Circular Fiction poetry essays
A selection of work created in Dulwich College English lessons
elcome to South Circular , a new publication from the DC English department that contains some of the best writing produced in lessons at the College this year. In any academic term, boys from all age groups and all corners of the school create an enormous quantity of fantastic writing, yet too often this exceptional output remains trapped inside the pages of exercise books or the hard drive of a computer. This magazine, which we hope will be produced annually for Founder’s Day, attempts to ensure that the range and quality of the work going on in the English Department can be recognised, shared and celebrated. The pieces included in these pages range from nature poetry to chilling short fiction; persuasive speeches to academic essays. The short stories from Year 9 were generated as part of the ‘Creative Portfolio’, a new part of the curriculum that encourages boys to respond to what they are reading through creative writing and that counts towards their end-of-year examination. All of the work printed here, however, reflects the diversity of what is read and discussed at Dulwich. We hope you enjoy this snapshot of the year’s newwriting, and that reading it inspires other boys to keep writing – they could well find their work published here next year. Finally, we would like to thank the boys published here for their hard work, and all our colleagues in the English department, to whom we are deeply indebted for the imaginative, dedicated teaching that inspired the following pieces. W
RWHF, AEH and TWBG
Haiku Sequence inspired by Beowulf
Daniel Kamaluddin Year 7
Giants Ancient giants Watch the world As time festers like a wound. Glimmering The glimmering of the sun Lights the undergrowth Pure beauty shines. Battle Field A hostile battlefield The old lie dead Whilst the new prosper.
Devastation Beautiful summer Liberator After devastating winter.
At One I am collated I breathe in I am at one.
Manifesto Dying foliage Spreads its manifesto Into the world.
Catacombs Mystical catacombs
Seedlings Beyond view Seedlings spawn Spilling life onto the earth. Sound A cacophony of sound fills the air Sweet birds tweet New life awaits. On Eagle Wings Eagle eyes Look down below A glimpse of true beauty. Bright Future Luscious new life Looking to the bright future Awaiting prosper. Infinity A never ending tunnel Forever growing up The undergrowth awaits.
Hidden deep A safe haven.
Shelter A peaceful shell of shelter
The spawn of a giant A shadowy salvation.
Time Time halted Beauty is born A great wholesome world.
Aromas Bitter aromas Enflame the air Dancing in my nose.
Nature Nature Peaceful Divine.
Grendel’s Mother Takes Revenge
Saahil Chharawala Year 7
he awoke with a start. Her blood ran cold as the realisation sunk in. Grendel was dead. She fell to the ground, her spined back elongating towards the roof of her cave. Then she screamed up to the sky, her mangled face showing every dagger-like tooth, every poisonous wart and every faint line. Lines of hatred, lines of despair. Not only had she screamed a deep, howling scream from the pit of her stomach, she had screamed full of hate and grief. The captain of evil’s mother got to her feet and, blinded by fury, galloped down to Heorot. Her claws shovelled up clumps of dirt as she stormed along not knowing that this may have been her last trip to the place of her son’s death. The earth shook as the huge metal door was blown off its hinges. All of the Hall- Defenders ran as the blood-eyed beast emerged from the shadows. Beowulf ran like the wind and lunged at hatred itself, instantly regretting it as a fist, sturdy as a rock, met him with great force, flinging him back across the hall. His vision was blurred but S
he stood up and tried again, this time catching the beast off guard. Beowulf leapt onto her. Grendel’s mother struggled to get him off. She twisted and turned until Beowulf held up his sword to the light and swung down, narrowly missing her head, and cut the hideous creature’s arm off. The pain was like nothing she’d ever felt before and she wailed with pain, instinctively turning on her heels and dashing back up the hill. Beowulf and his men rode up the hill, hot on the heels of Grendel’s mother. These parts of the forest were alien to the men but they didn’t spend long looking around. The mother of evil turned around to catch the eye of Beowulf before jumping down the ancient, crumbling well. Beowulf followed jumping in with a faint splash. For what felt like hours in the abysmal light, Beowulf searched until a
Beowulf ran like the wind and lunged at hatred itself, instantly regretting it as a fist, sturdy as a rock, met him with great force, flinging him back across the hall
sudden movement resurrected his senses and without a second thought he drew his sword. All was silent until… Crack! The mother of evil had struck the side of the cave and faint shafts of light were seeping in through the cracks. Now Beowulf could see the ugly creature fully with its marble like eyes and tentacles glowing pale green. Quickly it struck again, this time hitting Beowulf in the stomach, knocking the air out of him. Beowulf struggling without air, desperately wanted to surface. But he didn’t. Grendel’s mother struck again, but Beowulf held on. Beowulf inched his way up and just as the thought he was going to drown, he stabbed the creature in the head. The water turned a silky red colour and Beowulf surfaced, triumphant.
‘Not my Best Side’ – three views
Evi Bukata Year 7
A Knight’s View
Here we go again, another girl, needing rescuing. It’s quite a boring thing really – no one appreciates it any more. And this whole damsels in distress situation too. Don’t just stand there! Call for help! Try saving yourself! Honestly. Why can’t women fend for themselves? Or at least carry a pocket knife if things take a bad turn? Nevertheless, I have to rescue her, or I won’t be accepted into society. I definitely won’t be marrying her though. I have a nice girlfriend at home, who’s much more beautiful than her. I mean, have you seen that enormous forehead? I’ll just set her free and let her go. Sorry, but a knight’s gotta think of his future. Here we go again, captured by another dragon. Time to wait for a prince to rescue me. Hurray. They’re so rude and arrogant, all high and mighty as if they rule the place. I wonder what it will take to find a nice knight. Maybe a diamond crown? Crystal-heeled shoes? A fake tan? Honestly. I really quite liked the dragon but now he’s got to die too! Nevertheless, I have to act scared, or I won’t fit in with the – ugh – ‘stereotypes’ I don’t fancy him though. Not in the slightest. I’m still waiting for someone decent to A Princess’s View
come along. Also, he’s probably acne-infested. Sorry, but a girl’s gotta think of her future.
