The Raven

2017

Spring

Golden Queenstown

Aydin Hutchison, Year 9

Painted like a performing clown,
The sun dips down over Queenstown.
Bright and happy, not wet and crappy,
The sun sets bright over Queenstown.
The birds sing their song like wind jammers on opening night.
Ducking and diving like a flying kite
As I run to the sun like a shot from a gun
I begin to capture and manufacture.
One last picture one last frame,
One last look at this golden range
The earthy smell, surrounds me as I
gaze at the majestic spread.
I am so proud that I took the time to take
the climb down to the
Water’s edge.
As my hands glow, brightly red I think I’d rather be inside instead.

Casting in Hope

Simon Ferreira, Year 12

“Gross Domestic Product has risen to an all-time high in Western Australia, at two hundred and sixty-five billion dollars. This has been largely thanks to the significant developments within the commercial fishing industry.”

The veins in his forearm were even more prominent than usual.
“With hundreds of thousands of Red Emperor discovered off the coast of Coral Bay…”
He clenched his teeth, but had to release some pressure to prevent them from cracking.
“New Premier Louis Stanton, has promised to remove the quotas on levels of commercial fishing and pledges to return Western Australia to its status of the past, when it prospered from the mining boom.”
“Honk!” he ran through a red light.
“On an unrelated note, tragically there has been a sudden spike in the deaths of Hammerhead Sharks, not that we’re complaining. Reports are that they have been found floating, supposedly having died from starva…”
He slammed his hand on the radio. He was a peaceful man, enraged. It wouldn’t turn off. He hated his new car, he hated the fancy technology and he hated the lack of space for his fishing equipment, but his loving wife had given it to him as a gift.

He resented the obtuseness of the younger generations and longed for the values of the past. The roads were quiet. Another thing he disapproved of, the fact that the millennial generation who were seemingly contributing to the rapid ‘development’ of the economy, were too lackadaisical to wake up before seven in the morning. They set their alarms on their robotic ‘iPhones’ and woke up with just enough time to sit for half an hour in peak traffic, while tempestuously tooting their horns, before arriving at their desks. They were completely oblivious to the unique, alluring world that Rodney had experienced up until recently.

There was a calm after his emotional storm by the time he arrived at the dirt car park. The same one he had attended every day since his wife had passed away, quietly envying the peace she found. He always took the time to cherish the coolness of the morning air on his wrinkly neck and purple legs. It was pure, uncontaminated and uncorrupted, like a new born baby; it provided him with a sense of joy and hope. He clicked the button on his car keys, which opened the boot. He carried the tackle box in his good arm. In his other, was the bamboo rod, which he had received for his thirteenth birthday. His wife had insisted on buying him a fiberglass one as, despite her good intentions, she had failed to realise the greater principles the rod represented.

He waddled through the sand, like an injured penguin, finding tranquility from the individual grains of sand that glided in and out between his toes. Reaching the jetty, he felt great fulfillment as he gazed upon the admiral blue that was coated with a glossy glass layer.

He cast his line into the depths of her mighty soul like every other morning but this time with a desire to catch something more than just a fish. Hope. Hope for the future generations. He hadn’t caught anything in months. His children blamed his fishing skills, while his wife had blamed his equipment, but he knew why he hadn’t caught anything. There was nothing there. He sat and waited. Content with his own company, while admiring the waves breaking onto the shore continuously. With more grace and power in her than any machine.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it, the same as always. He refused to look directly at it. He detested its mechanical movement and the flagrant disturbance it created. It was clearly a misfit within the elegance of the ocean; it was a trespasser. So colossal, so pollutant, its appetite was one hundred times bigger than any shark or whale. It disrupted the flawless natural ecosystem and upset the balance, motivated only by greed. It was a profit-producing machine. Fish went in one end, and money came out the other. A wave of anger and frustration hit him again, “What gives you the right?” he yelled in anguish. For all the intellect within society, there was a severe lack of environmental concern.

Suddenly he felt something. In a brief moment of anticipation he stood up. His rod was bent, there was tension in the line. He reeled in quickly, it was heavy but it wasn’t putting up a fight. Rodney dragged it tentatively out of the water. In utter disgust, he saw that she was entangled; the nets were wrapped around her shell and she had cuts on her flippers and neck. She had died recently. Rodney fell to his knees breaking down into tears for the first time since he had lost Mary.

He felt another tug, too distraught to care. Before he could release the line the rod snapped. It was the same distinguishable sound that characterised the neck of a man being snapped, which was heard ever too often in Hollywood blockbusters. In an instant, the last aspect of his life that represented times of old, which he had clung to for so long, had been snatched from him. He was overcome with grief. The trawler had vanished beyond the horizon and so too had his hope for future generations and his beloved ocean. He was alone as he knelt on the shore and prayed for salvation.

The Great S(h)ea

John Simpson, Year 9

The beach was a scatter of parasols
The galactic glowing medallion rose high in the sky
Its beams reflecting off the glass, casting sparkles of light like diamonds.

The delicate crunch of the soft sand beneath my toes
Baked crisp by the rays of the sun
I trod closer and closer toward the deep howl that blew throughout the coast.

The great arms of the sea devoured the little golden shells upon the shore
She comes with such speed but crashes fast at my feet
I marched in and broke past her crunching toes.

I felt small sea shells brush by my heels as they were reeled in
I held my breath and closed my eyes before plunging into the great unknown
My head rose to the surface like a big beach ball.

I gazed upon the horizon, no land in sight, it seemed to never end
It was like a dream that I could never comprehend.

Seagulls

Angus Hammond, Year 9

On the wind I soar…

The warm air rising above the sand dunes below,
lifts me higher as I soar, watching the surfers in the ocean
the lip of the wave crashes, as they carve the surf
I now feel thermal pocket as I pass over the water.

I prepare for landing as my feet hit the ground
I spot some humans minding their own,
I lift my wings again and fly so low,
to meet these humans up in the dunes below.

I open my beak and cry out loud
so that these humans hear me throughout the crowd,
they all turn around and smile at me
they toss me food and then I flee.

I fly up high like a drone
And spot some fisherman and let out a groan,
I land on their boat and hear a cheer
As they caught a fish, I shed a tear.

He holds the fish up high
I take off, not looking back and blinded by desire
I snatch the fish from his clutch.
Something’s wrong – I cannot fly!

On the wind I soared…

MemoryRetrieval_Member:643748

Lewis Weeda, Year 12

Here I sit in my comfort++ office chair in the, supposed, era of prosperity that is cycle 976854. The Julian Calendar has been decommissioned; too unproductive, with weekends and public holidays deemed as wasteful. In front of me, the government-issued HD-LCD-99 screen switches from scene to scene of the subjects I am on surveillance today, a never-ending montage of toilet-breaks, office cubicles and bland lunches. It’s only 0900 but the excruciating boredom stifles me like a hot, humid day. I sink further into my chair.

“782366, can you pass me a FoCus?” Hopefully a can or two will get me through today. 782366 leans across from his station and silently passes me a cool can and I look back at my luminous screen. The Chieftains have placed a motto above each screen; “You can do all things through the State that strengthens you”. It is a funny little motto, a palimpsest speaking of another time erased benevolently by the State. Many things have been modified by the State to improve our productivity, all for the general interest.

The chute beside me makes a soft whoosh and deposits a chip onto the counter. A new subject. I plug the chip into my workstation and a motivational message from the Chieftains drones as the file loads; “There is only the present and the future. The past has no meaning. You can do all things through the State that strengthens you.” Today my duty to the State is the surveillance of member 131244. On the data sheet under the number it states, “MALE, 176CM, CAUSASIAN, COMPLIANT”.

