Subject Stars: Year 8 Creative Writing
Who doesn’t love a little bit of fantasy? Well, Year 8s do, that’s for sure! Recently, Year 8 authored some fantastic stories (also known as epics). They had to feature a fantastical/Sci-Fi story line, with a quest, a monster, and a reward. The students had total creative control over what they wrote about, but it had to feature a set of images. Then, at the end, there was a showcase that allowed the students to share their stories. After, they voted for who had the best story. These selected individuals became the finalists – an elite group of creative writers who shared their stories to the whole class. Through the stringent judgement of the entire class, one finalist would appear with two golden tickets and the title of “Winner” …
We asked Ms. Wilson, Year 8 English teacher, to answer some questions on this competition; here were her responses:
What is the work your student was doing?
The pupils in 8 Angelou had been working on their Fantasy story Epic since the beginning of Spring term; each lesson adding a new section with the challenge of incorporating a picture to become part of their story.
Why were they doing the work?
To practice creative writing in preparation for a large focus on creative writing in year 10 and 11.
Why did you choose your students' work?
These students' work exemplified the dedicated ethos to the fantasy theme, having a thoughtful and thorough plot as well as using high level vocabulary and interesting abstract description.
We also interviewed the chosen finalists, here were their responses:
I found the work fun because I could explore different methods of writing stories and focusing on the magical and supernatural. I found it challenging to stick to a fantasy structure because you have to write about a main character having a monster to defeat and having a magical object to overcome the monster. However, it was nice to try something new. I was really excited about being chosen because I love writing stories and am thrilled to have mine published in the BARK.
The work was fun as we added to the story each week and could really expand our ideas. I liked creating a character who could have an adventure with no limits. It was challenging to write a fantasy piece because it is a new style of writing for me. It is also a long piece, so I had to remind myself to maintain the tone and feeling throughout.
I am happy to have my work published because I spent a lot of time working on it.
Without further ado, here are their fantastic stories! Congratulations, they are fantastic!
The Lost Map
BY ANNA G
It felt like a normal day. Nothing strange. Nothing different. Or so that is was what I thought. Yet, once I reached the bottom of the staircase, I knew otherwise. Everything was gone. No furniture. No riches. I hurriedly ran to my father’s study. Empty. The room which was been abundant with life was now left deserted and had been stripped down to its skeleton.
As I was about to leave the room, a single piece of paper caught my eye. I quickly stumbled towards it and plucked it form the air.
The writing on the sheet read:
They are coming for you.
Last night Juan seized me from my room.
Don’t be scared.
I will see you again soon.
I quickly folded the letter and shoved it in my pocket. I knew I would have to do something. I couldn’t let them get away with this.
I grabbed my backpack from next to the stairs and quickly ran out of the house. In confusion, I turned right, left, then right again until I eventually reached the main road. The entire time, however, I could sense something was off. Something had happened. It wasn’t only our family who were in danger.
Boom! Crash! I screamed and dived behind a dustbin. What had happened? Was I going to die? I slowly peered around the bin to see what the commotion was about. And then I saw it. The tall masculine creature. A troll. But I wasn’t worried. If I had learnt anything from my father, it was to stay calm.
“You can’t do it. It’s so much bigger and stronger than you!”, a tiny voice in my head said.
“You’ll get hurt or you’ll be a wimp and run away.”
“You know it. It’s happened so many times before. Your mind blanks, or whatever you want to call them. And this time you haven’t got anyone to save you!”, it continued.
It was right. I couldn’t do this alone. I would die fighting. There was no point even trying. I slowly crept away. What would I do now? I had no Plan B.
Then, from nowhere, a carriage being pulled by two reindeer halted in front of the large boulder I was now hiding behind. Two men dressed heavily in black cloaks stepped out and started to speak. It was at that moment, that I recognised the voice of my uncle, Juan.
“Where do we take them?” he muttered coldly under his breath.
“Take them down to the water, deep where no-one will find them”, the other man said gruffly.
“What do we do with Martin?” my uncle asked coolly.
“Take him there too”, came the reply.
Martin was my father. My mind raced. “What were they going to do with him?”
Before I could answer the question, a plan sparked into my head. And that is how I decided to leave my home and everyone I had ever known, to save my dad.
The forest was alive with mysterious noises. Creaks and howls filled the night sky. I found myself in a small opening. Alone.
I had clambered on to the back of the carriage and hidden under one of the vast black cloaks. After what felt like hours, I jumped off and was left standing in the forest, with nothing but the letter and a small bag containing water and snacks. What was I supposed to do now? I was torn. Should I settle down for the night or go in search of my father before it was too late?
