The Raven

2014

Winter

The Cull

Ben Skelton, Year 8

Eddy took a drink from his water bottle, enjoying the cool water and looked around him.  He took in the ocean, the sparkling water crashing onto the gleaming sand and let his eyes carry him to the horizon, but the sight of a red dot bobbing in the distance interrupted his gaze.  Shark nets, Eddy thought, the only thing keeping the sharks off the beaches.  The chatter of the families around him interrupted his train of thought and he placed his water bottle back in his bag.

 

He walked off to the glistening water.  The cool water relaxed Eddy instantly as it rose to his feet then to his knees.  Diving under a barreling wave, he stood back up, shaking his head to get the hair out of his eyes and was dazed by the noise.

 

A siren was blaring, cutting through the air like a knife through butter.  People were rushing out of the water in panic and surfers far out were paddling furiously to get back to shore.  The water was bubbling and frothing as people struggled to move, fueled by the fear of sharks.  Eddy stood frozen.  His mind was screaming at him to go to shore, but his legs were like jelly and would not budge.  A man nudged him forward. This forced his legs to work to keep him from falling.  Eddy waded quickly through the churning water, the salt frothing like a chemical reaction.  His steps sunk into the deep, damp sand and he collapsed on to the beach, his heart beating like he had run a marathon.  Children stood with their parents around him, their eyes wide with fear.  Many people had taken their phones out and were trying to capitalize on the situation by taking pictures for Instagram or Facebook.

 

The clouds had blown over the sun making the sea dark.  The wind had picked up causing the ocean to be rough and choppy.  Waves now crashed heavily into the groin, water sprayed everywhere from the contact.  Eddy stood back up, and regained his senses.  He looked in the direction of where all the cameras and phones were pointing and saw it.  A big, jagged fin dipped in and out of the water, rapidly turning at random points.  Probably looking for a bite to eat, thought Eddy.

 

Then the sound of guzzling fuel filled the air.  What looked like a fleet of motorboats descended on the sight of the shark, with men standing on the rims, eager for a hunt.  Eddy had been scared of sharks his whole life.  He was happy when he saw the hooks and rifles the men were carrying.  The bows of the boats rose high and put the boats on steep angles as they hit the oncoming waves.  Boats from all directions were speeding to the sight of the shark.  Eddy looked along, up and down the beach; he could see mixed emotions showing on people’s faces.  Some were covering their faces to hide their horror, while others were excited at just the thought of a shark being killed.

 

The dull white boats had reached the shark, their engines cutting out.  Floating into position, they circled the shark.  Eddy could only see the fin carving through the water, turning sharply when it came close to one of the boats.  A glint of sun caught Eddy’s eye, shining off a metal hook descending into the water.  His heart was beating fast again, thumping hard against his chest.  People stood around him practically motionless.  The shark turned one final time.  Swoosh!  The honed hook was thrust into the water and clouds of blood filled the water.  The man holding the hook tried to heave the shark up, his muscles contracting and his face bulging with effort.  Another man grabbed the end of the pole and together they pulled the shark out of the water.  The shark flapped around helplessly, as scary as it looked, the sight was still horrifying.  A third man stepped up beside them with a gun.  His face grim, he brought the tip of the rifle up against the shark’s head.  Eddy couldn’t stop himself from looking away.  The man fired twice.  Eddy and all the people around him immediately put their hands to their ears, the deafening sound ringing in their eardrums.

 

The shark dangled from the hook, squirming against the side of the boat.  It was obviously in pain; the bullets had only wounded it.  Blood dripped out of the holes in the shark, as its heart pumped its last breath.  Its lifeless body sagged; its fins hung limp and its eyes blank.  Eddy then started to trudge home, this new memory would scar him for life.

Bull Ant, Bull Ant (A Parody of Tyger, Tyger)

Daniel Bloch, Year 12

Bull ant, bull ant burning bright

Underneath the magnified light.

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy pincers or antennae?

 

And in what distant sand mound dry

Did thy bring tear to child’s eye?

What antiseptic should he desire?

To make their leg stop burning fire?

 

And what scratch, and what scar.

Determines thy, to inflict an ‘argh!’

And when thy fang sinks into meat,

What plan do they, your own defeat?

 

But what the hammer? What the chain?

Poison maker! Were thy insane?

What the anvil? Without sin grasp,

Dare your deadly ideas clasp?

 

So when the sky threw down their soil,

And layered earth with dirt to toil,

Did he smile at pain to see?

Did he who made the newt make thee?

 

Bull ant, bull ant burning bright

Underneath the magnified light.

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy pincers or antennae?