Compliant ones are tedious to watch, they all follow the same pattern. First, they get out of their government issued ultra-ergonomic soft bed, then will shower and put on their government issued high-tech nanofibre clothes (“No need for washing – focus on the things that matter” was the slogan), then eat the same government issued breakfast every day including compulsory pill swallowing (“Well-being” pills they call them). Then will go to work to fulfil their duty to the State, all the while smiling with teeth straight as a laser beam. We are all conditioned to love the State and be willing to sacrifice ourselves for it. Anyway, I digress, my only concern now is the actions and life of 131244. On the screen a new assignment pops up: “131244, PARTNERING”. This request was fairly common. As a part of the supervision office, it was sometimes our job to find suitable partners for our members. It involves running the information on a subject through an algorithm that found a partner with a passable approval rating. Then they will be bonded like concrete and they will work to further the general interest, albeit to simply work until death or to have children depending on what the State requires of them. Of course, their medication was adjusted to fit their use.

The little colourful circle stopped spinning on the screen and spat out: “PARTNER: 239493. 59% – PASS”. I remember a few cycles ago the State used to hide the fact that they were pairing people up, making it seem they had coincidentally met at a social gathering or at work, but now simply a notification was sent to the partners in question notifying them of their relationship status. On the screen, the little CCTV stream of 131244 showed him checking his Tether like scratching a compulsive itch, the device used to send messages to subjects.

Love used to be such a messy affair. It’s easy now.

Anyway, 131244 seems to be fairly routine. He goes to work. He comes home. He takes his pills. This morning he eats his morning Continental Delight Breakfast Pack and walks to his bathroom. I stare at the wall above my screen and the tiny bubbles in the grey stucco make my eyes dizzy. 131244 is taking more than four minutes in the bathroom. I pull up the data from the past few days and notice a use of the bathroom that is over the mandated number of times per day. But then again this could be because some of the food that the Chieftains give members can create a visceral response of explosive proportions. Code of Conduct 253 requires I observe the bathroom tapes when an incident like this occurs. Most of the time it just involves looking at that morning’s American breakfast – Xtra Taste! coming back with a sightly greyer tone and a harder consistency.

But when I pull the tapes for 131244 none of this is observed, instead I zoom in to see the man spitting out his “well-being” into the faeces disposal device, his leathery face scrunched together like a stress ball. 131244 is not taking his pills.

The pills are the only thing that keep us human. The warnings that come through our Tethers regularly tells of stories of humans reverting back to animals and beasts when pill-free. But still, 131244 seems human. He had no claws growing on his hands nor fur on his body. He smiles a lot, then again everybody smiles a lot because “Nothing you wear is more important than a smile.”

Frustration drips into a simmering pool of malcontent bubbling inside me. Why is 131244 not taking his pills? 131244 pads quietly to his front door, puts on his boots and walks outside. He walks alongside another subject heading to the same workplace. No exchange takes place between them. She is female.

This is a clear defilement of many of the 58 Commandments, such as “You will not have any idols apart from the Chieftains”, “Do not defy the laws of the Chieftains” and “Be blessed with your well-being pills”. This level of crime requires the use of the wellness assessment box, a chute connected to every desk in the supervising office where the details of the member are placed. It is said that any application sent through this chute is referred to the well-being officer; their slogan: “Well-being, a holistic approach!”, although in reality nobody ever actually has met this officer. All that is certain is that anybody’s details sent through the chute was crossed off the supervising list the next day and never resurfaced.

There is no choice. I have to send his details. With my hand on the government typeboard, I pull 131244’s profile. With a clunk, I pull his chip from my workstation. It is cold in my hand. The opening of the chute gapes menacingly at me. There is no choice. I have to send his details. A soft wind chills my hand as I slide the chip down the chute. Just below the chute reads the Chieftains pledge, taught at all schools:

Praise Chieftains, from where all enjoyment flows
Praise him, all members here below
He’s praised above, a heavenly host
Praise Chieftains, law, our steady post.

MemoryRetrieval__Member:643748__Condition:Danger__Conclusion:WellnessAssessment

I Speak for the Introverts!

Jack Williamson, Year 7

I speak for the introverts
The introverts are no different from us you see
They are no different looking from you and me
They come and they go
And they keep with the flow
But when the spotlight comes to them
They throw it away
And become one with nothingness again.

To release the mysteries within ourselves
we need to look inside and realise we are paintings with colours alight
and our paintings are never finished and never not bright
Introverts, you see, are no different or more
they just hide their paintings because you might judge galore
they’re like people hiding in plain sight you see
it’s almost like trying to find a “Where’s Wally?”

people dance sing and drum
showing their uniqueness
even though their paintings are never done
they cast out light like burning stars or fireworks
and are never afraid to show their differences and quirks
they scream and shout and stomp galore
and are always colouring, colouring for more.

Its love, you see, that binds us together
but introverts think their social life is lighter than a feather
insecurity is the wall between them or could be fear or their own personality
they feel isolated from society.

That’s why I speak for the introverts
Because when they’re extroverts
they will speak, and speak with me!

Forever Gone

Angus Cullen Falconer, Year 10

Dark and lonely, days forever haunting
The thought of death, not so daunting
For much longer I shall not last
To die distraught, stuck in the past
Too fast too soon, it hurts to remember
Her face in my mind like a burning ember
Her blush, her smiles, I’ll never see again
For this I roll in infinite pain
What I saw that day I cannot forget
A memory that makes me tremble and sweat
It hangs around like a stagnant mist
From out of the shadows our car was hit
Slammed and thrown with a metal fist
Swung from the left, it was a truck not stopping
Lay on the road I realise, Her pulse it’s dropping
Her body is twisted, her blood is spilt
My fault, my doing, my inescapable guilt
The voice in my head forever yelping
My sanity… Like ice now melting.

Where This Flower Blooms

Sam Tan, Year 9

Feeling stressed, lost and isolated
The positive thoughts have much faded
Strong scents of the sweet fresh air
Wondering why life is so unfair.

In a field of glistening flowers
Sunsets in some few hours
Bees buzzing to hoard pollen
Petals before have fallen.

Great views of the vast valley
Lined flowers create an alley
Wind blows on a grassy sea
Sweet sun shining down on me.

Clouds forming into creatures
Spines of plants and all their features
Last light peeks over the horizon
Behind the fields, it comes in shinin’
The finale that one would recommend
Closed eyes as it all comes to an end.

In Sheep’s Clothing

Jack Logan, Year 12

They hanged her, in the end. From a limb of the Old Elm, as the first snows began to fall. Fear and hysteria had keep the townsfolk inside and huddled by the fire, and now winter would keep their doors closed. Bijoux had broken bread with the Devil, it was said, and now her corpse would serve as reassurance to the good folk of Salem, and a warning to all others who had strayed from the Lord’s path. “Lucifer seeks to sway you all, my children,” Reverend Parris had declared to the masses in the town square. “But a Shepherd never abandons his flock, and I will not rest until Salem has been cleansed and righteousness has prevailed!”

Lucy heard him from her cell, heard him every day. The good Reverend had many a time followed her home after dark with a bottle in his hand, and each time had stood at the threshold, a vampire waiting to be invited into the home of his victim. At daybreak, he preached holy sacrament and honeyed words, yet on each of those nights his breath had stunk of cheap alcohol and foul intentions. Now he promised her a swift end, if she confessed her sins before God and renounced the Devil. Rather than sharing Bijoux’s fate, he would take her out into the fields himself, where a musket would await her. Lucy had no reason to believe he’d keep his word. There would be no crowd to cheer her death in the fields, and the Shepherd had no shortage of rope. Nor did she trust God. Parris had always preached Him as just and fair, and yet He had done nothing when a good and innocent slave had been dragged from her master’s home to die at the noose. Bijoux had always been a stranger to the church, and that had been reason enough to tighten a rope around her neck. They clamoured outside her door now, the good people of Salem who screamed for the Devil’s whore to be judged in God’s presence. Holy presence or no, Lucy took little comfort in the fact that she’d be judged by Jonathan Hinkley, every bit a zealot as Parris, yet this zealot named King William’s law as his Bible.

