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I'd never known such darkness. It was complete. Like being swallowed whole by some huge horrible creature.
You know that feeling when you wake up in a strange place and you don't know where you are for a few seconds? It was like that. I was panic-stricken. I told myself the feeling would soon pass. A familiar pair of curtains or a wall or something would come into focus and I'd be in known territory again. But I waited a good five minutes - too terrified to move - and nothing came into focus. Nothing familiar and nothing unfamiliar. No hint of light, no hint of sound. There was only one thing. A smell. I couldn't identify it but I was sure I'd smelled it before somewhere.
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Sea salt. I could smell sea salt. Not the fake sea salty smell that they used in all the artificial beaches these days. It was weird. I could smell the sea, but I couldn't see it. It was like a strange dream.
A dream... I pinched my arm as hard as I could, hoping to wake up. Nothing. I shook my head, frustrated. How could you smell something you couldn't see? I tried to stand up, but collapsed down again.
Wait!!!!! I felt around my ankles for a minute. Someone had tied me up! How dare they? What did I ever do to them?
I can also feel sand, lots of it. I haven't felt it in years. The last time I felt or saw it was when my grandpa, who was 109, had taken me on a secret expedition to the last real beach in the world.
The pollution had destroyed all the other beaches. I sighed. How could humans be so cruel.
Suddenly, I heard a voice say, "Ah, so you are finally here."
I whipped my head around, trying to get a vision of this man. My eyes still failed to see.
"Who are you?" I asked, trying to sound braver than I felt.
The man gave a sneering laugh. "Haven't you figured that out already?"
"No, I haven't!"
"Would you like me to tell you?"
The man took a breath in. "My name is...."
By Maisie and Bethany
St Mary's College
“Oh… well can you at least tell me what in God’s name I'm doing tied up here?” I inquire, annoyed at my being denied information. I suddenly became conscious of a dark, silken veil covering my entire face.
The mysterious voice came closer; their footsteps shifted slowly, yet purposefully against the submissive sand. His breathing was slow and hoarse, like sandpaper against wood.
“I’m here to show you the bitter truth.”
The enigmatic man raised the veil from my face. Light pierced my eyes as my neglected pupils came to grips with the comparative brightness. As my vision cleared, I realised the identity of my apparent captor. The man was at the stage of life where youth had deserted him, yet age refused to accept him either. His figure was large and dominant, but frayed and decaying. His dark eyes seemed to be devoid of colour or tone, as they fixated like black holes. My eyes scanned the surroundings for hints as to where I was. There were rocks, large ones. There were dusty paths, snaking like tangled string. The air felt heavy, a mountain maybe? A cliff to my right, white chalky rock face observed me. Above me lingered the ominous, shadow laden clouds; they hovered with malicious intent, like a war plane about to unleash devastation upon everything below. But something caught my eye in the near distance: a reciprocating flash of light, piercing the horizon. I examined closer, searching as to the cause of the apparent anomaly. The man smiled.
“I see you’ve spotted what we’re looking for,” mused the man.
“We?” I queried.
“We. You’re a part of this now, whether you like it or not.”
“How am I involved?”
The man grinned, and walked towards the continuous dot in the distance. If curiosity was a gun, I was locked and loaded…
Douglas and Matt,
Ashlyns School, Hertfordshire
I squinted my eyes, trying to see what was in front of me, but my eyes were still adjusting to the light.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" He said.
I said nothing.
"Are you wondering what that is?" He asked.
I still said nothing. The man sent an impatient look my way.
"So, what is your response? Don't you think it's beautiful?" He said as he grabbed my chin tightly.
I tried to say nothing, but the look in his eyes caused me to blurt out: "Yes, yes it's beautiful."
"As I suspected. You agree." He said in a menacing voice.
I ask him again, "Who are you?"
"I've said it once, and I'll say it again. My name is not important!" He gripped my face tighter and then suddenly let go.
My face was bright red, I tried to rub at the marks but my hands were tied still.
"Do you want to see what that is?"
"What, what is?!" I asked.
"The dot...don't you want to see it?"
I tried to say no, that I didn't want to, but no words would come out.
Suddenly two other people appeared, wearing the same clothes as the terrifying man.
"These are my assistants." He said, "Take him,"
I am taken to a part on the beach where I am surrounded by torches and a man on a pedestal.
I try wriggle free of my restraints, but to no avail.
"Are you ready to join the brotherhood of the shadows?" The man whispers into my ear.
The two assistants grab me by my arms and lift me onto the table before I can respond. I wriggle free from my restraints and when no-one is looking I make a run for it and escape onto the beach.
I can hear the voices behind me getting closer and closer until...
By Leon Butcher
West Kirby School
the blazing yellow light of their torches crested over the small dune and the black covered assistants flitted like shadows over the dusty hill. I was crouching in the shrubbery just off the path, holding my breath starting to realise that this was not a dream, this was real.
The footsteps of the men crunched close to where I was hiding in the brackish, gnarled and twisted bush a rare sight today as we had ruined our planet leaving only the hardiest plants. Suddenly out of the darkness a black shoe crunched down millimetres from my hand and I swear that if it wasn’t for the repetitive crashing of the green mouldy waves, the shadows of men would have heard my heart beat thundering underneath my skin.
