MYAA 2022 (Senior) 1st Prize
Leong Yuen - Han Chiang High School
Mila was prepared.
It was 11pm on a Saturday night, her parents were asleep, and her brother Ansel went out clubbing with his girlfriend Alexis, he won’t be back for the whole night. Most people sleep early in Paris, except for those cheesy romantic couples that are still walking down a park talking about their feelings, and Paris was full of them. It is the city of love after all.
Meanwhile, in Mila’s room, she prepared everything: a flashlight, extra batteries, a notepad and pen, a camera and a hairpin.
Mila looked at her phone
She knew that if she went, there was no going back, especially if something happened to her, good OR bad.
Mila took one last look of her room, before climbing out of her window, grabbing her bike and making her way into the abyss. She regrets nothing and everything.
Mila Keepins, reader of books, geekest of geeks, 4-time school literature champion and sassy dork is nothing more than a perfectly average teenager with an over-obsession with books, but tonight, she wanted something different.
A few weeks ago, Mila heard of a rumour going around her town for a while: People on social media have been getting footage of this weird figure stumbling around Le Musée Français de l'Art Perdu, which in English, it was ‘The French Museum of Lost Art’. There was footage of it running from something, hiding, walking or just standing. These footages have been going viral EVERYWHERE, her friends and Ansel’s friends were constantly talking about it and Mila could not scroll past her feed without getting a nosy news article about this weird figure.
The figure didn’t really have a proper name, because they didn't know what to name it.
Mila didn’t really care about all of this at first, but it was so popular and eventually got onto Mila’s back and she was hooked up ever since.
Ever since she was hooked up, she has been doing her research about all of it. It looked human, a human boy, but there was no footage of his face. The people who caught these footages describe him as ‘too quick for the human eye, or a camera’.
The longer this went, the more interested Mila became, and that brings us to this morning, when Mila actually went to the museum herself to look around.
People say that this ‘figure’ only comes out at night, but Mila didn’t go there to look for him, yet.
Mila went there to look for vents and exit doors, she had a plan, but we’ll get to that later.
At first, Mila was just scoping around, she did her thing and drew a map of every vent and exit door she saw, but then she heard cheering. It bothered her mildly at first, but when she looked up to see what it was, it lured her like a snake to it.
A boy was sitting lifelessly in a glass cage. He had jet black hair, which was smooth and straight, it laid perfect under the brown fedora on his head and above his dark brown eyes. He was wearing a beige coloured Henly shirt with a pair of brown pants with suspenders attached to them. His leather shoes seem to be not polished for a while and the fedora with a single bluejay feather on it.
There was a crowd before it, taking pictures and chattering about it, like he’s the hottest celebrity in the city right now, like the figure.
Mila was mesmerised, but she didn’t know why. There was just something about him that made him…alluring.
Mila stepped closer to him. She read the label on his glass case:
‘Star art for today: Charlie the Dummy!
Charlie Augutus the Talking Dummy is a dummy created by Sir Robert Gewington in 1896, the golden age of ventriloquism. Charlie was very popular for many reasons, but the most extraordinary one is he can talk by himself! And no one knows why then, until scientists found out he just had a voice box that can change dialogue. He now remains here as a remembrance of his greatness.’
Mila must admit, she was a little disappointed that he was fake. If this dummy was walking down a street, she would have totally believed he was a real boy.
Mila didn’t understand, but there was just something, something about this dummy that trapped her
in his charm.
Mila wasn’t convinced he’s fake, she just knows it.
Mila now had 2 objectives for her plan, she wasn’t sure about it, but she was willing to take the risk. Mila took one last glance at the dummy.
This won’t be the last time she sees Charlie.
The museum was not far off from her home. It was 20 minutes from her house to the museum.
When she reached there, there was no one. No security guards, no cops. Just the echoing sounds of nothing.
During the visit, in that very same room she saw Charlie, Mila noticed a small vent on ground level. It was an open vent and it led to the outside world. The only problem is that it’s very small and cramped. It was only big enough to fit a very small and very slim child.
A small, slim child like Mila.
Mila found the vent and crawled through it. But then she saw something.
The figure was crawling out of its glass cage, picking up the glass cage slowly and setting it down on the ground. The figure carefully got off the platform and placed the glass back on the platform. It stood up straight.
Mila peeked out from the vent, there were no security cameras.
Mila would start taking photos of it, but it would be useless, it was too dark.
Mila silently crawled out of the vent to take a closer look, but when the moonlight showed on his back by the glass rooftop, she was shocked
The figure perked his head up and started sprinting for his life, Mila tried her best to keep up with him.
He was fast, light on his feet, he dashed through the halls and was cautious of the display cases around the museum. Mila was nowhere near Charlie, but she can still see him from a distance.
She wasn’t sure where he went, but it was definitely the forbidden part of the museum.
Mila saw Charlie ‘flew’ into a room, she followed him.
When she entered, she saw Charlie squatted in a corner. He had his arms wrapped around his head, he looked like he was hiding, crying, he was afraid.
Mila didn’t know what to do. She just hesitantly stood by the doorway.
Charlie looked up to Mila.
Charlie’s voice sounded like an angel, and Mila was now convinced that he was actually real.
“Well, I’m not…real, I just…I…i-it’s…complicated…”
Mila looked at Charlie curiously, she was amused.
She got a little closer to Charlie, then squatted in front of him. She gently patted his hair, then felt his skin.
Charlie didn’t flinch back for some reason, Mila’s touch was…comforting to him. He hasn’t been touched by a human since god knows when.
“You feel so real, so inhuman.”
Mila was lost in her discovery, but then she realised something.
“Wait…you said… ‘it’s me.’ …do you know me?”
“Of course! You were the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, I will never forget your face, or that day when you came up to my glass, I saw an angel then.”
Mila blushed, she was not one to flirt a lot, or been flirted with
Charlie didn’t say anything. He just got up and sat beside Mila, their faces were now dangerously close.
Mila didn’t realise it, but she was now talking to Charlie Augutus, both of them chatting about each other. “I’m not actually human.” Charlie started, “Just think of me as a Franktinstein, Father George brought me to life, before he was a ventriloquist, he was a scientist.”. Charlie then went on about
how he could breathe but not eat, and this is the first time he came alive since his last show. Mila had to tell him that he was the talk of her town.
Both of them were instant friends, but then they made a risky decision: To escape.
Charlie always wanted to see the outside world, he was bored out of his life just watching people in the museum come and go. He wanted to be…human.
Mila suggested the idea first, after all, there was no going back.
Mila quietly leads Charlie to the nearest, safest exit. There was no way that he was going to fit the vent she crawled through. Then, they hear footsteps: security guards.
They didn’t think, they just sprinted, Mila literally being dragged by Charlie because of their speed difference, they got to that nearest exit and just blasted, not caring to look back. They weren’t even sure if the security guards even caught up to them.
They went into the woods, finally tripping on the soft grass completely out of breath, they looked at each other and the museum in the distance.
Mila has completely forgotten about her objectives, but she didn’t care.
“We did it...” She said, her eyes twinkling to the stars. Charlie smiled.
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
As a reader, this story was very fulfilling to read as it had it all – a brave risktaker as a protagonist, a mystery brought to light, and to top it all off, the formation of a new and solid friendship. These elements made the plot appear cohesive and well put-together. In addition, the bold and daring nature of Mila as a character complements Charlie’s innocence and curiosity well, and as a reader, I look forward to seeing how their friendship develops further down the line.
MYAA 2022 Senior - 2nd Prize
Nur Aminah Hessa Binti Mohd Ashik - SMK King George V
Title: Shadows of Monarchy
Avery darted between buildings, her knives tucked and arranged neatly on her belt. Her target was in a carriage, heading to the Underground, a place where illicit dealings take place. She waited until the carriage entered a deserted alleyway before sending a knife flying in the direction of the driver's chest. The carriage skidded sideways, causing the passengers to scream in a panic. Avery quickly concealed her face with a black cloth, but left her eyes uncovered. She headed to the crashed carriage, and freed the horses. There were 3 people inside the carriage, all of them trembling as she opened the door. There was a middle aged man and woman, along with a palace officer. "Finally. My target," she spoke. " You" she pointed to the middle aged man. "Step out of the carriage, please,". The man quaked in fear. " You-you're the Black Assasin. You have no right to do this! I-I'm a friend of the king!" he stuttered. Avery narrowed her eyes. " The king has no merit to me. He is the source of Calania's suffering," She threw another knife, barely missing the man's ear. "And besides, a slaver like you can't possibly be a friend of the king," she smiled cruelly. "But the man who employs you is," she flicked her wrist, sending a knife straight into his heart. His face contorted in pain and surprise before he collapsed to the ground, blood pooling around his body.
The woman shrieked. The officer tried to attack Avery with his sword, but he was nowhere fast enough. Before three strides, he was already dead, a knife in his throat. Avery faced the woman. " You were his wife weren't you? Tell me, how do you live knowing you sold the freedom of countless lives? Do you tell yourself that it's your husband's fault? Are all the jewels and embroidery worth the guilt? Or do you even feel guilty?" Avery spoke softly. The woman whimpered. Her eyes were shining with tears. Avery left.
The door creaked as she entered her house. She took off her veil and took a deep breath. Another one down. The slaver's blood was stark against her white coloured socks. An oversight. She peeled the them off her feet and tossed it in the trash. Her house was only two rooms big, a toilet and a living room. Avery headed to the window. Her house was located at the attic of a building. The attic was often cold, but it provided a magnificent view of Serran, the city she lived in. More often than not, this view was much needed by her, especially after a mission.
Killing a person is never easy, no matter how vile they were. Even so, she will continue executing her mission, to rid Calania of corruption. For her parents, for the people of Calania and for her mentor, Castor, who had taught her how to survive in this cruel world. "It's a food chain, Avery. To be at the top, you have to get your hands dirty. And someone has to. To protect the ones below". Avery gazed at the city sorrowfully. "Someone has to get their hands dirty" she whispered. "And it's me,"
“His Majesty, May He Live Long Hereafter, King Nashir Dramond, The Torch of Calania!”. Generous applause followed the announcement as the king crossed the room to the throne, a monstrosity of gold and diamonds, most likely enough to feed a village for years. “His Highness, Prince Eucharis Dramond, The Crown Prince of Calania!”. Noting the muted applause, he strode to the stage, standing at the edge of it, emphasising the different of power between him and the king. The court had always been predators, keen on gaining luxury and novelty, willing to resort to any method to do so. All they needed was a monarch who permitted them to execute their devious tactics.
Eucharis had always chosen a more…benevolent path. This would restrict their movements to expand their influence and exploitation of weaknesses in the law. Ultimately, their natural move is to support Nashir. Notwithstanding, Eucharis did have supporters among the noble houses. However, it was far too few. Additionally, none of them could openly support him, lest they risk the attention of the king. Smarter than he let on, the king was very skilled in manipulation. He could destroy a noble house overnight. Nevertheless, he will dethrone his father, along with his tyranny one day. All he needed was an opportune moment.
The fog curled around her, shrouding her from prying eyes as she moved swiftly through the city. In the dead of the night, the city was tranquil, shops closed and strangely, the houses barred. News of the Black’s Assasin’s murder had spread. Trepidation had taken root. It was amusing that people thought mere logs of wood would thwart her. Smilling, she continued her her journey to Graysteel Palace.
The window was guarded. Avery shot the guard with a sleeping dart. The guard gasped as the dart hit him, and collapsed. She infiltrated the window, heading towards her target’s room. The door was decorated intricately, gold intertwined with it’s frame .Avery picked the lock and opened the door softly. The room was pitch black. In the gloom, she could make out a figure standing behind near a window. She reacted quickly. Her knife whirled through the air, hitting the target with an audible rustle. She narrowed her eyes. The figure came into focus, revealing a statue made of hay. A decoy. She hissed and turned to flee, but a net fell down from the ceiling, effectively trapping her. A man came out of the shadows, assessing her silently. “The Black Assasin. We need to talk,”
“Let me go,” the assasin hissed. “I only wish to speak to you,” Eucharis replied. Softening his voice, he said “Please,”. The assassin nodded tersely. Eucharis lifted the net warily, acutely aware of the knife concealed inside his coat, as a precaution. “May I know your name?”. Chuckling coldly, she asked, “Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you,”. He could tell she was serious. “I could’ve killed you. Since I refrained, you could translate that as payment for your time,” Eucharis replied. “I’ve also noticed a….pattern in your murders. You see yourself as a symbol of justice. You don’t kill innocents,”.
Avery tilted her head. “What makes you think you’re innocent? You’re a scion of the Dramond family. You deserve death,” she said, rage rising inside her. “You caused my parents’ death. In your effort to destroy a mine!” she hissed in anger. Quietly, he said “I was never aware that there were people inhabiting the mine. Blowing up that mine is one of my biggest regrets,”. “I know it’s too late, and I’m sorry,”. Avery sucked in a breath. Why does he sound sincere? He deserves death. “You can either help and trust me to save Calania. Or you can betray your principles for your revenge and throw the country into chaos,”. Avery controlled her emotions and weighed her decisions. She knew what she needed to do.
“The room ahead of us,” Eucharis said, tension clearly displayed on his face. Avery continued walking smoothly, giving no indication that she was about to kill the king. Moments ago, Eucharis had explained his plan to her. “I’ll lead you to my father’s chambers. This is where you come in. Once we’re there, you’ll kill him. I can’t do it myself. Patricide would destroy any support for my ascent to the throne. You need to run once the alarm sounds. I’ve already prepared you a house in the edge of the city. I trust it’ll be enough for your services,”.
Avery let out a breath. I’m going to kill the king. With the help of the crown prince. Avery glanced at Eucharis. I hope I can trust him. Shaking the thoughts off, she faced the imposing door to the king’s chamber. Eucharis knocked the door. “Come,” Eucharis entered the room. Avery followed suit. “Oh it’s you- Who is this?” the king broke off mid sentence. “You should have listened to mother. I’m sorry it’s come to this,” Eucharis replied sorrowfully. The king narrowed his eyes. His eyes glinted when he saw the knife in Avery’s belt. He barked out a laugh. “You’ll never leave alive,”. He scrambled to his desk. Avery leaped after him, cursing. The king pulled out an explosive. Avery threw a knife in his back. She turned to see the fuse of the explosive lit. She grabbed Eucharis’ arm and threw both of them out of the open window into the lake down below. The king’s chamber exploded seconds after they jumped. Eucharis and Avery swam to shore. “You need to run,” Eucharis wheezed. “They’ll be looking for you. I’ll head back to the palace,” Avery turned to leave. “Wait. Thank you for your help,” Eucharis said. He bowed his head. Avery studied him. “Take care of the country, Your Majesty,”. She left without another word.
Peace. With the money she got from selling Eucharis’ house, she was able and to afford building a small hut in the mountains. Disappearing without a trace, she was able to sit back and watch as Serran transformed into a better place, thanks to Eucharis.
3 years passed by. On a beautiful, gray morning, she could make out a familiar figure. The figure walked over to her. “Found you,” he said grinning. Avery smiled. “I’d like to hear how you found me, Your Majesty,”
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
The story is brilliant and enthralling, keeping the readers on edge with the writer’s exemplary use of language and thrilling plot. Great world and character building. Avery especially was an enthralling main character with an aura of mystery. The way tension is used also brought up the stakes of danger. The epilogue was a nice touch to leave readers wanting for more.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) 3rd Prize
Cho Yujin - Austin Heights International School
Title: A Flower for a Grave
Noah wasn’t sure what to feel about the tombstone standing in front of him.
Hesitantly, he knelt on the ground and laid a hand on the slab of grey stone. The surface was coarse and hard, the edges sharp and rough. He brushed his thumb across the words etched on the stela, feeling the unpolished surface scratch his skin.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
19XX – XXXX
Mother, he thought faintly, the word sounding strange in his mind.
He hadn’t thought of his mother in a long time. In fact, he hadn’t even seen her since she’d left him and his dad ten years ago.
Noah’s father still kept their last family photo together, taken on Noah’s fifth birthday – Noah flashing a childish grin at the camera, one of his teeth missing; his dad ruffling his light brown curls, the man’s eyes full of good cheer as always; his mother smiling gently, betraying none of her plans to leave them that very night.
Noah had always hated the picture. Now, he wasn’t sure.
He pushed himself to his feet and gazed around the graveyard – a lonely place where the unidentified, the homeless, and the lost all came to rest after their death. He harbored no love for his mother, but somehow it didn’t seem right that she should be laid to rest here, among the dead who died unloved and alone.
His eyes drifted over to the small bouquet held in his hand. White carnations – his mother’s old favorite.
Noah remembered giving them to her on Mother’s Day as a toddler, stretching out his arms just to reach her hands. Now, he bent down and laid the flowers on her grave, knowing that, no matter how far he stretched his arms this time, he would never reach her hands again.
A person behind him asked, “You knew her?”
Noah tensed at the unexpected voice, and turned to see who it was.
The owner of the voice was a boy, about the same age as Noah. He wore a friendly smile, and his eyes were full of good cheer. A wicker basket swayed gently from his arm, full of neatly trimmed branches with small white star-shaped flowers growing from them – asphodels.
Noah’s palms turned sweaty. The boy didn’t look threatening or bad-tempered, but Noah still felt anxious – as he always felt around people. His heart hammered against his chest. His mouth was agape, but words refused to come out from it.
“It’s not often relatives show up in this cemetery,” the boy continued, happily oblivious to Noah’s anxiety, taking a branch from his basket. Carefully avoiding bumping into Noah, he made his way to Natasha’s grave and laid the flower there, right next to the bouquet of carnations.
Noah stared at the boy in confusion for a moment. As far as he knew, his mother had no living relative other than him. Then he noticed a branch of asphodels placed on top of every grave the boy must have passed by earlier.
The boy turned back and caught Noah staring at the other graves. Noah hurriedly looked away, flustered, but the boy simply grinned.
“Thought it was a little sad that no one was giving them flowers,” he said, rising to his feet and brushing the dirt off his jeans. Then, after a quick glance at the grave next to them, he added, “But I guess Natasha here has someone else to give her flowers now, huh?”
Noah opened his mouth to reply, but all he managed to do was nod.
“Didn’t know she liked carnations,” the boy remarked. “Actually, I don’t know what kind of flowers any of the people here like, so I settle for one kind.” He tapped his basket with his index finger. “Asphodels. Dunno if they would appreciate it, though.”
They would, Noah wanted to tell him. After all, this boy was the only one bothering to remember the forgotten dead. But, as usual, his voice failed him.
“By the way…” The boy offered his hand to Noah. “Name’s Cedric. You?”
Noah hesitated for a moment, rubbing his sweaty fingers together. Swallowing hard, his arm trembling slightly, he accepted Cedric’s hand in the end. “Noah,” he managed, which was a big step from the utter silence he would normally give people.
Cedric shook his hand. “Noah. That’s a nice name.” He grinned, his eyes sparkling in the dim evening light. “Hey, would you mind walking with me while I lay down the rest of those flowers? It’s been a long while since I had someone my age to talk to.”
If it had been anyone else, Noah would have tried his best to decline politely and run out of there in an instant. Being around crowds, who were all completely ignorant of the fact that he even existed, made him nervous enough. But being alone with someone whose attention was focused on him and only him? That was his worst nightmare.
Still… Noah actually felt relaxed around Cedric. His voice was still failing him miserably, yes, but his eyes weren’t searching for the quickest exit route. His hands weren’t rubbing each other that much anymore. His heartbeat was surprisingly steady.
He smiled, and nodded. He could handle a walk with this boy just fine.
Cedric beamed. “Awesome. I promise it won’t be boring.”
And it wasn’t. It truly wasn’t. Noah and Cedric walked side by side for hours, laying down a flower for each grave, not skipping a single one. And, even though all the dead here must have been a stranger to him during their lifetime, Cedric didn’t forget to murmur a few friendly words for everyone.
Noah’s lips stayed sealed all along, but his ears stayed open. There was genuineness in each of Cedric’s greetings, and he remembered to address each dead by their name. It was those tiny details that touched Noah the most.
By the late evening, Cedric’s flower basket was empty, and there was a flower for every grave. Noah managed multiple smiles over the hours. Cedric hadn’t minded his silence at all. Instead, he’d kept the mood light and cheerful with his voice alone.
“That was fun,” Cedric told Noah as they exited the cemetery’s gates, a grin stretched across his face. “Thanks for coming with me today. It was nice having company, for once.”
Noah moistened his lips, running through the question once in his head before saying it out loud. “How… long have you been doing this?”
“I don’t know – maybe a couple years.” Cedric shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter, though. I like this job. It’s fulfilling, knowing I’m doing something for these folks.”
“Will you be here next weekend?” Noah blurted out, startling himself. He scratched his head awkwardly, feeling his cheeks flush up. “I mean – I want to see my mom again, anyway, and… today was pretty nice, so…”
Cedric seemed surprised, but pleasantly so. He flashed Noah a smile. “I’m always gonna be here,” he promised, starting to walk away. “Next week, then, Noah.”
Noah waved at him, smiling back. “Next week.”
Cedric didn’t show up next week.
Noah waited for hours in front of his mother’s grave, but the friendly boy from last week was nowhere to be seen. There were no flowers on the graves – any of the graves. A bouquet of carnations was laid on Natasha’s, but it felt empty without Cedric’s asphodels.
Noah managed to stay until the late evening, but he knew he had to go back home sooner or later, Sighing, crestfallen that he hadn’t been able to meet Cedric again, he began to head out of the cemetery, towards where the newer tombs were.