Double Gaze

Julian Sanders, Year 12

I first saw her that afternoon entering the house’s heavy oaken door, thanking a maid politely as she entered and placing her own grandiose fur coat on the wooden hat stand.  I had seen this woman before at various functions hosted by my soon-to-be-ex employers, though I had never once deemed it worthwhile to commit her name to memory.  Furthermore its utterance soon became such a taboo among the household thereafter, I was never afforded another opportunity of hearing it.  I think sometimes that perhaps if I had learned who she was my curiosity in her could somehow be resolved; but from the moment she arrived inexplicably late that day to a large afternoon gathering already well underway, she became an enigma who has captivated me ever since.

I noticed immediately at her entrance on this occasion the apprehensive grace with which she now moved, and noted I had never before seen anything quite like it.  I was straightaway fascinated by this woman, as well as by the marked ambivalence her entrance soon prompted on the generic faces of the other party guests.  It was not unusual at such an event for disdain to dominate the bulk of collective interaction, but the marked air of confusion as to how this woman should be treated was entirely unprecedented among this socially regimented flock of sheep.

A partial hush fell gradually across the party as the woman made her way through the house towards her hosts, the young Mr and Mrs Harcourt.  “Good afternoon Ross, Blair.  I’m sorry to be so late.  But may I say the house looks lovely, and thank you very much for your invitation.”  Though she greeted the couple as one may have expected, dripping with false cordiality, during the entirety of my time spent under their employ I had never seen this couple so close to being lost for words.

The Harcourts were considered by many (perhaps most of all themselves) to be an incontrovertible epitome of polite society, though this bitterly ironic denotation did them little of the justice they truly deserved.  A purportedly hedonistic lifestyle which their forebears had pursued for decades now drove them to focus with almost comical intent upon a distinct culture of inane triviality, leaving little time outside the conduction of various indistinguishable business ventures and facile social gatherings.  It seemed to me that superficiality pervaded their lifestyle so absolutely that even self-gratification and indulgence had become a daily household chore; and moreover the only such chore not habitually delegated to the extensive network of hired help, of which I now found myself a part.

“Oh no need to apologise, welcome!  I’m not sure any of us expected you to come considering your recent circumstances; it’s very brave of you and certainly a pleasant surprise.  I hope you enjoy yourself,” Blair Harcourt responded offhandedly after a moment’s pause, and proceeded with her husband to move away and take refuge in another group of partygoers without another word.  Insipid conversation and the relentless sipping of champagne continued after this initial uneasiness had been dealt with, while the woman was left standing alone.

With a dignified poise she then moved through the parlour to recline on a luxurious leather armchair, before accepting a refreshment from the waiting maid.  Clutching a glass of crystal she gazed with a humbled vacancy into the distance as she sipped upon effervescent liquid, while other guests stared at her remarkably unsubtly from the corners of their eye.  It soon dawned on me the irony that I myself was also gawking in much the same manner.

I looked upon her that day with a kind of vacillating solicitude which I had never before, or would again, find myself harbouring.  Even though I had come across her before, she appeared different now, and the silent disdain I generally reserved for those recurrently in the company of my soon-to-be-ex employers seemed somehow markedly unfitting.  By committing the unforgivable sin of being debased and humiliated, she had foolishly managed to pervade the overwhelming vacuity of their own shared privilege, and in doing so was afforded the ritual dose of pious contempt her associates took such ironic pleasure in bestowing.  It was almost a religious transformation; she had been involuntarily martyrised and served now, fleetingly, a truly sacred purpose to this exclusive sect of remarkably dissatisfied people.

It was admittedly somewhat unusual that they would select such an unwilling sacrifice from their own ranks, as opposed to a being deemed less worthy, but it could be considered almost bitterly heartening proof that their collective malice did at least not always discriminate.  I soon found myself in a state of near-hypnosis as these thoughts flowed across my mind, glittering as they did like champagne poured from a bottle, until it happened that a drunken, red-faced diplomat managed to jolt me abruptly back to reality.

This man, clothed in an ill-fitting decorate military uniform, danced across the room drunkenly past the woman as she sat, breaking both our trances as he knocked a nearby sculpture, sending a chrome stallion crashing into the armchair with a clang.  All heads turned and the clearly embarrassed ambassador quickly turned to the woman, yelling vehemently, “You bitch, you tripped me!  I don’t even know how you can show your face here after what your husband has done, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise you would lash out at an honest man like me so disgustingly”.

I found this choice of words interesting; it seemed to me that given the flagrantly illicit behaviours of those present in the room, the only thing any one of them could accuse her husband of was the act of being caught, though the hypocrisy inherent in their condemnation seemed to be lost on all except myself.

