nationality that was perhaps not to the liking of every person in his own family.  But he persisted, recognizing his own affection to both himself and his relations, and thus to love, and always admit this, became a value integrated within the family code.  So even when –

He looked around. Dank and enclosed.  Sanguinary across the visible surfaces.

– he was labeled an –

“Idō!” roared the man.  Li stumbled to his feet, giving a submissive nod.  To his surprise, the man brooked a smile, but only before upturning him with a bloodying kick to the head.

– individual of betrayal, of distrust, of disloyalty – he stood true, and even his own family, amidst such turbid conflict with him, could accept that.  They could respect that.  For even the flame of love cannot die –

Out on the battlefield, Li stood alongside his fellow soldiers and before a squad of men, their weapons cocked and leveled at his head.

– out so easily, and even when she passed, now but a single memory of a clouded myriad, he could still admit with proud resolve that he had always and never would stop loving her.

“Do you still love them, Bumi?” said the foremost man, who spoke haltingly in stiff Hokkien.  “Them in their rotten corpses?”

“Forever, Sir.”

“What a shame then… that their bodies now lie raped, dead, burnt.  Your mistake, Bumi… you should have let them remain where they lay.”

But although this may be perhaps the most sincere moral of them all, Father often used to say that our greatest and most profound value, however, was to know when to leave, and when the end comes, to stand proud before life’s executioner.  To thank the gods in the heavens above and know that soon you will see your beloved again.  To know that before the last star fades and the skies upturn that you would be with them once more.  That you would feel them in your warm embrace, and you could touch their brow and know that they would always be there, never to leave again…

And with that the bullets flew and he was forever gone, lost to the world, but never…

…To the hearts of many people, who would never forget the moment in time of that…

That’s one I don’t really understand.

You know, it’s funny.  Just then, as I entered the room, took my seat and gave a wistful sigh, I could’ve sworn I heard a –

gunshot !

Vantage

Alexander Allcock, Year 11

Man!  So filled with greed and sin,
Sees no more the valley’s allure,
Nor glistening waves on verdant shore,
The common man will see no more,
Of the winds that blow with reassuring warmth,
Nor the flowers that bloom with hope,
When the skies burn with silence
And the only tweets we hear are from our phone,
We must reap what has been sown.

When greed puts aside our care,
Our future will neither be here nor there,
But in the turbulence of a storm,
Of fiery rains and sickle winds,
Where man should never tread.

They unknowingly mourn,
The forgone beauty of the land.
Their office block an iron pen,
Never to see the light of day again.

Vanilla Milkshake

Charlie Harding, Year 9

“One vanilla milkshake please,” said Jed.

“Sure that will be $3.50,” replied the shop manager.  Jed walked out of the milk bar looking into a mist of haze and felt the sting of sea-salt in his eyes.  He walked onto the damp, soft, white sand with his icy, frothy milkshake.  He was watching his favourite surfer, John John Florence, destroy the other surfers with his unparalleled moves.  Jed sat down on the crystal white sand and started to sip on his milkshake.  Oddly though, instead of the expected flavour, all he could taste was salt.  There was nothing vanillary about the milkshake.  Odd.

“John John is digging his hands right into the water to get over a set that is coming through from out the back,” shouted the commentators.

“Ohhhhh,” the spectators groaned as John John was dumped.  He had just copped one of the biggest sets of the day straight on the head.  He was held down for eons, over forty seconds of being tossed and turned.  Jed then went to take another big gulp of his vanilla milkshake, but again all he could taste was salt water.

Jed scrambled across the sand and asked one of his best friends.  “Chris, can you please try this milkshake?  All I can taste is salt.”

Chris then took a gulp of the milkshake.  “Nah Jed, you’re crazy.  It’s one of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had!  It’s so vanillary and cold,” replied Chris.

With a puzzled looked on his face, Jed returned to his warm seat in the sand wondering what was happening.  There was another huge set out the back that was rolling straight through where John John was sitting.  As John John went to duck dive, Jed took another swig of his vanilla milkshake and half way through Jed was surprised because again all he could taste was salt.

