Word from the Headmaster
About four years ago Bruce and Sandra
Rogers from Zeus Publications expressed a desire to publish an anthology of
adolescent writing for
Dr Barry Arnison
law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain
life but poetry, beauty, romance, love; these are what we stay alive for.”
our busy, technologically-driven, information-saturated world, there is often
little encouragement or opportunity for young people to contemplate, reflect and
create. That is why I am always so delighted when students take time to write.
twenty years of teaching I have always been amazed at the wonderfully evocative
and entertaining writing students can produce. The stories and poems collected
in this anthology, I think, bear testimony not only to the obvious skill of
adolescent writers but also the wonderful fertility of the adolescent
short stories which appear in the anthology were all short listed for the 2006
Zeus Publications Short Story Competition.
am sure you will enjoy the work which follows and will look forward to the
bi-annual publication in 2008.
A generation of my
Is ever so quietly,
Drifting off the
of my existence!
They were there,
And real as laugh
creases on a face,
As crinkled velvet
skin, dimpled forearms!
They are not!
As simple as breath
leaving the heaving
They take their
They once occupied a
In my repertoire
Of people to see,
And places to go.
And they were simply
In suburbs, in
Doing the same
reassuring things each Christmas,
Each Football crazy
Each visit east,
Each sojourn south.
Saying the same
Quietly drinking home
brew in the corner.
A sense of permanence
Comfort in stability;
In things that seemed
to time’s insidious
Once two years ago,
I had a father-in-law
and two uncles, a
lovely generous aunt and
But they have since
And whilst the
sadness was great
At each moment of
ritual, symbol and
Despite every effort
to hold them,
To etch their lives
in the grain of memory;
In the sunbathed
The shadows have
and they are gone!
And time moves on,
So we – the alive
– live on!
And before we know
We shake heads with
A full year has gone
and then two
And then some more…
They are there in our
minds, our hearts;
But they are not any
more in the landscape,
And the mind
of the living.
They have left the
Read one of the stories:
The Fate of a Misled Lover
The fate of a misled Lover
Amazon started to come alive in the oncoming darkness. The sounds of scurrying
feet and soft echoing cries became vivid against the previous silence. Cold, yet
curious eyes peered out at me from the safety of branches and tree hollows,
interested and yet suspicious of my presence on that evening. I stepped warily
over hazardous tree roots, almost blind in the dense, foreboding greenery that
surrounded me. I was aware of all these things, but my mind was somewhere else.
Somewhere in the deep, dark corners of my mind, recalling the deepest and
darkest secrets I could ever have imagined.
My reason for this visit, for my presence in this cold, dark place in the
middle of nowhere, both chilled and excited me. In a matter of maybe a few
minutes, I would find out the answer. The answer to a secret, a question
unanswered for 30 years. A question which had plagued me; destroyed me from the
inside, ruined my life from the very beginning. I was probably in the most
dangerous situation I could be, wandering alone in the world’s largest jungle,
and with no protection. All I could think about, however, was the beginning, the
very beginning, of the incident that changed my life forever…
strode over to the bartender. “Another Bloody Mary.” I laughed heartily, and
sat down to wait. Johnny sat next to me, still laughing at that joke.
sighed. Johnny was the best mate I had ever had. I don’t remember the last
time he wasn’t there to make a joke when I was down, and then to somehow
convince me to place a bet at the Black Jack table on odds of one
hundred to one. The casino was alive that night, but my luck had run out hours
ago. Johnny and I talked a while, then I decided to leave. As I passed the Black
Jack table, I heard several loud gasps, and turned to see a crowd beginning to
gather. “Some gal just bet ten grand,” I heard a man with a crooked
nose say in passing. Curious, I decided to have a look.
walked over, and stood next to Johnny. It was then I saw her. She was small and
delicate, like the fragile petal of a flower, yet in her eyes burnt a fire so
strong it awed me. Her flowing red locks waved as she put her cards down, and
with a grin she shouted, “Hit me!” She was passed another card. All was
silent. Puzzled whispers escaped from the crowd. That was when she winked at me.