The woman took a moment to overcome her incredulity at such a vagrantly untrue accusation, but this was soon repressed and she rose to her feet pridefully, retorting with refined poise, “How can you possibly call me disgusting?  All you vapid hypocrites standing around drinking and thinking you’re invincible, I cannot believe I ever considered any of you my friends.  This could have happened to any one of you and you’re each as disgusting as I am, never forget that”.  With those words she flung the remaining contents of her champagne glass at the ambassador’s pompous face and made her exit, leaving the entire congregation in stunned silence.  Watching as this still immaculately dressed young woman then proceeded to remove her high-heeled shoes and clutch them by the straps, she then slid a diamond ring from its glinting finger with a palpable air of resoluteness.  In the same motion without any measure of hesitation I observed her discard the thing and expectorate after it, looking downward from the road she now stood upon with bare feet.

I never encountered her again after that day, and my employment with the Harcourt family was volitionally terminated soon after, but forever imprinted on my mind will remain the very last I ever saw of this remarkable oddity as I looked out past the meticulously maintained gardens through a small larder window.  From my vantage point I could see as she stormed unescorted through the lavishly adorned front gates of that lonely estate, and observed her look back at the manor for just a moment after, as if contacting my own eyes.  I noted then how strange a voyeur I might have seemed had she known of my preoccupation at the time.

I cannot attest still as to her exact comportment as she finally did turn her back on the manor and my own watchful gaze, but as I picture her again in my mind walking alone that afternoon, out far away from that afflicted edifice carrying her shoes, I see a satisfaction and determination in her that to this day I have never since found more contentment in.

A Gift

Hamish de la Hunty, Year 11

Egotistical dullards! Carelessly

Degrading that which offers sentience;

Spurned boon of liberty, evanescence,

Nature’s warmth forgotten so endlessly.

Clashing cacophonies of steel and steam,

A brash assertion of mankind’s desire

For arms, wealth, skyscrapers, a new empire.

A blotch of blackness, an impeding dream.

 

Relinquish! Must we walk on concrete soil?

Whilom, wildlife glowed like the sun and stars;

Roots danced ‘tween every creek, not Earth’s scars.

She gleamed emerald, didn’t bleed black oil;

Her gift to us, a treasure untainted;

Repay! Make us with Nature acquainted.

When I Shall Lay My Vengeance Upon Them

Harry Wiffen, Year 12

Oddly enough, there was no crumbling of my resolve.  No sudden wave of remorse inundating my thoughts.  There was only eerie nothingness, a sense of emptiness, as I watched him lie there on the floor of my threadbare apartment.  There he was, the foster father who had regarded me with contempt all my life, who had never even shown a shred of compassion or kindness towards me. The man who had quietly bullied and tormented me for years.  Father was dying, and I could not muster even a single tear to mark his passing.

 

I knew from the start that he didn’t actually want me.  It had been his wife that had twisted his arm into agreeing.  I later found out that this was due to them trying for a child for many years, without success.  I suppose all he could ever see in me was his inadequacy and failure manifested.  After my mother died there was no one left to stop him venting his frustration and grief.  I was the only one around to receive it.

 

I regarded him carefully as he took his last few rasping breaths, the iron smell of his blood prevalent in the air.  I couldn’t help but think of him like a shark, caught on a hook, near the end of its fight.  A shark is an apex predator; its entire life is fuelled by death.  Even now, as it is pulled inexorably towards its end, it is difficult to pity an animal like that.  The image made me laugh, “At least I could take up poetry in prison,” I mused half-heartedly.

 

His breathing suddenly faltered, his coughing grew harsher, and with a final rasp, he died right before me.

 

A very small part, deep down inside of me, wanted to think that there was something poetic in his end, that there was some greater meaning in my butchery.  The reality is that he probably spent his last moments lost in pain and delirium.  At least, that’s how I would imagine one would die after being unceremoniously attacked with a kitchen knife upon entering the living room.  Imagine that, dying in the living room.  Not even in this fact however, could I find cause for remorse.

 

This is how the police find me.  As the door is smashed from its hinges and splinters shower me like rain, I am sitting on the floor in a pool of congealing blood, knife in my hand and the body beside me.  I can only imagine how long it took them to decide I was guilty.

 

After being brusquely handcuffed, bundled into the back a car I now found myself being regarded by a pair of cold grey eyes.  “Why kind of sick freak kills their own dad?”  The question hung in the air between myself, and the officer in the passenger seat, twisting so as to watch the ‘freak’ they had just detained.

 

The question held weight.  Why did I do it?  I wanted a reason.  I wanted a motive I wanted to feel guilt.  Remorse.  Some kind of tantalizing reminder that I had actually done it, but instead, all I felt was emptiness, like it had all been a dream.