As he passed those graves, Noah was strangely pleased that he could recognize all the names from last week. Michael, Lily, Daniel, William, Charlotte, and…
Noah skidded to an abrupt stop when he noticed a grave – newly added, from the looks of it.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
20XX – XXXX
His legs going limp, Noah dropped to his knees on the ground. With a trembling hand, he reached out for the headstone. It was rough and unpolished – hurriedly made with little to no care for the dead, just like the rest.
Noah gripped the corner of Cedric’s gravestone, feeling the prickly surface scratch his palm. His mind slowly came to terms with reality. Cedric, the sweet boy who’d been kind to even the dead, was now one of the countless corpses buried in this cemetery. And no one had laid a flower for him, either, even though it was the least he deserved.
Noah bit his lips, then rose to his feet, a firm decision forming in his mind as he walked away from Cedric’s grave for the day.
Tomorrow, he returned, the handle of a basket clutched tightly in his hand. The basket was full of asphodels – the same flowers Cedric used to lay for the dead.
Noah knelt in front of the boy’s grave, plucking a wilted leaf off the ground, and managed a smile at Cedric’s gravestone.
“Don’t worry about the folks here,” he said, hoping the boy would hear him. “I’m going to keep this tradition – job, whatever this is – going. I’m going to make sure there’s always a flower for a grave. Including yours.”
With that, Noah laid a flower on the ground, right by the foot of Cedric’s grave.
Noah smiled one last time before rising to his feet. And, as he turned to leave, he thought he saw Cedric’s ghost smiling back at him.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
This story was absolutely heart-warming, and I loved how it explores the lasting influence kindness and friendship can have on others. The mystery surrounding Cedric especially in relation to the protagonist shows the way in which even strangers can bring warmth and companionship, especially in a somber and depressing setting like a cemetery. The dialogue and the events that took place were well written, and I enjoyed how the plot came full-circle to leave strong character development on the protagonist.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) 1st prize
Woo Gin Lynn - SJK(C) Kuen Cheng 2
Title: The Locket
It was a rainy night. The loud thunder echoed through the house, lightning illuminating the room, a symphony of raindrops pelting hard at the windows.
Sophie, an eleven-year-old orphan, had lived at Miss Penelope’s Home for Children ever since she could remember. She curled up on her narrow single bed, hugging her favourite teddy bear tightly. Miss Penelope told her it was a gift from her parents. Sophie always pestered her for more details, but the warden only gazed at her wistfully, never saying another word.
Closing her eyes, Sophie drifted off to sleep, her thoughts slowly fading away….
* * *
Sophie sat down at an empty table in the school cafeteria by herself. She wished her best friend at the orphanage, Alice, was there, but Alice was a year older than Sophie. They had different breaktimes.
Sophie looked around nervously, spotting a bunch of girls at a table, whispering to each other and pointing at her.
She lowered her head in embarrassment, finishing her food as fast as she could. Sophie ran to the school playground and hid in a dark corner. She pulled her hoodie over her head.
Suddenly, someone pushed her hard from behind. Sophie fell flat on her face, scraping her cheek.
“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?”
Sophie looked up to see the school bully, Eris, and her minions.
“The poor little orphan,” snorted one of the girls.
Eris pulled off Sophie’s hood, yanking her hair. “You act like a pig, you dress like a pig, do you live in a pigsty too?”
The girls laughed like maniacs, Sophie’s eyes brimming with tears. She pushed Eris aside, fleeing into the school building, the mean jeers of “orphan girl”, “weakling” and “cry-baby” ringing in her ears as she ran.
* * *
After school, Sophie went to the park. She sat down on a swing in the garden. Tall hedges surrounded the garden like walls. There was a luscious flowerbed of both exotic and common plants. In the middle of the flowerbed was a stone fountain with a dolphin statue spewing water.
The rustle of the leaves, the warm rays of sunlight shining down, the light breeze on a warm afternoon brought promises of wonderful summer days ahead. The merry laughs of the children in the playground, the calming rush of the water in the fountain, the minty aroma of the plants brought an aura of calmness to Sophie’s mind. Sophie drifted off into another world, thinking about Eris and her minions. She wished she could just have a normal, peaceful life, where no one would ever bother her again. Her heart sank, dreading going back to school the next day. She couldn’t face those bullies anymore. She wished she had a mother and often wondered what her mother looked like. She wanted to know what it felt like to be held in her mother’s arms when she was sad, what it felt like to hear her sweet voice comforting her after a hard day at school.
She began swinging back, forth, back, forth, back, forth, and before she knew it, the sun was setting. Vibrant hues of oranges, yellows, reds and pinks spilled across the sky in a colourful haze, clouds floating slowly, like paint spilled across a blank canvas and then brought to life. Sophie got off the swing reluctantly, and hurriedly jogged back to the orphanage.
When she reached the orphanage, the windows were dark. Sophie pressed her nose to the windowpane.
Huh. Weird, the lights are off.
She opened the door cautiously.
The moment she entered, the lights sprung to life.
A dozen people jumped out, shouting, “SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SOPH!” She almost fell back in shock.
Alice came over and handed her a gift box. Sophie tugged at the ribbon and opening the lid. Inside was a beautiful scrapbook of all their happy memories together. A small smile crept on to Sophie’s face, growing bigger and bigger as she flipped through the pages. She hugged her best friend, grateful for her gift.
The younger kids greeted her with cheery smiles, holding up handmade, paint-splattered birthday cards. Sophie felt a warmth in her chest, a kind of happiness that couldn’t be compared to anything else in the world.
The younger children may be messy at mealtimes, but they were truly adorable.
Everyone had dinner, then Miss Penelope brought out a little chocolate cake. She lit the candle, and everyone sang Happy Birthday.
“Make a wish!” said Miss Penelope.
Sophie squeezed her eyes shut, her hands pressed together, whispering under her breath: “I wish I had a family.”
With a huff, she blew out the candles and the kids all cheered. When Sophie finished her slice of cake, Miss Penelope called her over in a low voice. “Sophie, I have something for you. Follow me.”
Curious, Sophie followed the warden.
Miss Penelope sat down, and Sophie sat opposite her.
“Sophie, you are twelve today,” Miss Penelope began. “I’ve raised you since you were a baby. I think you are now old enough to know the truth. Your parents placed you on our doorstep when you were just two weeks old. You were wrapped in a blanket, with a teddy bear next to you along with a locket. There was also a note.” Miss Penelope handed her an old, tattered piece of paper.
Sophie felt puzzled and confused. She read the note.
Dear Miss Penelope, 7th July
I can no longer take care of my child, so I now put her in your care. Her name is Sophie, and she was born on the 23rd of June. This is her favourite teddy bear, and a locket. Give the locket to her when she turns twelve. Please take good care of Sophie.
Miss Penelope handed her a locket. It was grey, seemingly made of stone, with a diamond in the centre, and runes carved around it. “This is your locket, darling. And I’m sure your mother had her reasons for leaving you with us. I hope you think of us as your family, because we think of you as ours. Happy birthday, my dear, and goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Miss Penelope.”
Sophie went to her room and lay down on her bed. She looked down at her locket, her mind full of questions about her past.
She opened the locket. A ray of blinding white light shone out of it. Sophie shielded her eyes, and suddenly she felt a tug. The light had enveloped her entire body, and she was being sucked into the locket! Sophie’s mind was whirling, her body paralysed with fear, her limbs flailing in panic.
Sophie. Sophie. Sophie. A soft voice called her name from inside the locket.
Sophie let out a scream-
Everything went black.
To be continued
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
The first paragraph already brought me in. Nice use of vocabulary, nice sentence structure, it has everything someone would want in a story. The pacing is well structured, not too slow, not too fast. Besides, the ending allows reader to imagine what happens next. I am excited for the longer version if it. All in all, very, very good story.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) - 2nd Prize
Eunice Wong Yun Xi - SJK(C) Kai Ming, Bintulu
Title: The Lunar Cat
The full moon shined brightly on the bustling city of Catvil. Catvil city was lively with cats hustling about, with the smell of fish pie wafting through the streets. Every cat was preparing for the Full Moon Festival that will last through the night. But little did they know, evil was lurking in the darkness.
As the clock struck midnight, howls filled the air. Music stopped, cats froze where they stood and fear filled their eyes. The dark wolves were coming. Menacing Silhouettes appeared atop the cliff surrounding the city.
“Listen up you filthy cats, eternal darkness will befall this land. The light of the day will be wiped away, and the light of the moon will never be seen again,” shouted the leader of the pack with a malicious grin. “Three days from now, we will burn this place down and take over this city, prepare yourselves to welcome us!” he said and laughed.
The sinister laugh rang through city and chaos broke out. Cats rushed towards paths leading outside of town only to see them being blocked off by giant wall of darkness. Nothing could get past it, all who tried were swallowed by the wall and never to be seen again.
Amidst the chaos, a white furry cat peered towards the cliff behind barrels of milk beer, her teal-blue eyes glinted in darkness. The crowd soon moved far away from the dark wall. The white cat murmured “Light” and a dim pearlescent light twirled out from her heart and spread to her entire body. Cautiously, she crawled toward the dark wall.
As her skin touched the wall, darkness lashed out attempting to absorb her, only to be deflected. As soon as she passed the dark wall, the light twirl back into her heart. The forest outside was eerily silent, with no trace of life. Pearl swiftly dashed into the forest as silent as she can.
Crack, her ears pick up on a noise just beyond the trees ahead of her. Two wolves were sprinting towards the mountains. Pearl quickly decided to tail them, hoping they would lead her towards their encampment.
They soon reached a cleared area next to a cliff with tents dotting around, encircling a huge campfire in the centre. Pearl halted and hide behind the bush as she saw the two wolves strutted toward the campfire.
A throne made of obsidian was placed next to the campfire beside the biggest tent of all and wolves gathered in front of it. Dark mist appeared from the tent and a large wolf with a scar streaking across its face slowly emerged.
Pearl recognised the scar, how could she ever forget? The scar belonged to her parents’ killer. Her parents were the Moonlight Cats, a lineage of magical cats with the task to exterminate dark wolves. Pearl’s parents fought with Black, fighting fearlessly to the very end and left that scar. Black was too powerful and killed them without mercy. However, Black took no notice of her as she looked helpless. Since then, not a day passed by that she did not regret her helplessness. She trained her Moonlight power every day, hoping to avenge her parents one day.
Anger boiled within Pearl and she fought it down. She had to remain calm and waited for the right moment to strike. “Welcome my brothers,” said Black. “We shall burn down that rancid cats’ village expand our territory!” All the wolves raised their heads and answered with ear-piercing howls. “The night that we will reign over this entire land is near. Now go, prepare yourselves to strike in 2 days!”
All the wolves dispersed, leaving Black alone in the camp. Suddenly, Black disappeared. Pearl looked around frantically. “Boo!” she heard from behind her. Jumping away as fast as she could, she felt a sharp pain on her back. Black appeared behind her with claws stained with blood.
“It’s you,” Black said with a sly smile, “Oh how you’ve grown.” “What do you want!” said Pearl, tensing herself ready to strike. “That’s quite rude, eh? No greeting to an old friend?” Blacked scowl while strutting around her. Pearl summoned her Moonlight power and as the lights engulfed her body, Black backed away and yelped in surprise. “You are the Lunar Cat that I have been searching for!” Black pounced and Pearl gathered all the lights into her paw and shoot it toward Black. Black tried to summon his dark mist to shield against the beam but the beam broke through and pierced through him.
Black howled angrily, summoning his subordinates. Appearing out of nowhere, they attack Pearl but she fought back, using the pearlescent lights that covered her skin to deflect their sharp claws. She twirled her lunar powers with her paws and create a barrier, surrounding Black and his wolves.
“You think that this can defeat me?” Black said with a grin while engulfing his wolves with his mist of darkness. A deadly aura emanated from Black while the wolves evaporated into the mist. The thicker mist overpowered the barrier of light and turned into dark needles, shooting towards Pearl. Needles pierced through Pearl’s leg and immobilised her.
Black pounced towards Pearl. “Is this the end?” wondered Pearl, unready to accept her fate and wished strongly that she can continue to fight back. Suddenly, her heart glowed brightly and a field of light formed around her. “What? A Shard of Moon? How could that be?” Black growled, backing away. The light created a bright forcefield, trapping Black inside. Black lashed out at the barrier but it was futile.
The barrier encased Black in a sphere and slowly shrink around him. “I guess the one ending up dead today is you!” Pearl said weakly. She used her leftover power to recreate a beam of light and shot it towards Black. It hit him at the heart and his body started to evaporate. “I’m going to die here but I’ll bring you down with me!” he said unwillingly, using a last whip of darkness to push Pearl off the edge of the cliff beside the encampment.
The night dissipated, turning into a bright and beautiful morning, as if all is well. The crowd below gaped at the scene as Pearl disappears mysteriously. Pearl was never to be seen again, but she had become the hero of light, bringing peace back to the lands.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS STORY! The tension, climax, ending and the characters. Everything was amazing.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) - 3rd Prize
Lim Tinh Jet - SJK(C) Lick Hung
Title: Curse Of Unwinding
“Faster! What’s taking so long!” A loud voice echoed throughout the halls. All the maids and butlers heard it and sighed, as they were used to the voice. “I have to get to school by 8 and this is the speed you guys serve me? A young man yelled at 4 maids who were running around the kitchen preparing a dish for their young master. Soon, the 4 arrived in front of the young man and presented the dish they had prepared. It was a Lobster Frittata that was served in perfection, the aroma filled the room with the word exquisite. The young man took a bite of the food and immediately spat it out. “Are you trying to poison me? This is NOT food!” The young man said. “You know what? I’m not even going to eat! I will eat again once you people know how to serve real food.” He said as he stormed out of the mansion, leaving everyone in disbelief.
“Why the heck are you driving so slow? Faster, faster!” The boy called Alan shouted at his chauffeur. “But young master, the maximum here is 60, I can’t drive any faster!” The chauffeur said. “I don’t care! If I shed a single tear, you’d lose your job by the next hour.” Alan threatened the chauffeur. The chauffeur knew this broke every single law but couldn’t disobey his master. The chauffeur stepped on the gas and went over the speed limit. “That’s more like it,” Alan smirked. “I’m sorry but I can’t do this, I’m slowing the car.” The chauffeur said as he slowed down the gas. But it didn’t slow down, it continued to be a 90. The chauffeur tried to hit the brakes but it didn’t do anything. “I-I can’t slow down! We’re going to die! NO! NO!” The chauffeur panicked. Suddenly, the car drove right into a tree, Alan’s life flashed before his eyes……
“AHHHHHH” Alan screamed in horror as he got up from bed. ‘Wait what the hell? Why am I in my bed?’ He looked around and could confirm where he was. ‘That was a horrible dream, it almost felt real…’ He thought. The doors immediately slammed open and many people were worried as they heard a scream. “Young master, what happened!” A butler asked Alan. “Nothing, it was just a nightmare,” Alan said. The people sighed in relief as they thought something bad happened. Once everyone left the room, Alan looked around his room in silence. Alan looked down at his hand to find the number ‘2’. He didn’t know what it meant but didn’t care much. Alan went downstairs to find the same 4 maids hurriedly running around the kitchen preparing something. “What’s happening here?” He asked. “I’m so sorry, but we forgot to prepare your breakfast, we’re doing it now.” One of the maids said. “Oh, it’s fine, I’m not that hungry. I’ll just be heading to school.” Alan said. The 4 maids looked at him weirdly. “Thank you, young master!” The 4 maids thanked Alan.
Soon, Alan reached school and was met with unpleasant looks everywhere. Usually, he would feel superior but he didn’t know why but he felt kind of sad. As the day went on, Alan realized that everything was going on the same as in his dream. In the end, Alan was near the time his dream ended. Alan got into his chauffeur’s car before the car started driving. “Afternoon, Adam.” Alan greeted. The chauffeur looked at Adam with a weird expression. “Afternoon to you as well, young master.” Adam greeted back. “You should start calling me Alan too, you know,” Alan suggested. “Oh well, I’ll be glad to, you- Alan.” Adam smiled at him. As the drive went on, Adam suddenly spoke “You know, Alan. I think you should speak more like this. It makes me happy, so I think it’ll make others too.” Adam chuckled. “I may take up your suggestion, Adam.” Alan smiled as he hasn’t been complimented in a long time. In an instance, the car across them had lost control and was heading right toward them. The two immediately screamed in terror.
“AHHHHH” Alan screamed in horror as he got up from his bed once again. “What the hell? Was that a dream again? But there’s no way it is!” Alan said. The doors immediately slammed open and many people were worried as they heard a scream. “Young master, what happened!” A butler asked Alan. “Nothing, it was just a nightmare,” Alan said. The people sighed in relief as they thought something bad happened. Once everyone left the room, Alan finally knew what was happening, he was in a time loop. ‘But why is it on the day I die?’ Alan thought. Alan looked at his hand but was met in shock. His palms now showed the number ‘1’. Alan teared up as he was beginning to understand what was happening. He got up to get his phone, he dialed a number on it. Alan got out of bed and went into the main hall. The 4 maids were running around preparing something. “You don’t have to prepare anything for me, I’m fine for today. For the rest of the maids and butlers, you can take the day off. You have done more than enough for me.” Alan said. Everyone was shocked but thanked Alan wholeheartedly. Alan got into Adam’s car and greeted him. “You don’t have to pick me up after school, I’ll be going back by foot,” Alan said. “Are you sure? It’s dangerous outside.” Adam worriedly said. “It’ll be fine.”
Alan heard as the final bell rang, signaling it was the end of school. Alan heard the cheers of the other students, he wondered if he could ever feel that feeling. Alan began his walk and walked by the side of the road. Alan walked to the bridge he had died in his past two loops. A huge Ferrari had pulled up behind him and out came a man that looked busy. “Sorry Alan but I’m in a rush, why did you call me to meet up here?” The man was Alan’s father. “Nothing, I just wanted to give you this,” Alan said before rushing toward his father to give him something. A hug, a warm hug that could warm anyone’s heart. “Thank you for everything dad, the kid that received your love shouldn’t have been me but I appreciate everything you have done for me. I love you so much.” Alan thanked. Alan’s father was shocked but could only smile at his son.
Alan waved to his father as he drove off. It was almost time. Alan saw a nearby tree and decided to lay down other it. “Life is really beautiful, huh?” Alan looked around him. Alan saw the time and smiled one last time before accepting his fate. Nothing happened, just pure silence. Just one final smile as life let go of the boy who changed, named Alan.
The Curse of Unwinding is placed on people who don’t treasure whatever they have. Life is something small and short but it’s filled with things that we need to cherish and treasure forever.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
Storyline kept readers on their toes – at first, I simply thought it was a nightmare, but the next paragraph retcons it as a time loop, so I was surprised. I was rooting for Alan to change, but the ending was unexpected. Yet, it was executed well, with Alan finally being happy and accepting his fate. Vocabulary could be better, but not bad. Plot line isn’t very original as it has been used before a lot, but the way this story was executed was nice.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Tan Lee Ann - SMK Seafield
Title: Bitter Reincarnation
“Daddy, daddy! Are you alright?”
“What’s wrong, daddy? Why aren’t you moving from the fire? Why are your clothes all smoky?”
“Don’t take me away! Daddy’s still in there! I already lost mummy, I can’t lose daddy!”
“Do not leave this tower. Or everything shall vanish. Understand, young lady?”
No one knows where, or when this story takes place.
But just like the minor beatings of a beetle’s winds, the story has existed somewhere in the world and remains yet another part of memory.
A lone tower stands its ground on an everlasting swirl of darkness, its spiral tip protruding through the crowded clouds. Inside the multiple tower floors, a boy sits on the cold library floor. In his hands, is a book he is reading. He turns to his mother, a slender woman in a blue nightgown with hair as soft as silk.
“I love this book, mother!” He exclaims. “The princess saves her mother from the sea serpent’s cavern. She blasts the serpent! Like: Blast! Bam! Kapow!” He punches the air. Watching such an innocent façade, his mother smiles.
“I want to go into the sea to kill this beast, wherever it is! Let’s leave the tower, mother!”
Little did he know, his life would change the moment he said that.
His mother sends him a stare of utter bitterness.
“No. Never leave the tower.”
“Go to bed now. No more questions.” Her tone was sharp, signalling no room for debate.
He runs up the stairs to the first floor but feels his mother’s gaze strongly on him.
The clock chimes to midnight.
Mother and son embrace each other in the living room.
“Mummy, mummy! Help me, please. I’m so scared.”
Tears soak his mother’s dress. His body shakes uncontrollably.
He hears the soft growls of the monster, coming from his bedroom.
“The sea serpent, mother,” Her son whispers. “It’s all dark and scary. It almost killed me.”
Suddenly, his waist feels ice cold and hissing sounds all around the room. He sobs into his mother’s chest, feeling the serpent wrapping itself around them. It was how it trapped Princess Theo’s mother. With its low body temperatures, she would be encased in ice. Never to move again, or be able to see the outside world, as she awaits her daughter’s arrival.
“I don’t want to be stuck in ice, mother!” He screams.
His mother squeezes his hands reassuringly. “Honey, there’s no monster in here,’ she says.
Just as he turns to face his mother, the serpent’s face was staring back down at him. Its entire body is an empty husk of darkness. It flickers its fork-like tongue in utmost interest.
Yet, his mother does not sense it. “You don’t have to be afraid my child. I’m here for you.”
Mother and son continue to embrace each other with the son praying that the serpent would leave. “Princess Theo hugs her mother, and her warmth melts the ice! That’s it!” He thinks, hugging his mother even more tightly. The chilly aura was soon replaced with the warmth of their love. He breathes a deep sigh, seeing the serpent gone for good.
“Thanks, mum!” he says. “The serpent’s gone now. I love you so much.”
His mother kisses him on the head, “I love you too”.
Finally, he could rest for the night. Yet as he lies on his cotton bed. He can’t stop thinking about what had appeared.