A Horse’s View
Here we go again, he’s riding on my back. Again. What are women’s problem these days? Fend for yourself! If ONE MORE knight uses me to rescue a princess, I swear – Anyway, this whole situation is getting annoying, seeing as he’s so heavy. Maybe it’s the armour but somehow I doubt it. He barely gives me any time to rest. Neigh! If only horses could file complaints. Then who would be top dog? Not him! Then again, no one would understand me. He chokes me with that rope though, I hate it! Sorry, but a horse’s gotta think of its future.
‘Not My Best Side’ – George and the Dragon
James Dixon Year 7
George – The Knight
Sometimes it’s hard to be a boy, Everyone expects you to slay the dragon. And be a man and not chicken out. The pay isn’t bad but I prefer to rest. And not have to encounter huge beasts. Most princesses that I save usually are ugly And I have no interest in them. I only do it for the glory because when I Return to the castle, I am worshipped.
In all of my battles, I don’t try But somehow the dragon falls With one blow.
All the princesses fall in love with me And always say ‘You saved me, it was Meant to be!’ Although I tell them I am not interested, They just keep coming back.
I know I look horrible and I probably Might smell but I want to be Just like a human: women on the doorstep And not having to kill for food. But sometimes I just get so jealous That I swoop down and steal a princess. But still a dashing young knight Has to come and save her Did you know, it actually quite hurts being Stabbed in the eye? His fancy weapon was actually very sharp. Some sticky red stuff spurted out of my eye. At least that’s what I thought as I couldn’t see.
Frederick Challacombe Year 7
The yew reaching out Poisoning the ground And drinking from the sun
The little cracks In the sun-beaten ground And the grass begging for water
The sea of moss Washes over the ground And moves towards a rotting tree
Sujaan Kochhar Year 7
Millions of beings Unified in a whole Light shines on the dome of trees Like a holy temple I float above the rolling hills
Tossing and turning Like a stressed man Restlessly sleeping I watch over my brothers And feel despair at my solitude The jovial blue sky Gazes over the unmarked graves of millions of forgotten lives
Lush shrubs spring from the earth To be greeted by their own death They do not live to realise
The transience of life A spiritual paradox unsolvable
Oliver Godbee Year 7
Spindly fingers of branches Entwine the fallen giants Nets of moss evergreen Barren areas Surround majestic yew trees Warzones of nature
Murder at Mere Pond
William Barter-Sheppard Year 7
obert paced up and down the hallway of his house. Since there had been no church-going members of Oldmere for the Sunday morning service, he had long since retired to the quiet, dimly-lit rooms of his home. It was the night of the circus and Robert Royston had a lot on his mind. Hours later, Robert sat meditating. ‘Oh God, give me strength! My divorce has provoked me and my anger has triggered me! Oh God, I pray that you are on my side!’ Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the most recent edition of the local paper. Margaret Reid was the headline. Robert got up at once and walked over to the newspaper. He read: ‘Maggie’s done it again! The County star’s come back!’ That was enough for Robert. Without a second’s thought, he ripped up the paper and stormed out of the living room. After he had calmed down somewhat, Mr Royston proceeded to look once more at his plan; he had spent several weeks studying the timetables of the Oldmere residents. He was working out when people came home from work, when people walked their dogs around Mere Pond, even when the school released its chattering, eagle-eyed children. Robert felt rather proud of his whole plan; it had taken him a long time to come up with. As the sun’s light faded and darkness spread over the village, Robert decided to make a move. He looked out of the window. Somewhere, tonight, someone would die. Robert slipped out of the back door of the Vicarage and glanced up and down: no- one. As silent as mist, he tiptoed across the street. He had also packed a rope under his jacket. The cold air almost magnified the sounds and Robert could hear his own breath. The street lamps illuminated the street and loomed like giants. As he crossed Low Street, Robert froze. A car chugged down the road. It was headed for him. Luckily, the car continued to rattle into the distance. It slowed for a second turning the corner, and then it was gone. R
‘Phew!’ he sighed. ‘That was a close one!’ A lone figure stood on the banks of the pond, hands in pockets, quietly whistling, staring deep into the dark water. Robert sat down on a bench. She turned. ‘Hello,’ said Robert. ‘Good evening,’ she replied cheerily. Robert flinched as he re-considered murder. ‘Fantastic circus,’ chuckled Maggie, slightly awkwardly. They had never been friends. Robert reached for the rope. Maggie continued to stare down at the water. He got up. She looked round. His face tightened. She took a step back. He lunged and pulled out the rope. She opened her mouth to scream, but Robert whipped the rope around her neck, and pulled. She gasped for air. RHe gently pushed her into the water. With his foot he pressed against her face until it was completely submerged. Robert walked calmly back to his house. He cooked himself a simple soup and drank it until his mouth was no longer dry. Afterwards, he sat on the carpet, meditating, and reflected on his day.
