UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 2016: 2nd Place 11-14 yrs Lorna Hatch


The Truth of Robin Hood


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…

…’Run’, a voice whispered. The owner of the voice grabbed our hands, pulling us through the thick grass. I stared at the hand in surprise, lifting my gaze along to the muscles in his forearm and up to the chiselled features of the boy’s face where a pointed feathered hat perched, and then down his tunicked torso where a bow and arrow was slung across his shoulders, to his forest-green tights. Wait, what? Tights? I stopped short, putting together the puzzle pieces. The arrows, the hat, the tunic, the tights… Chris gawped, reading my mind as usual.

‘Robin Hood?!’ we gasped in unison.

‘My name is Jack Forest! If it is Robin Hood you are looking for, I can be of no help to you. I may work for him but that doesn’t mean I like him.’ The boy took an offensive manner, as if we had just insulted him. I frowned at Chris, puzzled – who wouldn’t like Robin Hood, the kindhearted soul who takes from the rich and gives to the poor?

‘Speak of the devil, here he comes now with his bunch of thugs! Run!’

I glanced behind me and saw a large, round, grotesque man galloping towards us. Just visible behind his great bulk a platoon of burly soldiers charged towards us. We sprinted across the remainder of the field and disappeared into the surrounding woodland. As we stopped for breath, the confusion of the last fifteen minutes dawned on me.

Sensing my forthcoming meltdown Chris stepped to my aid. He has always been there for me, especially in the last year when Mum had been diagnosed with cancer. I doubt I would have survived without him.

We arrived at a tumbled-down cottage. Jack welcomed us into his home, and I cautiously edged in. Jack motioned at two rickety wooden chairs, then sighed and perched on a third.

‘I don’t choose to live like this. I was banished from the nearest village by Robin Hood – the large man on the horse chasing us, my Landlord – because I could not pay his ridiculous taxes. Consequently, I have to work as a labourer on his estate to repay my debt. But I don’t mind, it gives me a chance to take back what is rightfully the villagers’. He has so much gold he doesn’t even notice.’ His eyes suddenly lit up. ‘Will you help me divide this bag of gold between the villagers?’

‘Why was he chasing you in the first place?’ I quizzed, ignoring his question.

‘I beat him at his own archery competition.’ Jack admitted guiltily. ‘But will you help?’ We agreed, and Jack held the door for us as we stepped out on to the …

…Pavement? We were back! I glanced around. The door had gone but an AA man had arrived. He looked familiar, like, well, Jack Forest. I laughed in a slightly deranged way, as Chris whispered in my ear: ‘At least now we know the truth of Robin Hood.’



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