“If serpents exist… I don’t want to go to the sea anymore.”
That’s how long the monsters have been attacking.
Unfriendly shadows would attack night after night. Coming at the most unpredictable of times.
The best days of the week were days when the shadows did not attack and he could sleep peacefully in bed without thoughts of shadow attacks.
When the shadows first attacked, he would always need his mother’s comfort after every shadow attack, releasing stress from his young mind.
That was… until the son discovered something else to cope with his fears. For as his mother’s presence soon felt less comfy and more of a burden to her…
Books were always welcoming him to other worlds. Allowing him to leave the tower through his mind.
So many worlds out there to explore. The son hugs every book he reads, hoping that it would give him the strength to face the shadows of the night.
When daytime arrives, when he can read books without feeling disturbed, he is reminded again of how truly wonderful the outside world is.
Sometimes he passes by his mother in the library. He notices how his mother's gaze would always be on the book he holds. Sometimes, she’d ask his opinions on the book. And leave him alone, despite the sour face.
The more the shadows attacked, the more he yearns for the outside world. Engrossed with books in the library that showcased its beauty, his dreams always involved their majestic beauty.
“I wish I could just leave this tower.”
Here, he only has his mother and the tower to live with. The rest of the tower’s floors were mostly for his mother’s taste. A room for playing board games, a room for sewing, for planting… Boring activities adults bide their time with. His only way of enjoying himself was with the library. Not to mention, the annoyingly scary shadows that disturb him most nights.
At least the outside world has something worth living. Despite it still having shadows, at least it has truth, and beauty.
“I wish mum would let me leave the tower.”
“Got to the library~~” something whispered inside his head.
With his mind full of nothing but fear, the son reaches the floor with the library and swivels inside. The cockroaches did not follow him down the library but continues to run down the stairs.
He stands in shock by the door, looking at the shelves, naked of any books. The son jogs down the shelves, trying to find a sign of any books present, but to no avail.
His connection to the outside world vanished, just like that.
That sullen feeling of giving up only lasted transient. A shining star of hope catches his attention - A book, placed on the bottom shelf opposite the one he sat by.
He has read all books in the library, but never this one.
It was a book with barely any pages to match the thickness of a pencil. The pages felt sturdier compared to the fragile and crisp pages of the other books. He turns to the first page:
“A tower of fantasy”
“A stagnant paradise filled with everlasting comfort, where dreams can appear in service for the host.”
“It’s true form? A parasite, feeding on human’s desire.”
The boy stops reading for a moment to take one sickening gulp. His hand trembles as he turns to the next page.
“It mirrors the host’s desires so they choose to never leave the tower.”
“When the host’s body slowly erodes to time, and their bodies become frail and old…”
“The tower finally strikes from its deception, and feeds on its host.”
“Not a single bone left of the carcass. And it waits for the next to serve, and then devour.”
“The host benefits a life of what they dream. The tower’s hunger satisfied.”
“The only way out? Willpower to leave. Far powerful, and stronger than before.”
“But that willpower shall be challenged by the tower itself. For willpower is only true when fear is ignored.”
He drops the book. His eyes glimmering with more hope than ever. The answer was right in front of his eyes.
But before he can do anything, he has to find his mother.
“Your room~~,” says the voice inside his head.
Since believing in this mysterious voice the first time has given him information about escaping, he decides to believe it the second time too.
The son opens the door to a surprise.
“Don’t think of doing it, my dear.” His mother gives him a deadly glare.
Scurrying from the door, the shadowy cockroaches creep through the door and enter the room. The shadows swoop into an attack, going straight for the boy.
But the boy does not run, the boy stands still, his arms outstretched, embracing the shadows.
The shadows shroud the boy. But nothing more. Instead, the shadow figurines flew to the mother, reforming back into their true form- his mother’s shadow.
“You lied to me all along, didn’t you mother?” The boy says. His suspicions were reaffirmed. His heart shatters as he fights the sudden urge to cry. “Everything here is fake then. The shadows, your shadows, they are all illusions. And illusions never truly hurt if you see through their lies.’
The boy walks past his shaken mother to the window. He thinks of telling her about the tower, but his mouth stays shut.
“No! Son! Don’t think about that! Don’t leave me alone!”
The young boy turns back to his mother. “I’m sorry mother. I can’t live my life in this tower anymore. Maybe you are right. Perhaps the outside world is a place of suffering. But it is the real world. Be brave mother, stop hiding within the tower’s lies.”
He looks down into the vortex of darkness.
“The only way out? The willpower to leave”
The mother reaches out to grab him, but the boy pushes her away, tears flowing from his eyes. ‘You need to move on, mother. From your past, from your delusions, from me.’
He jumps off the building. His mother screams his name. She doesn’t hear his last words:
“I will survive.”
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
The isolated and enclosed setting in this story does a fantastic job of symbolizing the protagonist’s own thoughts and feelings, as his mother who has trapped him in a tower simultaneously symbolizes the paradox of safety vs entrapment - which he must ultimately chose to abandon. The tower of fantasy itself appears as a unique and powerful concept that indirectly warns against the dangers of idleness and passivity, and is a great narrative interpretation of overcoming the devouring mother archetype.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Ang Jie En - Sri Kuala Lumpur
Title: Never Escape
She was running. She could hear the pounding of her heart and the thundering sound of someone chasing her. No, not someone, it was him. Faster, she just needed to be faster- She was tackled to the ground. She tried to scream, but she was injected with something that made her start to lose consciousness. She could feel tears spilling down her cheeks, because she knew that she would never escape.
Ava blinked her eyes open. She was in his bedroom. She looked to the side and noticed a blonde man, Kyle, asleep next to her. Stirred by Ava moving, he opened his eyes and gave Ava a huge grin.
“My love! You’re awake. Are you hungry? Would you like a drink? I’ll go prepare something right away.”
Kyle hurried off to get Ava something, somehow tripping over his own feet three times before making his way out. Ava giggled. Her boyfriend was such a dork.
(Somewhere deep in her mind, comes a soft whisper, that Kyle was a selfish, cruel man. Ava pushes the thought away.)
“Kyle?” Ava mumbles. “Why do I have to always stay in the house again?
“Because you’re not well,” Kyle said, gently brushing aside her hair. “Because you're sick. You get lethargic and lose consciousness easily. If you go out, you’ll be in danger.”
“But I want to go out,” Ava whined. “Even the windows in the house are blocked, I can’t see anything outside!”
Kyle’s grip on Ava’s hair tightened, before he released her hair. “Shh. I understand it’s difficult, but just eat healthy and take your medicine, and you’ll be able to go out soon, okay?”
Ava pouted, but opened her mouth when Kyle held a spoonful of medicine near her mouth.
(‘Don’t accept what he gives you’, that corner of her mind whispers. Ava ignores it.)
Ava wanders the halls of Kyle’s house- no, their house. She looks down at the wedding ring on her finger, brilliant diamond and shiny gold. She had lost her memory in an accident; Kyle had told her. She knew that she only remembered bits and pieces of her life, but Kyle had told her all she wanted to know. She was married to Kyle, and he had shown her the marriage documents. After that, he had kissed her, and it had been full of love.
“Ava? I know you don’t remember our time together, but I promise you that I love you with all my heart. I’d move heaven and Earth to be with you.”
It had been full of passion, full of love. Yet something was off, something that Ava couldn’t quite place her finger on.
(Her mind whispers, more incessantly, ‘It isn’t love, it is something darker.’)
Ava flips through the photo book that Kyle had given her. It was pictures of them on dates, of them laughing together, of them marrying, of them kissing.
As Ava flipped through the pictures, she frowned. The pictures... she recognized a few of the pictures about them on their first date; a distant memory. But some photos, like the one of them during their honeymoon, was off. The picture showed Kyle carrying Ava into a lavish room, across a clean marble floor and towards a bed with heart shaped pillows and rose petals scattered all over it. They were both smiling widely, faces glowing with happiness. Why was it so strange?
(The bed; it had handcuffs attached to the headboards. The floor; clothes were littered across it, some ripped apart. The sheets; droplets of blood stained it. The pillows; muffling her screams. The voice; telling her to stop fighting, to just accept it.)
A hand touched her. Ava screamed, jerking back. She hit her head on the wall and blacked out, relieved to feel the cool waves of blackness seeping in, taking away the pain.
Ava rubbed her eyes open. She was in her bedroom again. Kyle was sitting next to her, face pinched in worry. When he saw her open her eyes, he smiled in relief. “Thanak goodness you’re okay, Ava. What happened?”
“I...” Ava paused to think. “I was flipping through the photo book you gave me. I was looking at some of the photos, then I started thinking weird things, and then you touched me, and I tried to move away, and then I fainted.”
“Weird things?” Kyle echoed. “What weird things?”
“I don’t know. It hurts for me to try and remember.” Ava rubs her temple.
“It’s okay,” Kyle soothes her, passing her a glass of water and two pills. “Eat your medicine, okay? I’ll go bring you something to eat.”
Nodding, Ava did as told, watching Kyle go get her some food. How nice of him to take care of her when everyone else had abandoned her, when her family wasn’t here and her friends didn’t help.
(‘You don’t have those anymore’, comes the pounding voice in Ava’s head. ‘They’re gone. Because of him.’)
Ava walks to a more hidden part of the house, where Kyle spent a lot of his time. As she walked towards his study, she heard an agonized scream come from it. Hurriedly, she ran to the study, afraid that Kyle had gotten injured.
Inside, Kyle is covered in blood, but it wasn’t his. It was from the man who was bleeding out, his guts spilling out onto the pristine floor, joining a tongue.
Ava stared, too horrified to even scream. Kyle came over to her quickly. “Ava? What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you,” Ava managed to get out. “What happened to him? Why is he bleeding?”
Kyle’s eyes narrowed, and he snarled, “Why do you care if he’s bleeding out or not!” He slammed his hand near Ava’s head. “So, what if he lives or dies? Do you love him?”
“N-n-no.” Kyle had always been gentle, but now, Ava felt afraid of him.
Kyle’s glare softened. “I’m your husband. You swore to love me no matter what. This won’t make you stop loving me, will it?” When Ava didn’t answer, he repeated in a lower voice, “Would it?”
“N-no, it won’t,” Ava whispered.
“Good,” Kyle smiled, before sending Ava away.
Ava skips meals the next few days. She shivers as she remembers Kyle’s look when she had first told him that she wanted to eat less. He looked like he was going to force it down her throat. She had managed to convince him that she was just worried about her looks and wanted to be on a diet. He had relaxed, giving her smaller portions of food. She would eat it before rushing to the bathroom once he was out of sight, retching it all out.
Ava had never felt stronger before, and her memory was clearing day by day. Ava was starting to suspect that there had been drugs in the food. But Kyle cooked all the food. Did that mean that he was drugging her? If so, why?
As she paced her room slightly, she tripped over a loose floorboard. As she picked herself up, she noticed some paper under the floorboard. She managed to pull out a bunch of papers and notebooks. Feeling curious, she started to read.
After a few hours, she was shaking, pale and sweating. The notes... they were all written by her. Notes about how Kyle was a psychopath who had kidnapped her. How he had killed her family and friends. How he drugged the food.
She couldn’t believe it. Was this really her husband? She thought back to the day in Kyle’s study, the man’s lifeless eyes wide and terrified.
(‘Run,’ her mind chants. ‘Run and never look back.’)
Ava listens to her mind and runs.
She’s running along hard stone, towards the flashing lights of a city. She runs, hoping that someone would see her, that they would stop him from chasing her. She can feel her legs tire, but she refuses to give up. It is futile as she feels a dart prick her shoulder, feel her legs crumple beneath her. She hears the sound of footsteps approaching her, is picked up by a pair of arms. Before she succumbs to the drug in her system, she sees his face. Kyle’s face. See the way his eyes glint and triumph, having caught his prey. See his wide, leering grin, with something like love in them, but it’s too dark and twisted to be love. She tries to struggle out of his grasp. He simply tightens his hold and whispers obsessively, “Stop fighting, my love. Because no matter what you say or do, I will always love you. I'll give you your place in the world; next to me. That isn’t for you to object, because you can’t reject it. You will never escape.”
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
This story did a fantastic job of building suspense and keeping the reader engaged. Limiting the narration based on only what the protagonist Ava was aware of as her memory was impaired leaves readers curious, and the process of piecing everything together alongside Ava is highly cathartic and satisfying. The way language was used to deliver Ava’s thoughts creates solidarity between the reader and the protagonist, and I am left rooting for her beyond the very end.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Agnes Tiong Xiao Hui - SMK Batu Lintang
"Ma! I'm heading out! "
Wen yells into the house while hastily slipping on his sandals in the foyer. He hears a faint approval from his mother in the kitchen before dashing off on his bicycle with the sun barely in the sky. Wen is going to the bookstore. Pak Sarwi has promised to reserve the newest copy of the Encyclopedia of Birds. He needs to pay up by today.
Just outside of Wen's house, behind a wooden bench stands an ageing mango tree once cared for and nurtured by his late grandfather. Wen makes sure to tend it every day after his passing. This strong plantation houses a variety of small critters and insects he found fascinating. Wen had spent time studying and observing its ecosystem for a while now. He has the tree all to himself.
Lately, there have been some unexpected visitors. A bird nest sits close to the truck on the tree. Wen first noticed it when a bird has been flying to and from the tree for days. Wen is looking forward to watching baby chicks hatch for the first time closeup. Hence why he shall purchase the book.
Wen follows along the dimly lit dirt path while finessing his biking skill to avoid all cracks and uneven lanes. The air is breezy and cool to the skin. The sound of running water is soft to the ear. Some kids in the kampung have woken up to get the best catch of shrimps from the stream to use as fishing bait. Wen waves to greet them. They wave back.
Endless acres of golden paddy fields nod their heads under the wind to greet the rising sun. The sweet smell of harvest. The day has just begun but the people of the kampung had already gone about their lives before the crack of sunlight.
Wen reaches Pak Sarwi's two-story shop lot. He finally has his hands on the encyclopedia. Wen straps the book onto his bike before heading back home. He decides to head to the tree immediately. Hopefully, his mother would forgive his absents during morning prayers at the temple. He pedals up a small hill and that's when he sees the arrival of another unexpected visitor. She's staring intensively up the mango tree, too focused to realise Wen approaching her.
“The mangoes are not in season this time of the year. This is my tree", Wen kindly informs her. She turns around. Wen looks closer at her. She’s about his age. Her face is unfamiliar. The kampung is only so small, she must be new here.
"I'm not looking for mangoes," she eyes Wen for only a second before placing her attention back on the tree "Do you see that?" she points towards the nest. Wen nods.
"What do you have there?" She's referring to the encyclopedia in his hand. Wen shows it to her.
They flip through the pages. It's well printed in vibrant colours and smooth to the touch. The cover is hard. Wen absolutely loves it. He has never possessed a book of this quality. The girl thinks it's just fine. Wen wonders what bird it is. She says it's a sparrow. He thinks it's a quail. They spend a good time turning the pages of the book between discussions until Wen hears his name called out from the distance. It is his mother with a ladle in hand. She does not look happy. Wen can feel trouble coming. He slams the book shut and excuses himself from the scene. The girl is confused. Wen straps the book back on the bicycle. Before he leaves, he has one more question
"What is your name?"
“Call me Que."
“Nice to meet you, Que," Wen unironically greets her at the end of the conversation as he pedals away.
Wen returns to the tree a couple days later at the exact same time along with his book. Que has been visiting the tree every day with little hope that Wen would be there too. Apparently, Wen has disappointed her more than once.
“Great progress has been done while you were gone,” she informs Wen.
Wen climbs up the tree. The mother bird has laid her eggs. Wen can barely keep his excitement. He still hasn’t figured out what species of bird has been nesting here. The incubation period varies widely from species to species. He needs to take a closer look.
“Hey! Don’t get too close to the nest! They’ll know you’ve been here,” Que warns from below the tree, “Mother birds would move their babies to another nest if they believe that predators have discovered their nest. I imagine this thick book would teach you a thing or two.” She looks displeased.
Wen realises a problem. “Well, how am I supposed to watch the chicks hatch?”
Que just shrugs. She has no intentions of watching the chicks hatch in the first place. Although now that Wen has brought up the idea, she’s quite invested in it. They could only observe from a distance to avoid disturbing the nest.
“I could make a telescope.”
Wen recalls a chapter in his science book for a makeshift telescope. Que likes that plan. They would need a carton box, or two, some mirrors and a lot of glue. Wen can handle the materials. They’ll need a place to assemble all the parts.
“Can we make it at your place?” Wen asks politely but Que instantly rejects him. How odd.
“I’m sorry. It’s just…..” she hesitates, “.....my family will be doing some spring cleaning. The house is going to be messy.”
Who does spring cleaning in the middle of the year? Wen thinks it’s an excuse but he’s not pushing for an answer if Que isn’t willing to share. They decide to crash in at Pak Sarwi’s bookstore. He has a convenient little counter over the cashier for the students nearby to do homework. Hopefully, he does not mind. Pak Sarwi indeed does not mind. However, he informs them of the ruckus that may be heard from above. The walls are thin and so are the ceilings.
Shortly after, they manage to make a somewhat functional telescope. It’s not perfect but it’ll do the job. They start camping out by the tree every day, with Que camping out most of the time while Wen is in school. The image shown on the telescope is upside down but they can still identify the bird.
“I told you it was a sparrow,” Que boldly claims.
Then one noon, Wen sees the tiniest movement from the nest.
They peak through the screen on the telescope. One by one, the eggs start tumbling around the nest and out comes a small beak, then a claw, then a wing. The first chick crawls out from the shell. Que is slightly disturbed by the slimy membrane all over the chick. Wen on the other hand is entranced by the birth of nature.
The chicks start squawking for their mother. They need to be fed. Wen thinks he could fetch some worms for them. Que has warned him about his distance from the nest but he lets his intrusive thoughts take over. So while Que is gone for a drink, he goes up to the tree and climbs it once again. This time, he is a lot closer to the nest than before. The mother is nowhere in sight. Wen takes a tiny worm from the side of the tree and places it right beside the nest.
Then tragedy happens. The branch snaps.
Que hears a loud thud and a scream. She turns to see Wen on the ground and a nest of newborn chicks. She’s furious.
“What have you done?!” Que scolds. Wen has truly messed up. They say curiosity kills the cat, Wen might have killed an entire nest of chicks.
Wen hasn’t seen Que by the tree after the incident.
Apparently, the mother bird has returned to find her nest intruded. She has relocated her nest and babies. Wen is left with nothing except a letter. A letter which he finds on the bench. He is pretty sure was left by Que because the letter reads as so:
‘Wen, I lied. I do not have a family. I’m a waif. Luckily for me, I’ve been fostered through different families across the state and now it’s time for my next destination. I’m sorry for getting mad. I guessed I was overprotective. They’ve got a home, a parent. They would have grown to feed and fly.’
‘That’s all I ever wanted.’
‘I won’t hold a grudge. Hopefully, neither will you. Let this incident not be the end of our journey. Till we meet again, somewhere, somewhen.’
Wen is also left with heartbreak, but the letter strings a new hope and lesson. It’s the first time Wen has thought of becoming a biologist. This story became his inspiration. And one day, he’ll find Que. Somewhere, somewhen, they’ll meet again.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
My favourite thing about this story is how well the pastoral setting ties in with the plot. The brief yet profound friendship between Que and Wen circulates around a sparrow’s nest on Wen’s mango tree, which tied with the idyllic environment of the kampung creates a mood that is serene, hospitable and down to earth. The plot leads up to Que’s revelation which makes the bird’s nest appear symbolic to both Que’s identity as a character and the temporary home she has found within her friendship with Wen, which creates a heartwarming plot about friendship.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Abrian Wu Jun Xiang - Axcel International School
Title: In Dilemma
25th December, 1939 - a month before
Jonathan Hughes was sitting in the Oriental Inn, a wonderful hotel in the heart of Penshaw, Edraria. It was just after tea and he was waiting for a certain person. They had agreed to meet up in this place at this exact time. He checked his watch, still patiently waiting. Then, she arrived. Marian Cunningham went into the hotel, greeting the bellhop, and then saw Hughes and called for him. Hughes got up, smiling, and followed her.
Once both of them sat down on some sofas, they gave a box to each other. Cunningham opened hers to find a medal with the words 'Yesterday, today and forever...' She murmured "that's beautiful."
She then told Hughes to open his box. Inside was a small model of a ship, a modified Hawkins class heavy cruiser, H.M.E.S. Towton. Hughes murmured "Huh, what's this?'
"Congrats," replied Cunningham. "You are first in command after all these years."
"Oh, I thought you just gave me a model of the Towton just for me to keep."
"Admiral Richardson said it himself, you deserve it."
Hughes presented some tickets to Hawaii and said "We might be able to do it, spend the rest of December on a tropical island."
Cunningham sighed and said "I wish we could but, the world has gone mad, let's wait till it’s over."
25th January 1940 - Morning watch (04.00 - 08.00)
Hughes wakes up in his cabin, a new ship, a new operation. He is still relatively inexperienced and is unsure how to start. The first thing he does is freshen up and head towards the bridge. When he gets there, the first person to greet him is first officer Andrew Anderson.
‘‘Good morning, captain,’’ greeted Anderson.
‘‘Good morning to you too, any news?’’ asked Hughes.
‘‘Convoy flagship reports a possible wolf pack in the area. We already had problems with a U-boat early in the morning during your slumber. We have also left American air cover,’’ replied Anderson.
Hughes proceeded to walk across the bridge, looking out towards the rough Atlantic, for nearly an hour. Suddenly, one of the navigational officers climbed up onto the bridge. He was breathing heavily and his eyes showed intense fear. He sputtered: ‘There are bodies-on the ship. Oh god they are dead-oh god no…’
‘‘Calm down son, what’s happened now?’’ asked Hughes.