The character of Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea
Freddy Edenborough Year 8
rnest Hemingway presents Santiago as an ordinary, old fisherman at the beginning of the story. However, Hemingway later develops his actions and characteristics as heroic; Santiago becomes a symbol for the doomed yet noble battle between a human soul and the trials and evils of a brutal but beautiful world. Santiago is depicted as an old man who, in turn, shows bravery, courage, determination and willingness to endure suffering. Hemingway describes the oldman in his late sixties or early seventies, and a man of much experience. The pain Santiago endures is caused by his attempt to catch a massive fish, which tows him far out to sea, testing the limits of his physical strength and his mental willpower. In the scene where Santiago is arm-wrestling with the ‘negro’, it says, ‘blood came out from under their fingernails.’ This image shows the extremity to which the men take the fight, and howmuch pain they are willing to endure. The idea of blood coming from ‘under their fingernails’ is almost like pain or death or violence is something inside of them, which comes to the surface when they fight. Alternatively, it could suggest that in the macho world these men inhabit, being ‘a man’ – a word that is repeated on almost every page of the book – means never backing down, no matter how much it hurts or even if it breaks you. In A Farewell To Arms , Hemingway said that, ‘the world breaks all men, but afterwards many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills’, which I think describes Santiago. At the end of The Old Man and the Sea Santiago and his boat are broken, but he seems peaceful and like he has found his strength again. Santiago is not just tough physically, but emotionally too. Throughout the story, he treats and respects the fish as if it were a person, but at the same time is totally unfazed by the fact that he is causing the fish immense pain, even though the more pain he causes the fish, the more pain it causes him – almost like he is actually fighting with and hurting himself: ‘Then he was sorry for the fish; but he never relaxed in his E
determination to kill him’. This also reflects the harsh lives of poor Cubans in the early 1950s, where fishermen like Santiago had to constantly sacrifice their bodies fishing to feed their families, and had to be willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Santiago seems to be a voice for Hemingway’s unique philosophy on life and death. He says to the fish, ‘I love you and respect you, but I will kill you before this day ends.’ The most unusual word in this sentence is the word, ‘love’; men do not normally love fish. Possibly their beauty reminds him of his dead wife, who he clearly misses as he has kept her religious symbols in the house even though he does not
In the macho world these men inhabit, being ‘a man’ – a word that is repeated on almost every page of the book – means never backing down
believe in God. But the idea that you could sincerely love something but still kill it suggests an unusual outlook on death – that a ‘good death’ can be a beautiful and noble thing. Santiago’s ‘conversation’ with the fish continues; he asks him: ‘you’re going to die anyway, do you have to kill me too?’ The casual tone of this question suggests he thinks of death as something inevitable, and so not something to fear. At no point in the story does Santiago seem to be afraid of dying, and at times almost seems to be
trying to ‘go down fighting’. Hemingway committed suicide, so Santiago could represent the writer and his own outlook on life and death. Hemingway and Santiago both lost loved ones, they both faced suffering for most of their lives (for example Hemingway’s experiences in World War One, they were both lonely but proud. ltimately, Santiago leaves the reader with a surprisingly hopeful message. The story ends with him dreaming of ‘the lions on the beach’ happily. Even though the sharks eat the fish and he has nothing physical to show for his pain, he is not defeated. The lion is a symbol of courage, and could represent Santiago, and, ultimately, the key theme of the story: that courage is the most important thing in life, and you should never give up. U
Buck’s first fight
Samuel Waldron Year 8
t was no task for him to learn to fight with the quick wolf snap. Suddenly in the isolated, dark forest a twig snapped; its sound resonating through the eerie forest. Buck’s ears twitched as his senses awakened to the mysterious happenings around him. Buck was gearing himself up for a savage attack by a creature unbeknown to him. His heart was pounding and although hesitant, he considered himself ready. He scoured the trees in the hope of finding the mysterious creature. Like lightning, the unkempt hairs on the back of Buck’s neck were raised in fear. Cautiously, Buck settled into his sought out hiding place in a bush located in a crevice of the forest. He squatted down, ready to pounce at the unsuspecting enemy. That dreaded sound of something drawing closer and closer became more real to Buck as he positioned himself ready for attack. Determined to make the enemy flee, Buck emitted a sinister growl of warning. Would this be enough to intimidate his enemy? Silence saturated the forest and the enemy stopped in its tracks. Buck was unable to see clearly as the musty air hindered not only his vision but also his mind. His capacity to think quickly had been compromised. The enemy knew where Buck was and could sense his presence. Surrounded by the green vegetation, Buckwas unnervingly visible with his coarse brown coat. Crunch. The enemy was on the move. Buck caught a glimpse of a coat as black as the night. His fear confirmed, Buck knew this was a wolf. A savage wolf. One out for blood. One out to get him. This wolf had a thirst for blood and he knew what he wanted. He was determined not to stop until his prey surrendered to him. Fortunately, Buck felt otherwise. Hesitantly, Buck attempted to escape from the primordial beast. Buck could even sense the twitching of the wolf’s nose sniffing him out. The scent of fresh blood penetrated through his nostrils filling him with satisfaction. Buck’s heart was filled with dread. There was no escaping this fight. The wolf plunged into the bush and halted a mere metre away from Buck. They were now face to face. The tension was at its peak as they confronted one another with piercing glares anticipating their attacks. The wolf was bigger and stronger than Buck. What chance would Buck have? The I
bloodthirsty eyes of the wolf looked determined. The blood red specks on his coat were like a trophy to the wolf, showing off the remnants of his latest victim. Would Buck face the same fate? This was not an easy enemy for Buck to contend with. In an instant, the wolf lunged at Buck with the force of a bullet. With speed and elegance, Buck sidestepped him and darted for an escape route. Space was what Buck needed to seek refuge. He broke through the shrubbery into a white plane. It was time. Turning around, Buck saw that the wolf had come to an unexpected halt. Deadly silence filled the forest as if it was holding its breath. Tentatively waiting for the oncoming battle, Buck knew that it was kill or die. He had to win to survive. He valued his life above the wolf’s. The two rivals advanced towards one another as a cacophony erupted from the forest. The wildlife feared for their lives as the tension filled the air. The enemy approached Buck with no mercy at the speed of light. Intuitively, Buck crashed to the ground and avoided the blow as the wolf plunged mercilessly into a rocky outcrop. Excruciating pain overwhelmed the wolf but he did not wish to give up. With