 

“Spur of the moment” I replied.  With a disgusted “tsch” the officer turned back around to face the front.

 

“You know what they’re going to say about you?” he demanded.

 

“What?” I replied casually.

 

“Son murders father in cold blood.  If you face trial, you’re going to get torn to shreds.”

 

I gave his observation thought.  It was true, the public would hate me.  If I cried and wailed and talked about how he beat me as a child, maybe they would take pity.  Then again, maybe not.  In any case I couldn’t prove it and what would it achieve?  A few years cut off a life sentence?  No, I would not sell my dignity for a few years of freedom.

 

“I suppose I will,” was my only reply.

 

The rest of the trip passed in reasonable silence from there, aside from the faint pattering of rain against the windscreen and the metronomic thud of the wipers.  The detaining cell they threw me in upon our arrival was cold, dim and had an oppressive air to it.  As I sat with my back to the rough concrete wall, the cell seemed to close in on me from my periphery and all the while, I was powerless to stop it.  That was when I first felt it – a flutter of my heart and a slight gnawing feeling in my stomach.  Barely noticeable as it was, I knew it to be fear.  This was where I was destined to spend the rest of my days if I didn’t fall on my knees and beg for forgiveness, or plead insanity.  Even then, my outlook was still bleak.  If I lived long enough to walk out of here people would still judge me, condemn me.  The only story they would hear or believe was of the son who murdered his father.  Regardless of what I did, there was no escaping the oppression of this cell.

 

Only as I lay down to sleep did I begin to feel the remorse I had so dearly craved.  However it wasn’t for what I had done to my father, it was for what I had done to myself.

 

I woke the next morning and noted that the clock down the hallway read a quarter past seven.  I became aware that someone had tossed a rolled up newspaper into my cell.  I opened it and read the headline, “Cold-blooded patricide in suburban apartment”.

 

At 7.15 that morning, I received my life sentence.

Peace

Lewis Orr, Year 7

Blade clenched deftly twixt finger and thumb,

Plunging and parrying to the combative hum,

Every stroke of the quill was a thrust of the sword,

A lunge finding home and an enemy floored.

 

But also his morals were engaged in this fight,

His soldier’s dignity, his pride-ridden might,

For the parchment was a canvas on which he etched a sad tome,

Of sorrow, and tragedy, dislocation from home.

 

For his time as a solider rendered him far apart,

From family and all that was close to the heart,

And when the battle was lost a schism was rent,

In mind, and memory, his soul truly bent.

 

He ran far from those memories, instead to this place,

Where those like him dwelt, those with wreckage to face,

He hid there in silence, but his hurt rang out loud,

And his heart grew twisted in misery’s shroud.

 

And now, on his deathbed, he sought to repair,

His kinship with family, the rupturing affair,

That racked him with guilt every time he thought,

Of his daughter, his wife, and the pain he’d wrought.

 

So he swung his quill to the battle hymn heard,

Drawing enemy blood with every proud word.

For the ink ran true on the dusty marked paper,

Depicted and portrayed by the point of his rapier.

 

With shaky gasps and ailing arm,

The words ran like blood from the tiring palm.

Now the seal of the scroll drew a last, staggered breath,

And he turned, with a smile, to the coming of death.

Feelings in a Box

Luca Fry, Year 7

There are many people.  You are like a still rock in a strong stream of bodies.  You don’t really have any aim or objective, you are just observing.  Observing how people act, how they fit in.  The cold tiles of the train station are covered in faint black marks and gum.  It is a chilled cloudy day, revealing the dirty black smoke coming off the old passing trains.

You see the dark haired kid pierce through the crowd of people, strutting through the train station at the front of his gang.  He snarls mean comments to surrounding kids that displease him, each having its own hurtful sting.  You can hear the distinct sound of his expensive shoes tapping the ground.

Suddenly the wild stream of people takes a definite direction, you being part of it, to the train.

You head straight to the back carriage towards the very last double seat.  There you sit, praying that no one will sit next to you.  You have no friends, no one knows you and you know no one.  All since you were stuck in a box.  A box of loneliness.  You created it.  And you can’t get out of it.  And there is only one reason why.  You’re too shy.  Too shy, scared of being judged.  Too shy to make friends.  Too shy to show your real self.

Finally people have settled into their seats, and no one is next to you.  Hardly any people come into the last carriage.  You’re looking out the window when you hear the carriage door open.  Your head turns straight into the direction of the door like a spring.  And standing there is the nasty kid with dark hair.  He and his gang walked down the aisle, considering places to sit, still tossing out those hurtful comments.  You stare straight out the window trying not to attract attention.  You wince as they reach you.  Finally his voice breaks the tension.  “Let’s go.  This carriage is full of losers.”  Relief floods into your body as you hear the door slide shut.