‘‘They’re dead, Ernest and Clementine Campbell, DEAD! It was murder, cold-blooded murder, stab wounds everywhere!’’ he exclaimed!
The Campbells were a couple from England who wanted to get back home, but rather did it on a warship instead of a merchant ship due to an unknown reason. Hughes started panicking, this failed attempt at bringing the Campbells home could tarnish his and the Towton’s image. The situation was grave.
‘Body?’ asked Hughes
“The ship’s doctor, Sebastian Smith, examined it himself, the wounds are pretty fresh. Death most likely happened between now to five minutes from now. Oh god…’’ he replied.
26th January 1940 – Dog watch (16.00 – 18.00)
Hughes couldn’t stop thinking about the murder that happened the day before. He knew he had to do something, which would be to find the identity of the murderer or Mr. and Ms. Campbell. But it’s not like he had the time or freedom to try either. But then, it hit him. If the destroyers Hughes, Lewisham and Andrew took his place, he would be able to do so.
Hughes proceeded to go up to the bridge and get on the ship’s phone. He contacted the destroyers and ordered them to take his place. After the commanders of the other destroyers agreed, Hughes went to the cabin of Ernest and Clementine Campbell. Everything was the same as yesterday, and the bodies were still on the bed.
‘‘Death occurred during their slumber. Swift and quick, no struggle whatsoever,’’ said Doctor Smith.
‘‘Has anything been touched?’’ asked Hughes.
‘‘I was careful not to,’’ replied Smith.
Hughes looked on the floor, and spotted 3 interesting occurrences. One was that there was a strip of black fabric caught on a chair. Another was that there were grease marks everywhere. There was also a few locks of black-coloured hair on the body. The couple were redheads so it couldn’t have come from them. The black hair and grease reminded Hughes of someone but he couldn’t place it.
When the crew boarded the ship, their belongings were thoroughly examined as well as the ship herself. Not a single one of the crew had anything that could have created that ripped fragment. Doctor Smith suggested it might have been a red herring, but there was no proof yet.
29th January 1940 – Dog watch (18.00 – 20.00)
From Andrew Anderson’s narrative:
30th January, 1940
The night of 29th January, 1940 would be one of the most terrifying times in my life. 3 pings were detected on the radar and were determined to be U-boats attacking us. Hughes put me under command so he could deal with the murderer and I had to deal with constant torpedo spreads. The U-boats harassed us no end. I swear to god, it was frustrating. I used up a lot of depth charges just to destroy the U-boats and was successful in killing all of them, except one. The rest of the escorts also had to deal with more U-boats and none of them received much damage. Suddenly, I heard gunshots.
From Jonathan Hughes’ narrative:
Jesus, there was a lot to do last night. While Anderson and the other escorts were dealing with the U-boats, I had to deal with the killer. It was hard to decide which problem I should tackle first but I found a compromise by giving command to Anderson. The killer was aiming at one of the crew and was shooting him without mercy. I fired back with my pistol, hitting him 3 times before he broke of the pursuit. I got thrown onto the floor when a torpedo hit us afterwards while walking back up to the bridge.
31st January 1940 – Forenoon watch (08:00 – 12:00)
It had been 6 days since the journey started and soon, it would be over. After dealing with U-boats for nearly a week as well as a killer on-board, Hughes was ready to return home.
However, he almost never got the chance. During his watch, 3 more U-boats began to attack him. Hughes would also learn that the victim from two days ago was probably being targeted again.
Hughes requested for the assistance of the other escorts to help tackle the U-boat issue and ordered Anderson to take his place. Hughes returned to the main deck and asked a passing gunner where the victim was.
‘‘He’s currently in his cabin on Deck D, on the starboard side of the forward crew quarters,’ replied the gunner.
Hughes proceeded to head towards the cabin and got there just on time. A hooded figure was heading towards the cabin and had two revolvers with him, just like the killer from two days earlier. Hughes pounced on him and ripped off the cloak. To his surprise, it turned out to be one of the chefs, Patrick Brown. Brown had a good reputation in the Edrarian navy but was notorious for having grudges that he wouldn’t let go. He was black-haired and was also known for having grease all over his body. On his cloak was a mark of the ripped fragment.
‘‘HOW DARE YOU?’’ roared Brown
‘‘Oh, I dare a lot of things,’’ replied Hughes. ‘‘Like asking you what are you doing.’’
Brown threw him onto the floor and ran up the stairs towards the main deck. He then grabbed one of the rafts stored in the superstructure and jumped off. Hughes called for reinforcements, but the crew were still dealing with the U-boats. His motive will never be known.
Hughes radioed to the Admiralty for help and waited. While doing so, he commanded strike after strike on the U-boats until he was informed that they were out ammo. ‘‘Ah sh*t,’’ he cursed.
Suddenly, a PBY Catalina came out of nowhere. Hughes ordered flares to be launched at where the U-boats were. The Catalina depth-charged the areas and all of the U-boats were destroyed. The stragglers still attacking the other ships retreated.
From Mariam Cunningham’s narrative:
When I met Hughes at the dock, he was not the same as before.
Unlike the Hughes that sat with me in the Oriental Inn, this Hughes was a mess. He constantly talked about the convoy and blamed himself with everything. He consistently murmurs on how a man named Brown would soon come to get him. I checked with a doctor and it was just a severe case of survivor’s guilt. He couldn’t even pull himself together before the awards ceremony. His lost it completely when he was requested to go back to sea. I can’t even tell whether it’s him or not.
I’m very worried for him…
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
The devil is in the details with this story – I highly enjoyed the discerning attention to technical, historical, and factual detail in this piece, such as with the mention of U-boats, a dog watch, and the specific dates used. The tense setting of the WW2 era combined an eclectic the mix of narrative styles create an engaging and unique exploration of perspectives gives a tense and gripping account of WW2’s naval action. On top of that, the jarring contrast between Hughes in the prologue and the epilogue delivers a great portrayal of how war and gore can destructively affect the psyche – even for those as established and respected as Captain Hughes.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Goh Jian Seng - Sri Bestari International School
Chapter 1 - The Spawning
I opened my eyes, blinking them rapidly as sweat nearly blinds me. I wipe it from my face hastily, attempting to get a grasp of my surroundings. Snow settles on my hair, and looking around, I see nothing but a vast expanse of snow and a massive cliff to my left. I stumble forward a couple steps, and come to a stop.
"Where am I?" I asked aloud.
Some sort of mountain? I could see the jagged summit a few hundred metres above my head.
"Who am I?" I paused. "I don't know who I am." I said aloud, trying, praying that I could think of something.
But I had forgotten my name. I couldn't tell my age. I looked down, trying to discern my gender from my body shape, but it remained ambiguous.
I felt my face, trying to feel for any facial features. Nothing. My nose was a little bit sharp. I had a thick, coarse head of hair. I was clothed in a sort of tunic, which shined in the dim light. The fabric was relatively silky, and if I wasn't actively looking for it, I wouldn't have noticed it resting against my body. My hands shook and I began to spiral out of control.
"Who am I? How old am I?"
Nothing but an echo responded to me, the questions being carried away by the wind along with flakes of snow sliding off the top of the mountains. Was I alone? I realised that to answer that question, I would have to leave the safety of the ledge I was standing on. Climbing higher up the mountain was out of the question - the cliff face to my left was completely smooth, without anywhere my hands could find purchase on. I moved forward, peering over the edge of my perch. There was a ladder that disappeared into the fog below, and my fingers shook as I reached for it, praying it would not collapse under my weight. It clattered against the rock a little, and I clung on for dear life as I began my descent into the clouds below.
The shadows quickly enveloped me and I could do nothing but go down. I quickly began a rhythm in my head. Foot on lower rung. Hand on upper rung. Lower the foot down, and onto the next rung. Reach hand down for the rung the foot was on before. Hear the ladder clatter against the rock. Repeat. My machinations thundered through my head until alas, I was finally through. My foot made contact with solid ground. I opened my eyes, not even realising that I had closed them as I climbed down. Snow still covered the ground, but the rock had been replaced with dirt and a few patches of grass. My heart was still racing, slamming against my ribs in an effort to break free. Damn. I sprawled out onto the grass and stared up into the sky, realising two things. First, the sky was empty. Not just devoid of clouds, but empty empty. I could see into the void of space, and although the suns blazed white in the sky, it was still dark, unlike the blue sky of… of… I let that train of thought go. Second, saying ‘suns’ earlier was not an error in my language. Three suns shone in the sky, each one brighter than the last. But this was not a time to marvel at the view. I had to keep moving, to try and find some kind of way back to my home world. I turned back to look at the ladder, but it was gone. The mountain had disappeared, vanishing into thin air.
“Oh sh-” I muttered, before being cut off by the sudden sound of footsteps rapidly approaching. A figure stepped forward from the fog, waving their arms around.
“Hello!” I yelled, trying to get their attention.
Perhaps this was the wrong idea. They increased their walking speed rapidly, and my heart leapt with anticipation, which was quickly drowned by dread. That, and the blade that had been driven through it. Blood poured from my chest as I stared at my assailant, a shadowy figure that quickly disappeared into the fog, yanking their weapon from my chest. My vision swam and faded to black, and my journey was over before it had even begun.
Chapter 2 - The Respawning
I opened my eyes, sucking in cold air, and I realised I was on the mountain ledge again - and not dead.
“How am I-” I slapped my hands to my face, checking if I had body warmth. I did.
“What the-” I stuttered, before walking forward again, and peering over the ledge.
Yep, same old ladder. I sighed. I began my journey downward again…
…and again, after being stabbed once again by the person down there. The cycle repeated itself, over and over again, for more times than I could count. Finally, I opened my eyes once again, knowing that I had to change things. This time, something had to be different. Something.
“I’m not gonna climb all that again, you know.” I said, to no one in particular. Was I going insane? Could isolation really drive you crazy that fast?
“I need a plan.” The words that came out of my mouth shook me, but I knew they were true. If I was to survive, I would have to form a strategy.
A few hours and several failed tests later, I set everything into motion. Looking over the edge of the cliff for what I hoped was the final time, I shook my head, held my breath, and took a leap of faith. Quite literally. I dived head first off the cliff, and prayed. What did I have to lose? I already died and came back. Surely if anything went wrong, it would happen again. I closed my eyes, and…
…landed on two feet. I yelled, a sound made from pure jubilation. I did it. But I couldn’t celebrate for long. I picked up a rock from the ground, and waited patiently for my attacker. Right on cue, I heard the footsteps, and saw them charging towards me. I deftly stepped to the side, then slammed the rock into their head, knocking them to the ground. I slammed it into their head again, and again, fueled by rage and pure adrenaline. Crimson blood spurted onto the snow, and I knelt down.
“It’s over. It’s finally over.” I sighed with relief, and stood up.
“Congratulations!” A disembodied voice spoke. “You have beaten the tutorial.”
I shivered. A tutorial? Since when? My train of thought was interrupted by the illumination of several torches, which dissipated the fog.
“You may now proceed to the first level.”
I put two and two together in my head. Was this some form of sick contest? Or… No. I couldn’t think of that right now. Besides, how would that even be possible? I made my way into the path of torches, and my vision faded to black.
Chapter 3 - Levelled Up
I opened my eyes to the liveliness and warmth of a tavern. Glancing around, I see that it's filled with people, heartily drinking from mugs of alcohol, before I realise there's someone sitting in front of me. They were wearing a jacket, perhaps made of leather or some other form of animal-based cloth, and just under that was a reasonably thick layer of armour. A hood covered their head, but what I could see of their hair was platinum blonde, and their face was pockmarked with scars. The figure extended their arm towards me.
"I'm Sal’kan. Nice to meet you."
Before I could respond, they shoved a bag of something towards me, leaving the table, speaking rapidly as they left.
“Armoury is over there, use those coins to get yourself a weapon. Look around you for quests, the customers will give you some. I suggest starting with that one-” They gestured to a particularly drunken man at the far corner.
The words came out with a rehearsed fluency, as if they had said them countless times before.
“What’s her deal?” I asked a woman next to me.
“She’s not a ‘her’, she’s a he!”
A man stood up, shocked. “What? I always thought she was a woman!”
Soon, the bar erupted into chaos, people arguing about Sal’kan’s gender left and right. I sighed, headed over to the armoury, and as per Sal’kan’s recommendations, bought myself a dagger, and headed over to the man in the corner.
“You alright there, youngin’?”
“Well, my sheep needs herdin’, so you can start with that.”
He spoke with a thick accent, and somehow seemed unfazed, as if he had been approached many times before. Strange. Having received my instructions, I jogged over to Sal’kan, who was standing next to a pair of wooden doors.
“You ready for your first mission?”
I nodded. The doors opened, glowing a blinding white.
“Then let’s go.”
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
I found this story highly engaging and suspenseful from start to finish. The choice of first-person narration was brilliant as readers get to decipher what is going on amidst the confusion alongside the protagonist first-hand, and how they navigate the world around them was described with skillful use of language. The setting and characters are also especially unique, tying well into the plot of the protagonist being in a game simulation. I would love to see how this story plays out further in different levels of the game.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Dania Aniesa bt. Fazzrudin - Lodge International School
Title: Sunflower Seeds
The crevices of withering leaves spilled golden sun, draping its illuminating tapestry over her idle body. Her ripe sawo-like skin was glowing ever so gently, putting even the brightest of moonlit nights to shame.
She was silent, I could only hear that of her normal breathing and the muffled melodies of my Walkman.
The Smiths’ ‘Back to the Old House’. Her favourite song.
I turned it off and scooted even if only a little, closer to her. Her eyes were still glued to the clouds above, the wind whispered gentle sighs and moaned emptily all the while softly dancing with loose strands of her hair.
“That one looks like a sunflower seed” she spoke, pointing to a small cloud that did in fact resemble a sunflower seed, well, if you really put your mind to it that is. A smile slowly crept on her face as she slowly averted her gaze from the sunflower seed-like cloud to me.
I’ve longed for that smile before I even knew it existed. Hell were the times I went through harsh reality without knowing such comfort that lies within a smile. Within her smile.
“Jun?” She called out my name. A name I despised so much ever since I was a measly child, rolled off her tongue so perfectly. I hummed in response.
“When the day comes…”
The day… that dreadful day. My stomach turned and my mouth went dry. That’s right, we don’t have much time left. The shining figure that lies before me will fade away, like a stroke of paint washed in the rain. It would happen so quickly, yet so slowly.
And it scared me to death just thinking about it.
“Do me a favour..”
I looked into her eyes intently.
“Bury me in sunflower seeds, will you?”
I must’ve had a funny look on my face to earn such a chuckle from her. She shifted from her back to her side, her full attention towards me.
“Mountains of them, will you?” her smile grew wider.
“I will. I’ll buy all the sunflower seeds in the world and pile them up high. I’ll bury you underneath it, and you’d be a sunflower seed zombie” we shared a fit of laughter.
“You make sure they’re the Naraya ones, or I’m coming back to beat you up”
‘I’m coming back’
The words repeat itself in my mind.
“Or I’ll become a ghost and haunt you forever” she giggled.
You wish you’d come back too, don’t you?
“Say, what were you listening to just now?” She sat up and leaned against the hard wood. I did the same.
“Would you like to take a guess?” She playfully rubbed her non-existent beard and thought for a while.
“Radiohead?” I shook my head.
“No? The Smiths, then” she cocked her head to the side with a sly grin. Her long dark brown hair falling so gracefully onto her shoulders, the loose strands veiling her face. Her beautiful face.
A lump started to form in my throat.
“See? I’m right, aren't I?”
She’s going to die.
“Was it ‘Back to the Old House’ ?”
I’m losing you.
I don’t want to lose you. I’d lose myself.
With a hard yank on my hand I was pulled back to reality. Her eyebrows knitted, concern written on her face. No trace of that smile of hers, long gone. I said nothing. Engulfed in silence once more I forgot what to say, with slightly parted lips I stared at her. My hands began to tremble.
The coward I am.
“I don't want to lose you” as if whispering to the wind, I spoke. The upsetting lump in my throat went along with the words, now carried by the wind to places I could've been with her.
Places far away, places where only each other mattered. Tell me Sayu,
“Are you just as afraid as I am?”
Words that weren’t supposed to be said echoed between us . It should’ve stayed inside, on my tongue never to touch the air outside, simply a thought, but it didn’t. The expression on her face was unreadable. Her eyes stared into mine like I'm some kind of foreign being.
For once, I could feel her body tense up around me. I’ve never seen fear in those eyes, not with my reflection in it.
“It’s getting late, Jun”
The phone call woke me up from my restless slumber, the house phone rang and rang, screaming for anyone to answer it. I turned towards the alarm clock on my bedside table, 12:37 P.M.
Well, I couldn’t sleep well anyway, if entertaining a random midnight phone call meant rest I’ll entertain a hundred. I quickly picked up the handset and brought it close to my ear.
“Hello?” I spoke, my voice raspy.
“We’re so sorry to disturb you at this time sir but, are you Arjuna Chen?” asked a silvery female voice through the receiver. She spoke quickly, urgently, she’s waiting for me to answer.
“It’s fine and yes, that’s me. What seems to be the problem?” Could this be a scam? How does this person know my name? Should I just hang up?
“I am very sorry to disturb you at this late hour sir, but I’m from Normah Medical Centre and I have you here as an emergency contact for Nur Sayu. It says here that you’re her close friend?”
I felt all the colour drain out of my face.
This can’t be.
“That’s me. D-did.. Did something happen?” I used all the remaining energy I had left to keep the conversation going. “Someone found her passed out at the local park and she’s brought here, I was wondering if-”
I slammed the handset onto the switch hook and grabbed my motor keys.
That was quite rude of me, I'm sure she’s had a rough day and I might've made it worse, but I couldn't care less about that right now. My stomach churned, my head was spinning like a top. The pain in my chest felt like someone took my heart out and stomped on it like a puddle.
‘..passed out at a local park..’
Local park? What was she doing there at such an hour? How long had she been there before…
I felt my mind swallow me whole.
Sayu.. please hold on for a little while, please. I pleaded, to whom I do not know myself.
I dashed inside, the familiar lump in my throat started growing bigger and bigger, suffocating me blind. Things were moving too fast. Had it been time or have I always been so slow?
I dragged my legs which were feeling like limp dishrags to the receptionist. A young woman came to my aid and asked if I needed any help.
“I got a call.. Nur Sayu.. I need to see her, please” I stammered, hot tears escaping my eyes.
Please, I need to see her.
“..she’s in room 206..”
206. Whatever the lady said before or after that I didn't know. Couldn’t listen. Everything was muffled and blurry, colours were fading and it was shivering cold. The bright monotonic lights were blinding and other than a few nurses, I was there alone.
Have we always been so distant, Sayu?
The door to room 206 stood proudly, as if mocking me. Right, I can't stand as proudly as the door before me, I can't do one thing without faltering. So foolish I am, how could I compare myself to a door? With trembling hands I knocked, and let myself in.
The room smelt of sanitisers, dimly lit with a small lamp on the tableside, replacing nighttime shadows with a fraction of light. She was no longer draped in golden sun, she was consumed by the darkness. I could barely see her face.
“Sayu?” I called out, making my way to her bed, where her body laid lifelessly. I can’t see her face, but I could recognise her presence anywhere. I know she’s right there.
“Jun?” The crack in her voice made my heart drop. I reached out in the darkness in hopes of finding her hand.
I won’t be a coward anymore, please, let me hold her just this once.
“Jun…” our fingers intertwine. Let this moment last, please. I kept pleading. My face was a mixture of sweat and tears. I couldn’t say anything.
“I’m scared..” she spoke as if to her pillow.
Her hands gripped mine tighter. As if I could see them I stared into her eyes.
So you are scared… who am I kidding of course you are.
“I don’t want to die…” her sobs were getting louder. Her cold hands trembled and her voice croaked through the walls.
I don’t want you to either.
“I want to live..”
I want you to live too...
“I want to be with you..”
If only I could…
“I want to be with you too…”
We wept through the night, oblivious to the fate awaiting us two, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter to me nor Sayu. We had each other, for what time we had left we embraced ourselves and the bitter taste of reality.
Her scent, her laughter, her tears…
and her sunflower seeds.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
This beautiful and heartbreaking romantic tragedy is so beautifully written, with the protagonist’s descriptions of Sayu and his innermost thoughts displayed almost poetically. The mystery surrounding Sayu and Jun’s backstory followed even more so by the mystery of Sayu’s cause of death leaves the reader grappling with only the present moment that the protagonist Jun experiences, which is a great reflection of how dealing with loss feels. The storytelling in this story is highly skilled, the the first-person narration choice is a great one to create empathy from the reader to the protagonist.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Amira Hanna Binti Mohd Nizamuddin - SMK Abdul Rahman Talib
Title: Flower Crowns
Isn’t it strange how people use the term “villain”? Villains are cruel, vindictive, heartless. Villains dominate the world, curse princesses and everything else the people tell us.
But aren’t villains humans too?
I slumped into a chair and sighed heavily. I made a mistake. A terrible one, one I hate myself for yet again. I ran a hand over the creases in my dress, a habit I did when I felt uneasy. Blood coated my fingertips. Daze controlled my thoughts. Why do I feel so tired?
Silence, I realised, was so captivating. All I heard was my heart beating and ringing in my ears. It felt so suffocating, like the world became more and more silent as seconds ticked by. That was, until the door burst open and commotion flooded in. A soldier marched in, fear obvious in his eyes. He bowed quickly and passed on the message I dread hearing.
“My queen, the enemy has reached our threshold and they’re attacking our first line of defence. Our watchmen reported that we only face three soldiers of the enemy, yet I fear that these are the ones you call ‘prodigies’.”