increasing rage, the wolf ran towards Buck and struck him right in the chest. He was thrust onto a lone rock and the wolf pounced onto Buck and sank his teeth deep into his flesh. Buck yelped in agony as blood gushed out of his wound. Buck thought it was over for him but subconsciously he still had some fight left in him. He kicked his front left into the wolf’s raging head causing him to recoil back in distress. Buck’s wild primitive instinct kept him motivated for this fight. This was Buck’s opportunity and he rocketed at the wolf, jumping into the air alongside the enemy. They started to battle on their front legs. This battle was like no other. It was a turning point for Buck. Buck knew all too well that he had to
In an instant, the wolf lunged at Buck with the force of a bullet. With speed and elegance, Buck sidestepped him and darted for an escape route
keep his stamina to survive this vicious creature. Buck continued to pursue the wolf with all of his strength and might. Buck violently pushed the wolf into the ground, threw himself on the animal and dug his teeth deeper and deeper into the wolf’s trembling neck. The wolf’s neck was shattered like glass and his bones crunched under Buck’s angry bite. He should have ended it there. The call of the wild overcame Buck as he continued to sink his teeth deeper and deeper into the neck of the wolf. The neck of the wolf was severed as Buck’s determination gave him the victory he desired. The neck was sliced off and blood spurted out as if it were a fountain. Slumped lifelessly on the blood drenched ground, the head of the wolf flew mercilessly into the air and landed in an unknown location. Buck trudged over to find his trophy and saw the disfigured face of the wolf; it was barely recognisable. Its final look was visible as if begging for mercy. Buck now considered himself a true wolf. The calling of the wild had truly taken over him as he limped away towards the beginning of a new life in the wild.
What a poem is not
Gilbert Edwards and Freddy Edenborough Year 8
A poem is not an alligator, And doesn’t have to be snappy. A poem is not a honey bee, But it can be sweet. A poem is not a clam, But it can be hard to prise open. A poem is not a donkey, But it can take you for a bumpy ride. A poem is not an eel, But it can slip and wriggle in your mind. A poem is not a ferret, But it can curl up and nest in your mind. A poem is not a goose, But it can hatch an idea of gold. A poem is not a hare, But it can hop around your page. A poem is not an iguana, But it can drag itself along. A poem is not a jaguar, But it can stalk you in the darkness. A poem is not a koala, But can climb, and cling and crash to the ground. A poem is not a ladybird, But it can fly away with your imagination. A poem is not a midget, But as large as life.
A poem is not a nit, But it can infest itself in your head. A poem is not an octopus, But confuses you with ink. A poem is not a partridge, But can burst into babbling song. A poem is not a quail, But it lays eggs in the depths of a story. A poem is not a rat, But an attention-seeker. A poem is not a skunk, But once its stink is on you, it’s on forever. A poem is not a tiger But a flag of many colours. A poem is not an urchin, But there’s life within its forbidding appearance. A poem is not a vole, But burrows and scurries, or hibernates for years. A poem is not a whale, but goes deeper than anything else. A poem is not a yak But an idol of resistance. A poem is not a zebra But a saga spun of a thousand colours.
Seymour Hine Year 9
s the sun rose in the East, golden rays of sunlight swept through the streets and the frozen morning air bit the villagers as they left their houses. The dead grass and flowers were blanketed in a layer of frost and very soon the cobbled streets were full of voices. School had ended for Christmas, but the atmosphere was far frommerry. The youths were free to roam the town as they pleased, although there was not much to roam in this small settlement. They mostly lounged around in their houses by the warmth of the fire. Mr Wells strolled through the town’s suburbs as he headed to his fields. He was a brittle old man, never ceasing to amaze the town with his endless farming. They wondered to how a man of such an old age could (and was willing to) work the fields every day, every year. He had no children, always said he never wanted any. Through the wire fence he watched as two hens fought over some food. Pecking with their beaks and tearing at one another with their claws they battled on, waiting A
for the other to tire and falter. Occasionally, one or the other would let out a shrill cry of fury before beginning another flurry of attacks. Eventually, one fell and dragged her exhausted body away, reluctantly admitting defeat. The other, victorious, quickly ate the scrap and began a hunt for more. On the other side of the track, a pig sat content, lying lazily in the corner of its enclosure, its snout covered in a layer of uneaten pig meal. Its beady eyes watched me suspiciously as I walked past. As he neared his barn, he slowed. The weather was worsening. It began as drizzle of rain, but as time continued, so did the rain. In the last few weeks, storms were usual and
Pecking with their beaks and tearing at one another with their claws they battled on, waiting for the other to tire and falter
worsening, and every morning, the villagers had a small hope of improvement, but little came, and a dull blanket of dread began to smother the few sparks of hope. Mr Wells stumbled and nearly fell, just grasping a rundown fence before his frail bones hit the ground. Looking back, he saw a solitary tuft of grass reaching through a murky puddle of water, a small spec of green on this long walk of grey and pale white. Its desperate attempt to survive through this harsh winter looked feeble and around it lay the shriveled or drowned remains of the thriving and overgrown path of the summer. His footsteps and the wind were the only noise heard in these fields as he approached the farm. The sky was now deep, rich navy, although nothing about this seemed rich or hopeful. The storm clouds were massing, and winds were picking up. Fat droplets of water began to rain down from the sky and Mr Wells quickened his pace, desperate to get to shelter. Farming in this was out of the question for Mr Wells. The rain kept coming and coming and a glance outside did not look good. The day was coming to an end, though it was hard to tell, and so was this storm. The lightning was less frequent and the rain less heavy. Stepping outside, Mr Wells’ mood darkened. The ground was saturated with water and his fields were a muddy swamp. The winds that shook the battered barn had unrooted the crops and the rain had washed the surviving ones away. There were no
crops. Desperate, Mr Wells made his way back into town, stumbling and tripping several times. His whole body was trembling, and his mind was racing; he had nothing. He noticed that the victorious hen from earlier was gone and the other lying facedown in a puddle dead. When he reached the town square it was crowded, and everyone seemed to be shouting in confusion. Even Mr Graves, the town mayor, struggled make everyone settle down, but in the end, when he did, he said one thing. ‘There is no food.’
