The winner of our Tell A Story Short Story Competition for the 10-12 age group was Misha Wakuluk with his story On the Run.  Our judge, novelist Hannah Tunnicliffe, said:

I found this to be the most intriguing and unusual story, one that ended with several unanswered questions. The ending felt like a playing a minor key at the end of a song and I had to read it a few more times to fashion my own meaning out of it; which showed a real maturity of storytelling. The perspective (the story is told from a dog's point of view) was the most unique of all the stories submitted. There were several rich and beautiful lines in the story but my favourite was "Wolves padded silently out onto the rough earth, stormclouds roiling above."

On The Run, by Misha Wakuluk

WHAP! The whip came down like a dagger on his back. A spear of pain shot through him; he heard the voice of his master shouting. He was terrified. He stood there frozen, solid as ice. Then he came to his senses; there was only one thing to do. He ran, shouting men behind him. Rifles fired menacingly, the flashes from bullets illuminating the dark sky. Then from the front came a huge brawny man bearing a club. The dog stood his ground. The man swung, the dog ducked, the club clipped the top of his ear. He ran, warm blood dripping onto the leaf litter. The man now swung again, but he made it away. The men gave up. They knew they couldn’t get him. His four legs were pounding against the deep snow, still running. He got to a small grove. He was tired from running. Slowing to a walk, he started to notice the light was being sheathed by night. He lay down and snuggled into the autumn leaves.

The next morning he was woken up by a little gray raccoon licking his face. He shoved it away with his left paw and got up. It was still morning. He wandered out of the grove. The raccoon was following him. The dog ran but still the raccoon followed him. He barked; the raccoon still followed him annoyingly but eventually left him alone. Peace at last. He struggled towards a mountain cave, paws churning in the deep snow. A blast of raucous barking alerted him that he was no longer alone. Strong wind swirled, bringing in a snowstorm. A piercing howl shattered the silence, sending a shiver down his spine.

A group of shaggy black silhouettes emerged out of the snowstorm in front of him. He felt his hackles rise and a vicious growl forming in his throat. Wolves padded silently out onto the rough earth, stormclouds roiling above. The alpha wolf stepped in front, ready to fight. The dog pushed his feet into the snow, ready to pounce on the wolf. He could see the strength in his mighty shoulders. As the wolf’s long fur swayed around him, with paws outstretched, the dog lunged. As he landed on the wolf, its long grey hair swishing, he caught the wolf’s tail.  The wolf yelped in pain and blood coated his paws. As the scarlet liquid oozed out of the fleeing wolf’s wound, it looked down and saw its paws were dripping and covered in blood. A gash on his shoulder persistently oozed blood and he gave up the fight to stay conscious. He then howled and diminished into the distance.

The dog left. The other wolves, like shadows, followed obediently behind, wind lashing their hinds. The dog’s open scars stinging from the cold, he still trudged through the cushions of freezing snow. Hours passed as the pack moved slowly towards the mountains to find shelter. The ground slowly got more rocky with fewer trees, until eventually they emerged from the forest completely.

To the dog’s horror, the men from the village stood before them, rifles cast over their shoulders. The wolves, his companions, fled. He was left alone to face his greatest fear. He bolted forwards, jumped and sunk his teeth deep into the first man's arm. The man dropped his gun and screamed in pain. The other men's guns fired mercilessly. The dog let go and shot forwards through the grey mist, the bullets left behind. The men fled. The dog stepped forward.

He found his master standing in the mist in front of him. He did not seem angry, It was the look in his eyes which showed it. His eyes were not flaring bright with anger, but calm, peaceful. His master knelt down. The dog was not attacking. His instincts told him to do so. His master reached his hand forward and petted him softly behind the neck. He said some soft words which the dog could not understand, but by the tone of the voice he knew that they were kind. The dog looked back to find the wolves, they had left. He looked back to his Master. He had gone.


 

Second place in this age group went to Olivia Priddy for her untitled short story.

The judge said:

This story also built intrigue and left you wanting more resolution. I loved the various perspectives throughout and the structure of the story, which was completely unique to any other submission and showed courage and creativity. I had a sense of and felt a connection with each of the characters, even though they were only given a few lines - this was very impressive. Starting with "given out, piece by piece..." and then giving the story out piece by piece by different narrators was very nice symbolism and a great introduction.