My whole body suddenly felt so numb. “The magic wielders,” I murmured, as the candle behind me flickered and died. The only vibrant thing in the room was now the sword I unsheathed, glistening in the pale moonlight.
From the shadowy confines of the gate, I observed the trio, who miraculously called themselves ‘the heroes of the kingdom’. What a load of arrogance. I twisted the sword in my hands and the main hero must have saw the twinkle of the blade, for his eyes locked with mine.
The ruby hooded cloth he held in one hand was dropped soundlessly to the floor. I managed a sly smile. “Gosh, Erie, you don’t want to get your treasured bathrobe bloody in our little skirmish? I heard you bathed in your enemies’ blood.”
He visibly turned red at my ridicule, and pointed his also-very-cherished-ruby-sword towards me. “It’s Erid, hag, and I shall soak in your blood as well, as you please.”
I chuckled. “Always the gentleman.” And as if a silent agreement had passed, our blades crashed simultaneously in the duel. My hand reached his collar and I yanked him down to my face level.
“So, what brings you here, Eric?” I jeered, knowing how enraged I make him when I incorrectly say his name. Erid kicked me in the ribs and swiped his sword at me. I barely dodged the first slice.
“Oh nothing. Just ya know, saving the world from a rampant murderer,” his blade fended off mine with a clang. “Who kills her own friends without mercy.”
A bomb had dropped.
Erid swivelled, then brought his sword up, aiming for my chest but I was quick to defend. In turn, I elbowed his stomach and he doubled over in pain. I heard one of his friends shout his name. But Erid merely wiped the sweat off his brows and scoffed. “Such a feared villain, yet you fight so inelegantly,” My heart slowed for what he had to say next. “Maybe your friends did the right choice by leaving you.”
My heart stopped beating. “What?,” I whispered.
The world exploded.
Erid dropped his sword and backed away. My own sword clanged to the ground. I gripped my eyes as harrowing anger coursed through me. All I saw were vibrant colours flying around me. Lightning cracked and the wind howled like never before. The earth seemed to imitate my anger. As I released a piercing scream, I accelerated my own wrath until the night sky grew dark, as if the moon itself feared me.
The earth shook below me. I summoned all my anger for this one last display. I’d show the fool what it really means to be feared. To be powerful. My throat hurt from screaming. My body hurt from pushing my limits. But I needed to go further.
The ground pulsed and cracked. Through my half open eyes, I saw one of Erid’s friends fall to his ultimate death. Erid and the other girl scrambled to the edge of the earth, and they both let out similar screams of grief. I’ve heard so many shouts of people losing their loved ones. It brings sadistic joy to me, seeing them grieve. But seeing Erid and the girl sobbing out of character, I only felt empty. My hands were trembling. My legs were weakening.
But my power kept getting stronger and stronger. Pain gnawed at my bones, flesh and all. I wanted to stop, I needed to stop, or I’d die. But I can’t. I can’t stop, no matter how much I willed myself to. When I looked down at my hands, they were cracking and fear pulsed through my skin.
I was falling apart.
Despite my agony, I glanced once more towards Erid. His tears had stopped and he was soothing the girl. All the while, he stared straight into my eyes. He looked so angry – I remember seeing that expression on my own face. I fear the anger he holds in his eyes may lead him down my path. A path no one should tread.
I held up my handmade flower crown, silently proud of myself. The crown was decorated with daisies, sunflowers and wildflowers. A small sigh escaped my lips, because I never knew how nice it would be to have someone to gift this to. To show how much I love them. Maybe a mother, or a father. All I have is myself, my best friend and this flower crown.
I never truly knew how much the flower crown meant to me until that night, when I surprised my best friend, Minne, with it. I wanted to see her face light up with warmth when she sees it. Hopefully she’d like it, because the crown was not easy to make. I waited at her place, as she took her daily evening walk. My chest fluttered with excitement and I was bouncing slightly from the eagerness.
Then, the door opened and Minne walked in. She was dressed nicely in overalls, her hair tied neatly into two braids which hung from her shoulders. Her lips bore the ghost of a smile. If this was a normal day, I would have complimented on how lovely she looked. But this was not a normal day. Another girl stepped in behind her and my heart dropped into my stomach.
Minne never said she had another friend. She always told me I’m the only friend she’ll ever need, and I held on to that loyalty. Just because I can’t fit in with the rest.
Despite that, I still wanted to give her the crown. Maybe she’ll like it anyway. So I gave her a half-hearted smile when I saw her shocked expression.
“Niz, how did you get in here?” she asked me.
“Your mother let me in, of course. It’s not like I’d break into this place anyway,” I replied, voice sounding all too casual. Minne raised an eyebrow and her friend silently watched.
“Why are you here?” Minne asked more. I bit my lip. From behind my back, I presented the made flower crown. Her friend turned away from me and her shoulders shook. Minne’s lip quivered.
“Um…what’s this, Niz?” Minne asked, and I knew from her face that she was holding back laughter.
“It’s a flower crown, for you,” I croaked, my confidence suddenly wavering. Why was she acting like this? Minne was always happy about a present. Is it wrong to make a flower crown for my best friend?
Minne snorted. “Thanks, I guess,” she took the flower crown from me. A breath of relief escaped. Maybe she did like it.
Maybe not. The flower crown slipped from her fingers and tumbled gracefully to the ground. Her face scrunched in mock concern, “Oh dear, I think I dropped it. Well, its dirty now.”
I watched in terror as she lifted her nicely laced boot and stomped on the crown. The flowers, all crumbled beneath her feet. Our flowers. My flowers. Me, myself, my own. I never mattered, I realized. Me, disgraced, quiet little Nizell, who would bother accepting me? Me, filled with love and now all of it had been taken away in mere seconds. Me, my petals crumbling beneath my best friend’s boot.
“Aww….oops. My bad.” Minne laughed. “I’m sorry, Niz. You’re nice and all, but sometimes you get too boring, you know? Flower crowns? Books? Fantasies? When are you going to outlive that child that I left behind so long ago? I’m done playing make believe, Niz. It’s time for you to hold the imaginaries to yourself.”
All I have is myself.
Why do I regret taking her life, when she had a happy one?
“Don’t go down my path, Erid,” I whisper, tears sliding down my cheeks.
The last thing I remembered was the cold blade piercing my skin, and Erid whispering, “It ends here…
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
The narration in this story is exceptionally powerful. Alongside sharp, witty dialogue between the protagonist and Erid, we as readers are kept engaged in the action that surrounds them – the enemies’ attack and the swordfight that occur between the protagonist and Erid. Tension is created and well maintained by the dialogue, and the use of analepsis to deliver the story of Minne is effective at adding depth and clarity to both the plot and the protagonist’s weaknesses. The final ending scene was especially profound as it hits directly at the protagonist’s vulnerabilities and ties back to her thoughts in the introduction.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Nur Ariana Qistina Binti Shamsur Imran - SMK Seri Bintang Utara
Title: A Ride Home
My fingers were cold, and my shoulders felt heavy. My entire body was numb and I could barely feel my fingers.
I awoke to the sound of water pattering on my ears, which only made my ears tingle with annoyance. I opened my eyes to see red liquid dripping onto the ground, but it didn't look like the ground where my feet were. With my groans, the silence was broken.
When I regained consciousness, I realised I was upside down in my school bus. I panicked and looked beside me, only to discover my friend's comatose body. She was covered in blood, and all I could do was gape in disbelief. I reached out to take her icy, pallid hands in mine.
"Hey, Alice? Hey, get up!" I desperately shook her. There was no reaction, and tears welled up in my eyes. My breathing became faster as I opened my wide eyes. "Hey, get up! Don't mess with me!" I cupped her face, revealing lifeless eyes and blood seeping from the corner of her mouth.
This can’t be happening..
My tears landed on my brow, and I sought for the seatbelt. Prepared for impact, I shrieked as I fell onto puddles of blood. My head began to hurt, and I felt my internal blood drain to my toes. I fought to stand but could do nothing except stumble.
I could only let out a trembling exhale in shock. I could only see the unconscious bodies of my classmates buried in glass and blood. My knees gave out, and my lips trembled. I approached the door only to discover the driver dead. I climbed to the inverted door while stabbing my hand in pieces of broken glass. I gritted my teeth and dragged myself up, tumbling to the leaf-covered ground.
As my face touched the ground, I stood and hissed in pain. At the corner of my eye, I spotted a group of people near a tree. There's people! In desperation, I crawled to my feet and dashed for them.
As I approached the quartet and their pair of eyes turned towards my body. Suddenly, they were all crossing their fists in front of me, and all I could do was raise my hands in terror. They lunged for a gleaming knife that blinded my sight. I shielded my eyes from the blinding ray of light. “Hey! I'm new around here. I don't like it when you assault me." They were silent, and the silence was received.
"Hey, buddy, we got another one." A tall man spoke up. He jerked his head towards a brunette bleeding on his thigh.
“Adam! What happened to you?!” I shrieked. The ginormous glass shard on his thigh pierced through his skin as he hissed out a few words.
“We… I don't really know what happened either. I think we’re survivors.. We can’t do anything because we’re in the middle of nowhere”
Survivors? I switched my gaze to the bus I had just exited, which was utterly bent and damaged. The engine released a torrent of smoke, and the wheels shifted out of place. As a result, I could only breathe in tremor. Suddenly, a thought struck me: "What about our phones?" We could still get help!" The brunette shook his head. "Our phones are broken, and even if we could use them, there's no connection here."
I curled my lips as I watched him struggle to move even a finger. “Adam, stay still. You want to be saved do you?” A girl beside him spoke. Adam only wrinkled his nose and smiled bitterly at the girl. “I think it’s the end for me, I’ve lost too much blood to even be alive right now.”
“Don't say that garbage! I’m going to save you no matter what!” I could see her hands quivering from anxious strain as she grabbed for a med kit, presumably from the teacher's bag.
I look at the other two: a big man who was simply looking away from his companion in pain, and a blondie who was coated in mud. She covered her nose with her hands and made a wailing motion with her hands.
“Hey, don’t you think I deserve treatment? Look at me! I’m covered in nature poop!” The blonde exasperated.
The black haired girl could only glare at the brat, concluding to her there were more worse things happening to her right now. The other could only roll her eyes and scoff in return.
“If you’re so injured, Clara, why don’t you ask someone else to help you? Can’t you see I’m busy?”
I only stood there, watching everything unfold. I don’t know what to say… Our class was planning to go on a trip near the coastline to celebrate our senior year of school but now, all that exciting hope turned to excruciating deaths.
Right there and then, I decided to help the blonde girl. “Hey, why don’t we bring you to a river to clean up? I also need to get rid of all this blood.” The girl looked at me up and down in judgement. “Aren’t you that loser in class? I want at least someone who can protect me while I’m out” she preached.
Adam faced towards her “She joined our martial arts club before. She’s at least capable of fighting, unlike you” He snarled.
“Fine! If I die then it’s her fault alright?!”
We travelled not far from the group and soon came to a rocky river that dropped to what appeared to be a mountain. When I gazed up at the sky, the sun obscured my vision. "Wow, we really are out in the sticks."
The blonde didn't hesitate to reach for the water, and rubbed it on her hands and clothes, irritated by the watery reaction. “Ugh, I better get a nice bath after we get out of here!”
I dipped my hands into the water, extracted the stuck glass, and mumbled in pain.
“But how-” I pursed my lips. “Can you even get out of here?”
“My dad’s the mayor, of course we’ll get out of here! My dad never fails to find me”. We locked gazes for a few seconds, and I merely responded with a smile. We’re finally alone.
“You know, I don’t really want to talk to you so pretend like you’re busy with... I don’t know, what losers do”
The audacity! “Hey, just because I don’t talk as much doesn’t mean I’m a loser, alright? Plus, I always ace my tests, and I get some closure in school.” I slapped my hands in the water, splashing onto her face.
“Oh please,” She slapped back. “I’m better than you in all aspects, you don’t need to deny it” She quipped.
“Oh, don’t flatter yourself. Just because you’re slightly popular and rich doesn’t prove intelligence.”
“Look, just keep quiet and wash yourself. We’ll have this conversation when we’re not in an apocalyptic movie”
After a splash of water woke me up, I exclaimed in relief. I lightly wet my hair and cleansed my hands. I saw her dipping her toes in the water to clean her feet.
It looks like she’s having trouble, squirming around so much. I won’t help, since it looks like she hates my very being.
I scrunched up my hair and decided to let it dry.
“Well, I think I’m done here, I’m gonna go and check what they’re doing”.
“Hey! You can’t leave me yet!” I stopped in my tracks as she reached for my wrist.
“Don’t think about getting anywhere! We’ve wandered this place for hours and got lost!”
“So.. are you saying that you’ll get lost? Without me?”
“Just stay here!” The blonde only scoffs. “I told you that I’d get out of here! So be grateful and stay here if you want to escape too!” On my wrist, I crossed my right hand over hers. I softly clasped them around my fingers.
“What if I don’t want to escape?”
The blonde only raise a brow in confusion “What do you m-” In that moment, I pushed her
Into the river, and her body leaned towards the moving water. Her left leg attempted to gain balance, but only fails to and slips due to the moist dirt touching her feet.
She screamed as the impact caused her head to collide with a boulder, leaving blood trails in the water.
Well I'm definitely leaving. Thank you for giving me a free ride home.
“YOU!” I quickly turned to my right, only to find the same towering man from the bus. He aimed a rifle at my face and gazed at me with trepidation.
Oh crap, I messed up.
"YOU KILLED HER!" He exclaimed. I only put my hands towards my mouth, and my knees started to go weak.
I collapsed on the ground and sobbed uncontrollably. Soon, two other people arrived at the scene. “What’s going on?!”
“I… I didn’t kill her! She slipped and I tried grabbing her!”
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
The author succeeded in writing an intriguing beginning accompanied by an unpredictable finale with detailed imagery however there was a lack of build-up causing the story to feel forced.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Alyssa Chin Yian Yee - Riam Road Secondary School
Title: Sobbing Angel of Titania
The Titania ocean wind blew strong and hard. The dark and starless skies brought sadness and depression. There was no sight of any life except for a lonely avian humanoid flying around searching for humans in need. The godly presence of the flying being didn't affect the surrounding weather. Thunder roared through the sky, leaving the little being afraid. Prima, the avian humanoid, was the only one able to survive in the harsh conditions of the deadly sea.
Prima was wearing red robes with a hoodie attached. Her silver long hair wavered in the unforgiving storm. Tears were streaming out of her eyes continuously. She was in visible misery and guilt. Her wings were white, with red streaks running across them. The black sceptre she was holding was the only thing she was able to use in an attempt to save people.
Suddenly, a cry for help reached Prima's ears. She snapped out of her miserable state and started searching for the source of the scream. She saw a handsome man trapped in a cage of dark matter. The boy, whose name is Dominic, screamed in pain. The dark matter seemed to be torturing him while the ocean waves keep drowning him. He kept spitting out blood and was struggling to stay alive. Cuts were forming on his face, blood gushing out of the deep wounds. His body started to glow purple as the evil magic was in his body, destroying every cell and nutrient they found. Vines made out of pure dark magic spun about the caged boy, not letting anything come near it.
Prima quickly flew to him and used her sceptre to send out waves of holy magic. The white waves of magic clashed with the cage and dispersed the dark matter. The girl flew with such skill that she avoided all the vines that came spinning her way. She caught Dominic in her arms just in time before he completely drowned. Prima flew far away from the scene and summoned a platform high above the sea and laid the unconscious man on it. Dominic's face was full of scratches and wounds from his struggle. Prima touched him with her glowing hands and all the evil magic left his system. She looked at him worriedly, still not understanding how humans ended up in the endless ocean. They should be in the human realm, but somehow, humans still found a way to fall into the Ocean of Titania.
Prima gently stroked Dominic's hair, hoping he was alive. Suddenly, he coughed out water and blood, came to his senses, and sat up. Dominic looked confused about why a strange lady in weird clothing was holding him. She offered him a healing potion. The potion was cyan and it glitters in the light Prima emitted. The bottle had a fancy design with a diamond phoenix head as the cap. He was reluctant but still drank it in pain. He was healed in a second and was feeling fit and strong again. She also dried him up by manipulating the ocean wind.
Dominic was so happy he gave Prima a big hug. She was shocked as this was her first time getting a hug in her lifetime. He was also her first save in 534 years, so she was very emotional and cried. Prima felt safe in the arms of someone who survived the whole ordeal. The sense of survival and resistance gave her a comfortable feeling. The two talked for days since there was nothing to do at that time. When Dominic was hungry, Prima would flap her wings and take off with such force that the wind would change directions. She then would come back with food a minute later. Whenever he asked something of her, Prima would always give him. She slowly became his maid, even though both of them seemed to not notice it. She slowly came to her senses, noticing that it was always her who was doing all the work. It was always her who had to get everything for him when he could’ve just stood up and walked a few steps to get what he wanted. Slowly but surely, she had gained hatred for him. Prima didn’t want to admit that she hated him, she always had faith in him and his abilities.
One night, Dominic asked if Prima wanted to sleep next to him since he was cold from the ocean breeze. She agreed and felt excited because she was going to sleep next to her first-ever crush. Prima hugged Dominic tightly all night long, leaving him unable to sleep comfortably. In the morning, he yelled at her due to not having enough sleep. Her eyes started watering and she cried. Prima screamed at him, finally letting out the sorrows from her heart that she had been holding in for weeks. She despised him for using her as a maid, she was mad that he treated her this way and she demanded that he respect her. Dominic then yelled at her with tears in his eyes, he too had been resisting the urge to push her off of him when they were hanging out. Prima had been clinging onto him out of love and he didn’t like it at all. He just wanted her to get away from him, that’s why he always sent her for errands. Prima was about to reason with him, that she loved him and was already planning out their marriage together since he can’t even return to the human realm. Might as well marry the only person there, she thought he would think this way.
The poor man was stunned. He told the girl that he already had a wife and that he planned on staying loyal to her. His wife, Alissa, and his daughters, Yanyee and Adreena were his pride. Dominic kept on showing off the family photos that he managed to save, not noticing the jealousy in Prima’s eyes. In rage, she pushed him off the platform, and into the ocean. His scream of terror and betrayal left his mouth and he fell into the depths of the Titania Ocean, never to be seen again.
The whole ordeal just happened so fast that Prima still hasn't processed what just happened. She looked at where Dominic disappeared and was too shocked to say anything. Did the angel, who was supposed to save people, murdered somebody? The sceptre in her hands dispersed into thin air, she had lost her magic. She can’t believe herself and her actions. Prima was in denial, she cannot accept the fact that she just pushed someone into the ocean in jealousy and rage. The girl let out a blood-curdling scream, she was alone yet again. Not because of the ocean, but her fault.
Years passed, and Prima had forgotten the man she murdered. She forgot what he looked like, what his name was, she could only remember the very last scream he let out before he died. Every time she got close to saving another person with only her flight abilities, the heartache returned and distracted her from saving anyone. She would always remember why she couldn’t be heroic anymore. It was because she failed to save the man because of her emotions. Prima vowed to never let her feelings get to her…… But it was too late, the curse was done.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
I love how this story explores the complexities behind a heroic figure, suggesting that not all people can be perfect and sinless. The jealous rage against Dominic’s wife and family which leads Prima towards murder is a pivotal climax in the story which develops Prima’s character in a more haunting way – she is unable to fully accept the side of herself that is no longer heroic nor angelic, stunting her from her role of saving others permanently. The narration of this story is simple and palatable, yet it unveils a complex psychology which I enjoyed seeing condensed into a more fantastical setting.
MYAA 2022 (Senior) - Consolation
Loh Jia Xi - Chung Hua High School, Seremban
Title: Symphonie Macabre
The universe is a manuscript, the staves filled with the notes of every object in its infinite expanse, melodies and symphonies hiding within everything around us. When he was born, Ludwig was bombarded by the sounds of the world, welcoming him into its ever-expanding family. His parents told him that he would coo musically as he rolled around in his crib.
Ludwig always heard and remembered the songs. There was never a moment of silence in his world. He remembered the loud and vibrant Sun, the harmonic chirps of the birds outside his bedroom window, the screeching noises of cars, the warm and loving tones emanating from his parents......
He remembered hearing the dissonant chords of the wilting flowers in the garden and transposing the notes which sung of sickness into its rightful key of health.
That was when he discovered he could change the music of the world. That was also the first time he heard the cautious staccato of fear. “God, have mercy......” his father said.
Ludwig never understood when people told him to be quiet, asking for silence. Silence was something foreign and terrifying to Ludwig. How could anyone stand the emptiness of the void that is silence? This state of… not-life? How ridiculous.
Ludwig was never quiet. He played and ran with the symphonies of the world. It was only when Hilary was old enough to speak properly that Ludwig realised that those horrible statements were very true indeed.
“How can you not hear it? You’re deaf and strange!” he huffed. However, Hilary was right. His parents didn’t hear it, Hilary didn’t and neither did the children and his teachers at school……
Afflicted, rude and inattentive, the teachers would call him. Furious, Ludwig yelled and complained to his mother, who ruffled his hair and shushed him.
“It's alright, sweetheart. You have an extraordinary gift, Ludwig, but you mustn’t talk about it to anyone else, okay?”
“Because people won't understand. They'll think that it's bad,"
“ It's not though! I can show them! I-”
“ No Ludwig!” His mother's voice rose as she looked Ludwig in the eye. “They must never know. Understand?”
Indeed, no one would know......until months after when Ludwig understood what his mother meant.
The symphony of the world was like a drug, intoxicating to the point that Ludwig was often times oblivious to his actual surroundings.