Joe Williams Year 9
he thick foggy smog of London briefly parted to make way for the horse drawn carriage steering down Cooky Lane, before quickly seeping back into the empty space. Inside were Silas Taye and his mother, odd as usually the housekeeper Edith would take Silas to the hospital should he need to go, yet the previous night he had heard Arabella herself insist that she go with her son. Nevertheless, he had been assured it would be a normal visit. He tapped away repeatedly at his thigh, staring at his finger, replaying the conversation of last night over and over and over and over in his brain, almost entranced by the words. Then, he stared out of the window. Silas had overheard other things too. He thought he had heard his mother mention to the housekeeper something about Mary in Bethlehem, and assumed, as any young Christian would, that they were talking of the birth of Christ, like he had read about a few fortnights before. The thought hadn’t appeared in his mind, up until he remembered that the driver too had mentioned a Mary and a word sounding like Bethlehem. His gaze then fell. He looked over his right shoulder and saw what looked like a packed bag under his mother’s legs. He imagined that he would take something similar to this bag if were to ever go to boarding school. For years he had yearned to go, to escape fromhis home, however he had never been allowed. He didn’t knowwhy. He suspected that it was because he wouldn’t get along with the other children, but he didn’t know for sure. In his mind he recalled his last encounter with another child and grinned eerily. The pain…. Moments later the carriage pulled over, and Silas and his mother left the vehicle. She was carrying the bag. They stood in front of a grand building, grotesque in size, and then started to walk towards the long, bricked structure with its towering mass of tall windows. As they edged nearer, Silas heard what he thought sounded like century old screeches, wailing for him to enter, and they intensified the closer he got to the entrance. It was a large room with many desks, all with important looking men sat behind. Most appeared to be working, however some seemed to be talking to members of the public; Silas thought that they couldn’t be patients as they had no visible injuries. Once inside, his mother ushered him in front of one of the desks, on which a name card stating ‘Victor Franks’ was placed. A man behind the desk T
introduced himself as Dr Franks and led them both through the large door leading to the inside of the hospital. The door groaned subtly as they passed through. Dr Franks was tall. Silas noticed this whilst walking down the corridor. The man was colossal, his height prodigious, yet he looked wary and cautious with every step he took. What looked like bite marks were very visible on his hands, just as the scratches and scars were on his face. The screams were becoming louder now: louder and louder and louder until the screams were no longer bearable for the child. Neither Franks nor his mother seemed to be in any pain from the shrilling noise, or even appeared to be hearing it whatsoever, so Silas kept his agony to himself. After a few seconds it stopped, and there was utter silence. Creaking. Except the creaking. The creaking of the wooden floor as all three crept down it, in silence. fter exiting from the corridor, Franks led the others into an office. He introduced his colleague, a man named Dr Karl Schiz. To Silas the name sounded German. He had heard of the Germans, about how they had just started to try and build a navy of the same size as the great British fleet, and to him it was obvious that this situation with the Germans would end up in a painful experience. Pain… Dr Schiz and Arabella talked for a while. Throughout the conversation, the doctor looked at Silas constantly, almost examining him, checking him out for all his flaws and wonders. Silas found it amusing, and enjoyed being the centre of this stranger’s attention, though he wasn’t fully focused on the gaze of Schiz. Around the office he could see many tools: wrenches, hammers and straps, machines he hadn’t seen before too with wires coming out of all sides. He pondered what they could be used for. Pain… Yes, pain. Silas’ mother handed the bag to Dr Schiz. She looked at her son, emotionless, and walked towards him. She hugged him once and was then escorted out by Franks. Silas didn’t look at his mother as she left. Instead, he stared at the bag, and asked the doctor still in the room whether he had just arrived at boarding school. He very much hoped he had. ‘Well,’ said Schiz in thick German accent, ‘one could perhaps say it is similar to a school here, yes? Wilkommen, Silas Taye. You are now at St Mary Bethlehem Hospital, but we prefer to call it Bedlam.’ A
Loore Onabolu Year 9
ucy was an introverted child. Her mother died during the agonising procedure of giving birth so she had lived with her father ever since. Although she had never met her mother, ten years of her father’s brutal living conditions left her wondering what her life would be like if her mother had lived. Would they dwell in a warm, heated mansion, overlooking dazzling skyscrapers rather than their miniature flat in Peckham? Would she have a warm shoulder to lean on while they struggled through the bitter, British L
winters? Would she have someone to fuss over each and every papercut or scratch, rather than being constantly ignored? Or would both her parents neglect and punish her? Lucy thought about these questions in her head as she lay under an old, frayed blanket, trying desperately to sleep, before her father returned from the pub. Outside, the inky blackness of the frosty night sky engulfed London, while the crimson remains of the sun vanished over the horizon. Hours later, the silent, silver moon hung almost stealthily over the landscape as Lucy’s cold, tense body shifted uncomfortably through disturbed dreams. Meanwhile, Lucy’s father fumbled clumsily for his keys. He tried to unlock the creaky, wooden door but cursed as his meaty, trembling fingers dropped the keys. As usual, alcohol was the puppet master, controlling the strings of the staggering man. This cycle, where Lucy’s father would return drunk at midnight, had been repeated perfectly for four years but only one more year remained until he would be caught. Even though Lucy was a young child, she had become accustomed to spending several weeks at a time without human interaction. If, or rather when, her father was drunk, her only chance of mere survival was to stay out of his way, often locking herself up in the bathroom of her single-bedroom flat. However, today, hiding was not an option. The police had demanded to speak with Lucy after a fierce argument had led to their foreign neighbours, Mr and Mrs Markovic, complaining to the police very early in the morning. Lucy’s father had been drinking far more heavily than usual. He had chosen to disappear without notice two nights ago and had suddenly turned up while Lucy was halfway through a tin of baked-beans (which was to be her only meal for the day). An angry exchange of harsh words caused Lucy to wail, ‘It’s not my fault you disappeared to get even more drunk!’
