PAPERBACK BOOKS
THE SOMERSET COLLECTION 2006

This book is the second in a series of anthologies and contains short stories from students of Somerset College , Gold Coast , Australia .  

We at Zeus Publications are proud to have been part of making a number of students’ dreams come true by their becoming published authors – every aspiring writer has this dream and not a great number realize it.  

The stories contained in this book are excellent reading and one finds it hard sometimes to remember that the author is actually a younger person of tender years.  

Perhaps this will be a start for these authors for a career in writing – for this is just the beginning for them.  

Zeus Publications is proud to have been part of it in partnership with Somerset College .

In Store Price: $AU15.00 
Online Price:   $AU15.00

ISBN: 1-9211-1862-8 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 88
Genre:  Anthology and Poetry

 

 


Author: Various 
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2006
Language: English

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A 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 Somerset College .  
Due to the tremendous enthusiasm and tenacity of this dynamic couple this initiative has once again become a reality.  
It is with great pride and pleasure I commend to you the 2006 Somerset Collection.    

Dr Barry Arnison
Headmaster

Foreword  

“Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life but poetry, beauty, romance, love; these are what we stay alive for.”
(Dead Poets Society)
 

In 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.  

In 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 imagination.  

The short stories which appear in the anthology were all short listed for the 2006 Zeus Publications Short Story Competition.  

I am sure you will enjoy the work which follows and will look forward to the bi-annual publication in 2008.    

David Goodburn
Head of English

Poem

 

Moving on

 

A generation of my loved ones,

Is ever so quietly,

Imperceptibly,

Drifting off the radar screen

of my existence!

 

They were there,

Corporeal,

And real as laugh creases on a face,

As crinkled velvet skin, dimpled forearms!

And then,

They are not!

 

As simple as breath

leaving the heaving air,

Without fuss,

They take their leave.

 

They once occupied a permanent niche,

In my repertoire 

Of people to see,

And places to go.

And they were simply there!  

 

Occupying sentient spots

In suburbs, in houses;

Doing the same reassuring things each Christmas,

Each birthday,

Each Saturday,

Each Football crazy winter,

Each visit east,

Each sojourn south.

 

Saying the same comfortable words;

Quietly drinking home brew in the corner.

Giving life

A sense of permanence

Comfort in stability;

In things that seemed resistant

to time’s insidious passing.

 

Once two years ago,

I had a father-in-law

and two uncles, a lovely generous aunt and

My dad!

But they have since ‘moved on’:

And whilst the sadness was great

At each moment of departure;

Nevertheless,

Despite grief,

Despite words,

Despite ceremony,

ritual, symbol and gesture,

Despite every effort to hold them,

To etch their lives in the grain of memory;

Now,

In the sunbathed present,

The shadows have drifted

and they are gone!

 

And time moves on,

Distancing their loss.

 

So we – the alive – live on!

And before we know it,

We shake heads with disbelief;

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.

 

Moving on,

They have left the living behind!  

Michael Brohier (2005)

Deputy Academic/IB Coordinator

Somerset College

Read one of the stories:

The Fate of a Misled Lover      

Written by  

Casey Linton

 Winner of Junior Section 2006        

The fate of a misled Lover    

 

 The 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…  

I 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.

I 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.  

I 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?            

Penelope’s long red hair streaked wildly in the sea breeze.   “This is a lovely view,” she said.

The 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 done…            

War 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.  

We 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 battle field.  

A 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 Mission Control.”

            Mission Control to Patrol Seven. Johnny, is that you mate?”

            “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 leg…it’s…hurry…”

            “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…           

Johnny’s 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.

Later, 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.  

Yes, 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 revenge.           

            “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 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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