It was recess time. Ludwig could hear a squirrel chittering on top of the mighty branches of the tree in the playground. The animal’s melody sounded mischievous and had a fast pace to it, reminding Ludwig of Hilary’s song. He sang “here” into the squirrel’s song. It was easy to conduct the orchestra of the world, always had been. The squirrel then looked up at Ludwig from where it sat, confused in the palm of Ludwig’s hands. Ludwig smiled.
A scream broke him out of his trance, slamming him back into the real world. Steve was staring at him with suspicion and spat something at Ludwig. He didn’t hear them.
“What?” Ludwig said.
Steve talked and talked and talked………but the songs around him sounded so amazing. Ludwig couldn’t hear Steve. He stood there, staring at him like a cat entranced by a laser beam.
Suddenly, Steve knelt down, grabbed a fistful of pebbles and hurled it at Ludwig. The loud, blaring alarm-like sounds of danger rang in Ludwig’s ears. ‘Stop.’ he commanded.
The pebbles obeyed, suspended in the air. Steve’s eyes went wide. He stumbled backwards, running away while screaming to tell everyone what he saw.
The next day, Ludwig’s family moved to another town.
Ludwig thought that no part of the music was ugly. That was until he heard the song of death.
Death’s song was haunting like a shadow looming behind you, like glowing eyes in the darkness. Death prowled and hunted in the sea of the songs of life, waiting for the exact moment to pounce and snatch those songs.
It was supposed to be a happy day, celebrating Ludwig graduating from high school without any “incidents” and at the top of his class no less. Hilary had begged him to take her swimming in the lake near their house. He obliged.
The cold, frigid water stung the scraped skin of his knees. Beneath his hands, the rhythm of a still heart was created from a string of calm notes. So very slowly, as if they were fading out of the song of life itself. Her song was always a constant hum in his ears, bringing him comfort.
Ludwig couldn’t hear it anymore.
The youthful melody of Hilary no longer played. He called out for her, but she didn’t answer. Only the unforgiving song of death did. He cried for the death song to stop through the fog of the music, but death’s notes were stubborn, unmoving from their stave. They wouldn’t listen. Ludwig would make them.
Ludwig wrenched the death song in his hands and tried to change its notes but it was not as easy as changing “here” to “there”. Death’s song continued to haunt Ludwig’s ears.
“Alright,” he thought “We’ll do it this way.” He sang Hilary’s song but then rewound it, trying to return it back to a state of life. He tried to pull her back through her life but death still held strong, clinging to Hilary’s soul.
A boy’s sobs echoed around the lake, momentarily interrupted by screams.
Ludwig’s parents found him kneeling beside the lake, humming a broken tune. In the palm of his hands, he held a limp and dead foetus.
Horror echoed in his ears accompanied by the song of loneliness.
Ludwig never thought he could find any semblance of normalcy, but here he was, working as a doctor alongside Rachel, the love of his life. Rachel was a godsend to Ludwig, putting up with his constant singing and humming and accepting it as one of his many quirks. All was well, or so Ludwig thought.
A normal day in the emergency room turned into chaos as the collapse of a construction site caused many to be sent to the hospital where Ludwig and Rachel worked at. Tons of people with injuries ranging from minor bruises to broken bones filled the halls of the hospital. Doctors and nurses were rushing about triaging patients. Ludwig ignored the melancholic and pain-filled melodies of the patients. He had a job to do.
After the bulk of the work was done, Ludwig took a breather at the nurse’s station with Rachel. Suddenly, a ragged man with various cuts on his face limped into the room from the hallway. Ludwig was taking a sip of his coffee when the sound of danger flooded his ears. The man pulled out a pistol from his pants and pointed it directly at Rachel.
“WHY DIDN’T YOU SAVE MY DAUGHTER?!” the man sobbed, tears running down his injured face.
Every person in the room immediately panicked and tried to escape, which made the already distraught man even more so. He shot randomly at the wall and pointed the gun towards Rachel again.
“Doctor, why did my daughter have to die?”
“I’m sorry, sir. Your daughter’s condition was critical. There was a slim chance of saving her. I had to prioritise other patiens,” Rachel explained, trying to calm the man.
However, Ludwig could see that the man was beyond reason, could hear the grief and frustration in the man’s song. He took a step towards Rachel, wanting to provide support but his sudden movement startled the man, causing him to pull the trigger.
Danger built up to a crescendo in Ludwig’s ears and in the haze of chaos, he commanded the bullet. “Stop,” he sang and the bullet hung in the air, frozen, just like the pebbles all those years ago.
Ludwig could feel the eyes of everyone staring at him with shock. He looked to Rachel for comfort, only to be met with the song of surprise….and fear. In terror, he ran, ran to his car, sobbing as he drove away.
“I can’t take it anymore.”
How long has it been? Days? Months? He didn’t know. They always came and took him away randomly, wanting to know more about his ability.
Ludwig should’ve remembered that there were cameras which recorded the display of his abilities. They took him a few days after the ‘incident’. His days were then nothing more but tests and evaluations……..
His song which was once full of life and vigour, now sounded like a whimper.
He looked at the pistol in the holster of the guard standing outside. The guard looked young and naive. His song sounded like a timid mouse.
“I’m sorry” Ludwig thought as he sung “here” and pulled the trigger.
How ironic that a person named after Beethoven would be the only person who could hear the true wonders of the world.
The previously haunting melody of death became a lullaby, echoing in his ears, lulling him to sleep.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
Author has a beautiful writing style that immediately enraptures you the moment you start reading. There is a minor issue of overusing ellipsis throughout the script. Other than that, brilliant story. Would absolutely love to read more.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) Consolation
Bethany Xinyi Chew - Sri KDU International School, PJ
Title: Broken Love
It was just another mundane day in London. The sun was shining; the birds were chirping and I was still a refugee. The usual volunteers came into the refugee shelter today to cook and also bringing with them the basic necessities that most of us in the shelter lacked. I hated it when they came. That look of pity in their eyes. Flashbacks flicked through my head, temporarily luring me into a daze. I thought about the day the bomb and how it destroyed our home in Afghanistan. I thought about all the people who did not survive the journey nor made the journey.
"Lila?" The faint sounds calling me from a distance echoed in my ears. I snapped out of it immediately, my eyes focusing on the figure that sat by my side. Ella who was my best friend at the shelter often sat by my side reassuring me that I would find my family again. Just then the door opened. Iris, a frequent donator and occasional volunteer, strolled in. "Lila, a couple would like to meet you." My heart stopped.
Could it be?
I quickly but tentatively got up and followed Iris as we went through the maze of miniscule sets of slums, littered with malodorous rubbish and went to the front of the building. I felt my heart hammering against my underfed chest. What if it wasn’t them? The question lingered in my mind as we neared the rickety door. I hesitated before lifting my hand towards the door handle and taking three deep breaths. A chill vibrated down my spine as I touched the cold metal handle. The door winched open, groaning in protest.
Two soft smiling faces greeted me. Immediately I felt a warmth course through me, something I had not felt in a long time. Love. I took a step back surveying the faces that emitted a sense of home to me. And yet…they were not my parents. Instantaneously, I felt it all leave me, everything I had felt in these past few seconds, replaced by this hard, bitter coldness. I shrunk like a snail back into my vulnerable shell. The couple spoke softly in Pashto.
“Lila, we are friends of your parents. We’ve come to tell you that your parents are gone.”
It took me some time before I realised I was crying. Fat and salty tears trickled down my cheeks. I didn’t wait a moment longer before I scurried back into the web of slums, weeping harder. I couldn’t believe it. Dashing into my little hovel and slamming the door as the structure rattled in the force, I hid under my blanket and cried, my body shaking.
In that moment the door opened, creaking on its hinges as Ella entered, shrieking.
“Lila! Are you okay? I couldn’t find you so I figured that you’d be here.”
“I w-want to r-run away” I hiccupped between sobs.
“But you, you can’t! You can’t leave me here… we need you. Iris needs you, the shelter needs you!”
“I’m leaving. Tonight. Whether you like it or not.”
“I’m sorry. I just can’t stand people that say my parents are dead. I’m sick of it!”
I paused for a moment, willing my brain to think and act rationally. But somewhere in there… I knew it was the right thing to do. I had to find the truth.
I had just finished packing the contents of supper into my battered bag that was filled with everything that I had and all my savings over the years. At midnight, I found myself standing at the doorway of the place I had called home for 3 years. It ached to know that I couldn’t turn back after this. But I wouldn’t. Not now. Not ever.
My parent’s friends had told me where they were staying. So, I just needed to find them to take me back home to Afghanistan. I set out on the journey, asking for directions here, hitchhiking there.
At dawn, I was standing in front of a red brick building, nervously pondering over how I would address them, when a man in a checkered shirt opened the door and muttered: “Hello, what are you…Come in, I think we need to have a talk.” My parent’s friend gestured for me to come in.
The moment I sat down, it all came out, like a river. I told them I needed to see my parents and if there were gone, I needed to know where they were buried. By the time I was done I was already in tears, looking pleadingly at the man. He shook his head. Desperately, I shoved all my money at him. He did not want it. That moment the door opened, and the wife walked in. I threw myself at her feet, begging. She pulled me up and told to go sit in the kitchen while she had a conversation with her husband. I do not know what happened but a few hours later, I was holding a plane ticket to Afganistan. I was going to make this trip with them. I cried in joy. I would finally know what happened to my parents.
Three days later, I was on my way to Afganistan. I was waiting in anticipation for the plane to land, so much that I had not realised that I my eyes were faltering. A couple of minutes later, I was fast asleep.
When I awoke, I was in a car, rumbling across the countryside in a slow pace. I looked out the foggy window and saw fields of withered crops burnt by the sun. The car went on and on, then slowly halting as we reached the village.
I stepped out of the car, carefully surveying my surroundings. Ruins enclosed around me. Broken slabs of concrete lay on the ground, houses had been torn down, everything was in state of disrepair.
The couple stared at each other for some time before gently taking my hand and leading me to the row of stones at the back. They sighed as they placed my hand on one of them. My body froze as I realised what they were.
Gravestones. Two big and one small.
I stumbled back; my mind felt faint as read the names inscribed on them.
Aya and Mila Abdul-Ghani. My parents.
I stifled a cry as the couple told me my parents’ story.
“It was a few weeks after you left Afghanistan when your mother found out that she was pregnant with your brother. They were about to board a ship for England when they decided that it was safer that they stay back to give birth then only to come for you. Sadly, your mother and baby brother did not make it through the childbirth. Shortly after, your father had passed on too because he contracted typhoid. Its not because they wouldn’t come for you, Lila, it is because they could not”.
For some reason Lila felt relieved. But she also felt free. Free, because she knew the truth. Free, because she knew that she was loved, and always would be.
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
Excellent grammar and vocabulary. Plot line was very well done, and the emotions were portrayed very well through this story. Pacing was great, but the rising action was a bit too long. Ending was emotional and very well executed.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) Consolation
Thoon Jing Wen - SJK(C) Perempuan China
Xavier breathed deeply and walked into the unfamiliar classroom as Miss Anita called out his name. He stepped in front of the whiteboard, which was filled with crawling spiders of twisted words and sums. He looked away as his messy, curly brown hair fell onto his face, covering his gloomy grey eyes. He scowled at the students who were whispering among each other.
“Welcome to Winston High, Xavier! Can you tell us about yourself?” The teacher encouraged him. Xavier looked at the rest of the class, feeling everyone’s stares on him. He sighed uncomfortably and began his introduction.
“I’m Xavier,” he said. “I like to play video games. Hope we can be friends.”
The teacher smiled. “Okay, Xavier. You can sit in the third row, next to Ayaka.” Xavier sat uneasily beside the girl and unpacked his bag. Another girl whispered from the front row, “Be careful! She’s ‘silent but deadly!’” That was the last thing Xavier wanted to hear on his first day.
Soon, Ms Anita finished the lesson and assigned some homework. Xavier tried to hold back his frustration. The sums were crawling around the page again, swimming in front of his eyes. Ayaka’s eyes darted to his homework. She quickly looked away and scribbled on her page. Xavier tried to peek at her answers, but the neat words swam around like fish on the page as soon as it was written. Curse his dyslexia! He closed his workbook, leaving it blank, and walked away as the bell rang.
During recess, Xavier walked around searching for a table to sit at, but nobody offered him any seats. He sat down in a corner and began to eat his meal, all by himself. What a great way to start my first day, he thought.
The next few days weren’t any better. On Thursday, Theodore, the toughest-looking boy in his class, walked up to him. “Hey, dude,” said the boy in a rough voice. “Whatcha doing?”
“Uh, homework…” Xavier replied. Theodore glanced at his paper and snickered.
Xavier looked at his paper. He had drawn some question marks below the spiders when he was thinking about the answers.
“Seriously, dude?” the boy mocked, punching Xavier’s arm gently. “Those are sooo easy! Even my three-year-old sister can finish them in five minutes!”
Xavier grimaced. “Well, those words are spiders to me. I have a disorder. I can’t read or write properly, so I didn’t know what this question was asking.”
“OOoooo… so you’re S-P-E-C-I-A-L! Let me help you tell everyone how exceptional you are!” To Xavier’s horror, Theodore grabbed Xavier’s homework and raised it up for the class to see. The boy passed it to another student, who passed it to another, and the book was passed around in the classroom. Xavier screamed and ran around trying to catch his book, but the students were too fast. He tripped over and fell. When he got up, he saw his book fly out of the window. Plop! Xavier rushed to the window and he saw his book in a muddy puddle, completely ruined!
Tears welled up in Xavier’s eyes. Why does this always happen to me? Every school I’m transferred to, I’m always bullied! Suddenly, a small voice asked from beside, “Hi, are you okay?” Xavier looked up and saw Ayaka’s concerned face. This was the first time Ayaka spoke to him.
“Yeah, nothing new,” Xavier replied. “Whichever school I’m transferred to, it’s always like this. I’m dyslexic, I cannot read or write properly. Every sentence looks like a row of spiders to me.”
Ayaka nodded understandingly. “I have an older brother who is dyslexic, so my parents have done extensive research on ways to learn for people with dyslexia and he’s doing quite well in his studies now. Maybe you could come over to my house after school and we can see if my parents can give you some pointers.”
Later, Xavier went to Ayaka’s house and her family greeted him warmly. Ayaka took out some highlighters and sticky notes. “You can use these to colour-code your notes to make them easier to study,” she suggested. Ayaka’s parents also sat down with Xavier to plan his study schedule. Xavier even got to meet Ayaka’s brother! The moment they started speaking to each other, exchanging their experiences with dyslexia, this was the first time Xavier felt so at home. Ayaka’s brother was like a long-lost brother to him.
In the next few months, Ayaka and Xavier became best friends. Ayaka helped Xavier with his note-taking in class and they did their homework together daily. Ayaka’s brother tutored him when he was free and they all played happily together during the holidays. Xavier became better and better in his studies.
One Monday morning, a scream echoed throughout the school halls. Xavier was passing by the staircase then, and the scream seemed to be coming from the top of the stairs. He looked up and saw a younger boy falling down the stairs. Theodore was there as well, walking away in the opposite direction, laughing monstrously. Xavier rushed to help the boy. A stench smell filled the air, the boy had a long deep cut on his right thigh. Xavier quickly helped the boy to the nurse’s room, which thankfully was just around the corner. After making sure that the nurse was taking care of the boy, Xavier rushed to Ms Anita’s office to tell her what happened. She was shocked and promised she would investigate the matter.
When Xavier reached the classroom, he was almost late. Ayaka was already there. “Where were you? What happened? You’re never late!” she asked anxiously. Xavier recounted the incident. As he was explaining, in the corner of his eyes he saw Theodore glaring daggers at him, silently warning him to keep his mouth shut. Just then, the bell rang and Miss Anita walked into the classroom.
Moments later, Theodore was called to the principal’s office. As he walked out of the classroom, he gave Xavier a murderous look. Soon, the booming voice of the principal could be heard, followed by the pleading cries of a whimpering Theodore.
After school, Ayaka and Xavier were heading home when suddenly Theodore pounced on Xavier and gave him a big bruise. “Hah!” he said. “You thought you’d be able to get rid of me after sending me to the principal? Think again!” Theodore was about to hit Xavier again when Ayaka defended and returned the blow. Theodore was stunned. He tried to launch another blow but it was backfired. Ayaka glared at Theodore and warned him to stay away from Xavier.
From then on, Theodore stayed away and Xavier finally unravelled why Ayaka was ‘silent but deadly’. The two friends continued to support each other and their friendship blossomed. Ayaka, once a shy and quiet girl, has learnt the wonders of having friends. On the other hand, Xavier discovered that although having dyslexia was a challenge, he shouldn’t give up, rather, he should embrace it bravely. Moreover, he had great friends to hold his hand throughout his journey. Ayaka’s brother became his pillar of support and they even formed a support group to help others with the same disorder.
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
An interesting and intimate theme which the writer explored. The character development is enjoyable to follow through.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) Consolation
Cheryllea Wong Suet Lea - Sri Sempurna International School
Title: The Night of the Nocturne
It was raining. Really hard.
“Did we really have to walk home?” Amber whined, waving her talons in the cool air and storming around, grumbling, “we could have flown or something!” Shelly nudged Amber’s shoulder playfully, laughing and spreading her wings. “It’s not too bad!” she said, twirling around. Goldscale wearily lifted her snout to the sky, sniffing the wet air. “That’s because you’re a water dragon,” Amber argued, curving her wings inward over her head like a cover for rain, “I’m just a useless Crystilsces.” Goldscale suddenly froze, twitching her tail in a small arc at Amber and Shelly- the sign to drop to the ground. Goldscale’s white and gold scales slowly melted into the landscape, though in reality she was still there- still as a wolf ready to hunt prey.
Amber and Shelly dropped to the ground, crawling over to a small mud pile nearby and burrowing in, their blue and green scales hidden by the mud. Sounds of talons- many talons- sounded throughout the forest, reaching their ears and making their scales shiver. Amber tucked her wings in and curled her tail around Shelly, shivering with fear. Two Stormeias walked out of the trees, each of them dripping with mud and gore. They appeared to have just come from a battle, cuts and scratches ringing out from their heads to their tails.
“Do we seriously have to patrol this forest again?” one of them was saying, hissing, “you have heard about the monster in the forest, haven’t you?!” The larger Stormeias stamped his feet and lashed his tail, growling at the other, “Shut up. You don’t know this forest like I do. So listen carefully, and don’t do anything else. Besides, how can those rival dragons hide in this place if they… have a monster living here? See?” The smaller storm dragon spat at the ground, pausing for a moment. “Fine. But when we return, I’m complaining to King Tempest.”
They both spread their wings and leaped into the air, their enormous wings fighting against the strong winds and rain beating at them. Goldscale reappeared in front of Amber, her shimmering scales slowly switching back from their surroundings’ colours to gold and white. She looked exactly like the queen she should have been, regal with a powerful aura. But she wasn’t going to be queen anymore, and isn’t. Amber swatted her away with her wings, scampering to her talons. “Now, listen here,” Goldscale snarled at Amber, “we are going to fulfill this prophecy, with or without you.” Amber stalked away from her, crouching underneath a huge tree with long, stretching branches protecting her from the rain. She looked up at the twin-moons, eyes shining. “I’ll be coming back soon. I’ll be coming back. Just you see..”
Amber ran into the village, her wings spreading and flapping quickly, her eyes darting from house to house in search of survivors.
“The Nocturne is here! Save us!!”
Amber’s eyes welled with tears, but she ran onwards towards the last row of houses. Suddenly, a huge, bluish-black dragon leaped out from behind a fence, tail lashing. “Stop, now, little Crystilsces,” he snarled, “or I'll be forced to kill you.” Amber screeched, throwing up her wings to stop herself from crashing into the dragon. “Move! Move, quick! There are-” Amber trailed off, realisation dawning on her. “You- you-” “Yes, I am a Nocturne.” The black dragon finished, hissing. The Nocturne.. Nocturnes were dragons of legend that only appeared when both the moons in the sky fully aligned with each other, eventually seeming as if both moons were one. Amber snarled, crouching low and lighting up the patterns along her wings. “You destroyed my village. You are now here to kill me. How about I show you.. My true form?”
Amber leaped into the air, rising up as fast as she could. When she was about the height of the Great Bell Tower, she tucked her wings close to her sides and spun downwards, swishing her tail from side-to-side. At the last second, she flung her wings in front of her and kicked her legs forward, smashing her wings into the ground.
A bright flash filled the area as she transformed, scales switching from a dull bluish-purple and black to a blinding neon blue with grey, overlapping scales. The Nocturne cried, “An Iceadsij.. RETREAT!” Goldscale suddenly dived out from nowhere, crashing onto the Nocturne, teeth bared. Her talons dug into the Nocturne’s scales, holding him down. Amber stepped next to her, breathing in deeply. “Goodbye, Nocturne.” Amber released a breath of cold ice, slowing the blast down so that Goldscale could leap away before it hit the stunned Nocturne. He roared, batting at his eyes which had been directly hit by the cold blast. His body completely froze over, crashing to the ground in a dramatic pose. Goldscale lifted her talons which were cold and blue, staring at them with a blank glare.
Suddenly, two huge Nocturnes jumped out from the darkness, landing on Amber and Goldscale. “Shelly-” Goldscale started, but the Nocturne pinning her down stuffed a fruit in her mouth. Amber made her ‘seriously?’ look, stabbing her tail into the Nocturne pinning Goldscale down. “Run, warn everyone!” Amber roared, submitting to the Nocturne holding her down. She had a plan.. A good one, and it didn’t involve Goldscale or Shelly…
The Nocturnes brought her to a huge stronghold, hidden in the deep forests. One of the Nocturnes escorting her stalked off at the front gate, while the other pushed her in, stepping in behind her. There were many rooms and caves, each with a label above the entrance. She saw caves with many labels: ‘Kitchen, Guest Room, Royal Quarters, War Tools, Interrogation Room.’ The Nocturne steered her towards the Interrogation Room, muttering something to himself. “Go on in, we need answers,” he said kindly, pushing her gently towards the cave. She stepped into it, immediately swinging her head around to look for possible threats. She startled a small, wiry black dragon, who threw up his wings defensively. He shrieked, “Intruder! Intru-” Amber roared and thwacked him on his head with her wings as hard as she could, then retreated to a dark corner.