There came a knock at the door, and instantly she became aware of just how cold it was. Did justice await her, or the noose? The guards gave her food and asked her how she was, but she did not say a word as they crossed the square to the town hall, while the sun dipped below the horizon and the sky turned crimson. Flanked by these gargantuan armed figures of the law, any rocks clutched by the townsfolk were dropped in the snow, and yet the congregation did not forget their gospel. Devil worshipper. Sinner. Whore. Witch. Guilty, guilty, guilty. The doors of the hall shut out the tirade, to be replaced by the icy stares of the jurors inside. All eyes fell on the accused, including he who would decide her fate, the judge called Hinkley.

“You are Lucy Fairweather?” Hinkley asked. The judge was no fool. As if they didn’t know her immediately by her charcoal hair and piercing eyes; half of New England had heard of the Fairweather girl, or her pariah of a mother. What did those eyes hide now, those icy daggers so full of sin? Hinkley counted on finding out, but he would not forget his pleasantries.
“Yes, my lord.”
“You are charged with Satanic worship and the practice of witchcraft,” the judge continued, undeterred by the accused’s near-apathetic reply. “How do you plead?”
“Not guilty, my lord,” Lucy replied, as if she’d rehearsed the phrase a thousand times. “I have never broken bread with the devil, and I’m no more a witch than my mother was!”
“And what became of your mother, if I may ask?”
“She killed herself, my lord. Drowned herself in the lake west o’ the village.”
No tears from this one, nor spectacle, Hinkley mused. The accused had described the seemingly traumatic event of her mother’s death as if she had merely fallen from a horse.
“And you are aware of the Church’s view on suicide?”
“Yes, my lord. And of their view on witchcraft.”
“How, when the good Reverend testifies that you have never set a foot in his hallowed hall in your life?”
Here she faltered, her calm demeanour washed away by a tide of confusion. Only now did she notice the Shepherd had not come to witness his flock see justice.
“Th-the Reverend, Sir. Where is he?”
“Not that it concerns the accused, but the Reverend retired before your arrival. He anticipated you would call on him, to repent for your sins.”
“I must see him, my lord! How can a holy man send good women to their deaths from the comfort of his home?”
“I trust he will send you to no such place, but you will repent.” The judge rose, his eyes for the first time leaving the accused to address the jury. “Good people of Salem, here is a lamb who has been led astray by the callous crime of her kin! I hold the Lord in the same esteem as you all, and I trust him to be just, and for his Shepherd to lead this lost lamb back to the flock. The court is adjourned.”
The jury rose and Lucy’s guards threw open the door, and yet those eyes did not fill with joy. As Hinkley turned his back on the accused, he saw only the despair of a lamb left to the wolf, shivering as she trudged out into the cold.

She was met by the Shepherd, flanked by his flock.
“Lucy, my dear. What say you? The rifle, or the rope?”
“Hinkley has sent me to repent. For your Lord to forgive my sins.”
“The Lord forgives all sins,” Parris murmured with a sage nod, and for the briefest moment Lucy was relieved. But then she was knocked to the ground, and the zealots seized upon the sinner. She called out to her guards, oblivious that their hands dragged her across the snow.
“But I’m just a Shepherd,” he continued, “So I don’t have to.”
From the limb of the Old Elm, Bijoux’s dead eyes gazed across the square, frozen in winter and alight with the fire of hatred. The bleating lamb’s feet left the ground, while the Shepherd led his flock in impassioned prayer. Up into the air the lamb jerked, kicking and twisting, up and u
p and up.

Extract from: Epaphroditos on the Wire

Lewis Orr, Year 10

“Barbed, Doc. Two wires interlocked, rusted into each other, utterly… impervious. Every night I see them, running my hands and feet over them, letting the blood pour… but I never make it over.”

“And what’s on the other side of this… this barrier?”

Long pause, pregnant in the air.

“Justice.”

I sighed, heavily. Too many times we had come to this. “And you think you’ll achieve anything by this… this innocence-act? People out there want you dead, and with hard evidence to testify. Maybe your sentence-”

“Paranoia, huh?” he snorted suddenly. “You really think it’s that simple, don’t you?”

I looked up sharply. I hadn’t realized his soulless eyes were crawling over my notes. A hot flush singed my cheeks.

“Past trauma? Remorselessness?” he snarled, voice now wrung with venom. “Do you think you know something, shrink? What do you really know? Just what do you know?” He spat out exclamations as if cadence seared his bloodied tongue. Perhaps he did deserve more than just this write-off.

“Well,” I said carefully. “Do you feel remorse?”

He couldn’t meet my gaze, eyes downturned and breath shallow. After some time he inhaled deeply, beginning to mutter under his breath, words taking a frosted edge. “I never did none of those things, Doc. I ain’t no creeper. Maybe one of these days, your kind’s gonna realize that, for that no sin of mine. Just ‘cos I’m black doesn’t mean nothing and you know it, God’s honest truth. Doesn’t mean I committed those crimes. Just what do you take me for?”

I rose. Eyeing him I couldn’t help but feel the conversation with this sullen, swarthy man was to go nowhere. He leveled his own glare. Cold fury tinged with an undeniable, callous sadness bored into me.

“In that case, thanks for your time. I have all I need, thank you, Mr….”

His eyes grew wilder now, pleading. I knew what he was in for tonight. Those of his conviction weren’t treated well at the state penitentiaries. They would beat him this night, guards and all, like they had without fail for a myriad of sleepless dusks. Every minute I spared him was a lifetime of solace.

“Nero.”

I refocused. The name didn’t feel quite right for some reason and I seemed to recall it being something different. All the same I couldn’t remember, not for the very life of me. I scrawled it down hastily.

“Thanks… Nero. I’ll give this assessment to Inmate Welfare.”

They took him away.

Be Free

James Walker, Year 7

We’re all chained together, restricted from being free,
Just you wanting to be you, and me wanting to be me.
We are stuck here in uniform,
Itchy, tight, uncomfortable uniform that we wear five days in a week
And we just need to seek, to not be the same
As everyone else; we make our own type of fame.
Where you are the star and everyone plays your game
The game called life.
Where you mustn’t lose but you don’t have to win
You just need to play it different than everyone else.
Hear the cries of the people who are coming together,
To make things right,
And make them stay that way forever.
So, dress in weird clothes, dye your hair a new colour,
Say what you mean to say;
But just be different from one another.
We must break these chains, these handcuffs, these bonds
To look at the world and look at it fondly
And see what we want to see, not what we’re meant to see
Look at the world, and what you could make it be.
Live on the edge, and just strive to be free.

A World in Pain

David Winton, Year 9

As the chainsaws rev up
The forest sways and the wind whistles
A silent scream of fear.
One by one, the screams fall silent
Until all that is left are memories
And a valley of graves, each different yet the same.
Their bodies are taken away
Taken to factories around the world
Some are decimated, others are mutilated
All because of the greed of humanity.

The oceans cry tears of pain
As the rigs are built.
They drill into the sea beds
Thousands of un-healing wounds
Bleeding dark, black pools of oil
Poisoning the fish, killing the animals
And destroying the ocean and reefs
All because of the greed of humanity.

Huge machines roll through the earth
Destroying the ground with their metal teeth
Ripping up the heart and soul of the land
The metals and minerals
Used only in the advance of humanity
All because of the greed of humanity.

Huge factories of metal and concrete
Spew thick, choking black smoke
Like burning wreckages
Poisoning the air, killing the birds
Their only use is for production and refining
All because of the greed of humanity.

Our world is dying!
Nothing is safe from humanity’s greed
Not the air, nor the land
Not the oceans, nor even humanity itself.
For whatever we do to our world
We will pay dearly for our mistakes
Mother nature has tried her best to stop us
Using her array of natural disasters
Tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes
But none have stopped us from destroying her
And in turn, it will result in the extinction of humanity
All because of our greed; the greed of humanity.

