Last term, some year 8 students at Keswick School were asked to write a short story called 'The Mistake' with a view to entering the National Short Story Competition. They were told that the best entry from the school would win a prize. Below are the top three stories. Please read them and vote for your favourite by Friday 17th January 2014. The winner will be announced on this site.
Glentrees was the best mountain biking trail centre in the UK and was where Dad had brought me today. Awesome! I had been pestering him for ages to take me there and today was my lucky day, a birthday treat!
As we arrived, the car park was heaving, everyone as keen as us to get going. I was beyond excited. Dad however was concerned that we were late getting started because of traffic. So, we raced up to ‘Berm Baby Berm’ an epic track. Dad then asked, “Do you want to go down ‘Spooky Wood’?” It was the sort of trail that once you’ve done it, you’d want to do it again and again.
“What do think?” I grinned, showing my inner dare-devil.
At the top dad shouted, already having set off, “Are you ready?”
I screamed “YEEESSS!”
The track twisted and turned and we jumped and whipped our way to the bottom, not even noticing just how ‘spooky’ the wood was. Exhilarated and hyped-up we made our way back up and went again, only this time faster!
By now it had started to get dark but I wanted to go up Spooky Wood one more time. Dad was worried about the fading daylight and us not having any lights, but pester power paid off again. On the way up dad said, “If we carry on up this forest track it’ll get us to the top quicker.”
So we took the short cut. On the way up everything started to look different, like it had changed somehow in the past hour. The wood looked like a whole other world, it was like a scene out of a horror film; branches began to look like witches fingers and blown over trees like swamp monsters.
On the last big climb Dad forgot to change gear and tried to in the middle of the climb. His chain snapped under the extra pressure and he had to push his bike the rest of the way. When we reached the top, he grumbled grumpily, “It might take a while to fix.”
He still wasn’t done after about half an hour and I got a bit impatient and said “I’ll have a look around the woods.” I walked into the woods, dark at the best of times and now pitch black. After a few minutes of wandering, I heard a voice in front of me. I walked towards it. I heard another from around the same place. Curious, I kept on walking. As I got nearer the voices I saw the silhouette of a man with a shovel digging a hole and another with a suspiciously big silver barrel bearing a skull sign underneath which read’ TOXIC WASTE’. I heard one of the men talking on a ‘phone saying “Yeah, yeah, keep your hair on, we’re burying it right now.”
I felt a shudder of fright go through me like an icicle running down my back. What should I do? Run? I knew what they were doing wasn’t right but they were too many of them for me to confront them. I remembered my phone. I began filming them, creeping closer and closer, all the time hardly daring to breathe. My mistake was in getting too close because all of a sudden, ‘SNAP!’ I had trodden on a twig. My life was just about to get a whole lot worse!
All of the men turned their heads at once and shouted “Get him!” Out of fright and without realising it, I dropped my phone. I ran faster than I ever had. On reaching Dad, who had fortunately fixed his chain, I yelled in panic, “We’ve got to go! Now!” Realising something had happened, Dad jumped on his bike and set off rapidly. Breathlessly I tried to explain what had happened.
Behind us all we could hear was the engines of the men’s quad bikes squealing. Dad and I had to pick up the pace if we were going to beat them to the bottom. Spooky Wood was living up to its name. There was no enjoyment to be had here only pure panic and terror at what might happen.
When we finally reached the deserted car park, breathless but relieved, I reached for my phone to call the police, only to realise I didn’t have it. “Dad, its gone – my phone and the film. What are we going to do?” Without too much talking we decided to head to Peebles, the nearest town. As we reached the roads, we realised that the men on the quads had to slow down.
We found the police station and I managed to blurt out what I thought was a reasonable explanation to a very confused looking policeman. “Ok lad, I think I follow you but without evidence there’s not much I can do,” he explained. I was gutted. I noticed Dad was staring at my helmet. He pointed, saying “Charlie, your Go-Pro camera. Was it switched on?”
“Yeah, that’s one mistake I didn’t make!”
It was a nice, quiet morning. The alarm rang. On and on and on.
Finally, I decided to wake up.
I started to get dressed, clean my teeth.
The breakfast is on the table, just put it in the microwave and heat up for 30 seconds, we had to go to work, we will come back on Friday. A little piece of note was stuck on the fridge.
So I had the breakfast, and started to go to school.
“Weird” I thought, there wasn’t anyone at school. I looked at my watch, I could hear tick, tock , tick ,tock. But then I realized, the time on my watch remained the same.
I decided to go home. I was walking over a bridge when suddenly, I felt someone push me from behind and I fell over the bridge, and I lost consciousness.
When I woke up, I looked at myself, my shirt was torn, my feet had lots of wounds but covered by mud. It was really painful for me to walk.
I saw trees everywhere, I might have landed in a forest. I looked at my watch again, the time was still the same. I cried, I prayed, l did everything I could do, but still, the time was still the same.
In the meanwhile, I was very hungry, although there were animals, but how can I eat them? It would be very disgusting to eat wild animals, so I picked up the fruits on the trees and put them in my mouth. (It might be poisonous, I didn’t care.)