 

 

Unitled, by Olivia Priddy

When Cara was born she had a golden mane

When Rose was born her hair was curly, and it was blonde

When Cara’s second birthday came a blank patch appeared in her memory

When Rose turned two a nice Birthday cake was cut into slices, and given out, piece by piece....

 

CHAPTER 1

 

‘Rose!’ a voice hollered, mixing motherly love with intimidation as only that voice could do.

‘Rose!’ It teetered. Looking over the pit of worry, but still hanging onto the cliff of annoyance.

‘Come on Rosie.’ Now it was dad. In the middle of a good book and just as irritated at mum as Rose was. Almost.

‘Rose’ it sounded quick, abrupt and Rose, admitting defeat caught it before it fell. ‘I’m in here.’

She quickly shoved an armageddon of a washing pile under her bed and closed the window. Tidiness, she told herself, she did it for tidiness.

 

A knock at the door signified the ‘queen’s’ arrival. Her mother had a strong, beautiful face that slid across her cheekbones like two mountains on a map. Two sleek mountains. This gave her an intimidating aura that wasn’t entirely incorrect, but her mum never fussed over things that weren’t necessary.

 

“Rosemary Morgan Cleanwood, you must always answer your mother when she is calling to you, back in my day that would’ve got a spoon to the gluteus maximus!”

 

Rose groaned inwardly, her mother nearly never fussed unnecessarily...

 

CHAPTER 2

 

Cara Sinclair was undeniably the most wanted girl in the whole of Europe, possibly the world. She was not wanted in the way a criminal was wanted, in fact in almost the opposite. She had been missing since she was two years old. Her parents, Christopher and Marie Sinclair lived at 13 Cremsby Street, Quigney - West bank and lost their daughter on the 13th of May 2006, 10 years ago. They have been sending out search parties to this day and will continue to do so until Cara comes home.

 

CHAPTER 3

 

We took Cara for many reasons. All of which we see flaws in now. We love her - of course, and we always did. Al and I have taken utmost measures to keep her safe and over time she has become ours.

 

Our little Girl.

 

We love her, and will never let her go.

 

CHAPTER 4

 

Rose woke with a cold.

 

A strong, bitter cold that concreted her nostrils and flared her eye balls without a second thought. She gave the tissue box a hard shove as she pulled off the covers. Thirty minutes of sneezing and it was empty.

 

She decided to get up and climb the old pohutukawa. Due to Stop Barking - the neighbours’ cavoodle, her swing had been obliterated, but the tree was company enough so she climbed up onto its branches and fell asleep...

 

“Rose?” A soft, yet hurried voice woke her. A voice she knew all too well.

 

Rose? - oh yes, good. You’re awake, well, you see you, well… well fell into my backyard and, and, well I think, umm your parents may be....

 

This was enough for Rose, she scrambled down Mrs Appleby’s front path, skillfully dodging SB as he trotted around, nose in the air looking for something to chew.

 

She had to get home before her parents found out.

 

CHAPTER 5

 

The Cleanwoods never left their house much. I went round with a rhubarb tart when they first moved in, but they never seemed to hear the doorbell. I had known Albert from school, but this was obviously not enough. So when Rose, their 12 year old plopped into my daffodils, I was rather too hopeful it was a sign...

 

CHAPTER 6

 

Stealthily, Rose crept through the oak backdoor

 

Soundlessly, she made it past the kitchen

 

Silently she approached the living room…

 

- The doorbell rang

 

Rose bolted.

 

Once she was under the bed Rose realised where she was.  

 

Her parents room...

 

CHAPTER 6

 

We had been looking for Cara for 10 long years, me and Mar.

 

She would come home.

 

She would meet us.

 

We would not stop.

 

CHAPTER 7

 

Rose’s arm brushed something

She stifled a shriek, it was cold - papery, and it made her think of a snake. She gave herself an annoyed look, it was probably only a roll of wrapping. But her curiosity demanded more…

 

It was a long roll of posters.

 

Missing person posters.

 

With her photo…

 


 

 

In third place, with a story called The Sight of the Sea, was Ruby Judson. Hannah commented:

This writer built up a character you could really relate to, with lots of brilliant descriptions, similes and personification that reflected the main character's inner state. Some of my favourites included 'The way the ripples danced, the way they glistened in the dark, drew her closer and closer until her nose made a foggy print on the glass." and "As though the ocean was one big heartbeat with a steady thump...thump...thump." Using a poem to create structure was a lovely device and it really drew me in.

