The Raven

2015

Spring

Citizens of America

Camden Whitney Hopkins, Year 12

Frost crunched underfoot, an audible reminder of the chill which gripped the city and penetrated the hearts of its citizens, leaving them ice-cold.  Breath escaping like wisps of smoke through the headscarf wrapped tightly, leaving only a few inches of his dark-skinned face visible.  The man trudged across the icy, near-dark playground, head down, eyes down, just carrying on.  Reaching the pavement and taking a right turn, he now found himself on a quiet street.  The sun was yet to rise and his terraced world was illuminated only by flickering streetlights.  He kept to himself, walked in silence, wary of the men on the other side of the pavement loud and joking, breaking the tranquility of the early morning with boisterous tales.  They converged on the same subway, the earth swallowed them both whole; here in the artificial lighting that bleached skin, they walked down the broken escalator and came to the ticket booth.  The man stopped at the automatic machine and delved deep into the pockets of his oversized, rough jacket; it took him some time but he eventually he found a dollar and with fumbling hands fed the machine.  It whirred and clinked, accepting the man’s money and returning to him a quarter and a ticket.  Taking these, the man placed the coin into his money pocket, where it made no jingle.  Sighing heavily, he continued towards the ticket booth in time to see the three men that had entered the station behind him vaulting the machine and running down into the station complex.  The last of the men stumbled as he dismounted the booth and a distinct tinkle of coins echoed as he nearly fell.  Their voices and laughter trailed off down the white tiled corridor and the man carefully continued his journey, icy hands fumbling to insert the ticket to the booth, and then following the men down into the bowels of the station.

He took a seat on the middle of three benches next to an older gentleman in a worn suit.  The warmth of the station embraced the man, prompting him to take off his scarf and place it into his bag.  Without his scarf obscuring his face, the older man could see the tangled beard and dark complexion of the man in the coat.  A few short seconds passed before the older man folded his newspaper and rose with quiet self-righteousness to sit at the farthest bench leaving the dark man alone with only the drone of the air filtration system keeping him company.

The screeching of metal on metal announced the arrival of the train and the five passengers of the outer Philadelphia train station boarded, gratefully accepting the respite from the cold winter air.  The train was two-thirds full but no seat was open for the dark skinned man, as people shuffled and shifted their bags uncomfortably.  The man sighed, knowing this day would be like every other day he had spent in this city.

The next morning saw him trudging through the cold, the snow, the empty streets, down into the station paying for his ticket at the now vandalized machine and entering the station complex.  It soon became apparent who had vandalized the machine, as the louts from the day before were writing on the tiled walls of the station’s south side.  The train interrupted his thoughts, screeching into the station like an amateur brass instrument band.  As he stepped into the train he brushed past a pregnant lady, knocking her handbag to the floor.  Her harsh Philadelphian accent rang out indignantly, “Excuse me!”  “I’m sorry, Miss, I didn’t mean to,” he replied with a strong accent, hurriedly handing her back her handbag,  “What?  I can’t understand what you’re talkin’ ’bout.  Can’t you speak English good like the rest of us?”  He scowled and made his way further up the carriage, looking back to see people murmuring and the three ruffians looking with malice straight at him.

The following day was different; he had hope, his job interview had been accepted and today was his first day.  His bag was full today, heavy, but it did not slow him as he trudged in the early morning chill.  He entered the subway, purchasing his ticket and descending into the station in time to board his train.  His smile was shattered as he entered the carriage and was confronted by the three louts with faces of stone.  He tried to move past them to find a seat but the biggest of the bunch shoved him backwards. “Your type ain’t wanted here,” one sneered.  “Damn Arabs, blowing up our towers, starting a war, an’ now you come here to steal our jobs,” another one chimed in.  The dark-skinned man stood a little taller, “I have every right to be here.  I’m an American just like you.”  There was a thick silence and the faces of the three men grew colder still.  The train slowed as it approached the next station. “Don’t you ever compare yourself to us,” the first man said, grabbing the man by his jacket and shoving him out of the open train doors.  The three stepped out after him onto the dark empty platform.  The first man lashed out hard, “You’re,” his fist connected with the man’s stomach doubling him over, “not”, again in the stomach, “one of”, his fist struck out two more times, “us”, his fist collided with the man’s nose and it began to bleed.

Stumbling backwards the dark skinned man reached inside his coat.  The louts panicked, “He’s got a gun!” one of them cried out. Within an instant the first man had flicked out a switchblade and lunged forward sinking it deep into the Arab man, causing him to choke forth blood.  The three assailants quickly ran off the platform leaving the dark skinned man shivering in a pool of his own blood.  His hand fell from his chest still holding the papers that he had reached for.  The pages fell to the ground and as his blood began to soak the edges, the words became harder and harder to read, but as the man lay there taking short sharp breaths, he could still see the words, “Citizen of America”.

Timed Innocence

Charlie Mills, Year 11

The clock struck with waiting anticipation.  It left craters of sound in the small, silent cell as it methodically counted down the seconds.  “Mr. Creston,” the words came out of the detective’s mouth carefully, yet stabbed themselves into Creston’s ears.  Creston felt the small beads of sweat roll slowly down the back of his neck.  They trailed from his rough hair down the raw skin and into the back of the itchy shirt he wore.  “Mr. Creston?” the detective repeated.  Creston could not answer.  His body was frozen to the chair that he sat in and to the situation he sat in.  All he could do was look around the room.