The Silence of Nature’s Salvation

Patrick Eastough, Year 9

The first step towards the corruption was a deadly sin
It forced us to do things that were born of hatred
And showed us all the demons within
We ask ourselves why were we even created

The violence corrupts and turns inside us
We need to find a solution to the violence
We must come together as a whole and discuss
Our solution has always been here in the silence

She has been waiting for her children to realise their mistakes
we try to find her, she’s calling to us, but we are lost
we must cleanse ourselves from what the violence makes
we find ourselves wandering until we are covered in frost

She makes us wander across the land looking for her
We cannot see blacked out by our own corruption
She guides us to tell us how we were
A story of when we’re in salvation

We were a peaceful race not giving into our temptations
We were a loving race treating everyone with respect
Then it started with no warning nor hesitation
That’s when mother started regarding us with neglect

We turned on each other brother against brother
Father against Mother, Sister against Aunt
We tried to stop ourselves but found we can’t
In the end, we will turn on one another

We turned the metals mother gave us into projectiles
We used them against all those who opposed
All shall fear the blackness that arose
We felt far superior than mere reptiles

That was the first step towards the darkness
When we should have backed into the light
And now we still feel the stillness
On many of these dreadful nights

She was always watching her children being so loud
When they were preparing her own cremation
Oh how they were covered in their own shroud
Not noticing the silence of nature’s salvation.

The Unnatural Way

Darby Coming, Year 9

Once a beautiful place full of life and peace,
where animals thrived and humans lived,

Our world so generous not asking for anything back,
We took advantage and began to attack,

Pollution contaminated our precious air,
Spreading death and destruction everywhere,

Our natural resources require a careful use,
Without jeopardizing the environment from their abuse,

We cut down the trees and began to burn,
Fueling our society and still we don’t learn,

Our once loving earth now moans and groans,
as the toxins begin to poison her bones,

Yet we still do nothing, watching it pass by,
Our earth warming up as if it were to cry.

It is a Gift We Bear

Jake Faulkner, Year 9

It is a gift we bear,
The sea, shore and air.
The meadows and butterflies,
We fail to notice how time flies.

The cliff face, sheer and tall,
Holding us up from a long, long fall.
Sheer faces white like marble,
And beaches below of dark cobble.

The waves crash against the rocks,
As the ships with billowing sails pull into the docks.
Wild winds whistle through the gaps, crannies and cracks,
As we leave, valueless, we seem not to look back.

The shores tarnished with our neglect,
It is a sin, humanity cannot forget.
As the years go by,
So, do we, without noticing, like time we fly.

Away from these shores without a second thought,
It’s like a disease we’ve caught.
Missing places as they slip through our fingertips,
Simply as we fail to see the value they hold, it slips.

The land scarred with our oath,
We need to be rid of this new growth.
Of blackened cliff faces,
And ignorance in the beauty of the wave crashing places.

Just because it doesn’t seem normal,
We seem to think it’s so awful.
No sandy shores,
We think it bores.

It is a gift we bear,
The sea, shore and air.
The meadows and butterflies,
We fail to notice how it flies.

Away from us, wasted and forgotten.

The End of a Puzzle

Thomas Hodge, Year 10

The house is cold. The windows are shut. The curtains drawn. They are downstairs. He is
yelling. Mum is crying. A plate smashes on the tiles.
Before me, there is a door.
In the centre of the battered white wooden face, a chalkboard hangs from a rusty
nail. There are five letters on that chalk board.
I barely glance at them. I’ve seen them so many times before, I don’t have to look. I
know.
Those five letters used to have meaning, a purpose. They had joy, they had sadness.
They had played chasey and dress up and puppet shows, screamed at me for using all the
hot water, for eating all their sweets. They were my best friend, my big sister.
And now they are just letters.
Laura.
Once, I felt like that name had meaning. Once, that name had put a smile on my
face, a spring in my step. Once, that name had been my everything.
Now, it is just missing. It just isn’t there anymore. Like a single piece of a great
puzzle, forever lost to the thief of time.
But I am the puzzle, and the piece is Laura.
I push open the door, releasing a musk of unwashed clothes, rotting food and mold
into the rest of the house.
Everything inside the room has been left untouched. Dad wouldn’t let the police
enter. And because he’s the shire president, they obeyed. The window is still open, curtains
pushed apart. Everything is still.
I step over the broken glass. The carpet is soft underfoot as I pass through the room,
through the memories, to reach the window.
The sill is covered in bird defecation. The glass panes are filthy and scratched.
I look out the window.
There is the tree branch Laura used to escape. To go see Jasper Jones. The tree
branch she used to sneak out that night.
A lump forms in my throat. Only for a moment do I let down my guard, and, it’s too
much. I am here for a reason.
There is no going back.
I reach into my jean pocket, wrap my hand around a small cardboard box.
It’s time this ends. It’s time… it’s time they end.
I push back the outer shell of the box.
The sticks inside are long, thick. Their red hats primed and ready for the task at hand.
I look down at the carpet of leaves at my feet. At the thin wooden nightstand
holding photos of her within reaching distance.
The bed and the hard mattress on its metal frame is taunting me. It knows what
crimes it has seen. What unspeakable acts it has allowed to pass.
The leaves crunch underfoot as I kneel down. There aren’t enough.
I reach up to the nightstand, pick a book off the small stack.
Laid down open on the rug of leaves, it doesn’t know its fate.
I look back up to the nightstand.
A photo of Laura smiles back at me. Her mouth doesn’t tell the full story, her eyes
full of alarm. Of worry. Of a secret that only she can know.
I pick up the photo, slide it out of its frame.
Her eyes. Her eyes. Calling for help. Needing someone, anyone to listen.
We are in a ballroom. Charlie is holding me. Supporting me. Keeping me from falling,
while we dance to the applause of a thousand onlookers. We move and weave our bodies
together, as one, to the beat of our hearts.
Nothing else matters.
We are here, in New York. We’ve made it all the way. We’ve escaped the feeling. The
memories.
We are here.
Nothing else matters.
I slide a single wooden match out of its casing.
I place the photo onto the bed of leaves, beside the book.
A rush of movement, and a single flame winks into existence.
This is Laura. Here, in my hand. The link between us fast disappearing. The missing
piece of my puzzle. Gone, burning me every time I try and take it back.
The photo bursts into flame.
I ensure the book catches alight before standing.
I step over the broken glass at the door.
Before I walk out, leave this house to burn, I pause.
One last look at the room. At the memories gone. The childhood shattered.
I wait for the dresser to catch light.
I close the door behind me on its squeaky hinges.
descend the stairs on soft feet.
He is still yelling. The walls of the hallway rumble with his scathing remarks.
For the last time, perhaps ever, I leave the Wishart house.
The smoke is already billowing out of my window. The fire has its hold. And there is
nothing that can stop it now.

Soon, neighbours were on their front porches watching anxiously. The fire had
consumed the majority of the second story. In the distance, there were the sirens of a fire
engine.
The crowd had moved to our front lawn by the time mum came flying out of the
house in a stream of sobs.
“He’s in the house! He’s in the house!” she cried.
People milled about anxiously, but nobody was brave enough to volunteer to enter
the blaze which, by this point, had begun to consume the lower floors.
Like I could care less what happened to that man.
The firemen eventually come with their big hose. Men in specially designed suits
rush in and pull him from the wreck.
I am surrounded by people. I’ve been offered water and cool towels. Words of
consolation, to a poor little girl who had lost both her sister and her home in a single
summer. Words from people who think they knew something about me, what I’ve been
through. Meaningless streams of dialogue. The post office. Jasper Jones.
My focus remains on the burning house. The falling timbers and flying embers. The
memories washing away.
And finally, a familiar sound. Charlie Bucktin. I turn to face him. He looks at me. He
looks at the house. And then he speaks. And those words he says.
Laura may be gone, and her piece may have been lost forever. But that no longer
matters, because I have just found a new one.