This cycle, where Lucy’s father would return drunk at midnight, had been repeated perfectly for four years
‘I’mnot under the alcofluence of incohol! You have no right to accusation me of such blasphemy! Anyway, the drunker I stand here the longer I get so leave me away!’ he bellowed as he frothed at the mouth from his slurred speech. Now the pair of them were being interrogated by two officers: Officer Watson and Officer Cooper. Officer Watson was an odd figure. He had very slender limbs and was generally skinny, except his bulging belly, which folded over
his knobbly knees. However, Officer Cooper was very different. He was a very round man with countless layers of fat everywhere except his stick-thin legs. Lucy noticed this immediately. Watson began his questions: ‘So, is it true that Steve Clark, your father, disappeared within the last week?’ His Liverpudlian accent and the scent of coffee on his breath were very comforting to Lucy as she began to recline in her chair. ‘Yeah. He was just gone on Wednesday morning. Probably to the pub. He always does that,’ Lucy mumbled. ‘I see…’ he said as he began scribbling down key sentences, ‘…and how often does he visit the pub?’ His bushy moustache twitched as he spoke. ‘Well…’ Lucy hesitated because she had never actually thought about this, ‘He goes every afternoon and returns in the morning while I’m asleep.’ By the end of the interrogation, Officer Watson and Officer Cooper were almost fully aware of the cruelty that Lucy suffered and would later on report this to a senior member of the Police Force. As they reversed into a tight parking lot space in a dirty, grey 2008 Ford Fiesta Zetec, Steve Clark pushed the great doors of The Old Lion Head pub for the last time.
The next day, Lucy was hurried into a black 2012 Vauxhall Corsa. It was only eight o’clock in the morning and the dim October sun was lazily taking its usual position over the London skyline. Lucy gazed sleepily out of the foggy glass window enjoying the gentle hum of the car heater and the low rumble of the five year old engine. At 8.50am, the Vauxhall came to a slow halt in front of an old, tattered building on Burnfoot Avenue. Looking around, she noticed beautiful streets with fresh red bricks. Unlike
Peckham, there were no bins overflowing with rubbish. Instead there were clear, clean pavements. Lucy thought these were the stunning mansions of her dreams… until she saw the orphanage. Despite the beauty of the surroundings, the crumbling, grey bricks and rattling window panes suggested that this building was very timeworn. The Orphanage wasn’t the most hygienic place for over 300 children, Lucy noticed as she was escorted by the driver of the Vauxhall. It wasn’t the most comfortable either. It looked as though the beautiful landscape of West London had been sketched into a book, with an out-dated picture of the orphanage messily glued in afterwards. In other words, the filthy, deteriorating bricks of the building were incongruous next to the neighbouring residences. In fact, this place hardly met the health requirements for your standard garage. The murky-beige bed sheets were intolerable, the food was shoddy, the crusty, mauve carpets
There stood a lanky, slender, almost stick-thin man in a black waistcoat, black trousers, black shoes and a deep, oil black bowler hat which cast a menacing shadow over his grin. A wide grin. Very wide…
were decorated with juice stains and there was not a single room without a leaking pipe or a faulty light switch but Lucy didn’t care. She had long since departed with the will to care. She seemed utterly emotionless. fter a year at the Orphanage, Lucy’s weekly schedule of seven thirty-minute lessons a day, five days per week left her jaded. She rarely ate due to her unhealthy state-of-mind and mild depression and she longed for Saturdays when she wasn’t forced to interact with other kids in a class environment. However today, she wasn’t tired or exhausted or knackered or even fatigued. The long, rough day had debilitated her. An immense sense of despondency engulfed the room like thick smoke, choking her room mates mid-sentence as Lucy carelessly tossed her books on the floor and collapsed immediately into deep slumber on her flea-bitten mattress. Midnight. The raucous tumult of the orphanage had long-since ceased as Lucy stood outside on the balcony, breathing in the cold, silent air of the night. How she had gotten there, she did not know…or care… but she was enjoying these precious seconds that she was alone. ‘SIGHHHHH!!!’ Lucy’s head whipped around, trying to see who or what made that noise… Then she saw it… There stood a lanky, slender, almost stick-thin man in a black waistcoat, black trousers, black shoes and a deep, oil black bowler hat which cast a menacing shadow over his grin. A wide grin. Very wide… and incredibly white too. The moon, which had somewhat retreated after the appearance of this creature, reflected a blinding light A
on his teeth. If not for a solitary street-lamp behind him, Lucy would only see a large croissant-sized white hole, ripping through the eerie blackness. Lucy did not believe it. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t. She tried rubbing her eyes with the back of her trembling hands. But she couldn’t move. She tried to blink. But didn’t dare take her eyes off of the man on the pavement. It moved. It was now just ten feet below Lucy, staring directly up at her, his almost pitch black eyes hypnotizing the girl who was slowly turning to run. Then, in a flash, this man in the black waistcoat and black trousers and black shoes and deep black bowler hat with the beyond-white teeth… was gone. Lucy sprang from her bed, sweating profusely. She checked the time as she crept silently onto the balcony: 11.57. She wanted to know, had to know if it was there, staring up with his smile. She peered nervously over the iron banner with furtive eyes and clammy hands. The temperature of her ice-cold blood plummeted further and further with each movement she took as she shuffled across the floor. He wasn’t there. She rubbed her eyes and looked again. The pavement was still clear, showing no signs of life in the last few hours. As she tip-toed relieved back into bed in a fresh set of clothes, the man in the hat smiled from underneath her bed. He smiled his manic smile…
Samuel Lynn Year 9
e locked the gas chamber. It was time.