The clock was situated atop the left wall and it overlooked the room, as it kept time and kept order.  The walls were some grey stone, seemingly older than ten years, and uncared for.  On the left wall there was a large chip in the stone.  He sat in a small and constricting metal chair.  The table was simple.  It was topped with a grey plastic bench, about an inch thick, about one metre by two on top of four grey metal poles.  Underneath one was a crumpled tissue holding the whole thing in place, though it was failing to do so.  The cold walls were interrupted by a large window opposite Creston that he could not see out of.  He imagined a row of men were on the other side, only seven feet from him, and that they were staring at him coldly with reserved looks upon their faces.  Creston could see himself in the window – and he looked decrepit.  His hair was unkempt and his eyes were dead, filled with seething self-hatred.

Creston now realised that he had been silent for a long time; the detective had been speaking all the while and Creston had not heard a single word.

The detective asked politely, “Mr. Creston?  Alex?  Did you get that?”  Creston swallowed and prepared to utter his first words in the room.  “No sorry, I wasn’t listening.”  The detective chuckled impatiently and angrily.  “That’s alright Alex. But please do pay attention.”

“Yes,” Alex muttered, “What was the question?”

“Where were you on the night of the 25th of June?”

Creston was nervous.  The room sensed it.  He knew he had to tell the truth but could he?  He could hardly remember where he had been.

“I can’t remember everything,” he said.

“Just tell me what you can remember.”

“Well I went out to the local and I started having drinks – I don’t remember leaving.”  Creston could tell that he sounded scared and confused.  He could see the detective sitting there, judging every movement that he made.
The detective continued, “How did you get there?”

“Henry Thompson drove me there,” Alex’s head was now straining – and it was hurting.  There was a bright light that shone directly on him and the light pained his eyes.  What else could he remember?

He had woken up in his own bed, covered in blood.  Henry was lying on the ground next to the bed, and he was in worse shape.  There was blood all over the ground and leading out the door.  He was in incomprehensible pain as he limped and shambled to the kitchen to find a phone, and he walked past a window that faced his driveway.  Alex noticed that Henry’s car was beaten up and the windscreen was smashed.  Creston became more stressed as he walked into the kitchen and he started to draw sharp, short breaths.  The TV was playing the morning news and it was currently playing a story of a hit-and-run.  Only a few streets from him.  Creston’s mind began to race, his eyes slowly closed and the world went dark.

Creston was now healed, although his mind was not.  He was now back at the incident.  These people had forced his mind to relive the time and he was becoming frustrated.  And he had no idea what had actually happened.  He still didn’t know what they had him for.  Did they think he was driving?  Was he driving?  He didn’t feel guilty, but he didn’t know if he was.  Creston was now sweating more than ever and his leg pulsated with pain.  He started to breathe heavily and his eyes began to dart around the room.  The detective noticed.

“Mr. Creston are you …”  The detective was cruelly interjected by Creston’s immediate and apparent rage, “Christ!  Can you get to the point!” he screamed.  “Do you think I did it or not?  Do you think I killed those people?”  The detective was shocked – he was so blunt and aggressive, whereas before he had seemed scared and reserved.  To Creston, the detective was now the uncomfortable one.  “Mr. Creston,” he spoke quietly, “The simple fact is we don’t know who did it.  Both yours and Mr. Thompson’s fingerprints were on the wheel and both of your blood was found on the passenger seat.”
“Well, can’t you put me through a lie-detector test or something?  Just put me in jail or let me go please.  I just can’t take this room anymore.”
The detective sighed and sat down across from him.  “We can’t put you through a polygraph if you don’t remember what happened.  There were no witnesses and there were no cameras.  We have to question both of you and get any shred of evidence we can.”
Creston’s breathing slowed to a shambling pace and he began to silently weep.

Weep for himself.  Weep for Henry.  Weep for those poor people.

And Creston began to remember.  He was about to speak when the door on his left opened.  He was beckoned out.  He didn’t remember much except for a short, fat and balding man leading him out into the harsh July sun.

He softly asked, “Where’s Henry?”  But the man did not answer – perhaps he didn’t hear.  Perhaps he wanted to protect Creston.

Creston slowly walked and continued to cry.

Nature Weeps

Archie Capon, Year 9

A thick beast of black erupts from the depths

Brandishing the colours of destruction and dismay,

Writhing as it crawls from the funnel of death

Trapped in a mind that is bathed in poison.

 

It is forced from a grave that was never to open

Unleashed on the elements as a slave of death,

The beast seeps from the shadows, concealed by devastation

The sky is left vulnerable to its tenacious breath.

 

It infects the heavens, it chokes the skies,

These wisps of disease are riddled with lies,

Lies forged by us where the fire burns deep,

These lies pollute nature and Mother Nature will weep.

 

She weeps for the clouds, blackened by death

She weeps for the water, veiled by darkness,

She weeps for her children, strangled by smog,

She weeps for the world, engulfed by fog.

 

As nature is vanquished upon final fight

Our world distorts into an abyss of gloom

And as the smoke diseases earth’s final light,

We are trapped beneath this canopy of doom.

 

While nature weeps for her fallen kin

We are faced with the punishment of our fateful sin,

We released this monster from its unholy tomb

But nature won’t weep as man is taken too soon.