You concentrate on ways of getting out of the box.  “Maybe the short guy that hangs out with the smart kids would make a good friend,” you think. “He’s not so mean.”  Lost in your train of thought, you don’t notice the person walking down the aisle toward you.  Looking up at the last moment you see him sit down next to you with a half-smile, squinting his eyes.  “Ah, hi,” he says.  You recognise him as one of the tenth graders, a year younger than you.  You recall that he is autistic and that Nick is his name.

You are very nervous, feeling uncomfortable with the awkwardness.  Finally you manage to shyly reply, “Hi, Nick is it?”  Suddenly he starts talking about trains, in detail.  You join in the conversation, slowly, getting used to the natural flow of the conversation.  Finally he finishes the conversation saying, “Ah, bye – this is my stop.  See you tomorrow”.

“Wasn’t so bad,” you think to yourself as the train rumbles on.  A small smile creeps across your face.

A small part of that box had been opened, and the opening was only going to get larger.

Fireflies

Daniel Abimibola, Year 11

Alone in the darkness,

Still, alone, frightened,

No one is there, no one is around,

Trapped in a void of blackness,

Cold, afraid and unenlightened,

No one can hear, there is no sound.

 

Lost in the forest of your soul,

The forest that swallows you whole,

The forest that turns you into a ghoul,

The forest that you don’t want to know.

 

But in the most unexpected place,

You find a light,

Soft, pale, warm.

A bright light kisses your face,

A person has finally answered your plight,

You are no longer lost in the swarm.

 

The firefly that guides you home,

The firefly that you barely know,

The firefly that saves your life,

The firefly that ends your strife,

The firefly that saves your soul.

 

Here’s to all the guardians looking out for us,

The people taking their time to protect us,

Watching over us as we sleep,

Caring for us, preserving our dreams.

Here’s to beacons of light all over the world,

Here’s to the people who don’t think it’s absurd,

To help a person in need,

To help a person who’s down on their knees.

 

Here’s to the Fireflies.

One Lucky Night

Mitchell McTavish, Year 12

The rusting fortress instilled within the Comanchero Motorcycle Club Headquarters was giving me an unnerving feeling, listening to the swing sets swaying eerily in the distance and foreigners exchanging insults in unknown languages.  The clubhouse of my family for generations, located in Wellman Street Northbridge, had been deteriorating with the health of the neighbourhood, with constant gang wars and the arrest of our long-standing president, Steve Milenkovski.  A club-labelled black van pulled up next to my position, and the paint-job glared against the backdrop of the sun, fading into unknown territory.  Mark “Renegade” Vitos, who had just been released from multiple drug possession charges, was driving under the influence; a mix of codeine and soft drink was in him, but he had no illness.  The car had a quarter tank of gas as we sped along the Mitchell Freeway, an illegal pistol in one hand and a highly alcoholic beverage in the other.  The ageing 1995 Toyota’s speakers were bumping 70’s rock music and the heavy bass from John Paul Jones’ guitar was leaking out the windows no more than the smoke from the hand rolled cigar.  Whilst ignorant I was bliss, surrounded by a city of nightmares.

 

We kept speeding down State Route 2, debating the style of the new club jacket and winding down the front window to make our presence felt by whistling to all the light skinned girls wearing just enough clothing.  Suspicious stares highlighted the vibrant makeup that embellished their faces, covering the imperfections god had blessed them with.  Our Harleys were being watched over by one of the crewmembers at an abandoned storage facility just south of the city and the van was heading toward this location.  As we followed the GPS route, we moved further from home and I began to feel alienated in a rundown, slum-like part of Perth.  Helpless homeless families sadly found refuge in these streets and, despite the beauty in 95% of Perth, this location reminded me of a post apocalyptic wasteland.  But my estranged feeling was not due to the run down landscape, but rather the looks on people’s faces as we drove through.  Mark was about to pull in to a 24/7 supermarket when I caught a glimpse of three tattoo-covered soldiers wearing the colours of the Bandidos MC, armed with knives and what looked like 9 mm sidekicks.  Mark yelled “duck!” so I ducked, remotely covered by the tainted leather of the seat in front of me.  Silence hung over the scene for what felt like an eternity, until a wall of bullets came from the direction of the thugs, shattering windows, lights and the paint job on the car.  The bullets had come from the front, and my shivering body dreaded the possibility that these soldiers would fire ‘Hail Mary’ bullets from the side.  The sounds of the engine starting and children screaming infected my thoughts, but I remained calm.  The streets had allowed me to adapt to crime.

