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I looked out across the moor.
There wasn’t much to see. Yellowish, springy grass. Clumps of heather and gorse. Small pools stained brown by peat.
This was my first time up here alone. Dad didn’t like me coming up here at all, even if he was with me.
But Dad had been called back to London – something urgent at work, he said – and then Mum had got sick. The doctor said it was a virus, which is what doctors always say when they don’t know what’s wrong. “It’s not serious,” he said, “just get plenty of rest.”
So when he’d gone, I put my trainers on, and a waterproof jacket, and told Mum I was going for a walk.
She was half asleep. She gave me a tired smile and said, “All right, but be careful, won’t you?”
I nodded, and left before she remembered that Dad would never let me go up onto the moor on my own; ever since his brother did that and never came home.
I grabbed my backpack and set off out of the village and up the twisting dirt track that led to the moor.
So now here I was. The Valley must be around here somewhere, just like it was when I first stumbled across it all those years ago. That time, I was scared. I turned back.
This time, I wouldn’t.
I still couldn’t see the Valley.
That’s how I knew it was there.
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The valley was surrounded by a clump of huge maple trees and perfumed roses that crested the area. A small pond took pride of place in the centre of the valley with tadpoles swimming constantly in circles and lily pads dotting the surface. It felt like a place disconnected from the rest of the world. Like no one had ever set foot here before.
I laid out my spare jumper on the grass and sat down. I scanned the valley with strange satisfaction, maybe because I had fulfilled my rebelliousness quota for the day. You know, running away and all. Now I felt at peace with myself, and everything in the world. I felt no guilt that many would find necessary in such a situation.
Suddenly, I felt a jump in my heart and a prickling sensation on the back of my neck. I looked down. My body had become invisible to my eyes. All that remained was my shadow and it seemed to be laughing.
And then I had a rather large epiphany. This was the shadowed valley of the underworld. And I was right in the middle of it.
By Emily, Isabel and Lily
St Mary’s College
A small twig snapped behind me.
Hackles raised, I slowly turned to face the source of the sound. My eyes fell on a silhouette of a disfigured being, lumbering through the undergrowth… heading straight towards me. Paralysed, I could do nothing but watch as the monstrous thing loomed ever closer; its deformed arms reached out, grasping the frigid air, searching for me. I reeled as its repulsive stench hit me like a sucker punch. Staggering back, I tripped over a stone, and fell hard on the ground. I cried out, the figure hesitated – although just for a moment. A moment was all I needed. Launching myself off the ground, I stumbled away, my vision blurry from the pain of using my ankle injured in the fall. The being roared viciously and I heard its uneven gait approaching rapidly.
Niamh Warren and Rowan Richards
Alfie Heffernan West Kirby Residential School
Exhausted, I glanced at the creature’s distorted face. Almost pleadingly it looked at me and it’s face looked as if it had been sewn up by two small needles. Thick, sickly, black blood streamed down its face and it let out a roar of rage as I vaulted over the fence. It menacingly carried a spear sharpened at both ends and threateningly charged after me. It was the sort of creature you find in nightmares and it made the hairs on the back of my brown arms reached towards the sky. Sticky droplets of sweat dripped down my forehead and onto my racing legs. I had trespassed over its land and I could not turn back. My concentration lapsed and I stumbled into the barbed wire, marking the edge of the valley. Crimson blood spurted out of the cut along my torso. My burning legs felt like fire and I could not continue. I collapsed and examined the meandering figure in front of me. It reminded me of someone very familiar. I checked my brain for any records of this creature. I tried to remember any incidents that had appeared in my weekly Daily Mail. Then, I realised this creature was something much more familiar. The figure embedded in my mind matched the one in front of me now. It was the same height and build. YES! It was the twisted remains of my uncle.
By Tom Way, The Beacon School
All of a sudden I felt not excitement but fear. I had finally come to terms with my surroundings, and noticed a small patch of grass only meters away from me. I sat anxious to what I had just seen, debating whether to move closer or to keep my distance. When I finally made my decision I moved reluctantly edging towards the uncertainty, telling myself “It can’t be that bad.” However it was bad as disgusting as can be. I was disturbed but yet curious. I proceeded even closer until I saw its dead face all color and expression lost. I got a spark run through my spine. What I saw I couldn’t forget, who could? For what I saw that day wasn’t something pleasant in fact quite the opposite. It made my blood run cold, lying in the lifeless grass, a body!
I was flabbergasted, it was worse than all the comics I have read. It lay so elegantly, I stopped and stare, I felt its soul capture me and it hold me in a prison in which I couldn’t break free. I tried to sprint but I was powerless over my own body, I was trapped in my own head; Telling myself I couldn’t move made me stand stiff .When when I came back to reality, I ran; I clambered like I have never run before.
I got home and approached Mother gave her a kiss. Mother kept asking all night “Where have you been?” My mind was saying “answer her!” but I didn’t. For that day, in the moor, what I had seen was my secret and that meant it was not shared with anyone, for if I shared I would be in trouble…
By Iris, Great Yarmouth High School
Beep beep beep beep
The heart monitor echoes through the room. The sound bounces off the walls, slowly fading into silence. Mum’s limp hand lays on the white mattress. Her eyes are shut and her face is deathly pale. She’s dying. Suddenly silence fills the air, I turn to see my dead mother. Tears run down my face, I fill with anger and rage. They told me she had a month I kept repeating to myself, you call this a month? I knew this was the end, of her life and mine. ‘You said a month! You shout at the doctor. Pushing past him I run down the corridor, a feeling of defeat enters my mind. Dad hasn’t written nor has he called. Everyone had given me their condolences but it wasn’t going to bring her back.
Family. Dad’s gone, mum’s dead but, my uncle. He’s there. The thought seemed ridiculous but it didn’t matter at all. He is the only one I have left.
I burst out the doors of the hospital into the cold air, rain falling through the air it covered up my tears. Feeling desperate and broken I headed for the moor. Running as fast as I can. My legs burned and a nervousness crept up. My hands started sweating my foot came in contact with the sharp grass. The same feeling came up. I felt a jump in my heart and a prickling sensation on the back of my neck. My body became invisible again. I took a deep breath while shutting my eyes. I snapped them back open as a deafening roar rung at my ears. I jumped back and stared at the same creature before me. Its eyes were pitch black glistening with fear. The creature's claws were sharpened and fangs a pristine white. Blood dripped down his teeth. His body trembled as if scared of me, or scared of the truth. I cowered back in fear terrified of what he was capable of. I prepared to run back afraid of the deadly creature. But it was my uncle. I thought. Underneath the deformed creature. Gaining some confidence. I puffed out my chest and looked dead on into its eyes. It swirled with a certain emotion. It made no move to attack. Looking deeper, I saw myself. Sprinting, sprinting away from something. It was replaying yesterday, like when I tripped, fell and started bleeding. But then, I saw a younger version of me at some of my happiest moments, like myself at the park on the swingset, or me eating my first ever strawberry flavoured ice cream. I hated that flavour but my dad had loved it. Realization hit me like a brick. My uncle was killed by this creature, when sucked into this demon world. I whispered out hesitantly.
By Megan, Ella and Gavin
Garden International School, Kuala Lumpur