Oh How I Love The Sea

James Oakey, Year 9

Oh how I love the sea,

Crashing and dumping its waves,

As far as the eye can see,

I love how it behaves!

 

Oh how I love the sea,

A glorious boundless blue,

From end to end an amazing vision

It really is quite the view!

 

Oh how I love the sea,

Its beautiful variety of life,

Oh it’s such a shame,

How the oceans are in strife!

 

Oh how I love the sea,

And the people that it beholds,

A beautifully wonderful culture,

Filled with both young and old!

 

Oh how I love the sea,

An endless watery field,

Swimming on a summer’s day,

The benefits that it yields!

 

Oh how I love the sea,

And the art of its blue,

A cradle of creativity,

For people including you!

 

Oh how I love the sea,

Such a beautiful place,

The only place for me,

…Plants a smile on my face!

Monsoons in Ranegar

Peter Cooke, Year 11

The monsoon rains swept through town.  Swept over corrugated iron roofs, and eaves made of dried-out palm leaves.  Long, dirt packed streets ran with water and mud.  The brown sludge flowed out of town towards the nearby beach, down an old riverbed, destroying young saplings which had sprouted out of the fertile ground.  The flood left a residue on the earth, like the traditional paints used in outdated cultural dances.  The deluge rained upon the neon Coca-Cola signs, leaving the red aluminium can plastered on the sides of buildings.  Winds howled down narrow alleys, blowing over local produce and stands.  People walked down the streets, hopping over puddles, running from eave to eave.  Cars wound carefully down the road, mindfully avoiding potholes and attempting to not be pulled into the course of the water.

Ranegar was barely floating above water; it had thrown all of its belongings overboard, but the boat was still sinking.

Dilip strode down the damp street, carrying a stack of Karanja branches for firewood; the branches were covered by a white canvas sheet, tied to the underside by a piece of fraying string.  The water dripped off the canvas, making small rivulets in the earth. Cars buzzed down the street, the smell of rubber and petrol filling the air, pushing out the smell of decomposing leaves and human faeces.  There were hawkers selling their rotting wares along the street; cabbage filled with worms, brown carrots and wilting asparagus, characterising a poor turnout from the local markets.  As Dilip moved on, his eyes were drawn to a billboard above the main square at the end of the road.  It read: Experience Indian culture; book your flight today with Fly Emirates, the number one in quality flights from The USA to India.

***

Joseph Hoosier the sign read.  Joe ambled towards it.  His bags were heavy, palms sweaty, vomit on his sweater; the flight over wasn’t pleasant with all of the turbulence, least of all, being crammed in between a squirming infant and an obese man who lacked all notion of personal space.

Joe tried to ignore the acrid smell on his jumper, distracting himself with the authentic Indian music playing over the loudspeakers. The airport walls were plastered with the faces of white Scandinavian women promoting one company or another. Their faces leered at the crowds, as if they were laughing at something that only pictures can understand.  The man holding the sign was quite young, just out of his teenage years, with dark black hair and skin the colour of coffee.  He was wearing a white and blue plaid shirt, which had sweat patches and some sort of curry spilt on the cuffs.

“Hello sir!” he said when Joe approached, “Would you happen to be Mr. Hoosier?”  He spoke with an accent not unlike to a 1960s portrayal of an Indian man.

“Yes, I am,” Joe replied, still struggling with his luggage.

“Oh yes!” he exclaimed, “Let me get that for you.”

Together they dragged his luggage through the doors labeled Baggage Claims, then out towards the taxi, which was surrounded by a few dilapidated vehicles with Taxi written scruffily on a piece cardboard, hastily stuck to the roof.

***

Cars rolled down the ‘rasta’ and up ahead Dilip saw a Caucasian man exiting a taxi.  There was a certain eclectic bustle from the town, people shouting in Bengali, English and Indian, while men with brooms swept the dirt from outside their shops onto their neighbours.  He carried the sticks until he saw a vendor setting up a shop selling western DVDs; movies like American Hustle, The King’s Speech and Harry Potter were being sold for only 250 rupees.  While browsing, Dilip’s hands moved over movies like 3 Idiots, Sholay and Devdas, and proceeded to pick up The Matrix.

“Ah yes, good choice, Mahōdaya,” the vendor said in Hindi.  “That will be 250 rupees.”

Dilip grabbed his credit card, the blue American Express badge a bright blue beacon signalling its foreign origins.  He then slipped the DVD into his bundle of firewood and turned to head back up the road.  He took a left at the first corner, carefully stepping around street dancers.  They were dressed in frayed garb, dulled through constant use.  Tired like their clothes, the performers move sluggishly through slow dance moves.  He walked down the alley towards his home, turning left then right, then left once again into a dead end.

***

“Do you take credit card?” Joe asked the driver.

In reply the driver pulled out an electronic scanner, plugged into the cigarette lighter of the car.  Joe payed with a maroon credit card, with the Enterprise Bank’s logo stamped across the back.  Joe grabbed his bags from the car and pulled out his Samsung to check the map to his hotel.  Walking down the street, he noticed a group of dancers dressed in richly coloured clothes, with golds and reds shimmering as they weaved among each other, creating a complex pattern of dance so fast that it almost dazzled the eye.  Joe looked down at his phone; apparently he was meant to enter this alleyway.  It was dark and claustrophobic, though he wondered if he would like it more with the lights on.  He begans to wander slowly down the alley, feet sounding as if they are walking in a swamp, while his phone spoke as it would in a cavernous hallway.  Joe pushed on, losing track of his progress and ending up in a dead end back alley.  He noticed a door to his right, which was ajar.  He knocked on the door, which swung forward to reveal a sparse interior; a large mattress, strewn with belongings of what seemed to be a dozen children, and the fireplace in the corner was filled with ash and twigs.  Joe found it strange to see the obvious electrical access, with sleek new phones plugged into a wall socket and a large television with a DVD player below it.  A man was crouched below the TV, and with the knock, stood up.  A flurry of foreign words bombarded Joe, pushing him back.