Changing Times

Ben Sharon, Year 9

The tyres rumble endlessly along the beaten road
Pastures fly past with cows littered across the grass
Trucks pass carrying their heavy-laden load
Sinking into my cushioned seat and homemade first class.

Years pass with speed yet we just get slower
Roadworks slow us like mud for longer
Religious to this trip just like churchgoers
Yet I’m only left to let my thoughts ponder.

Limestone walls encroach on farmland
House after house same as the last
Now all the once pure air is dust and sand
Circling the road alike to aghast.

White lines obliterate anything in their path
Machine engines rumble a distant chime
Construction invades land like a psychopath
All this down to the inevitable changing times.

The River Glade

Aidan Matthews, Year 9

I drifted upon my solitary trail
that twisted and turned through woodlands fair
I saw as one might see upon a ship that sails,
a haven of rest, safety, home and care
beside a river, so blue and bright
rushing and splashing quickly in the moonlight.

Winding and weaving it follows its course
through the vales and trees, with the breeze,
away, away it flows from its source
swift as the wind, towards the seas
where joined with many other creeks and rivers
it ceases to be single, and ceases to differ.

The river is home of the many and few
the many it welcomes and the few it blesses,
the silver fish in its mail and the trees of yew,
and the little blue finch with whom no one messes;
All of these I saw for a while
and sat there with on my face a smile.

And when on my chair I do rest,
I wonder of that little river glade,
which of my thoughts I do think best,
in my little haven of retreat, which I have made
And with that thought, comes a
feeling of pleasure, bliss and peace.

The Sloth

Ethan Riseley, Year 9

As a wind whispers throughout the forest,
The trees wave in the breeze,
As the birds sing in such a song,
And the eagle’s call rings around the forest,
A sloth sits there frozen,
Chewing on his leaves,
Hanging from its luscious green tree.

The machines yell in anger,
As the trees scream in pain,
They crash onto the ground like thunder,
Nature’s cry echoes around the forest,
Yet the sloth hangs there frozen,
Chewing on his leaves,
Hanging from its luscious green tree.

Only a single tree stands,
In the concrete jungle that the once forest has become,
A man walks by with an axe,
Yet notices something odd,
A sloth hangs there frozen,
Chewing on his leaves,
Hanging from its luscious green tree.

The man swings his axe like an executioner,
The final tree crashes onto the ground,
Its landing creating a thunderous boom,
Echoing around the city,
Yet the sloth just sits there frozen,
No longer chewing on his leaves,
No longer hanging from his luscious green tree.

There is no longer a whispering wind through the forest,
There are no longer trees waving in the breeze,
There are no longer birds singing in such a song,
There are no longer eagles’ calls ringing around the forest,
There is no longer a forest,
A sloth no longer sits there,
Chewing his leaves,
Hanging from his luscious green tree.

A Crab on a Beach

Jordan Bowling, Year 11

Light filtered down through the foliage and splashed warm paint onto Jacob’s forearms. He could feel the hair on them bristle with the warmth, and felt the trickle of old rain down his back that, before they decided to relieve themselves, had been accumulating in the bowels of the leaves above him. One step after the other, his feet shuffled through the damp undergrowth, the occasional snap of a small twig under his calloused heel piercing the quiet stillness that seemed to press into the forest like rubber to a mould.

The little boy was being chased through the forest, only able to see a couple of strides into the dark trees whichever way he looked. His ears strained to hear the calls of the others, and he followed their shouts blindly – he thought he could hear laboured breathing, and the crunch of leaves and twigs dissolving under the enormous weight of his pursuer just a breath away. As if suddenly injected with a cocktail of adrenaline and fear, he quickened his frantic pace, and burst out of the trees into a clearing. Lit only by the muted glow of a veiled moon, he followed a set of disappearing brown legs back into the ocean of trees.

Jacob’s wandering hands found the hard edge of a tree, and a spiral lip that snaked its way down the trunk. A rubber tree, he thought. He traced the whittled wood and pressed his fingers into the old dry rubber that lined it. It was hard and full of bits of leaf.

Three hands shot out from behind a tree, and pulled him behind it. A fourth attached itself to his mouth. Its tight grip temporarily suffocated him, but soon loosened; a wash of air came flooding back into his lungs. He was being pressed face-forward against the side of a tree, and felt sticky rubber sap suck at his skinny stomach.

Jacob continued wading through the leaf-litter that covered the floor, his feet adjusting to slight inconsistencies in the terrain, bending and contorting themselves to fit around bits of rock and damp wood. His left foot struck a root submerged by the leafy blanket, and he stuck out his arms to break his fall. His hands sunk into the ground before him, his nose pressed to the floor, creating a small well in the tightly-packed dead leaves. Jacob rose to his feet, and was in the process of wiping the dirt off his hands onto his polyester shorts when he felt a pair of strong jaws cut into the skin of his hand, like a fillet knife slicing open the pale underbelly of a fish. He flung his hand about wildly, trying to dislodge whatever creature had burrowed its mandibles into the flesh above his wrist, but the creature tightened its long mandibles and would not let go. Trembling from the pain, Jacob grabbed the creature in his other hand, feeling dozens of tiny legs and a long body squirm inside his closed fist. He inhaled sharply before ripping the creature from him, and flung the carcass away. He felt a sticky paste between the fingers of his pulling hand, and realised he must have crushed the centipede’s body so tightly that it burst, leaving a puddle of little writhing legs and insect guts in his palm. He examined the damage to his bitten hand, and found a head and a pair of mandibles still embedded into the side of it. Jacob’s nose picked up on the faint scent of salty sea-air.

He stood like this for a while, his stomach pressed to the side of the tree. Eventually, the hands released him, and he was able to look into the faces of the parasites attached to them.

“Stupid. You’re about as quiet as an ox.”

A lanky boy bent down to be at eye level, and raised his hands to his head, stamping the ground in an imitation of an ox. Two others laughed, joining in with his impression, enveloping the little boy in a prison of stomping hooves and horns.

The little boy opened his mouth, eyes pleading. “I thought he was chasing me. I tried to–”

He was cut off by a backhand across his cheek from one of the others. This boy was shorter, with a round belly, and wore a stained white singlet. He looked to be the eldest out of the three; he had small patches of black fuzz along his jawline and above his lip.

“Shut up.” His voice was nasally, but unusually high for someone of his stature.

The little boy closed his mouth immediately, his wide eyes fixed on a couple of straggly hairs sprouting from above Singlet’s lip. Lanky laughed. “Let’s punish him.”

The little boy felt a hard push from behind him, and walked forwards through the dark forest. It was only a short walk before the trees started thinning, both in density and in size; and then, suddenly, there were no trees at all. They had come out of the vast forest and onto a beach. The visibility here was a little better, although from where he was standing he could not yet see the sea.

“I have an idea.” It was the third boy, the one who had not yet spoken. He stood up straight, with his arms crossed, as though addressing an important crowd. “What we should do, is put him in a hole.” He leant back on his hind leg, evidently pleased with this idea. Lanky looked from one boy to the other, waiting for a response, before Singlet nodded, and said, “Yes.”

They moved towards the shoreline, and stopped when the third boy felt the sand was dense enough. “Someone has to dig it,” he said.

“Get the boy do it.” Lanky grabbed him and pushed him into the middle, between all three of the boys.

Singlet barked, “Dig.”

Jacob sat on the edge of the shoreline, his feet in the cold water. He could hear the gentle roll of waves, and felt the coarse wet sand between his toes. He leant forward, and washed his hands in the ocean, rubbing off the slime and letting the salt water clean his wound. He felt water seep into his shorts, swirling around between his thighs before seeping back down the sand and into the sea.