Ruby provided an introduction to her story, including the poem that inspired it:

Last year we had a poetry recital at my school and I read the following poem by Hone Tuwhare. It stayed in my brain and that is where this story came from.

I’ve put the poem in here:

Here’s looking at You, Sea

By Hone Tuwhare

The sea excitedly inciteful is outrageously
including itself in amateur theatricals again.


The waves are like
white fringed layers
of green carpet, unfolding.

The small focus I have of them
from my constricted
viewpoint is impressed
on my imagining, roll-on mind-film,
forever!

The continuity of ebb, of flow,
lugging in sacks full of pipi, kutai,
tuangi, kina, tio & karahu – to mention
just a small line-up of the
succulent bounties of the sea
that are life-giving – gives me pause
as well as time, for a prayer
of thanks to you, Tangaroa.

Wind & current, however, are mischievous
play-mates. When a decision
is made for them to insert
a speak-easy-spoke into the
sea’s water wheel works then –

O then, drama abounds for sure,
and the window to the sea-ward
side of my crib begins rattle-screeching
an order for me to ‘Come out! Come out, Sloth!
And witness this!’
‘Uh huh’, I say.

 

The Sight of the Sea, by Ruby Judson

Ana grabbed the key from under one of her mum’s many dead pot plants. She stumbled into the hallway and trudged over to the stairs. Her legs felt like deflated balloons as they dragged her exhausted body to her room. Basketball training had been torture. Loads of extra shuttle runs, and Poetry recital was today. She just couldn’t get her poem out of her head.

The waves are like
white fringed layers
of green carpet, unfolding

Her mum would be home late tonight. A date at the tavern with a new guy.

Ana pushed open her bedroom door. It creaked. She flopped onto her pillow-invaded bed and let out a long yawn. She glanced at the clock hanging above the bookshelf. It was about the size of a Domino’s pizza box with a faded image of a Tui. Her mum had found it at Shelley’s Antiques. It was OK. She would have been a bit embarrassed of it, but friends never came over so it didn’t matter anyway.

It was 6pm. The evening sun shone uneasily into her room. The rays were like an awkward person at a party, unsure if they wanted to be there or not.

The waves are like
white fringed layers
of green carpet, unfolding…

She thought about baked beans… or maybe there were some fish fingers in the freezer? Just then a furry orange ball pounced at her chest. “Oh, Moo, at least I’ve got you for company”. She nuzzled into her little cat’s fluffy face. He purred and curled up under her chin. Warmth spread through her body…

The continuity of ebb, of flow

The continuity of ebb, of flow

She woke with shiver and a jolt. Moo was nowhere to be seen. She felt like she has just been dipped into a winter lake. The chill crept up her spine. She noticed the way the sea reflected onto her bedroom window. The way the ripples danced, the way they glistened in the dark, drew her closer and closer until her nose made a foggy print on the glass. She watched as the waves rolled in and the waves rolled out. The trees swayed left, and the trees swayed right. As though the ocean was one big heartbeat with a steady thump… thump… thump.

Her hands gripped the window-ledge…

‘Come out! Come out, Sloth!
And witness this!’

The poem was strangling her brain with its irritating ring…

‘Come out! Come out, Sloth!
And witness this!’

She screamed at the poem in her head but it was like trying to whisper to someone deaf. She raced down the wooden stairs, tripping at the bottom, pumping her arms towards the kitchen. She slowed to a stop at the bench. Her jacket lay there, hoping to wrap round some ones shoulders, but Ana had no time for spotty jumpers.

‘Come out! Come out, Sloth!
And witness this!’

She sprinted barefoot along the drive, gravel sprayed in all directions behind her, but she felt invincible, she skidded... her feet stopped for a millisecond as she noticed the cool of the sand. She was getting closer… The dune plants were protecting her for a while , but then she stumbled out onto the cold, flat beach.

It was darker and colder than she’d imagined. The beach looked like it went on forever, but then she saw words dancing across the water…

…for a prayer
of thanks to you, Tangaroa.

…succulent bounties of the sea
that are life-giving

…succulent bounties of the sea
that are life-giving

…roll-on mind-film,
forever!

She took a few steps forward and felt the foam lap against her ankles. Her fists unfolded and she breathed out warm air into the darkness.

‘Uh huh’, I say.