Three days earlier, Tuesday, Treblinka
Friedrich had not arrived at his cell yet. It was quarter-past two when Levi had last glanced at his pocket watch. Thank the Lord that they hadn’t stolen that fromhim, like everything else in his life. Finally, he saw an elongated shadow creeping silently towards his cell. He prayed and prayed it was him. It had to be him. ‘Sorry I am late, Levi,’ he gasped emphatically. ‘Guard duty ran over and the commander demanded I talk to him,’ he whispered. ‘Don’t worry,’ hemurmured empathetically. ‘Have you brought the leftover rations that I’m starving to have?’ Friedrich reached into one of his many pockets of his excessive coat and pulled out the rations which were reserved only for the guards. Levi’s eyes glistened with enjoyment. ‘I hate being like this, I wish we could be free,’ blurted Levi. This caused some tension between the two as they locked eyes for a while. Friedrich shattered the silence when he introduced his clammy hand through the eerily cold metal bars. Their hands clasped each other’s.
‘We can run! I know it seems stupid but we’ll start a new life, somewhere where we won’t be discriminated and where we can settle down. Surely you want to leave this godforsaken place? This was a difficult topic for both of them that in the past had been avoided deliberately; however, Levi implored Friedrich to listen to him. It took time for Levi to sway his lover to deal with their terrifying current situation. They started to brainstorm ideas, mapping all of the possible outcomes and solutions. ‘We shall leave on the eleventh hour of Friday, when we meet in our special place and then leave through the hidden…’ CRASH! ‘…and talk to…’ BANG! ‘…who would give us both a...’ SHRIEK! Friedrich finally uttered with great relief. ‘I’m going to have to tend to that upheaval upstairs – remember what I said Levi.’ Levi didn’t have to say anything, all it took was a nod of acknowledgment for his dear friend. Levi had prepared himself on Friday morning, physically and mentally; he had made everything perfect for that day. Once he had eaten his uneventful delayed breakfast, which consisted of nothing but a crusty old piece of bread and a minuscule amount of off-putting saffron coloured scrambled egg, he started to trek secretly to the decrepit shelter outside of the main camp. Levi was creeping behind a dilapidated wall with multiple crooks and crannies which was risky but it had to be done – there was no other way. Two guards were patrolling meticulously, one was slightly emaciated – his eyeballs sullen, sunken back into his malicious head and the other was so intimidatingly obese that he looked like he could crush a canary with just two of his meaty fingers. Suddenly, the skinny one caught sight of Levi and bellowed. ‘Hey you, come out from where you’re hiding!’ They started to accelerate, the skinny one faster than the potbellied one. They caught up with him and pinned him down to the rough ground. ‘We’ll send you to the chambers for trying to run from us, you inferior Jew!’ THUD! n the other side of the camp, Friedrich was waiting for his companion expectantly. If Levi wasn’t here in the next ten minutes, he would have to head back to his abominable job of manning the gas chambers! Why did it have to be him murdering all these innocent people? He didn’t come. Why wasn’t he here? Friedrich was being waited on by the commander of the camp and was jeered by some other guards for being late. He started to man the gas chamber. First, he secured the gas chamber filledwith wretched people who knew that their short lives had come to an end. They were ready. He was ready. He locked the chamber. It was time. Friedrich climbed back up the ladder, enraged that he was allowing himself to commit such a wicked act. He slowly pulled down the lever and it was done. The next day, Friedrich looked for Levi in every refuge of the camp known to him. He asked the prisoners and guards if they had seen him, describing him as well-built, good-looking and having eyes as brown as the tree-trunks. Confusion rushed through his mind, he was supposed to be there, he wasn’t supposed to just disappear. Later on, Friedrich was walking past the gas chamber when he saw the piles of dead bodies, clothing and belongings of the gassed Jews from the day before. He observed the belongings section and recognised a gold-plated pocket watch, gleaming lustrously in front of the wrath of the enlarged star. It clicked. He realised. It was Levi’s. O
Arjaan Miah Year 9
ory Samay prided herself on her ability to disguise herself. She could wear a thousand conflicting masks, opinions, and personalities, in one statement alone. This helped her immensely as the ruler of her village. In a short span of time, she could satisfy and agree with all parties in any crisis, conflict, or disagreement, although it was relatively common for her critics to notice this. Her face had developed such dexterity that she could, in fact, carry multiple expressions at once, a skill she often practised whilst alone. In her middle age, Tory had picked up an interest in botany, and so she would often neglect her official duties to care for her orchard. Her most precious and loved plant, however, was her Arbor Pecunia Magicae, which grew solid bricks of gold for her. After a difficult day of procrastinating at the village hall, Tory found herself shaking her tree, as she did her routine facial dexterity exercises. She was in dire need of gold, as she had promised some to her friend, Arlone Fester, so she was shaking it vigorously and with great exertion. Before long, the branches of the tree began to flop about wildly and gold bricks were flying everywhere. All of a sudden, everything turned black, and Tory Samay flew backwards, falling into a deep sleep. By fortuitous chance, one of the bricks had landed directly in the back of her head, rendering her unconscious on the floor. She’d woken up the subsequent morning lying in her bed, most likely carried there by servants. It