“Calm down!” Joe exclaimed, raising his arms, “I was just wondering where the Club Med Hotel is!”

The man reached the portal to the house but as he was about to talk, there was a disturbance at the entrance to the alleyway.  A squad of policemen was there holding batons with Civil Police Force emblazoned on their chests.  The forward-most policemen spoke, “Please come this way Sir, the hotel is down here.”  He spoke politely with the hint of a more cultured tongue.

Joe complied, not realising why there was a whole squad and not just one policeman.

Aurora Borealis

James Cameron, Year 11

Swirling colour, twisting light

This unfathomable moment, unrepeatable

Unexpected, unexplained

Yet glowing, resurrecting the night

 

Thunderous landscape surrounds

Silhouettes of ancient giants

Covering silent eyes

Howling, running, danger all around

 

Ears; free from sounds of humanity conformed

Skin; shivering in the glistening crystals

Dormant feelings let run wild

Nature, it’s in purest form

 

Its triumphant journey through the night

Its mere sight curing every evil sorrow

Unexpected, unexplained

Swirling colour, twisting light.

Absurdity

Flynn Robertson, Year 11

Many a man does fall for cause unknown,

With scars of whips and bloody wrists betrayed,

Led from the rear by command mislaid,

And once expired, left to perish alone.

 

Amidst this savagery do gods bemoan

The once great dream of glory they purveyed?

Whilst man quarrels over gripe long decayed,

And colder grow their blackened hearts of stone.

 

The rich grow edacious, just as the poor,

Endlessly searching for a fragment more.

Trees do fall and destitute birds beseech,

As they too are consumed by endless war.

 

The final leaves of Autumn come to rest,

As the cold grasp of God tightens.

The New Normal

Sam Perrignon, Year 11

I stumble through the dark halls,

Cold forgiving saviour, our prison,

Feeling pathetic and so small

It’s two an’ I have only just risen.

 

Cries from the cells hiss through

The doors to our heaven,

Intensely gripped, yet up for review,

Subdued by all pills given.

 

Weak, stripped away of all

Shiny machinery approves,

Unknown whom made the call

Daily choice, get crushed or move.

 

How the people do try,

The grand assumptions of many,

Men work, till they die

Freedom from shackles, I don’t see any.

Eagle’s Eyes

Jordan Bowling, Year 9

I sat in my Papou’s rocking chair, rocking slowly back and forth in time to the rise and fall of our family trawler riding the waves.  The wooden wind chime chinked faintly in the breeze that pierced the warped timber roof.  The easterly Mediterranean breeze died and a blue chip of paint spiraled downward towards the floor, slowly turning circles in midair, swaying back, and forth, in time with my beating heart and the slow, gentle roll of the waves.  My eyelids, heavy with exhaustion, flickered open and closed as I watched the flake sink through the cracks in the floor and into the ocean.  I closed my eyes and sailed off in a sea of dreams aboard the Argo, like the heroes of ancient times.

The bow of the ship pierced the ink-black water as the monstrous vessel glided silently through the thick veil of grey fog.  Ordinary men would never dare to approach these waters, but the demigods that inhabited the Argo were nowhere near ordinary.

The mighty heroes aboard this ship were adorned with clothes and armour fit for kings, and crouched at the ready, prepared to spring into battle at any moment.  The soft crunch of wood on sand echoed as the boat ground to a halt.  “Here they come,” one of the troops whispered.  The warriors waited with bated breath, looking out upon the desolate black beach.

From within the darkness, a shrill, inhuman scream cut through the silence.  The heroes collapsed in agony, wailing in intense pain as the scream continued to crescendo until it abruptly ceased, leaving an eerie silence.  Then a stampede of claw, hoof and talon on sand could be heard from up the beach.  An army of monsters, handpicked from children’s nightmares, burst through the fog with red eyes ablaze, intent of leaving not one person alive.

I woke with a start from my dream.  I stood up, lost my balance on the tumbling boat and promptly hit my head on the windowsill overlooking the ocean.  I could see rolling black clouds on the horizon.  A blur of white caught my eye.  I looked and saw a dove, perched on the side rail.  That’s strange.  I squinted through the raindrops running down the window to get a clearer picture.  I took a step back, astounded.  The dove in itself was normal, save for the colour of its eyes.  They were blue.  A deep, royal blue.  Or so I thought.  As the dove bobbed its head and turned to look at me I saw that its right eye was a deep, fiery red, like the eyes of the monsters in my dream.

“Ish not a-looking too good,” My Papou muttered.  “Shee those rain clouds over there?” he pointed a stubby finger at the dark mass floating above the horizon.  He turned to face me, his face only a couple of centimetres away from mine. “Argush, my boy. They shay anshient monshters live in those cloudsh.  They shay Zeus himshelf cannot control them they are sho fiersh.”  He chuckled his deep, throaty laugh and pinched my cheek with his calloused, rope-worn hands.

