'World Book Day - Future Writers'
Yesterday, I posted some insights into the kind of reading material that kindled our Form 8 pupils’ love of books.
Today I thought I would follow up by showing off one of the effects of that enthusiasm for literature: “Who often reads, will sometimes wish to write”. Below, you will find five short stories written by various members of Form 8. These aren’t pieces they spent weeks polishing – in fact, the majority of them were produced under exam conditions. What is therefore on display is their raw ability to experiment with language, structure and narrative voice. The vocabulary choices and figurative expressions are all their own; I think you’ll find them ‘nae bad’ for 40 minutes’ work.
I should warn that Georgina and Ellen have never yet met a vampire they didn’t like; their stories generally come rated PG for horror, terror and peril. Pity the poor English teacher who marks these things late at night, and then has to try to sleep.
I will post some more short stories this week to celebrate World Book Day, after which I will create a blog-type page on this website, which will be updated with pupil writing from various yeargroups every week. As Form 8 will tell you, these pieces were written some time ago, back in the Michaelmas Term. They’ve become even better/scarier since then.
Lastly, I must admit it’s a little bit misleading to call these pupils ‘future writers’. They’re absolutely writers already.
Harry looked down at his plate and sighed.
‘Just another boring school day,’ he said to himself.
The lunch hall was crammed with students eating their lunch, queueing to get some food or just hanging about to chat with their friends. The sun was beating on them through the windows, which had been flung open to try to entice the slow puffs of wind which hung lazily in the air.
Harry could see his friends playing football outside, and wished he could join them, but no. He left, and went to the library to see if there was anything interesting there. Usually he wasn’t allowed in the library, because he would knock something over, but when he managed to miss hitting the door, and peer his head around, he saw there was no one there. He gave a sigh of relief and trundled in. He still hadn’t knocked anything over yet; he was feeling very proud of himself.
However, then the stern librarian came round the corner. Mrs Filch was by far the most disliked teacher in the school. She was the reason why many people stayed away from the library. But even worse, Harry was the student she disliked most. He tried to move away, but was caught on the corner of a bookshelf.
Her face was pulled into a cold, hateful smile.
‘Well, what do we have here? I thought we agreed that you can’t come in here,’ she said in her cold voice, which seemed to penetrate Harry’s every bone.
‘I thought we had agreed that if you came back here, there would be consequences.’
She said this with so much menace in her voice that Harry felt like he was being sentenced to death by a judge. He tried to get away again, but was still stuck.
Suddenly, there was a noise outside, footsteps. The Headmaster came in with his tweed suit on.
‘Hello Harry,’ he exclaimed, ‘What are you doing in here?’
‘Um… just a bit of research, Sir,’ Harry said in a tentative voice.
‘There’s no need to be afraid, and please do call me Mr Purvis. Are you a bit stuck there?’ Mr Purvis asked helpfully.
‘Oh… yes, Sir… uh… Mr Purvis… thank you.’ Harry said in a more upbeat tone.
‘Let’s get your wheel unhooked from that bookcase. One… two… three….there we go.’
‘Thank you, Sir,’ said Harry, as he pulled his wheelchair out from under the bookshelf, and managed to push himself out of the door, without hitting anything, ‘Just another boring day.’
Twists of glinting gold cascaded in waterfall wisps from the arching ceiling. Lights danced and flashed, sending kaleidoscopic rainbows onto the smooth dancefloor, setting alight the windows that sparkled with jewel-heavy dew drops. People weaved and stepped, splaying swathes of billowing silks swirling around them in mesmerising patterns.
A girl danced. Her obsidian hair swirled around a glittering mask of silver that obscured her feline face. Coughs of gold dust rippled and shimmered in the rosy light, setting ablaze the velvet indigo of the night. The moon strode across the shivering dark, stars winking and dancing around her. The girl dipped and spun, her gown of peacock spraying around her, as delicate as a blooming rose.
A melodious silence fell as the music ebbed, and the girl bowed her head, trailing her flowing skirts behind as she sashayed into a shady hall.
‘Just for a breath of wind,’ she thought, and made her way up the curving stairs.
Soon, the arches of glimmering light grew dimmer, and a maze of dusty corridors crept up, with raven shadows leaping and flickering in waves. The air grew sharp, and her bodice of lacy frost grew bitingly tight. Her heart fluttered, jumped, cowered in jerky faults. Flinging herself round deserted corners, she pounded and gasped as the walls grew snug and the inky dark draped coolly over her.
Suddenly, a silhouette shifted and a slow shuffle began. The girl’s pale hands shook, trembling, as she listened with fearful eyes. It scraped and swept along the corridors, searching and groping for silken skirts. She took a step, backing against a dripping wall. The sound grew closer and she turned to run, spraying droplets of glistening blood.
A shriek bubbled up and let loose in the echoing halls before the consequences caught up. Slamming her hand to her mouth, she leapt, turning down a damp corridor. Looming out of the dark, a dead end chuckled.
She stopped, and stared. A slimy finger touched her shoulder, and her treacherous legs spun.
A small man stood before her, blood clawed on his fingers, drooping eyes. But his mouth was worst. A stretched grin puckered his face and hollowed out his cheeks.
Scarlet blood trickled off his chin, and a soft voice whispered, “I won’t be alone no more.”
The First Day of Term
The first day of term: brutal, unforgiving. I crept through the enormous glass doors, and entered a new world. Children shouting, passing a ball across the hallway, the ever-louder slamming of locker doors. The school bell that signalled the end of the hour’s partial freedom from work, lessons about ox-bow lakes, algebra, things that wouldn’t benefit anyone in adult life.