Then the foot lifted and the noise of the assistants slipped away. I stayed put mulling over my situation; be captured by these strange men and be sacrificed to some voodoo god, no sir. The option was try my luck and try to reach the last city with a ship that can travel to the new planet, new earth, Haven. But none of that would happen if I couldn’t get off this polluted beach and away from these strange, crazed men and the mysterious enigmatic man.
Slowly, I rose to the balls of my feet and without looking, praying under my breath I pushed off the ground and sprinted away from this confusing beach. As I ran, one thought played in my head ‘the year is 2090, the world is dying, my family is dead, this is not a dream’. All these thoughts twisted and tumbled around my head as I ran with the smell of the sea disappearing behind me. Gloomy dusk was split by the sound of my name ‘Faith, Faith, Faith’ echoing off into the distance. I broke through the last few shrubs guarding the entrance to this excluded, polluted beach. My feet still pounding and out of the shrubs rose the man and my feet began to slow as if some force was pulling them back and my dream of arriving at Haven felt lost and….
Forgotten. I slowly started to walk backwards scared for my life wondering what this man was going to do to me.
“What do you want from me?” I asked.
“Oh nothing” he claimed with a disturbing grin on his face. “Nothing….. As long as you do what I say!”
“But why me?, What have I ever done to you?” I asked
“All will become clear soon my dear!” He said weirdly
“What, I’m really creeped out and none of this makes sense!” I said.
Suddenly the man ran towards me so quickly that I didn’t have time to run away myself. He picked me up over his shoulder and took me back towards the centre of the beach with his assistants and I got tied up against a netball pole as another group of strange men dressed in black cloaks entered the beach and the men as well as the strange man and his assistants circled around me.
They stuffed loads of straw underneath my feet and the strange man lit a lighter and walled towards me, bent down and lit the straw under my feet!
“WHAT!!! YOU SAID NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN TO ME AND NOW YOU ARE SETTING ME ON FIRE!!!” I screamed.
“YOU DESERVE IT” He shouted
“WHAT HOW??? WHAT HAVE I EVER DONE TO YOU???” I asked
“OI!” Shouted a distant voice “LEAVE HER ALONE AND LET HER GO”
“I THOUGHT I GOT RID OF YOU!” Shouted the strange man!
“Well I’m Back……..” Shouted the distant voice
Great Yarmouth High School
My captor eyed me curiously and crept away. Suddenly, out of nothing, he slid a gun out from under his shirt and spun around. The crack of a gunshot whipped my ears, and I looked before me, the lady in the distance kneeling over, clutching her chest as a . The Man turned back to me and smiled a smile that arced in a sickly way, not quite making it to his sunken eyes. There was a dark sadness in his eyes that told me this man was not quite sane, and definitely not safe. The wall of flames separating me from the man and is assistants sputtered to a stop. Self- consciously, I tugged on the hem of my shirt. “Sleep.” He whispered to me. “You will need your strength in the morning…” I didn’t want to, but I could already feel my eyelids drooping shut, and my body slipping into a deep slumber, my world of nightmares that I can never escape.
Dawn broke out like a bleeding wound, the distant clouds turned crimson by the sun's rays. The night had been arguably the worst of my life. The worst had happened last night; with no warning, total darkness prevailed as clouds thickened and the sky was stricken, blotting out the starlight. The wind arose to push the still waters to choppy, which morphed into mountains of angry waves. I bursted through the darkness, clutched my throat and trying to scratch away ants that didn't exist. Neither did the storm, but all I could see were pools of blood and lightning flashing through the darkness. Confused, I glimpsed around myself blearily, before I collapsed with a strangled scream, trying to fight of the non-existent swarm of killer bees. They stung all over myself, their poison seeping through my veins, filling my body with unbearable pain. I screamed helplessly, flailing and clawing at my face, until the first drops of crimson began to drip down my cheeks. My body began twitching hysterically, and I rolled over. For a second, I felt like she was falling - maybe I was. Then I hit the water. I sank through the waves, the blissful, cooling current washed over my dry skin. The storm slowly subsided, giving way to the most beautiful array of colours I had seen in my short life. I stared at the hazy, blurry image projected onto the grey sky. Grey, like the serenity that flowed from the crevice of the same lips that I used to inhale the demon that placed in front of a joining tombstone. The color of the ashes that lined the soul of my shoe from the fire burning her heart. The shaded part of her past that stayed hidden behind the walls I worked so hard to keep up. The color of the treadmill's track that I ran until I threw up every last bit of insecurity I had. The murky water that clouded my father’s eyes and slowly ran down his cheek. Grey, like the color of my life. As the little girl I once was stared at the sky one last time, a pair of hands reached in and grabbed her out of the water…
I woke up, cold and sweaty. My hands were trembling with the fear I knew I could never outgrow. The Man was standing over me, looking at me in a way that made me want to crawl back into my world of nightmares…
By: Lauren, Minseo and Eromi
Garden International School Kuala Lumpur