 

My blessed father was a great man and despite his best intentions to subdue me from the violence of the MC, his sudden passing forced me to carry on the family name.  By as young as 18, I had embellished myself in the culture of the club, leaving me no time or money to attend University, nor the will to do so.  After high school, I was a graduate looking to get hired, finding employment in a security job my father had arranged.  But these streets can be very manipulating, and I found myself unemployed after a short month.  Dreaming of the finest riches and the most elegant women, I was inspired by all of my friends to stage a robbery the third Saturday I clocked in.  That Saturday kept the coroner busy, ducking and weaving through streets and alleyways driving a van strapped with illegal equipment and the saved earnings.  Chris, a fellow club member and high school friend, felt exhilarated after the warfare, admiring my ‘talent’ whilst passionately singing the lyrics to ACDC’s Back in Black.

 

My family home was situated at the end of a club-controlled cul-de-sac in Northbridge, a dead end.  Underground games of Poker and Blackjack clogged the street during the morning, whilst a micro economy filled with everything from fake Designer clothing to heavy prescription drugs filled the alleyways.  Hard nights saw me usually wake at 2:30 pm, facing the reality of a broken air conditioner and an empty fridge.  Stand in president William “Jock” Ross called at 3:00, and his formal tone hinted at an upcoming MC activity, which was later disclosed as a house robbery to be undertaken tonight.  The house on Newcastle Street we had been scouting out for two months was notified as being empty for multiple evenings, making it as vulnerable as ever.  The sun attacked me through the blinds as I examined the local surroundings.  My matte black van reminded me of an army transfer vehicle straight from Afghanistan, although it didn’t seem out of place in this war zone.  The barking of German Shepherds concealed my reply to the proposition of the robbery, but this barking was not going to stop.  It has never stopped.  Like a military lieutenant, I aligned my tone and bellowed my response.  I had to say yes, because in a world gushing blood day and night, you never stop mopping up pain.

 

Cruising alongside the river on my Harley, I turned and looked directly into a green traffic light through the darkness of my shades, and the light reflected off in various colours like fireworks in the night sky.  I considered whether the graffiti covered walls along the streets of Northbridge passed for art, watching as the sleeping inner city suburb transformed to a living hell.  My eyes were blood red, and the bright lights of the nighttime sky began to pierce my brain to the point of a migraine.  Police and Ambulance sirens could be heard in the distance, and this began to worry me, as I usually do not notice them.  Like soldiers in a battalion being shipped off to war, we were trying to conquer the city, but with disobedience.

 

After picking up the van, fellow comrade Dan took one Xanax pill, to numb his nerves.  I never tend to overthink dangerous activities such as this one, but I couldn’t help myself tonight.  I would be locked away for years if I got caught.  After discussing plans, I hopped out of the van with a commando style approach, and I used my feet to kick open the rusted wooden door, which through my tunnel vision seemed to be the only thing that guarded the house from its riches.  Security alarms began to go off, reminding me of a nuclear countdown signal from the movies.  I like to imagine myself as calm and collective as the hitmen from Pulp Fiction in the face of danger, but in reality I was turbulent and furious.  Mark yelled something.  “What?” I replied, in a tone that sounded like the bark of a dog.  I faintly heard Mark say “…somebody is in this room”, so I rapidly hit the back of the house in search of any Nintendo, DVDs and Plasma Screen TVs for the trunk.

 

We made a right turn, then a left and then a right.  Then made a left, we were just circling life.  My mother called – “Hello?  What you doing?”  “Sleeping”, I replied.  I should’ve told her I’m probably ‘bout to catch my first offense tonight.

 

But they made a right turn, then a left and then a right, and then another right.  One lucky night.

The Boy Was A Traveller

Sam Wilson, Year 11

The boy was a traveller, his feet hardened by the road,

Directed by the winds; the world he had never sinned.

With his salt hardened curls, he never slowed

He travelled by the moving of the tides and the whisper of the wind.

 

As the boy travelled he wondered why;

Why the sky didn’t cry, as the earth began to die;

Why the strongest winds would only sigh;

Why the waters of the ocean would pull away, so shy.

 

The traveller boy pictured himself years ago when the skies were bare,

Not veiled by gases or buildings that stood as a legionnaire.

Hiding behind their clouds of cigarette smoke, rotting in the filthy air

The ethereal weight of Gaia’s future unknowingly in his stare.