Three nocturne entered the room, their eyes as black as the darkest abyss. The smallest one glanced around the room, then lashed his tail. He hissed at the largest nocturne, which turned out to be the nocturne that had led Amber there. “Where is the Iceadsij?” the small nocturne roared, “we need its powers to save our village!”
Amber crept out of her hiding spot, crawling out of the door. Once her tail had come out, she leapt up, spreading her wings as she sped towards the exit. Once outside, she leapt into the air, flapping her wings as fast she could. “Freeeeeeedom!” Amber exclaimed, changing course to the direction of her village. She caught glimpses of birds and rabbits hopping in a meadow below, but this was no time to stop for a snack. She had to get back and save her village! Unless it had already been destroyed, that is.
As she landed in a small circle of trees, she jerked her head around a few times, and when she had finally finished scouting, she darted into the village. There were no dragons in sight, let alone a Nocturne. Amber called out, “Hello? Is anyone there?!” There was no reply, only the sound of an echo. But not her echo. ‘Someone is here…’ she thought, curling her tail around her talons. Amber crouched, lifting her tail into the air in the position of a scorpion’s. A huge, unidentifiable shape stalked out from behind a house, looking around. Amber immediately swung her tail in a few arcs, firing small ice shards, right at the figure. It yelped, falling to the ground. She leapt out of her hiding place, landing on the unidentified dragon..
The dragon was not a Nocturne, and definitely not Goldscale. It was Sapphire, Amber’s childhood friend! “What are you doing here?” Amber exclaimed, smiling, “it isn’t safe! Where is everyone else?” Sapphire stood up, hugging Amber with her wings. “They’re all safe,” she replied, calmly, “don’t worry. Even mother is alright, and your other friends.” “I have to go,” Amber said, firmly.
She waved her talons, looking to the twin moons. “Mother, what do I do now? the village you created for me is destroyed, and those Nocturne have been attacking and attacking repeatedly!” She dug her talons into the ground, spreading her wings. “I think it’s time for me to return..” She leapt into the air, her diamond-like glistening wings beating the air until the closest moon was at its biggest. “Let me in, mother!” she roared, “let me in!!!” The moon’s shape stretched, opening up until there was a huge fissure in its surface. Amber’s scales started to glow, and she was sucked into the enormous, round shape of the moon, gone to plan for what to come…
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
The first thing that stood out to me in this story was how the world-building in is subtle yet effective, which is highly impressive considering the word limit. The fantastical characteristics of the characters as dragons were established almost immediately, allowing the plot to take off quickly and take a more suspenseful turn with the introduction of the Nocturne. The way action and combat scenes are depicted with language is highly skillful and does a great job at keeping the reader engaged. I would’ve liked to see how things unfold further between Amber and Sapphire towards the end to finish off the great action-filled plot.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) Consolation
Tai Hui Wei - Sekolah Sri Tenby
Title: Mushroom Stew
Lost in a Forest
Moosh was a sly squirrel. He had a housemate named Fern, an albino rabbit. Fern didn’t like Moosh though; he had no job, meaning he never paid his half of the rent!
“You should really find yourself a job, Moosh,” Fern chided. He was tending to the plants in their front yard.
Moosh rolled his eyes. “I’m trying,” he said, sounding exasperated. “No one accepted my application for an interview! I’ve applied for almost every job in the town…”
Fern shook his head. “Remember what I told you?” he asked. “Maybe it’s not you are being the employee, but the manager.”
Moosh sighed, his hazelnut tail swishing behind him. He muttered a fine as he went on all fours and scurried away, most likely off to find acorn nuts in the forests, despite Fern’s warnings not to.
“I don’t even know what job I want,” Moosh said aloud to himself. He arrived in a lush green forest, sun rays bursting through the canopies of the oak trees.
The forest was often the place he went to when he got overwhelmed, or when he wanted alone time. Moosh kicked a pebble and watch it skid across the grass and splash into the lake, causing ripples.
I suppose I’ll stay here for a while, Moosh decided, sitting down beneath a large oak tree, which was in the heart of the forest. The squirrel felt his eyes droop and he had the sudden urge to sleep—so he did.
Hours later, the sun began to descend, the sky darkening by the second.
Moosh opened his eyes and was surprised to find out that his nap had taken longer than usual. Fern is going to be livid, he thought.
Sighing, the squirrel dragged himself off the ground, but without the guidance of the sun, he was hopelessly lost. Not to mention that he was starving too. None of the foliage in the forest indicated food, and Moosh didn’t find any acorn nuts.
“Oh, birds, what have I gotten myself into?” Moosh sighed. “Those hungry bears will probably come and devour me any second now!”
As Moosh rambled on and on, he accidentally tripped over a stone and fell flat on his face. He scrambled onto his paws and swore—until he noticed there was something peculiar by the stone.
There was a cluster of mushrooms.
Mushrooms were rare to find in the forest, and Moosh wasn’t sure if these ones were poisonous or not, but dying of poison would be less painful than being pierced by the jaws of a vicious bear, right?
Moosh grabbed a handful. I can try to make a fireplace to cook these, and then I’ll be full and warm!
The squirrel grinned at that thought, cradling the mushrooms close to his chest, as if it were his offspring. He gathered twigs and swiftly rubbed them together, beaming as he ignited a spark.
Soon, he was cooking mushrooms over the fire, humming to himself. As Moosh was waiting for the mushrooms to cook, an idea popped up in his head.
What if I make mushroom stew and sell it to the town folks?, Moosh wondered. I doubt they have tried mushrooms before… I’ll make a brilliant recipe that no one will be able to resist!
A thought slid into his mind. What if he asked Fern, his dearest housemate, to help him? The rabbit would certainly be proud of him. But the squirrel wasn’t sure Fern would quit the job for him.
Moosh grabbed the mushrooms before they turned to charcoal and ate. Chewy—and he didn’t feel like poison was coursing through his veins, poisoning every system, so that was good.
The squirrel put out the fire and climbed onto a branch of a tree to sleep. In truth, he didn’t really sleep—not after that long nap. He gazed at the gallery of stars that strangely resembled diamonds, glittering in the dark night sky…
The forest could be creepy at night, but it could also be beautiful.
Moosh rubbed his eyes as the sun rose. He had slept for an hour or two at night, but his body was fizzing with energy that he intended to get rid of.
The squirrel descended down the tree, making a torch to scare away the bears, wondering why he hadn’t thought of it before.
With the sun up, Moosh felt safe. He knew the way back home—at least, he assumed he did. His surroundings felt unfamiliar, but if he could just retrace his steps…
Moosh grinned as he noticed his trail of footprints (pawprints?). He went on all fours, following his trails.
Along the way, he saw more clusters of mushrooms. They were the same kind he had eaten yesterday—so not poisonous. He grabbed as much as he could with one hand and continued on.
The squirrel almost whooped in joy as he came across a clearing. His house had never felt fully like home, but now having experienced being unable to return to it, he decided it was home.
Moosh put out the torch and all but ran inside his house. His roommate, Fern, was probably still sleeping.
I’ll cook breakfast with these mushrooms then!, Moosh decided. He gathered the ingredients needed, his hands moving so quickly that it was a blur of motions.
In the end, the hard work paid off, and the squirrel had to admit, his stomach was growling.
Mushroom stew wasn’t that tasty, but he was sure that Fern would like it, and the animals too… That is, if he started a business.
Moosh was still grinning like a maniac when he almost leapt six feet into the air at the sound of Fern’s voice.
“When did you come home?” Fern asked, crossing his arms. “You were missing for a whole day—”
“You scared the living birds out of me,” Moosh muttered, absentmindedly wiping his paws. “I got lost in the forest—yeah, the one I always go to.”
“How did you even—”
Moosh shrugged. “Took a nap and the next thing I knew, it was nighttime. But besides that, come try my stew! I found some mushrooms in the forest and decided to make this!”
Fern hesitated but agreed despite how sudden it all was.
“This is pretty good,” Fern admitted, after trying a spoonful. “But why..?”
“Well, I was wondering if you wanted to help me start a business… for that stew, and maybe some other side dishes,” Moosh said.
Fern looked deep in thought. “It’s not a bad idea,” he finally said. “We could earn a few bucks here and there.”
So, the rabbit and the squirrel began doing preparations, investing their money—mostly Fern’s—into the business. At first, it started off slow, one or two customers every few hours, but it slowly started increasing, to the point where dozens of customers came piling in, eager to try their food.
Basically, Moosh finally paid his half of the rent.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
Amazing use of vocabulary, such a unique storyline that addresses how hard-work can provide great outcomes. Every sentence and idea was written in an original matter and I also cackled at the last line!
MYAA 2022 (Junior) Consolation
Alayna Adeen Zulkifli - Asia Pacific Smart School
Title: Mackerel Fish Snacks
Sushi yawned widely until she felt like her jaw was going to break off. It was already 11:13 AM! The jet-black coloured cat lept off her owner’s bed, which had still not been tidied yet and had a few puddles of dribble along the pillow. Time to go greet, Luna, my one and only owner! I wonder if she’s in a good mood today. But what if she’s angry about yesterday when I spilled mango juice over her favourite pyjamas?! Sushi’s mind was buzzing with “What if’s” like a colony of wild honeybees.
As Sushi entered her owner’s study, she saw Luna rapidly typing on her computer with an extremely worried face. Hmm… She looks stressed. Maybe I could do that trick Mr. Loki taught me last week! As she recited the steps in her head, she gracefully lept onto Luna’s lap and rubbed her head against her. She silently waited for response and looked up to her owner with her innocent pumpkin-like eyes. The response she received was not at all what she hoped for. Luna stared down with cold, foul-looking eyes and glared. Sushi got goosebumps as she wondered what this might mean. Is she angry at me?! It must’ve been the mango juice last night! Wait… I remember Mr. Loki telling me that owners sometimes get mad because they think their pets are weak! That must be it. If I prove myself to her, then maybe she’ll accept me, I bet. And with that, Sushi decided to go on an adventure to locate her “inner strength”.
“Why me though?!” Gizmo complained. Gizmo was Sushi’s first friend and were next-door neighbours. Because of Gizmo’s shy personality, he never had the courage to make friends with other cats except Sushi and another cat named Jinx. He had just refused to go along with Sushi on her absurd adventure idea. She pleaded. And after almost an hour of arguing, Gizmo agreed once Sushi bribed him with a month-worth supply of his favoured mackerel snacks.
“So, is it just going to be me accompanying you?” Gizmo questioned. Sushi snorted as if she were a pig.
“What?! If it was just, you and me, we would die before we even got across the road! Of course, I must bring Jinx!” Gizmo remembered all the times that Jinx had almost killed him until he felt like he was about to faint. And before he knew it, he did.
The two-some were dashing across the streets before they decided to invite themselves into Jinx’s home.
“Hey, guys! What ’cha doing here?” Jinx made Sushi and Gizmo’s souls leap out of their bodies as they attempted to invade her abode through the window.
Sushi went straight to the point by asking, “Would you like to go on an adventure with us?” Gizmo was violently nodding his head at Jinx while he wondered what would happen without her flawless fighting skills.
“Sure. Why not? You guys would totally die out there if you went without me anyways,” Jinx sniggered. “Also, it would be good for Gizmo to finally gain some confidence.”
Sushi exclaimed, “Right! This morning, once I told him that you were joining in on the journey, he… FAINTED!”
The black and the tan felines burst out laughing whilst Gizmo suddenly felt hot and stammered, “S- stop! I didn’t even- can we j- just go now!?” But the two cats started rolling about on the floor, reminding Gizmo of all the embarrassing moments he had had his episodes.
They strolled side-by-side until they reached a back alley that smelled like a graveyard over-filling with rotting corpses. They all tried to ignore the vile odour.
“W- what is that thing?” Gizmo mumbled, pointing his peachy nose towards a creature. It had four legs and a bulky structure, but the beast was barely standing up.
“Hm? Ooh, that’s a Pit Bull dog!” Jinx exclaimed. She then inspected the worn-out collar on his neck. “His name’s Dozer. From the looks of it, he was probably tortured then abandoned by his owner. But I could easily put him out of his misery…” The Bobcat unsheathed her jagged claws in the evening daylight. Just as Jinx was about to deeply scratch his already bloody neck, Sushi noticed the Pit Bull whimpering.
“Wait, Jinx… Shouldn’t we help him? I mean, it doesn’t look like he’s doing so well.” Sushi suggested. Gizmo nodded his head.
Jinx halted to a stop, squinted at her friends and whispered, “Are you sure? He’s dangerous and we might not make it to the vets in time...”
Sushi glanced at the dog who slumped to the ground with a thud then hesitantly replied, “Yes, I’m sure.”
The three of them carried Dozer (who was flailing his legs everywhere) with all their strength before they reached a clinic. Soon after they entered, a veterinarian noticed the strange cats and the injured Pit Bull then rushed to get help. After a confusing time of veterinarian trying to understand what happened, they finally decided to help them rescue the dog.
“Oh God, my back!” Gizmo chuckled dryly. “I think I broke it.”
“You’re exaggerating, Gizmo. Of course, you haven’t,” Sushi groaned. “But that sure was painful!”
“Now I feel like both of you are exaggerating. That was great exercising! My spine feels so good!” Jinx purred. But Gizmo and Sushi shook their heads.
“I guess we should wait for Dozer, then.” Sushi mentioned. Gizmo agreed but Jinx stayed silent.
After an hour of getting stroked by random strangers, the felines welcomed the dog after he had come out with a vet by his side and bandages wrapping almost every part of his body. “Umm, well. I hope you understand this, but the Pit Bull will have to stay at the clinic for now. H- he’s not in a condition to walk around. He needs rest.” one of the vets announced to the cats. He awkwardly walked away with Dozer next to him.
“We should probably get back home. I can’t believe it’s night-time already!” Gizmo exclaimed whilst staring outside into the inky night sky.
“But what about Sushi’s mission?” Jinx said, yawning. “Isn’t that what we came here for?”
Sushi blankly responded, “Oh, that. It’s fine, it doesn’t really matter. We could just try to do the mission tomorrow anyways!” Gizmo and Jinx blinked then replied with an “Okay, then.” but secretly, Sushi was slightly disappointed in the mission and herself.
Just as the cats arrived at Jinx’s house, Gizmo and Sushi waved goodbye. Afterwards, they approached Gizmo’s house.
“Hey, Sushi! Thanks for today, I really enjoyed it! And to be honest, thanks to you, I feel a little braver now!” Gizmo shouted from the front door of his house. Sushi grinned then and yelled goodbye. Maybe this journey wasn’t worthless after all.
Instantly after she came up to her house, Sushi was briskly picked up and hugged by a pair of familiar hands. “SUSHI! There you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere! The house felt so empty without you! Oh, I missed you.” Luna cried out, relieved. Sushi felt happier than she had ever felt beside her owner and cuddled into Luna’s arms
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
Adorable story! Main character doesn’t go through major development. Love the setting and wholesomeness.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) Consolation
Rittesh A/L Jaya Balan - SJK(T) Melaka (Kubu)
Title: The Land Of Medieval
THE QUEENS ABDUCTION
The castle of King Edward was a majestic sight. If a castle could smile, this one would be grinning from ear to ear. Queen Aurora suddenly awoke in the middle of the night after hearing a mysterious noise.‟What was that?” she said. The noise came from the bathroom. Out of curiosity, she decided to investigate the strange disturbance.
At first glance, there was nothing out of the ordinary. She thought she was just hallucinating and decided to go back to sleep. Right as she was about to exit the room a man jumped out of nowhere and put a piece of cloth over her mouth. The queen struggled to get free and quickly fainted from the lack of oxygen. She was kidnapped!
Queen Aurora woke up to find out that she was in tight constrains on the back of a cart. She let out a long overdue scream that alerted her kidnappers that she was awake. ‟Hello, your Majesty,” said a booming voice. The queen saw a tall man approaching her. Although she had never seen him in her life before, he seemed oddly familiar.‟Nice to see you awake,” he said with a devilish smile. ‟Who are you and what do you want from me?” the scared queen asked.
‟Oh, so Edward hasn’t told you about me yet,” he said. He then revealed himself. Once Queen Aurora saw him, she knew who he was. ‟You!” she said. You’re the one Edward fought off with his soldiers and claimed this land, General Macron. ‟The very one,” he said. Good to hear you remember me.
‟Where are you taking me?” she asked. ‟Nowhere special, just my fortress,” he said as a menacing smile grew on his face. A massive structure came into view. It was nearly as big as King Edward’s castle. If a fortress could smile, this one would be smiling menacingly. Queen Aurora hoped that someone would save her and save her soon. Little did she know, help was on the way, just not as she expected.
After a long day of school, James and Britney (two 11 year olds) were on their way home. They were twins and looked exactly the same. Both had strawberry blond hair and freckled skin. They lived in a quaint home in the middle of a quaint neighbourhood, Syacmore Drive. It was a breath-taking place with a mini golf park. The twins went to the park which is their usual resting spot to take a breath.
They sat on a bench and took in the view. Then, they started a conversation. ‟I just can’t wait for our birthday,” James said happily. It’s only two weeks away! ‟Yeah, I’m excited too,” Britney said. They rested for a while and then decided to continue going back. ‟We should get going,” Britney said. ‟Yeah, we should,” James agreed. They did some stretches and started heading home. ‟Hey Britney,” James said while on the walk. ‟Yes?” she replied. What do you think is going to be our- aahh! James slipped on something and hit the ground hard.‟ James! Are you ok?” Britney asked.
‟Yeah I’m fine, but look,” James said and pointed at a bump on the ground. They dug it up and saw that it was made out of metal. Together, they pried it open and found out that it led underground. ‟Should we check it out?” James asked. ‟Should we?!” What’s wrong with-James!” Before she could finish her sentence, James had already started climbing down the ladder.
Britney rolled her eyes and followed her brother. She made sure she closed the hatch behind her so no one would see and open the hatch sticking out of the ground. Once they reached the bottom, they were awestruck. The room was filled with many colourful liquids in glass jars. Each jar had a label on it so they could tell what the liquids were used for. Britney found a jar with pink liquid inside it that was particularly shimmering. It was labelled ‟ Glitter Potion”.
She poured one drop of the strange liquid on her shoe and it was magically covered in glitters. ‟OH MY GOD, SO CUTE!” Britney squeaked and poured another drop of the potion on her other shoe and it was also magically covered in glitter. ‟Britney!” James said. Stop playing around with those liquids!” James said. He went to the back of the room and found something that worried him. ‟Take a look at this,” James said to Britney.
Britney came to his side and looked at what he was talking about. On the floor, in front of them was an open book. There were blood stains on the ground and a jar filled with dark blue liquid.
Britney put her hands over her mouth trying her best not to scream at the horrifying sight. James picked up the glass jar and turned it over. He saw that it was labelled ‟Portal Potion”. There was also a warning sign on the jar. It read:
To whoever is reading this, use this potion to activate any book and turn it into a portal into another dimension.
It is only for emergency use only.
Here are the steps you need to use it :
First of all, make sure to use this potion very carefully. It is limited and once it runs out, it runs out forever. Make sure not to waste a single drop.
1. Carefully pour three drops of it on any book.
2. Then it will start to glow and shimmer. It will pull you in and you will disappear into whatever the story describes.
That is everything. So be careful.
‟Wow,” James said. I can’t believe whoever wrote that put that much effort to make something up. For fun, James decided to do as the warning sign said. ‟James, be careful about what you’re doing,” Britney warned.
‟Relax,” James said. It’s not like it’s actually going to- what in the world,” Before he could finish his sentence the book began to glow and shimmer. It was almost as bright as the sun. The twins had to squint to even look at it. ‟What’s happening?!” Britney screamed. ‟I have no idea!” James screamed back. Suddenly, two glowing hands pulled them into the book.
The twins disappeared from the room and went into the book. What was awaiting them on the other side was a mystery. But one thing’s for sure, they were going to embark on the greatest adventure of their lives.
TO BE CONTINUED
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
I really want to give a chance for this story to finish! From the start, this story caught my attention with the imagery used and suspense. The plot line also isn’t that cliché. Something new for me to read!
MYAA 2022 (Junior) Consolation
Alyssa Tan Yi Wen - Sekolah Sri KDU
Title: An Antagonist's View (A Guide Of Murder)
Hailey hummed and swayed her body to the music as she mopped the floor. She didn't know which she liked more, the music or the satisfaction of removing blood from the tiles of her apartment floors.
A sudden gust of wind blew into the cantina. The glasses rattled on the shelves. The streets of Hillford Village were deserted, quiet and dark. The dimly lit-up sign from the bar was the only source of light available. The villagers of Hillford village were sleeping peacefully when there was a sudden bloodcurdling scream.
"BREAKING NEWS! THE WIDOW MAKER HAS STRUCK AGAIN!" Mr Gregory, the village chief, sighed in frustration as he read the headlines of the newspaper.
"This is the 6th time this month! And you're telling me you still haven't captured the culprit?!"
"What did I hire you for? For you to slack off?!"
"Then?! Do your job properly!"
"I'm sorry sir."
Mr Gregory yelled at them to step up their efforts and then, dismissed them in anger. He sat on his chair and thought about how weird it was that the killer only murdered men. Married men, to be specific. He sighed. He needed the police to quickly solve the cases and arrest the murderer to restore peace in Hillford Village.