wasn’t a rare occurrence for her to be hit while shaking her tree, so she proceeded as though it were a normal day. On her way to work, however, she noticed the citizens of her town were pointing at her, giggling like schoolchildren. Although used to ridicule, Tory was perturbed. This laughter seemed different, somehow, and this was unsettling. She kept her face down for the rest of the journey and had the chariot drivers go faster. By the time she reached the village hall, she could no longer bear to not know why, today, she found herself the subject of ridicule, and so she pulled aside the nearest civilian and asked. It was a young man, who, in response, stifled a giggle, and pulled her ear to his mouth, whispering to her. Bright red with embarrassment, Tory ran in and looked at the first mirror she could find. To her shock and horror, her accident the night before had caused a serious issue – her face was paralysed in the expression she had been practising – one half a mean, cruel snarl, the other, a righteous, ‘high and mighty’ grin. For the rest of the day, she isolated herself in her office, mulling over her situation. ‘I’ll have to fix my face, that much is certain,’ she spoke to herself. ‘But how would I go about doing such a thing?’ She looked to the portrait that hung over her desk for inspiration. While she stared at her role model, Nagal Firige, an idea occurred to her – maybe she could terrorise immigrants and minorities. No, while it did sound like a nice weekend activity, she doubted they could further her position much. But perhaps she could seek advice from them. With utmost urgency, she had a messenger sent to the exotic land of Sudai Abira. They certainly owed her a few large favours that she could rely on to be fulfilled, so she had no doubt that they would have a modern, humane, and futuristic solution that they would be more than eager to give her. Within days, she had received a package, gift wrapped with money and dried oil. This was, without a doubt, their response. Inside, she found a mechanism, a medieval and pre-enlightenment mechanism, with two eye holes and a breathing hole. T
Unsurprisingly, it fit snugly around her face. On the side, she noticed a lever, but also a strict safety instruction – the lever was not to be touched by a female. That night, she had her servants place it on her face, and slowly pull the lever. As the lever was pulled, her face slowly stretched, and began to cause her increasing amounts of pain. By half-pull of the lever, she had already begun to make whining and squeaking noises, clearly in immense suffering. It was unclear how much longer she would hold out. Nonetheless, she insisted on continuing the procedure. By the time she was done, her face had turned a bright red. She went to the mirror, and lightly prodded her face. Alas, the mechanism had proven itself entirely useless. The next month had, of course, been filled with various exercises, remedies, and concoctions for her condition. She had tried a potion with a bitter melon base, a treatment involving leaving hundreds of needles stuck to her face for a week, and many other bizarre, unorthodox practices. It was hopeless. In the end, Tory had decided to wrap her face and keep it hidden until an opportunity presented itself. By pure serendipity, it had happened that the private physician was in town the following week. Obviously, she had considered going to the public health services, but, unfortunately, all the doctors were incredibly rude, and had once left her waiting for ten whole minutes. Since, she had decided to wage war upon them, making poorly
concealed attempts to wreck the organisation that ran it. Now, it was in such a bad state that they could no longer patch up a paper cut. No, her only option was to visit the physician. The physician bore long, pointy ears that poked out from thick, flowing black hair. Her walk had a certain air of authority that reeked of the private sector, the upper class, and body odour. As a child, a silver spoon had been lodged in her voicebox, and as such, she had to speak with every word over-enunciated and elevated multiple octaves, so that the spoon might not be disturbed. Never appearing to be fully comfortable, she always paid the utmost attention to
That night, she had her servants place the mask on her face, and slowly pull the lever. As the lever was pulled, her face slowly stretched
maintaining an ideal posture, which she thought to consist of: a strong and stable lumbar curve; shoulders thrown behind the rest of her body; an elevated chin; and one leg crossed over the other, manicured hands resting on her knee. There was, of course, no conclusive way to prove her services better than the public ones, but she did an excellent job of making it seem as though they were. ‘Miss Samay, I’m afraid that there really are no two ways about it. One’s only option in such dire circumstances is to participate in a very specialised type of skin therapy, which involves covering one’s face with a brown facial mask for a whole week.’ ‘That sounds rather agreeable. But I do have one concern – what shade of brown would this be? Is it a maroon colour, or a more… dark… shade of brown?’ ‘No, no, that would be somewhat, unseemly. It is the brown of… a sequoia tree, perhaps. Although not a sequoiadendron, mind you, perhaps a metasequoia.’ Tory followed the guidelines with utmost care. Regardless of the itching, occasional boils and blisters, she had waited as instructed, and when the week had finished, she found herself more than eager to get the whole ordeal behind her. The moment her time was up, she began to slowly peel at a corner of the mask. Every few seconds, a hair or piece of skin would be pulled off, and she would yelp in pain. Roughly half-way through the removal, her face began to feel sore. It was time for a change of tactics. Steadily counting down from three, she prepared to yank off the rest of the mask. OUCH!
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