UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 2016: 2nd Place 15-18 yrs William Johnson

Perspective *

 

Thomas (the pupil)

It was going to be a great day. One, there were no lessons as we were going to this festival thing at the university in Norwich, two, Mum seemed to be getting better, and three…

I didn’t get as far as three because the bus sort of juddered and made a noise like someone scraping their fingernails across a blackboard. And the driver said the word Mum says I mustn’t ever use. He swung the wheel to the left and, with a couple of bumps and more scraping sounds, it stopped.

‘Sorry, folks, it’s a puncture,’ said the driver. So our teachers got us out of the bus, with lots of sighing and looking at their watches, while he changed the wheel. We’d stopped in a narrow road with a long flint wall running along beside it. I was about to take a photo of the driver, who’d got very red in the face, when I noticed the door in the wall beside me.

‘Look at that,’ I said to Chris.

‘’Why would you make a door that small?’ he asked. ‘It’s weird.’

Then it swung open. Not wide open, just a crack.

‘Shall we..? I asked.

Chris grinned. The door opened almost before I touched it and immediately Chris and I were in this huge green field. Which is when an arrow thwacked past my left ear and landed in the wall. Which wasn’t flint anymore but wood.

‘What on earth?’ yelped Chris. We turned round to get away from whoever was shooting arrows at us, when we saw that the door had gone. Disappeared. It just wasn’t there. And that’s when we heard the shouts and heard the dogs and I froze. Terror engulfed my muscles, brain, heart. Then the pain. I looked at the arrow lodged in my stomach. The barking slowed, Chris’ desperate screams became whispers. This must be what Mum felt like. I was afraid. So afraid.

 

Gavin (the driver)

Those bloody kids. Every day they screamed at each other, threw insults and disgusted me with their habitual ignorance. I always felt deeply sorry for their teachers, dealing with juvenile delinquents whose idea of joy is the latest console game. Their eyes flickering across the screen constantly as their undeveloped minds seek to interpret the pixels. As I say, kids angered me, and teachers earned my fullest regret and heartache. But as I stared inquisitively on the terrified face of Miss Sharpe, I myself feared the consequences for her and the missing boys.

The sun beat down maliciously on my shoulders, intense rays ricocheted off the flint wall and struck me. I decided to retreat into my bus.

“Can everyone line up, please?”

“Sarah, when did you last see them?”

“Will more of us be taken?”

“Nobody was taken!”

“Taken?”

Their exclamations were no longer audible as the bus doors shuddered shut and the air con kicked in. This was my private sanctuary. As I flicked my hoola-girl, and my mind wandered down the street, our original destination brought my fist slamming into the steering wheel. The university. My degree. My life had cascaded from its potential glory to this. This measly salary and ghastly hours. ‘Have a nice day’ remained the extend of my vocalisation while my impressive vocabulary lay suppressed in the reaches of my mind. Or maybe this was an excuse for my anger, and my pride sought to cover my inner terror for the missing children.

 

Narthorn (the bowman)

The outlanders have persisted in their sordid negligence of our designated boundaries for too long. I could not suppress my aggression any longer, discarding our passive nature, I did what was right, what would keep our village safe from their wrath. What I could not suppress was my inner fear; it consumed me like a virus. My bowstring quivered as my hand pulsated under the pressure of what might happen. The outlanders would never forget, the outlanders would never give in, the outlanders would want war. Their slain youngsters were only the beginning.

Beord could not keep his eyes from the gnarled corpses of the young ones; fibres of cloth swam on the gleaming scarlet that seeped from their wounds. Glancing at Beord again, I realised that he was tracing back the shaving of wood that was embedded in one of their finger-nails to the scratching on the wall. But their suffering, no matter how severe, could not detract from the significance of this event. War would find us, the outlanders would arrive in their masses and it would be our young who begged for salvation. I felt my arrows and ran my fingers down their acute tips. Let them come.
 

* The first part of this story, in italics, was written by festival organiser, author and competition co-judge Antoinette Moses. The title and decision to write it from three perspectives is, however, the brainwave of William and we salute his originality.

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