Weirdly Jed found himself paddling seriously hard to get out the back.  Jed didn’t really like big waves, but today he didn’t have any choice and he was stuck out the back.  Strange thing was that he couldn’t remember ever getting in the water.  He then had a quick look at the beach and where he had been sitting drinking his milkshake was full with a huge crowd.  Then he saw that John John was sitting right in his spot.  “What on earth is happening?” Jed said to himself.  There were only two minutes left in the contest and there was a ginormous set that was coming through.  Jed had to go, it was the last wave in the set and also the biggest.  He then suddenly took off from the drop of the wave and flew about two metres down from the top of the wave.  All he saw was the crystal clear water that peeled over his head.  He also saw the other surfers sitting on the shoulder of the wave with their mouths wide open as they watched Jed get this ridiculous barrel which could be the wave of the comp.  Jed knew that the barrel was going to end so he started to pump really hard to get out of it.  Once he came out of the ten foot peeling drainer he saw that there was a section coming up and he could land an immense trick.  Jed started to pump and pump to increase his speed to land this marvelous trick.

Jed hit the lip and launched off into the great blue sky trying to land an air reverse.

“Click Click!” Jed heard.  No one ever took photos of him so now he knew for sure that somehow, magically and mystically, the milkshake had transformed him into John John Florence.

Nature’s Batting Crease

Andrew Lesslie, Year 11

Imagine the view of outstretched field;
Cleared of lump and stump and thicket
Cut grass, scented with herbal coumarin revealed
Surrounding the flat and unbroken wicket.
Smacking of willow against fizzing of leather
Then the roar of joy as bails tumble
What simple pleasure
Helps us forget our trouble.

O, Nature!  Have we forgot?
Confined within our concrete forest
The feelings held most dear
And consequences most horrid.
We have been consumed by digital wealth
And with tapping and typing
We have destroyed dear Nature by stealth;
By slowly disconnecting.

Subtle Justice

James Oakley, Year 9

It was a Monday.  It was wet, cold and it was my first day back at school.  I hated school.  It’s as cruel as the fieriest hell.  Lachie always taunted me and made me feel like rubbish.  That morning I put my uniform on, ate a small, rationed bowl of cereal, and began my commute to the far away train station.

“See ya, Dean,” yelled Dad from the back room of the house, where he was looking for jobs on the Internet.

As the train departed, I wondered what I was going to have for lunch or if I was going to even have lunch.  Dad was unemployed and some days we couldn’t even eat at all.  I began to remember when Mum was still alive, when we weren’t poor.  These memories left my mind and slowly rolled down my cheek.

I got to school where Lachie immediately ‘greeted’ me.  “Heeeey!  It’s Dean the pleb!  How are we?” he yelled down the hall with obvious disgust.

Lachie always mocked me because I was poor.  I turned around and ran to the front of the school.  The bell went and the six-hour tour of hell began.  I had P.E. first period.  In P.E. everybody would throw red dodge balls at me.  Only me; I hated it.  Throughout the day kids would continue to throw red dodge balls that they had stolen from the storeroom at me.  It was really weird but every time I was ambushed, I would always see a green dodge ball in the corner of my eye.

The final bell rang.  I felt like a dove being sprung out of its cage at the end of a wedding.  It was truly an amazing feeling.  I ran down to the train station, fleeing the confines of the ‘death’ camp as fast as I could.  At the train station I had to catch the last train because it is the only one that goes to my suburb.  When I was the only one left at the train station, I saw the green dodge ball again.  I walked over to it, picked it up and kicked it towards the opposite platform onto the train tracks.

The train finally arrived.  School had finished an hour prior so it had been a long, hungry wait.  I walked through the doors and sat down.  I realized something.  There were only two things on this train; the suspicious green dodge ball and myself.  I could not believe it.  I thought the train would have slashed it to pieces.  I walked over to it, picked it up and it promptly deflated.  As it deflated it gently turned grey.  This intrigued me so I took it home.

I arrived in my home suburb, Torrington.  I didn’t like living in Torrington.  Our house was falling apart and we were always being robbed of what little we had.  I wanted to move but I knew it would be hard for Dad.  He was born in this house, he grew up in this house, I was born in this house and I have been growing up in it.  We couldn’t afford to move anyway.

When I got home I went to my bedroom and took the grey dodge ball out of my bag.  It began to inflate and turned green once more.  I was astonished at this ball.  It almost seemed magical.  I began to bounce it up and down but stopped when I heard a deep voice saying, “Ooouuuch” very slowly.  I picked up the dodge ball and realized that it had developed a mouth.  I flung the dodge ball onto my bed.  I was shocked and my heart started to beat at the rate of a stabbed rat.

“Ooouuuch,” it said again in a deep voice.  That made me scared and I turned to run out of my room. I heard a tiny, high-pitched voice call out, “Wait!  Wait!”