From the other side of the boat I heard a faint bleating sound and saw a baby lamb trotting across the bow of the boat.  First the dove, now this lamb.  What the hell is a bleating lamb doing on a fishing boat in the middle of the Sea of Crete?  The lamb had stopped and was now looking directly at me with the same blue left eye and red right eye as the dove.  A calm, gentle voice spoke to me from my left.

“I wish your father was here.”  My mother looked out into the bleak ocean, “Do you think that was the last thing he ever saw before…?”  Her eyes welled up and she looked back down at me and smiled.  “Come on.  We’d better get you to off bed before we reach Santorini.”

The warriors leapt out of their ship into the hordes of oncoming monsters, unsheathing their swords and tearing into the soulless beings with eyes as red as blood.  A great cry arose, unlike the first; the screech of a golden eagle.  The eagle descended out of the fog upon a manticore, dodging the bone, needle-like spikes it sent shooting from its lion tail and gouged its extended talons deep into its human face.  The eagle, perched on top of the wailing manticore’s disfigured skull, turned and faced me, its right eye ablaze but its left eye as cool as spring water.  It stood there, unmoving, as the battle raged on.  Then all was dark.

Singapore

Alex Vasilio-Davis, Year 9

I think I have a dream.

I really want to go

To my favourite island, Singapore

The most exciting place I know.

 

There is so much stuff to do

You would have to come back for more

There are buildings that tower over you

With shops on every floor.

 

Oh please, Mum, can we go back to Singapore

I just can’t wait any more

I have a lingering hunger

For hawker chicken rice.

 

My stomach is dying for food

I need something really good

Couldn’t we go today?

Mum! Please take me away.

 

I want to go to the theme parks

On Sentosa Island

The rides, the slides and the fun times

I want to go to Singapore!

 

The shops in Singapore are so much fun

You can by a lot of cool shirts and more

But thing I like the most is the amount of floors

So I come to my point, Mum.  Singapore – want to come?

What has Man Made of Machine?

Mitchell Raymond Atkinson, Year 11

Through the dark of the dead night

In the bright heart of the forge

In the midst of that burning light

What mortal hand or eye, is supreme

What has man made of machine?

 

Is this to what man has aspired?

Do we seek nature’s demise?

We came, we saw, we conquered

And now, we burn our eyes.

 

What the cog and what the chain?

What vast metal brain?

This mortal hand dare seize

And yet, our voices still wheeze.

 

When the land cried out its hurt

When we burnt it with our toils

And we did grin to see our work

Are we happy with these spoils?

 

Through the dark of the dead night

In the bright heart of the forge

In the midst of that burning light

What mortal hand or eye is supreme?

How dare man make machine?

A Walk on a Spring Day in the Country

Spencer Easton, Year 9

Waking up to the morning calls of birds,

Knowing that the day has arrived to serve.

I grab my coat and disappear out the front door,

To explore the bush I love forever more.

 

Strolling through the bush with my dog Digger by my side,

Searching for creatures that enjoy to hide.

Seeing a flash of orange in the distance,

My dog and I give chase without a hindrance

 

As we get closer to the distant feature,

I identify it as being a cunning fox creature.

By now, Digger has caught up to the fox, thinking to himself

This fox’s days are outnumbered, it’s time to prove myself.

 

The fox ran into the hollow of a nearby log,

To take shelter from the vicious dog.

Foolishly backing himself into the log,

He had no escape from the remorseless dog.

 

As Digger pursued the fox into the log,

He thought to himself, I’ve got you now you ugly hog.

Waiting outside for Digger to dish out death,

I had a chance to catch my breath.

 

Wandering out of the log, with a smile on his face

Waiting to receive his rewarding grace.

Strolling back home leading the way,

I thought to myself, another day of Spring has passed away.

Stormy Nights

Will Brady, Year 9

As the wind blew strong

The trees sang their song

As the rain pelted down

The flowers started to frown.

 

As the wild weather was taking its toll

The animals went hiding with the mole

As the lighting struck hard

The dogs ran from the yard.

 

As the windows were sealed up

The wind smashed the cup

As the humans ran and hid in fear

From the weather’s sphere.

 

As the darkness closed over

We put away the Land Rover

As we prepared for a fierce night

We crowded around the candlelight.

My Home

Mitchell Evans, Year 9

Hong Kong is a city

That goes and goes, goes

And it never slows

People rushing and pushing

People cooking and selling trying to make a fortune

 

Taxis going left and right

Fast and slow

Picking up people and dropping them off

Each and every one trying to make a fortune

 

Shops in shopping centres selling many things

Left right and centre

Shops selling toys, perfume, cars and McDonalds

Each and everyone trying to make a fortune

 

Homes and skyscrapers soaring above

In all sorts of different colours and designs

Different shapes and sizes

Each special in their own way

 

The Harbour in the middle of the city

Accepting boats and sending them on their way

In and out and in and out

Each one welcomed with open arms.

Azrale

Sidarth Bhargavan, Year 10

Prologue

I’ve always felt that hospitals have such an eerie atmosphere.  Such a sterile environment presented by these white walls.  What a paradox.  An inhumane facility dedicated to care.  I find myself fascinated by the place.  I’ve been here for six weeks now.  After my brushes with death in my youth I know my body will not go on much longer.  I simply ask for forgiveness for the sins I have committed. Make no mistake, I do not ask for forgiveness from a god or masses.  I ask for forgiveness from myself, and from him.