Suddenly, there were a huge python creeping toward me. I started to run and run and run. But there was a rock in front of me and I didn’t see it, it knocked me down. The huge python was 1 metre behind me, I hoped I could get up but I couldn’t. I was too scared.
And soon, the python was next to me, it opened its giant mouth and prepared to eat its new prey.
It started to swallow my legs and my arms, it was painful, the blood spread out everywhere, when it nearly swallowed half of my body, I couldn’t feel any pain. At last, only my head was left on the ground.
Weeks later, I woke up suddenly, I looked at my body. “Everything is still here” I murmured, with thanks.
In one month, I tried to get away from this forest, but I couldn’t. I really missed my family, my friends.
Years past, I was still there. I did not get any older. But I‘ve learnt how to live without anyone’s help.
My family must miss me, but I’ve already gave up any hope because I knew I could never get ba
Ring ring ring. Susan picked up the phone.
“Hello who’s there?”
“Don’t worry, it’s just me darling” said an unfamiliar voice.
“What do you want?”
“Nothing my pumpkin. Just meet me outside Tesco at 12. Bring no one and don’t tell a soul.”
Susan looked at her watch. It was 11:58. She picked up her coat and ran.
When she got to Tesco there was no sign of any one. She turned to head back then something sharp and pointy tapped her on the back. She turned around; there stood the strangest creature Susan had ever seen and she gasped. It had thick brown fur and sharp finger nails it looked a bit like a human. It hissed at her. Its fangs gleaming in the moon light, it handed her some documents with do not open printed in big red letters. Then the thing vanished into thin air.
Susan was tired because of her late night. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t get to sleep. She kept thinking of the letter. She got it from under her pillow and opened it .
Inside the envelope was a map of the town. There were some strange letters written on the old sock factory. This made Susan curious, so she decided to go to the factory. Susan discovered that the factory was cold, damp and dark. In the left corner of the boiler room Susan found a pile of sweaty socks. She kicked them with her big toe to see if they moved. The pile was hard; Susan gave it a shove, a trap door opened with a creak to reveal a passage. She peered into the dark, dusty passage. Two red eyes gleamed. Susan tried to hold back a scream but she could hear her own scream in her ears. She slammed the door shut and ran. She didn’t know where but she just ran.
Susan ended up outside the local film rental. It was now 5:18am. Susan wanted to know more about the thing that gave her the papers. According to the films it was a boggle; the sworn enemy of all monsters.
“What are you doing here?” said an all too familiar voice. Susan turned to see her brother, Max. He must have heard her leave the house and had followed her.
“I’ll tell you what happened if you promise not to tell Mum or Dad?”
“Ok” said Max.
“I found the entrance to a cave where there are monsters.” Susan babbled. Max looked at her in disbelief and simply said ”liar”. Susan quickly retorted “Well I’ll take you there and then you’ll see that I am not a liar”
Susan explained to Max the plan; they were to get into their Halloween costumes, tell their parents that they had been invited to a Halloween party, then they would go to the factory and Susan would show Max what she had discovered.
Mum and Dad did not even look up from the TV when they wished Susan and Max a nice evening. The evening light was beginning to fade when Max and Susan arrived at the factory, but the factory loomed out of the murky night like a bad elephant. The children entered the factory; they went straight to the boiler room. Susan took Max to the pile of sweaty socks in the corner and showed him what she had discovered. Max and Susan peered into the dark passage, Max began to loose his footing, in a panic he grabbed at Susan and before they knew it they were falling into the unknown.
They landed with a thud, when they shook their heads they were dazzled by the light; it was hard to focus due to the glare. As their eyes adjusted to the brightness they realised the light was coming from thousands of street lights. Max looked at Susan. “Surely those are not the town’s lights?” Susan merely gave a nod of the head and swallowed hard.
Suddenly a big red hairy monster eating monster munch crisps appeared before them. Max and Susan’s chins dropped to the floor and their eyes were as big as dinner plates. “Go on through” said a gruff voice.
Max and Susan obeyed the monster, too gobsmacked to argue. What opened up before them was a replica of their town, but in some kind of yellowy brown texture. They reached out to touch it, surely not! It appeared to be made of ear wax. They shared a look of disgust, Max felt the sick rising in his throat but quickly swallowed it. They walked on. Before them was a canal of worms. At the edge of the canal were figures gorging themselves on the worms. The figures seemed to be teachers of every kind –English teachers, Science teachers and the worst sort, Maths teachers but dotted amongst these teachers were monsters of all shapes and sizes.
“Go on eat up,” said an English teacher. A shiver of disgust ran through their bodies but they were too terrified to disobey. Max took a worm, closed his eyes, held his nose and put the worm in his mouth and swallowed the best he could. Immediately the contents of his stomach emptied into the canal. The monsters looked up from their feast and yelled “Human!” The monsters lurched towards them. Max and Susan ran. The chase was on. Max and Susan searched for somewhere to hide but there was no where under the bright lights. They could feel the breath of the monsters on their necks. Susan saw a gap and made a dash for it; she squeezed past the guard and made it out of the passage way to the safety of the factory. Max ran on in desperation, but the monsters were closing in on him. One of the bigger monsters opened his jaw wide and pounced on Max, swallowing him whole.
Susan returned home. How would she explain this to her parents?