"Good morning Mr Baker!"
"Morning Hailey, what would you like today?"
"A loaf of sourdough bread, please."
"Alright, you got it." Mr Baker winked at Hailey as she smiled politely.
"There you go, sweetie."
"Thank you! Have a good day, Mr Baker!", Hailey thanked Mr Baker as she handed him some money and left the store. Mr Baker smiled. Hailey was a kindergarten teacher known to be sweet, caring, intellectual, friendly and polite to everyone she talked to. Not to mention, the kindergarteners loved her.
As Hailey unlocked the door, she quickly took off her shoes and placed them in the shoe rack outside her house. Then, she made her way into the house. As she shut the door, she smiled. She successfully pulled off yet another murder. This time it was Mr Jones. She placed the photos of his dead body inside a small box she kept in her room which was full of pictures of her victims' bodies. The photos were like trophies for her. She smiled. "The 6th murder and nobody has caught me. Mr Gregory is so foolish to think that the police can ever catch me. Now, I can finally avenge my father and my mother." She laughed wickedly, as she closed the lid of the box and quickly kept it away.
The next victim she decided to choose was Mr Baker, the baker of the famous "Maisones de Paines", her favourite bakery in town. Her plan was simple. All she needed to do was lure him and manipulate him, and then kill him. But she had to make it seem as if the murder was a natural cause, an accident. But how?
The next afternoon, Hailey had to go to the kindergarten for a parents and teachers conference, so she hired a maid to clean the house while she was away. Anna, the maid she had hired, dusted the tables and swept the floors. Suddenly, Anna heard a loud thud. She quickly went to find out the source of the sound. It came from Hailey's room. Although Hailey had warned Anna not to enter her bedroom, she had forgotten about it in her haste to find the source of the loud thud. She twisted the doorknob, and the door creaked open.
Anna looked around the room and found a box had dropped on the floor. As Anna picked up the box, she could not resist the curiosity to look into its content. What she saw sent shivers down her spine. It was pictures of Mr Jones' dead body. She gasped. In shock, she immediately called the authorities and told them what she had seen. She even went to the police station and showed the pictures for evidence.
As Hailey pulled up to the driveway, she was surprised to find a fleet of police cars outside her house. Stepping out of her car, she was suddenly surrounded by police officers, pointing their guns at her. "Hands in the air! You're under arrest for the murder of Mr Jones and several others." Hailey raised her hands in the air as instructed, and felt the cold, icy handcuffs on her wrists. She was taken to the police station to assist with the police investigation.
After 40 hours of house search and questioning, the police had gathered substantial evidence to establish that Hailey was indeed the perpetrator, responsible for the recent spate of heinous murders in Hillford Village over the past months. Hailey’s motive was revenge. It turned out that she wanted to avenge her father that had been abducted by Mr George when she was 6 years old. Her mother then committed suicide shortly after, leaving Hailey in an orphanage. Hailey wanted to do that by causing stress and havoc in the peaceful village.
The news sent shockwaves throughout the once peaceful Hillford Villages and neighbouring villages. The Villagers were all shocked and could not believe a kind, caring person like Hailey committed such a heinous act. Hailey was subsequently sentenced to the death penalty after a lengthy court trial. To the disbelief of all those present at the court, Hailey did not shed a tear upon hearing her sentence. She simply muttered silently … “This is not over yet” as the judge banged his gavel.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
Loved every second of it. Stands out among other thrillers I’ve read because of the unique perspective and way of telling. Great use of language to indicate the main character’s personality.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) - Consolation
Auni Inarah Binti Mohd Fariz - SK Taman Tun Dr Ismail 2
Title: Deadly Whispers
Chapter 1: I want you here with me
Stop the trees from growing if nobody’s gonna water them;
Break the love if you can’t afford to alter them.
A story of acceptance,
But are we ever accepting?
I sighed as I comprehended those haunting words. Silent. Wistful. Under the midnight stars, on my balcony. I’m reading to the shadows that would listen and thinking of my angelic Atlas. He was one of a kind. He would sing to me; to the stars, with his raggedy shoes and sparkling smile. I gasped as I remembered that I was supposed to write to him today. Grabbing my pen and paper, I rushed to our spot.
Sitting alone on the canoe Atlas named ‘DNA’, in the middle of Lake Thora, I write a letter to my beloved.
‘Dear Atlas, my peaceful angel. Oh how I miss your twisted heart-’
Stumped. I hear footsteps heading to our lake. I quickly pack up my things and paddle back to the dock Atlas had built. Hiding in the rosemary bushes, I wait to see who’s here. A group of teenagers appear from the other side of the lake. They’re very loud, I despise it. They’re trashing Atlas’s spot. Our spot. Who found out about this place? Who told them where it was? Why are they here? Why? Why? WHY?
“Desiree, Desiree, Desiree my love.”
The whispers from Atlas still linger on my mind. I run, and run, and run out the forest and through empty alleys, under shady lamp posts, through my neighbourhood, through my doorway, up the stairs and into my room. Screaming and crying of rage, my limbs flailing around.
Numb. That’s all I feel after my tantrum. I force myself off the bed and take out the pen and paper from my bag. I sit on the icy floor and continue writing my letter to Atlas.
Chapter 2: Picture perfect, my darling
I wake up to my sluggish face in the mirror, the letter to Atlas spread out on the floor. Memories of the night before running vividly in my mind. It is 5:00 am and I could always count on Iceland’s early birds to cause a ruckus. I get on my feet and clean up the letter, sealing it in a baby blue envelope. I change into some presentable clothes and clean my tear-stained face.
I walk out my front door, clutching the letter close to my chest while waiting for the mailman to arrive. Joe, my next-door neighbour, is in his garden watering his plants. Our eyes meet and he flashes me a darling smile. I wave at him and greet “How’s your morning Joe?”. “It would've been awesome if Ms. Margerie and bloody Samuel from across the road didn’t yell profanities at each other at 4:30 in the morning,” he replies with an exxagerated exhausted look on his face. I chuckle, Joe is always so dramatic. If only he knew about Atlas.
We kept conversing until the mailman arrived at 6:00 am. I hand the mailman the letter and he gives me an insincere smile, however he still took the letter and went on his way. I bid goodbye to Joe and walked to my usual breakfast place, scooping up some flowers at my good friend Seth's flower shop along the way.
I walk into Sara’s cafe and hand her the flowers as she greets me at the entrance. “DESIREE! How’s your morning, my child?” I replied, “Lazy. It has been a VERY exhausting morning.” She nods and cracks a smile because this is my usual answer. I guess she has made it an obligation to take care of me even though we only see eachother EVERY morning. Though, I still love her. She's an amazing woman.
I ordered the usual, french toast and tea. I selected a book titled ‘Dreams of you’ from the cafe library for me to read while enjoying my breakfast. After breakfast, I went back home but not without some fresh daisies from Seth to fill up the empty vase on my kitchen table.
The day went by, as soon as I realised it, it’s already midnight as I looked out my bedroom window. Green Day is blasting through my speakers as I hum to the rhythm. I catch a glimpse of Atlas screaming at the top of his lungs to our favourite songs. I lay on my bed, my eyes drooping as my brain goes empty. Only the moonlight lights up my room and I lose ground of who I am.
Chapter 3: My final chapter without you
Dark. Cold. I’m barefoot and dirty standing on the grounds of Lake Thora. I look down and there’s a crimson coloured liquid substance everywhere. Blood. I squint my eyes at the lake and there are 5 bodies floating above water. I can’t remember anything. What happened? I was asleep in my room and now I’m at Lake Thora shivering and confused. The stench of human blood cursing my existence.
I’m breathing heavily as tears threaten to spill out. I feel so disgusted as I am gathering my thoughts. How did this even come to be? Did I murder them? I’ve had episodes like this where I’m on auto-pilot and when I snap back to reality, I’m somewhere I don’t remember going to. Terrified. This is WAY different.
Before I knew it, I’m already running to Joe’s because his house is the closest for me to get help from. I stop in my tracks in Tewksbury Lane, a few blocks away from his house, when I see an oh-so-familiar silhouette of a man walking unbalanced. “Joe,” I breathed out, I’m relieved I’ve found him. “Desiree, I’m-” he’s cut off as he comes into light. I notice that he’s holding a gun as he inches closer to me.
I fall to the ground, hands clutching my chest, Joe still in sight. “I saw what you did to those teenagers at the lake,” Joe says, catching his breath. I guess, I did murder them then. I’m getting weaker as he spoke again. “I had to do it. I know what you are, Desiree. A monster.” He falls silent as we hear footsteps heading our way. He runs into the shadows, leaving me to die.
Chapter 4: Loving you is deadly, I’m home
“DESIREE! DESIREE, I'M RIGHT HERE!” Seth runs up to me, kneeling beside my body. ‘Please don’t leave, I promised Atlas to give you a lifetime. You can’t cut it short like this,” Seth’s voice breaks, gently propping my head on his lap; rocking me back and forth. I crack a smile, I never knew Atlas made him promise that. Seth calls for help and I silence him by brushing my cold hand on his cheek.
It takes me a lot of my remaining energy to speak, “Shh, it’s okay Seth. I’m okay,” he smiles, eyes full of tears “Good. Stay with me. Breathe, darling.” Trying to catch my breath, I think about all the good memories; the dancing in the dark and laughing under the stars. Pure happiness.
With my final breath, I whisper to Seth, “Love makes us do crazy things. I want to spend forever with him. My Atlas. Bury my body in the Land of the Stars,” and I accept my end as it was the start of our forever.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
It’s unbelievable how someone can capture grief and love so painfully accurate through words. Such poetic writing and creative storyline I just know this should advance to AYAA!
MYAA 2022 (Junior) - Consolation
Trhishalah A/P Ganesan - REAL International School, Shah Alam
Title: Is That All?
40 years ago in early ancient India, stood a rural village firmly but poorly in the heart of Madurai. Where a boy named Pavan spent his miserable life. He grew up the poorest of the poorest. He did not have a pleasant childhood. Heartbroken, he ran away from home to wherever his instinct told him to go in the roaring storm outside. He was on his way to the train station, knowing that at least someone may talk to him. Since no one, he ran into the train that had stopped in the station at that moment ……and this is where he met the person who was going to change his future forever.
Since Mr Ram was alone onboard he called upon Pavan "Hey son, why are you alone? “He asked. Besides, Mr Ram was a solo man. When he took a glimpse into Pavan's eyes he knew there was a SPARK in him. Soon Mr. Ram reached out to Pavan’s teary eyes and wiped it with a warm and dry tissue “My w…. w…whole family….l..l..y hates me just because I am not what they expected!” he stammered in fury and desolation. “Oh dear, that is not what I had expected” Said Mr Ram sympathetically. A bell instantly rang in Mr. Ram's mind to bring Pavan home to be in a suitable accommodation for his wellbeing as the weather was simply HOSTILE. Pavan couldn’t acknowledge Mr Ram just with words, so he hopped onto him and embraced him tight. “I have never been this happy in my life, but because of you, i have a proper place to stay…. thank you very much sir.” Exclaimed Pavan. “You have never been this proud before.” said a voice in Mr. Ram’s mind.
Mr Ram couldn’t stop thinking adopting Pavan. “He could not sleep as he was in absolute willingness …. The first thing in the morning, he left to an adoption agency. Mr. Ram held Pavan’s hand and took a step into the agency and already sensed that things were going to work out really fine. Firstly, he went to the front desk and enquired about the process to adopt a child from outside the agency.
The receptionist with an unusually long chin and jet blue hair explained about the procedures to adopt a child. “Oh! alright then, in that case lets follow the dealings in direction to get Pavan to be a member in my family.” said Mr. Ram excitedly. Pavan was rather confused in what was up-to-the-minute as he was too young to even identify anything about adoption. Though it took more than two hours to go through the process at the agency. Well, the last procedure was to get the court order as a guardian for Pavan. Right after signing the agreement form, he shimmered himself with a smile and carried Pavan with happiness. Then, he took a taxi back home.
Soon after, Mr. Ram set Pavan to the finest school in the village nevertheless cash was super tight for him…. He made sure Pavan never knew that he was suffering financially and physically with some illness. Since Pavan had no experience in proper education or seen a school building before, he was flabbergasted when his new father said that he would be going to school the next day. He never had a thought in mind that he would ever be going to school or even better ‘THE BEST SCHOOL IN TOWN’. walked into his classroom and was amazed with the atmosphere there as it was cooling and he had so much fun on his first day of school. When he reached back home, he could only talk about how fun and enthusiastic school was for him. Pavan’s perception about his new father was that he couldn’t get any other father better than him despite his age.
One fine day, the telephone rang when he was reading a newspaper. He took the phone and heard a voice of a woman that sounded like Ms Prita, Pavan’s school teacher. Though Mr Ram was super nervous about what the teacher was going to say. “HELLO ‘MR RAM, YOUR SON SEEMS TO BE A GIFT TO OUR SCHOOL’, we have never seen a child this intelligent before in our entire life profession in educating students.” Mr. Ram was awestruck in hearing those words ‘GIFT TO OUR SCHOOL’. He was one of the gladdest individuals in the world throughout the day. He knew that all of the sacrifices made for Pavan was worth a lot, though he still hid his illness away. He did not even get married for Pavan’s sake. Years passed and Pavan had a query to his dad regarding his university enrollment as he wants to go to the topmost forensic science university in India.” Mr. Ram couldn’t say no to his beloved son, so he just went with an alright and found the best university after some enquiries.
Finally, the day came for Pavan to go to his dream university and on the other hand, there comes Mr. Ram’s new sacrifice. Dealing with the enrollment fees would be an atrocious problem but it was kept a secret from Pavan. He went to the front admin desk and asked about the college fees “The Indian lady said that would 400000 rupees.” She responded. “He almost had a heart attack hearing the digits she said, but still accepted to pay the fees with his last nickels, as he planned to sell his current staying house which is the ONLY property left by his parents and his remaining pension money. He did all this without letting Pavan know a single note about this, but Pavan got to know about this property selling for his education after he opened an envelope accidentally.
Soon after, Pavan finished his studies and found a beautiful girl to be his wife, her name was Prema. He was living with Prema outside of the town. Mr Ram was so happy for him but missed him a lot as his illness became worse and his body was too weak to hold himself.
One day, when Pavan came back from work, he saw Prema standing outside the gate of the house, with her eyes all teared up and her hands shivering nervously. Pavan was super confused, he asked her what’s wrong. Prema held Pavan’s arm and said “Honey, there was a call from your hometown neighbour ….and…. and.” she stopped as she was sobbing…. Pavan was so scared to see his lovable wife in that state. He hugged Prema tight and asked her why she was crying so hard. “The wall of your life booster has collapsed!” Said Prema with ferocity.
Pavan was still puzzled with Prema’s words. Pavan continued to figure out what Prema was crying over by shaking her shoulders vigorously.
“YOUR FATHER HAS LEFT US ALL!” burst out Prema in desolation. “IS THAT ALL?” Pavan asked relievedly and calmly.
A thunder struck in her heart. She stared at him widening her eyes thinking if the person in front of her is the person who she loved with all her heart.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
I’m mad that there wasn’t more! Can’t wait for an extension. The play of words and emotion conveyed touched me and that ending was spectacular. Truly carried the theme throughout the story. Could be improved with better use of punctuation.
MYAA 2022 (Junior) - Consolation
Nur Anyssa-Sze Binti Muhamad Ayman - SK Seksyen 9, Shah Alam
Title: The Cat And The Dragon
I crouched on a low roof, waiting. My tail swished back and forth as my eyes scanned the alleyway. No one. Silence dragged as minutes passed.
Suddenly, three weasels appeared. The largest, which I assumed was the leader, had a fat silver fish in his mouth. I smiled, and leapt.
I landed skillfully on my paws in front of the weasels, startling them. As the leader dropped the fish, I snatched it and sped away with dinner in my mouth.
“Come back here, you thieving puss!” the leader yelled as they gave chase. I leapt over boxes and ran along walls.
Soon, I hit a dead end. I looked up and was assured to see a glimmering shape on the rooftop.
“Nowhere to run, kitty” mocked the leader.
“Scared now, little thief?” sneered another weasel.
I wasn’t. I wasn’t scared at all.
Three… two… one.
A majestic beast landed between the weasels and I. It had iridescent scales and was the size of a tiger. It bared its mouth, revealing rows of gleaming sharp fangs. The weasels cowered in terror. The beast growled, and they ran in fright.
The beast then faced me with a look of annoyance marring its beautiful face.
“Kai!” I purred pleasantly.
Kai cut me off, “How many times am I supposed to tell you, Mia? Stop getting in trouble!”
“Pffft, relax. I won’t get hurt with a dragon like you by my side,” I winked.
“I can’t keep watching your back Mia,” Kai argued. “Sigh, leave the fish for the weasels. We have enough to eat at home.”
I laid the fish on the ground and followed Kai home.
Kai was a shape-shifting dragon. I met her when I was a stray kitten. She rescued me when I got caught stealing from the butcher, and she brought me to her home. She’s the closest I have to family.
Two days after the fish incident, I strolled around the village in boredom. The market was bustling but nothing piqued my interest.
I reached an alleyway. A mysterious figure cloaked in black was talking with a merchant about a large silver cage. “Wow, that sure looks fancy,” I thought intrigued.
My eyes lit up when I saw the merchant pull out a bunch of silver keys from his pocket.
Thoughts of mischief urged me. Without much thought, I leapt and snatched the keys from the man’s hand.
Both men yelled angrily as I ran. I weaved past shops, stalls, and people into a quiet lane.
“I must have lost them by now,” I thought gleefully.
Suddenly, I found myself being lifted into the air. “Wait… what?!” I looked around and saw the cloaked figure in the alley. His hand was outstretched towards me, holding a black wand. He was a dark wizard! I paled as I filled with dread.
I dropped the keys and mewed frantically, begging for mercy. Squeezing my eyes shut, I instantly regretted stealing from the start. I hoped that Kai would forgive me.
A low growl penetrated the air. My eyes opened with hope, and I saw her.
The wizard stared at the dragon with surprise. Kai narrowed her eyes and took her fighting stance. The wizard started weaving spells as Kai lunged.
Both Kai and the wizard fought fiercely. Kai dodged the wizard’s spells while the wizard reflected Kai’s numerous attacks.
As Kai fought on, her shape-shifting ability drew her energy in great amounts. Soon she laid on the floor, with bruises the size of apples. She looked at me wearily as I rushed over to her.
“Why are you still here?” Kai asked weakly. “Go save yourself Mia!”
“I can’t leave you,” I pleaded.
An invisible force threw me against a wall. I stared helplessly as the wizard dragged Kai’s frail body away.
“No!” This was all my fault.
I mustered up the last of my energy and got up.
Kai needed saving this time. I don’t know how, but I will save her.
I found myself in the middle of a dark forest. I followed Kai’s scent to a small building on a hill. Squeezing through a gap I found by the backdoor, I emerged in a small warehouse. In the middle was the large silver cage from the alleyway, inside sat Kai.
I rushed over.
“Kai! Are you alright? I’m so sorry!” I cried.
Kai urgently hushed me, “Shh! Quiet down, or the wizard Durzan will come for us,” Kai said. “This cage is enchanted, I feel weak,” explained Kai sadly.
“I’m going to save you Kai,” I said.
“Please be careful Mia. I’ve lost my family to black wizards, I can’t lose you.” Kai answered.
I picked the locks with my claw, and soon Kai was free.
We hurried towards the exit, relieved that this will soon be over. As we reached the door, Durzan stood before us, with his wand drawn out. His face was contorted with rage.
“Run, Mia!” Kai shouted as she pushed me to the side.
“No!” I yelled, standing my ground.
“You’ll get hurt if you stay!” Kai shape-shifted into a bear, preparing to strike Durzan.
“I’m staying with you, Kai,” I said stubbornly.
We both fought the best we could, but we were still hurt and exhausted from earlier.
Soon, we found ourselves backed into a corner.
I looked around desperately as Kai continued fighting. Sneaking away, I started climbing a nearby shelf.
“What are you doing?” Kai hissed at me.
“Keep fighting! I have a plan!” I mewed back.
Kai continued fighting as I ascended the shelf. I crouched, and waited for the right moment.
Aha! I smiled and leapt.
I landed right on Durzan’s head! I scratched his eyes, causing him to fumble. Kai continued attacking as the wizard shook me off angrily. With Durzan distracted, I swiftly snatched the wand out of his hand.
“Run, Kai!” I yelled. We bolted out the back door and Kai slammed the door shut.
“Stand back,” Kai instructed.
She shape-shifted into a large dragon and knocked down the house. Durzan’s final scream could be heard as the house crumbled.
Kai and I sat on the hilltop. She wrapped her tail around me, and my heart filled with warmth.
“You did great back there,” Kai praised.
“Thanks,” I blushed. “I had to help you. It was my fault after all.”
“Yes, it was,” Kai said. “But you tried to fix it, and for that, I am proud of you.”
“I promise I won’t get into any more trouble, Kai,” I said. “My skills aren’t that useful anyway.”
“No, Mia, they are very useful. Your skills helped unlock the cage, sneak your way up the shelf, and steal Durzan’s wand! As long as you use your talents well, they will help you greatly.”
I stared at the sun slowly arising, marking the start of a new day.
“I’m just glad we came out alive,” I said.
“As am I,” Kai responded. The colours of the dawn sky reflected beautifully off her scales.
I snuggled up to Kai, feeling at peace as we both enjoyed the sunrise.
--- END ---
(This story is unedited)
Comment from Judges
I was fully immersed in the story and, despite the lack of setting, I loved the climax and mainly, the characters!