I stopped.  The mysterious voice wailed, “Wait!” repeatedly.

I walked warily back over to the ball and the jaw of its mouth swiftly unhinged and a teeny, tiny green man leaped out of it.

“What was that for?” he said very high-pitched voice.

I didn’t reply. I just walked over to this mysterious living action figure and picked him up.

“Magnificent…” I whispered under my breath.

“What was that for?” he shouted again.

“Sorry,” I said.

“What are you?” I asked with great interest.

He didn’t say anything.  He just chuckled and said, “Keep me in your pocket tomorrow.  Okay?”

“Okay…” I said hesitantly.

Later that night I heard rustling in the kitchen.  I thought we were being robbed.  I grabbed my cricket bat and hurriedly made my way to the kitchen but there were no intruders, just the tiny green man trying to climb up to the sun-dried peas up on the top shelf.

“What are you doing?” I whispered urgently.

I surprised him. He fell down and landed in the sink, which was full of water.

“I’m hungry!” he said with a subtly aggressive tone.

I grabbed the jar of peas off the shelf and gave him one.

“My name is Imaad,” he said, sounding much calmer.

The next day I took his advice and decided to take him with me to school.  When I got to school, Lachie tried to punch me in the stomach.  I blocked his punch, opened his hand and spat my chewing gum into it.  Imaan glowed a pale purple.  Every time I was picked on, I ricocheted the insult back on them.  Imaan glowed a pale purple on these occasions too.  For the first time in years I felt amazing.  I had my confidence back.

Lachie and his friends did not approve of this newly risen status, so much so that Lachie followed me home on the train.  He did not talk once.  When the train grounded to a halt at my local station Lachie got off the train when I did.  As I walked home I realized that he was still shadowing me; I started to become concerned.  When I arrived home Lachie just stood across the street looking at my house.  I saw him writing something down on a piece of paper and knew… it was my address…

Inside Out

Connor Arnold, Year 11

He sits there, single in his room
The lonely man, alas
Staring and staring, all alone.
Play this, or mouse scroll past
As he clicks and plays his video game
Talks online to friends in vain.
And I pause to listen, for a sound
But the room is silent, all around.

Outside is nature, proud and free!
Welcome visions to peoples past
Mother Nature’s far-thrown seed!
Now dying oh so fast.
A sight so beautiful, now rarely seen
For we can view it in a computer screen
From nature’s sound, birds and trees.
The outside world, once proud and free

See it, when you stand alone
See the world, overthrown
See the environment that we betray
The once great world, now thrown away.

Autumn’s Abdication

James Hollingsworth, Year 11

The Light cast warmth across the frosted green
A red-breast’s whistles pierce the silent air
And from the mere reflects a glassy sheen
The withered Autumn looks on with darkening stare.

The darkening furrows vacant of their yield
The reaper’s scythe stored for another year
Staunch barren trees stand guard round empty fields
As Autumn sits and softly sheds a tear.

Winter’s thick cloak descends upon the glen
The morning light reveals soft snow settled
And as ice creeps, into the coop runs the hen
Winter’s hammer, ice has hard metalled.

Autumn’s fled and now shines Winter’s cold crown
Silent air Autumn’s rush has died down.

Our Children of War

Gus Macleod, Year 11

As man engages in bloody dispute,
Concern of new growth is all but forgot,
‘Round whose neck does the narrowing noose knot?
Those whose silent cry of fear is mute?
The pain inflicted on the new blooming fruit,
A torturous act causing them to rot,
Their torment won’t end, post the final shot,
War lingers on, a disease most acute.
Behind our safe walls, what can we all do?
Unable to fight with a sword or a gun,
We use what we have, our voice and our pen,
Demand for change, as it’s long overdue,
We stand together, united as one,
To end the conflict raging amidst men.

Avowed Monument to Man

Thomas Barwood, Year 11

I saw, I saw, towering high and proud
But now lame, bent what once was mighty.
A monstrosity; steel and smoke.  Avowed
monument to man, now so unsightly.
Standing there in dim light, sky veiled by cloud,
Twisted warped tower no longer almighty.
Once standing for the pride of men unbowed,
Now fallen down from that mushroom cloud.
And through what disregard did man possess
To so blatantly turn away from reason,
To ignore the truth of nature’s bless?
Avowed monument to man, but this was
Man who has crippled your magnificence,
Avowed monument to man, now a broken vase.