The sand was packed so tightly he struggled breathing. It was heavy and constantly pushed against his chest. It was as if he was trapped in a mould of clay and sand that had set against his body. “Please don’t do this,” he sobbed. “Let me go!” He could see the three boys towering over him, smiling; a job well done.

“Shouldn’t we let him out now?” Lanky turned to his friends.

“No. Let’s leave him here, teach him a lesson. C’mon, let’s go.”

Singlet grinned at the little boy, and stood over his head before letting a long strand of saliva dangle from his mouth. He swung it like a pendulum into the little boy’s face. “See ya, Spitface,” he smirked. Then he was gone. Then they were all gone, and the little boy was left all alone.

He woke up to the sound of screaming, and felt a sharp pain in his eyeball. He reached up to rub them, but found his arms were pinned to his sides by a cocoon of wet sand. He started to panic, and realised that the shrill scream that had awoken him was his own. He tried to close his eyelids, but found there was something in their way; something that was moving inside his eye. It rotated, and as it rotated the little boy’s eye rotated with it. His screams doubled, and he looked around, catching sight of the thing with his other eye. It was an orange crab, with two claws attached to his face; one on the bridge of his nose, and one in his eye. He could see the crab jerk its claw, and heard, rather than felt, the snap of tendons in his face. He felt juice spurt from his eye and run down his cheek, dripping into his screaming mouth. The crab pulled its claw out of him, and the boy could see his whole eyeball impaled on its claw, transparent liquid trickling from the puncture down the claw and into the sand. The little boy fainted.

Jacob squeezed the pair of mandibles embedded in his flesh and felt their grip loosen. He slowly drew them out from the hole in his skin, little by little, until he finally felt the whole thing come free. He threw the insect’s severed head and jaws into the sea and let the water wash over his hands. He felt it seep into the deep wound, and winced at the antiseptic sting of salt. He felt the niggling of a few grains of sand lodged in his eye, and reached up to poke his fingers into his eye sockets, fingers feeling around the scarred tissue for the source of discomfort. Unsuccessful, he dipped his face in and then out of the water, leaning back to lie on the wet sand. He let the water trickle from the sides of his face into each socket, feeling them fill to the brim with the familiar coolness of the sea.

Senior Editor

Finn Joyner, Year 12

Alarm goes off like a wounded soldier on the battlefield. I reach over in my best attempt to make it stop at whatever cost. Just like every other day for the past six years, I get up, shower, get changed, eat breakfast, and head to work. However, unlike every other day, today I am a Senior Editor with the Washington Post. Finally, I can have control over what I write about instead of some pretentious, egotistic idiot giving me articles to write. Arriving early at the bus stop gives me time to scroll through the usual click-bait and over-sensationalised ‘news’ that appears on my Facebook feed, being shared by irrelevant half-wits who I attended school with.

Messi scores a hat trick, Kardashian divorce, Fyfe is moving clubs, all the usual headlines after a long weekend. Checking my emails, I notice a recent inbox from my brother who is deployed as military stability in Darfur and the out-skirting towns. This should be interesting, I think to myself. The sun is still rising across the hills and forces me to step back to avoid the glare from my phone. I quickly skim through as I notice the bus approaching through the stagnated traffic. Same old same old.

Arriving at the office and walking past my old office cubicle towards the new corner office with my name on the front door is a highlight. Already a copy of today’s press on my desk, I see the article that earned me my promotion on the fourth page. Slightly disappointed with the efforts, I’m not gonna let that ruin my day. I immediately begin work on my article about the violent revolution and cruel dictatorship in Darfur, even stealing some of my brother’s descriptions like “war ravages on” and “race riots like lions fighting crocodiles”. It’s shaping up to be some of the best writing I’ve ever done. Smacking Control + S to save my document, it’s done.

As I spin around in my chair to acknowledge the beautiful view I have earned, the door abruptly opens. The Chief Supervisor waddles in, a stack of paper in one hand and a still steaming toasted sandwich in the other. Even with a mouthful of meatball and tomato sauce, some of which goes on my desk, he comfortably yells, “Hope you haven’t committed too much time towards your war thing article, looks like we’re running this instead.” Unbelievable, I think to myself; I thought my promotion meant I didn’t have to deal with this. As he confidently turns for the door, I glance at what he has tossed on my almost empty desk. “Just in! Kardashian Divorce?!” it reads. Is this one of his terrible jokes I wonder.

“Sir, wait! What is this?” I question, confused.
“It’s what they want to read; war is a thing of the past,” he chuckles to himself.
I’m not laughing. “Even as we all obsess about Kim Kardashian, the people of Darfur continue to die,” I reply.
He stops laughing and leaves. In the midst of my anger, I knock the small library of books on the edge of the desk.

After twenty minutes of silently reading one of the Christopher Hitchens books that fell, I receive an email. Excited about the potential of it being from my brother, I open it with haste. Reads: From: Daniel Adams, Chief Supervisor. Great. However, he asks me to go and run the article about Kardashian chaos to the printing machines at the end of the day. Looks like this promotion only means a new office.

Somehow, I find myself in the break room, deep in conversation with two interns about the Kardashian breakup. Considering I’m using information which I only learned today, I think I’m doing alright. Despite being a ridiculous topic of conversation for three (almost) adults to be having, they raise some good points about commitment. “If you put time and energy into something, you deserve some gratitude back!” the female states. This begins to ring bells in my own head. Immediately removing myself from the conversation I run to my office, after helping myself to a KitKat. I witness the sun sink deep behind the concrete jungle of our nation’s capital, the sound of motors storming down the freeway like the light brigade of 500, complemented by the repetitive sound of my printer combing out page after page. As the lift quietly seeps down to the printing floor, I contemplate whether I’m doing the right thing.

I leave the final copy of what will be tomorrow’s front page for millions of people worldwide, the headline reading, “War in Darfur, What is it Good For?”

Beauty and the Beast

Jack Beazley, Year 9

The beach:
So powerful,
So strong,
So pure.

It’s an enchanting place
That can revive and cure;
Gets you back in mind space;
Leave behind the impure.
Oh, what wonderful grace!
I succumb to its lure.

It’s not just one thing,
But a combination of all
Its personality and zing,
I am pulled by its haul.

The beach, oh I love the way it does sing;
The beach is my palace, and I am its king.
So vibrant, so blue;
The water, the skies.
The beach is a magician,
But in a disguise.

Though the ocean can be like a wild beast;
It roars so loud and calls my name,
Hungry, as it awaits its feast;
The beast just simply, can’t be tamed.

Where Does the Wind Go?

Tom Westcott, Year 8

Late at night I hear the sound,
Of the wind blowing through our town,
Wafting curtains and rattling drawers,
Whistling through the gaps in doors,
Scattering leaves in the local park;
The only movement I can see in the dark,

But one thing I’d really like to know –
Where does the wind go?

It travels down the street, howling as it goes,
Passing by houses, row upon row,
Passing the bakery, an oven alight,
Passing the post office, not a customer in sight,
Passing the grocery store, all the food gone,
Passing the houses with freshly mowed lawns,

But one thing I’d really like to know –
Where does the wind go?

The wind starts growling, screeching, pounding,
Faster and faster, its speed is astounding,
The rain falls in sheets, smashing the ground,
The roofs are rattling, tiles falling down,
The wind is rising, the sound is frightening,
FLASH! Down comes a streak of lightning!

But then,
Not a sound.

I open my window and look all around,
The park is soaking, the grass is drowned,
Dirty, muddy water, sticks and leaves,
Cover the branches of the old fig trees,
A post box is hanging loose on its post,
But the thing that grabs my attention the most,

Is the wind.

Where on Earth has it gone? Why did it disappear?
All that remains is a ringing in my ear,
Of the havoc and mayhem it caused on my street,
And the fading memory of lightning and sleet,

And now I’d really love to know –
Where does the wind go?