“Azrale! Azrale! Azrale!”

“Soon people will chant my name in the streets.  Some will be afraid, some will be relieved.  That was my dream.  I wanted to change the world; I wanted people to know who I was.  So why is it that I am ignored, despite my efforts?”

Looking back now, Azrale realized how naïve he was when he was young.  He was unknowing of the truth.  Now he knew what he really was – he was just a number, a statistic.  The government doesn’t see people.  They don’t see wives, husband sons or daughters.  They only see a number.  If they lose 1000 troops in a war it’s a fraction of their power not men.  Of course it isn’t just the government that is at fault.  He was going to help them.  They needed to realise that people aren’t numbers and he was the perfect person to show them.  He was looking forward to what they were going to do.  He leaned back in his chair. He wanted the time he had left to be brilliant, because soon he was going to lead the world to the future.  To leave the world with a dazzling lightshow and hear them slowly whisper in awe, “Azrale.”

Another man sat with his feet on the desk.  He tried to slowly organise his thoughts.  After becoming a detective, he had seen a lot, however, the case was different this time.  Other officers had told him not to worry; this was just another homicide case.  Justin disagreed.  The body had equations carved into it all over the skin.  It was sickening yet intriguing at the same time.  Why was it done?  Every time he came close to being calm he remembered the body.  He was trying to figure it out.  There was something about it that didn’t add up.  They had found the body of 26-year-old Haruko Wakahiso, a Japanese businessman who had moved here year ago.  We had concluded that he hadn’t been seen outside for almost the entirety of that time, staying inside his apartment for the entirety of the year.  Haruko had managed to do that by working at home and having items delivered to his house.  Even online there were no examples of instances where he interacted with other people.  We only found his body after an anonymous tip.  Of course the anonymous tip was most likely given by the perpetrator.  After all, the videocassette left there made it seem like he was challenging us.  Unfortunately it’s difficult to track a payphone.  However, one problem still puzzles Justin; a man with such a high intelligence could be dangerous depending on what he does with it.

Meanwhile, Azrale was trying to figure out his own problem.  If he wanted his legacy to be told for centuries then it needed to be interesting.  And unfortunately there was currently no evil to combat his righteousness.  He needed to find one strong rival he could beat even himself.  He knew that despite what he said, he wasn’t doing this to stop IMS.  He was doing this to become a legend.  Forever praised, loved and adored.  Now, most importantly, to do that he had an overall goal and evil to defeat but a rival was needed drastically.  How could he acquire one?  Perhaps by provocation.  He turned to his computer.  He who could hack any government would not be troubled by one police station.  He never knew where his rival would appear.  First he needed to think of a message.  Once it was in his mind he broadcast it to the station.

“Hello Officers.  I am the person who sent you your anonymous tip.  I am also the person who killed Haruko Wakahiso.  His death was duly deserved for his crimes.  I would like to inform you that I shall be taking care of the entirety of IMS.  I wish to know if you are with me or against me.  I will soon have the masses know of my intent.  The world shall know of their saviour, I shall rescue it from its own ignorance.  To those who fear me, love me, fight me and ally with me.  Call me Azrale.”

The police station was in an uproar.  What kind of person were they up against?  How was he able to hack into the station?  Whilst others tried to figure out how he had hacked in, Justin was thinking.  Whilst to others he seemed to be calmly sitting on his chair, his inner thoughts were frantic.

“First and foremost was the fact that Azrale was a person who was confident, yet also intelligent.  Given the fact that he hacked into the station for this small message suggested two theories: the hacking was simple for him, or he found this message of importance.  Of course it is also possible that both theories are true.  But why would the message be important, what purpose does it serve?  What has the message done?  It has provoked a reaction from the police, but why would he want this result?  Clearly if he was that intelligent he would have used better words.  He could be delusional in some way; no it is almost certain considering that he felt killing Haruko would result in him being a saviour.  This means that he is either only knowledgeable in hacking, or wanted this message for a specific purpose.  Also how would a man like Haruko be involved with any company of any sort?  He did nothing but stay in his apartment for the entirety of his life.  Wait, if he was only knowledgeable in hacking, how was he able to kill Haruko?  The department contacted a mathematician who discovered that the mathematics used were incredibly advanced and the mathematician also believed that the equations on the body may provide the answer to Hilbert’s 16th problem.  So clearly he has other strengths besides hacking, but he may simply be bad with people.  What if he wanted to provoke us?  Why would he want to?  Wait, he himself states that people will fight him.  He seems to desire that outcome.  Does he want to fight?  Why? He finds himself self-important, and wants everyone to know of his so-called heroics.  What does Azrale want?  Azrale.  Azrale.  I’ve heard it before.”

Another officer interrupted Justin’s reverie.  “Sorry, Sir, we’ve been trying to track his I.P. but it takes us to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  We’ve also been trying to find out what IMS might mean.  We think the most logical solution would be international militia sciences.  However we’ve been completely unable to access any information about it.  It requires very high status.  A normal person wouldn’t be able to find out it even exists.”

“It seems we’re dealing with somebody very competent.”

“We also believe that he has already given his message to the masses like he was proclaiming.

“How?”

“Sorry Sir, forgot you don’t have a mobile,” he said, whilst fishing his phone out of his pocket.  “Here.  We believe the following message was sent to every mobile phone.”