The Need for a Verdict

Sidharth Bhargavan, Year 12

No matter how much I tried to find it, there didn’t seem to be an answer this time.  If I couldn’t prove what had really happened, then not only would my own reputation diminish, but a woman who wasn’t responsible would pay the price.  No matter what, I couldn’t let that happen.  I had never lost before.  I could never afford to.  I would be sent to hell itself before Autumn was convicted.  I stared at my hands.  My mother had told me that based on my hands I would always be successful.  Thinking about my mother always helped.  She had been obsessed with the occult, especially palm reading.  What was it she had said once?  “You will always succeed.  Even your own downfall will be brought about by success, and knowledge.”  Never had I truly believed her words, but with them at my side, I felt confident.  When the signal for the end of the recess finally started, I knew I wouldn’t be going back dejected today.

 

I walked slowly into the court, my eyes scanning the jury.  I could tell that there were many who currently would give a guilty verdict but with experience you could also tell that most of them could be swayed with the right evidence.  We were still in luck.  With the jury as it was right now, it could work out.  I made my way to the stand and studied Autumn.  Her verdict had showered suspicion on herself as it had given her ample opportunity to have committed the murder.  Even worse was that the bottle could be traced back to a store that she had recently made a purchase from.  I had just managed to prove that she had no motive for the murder before the recess.  Now I just needed to get evidence as to who did do it, or as to Autumn being completely innocent.  The judge took to the stand.
“The Prosecution is ready, your Honor,” stated Sartif.

“The Defense is ready your Honor,” I said.

“Very well, an opening statement Sartif,” he said looking at Sartif.

“Thank you, your Honor.  Before the break in proceedings the defendant started pleading guilty after our revelation of the fact that she loved her husband and had no reason to kill him.  However, despite this evidence the Defense insists that there is still no concrete evidence against her and believes that she is not the only possible murderer as she met with Miss Rogan as well.  To prove this claim false, I would like to call a witness to the stand,” explained Sartif.

 

My mind sped.  He had the demeanor of a man who had already won.  If there was a man who could get Autumn pronounced guilty; it was Sartif.  I watched the witness walk to the stand.  She walked with an air of confidence.  It was Miss Rogan.  What could she possibly know; did she lie to me back then?  Sartif cleared his throat, “This is Miss Rogan and she ate with the deceased on the day of his death.  She is also the last person, bar the killer, to see him alive.  I will begin my questioning quite simply by asking her to recount the events of that day”.  He made a gesture towards Miss Rogan.

“Well it’s quite simple.  I was meeting up with Hank to discuss the details of his next show; he had recently been offered an amazing chance.  It’s a pity though.  We just met at a restaurant and he left after saying he’d think about it.  That’s all.”

“Ince, you may begin the cross-examination,” the Judge said.

She hadn’t given much information.  I’d need to coax it out of her, but I feel like Sartif wouldn’t let it be that easy.

“Thank you, your Honor.  I would like to begin by asking Miss Rogan about the offer he had received.  If you could go into more detail please.”

I needed as much information as I could get.

“The offer?  Well it was by The Royal Ballet Company.  Had he managed to get the job his career would have sky rocketed.”

“So what was his attitude towards the offer whilst you two were eating?”

“Well, it seemed like he was pretty eager to become a part of their company.  I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t,” she replied.

Why did Sartif use her?  She wasn’t helping anyone’s case?  My thoughts were interrupted by Miss Rogan.

“Of course, if he were to take the offer then he would have to leave America for the U.K, and he hasn’t exactly got the money to take two along,” she stated calmly.

Dammit all, there was the motive.  A seed of doubt entered my mind; could Autumn be guilty?  No, thinking like that would get her convicted.  The jury was whispering.  It seemed like they were thinking the same thing.

 

It was then the answer hit me.  If Autumn was innocent then someone else was guilty.  Someone else who had a motive to kill Hank.  Who was it?

“Did any others meet Hank that day, or may have come close to meeting him?”

I saw a smirk on Sartif’s face; he thought I was grasping at straws.

“Why, yes, his friend Rebecca lived very near to him, they go, sorry, went, drinking often.”

“Rebecca is also a ballet dancer?” I questioned.

“Yes Becky was the reason that Hank got interested in ballet, why she was probably the happiest out of all of us for Hank’s offer,” she answered.

“That is all the questioning I need.  I would like to call the defendant Autumn to the stand.”

She seemed slightly surprised but nevertheless went to the stand.
“I have a few questions Autumn and I want you to answer honestly.  Firstly how late was Hank?”

“He was late by ten minutes.  He had Becky’s perfume on him.”

As usual she was to the point, and stating that she herself had poisoned him.  He had Becky’s perfume on as well.  This case just kept getting easier and easier.  It made no sense.  At this point it seems like all I could do is prolong the trial.

“Can forensics confirm this?”

“Yes, they have already,” replied the associate.

“What was the brand of the perfume?”