That flutter of an eyelid was all I needed. She had stolen my heart, and I knew
she was the girl for me. She would be mine…
I shrugged a vine off impatiently. The moon was just visible above my
head, and leaves whistled a soothing tune in the draught. All was calm and
serene. It was a perfect setting for the meeting, although I had not the
slightest idea of what I was looking for. But I knew whom. Would they really
tell me, and show me, the information I had craved for 30 years? I
heard the distant howl of a lone animal, and I shivered. Did I really want to
know? What would the truth do to me?
long red hair streaked wildly in the sea breeze. “This is a lovely view,” she said.
gentle rocking of the cruise boat made my head feel light. I felt my feet move
me closer to Penelope. Penelope, my good friend? Penelope, my true love.
Penelope, however, had moved away. She was standing next to Johnny. They were
laughing and smiling, gazing out over the vast, blue ocean. Johnny looked at
her, and took her hand. Penelope smiled. The sudden emotion between them was
something indescribable, and I knew without a doubt that Penelope would never be
mine. I knew that Johnny, my best mate, had stolen my true love.
The moon’s faint light guided me to the edge of a river. The water was
icy cold, but that was the least of my worries. I dug deep into my backpack, and
produced the remains of a ham sandwich. I flicked it as far as I could, and it
landed with a muffled splat. Instantly the Piranhas were upon it, tearing the
meaty morsel to pieces, their sharp teeth gnashing. In what I knew was my only
chance I dove and thrashed madly to the other side. My pack was left behind, but
that was not important. Nothing was as important as what I had to find out. As I
continued my journey on foot, my mind drifted back to the event that truly set
the wheels of time moving…
Almost everything was perfect at the wedding. The reception was elegantly
decorated in white and gold. All the family and friends were there. The flower
girl threw scented rose petals into the aisle. There was laughing and kissing,
and tears of joy on everyone’s cheeks. Yes, everything was perfect about that
wedding. Everything except me. Only I, Johnny’s best man, nursed anger and
resentment as they walked up the aisle. Only I felt the true dreaded meaning of
those words as the priest pronounced them husband and wife. Only I cried tears,
not of joy, but of cold hard loss and despair.
It had become truly dark and cold and my clothes sagged heavily against
me. I rounded a corner and stopped. I was on the edge of a small clearing. In
the middle stood a small wooden hut with a large padlock. My hand fell to my
left trouser pocket. In there was the key; the key to that padlock; the key to
knowing; the key to the rest of my life.
I took out the key and moved it into the path of light. It looked
ordinary enough, small and gold, the kind a locksmith makes. I had done the
hardest part of the journey, swimming through Piranha-infested waters and
wandering blindly through the rainforest. All I had to do was open that door. I
hesitated. I couldn’t face up to it; I couldn’t do it, not after what I’d
was announced only two weeks after the wedding. Both Johnny and I were drafted
into the army, as part of the infantry. Our patrols worked closely together, so
Johnny and I saw a lot of each other. I remained civil and friendly towards him,
but in my heart I never felt quite the same. I guess there’s no room for
emotion during the war.
remained in relative safety and saw no action for three weeks. Then they were
upon us, so suddenly and swiftly we didn’t have time to blink. Bomber after
bomber flew overhead. We were outnumbered and outmanoeuvred. Every minute lived
was another minute spared from being a sorry, bloody mess scattered over the
month into the war, Johnny’s patrol was sent out to survey the area. I was on
as radio monitor. Any messages sent to headquarters would be heard by me. I
received quite a few in the early afternoon, but as the night went on there were
less and less. I was tired, and beginning to doze off, when a voice came
crackling over the line forcing me to sit bolt upright in my chair. I still
remember every word of that conversation.
“Patrol seven to Mission Control, come in
“Mate, you’ve gotta help us. There’s been an ambush. We’ve got
ten casualties and five men down. They’re coming back; you’ve got to get
someone out here. Hurry, man, hurry…Ah, dear God…My
“Johnny, Johnny, where are you?”
“South side of the…trench…oh no…AHH!!!”
The line went dead.
I found myself, without realizing, stumbling towards the hut. I had gone
too far to turn back now. A small slither of light forced its way under the
door. I gripped the key tightly in my cold, clammy hand. With a sickening thud,
it turned in the lock. It clicked. My heart beat a mad tribal dance under my
shirt. I wasn’t ready, but I grabbed that doorknob. I would never be ready,
but I opened that door. I had to be ready, as I greeted the man that would make
or break me.