The walk to the area had taken 138 seconds.  This time Azrale was quite certain that everything would once again go to plan.  He blended in with the many pedestrians walking on the street.  He saw the jet black hair and blue eyes that he had been looking for.  He smiled and watched his prey.  Watching his eyes warily rest on those around him was enjoyable.  That such a powerful man would be frightened.  Azrale felt incredible whilst following his target.  Like a golden dart frog, he was completely unnoticeable.  However much like the golden dart frog, he was easily able to kill ten people.  Joseph was the name of his target.  Slowly working towards his chance.  He realized something then and there.  Joseph was continuously looking towards two people who were walking close to him.  Those two also seemed to be following Joseph.  It was possible that another group may be trying to harm Joseph.  However, given the personality profile of Joseph he had received from his investigation, it was more likely that they were protecting him.  What was important was whether they were hired thugs or whether the police had decided to stand against him.  Weighing the pros against the cons, he decided to kill all protectors.  He needed to prove that he was sane.  He brought out the arsenic.

Justin felt he had lucked out when a member of the organisation came to him seeking protection.  It seemed they had a found a man connected to IMS, however, he said he wouldn’t talk to them about the organisation until Azrale was killed.  Who was this man?  He was clearly intelligent, but in how many fields?  He seemed to specialise in technology but also showed skill with mathematics.  Thanks to Joseph the department also found out that two poisonings had occurred already to two women involved with IMS.  So whilst not yet displaying the same skill with poisons as shown with tech and maths, he clearly had some knowledge.  Fellow officers pointing out a man who had been following them for a noticeable time interrupted his thoughts.  In an attempt to see if he was following Joseph, they asked Joseph to turn into an alley.  However nothing happened for 5 minutes.  The other officers were thankful but at the same time boredom was beginning to set in.  Many were new and were expecting more excitement.  Meanwhile Joseph was hoping to hurry back to his apartment, however, the overall tiredness of the group resulted in the group resting for a few minutes.

Justin loved this city.  The look and the smell.  He could smell the fresh bread of the baker, meat from the butchers and a slight taint of fish.  Odd – where could the garlic be coming from?  One look at his fellow officers told him what was happening.  It was arsenic and he hadn’t noticed!

Azrale slowly watched the officers and Joseph.  He had realised they were police after the procedure they proceeded with.  It was strange, instead of happy or excited he only felt upset as they died so easily.  For people to be so frail, yet they still decide to evolve their weapons.  Now that the police were involved he had to instead move with plan 244.  The arsenic should now be slowly killing them whilst they are too tired to move.  However to his surprise he witnessed one officer get out.  Fascinating.  To find a soul so resilient to death.  It only made him more determined to reap this spirit.  He drew his knife and began to advance slowly.  He had already equipped a gas mask.  The officer had noticed him.  He fell to his knees.  Strength giving out from under them.

“So has the angel of death decided to claim my soul?”

He spat the phrase out.  Azrale was surprised. He had realised who he was masquerading as; with his cover gone he felt scared. With that fear came a welcome feeling. Excitement. The thrill of what he was doing had come back. He couldn’t kill this man. Not yet.

“Who are you?”

“My name was Justin.”

“Speaking in past tense already?  What a sense of humor, going into the police force with a name meaning justice.”

“You seem rather scared, is it possible that under his mask Azrale is just a scared man?”

“To look at death and jeer, you are just what I’ve been looking for.”

“What have you been looking for?”

“Perhaps I have misjudged your intelligence.”

“I’m afraid I wasn’t sure how you wanted me to answer.  Of course I know what you’re looking for.”

“It’s not nice to be vague, Justin.”

“You want to create a show.  A spectacle so large that even if you lose, your message will be received.  However that requires a villain or foe to play against you.  Which is why you’re going to save my life, and then I’m going to kill you.”

“You talk as if your life isn’t in the palm of my hand right now.”

“You talk as though your show is.”

“It seems I was right when choosing you.”

“Then if you could give me the anti-venom now…”

“Sorry, but the stage still needs to be set.  So in this needle is the pure anti-venom.  However in this needle there is the anti-venom along with a drug that will keep you unconscious for four days.  Choose your anti-venom.”
Azrale presented two antivenoms.

“It’s likely that there probably is one of each of the anti-venoms there considering your thirst for excitement.  The question is whether you are telling the truth or lying.  In this situation most people would think that you are lying, knowing that it’s likely you could be telling the truth, but you would also know that, so it’s likely for you to be lying and so it would continue.  Thus the correct answer would be to pick any as they both have the same possibility.  Thus I shall pick both.”

“Hmm, why?”

“Simple.  There’s a chance that the drug will only knock me out for four days in that concentration.  Thus if I add more anti-venom it may be less affective.  Also if too much of the anti-venom is deadly I wouldn’t have to worry about it because you can’t kill me yet.”

“Thus your choice is made. Here.”

“Azrale, I will kill you.”

“And I you.”