I carried my books in the same lilac satchel that I’d had since the age of six. A teacher bellowed, as loud as a lion’s roar, but no one noticed, and just continued gossiping. The hustle and bustle was unimaginable, like we were on a platform in the London Underground. Posters adorned the walls, advertising chess club, orchestra, science club, design and technology, ballet, debating society, and many more. I was in a sea of rucksacks, hairy legs, broken voices and girls, fluttering eyelashes at the rugby players. In two words, High School.
I eventually found my classroom after hours of searching the same pearly white halls with the same royal blue lockers on every dismal floor. I emerged through the door to a whole class of first years, and sat down behind my desk. I observed each and every one of the children to analyse which to befriend and which to avoid. A spotty boy sat there, with his hood covering his face and tight jeans hanging off his hips. Avoid. There was a girl in a school sports outfit with blond hair and cobalt eyes. Befriend. There were many other children there, but none I should mention. I buttoned up my jacket, and tightened the hair band around my pony tail.
The bell rang, and everyone sat down in their plastic seats.
I stood up in front of the whiteboard, and said, “Good morning class… I am your new English teacher, Miss Green.”
The copper light streaming from the street lamps had an effect on us all. It drained colour, making everything a lovely, ashen grey. It had an effect on humans, too. The dark shadows under possessed eyes lingered on the face like leeches. Skin was paler than shivers, and toes curled up inside of rock-hard shoes. The wind whispered like tourists in a cathedral, swooshing through the curled hands of trees.
I sat still. Alone in the cloaking darkness, the silence suffocating me. I lost my friends long ago. They were shot in the endless hole of war. The darkness was my fear, but my friend. I sat nearby a rifle store, perching, waiting. Noises of cars through silence spooked me, but they soon passed, leaving the stars, and I was alone once more. The moon was dim tonight, so the copper light took over, only letting a couple of bright stars shine.
Before I knew it, night was over. Ribbons of sunlight shot through the sky, banishing the black with streams of gold, mauve and scarlet. The noise of the morning soon came. Whirling of risky buses, the chatter of shops opening, the slam and open of angry doors, people streaming through the streets like confetti. The river gushed into a metal pool, pounding like a prison officer, angry, but somehow elegant. The murmur of gangs, chatter of girls, and laughs of humans made the sounds of the city alive.
The rifle shop opened, and immediately I sprang into action. Marching up the streets, patrolling outside the shop, making sure that no one would come in. A group of men in tweed came towards me. They advanced like sharks stalking their prey. They pushed and shouted at me to get out of the way. I tried to reply, warning them, but they would not listen. I screamed and screamed, but I was just another sound in the choir of the city. I was drowned, and was forced to retreat to my perch by the streetlamp. I squinted my bloodshot eye towards them, trying desperately to catch someone’s attention, stop them from getting the guns. No one was on my side. No one was behind me.
They entered the shop.
Once again, I had failed. Once again, someone will die from the bullets of that gun. Maybe I should just give up. Maybe I am just fighting for a pointless cause. I stood and thought for a moment. I needed to get out of the city, or I would die, sooner or later. I couldn’t live with myself, letting innocent people die.
I spread my obsidian wings, and flew away.
The Old Building
The wind shrieked in agony as it tore through the trees, wrapping round them as if it was fearful they would be ripped away. The gravestones, speckled like measles on the grasping grass, watched as the leaves blew off their trees to shroud them in tangerine cloaks. The gaping mouths of the church, defiant against the cold weather, overshadowed the flowers as they desperately tried to reach the sun, to feel her golden hair embrace them. The sound of footsteps squelching into the mud oozed around the church, seeping into the corners.
An old man, with gnarled hands clutching a broom, hobbled across the graveyard. His small white beard, frayed at the edges, blew like wet tissue paper in the wind. Finally, he reached the door with the ivy smudging it. He bent down, one frail hand on his back, and picked up a set of rusting keys. Prudently choosing the largest one, he placed it in the keyhole and struggled against the rust to make the door ping open. He tottered in.
Suddenly, a clatter of pots that sounded as old as the hills spun around the room. With a startling show of speed, the old man turned around, only to see one old, empty pan lying at his feet, gently rocking to and fro. The old man’s face twitched into a look that clearly said, ‘stop behaving like a jittery old walnut.’ He carried on into the suffocating darkness.
Abruptly, his foot caught on a chair leg, making him collapse in an undignified heap. A red trickle ran off his face, and snaked its way into the floorboards. An ominous creaking sound filled the room as the man turned, terrified to see a malicious looking rocking-horse, rocking back and forth. The curtains rustled menacingly in the still air. A jack-in-the-box burst up, letting out a sinister laugh. The old man scrambled in pure terror towards the door, which was still open, showing his porthole to safety. He just managed to see a lone leaf twirl towards the door before it slammed shut. He scrambled up promptly, to slip on water that looked slight oleaginous.
A dusty scent filled his nostrils as he opened his eyes to see a small, pink toe peeking out from a under a curtain. He stood up. Grasping an old pan, he advanced towards the curtain, pan raised threateningly. He reached an old hand, and flung the curtain aside.
A young girl stood there. The man recoiled in surprise.
‘What are you doing here?’ he said, gruffly.
The girl cringed. He only then saw layers of goose-bumps racing down her arms. However, her hands were obscured by darkness. He beckoned her forward, but she stood there, never moving. Finally, he took off his old jacket, and gingerly placed it round her shoulders.
‘Come outside now,’ he muttered, limping towards the garden.
She followed. Her hands, now out of the darkness, showed long black claws, tinged with blood.