The deafening sounds of galloping hooves interrupted my thoughts, before screeching to a halt right in front of me. The rider lifted their hat to reveal their identity. I stumbled back in disbelief. It was Sally, my cousin and Juan’s daughter. Dread rose from the tips of my toes, moving steadily through my body, with the realisation that I may have walked straight into a trap.
“Ornella? What are you doing here?” Sally shrieked.
“I would like to know the same about you” as my baffled reply.
“I’ve come to save the prisoners”, she said, avoiding eye contact.
“Me too”, was all I could manage.
I knew she hated her father, so I didn’t question her. We agreed to work together, with a silent nod. Without waiting, I jumped up behind her and clung desperately to the saddle.
We galloped past ominous pine trees who were whispering secrets to each other. The carpet of fallen leaves crunched under the heavy hooves. I looked up to see the moon; warm and full. It stared back in reassurance.
A sudden jolt engulfed me as a burning sensation filled my pocket and I found the letter glowing inside. I turned it over and a map was slowly revealed in front of us.
“This is the “lost” map”, Sally gasped.” Islanders have been looking for this for hundreds of years.”
The magical map showed the location of every islander. My eyes scanned it for my father and eventually focussed on where he was shown. We knew where we had to go and set off with renewed energy.
Hours passed and then we were drawn to the low sound of voices nearby. I think the conversation was about what to do next, but the words were alien to me. I didn’t understand them – no child would. With my lack of understanding, I zoned out and my thoughts took over once again. “What if Father is angry that I came for him?”, “Would I get hurt or even killed before I see him again?”
Sally’s voice shook me out of my trance. “Are you coming, or do you want to let our people die?”. Still unable to speak, I shook my head and we continued on our journey.
As we ventured onwards, guided by our faithful map, Sally explained about the hushed voices. They belonged to her father and the old lady who lived down our road, Gwen. They were discussing my father how that he needed to be killed. Shaking, I’m not sure whether I was more shocked by the fact that my father was wanted dead or that sweet old Gwen was in fact evil all this time.
We galloped on the hedge-lined tunnel until we encountered light. Sally dismounted swiftly and elegantly. I slid out of control and fell to the ground with a thunderous thud. We were able to peer through the hedge and were greeted by the sight of my father sitting by a fire. Somehow, I managed to control the excitement bubbling up inside me. A barbed wire fence stood between us and filled me with despair. We were so close, yet still could not see how to reach him. The familiar searing heat exploded by my hand, signalling to me to take the map from my pocket. Desperate for guidance, it once again showed the path to my father.
Sally and I followed it cautiously, careful not to leave the shadows until we got to the fire and the hunched figures around it.
I picked a leaf - simple but beautiful - and used it to signal silently to him. It worked. The gentle waving drew his eyes in our direction, and he let out a gasp at what he saw. I beckoned him to come over and he needed no encouragement. He nodded instantly and crawled towards us and the hole in the fence.
Once through to safety, we all ran back towards Sally’s horse, thinking it was our escape. The burning was different this time - warm and comforting. I looked up in disbelief, as a magic carpet appeared in salvation. I climbed aboard with my father and was immediately drenched with relief. His smile showed me that he felt the same. Beneath us, Sally galloped off and I knew we would meet her later. We would not need a map. My thoughts turned to Juan.
“Where was he?”. “What was he planning to do next?”. As the glow from my pocket radiated like a beacon, I was consumed by a sense of peace. Everything would be fine. The reindeer and magic carpet had come to my rescue, and I had found the lost map. Most importantly, I knew that Juan would never appear on it.
By Imogen Ho
BANG! BANG! The gunshots echoed breaking the calm and tranquil silence. The smoke wafted through the smell of cooking bread and stew; terrorising anyone who smelt it. Heads turned as the thundering of hooves grew slowly louder. People cried as the cloud of dust arose on the horizon. The sounds of screams could be heard as the enemy advanced on us. We all knew what this was, we were under attack.
Looking back over my shoulder, I saw my childhood, my family and my home, engulfed in flames. The smell of burning filled my nostrils and tears streamed down my face. Smoke billowed off thatch rooves as the memories of happiness were burnt before my very eyes. I heard the screaming for family and loved ones even though we all knew it was too late. Sweat trickled down my forehead as the inferno crept ever closer to me. I knew it would show no mercy in devouring me just as it had done to the rest of my village. Why would it spare my life if hundreds had already been lost? The smell of burnt corpses and the sounds off gunshots brought me back to the present. I stumbled away and turned back for one last look. I peered through a clump of trees to see my past one more gaze before it was lost forever. Never to be seen again. Just a memory in mind.