Justin had been out for six days.  It seemed his gamble had paid off badly.  Even worse, he had woken up to find that Azrale had managed to kill seven targets whilst he was asleep.  There were also eleven casualties who weren’t associated with IMS.  People were clamouring for answers that the department couldn’t give.  He had managed to gain information about Azrale but there still wasn’t enough.  The most important thing was that they still had no idea what IMS was.  However he had a way to acquire it.  Now that this was becoming a national incident it would be a lot easier to get the information about IMS.  However it seems that even now his colleagues were unable to access it.  It seemed that if he wanted the information he would need to use a different method.  It should be easy enough.  Azrale probably already knows that he’s awake, so he just needs to use that to his advantage.  The easiest thing to do would be to find out where Azrale had found the information.  He had most likely hacked it, but he would need a reason to hack it.  No, first he needed to find out who Azrale was.  Justin was certain that the information about IMS would soon be available.

Azrale was feeling brilliant.  Today was the day Justin would finally wake up and return to where he belonged.  He needed to start setting everything up for the final scene.  Slowly moving everything into place.  An egg needs to crack for an omelet to be made.  Many eggs had been cracked to create the atmosphere currently surrounding people.  An atmosphere where people whisper, people wonder and people see the truth.  He can hear his name being whispered down the streets.  However, right now, he’s presented as a villain.  There is an easy way to change it.  Justin, whilst his foe, also has a strong sense of justice.  If he found out he would make the information freely available.  Simple.

Justin had finally found a person who matched.  It was rather easy considering there are few people who have the ability to be Azrale, considering the mastery he has showcased thus far.  He checked his email and finally the awaited message was here.  It was obvious that Azrale’s next course of action would be to reveal what IMS is.  His preferred method would most likely be to use Justin.  He opened it and clicked the first link of five.  It was a video.  A woman began talking.

“Now this is what I’ve found.  It’s pretty disturbing.  IMS stands for international militia sciences.  It’s an organisation that constructs weapons.  It’s kind of like the illuminati of the weapons industry.  At least that’s how they were previously.  Now they just invent weapons, however, when buying weapons like the ones they’re selling you would want proof of the capabilities.  They perform human testing and every leader has a blind eye.  From what I understand it’s gas, missiles, guns.  They get their subjects from people who are in massive amounts of debt.  You know, like a million in debt – they are forced to sell their own lives to these people.  It’s marketed with a chance of survival, but there’s not a known survivor.”

So this is what IMS is.  He looked at the following links.  The next two provided extensive proof about the existence of IMS, the third a list of deals they had partaken in and the final listed possible victims.  It numbered just over a thousand.  Effective for a company that had been created recently.

Azrale was now overjoyed.  After the information as to what IMS actually was had been released, he had become a hero.  Somebody who stood for justice.  It was brilliant.  However he would still be in trouble if he was caught.  He couldn’t allow that to happen.  The show was just about to reach its climax, and for that it needed a thrilling confrontation or perhaps a race.  Wait.  Azrale was being foolish – after all this would not only affect him.  He called Justin.

“Hello my rival.”

“Azrale it’s been a while.”

“So have you joined me?”

“I’m afraid not.  IMS is one of the worst things I’ve ever heard of.  However if I stop now I wouldn’t just be betraying you but also myself.”

“I’ve worked hard on setting the stage.”

“So now is the time for our confrontation, I take it.”

“Actually I wanted to ask you a question.  Would you rather a duel or a race?  Which should decide our fates?”

“I’d like it to be something that represents both of us.”

“I have an idea already.  I’ll send someone to pick you up later.”

Justin weighed the options.  If he said yes it was against every code and rule of society he had been taught.  Most would think that Azrale had a surefire plan, but he knew.  Azrale wouldn’t find a thrill in that.  If he suggested it like this then Azrale felt either side had a chance of winning.  He grinned, here he was trusting the insane serial killer.

“Yes, I accept.”

The phone went dead.  Now all that was left was to see what Azrale would do.

Justin had done it.  This was going to be so very interesting.  He had a feeling things were going to get interesting very quickly.  He dealt his cards out.  He had his own sayings for the cards.  He had never been wrong so far, after his own interpretation of the cards.  The king of hearts.  The king represented a person much like himself.  The dagger represented the death of one of them.  How excellent that a confrontation should come so soon.  Now all that was left was to see what Justin would do.

A limousine appeared outside his house at midnight.  He got in with little hesitation and waited.  The driver seemed surprised but continued.  He didn’t have weapons or a plan.  He was counting solely on the fact that Azrale would present something where both had an equal chance.  The limo finally stopped.  He got out and it drove on.  He was outside an apartment complex.  He walked up the stairs until he reached the second last level.  He then entered the second apartment on the third floor.  It was unlocked.  In it stood Ingall Angelo.

“So, you did know who I was.”

“It was rather simple to figure out; few others have as many credentials as you and Azrale.”

“I am the messenger of God.”

“Funny, I’m an atheist.”

“Are you ready?”

“It’s fine.  I’m good to go.  So what did you prepare?”

“Here are three pistols, two have been tampered with.  One won’t fire at all.  The other will explode, fatally wounding the user and, of course, the third will fire normally.”

“Seems self explanatory.”

This was it.  The end of the story.  He picked up a pistol.

He picked up another.  They stood a suitable distance away.

Both prepared to pull the trigger.

 

“You know you might be completely insane, but I like ya.  We should’ve met under different circumstances.”

“It is fate that brought us here to this moment.”

“Fate huh?  I don’t like the thought of fate, it’s just another tool we created to ease our minds.”

“Are you confident in your choice?”

“If I was I wouldn’t be talking would I?”

“How about on the count of three?”

“Seems rather childish.”

“Three”

“Two”

“One”

“Fire”

A shot and explosion rang out.