“ Oh it was some rare brand, by Jean Pateau I think.  It’s pretty hard to come by and has a strange smell.  She was probably the only one in the country wearing it,” added the associate.

Jean Pateau.  Where had he seen that before?  Of course.  He had the answer.

“Your Honor, I am almost certain that I have figured out the true culprit behind the crime, but I would need to cross-examine Miss Rogan once more to ask her something.”

“Go ahead, Ince,” replied the judge.

 

Autumn made her way back to the defendant’s stand whilst Miss Rogan once again took the witness stand.  This time she looked a little nervous, her hands caressing her chestnut brown hair.  She glanced at me, “What is the question, Ince?”

“Simple.  I would like to know why there was a bottle of Rebecca’s perfume in your garbage?”

She froze, shock coming into her eyes.
“Don’t lie I found this smashed bottle in your house.  It contains the same type of perfume as Becky is described as wearing.  You wore Becky’s scent so that when Autumn is also killed, she will take the blame.  Not only did you kill Hank, but you planned to murder Autumn as well.  You killed Hank because you were angry that he wouldn’t join The Royal Ballet Company,” I said.

“Objection!  What do you mean he didn’t want to join the company?  Miss Rogan said he was very enthusiastic!” exclaimed Sartif.

“That’s the problem.  If he really wanted to join then that would mean quitting his job and leaving America.  However, he didn’t have a passport and from his friends we have gathered that he was very afraid of travelling abroad.  We have only Miss Rogan who can tell us what he thought of the trip, but if she were the killer herself then the information loses all credibility.  Not only that, but most importantly, is the fact that Miss Rogan possesses ambidexterity, meaning she could just as easily use her left hand as her right.  Also it finally makes the missing glove add up.  Two weeks ago the ballet group went shopping.  All it would’ve taken was for Miss Rogan to ask Autumn to pay for the glove instead.”

I stared at Miss Rogan.  She looked pale.
“No, it wasn’t me.  It wasn’t me, you have to believe me.”

“For some strange reason I don’t.  You had a strong motive.  You also had ample opportunity.  You see this is becau-”

“Objection.  Your Honor, he is badgering the witness,” Sartif claimed; it seemed he was the one who was grasping at straws now.

“Objection overruled, continue Ince.”

“I also have evidence as to it being Miss Rogan.  The fact that Becky’s perfume was on his clothes proved that Miss Rogan had much contact.  If this meeting had happened like Miss Rogan described, there is no possible way the perfume would’ve got on to the deceased.  Also, given that the poison takes effect from contact with the skin, I think it’s almost certain who the real murderer is.”

I looked towards the judge.  “Well what a remarkable turn of events.  The jury may now make its verdict of Autumn Redford.”

 

They quickly came up with the innocent verdict.  I had done it again.  It had seemed impossible, but I had done it.  I took a long deep breath.  I tried not to, but I couldn’t help a large grin from forming.  Autumn walked up to me and looked at my eyes.  She grabbed my hands, “Thank you so much.  I felt for certain I was gone.  As thanks there is something I’d like to tell you.  Can I come to your office later?”

“It was nothing, if you really want to come you don’t have to ask me.  You’re welcome anytime.”

“Thanks I’ll see you at eight o’clock tonight.”

 

I sat in my chair slightly nervous.  I hadn’t realized until now but Autumn was an attractive woman, who was coming to my office at night.  I’ve never been in this kind of situation before and didn’t know what I was supposed to do.  A knock at the door increased my nervousness exponentially, but I managed to gather the courage to open the door.

“Hello, it’s nice to see you again,” she said.

“Likewise, you can sit anywhere you’d like.”

She looked around the office before taking a seat in one of the chairs close to the window. “So what is it you wanted to tell me?”

“It’s simple.  They aren’t always innocent.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s simple, Ince.  I want to know what is most important to you, justice or getting all of your defendants an innocent verdict?”

I was frozen.  The worst part about this is that I myself didn’t know the answer.

“You know, you are a complete fool.  Your mother had so much evidence against her, yet you believed her innocent.  You became a defense lawyer just to keep others from being convicted, to serve your own form of justice.  What do you think if you always get an innocent verdict?  You let the criminals free.  You needed a lesson and I needed him gone, so I killed two birds with one stone.  Just honestly think about it, would your mother really want you to act like this?”

She left through the door with a brisk air.  She turned to look at me before exiting.  I couldn’t move for so long.  I couldn’t think.  All I had was shock.  I had let the guilty be proclaimed innocent, and that wasn’t the only thing I had done.  What would happen to poor Miss Rogan?  What had I been thinking earlier?  That if I failed a woman who wasn’t responsible who would pay the price?  I had succeeded and nothing had changed.