“Scienta, Scienta, Scienta,” an anxious voice was calling. I turned around to see my twin brother Akatos. His long black hair had been slighted singed and he had a burn mark on his left arm but apart from that he seemed fine. I dodged past an elderly couple, Gwen and Juan, the village’s chiefs, and hugged Akatos. I had never been so happy to see my troublesome and mischievous brother in my life. We stood there in an awkward silence; not knowing where to start. “Where is Lili,” he asked. We both stared into each other eyes the same bright green eyes and yelled. I screamed at him for not taking Lili when we left the village, and he screamed the same thing back at me. “We killed Lili,” I sobbed. I thought about my little baby sister who not even been two. Her lovely smile and infectious giggle would never be seen again. With Lili and Mum gone as well, we were truly on our own.
The realisation of being an orphan hadn’t sunk in yet. I remembered all the fun memories we had enjoyed together but then regretted it because my life would never be the same. Me, Akatos and the rest of our village journeys towards the North where we could hopefully find shelter and hospitality. Gradually, the sand-coloured path changed an overgrown forest. “You are sure where we’re going?” I asked Akatos. He reassured me and told me that he totally knew where we were, and he knew this route like the back of his hand. However, I could hear a slight edge of panic to his voice.
As we journey on further into the forest, I began to feel anxious. There was an eerie silence which was only filled with our trudging footsteps. The trees loomed ahead and looked almost threatening, reading to strike out at any moment. The smell of pine trees was overpowered with something that I couldn’t quite place my finger on. I turned back to see shadows that danced in the patches of moonlight. Suddenly, it was all too much. I turned to Akatos and pleased him to let us turn back. I suggested he could go and find the rest of our village, but we had lost them hours ago. It was no hope. Without warning, a twig snapped, and I screamed for help. “Haha got you there,” laughed Akatos. “It’s not funny you know,” I replied haughtily. “You should have seen your face. Ooh, ooh. Maybe it’s a troll coming to eat you or a magician to transport you back into the past,” Akatos jeered at me. Ugh brothers, I thought.
Then I noticed something on the forest floor. It was gold, I was sure of that. I kneeled down and picked it up. It was a necklace but different to the ones from home. I opened the oval-shaped locket to reveal a small, velvet bag of dust. However, it wasn’t normal dust, it was a dark magenta colour and sort of shimmered when I picked it up. “Hurry up slow coach,” Akatos called. I ran to catch up with him and he almost jumped out of his skin. He tried to speak but no words could come out. He pointed at my hand and when I looked down, I was as equally as surprised as him. My hand had gone. I could still feel it but just not see it. My tunic stopped just below my wrist and then there was nothing. I briefly explained to Akatos that I found a golden necklace with a pink powder that could make me turn invisible. I showed him the necklace and he seemed oddly interested. He kept turning it over in his hands and when he showed it to me, we both knew how valuable this thing was. Amor. Spes. Fortis. Love Hope. Brave Those were the three words that defined the alliance between all the clans. That was what the world was like before war, power and jealousy. That had been over 300 years ago. How long had this necklaced been here?
I put the necklace on and continued walking. The sun had just started to rise and the hues of red, orange and yellow were swirled together like paint on a canvas. We turned the corner and tripped over a small twig. I fell face first onto a puddle of muddy water. As I spat out the water and pushed myself up. I noticed that my hand appeared back again. “Akatos, look at this,” I showed him my visible hand and he told me that water would make me visible again.
We continued walking until we came into a clearing. There sight filled me with terror, and I turned to my brother to see if he was alright. We could see a few huts but mostly it was filled with workers. However, the sight that creeped me out the most was the pile of dead bodies. I could see men, woman, children and they were from our village. As I looked away, something caught my eye. It was a little girl curled up on the ground. She had brown, frizzy hair just like Lilli but the thing that startled me the most was the pained and terrified expression on her face. I knew that face, and I knew my little sister. I had this sudden feeling to run to Lilli, but I knew it would never work. We would be shot before we had even got near her. Then, everything in the village froze as a man walked out. He had bloodshot eyes and an expression that said, ‘if you do anything wrong, I will shoot you before you can even apologise.’ He shouted something in a foreign language that I couldn’t understand but all I could understand was the word ‘burn.’ “They are going to burn the bodies,” I cried helplessly to Akatos. “I know, and then they are going to do everything again. Find. Kill. Burn. That’s what they are going to do to all the villages,” Akatos replied without looking at me. “I know what I have to do,” I said feeling determined now.
