Every year the English department challenges our Year 8 pupils to write a short story of no more than 500 words. This year’s very talented winners were Ella Moody and Connie Britton – their winning pieces are featured below:

Misplaced Loyalty
By Connie Britton Year 8

Part I

I stopped. The finger pointed directly at me. The eyes were glaring into my soul. It looked simple enough – just a man in uniform with a bushy moustache. But it burned with an intensity I could barely describe. I focused on the words to try and absorb the meaning: “JOIN YOUR COUNTRY’S ARMY!” The words seemed to scream at me, the bold, red letters bursting forward into my wide, astonished eyes. And underneath that, “GOD SAVE THE KING!” which brings out the patriotic drum in everyone. My brain raced backwards and forward. Go or stay. Hero or coward. Dead or alive. If I go and return I will be a hero, a saviour of my country. As I continued on my way, leaving the poster behind, the eyes followed me, the black and white eyes of this man, this soldier, this idol.

A couple of days later, I was outside the recruitment office. About 5th in the line. Although I was determined, I was really nervous, but the poster kept appearing in my mind like a nagging conscience. As the line shuffled forward, I fidgeted with my papers knowing that they were all a lie. I was not yet the required age to fight. Across the room, I watched as a mother sobbed her heart out, begging her twin sons not to sign up. But in their expressions I recognised the same sense of determination, patriotism and pride that burned inside me. I thought briefly of my own family and what was to come – the raised voices and the inevitable tears. I straightened my back to look taller and stronger as I walked forward when my name was called and sat down in front of a recruiting officer.

Part II

I stopped. As I stood outside my parents’ house, I felt like I barely recognised it. With the freshly painted walls and the familiar old, brown, mucky door. I knew there would be tears when I went in, but I was now 22 so I thought I could handle it like a man. The neat rows of houses leading down the street were definitely a change of scenery to the muddy, crowded trenches I was used to. Every night, as I would go to sleep, I would hear many different noises: the screaming of wounded soldiers, the crying of sad ones and the silence that was terrifying to all. We all knew what the silence meant. It meant something was going to happen and every time something happened it would always leave me at least one friend down.  I knew my mother would have so many questions about my life – what it was like at the front and what happened – and I knew I would have to tell her of the horrors of the war. And how I would ask her for news of the family and everything that had happened at home during these strange years of war.

After leaving the battlefield, I felt older and wiser because of all I had seen and done. Much of my experience was difficult to describe to my mother. It was too hard for her to imagine and impossible for her to understand, especially after what she and everyone at home had been told by our leaders. But I knew I had had true friends that were always by my side in battle. Now half these friends were there and half not. As I kept thinking, I knew that a lot of my friends wouldn’t have died if the battle plans had been smarter. Tears ran down my face. I realised I had put my faith in the wrong people. I had trusted that man in uniform with the glaring eyes and finger pointing at me, choosing me. I knew now that my loyalty was actually to those twins in the recruitment queue, all those years before. I wondered what had happened to them or what they were saying to their mother. The lie. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

One Last Shot
By Ella Moody Year 7

“Officer Montez,” came a strict voice from behind Michael. Michael spun around almost immediately. It was his boss, Chief Brodie. “You’re needed in my office,” he bellowed.

“Of course,” Michael said, only partly managing to hide the fear in his voice; what if he’d found out what Michael had done? He was led into the Chief’s office. He bit his lip nervously, forcing his trembling legs forward.

“So,” Chief Brodie began, “this is about the Emma Raynott investigation.” Michael’s heart sunk, his palms were sweaty, his mouth was dry. This is it, he thought. They’ve found out.

“Well, I just wanted to tell you, we now know the time of death was around…” Chief Brodie clicked his computer, “midnight to two am.” A calming wave of relief washed over Michael. “And we are now confident we will find her killer very soon.” Michael was too relieved to care about that worrying statement so he just smiled and nodded his head. “Thank you for informing me,” Michael said as he marched out of the office, full of energy.

Michael exhaled deeply as he spun around the corner into his office. His partner, Officer Emily Perez, was in there looking at something on the computer. “What’s that?” Michael asked signalling at the computer.

“A picture of the café where Emma was killed, just before midnight,” Emily said. As Michael shot across the room, all his worried emotions flooded back. He stared at the picture, unable to focus for a few seconds, then his vision came flooding back and he could see the shadowy figure standing outside the café.

“I don’t understand.” Michael could barely hear Emily’s voice but he could hear the notes of confusion and horror. The room fell silent and Michael was dreading what Emily would say next.

“Is that you?” Emily asked, her voice trembling; there was another pause as Michael planned what he would say next.

“No – that could be anyone” he finally muttered.

“Michael,” Emily began.

“I didn’t do it!” Michael shouted. Emily could hear the desperation in his voice and decided not to question him any longer. With a soothing smile, she left the office. Michael took a deep breath and thought.  He had only one chance – that night he would sneak into Chief Brodie’s office and dispose of any evidence pointing in his direction. He had no choice – he could not afford to be found out.

Finally, it was night time. Michael still hadn’t left the station. He waited – his panic increasing – until Chief Brodie left his office. At last the station was empty. He sprinted down the corridor into the office and paused in the doorway. Then he began his frantic search. Nothing. Exhausted, he sat on the desk chair and looked at the Chief’s computer. He saw a file labelled Emma Raynott. He was about to click on it when something stuck between the screen and the wall caught his eye. An evidence bag! He pulled it out, his hand trembling and he was shocked to find his phone! He hadn’t even realised it was missing. Had they been suspecting him this whole time? All Michael could feel was terror and betrayal. Suddenly the lights flicked on!

Michael turned around very slowly; he could barely control his movements because he was shaking so much. As he turned around he could made out two people in the door way – Chief Brodie and Emily.

“I don’t believe it,” gasped Chief Brodie. “Emily was right.” Michael hung his head low and he realized he was still holding the evidence bag.

“Why do you have my phone?” he muttered.

“Don’t be a fool, put it down” Chief Brodie boomed. Michael dropped the bag.

“Are you going to arrest me?” asked Michael quietly.

“We have no choice. Follow me,” the chief said firmly. Michael dragged his feet out of the office and his hand curled around his gun. But he had no time to shoot. Emily was faster.