Does it rise up and live in the sky,
And watch the hundreds of blackbirds fly?
Or does the wind dive into the ground,
And disappear without a sound?
Does the wind make a home in the trees,
To live with the flowers, the birds, and the bees?

Now I’ve decided I have to know,
Where does the wind go?

But then I remember the way the wind blew,
How it swished over me, and whooshed over you,
And how the wind would howl and how it would blast,
But then disappear just as fast,
And how the wind sounded when it blustered along,
It wasn’t making a racket – it was singing a song!
Of Heaven and Earth and all things in-between,
Of myths and legends and oceans and seas,

And the place that the wind forever will be –
Woven within your wildest dreams.

Disguised Mistake

Nic Verryn, Year 9

An infant in cotton was brought to life,
From a wealthy businessman and his loving wife.
The cool, calm, childhood, narrowed his view,
As business awaited, he slowly grew.

His father’s crime,
Gave his mother many a dime.
But not until his later years,
Would true vision bring the tears?

When he turned eighteen,
Visited his father’s chainsaw machines.
By the forest he was amazed,
His desire to work was raised.

The naïve want for wealth,
In early years, brought good health.
As the years passed by,
The nature began to cry.

By forty years, the money had piled,
Three he had, of well-groomed child.
The children took the same trip he had,
The same tree crushing machines, however one offspring looked sad.
How could this be, the father thought!
A MISTAKE, an irritation occurred!

The child asked, Why?
My teacher said I’d see green.
But no green, no life, no love was to be seen.
In his office, the father could answer any riddle,
Now he couldn’t answer his six-year-old little.

Where is the green? Where is the Green?
A question on loop, no answer was given!

The father thought long and hard,
After the trip, the question didn’t disappear.
But the question erupted into more than expected,
The father grew angry at himself:
How could he be so confused?

On a spring morning, the father realized,
Not his little’s riddle but a crime disguised.
The machine he ran made nature, vaporize,

Now he could see as clear as crystal,
He realized the wealth had made the crime distil.
The father gave himself a choice.
To destroy the land, making the family rich,
Or to stop his crime, putting his family in a ditch.

An impossible process it was to decide,
But after time he decided to resign.
The six-year-old made a plan, building new trees,
Followed his father’s example, stopped the machines, the disease.

After thirty years, the tour was repeated,
However, this tour, with green life and nature, the father’s children were greeted!
They looked over the lush green land,
And their father told them of his tour, seeing dirt and sand.

The father felt proud, he knew he had done right,
Let his children see a beautiful, green sight,
And he thought of his father, making the decision,
He hoped his littles would have wise vision.

So, as the words are read by you,
I hope you have the wise little’s view,
To let the nature spread and flow,
And to tell this story to younger generations,
To let them know.

Clubbing

Bailey Vanderzanden, Year 12

The beat of the music floated in the air above their heads, muffled by the thick brick walls of the club. The heavy black entry door swung open, giving a staccato burst of clean sound and light from within. Two giggling girls stumbled on their high heels on to the pavement, their cigarettes hanging from the slashes of their red lips.

Cameron Mayer rested against the rough, red bricks that held up the Subiaco club. His mate Fletcher said, “Hell mate, we’ve been waiting in this line for ages,” as they both looked up over the people that lined the street up to the pulsing entry door. Cameron glanced down to his new Converse shoes, coupled with a new pair of chocolate Chinos, that conformed to the uniform of his generation. He pushed his hair back across his forehead, Got to look good to make some in-roads tonight, he thought, as they shuffled one step closer to the front.

As he chatted to Fletch he noticed a subtle tilt of Fletch’s head and a raise of an eyebrow, a familiar gesture between the longstanding friends, indicating “check this out.” Cameron looked over and saw two police officers, slightly blocking out the bouncer who guarded the door to the club like a German Shepherd who had been fed a diet of greasy chicken and caffeine. Cameron turned to Fletch laughing, “Well at least Big Boy isn’t chatting up the ladies tonight.” Fletch laughed as they continued to watch the conversation transpire between the men. The police officers were hard to characterise in Cameron’s vision. Their blue shirts and fluoro vests drew away from the features of their faces, and their bulky utility belts cut their figures, leaving a distorted, looming presence.

The police officers and the bouncer scanned the waiting crowd. The bouncer raised his finger and gestured to the officers in Cameron’s general direction. Cameron and Fletch looked behind them. Two girls were lethargically leaning against the wall, legs and arms at awkward angles. Cameron raised his eyebrows to Fletch, usual thing, he thought, just going to check IDs or that they aren’t drunk before they get into the club.

The two police officers began working their way down the length of the line, hampered by the roped area of the narrow footpath, their collective girth, and with each passing group of club goers sequentially turning and avoiding their gaze.

Cameron followed suit, turning towards Fletch as the officers reached them, “Gee Connor Blakely’s been a good development player….”
“…Hey mate, would you step over here for a quick word?” said a voice to Cameron. He turned around to face the looming figures.

“Mate we’ve been in the line for a good thirty minutes now, surely….” spluttered Cameron as he threw his hands out in a pleading gesture.

Fletcher chimed in, “Yeah … we’ve been here forever, can’t ya just check our IDs here.” The officers gave Fletcher a dismissive wave as one steered Cameron by the elbow out of the line. The girls in the line behind suddenly looked awake, mobile phones out, filming everything as they sniggered. Fletcher’s voice indignantly floated behind him, “Don’t worry mate… I’ll hold your spot.”

Within earshot of the line the officers framed him like two towers, with one officer saying, “Mr Simmons we’re going to have a quick chat about something that happened here last Friday.”

“Mr who?” Cameron exclaimed.

“We’re not here to play games mate.”

“I’m not … you said Mr Simmons?”

“Jonty Simmons, we’d like to question you about last Friday, when you slammed a glass into the face of one of the patrons at this club. He received ten stitches. Several people saw you flee the scene.”

“Jonty who? Last Friday? What are you talking about? You’ve got the wrong bloke,” said Cameron waving his hands about in frustration.

“Again, several people saw you fleeing the scene. We just need you to calm down and cooperate with us…”

“Cooperate with what? My name isn’t Jonty Simmons. It’s Cameron Mayer. I’m here with my mate Fletch and we weren’t here last Friday.”

Shaking in disbelief, Cameron reached down into the deep pocket of his jeans to grab his wallet, which contained his driver’s license. As his hand sunk into his pocket, time seemed to stop as the whites of the officer’s eyes pulsed wider and the cacophony of sound around him dulled to a buzz.

Cameron felt the force of a truck slam his right shoulder. One officer shoved him towards the ground. Cameron’s head jerked sideways and he fixated on the horrified face of the other officer, frantically pulling out a Taser and trying desperately to remove the cap. Cameron’s head slammed against the pavement as his cheek grinded the cement like sandpaper. The clamping force of the knee of a burly officer pressing into his back sucked the air from his lungs.

Skewered to the ground, Cameron could see the girls’ cameras zoomed in on his face; from this angle their faces now seemed dishevelled wrecks of the previous artworks. Drops of sweat fell down to the cement from the officer’s brow, as he barked to the crowd to stay back. Cameron could hear Fletch yelling at the officers to “Get back” and “Get off him”. Someone screamed as Cameron’s left hand was ripped out of his pocket from under his body. The officer resting his knee on Cameron’s back sharply locked cool metal against each wrist. The venomous cuffs constricted around his wrists and he felt his whole body immobilised. Blood seeped into his mouth from the pool forming on the cement, the sharp tang engaging another sense.

In the corner of his eye Cameron could see Fletch scrambling with his phone. He shifted under the weight of the police officer just enough to shuffle his head to see Fletch clearly. The squirming produced another round of rebuke by the police officers. Sounds continued to distort. “Officer! Officer! Mate! Over here,” shouted Fletch, as he held up his phone towards them. Cameron squinted, just making out his familiar Facebook profile picture beaming off the phone. Fletch was yelling hysterically at the officers, “Mate this is him! Look! This is Him!”