I opened the necklace and poured the pink powder over me. I dodged past dogs, donkeys and someone almost run me over with their horse. Obviously, they couldn’t see me; I was invisible now. I ran into a hut but to my disappointment, it was empty. I was just about to leave when three men entered. I slid behind a sack that was filled with sharp bladed knives. The man sat down and started talking in the same foreign language they had done before outside. I couldn’t understand anything they were saying but I knew it wasn’t good. The leader was opposite me, and the other two men were witting right in front of me. Just next to me, there was a sack of knives which I stared at. I could just imagine the poor innocent lives that they would take with them. Cautiously, I picked one up. It glinted in the light as I ran my finger over it, a small cut appeared with blood oozing out of it. I knew what I had to. I was about to swing the knife into one of the men’s head until I froze. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it but then I thought about my family, my village and all the people that would die from these three men. Without thinking, I stabbed a knife into one of the men’s head. I heard a crunch as I got to the bone and then lifted it up and plunged it into his back. I didn’t know what had gotten into me but deep down, I knew it was revenge.
The leader stood up and yelled. I mean probably would have done the same if it was me. The other man was just looking at his dead friend with a face of horror and shock. I sprinted across the hut and plunged the knife into his stomach. The leader said something but this time it was on my language. “You think you so clever, don’t you?” he laughed. Suddenly, he threw a bucket of water over me, and I knew I had been tricked. “How did you know?” I asked. “You and your brother won’t be having such a nice day after all,” he replied in a sarcastic tone. Just like that I had been caught. Ally my ideas and plans ruined. The leader instructed me to go over to another hut and a guard led me there. I was guided to a hut, similar to the one before except it was bare. There was nothing at all in the hut apart from a wooden pole in the centre where I was tied to. My hands and feet were tied with a coarse rope. After the guard left, I was on my own. It gradually began to get dark outside, and I could hear shouting from the distance. I looked down at the ropes which bound me together and felt hopeless. I struggled to try and get out but failed pathetically. I looked around; desperately trying to find a way out. On the floor of the hut, I was a stone that looked sharp enough to cut the rope with. I dragged the stone around until I could just about reach it with my hands. I picked it up and started sawing at the rope. I immediately found a weakness in it and began cutting it like I was possessed. After what felt like hours, I felt a snag in the rope, and it fall loose under my grasp. Cutting the rope around my feet was a lot easier and finally I was free. I jumped up and ran towards the exit of the hut. There was a guard outside, but he seemed to be asleep. Better safe than sorry I thought as I punched his head into a metal pole. He would probably be unconscious for another few hours.
I dashed away from the hut and behind another one. I saw lots of people sitting around a fire. They were talking, laughing, eating and doing what normal people would do. I poured the last of the magic powder over me and ran out into a clearing. I was so shocked and terrified to find my brother already there. He was creeping behind one of the men and I knew what he was going to do. He was going to push one of them into the fire but that wasn’t the chief he was going to push. I tried to grab his attention, but it was useless, I was invisible. Akatos pushed a man into the fire and there was a scream as he fell into it and a ‘hiss’ as the fire engulfed him. The rest of his clan turned towards Akatos as he stepped back apprehensively.
Then there was complete chaos as people screamed, fought and fled. I ran towards the scene as the clouds rolled in and the sky grew darker – I knew it was going to rain. Raindrops splashed on me as I felt myself turning visible again. I ran over to Akatos where the fire had been, “Akatos, wake up,” I cried desperately. After all we had been through together, I couldn’t lose him. I turned around to see the chief and instantly froze. He glared at me and drew his knife back. He brought it down – aiming at my heart. However, I had been a bit too quick for him and dodged out of the way. He chased after me and I ran into a hut. He looked at me and smiled. “Well, well, well. Looks like somebody has got themselves into a bit of trouble,” he said in a menacing voice. I tensed, he was about to stab his knife into me when he stopped and fell backwards. I saw a pool of blood appear and I heard a satisfying ‘crunch’ as I broke his nose. I turned back to see my twin brother standing and holding a blood covered knife. “You did it!” I cried with joy. I was so sure he was going to be dead but here he was.
We both walked out of the hut and ran towards where our little sister was lying. She was still lying curled up as I knelt beside her. Unexpectedly, she opened her eyes and sat up. “Lilli, what happened?” I whispered but I didn’t care. I was just so sure that we wouldn’t see her again. We all struggled up and wandered towards the forest. We stumbled onto the overgrown path and after everything we had been through, I wondered if happy ever after would find us.