The man who stood in the doorway looked about sixty-years old. His back
was curved in an elderly manner, and he walked with a cane. He had grown his
matted, white beard, which now hid his sagging jaw line. He wore a suit similar
to that of an archaeologist. But it was not these features which caused me to
freeze in utter confusion and amazement. It was his face. His soft blue eyes,
his short blunt nose and his big, toothy grin. The grin I had seen at the
casino, on the cruise ship, and at his wedding.
“Come in old chap!” Johnny said heartily. Before I could refuse he
grabbed my hand and pulled me, closing the door behind him.
“Warm yourself by the fire, man. You seem to have had a dip in the
river before you came.”
The room was small, yet somewhat cosy. Sketches of plants and landscapes
lined the walls. In the corner were a bed and a chest of drawers. A kettle was
boiling noisily by the fire. I sat down next to my best mate, and he began to
tell me what I hadn’t known for the last thirty years…
patrol was caught out in the open when a squad of bombers flew overhead. Three
bombs fell, killing all of the men but Johnny. The planes had turned around, and
were coming back to finish the job. That was when he radioed me. His leg was
seriously injured during the blast. Before the planes saw him, he had hidden
himself under the dead body of another man, and the enemy, assuming they had all
perished, flew off.
he managed to crawl to the edge of a forest, where he was found, barely alive,
by a group of monks, who lived in a monastery nearby. They housed him, fed him
and taught him the ways of the monk. After leaving the monastery, he visited a
village for supplies, before going off into the dense forest to start his life
as a hermit. It was on this visit when he saw the newspaper headline, which
read: ‘DISAPPEARANCE OF PATROL SEVEN. WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN, NO CONTACT MADE.’
It was then he realized what I had done, or what I hadn’t done.
I was going to call for help. I was in the doorway ready to open my mouth. But
then I remembered Penelope, and her gorgeous smile, and how Johnny had so
cruelly ripped her away from me. I remembered the cruelty and resentment I had
felt. So I made the choice to say nothing. To leave Johnny for dead. To get my
“So you see, I sent you this key, and called you here today, to tell
you that you are forgiven,” Johnny said. “The monks’ ways have shown me
that the human mind and soul is no place for feelings of anger and aggression. I
understand the reasons for your actions, and feel truly sorry that you were
compelled to commit such an act. But that is all in the past, let us put it all
behind us and move on. I hope you have enjoyed reliving the old times tonight. I
have called a helicopter to escort you back to your current residence. I hope I
will see you again.”
I had not said a word for the entire evening, and I kept my silence as he
led me outside. The fact that Johnny was alive and well was truly incredible.
That he was willing to forgive me was even more amazing, even puzzling. Those
monks had helped Johnny to gain a peace in his heart that I never would have.
Even though I had discovered the truth, I would never forgive myself for what I
had done, even if Johnny had.
Without warning, as I was standing in the middle of the clearing, I felt
something shove me from behind. I fell forward, and the ground suddenly gave way
beneath me. I was falling freely, screaming and struggling, until I landed in a
pool of water. Once more I felt the water’s icy, merciless grip. I was
treading water, and I found I had fallen at least thirty metres, through a hole
with sloping sides and no way out. Peering over the side of the hole was Johnny,
his calm, friendly smile now replaced with a maniacal grin.
“Did you honestly think I could forgive you so easily after what you
did to me? I spent all this time building the perfect underground cavern, with
the perfect trap just for you. Did you know the water you’re swimming in now
connects with the river? That’s right, everything living in that water, is in this
water. I believe you may have met some of them previously? I’m sure they will
be happy to see you again. Feast, my beasties, feast! Feast on this scrumptious
meal I have brought you. You, my jealous friend, will see soon enough that you
deserve everything that’s coming to you. He he he he he he ha … ha ha ha
I looked down to see a silver mass in the water around me. A sharp pain
pierced my side. The silver soon turned to red. Maybe I did deserve this fate,
but I would never have time to figure it out.
As my frantic kicks became slower and slower, I gave in to the
realization that my fate would be the same as that ham sandwich.
© Casey Linton 2006
Junior Winner 2006 – Year 9
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