The Taser wielding officer turned towards Fletch. The sweat continued to drip off his now damp brow, as he said, “If you don’t put that phone down … Turn around … Be quiet … You’re also going to be laid right here next to your mate.”

EXAMINATION ANSWERS

Max Pethick, Year 12

I calmly walk through security and give the guard a smile. I enter the plane and walk down the aisle towards the back, scanning from side to side, looking for my seat. 1, 2, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D…3F my seat. Oh no! You can’t be serious! Why me? Why? Of all the seats in the plane, why does he have to sit next to me? It’s just my bad luck.

Sitting next to my seat is a dark-skinned man with a beard. He has a white turban tied on his head and a devilish grin smeared across his face. It’s not that I’m racist, it’s just with all the world’s problems, random terrorist attacks and fear of foreigners, I always assume the worst. I press my day pack against my chest and squeeze past his legs. His eyes lock onto mine and he looks me up and down. I try my best to ignore him. I sit down and plug my headphones in. I turn up my music and try to calm myself. Terrifying thoughts are flashing through my head. I’m beginning to sweat. What is this man up to?

After a while of listening to music on full volume and avoiding any eye contact, I notice he stands up and stretches. An awkward groan escapes out of his mouth while his arms are flailing above his head. He turns around and starts walking determinedly towards the back of the plane. I assume the worst. Who knows what this man is up to? I try to follow his movement with my eyes until I can’t see him anymore. I take one headphone out in case there is an emergency. I pray that he isn’t doing anything “terrorist-like”. Hopefully I’m just overthinking and everything will be fine.

“Help!” someone screams. “Help!” A hostess sprints down the aisle with a medical kit in her hand. I look around, trying to spot him, but he’s disappeared. He’s nowhere to be seen. Over the cockpit there is an announcement. The captain says, “We have an emergency! Do we have a doctor on board? I begin to panic and assume the worst. Did he just kill someone? Is he holding someone hostage? Has he just used a weapon? All of a sudden I see him moving quickly towards the hostess. He’s reaching into his pocket. I see something shiny. I have to act. I jump out of my seat and run towards him.

“Watch out!” I scream. I charge at him from behind, preparing for impact. I hip and shoulder him into a nearby seat. He bounces and lands heavily on the ground. I regain my balance and pin his arms and legs down. “Someone help! He’s got a weapon!” I yell. The man is breathing heavily now, struggling to regain his breath as I place my full weight on top of him. His breathing is restricted. “Please,” he whispers, as he struggles to squeeze out a word, “I’m..I’m…I’m a doctor.”

My chest tightens and the colour drains from my face. I’m in utter shock and disbelief. I pull myself up and let him go. He rolls onto his back and reaches into his pocket and unveils a shiny badge. “I’m a certified doctor,” he says quietly, still recovering from my blow. I stand up, completely speechless, and feel queasy and dizzy. I outstretch my hand, not expecting him to take it, but he does. He stands up and begins to stride towards the hostess. The hostess is horrified at what I’ve done. She turns her attention back to the middle-aged woman who is lying on the floor. “She’s had a heart attack doctor, can you help?”

For the next twenty minutes the doctor keeps the patient alive and in a stable condition. He is kind and reassures her that she will be alright. I feel terrible. I had assumed he was a terrorist based on his appearance. I never thought to consider his background or education.

The plane begins its descent and soon after, it comes to a standstill. The ambulance and medical crew is waiting to board. They take over from the doctor who has saved her life. I collect my day pack which is neatly sitting where I left it. I see the doctor’s belongings so I pick them up too. A photo slides out from inside his book. It’s him with his wife and two kids. Down the bottom on the frame it reads “Sunil Aashif and his family”. I carefully place it into the front pocket of his bag and place it over my shoulder. I walk towards the front exit when I see him walking back towards our seats. I signal to him that I have his bag. It’s the least I could do. He walks slowly towards me. “Hi, I’m Jack,” I say, as I introduce myself.
“Hi Jack. My name is Sunil.”
“Thank you, Sunil, for saving a life.”
“That’s my job.”
“I’m sorry for everything today,” I say.
“It’s okay. Every day someone abuses me and I have just got used to it.”

We get our bags and begin to go through security. I go through with ease. Sunil goes through and as he was picking his bags up to leave, he was taken in for questioning.

New Times

Kofi Raffan, Year 7

Everyone talks about the good old days
Those better days, those nicer days,
But now we need to live much different ways
Than the ones they talked about.

Today’s all about popularity
Some immunity, from insecurity,
Being the ruler of every…
…person in, society

There’s attacks popping up
Here and there,
Is it fair?
Who is there?
Does anybody really care?
Crash, bang, boom
Like a helpless baby bear

Fear is now in all of us
The fear that, we all must
Become a member in the crowd,
So, that they don’t hear us scream aloud
From the pain they’re causing within us
Is there anyone we can trust?
These people walking beside us,
In streets and alleys, all around?
We need to be more considerate
Not irritable, not vulnerable
Stand up to these people
Can’t be shy
You only live once
Don’t wanna die… sad and alone, nobody there
Think about it now
Is it fair?

From homelessness to anxiety
All we want to be is free
A mistake in our life
That affected the future
Can change our existence
And the way we live it.

But we have to live in this new world
Cannot change the past that’s occurred
Needing help, but just can’t find
That one switch, that relieves our mind
Because these… are new times.

Homelessness

Lochlan O'Brien, Year 7

It’s as if I am not a member … of this thing we call society.
It’s as if you don’t remember … that I am one of you.
Why do you treat me like I am nothing?
Like I am worth less than you?

I live on these streets that you walk every day,
But I feel like I’ve never been seen.
I sleep in this cold that you’ve never felt before,
And yet you still believe I can go open some door?

Some door that will show me the way,
like a beacon of hope in the night.
Every time that black carpet covers the sun, I am instilled with fear and fright.
I pray that I will survive the night,
To see another day.
But now… I feel like my final knots of hope are beginning to fray.

I have nothing but these clothes to hide me away,
From the torment and pain that haunt my head every day.
My thoughts are consumed by my next place to sleep, and my next meal to eat,
Never by anything beyond.
My life is put at risk, by the things you never miss,
Like a meal for breakfast, lunch and tea.
My clothes are hard and brittle,
And my suspicious smile symbolises the suffering I have undergone.

You look straight through me,
As if I am invisible,
Or maybe it’s that you fear what I am.
You act as if it is my fault,
My fault that I am this way.
If only you could see what has happened to me.
If only you had walked in my shoes.

Childhood

Oscar Melsom, Year 11

The thick wall of clouds drift towards the pale sky. As the sun sets and the cloud covers the sky the whole metropolitan coast turns grey. Tim, my son, is playing in the sand because the water is too cold. The sand under my back sends chills through my entire body. The beach atmosphere has become a cold and windy desert because of the early sunset and the cool night breeze. I am lost in my own thoughts and the sound of crashing waves, as time flies on. Forgetting about Tim, I pack up the sandy toys and towels knowing the car will hate me for it. The sound of him playing gets lost in the loud ocean. This catches my attention because he is nowhere to be seen.

Ten minutes go by as I look down the coast for any sign of him. The beach is deserted, like an abandoned city after a war. The night is coming, as well as the fear it brings. The howling wind and the roar of the surf takes over my mind. My brain starts to panic. “What if this is the end?” I think to myself. As the panic and fear take over my consciousness, I sit down and put my head between my knees. My eyes start to blur and hands shake. It’s getting really cold. As the last glimmer of light falls below the horizon, I hear the soft sound of footprints in the sand. The last feeling of hope summons my head to lift and turn around. There he is, waiting, leaning on the wooden pole. “Come on, Dad, it’s freezing.”