Summer Stars Short Story Competition 2020
Congratulations to Alison Keegan and Sara Macieja who were finalists in the 15-18 age category of the ‘Summer Stars’ 2020 national short story competition. The theme for the competition was ‘An Unexpected Adventure’ and each story could contain a maximum of 500 words. You can read Alison and Sara’s stories below.
Frozen in Time
by Alison Keegan
Lucy walked alongside the Doctor, past where her twin, Edith, was encased in liquid nitrogen, frozen. The Doctor was eager to show Lucy how the system worked. Scientists and Doctors were running to and fro, ensuring the wellbeing of the clients. Bright white lights illuminated everything, and the smell of disinfectant was everywhere. Tall, white cylinders lined both sides of small passageways, making little corridors of the otherwise cavern of a room. Lucy and the Doctor were walking on a raised metal walkway, which was hoisted up by chains attached to the ceiling. Lucy could see the freshly polished floor through the little square holes in the mesh.
‘’Cryogenics is commonly seen as when people freeze themselves to be unfrozen in the future,’’ the Doctor explained. ‘’Many, like your sister, have terminal illnesses, and plan on being unfrozen whenever a cure is made. Edith is in safe hands here.’’ They ceased walking as he gestured out to the many canisters, which housed the clients. Lucy placed her hands along the cool rails, and looked back to where she knew Edith would be for a long, long time to come.
‘’I’m going to miss her.’’ Lucy said, tears springing to her eyes. She couldn’t trust herself to speak again without crying hysterically. She looked over the rails, into an open canister being prepared for another client.
‘’This must be very difficult for you...’’ the Doctor started.
‘'She didn’t even show any symptoms of cancer! And all of a sudden she was in stage 4...’' Lucy stated hopelessly, the tears streaming down her face. ‘’She was all I had left, and now I'll never see her again’' She could feel the frustration building inside her. ‘’It’s not fair. IT’S NOT FAIR!!’’ She slammed her fists into the rails. Suddenly, two of the support chains gave way, dropping her half of the walkway. This sent her sliding down, and she fell with an undignified splash into the liquid nitrogen. Lucy could feel the cold closing in around her, as she began to freeze. For a moment, she could hear the muffled panic from the outside world. She didn't have a moment to think before everything went black.
Instantly, Lucy could feel warmth envelop her once again. She opened her eyes. Her vision was blurred, but the smell of disinfectant told her where she was. The Cryogenics lab. Two scientists greeted her.
The Scientists led Lucy to an office, where they sat on generic armchairs. As a test, they asked Lucy questions about herself. They already knew the answers, but asked them anyway to see how much she remembered.
‘’Today is September 11th, 2220. You have been frozen for 200 years.’’ explained a Scientist. ‘'Your sister Edith is alive, and well. She is waiting outside for you.’’
Instant joy filled Lucy. She couldn’t believe it. Edith told her all about the future, or rather their present, and how they would be able to live out their lives in this strange new place in time.
An Unexpected Adventure
by Sara Macieja
I wish that it wasn’t completely my fault. That somehow, my mother’s frantic warnings of ‘Do not ever visit the Willows Manor, even if invited’ were to blame for me doing so. That the rumors older than most of the buildings in our town about the Willows family caused this, or that allowing the Willow’s kids to attend the same classes as I did was the choice that spiraled into the start of this tragedy.
Everyone in the town knows that the Willows always had a special interest in gardening, and the fourteen-acre area surrounding their manor was more than enough to sustain such a noble hobby. Well, maybe not as noble nor good in this case. It is no secret that the Willow’s family had a fair share of poison-related incidents increasing with each passing generation, some deemed as murders, some as accidents. Yet all were caused by a rare and apparently hard to up-keep poisonous plant, that coincidentally was the biggest pride of the old Helen Willows. As if this fact isn’t enough to steer people away, every Spring when the Willows’ garden is in full bloom, the population of local cats seems to significantly decrease. It took the rest of the town years to understand that the beautiful lilies and oleanders were actually deadly to cats.
You’d think that me knowing all of this would be enough to avoid that place. Well, no. When Dylan and Lucy Willows invited me over to work on our assignments together I couldn’t decline. In fact, I thought that being kind to the outcast kids would earn me some safety from the fate met by a lot of people in the town.
All actually went smoothly until Dylan proposed to play a game. “It’s like a huge adventure, but re-sized to fit in the garden.” He beckoned, and I stupidly agreed. Little did I know that the ‘adventure game’ the Willows kids like to play is a deranged version of the Russian roulette. The kids made tea’s out of different herbs and plants in the garden and laid out all nine mugs on the backyard table.
“We’ll take turns.” Lucy insisted. “We’ll drink one each until all are gone, only one is somewhat harmful.” The girl giggled.
“And I’ll tell dad that you don’t want to play with us if you try to leave early.” Dylan added, seeing the fear in my eyes.
So here I am, a pink porcelain mug in my shaking hand as I hoped that it wasn’t Helen Willow’s lethal pride, and wondering if the Willows kids would actually risk their own health for the one-in-three chance of harming me, and doubted if there was any poison here at all.
A stray tear escaped my eye as I gulped the warm liquid. It was a refreshing citric flavour with a sweet aftertaste – lemon grass and honey, I remember that taste from the tea my mom makes. I sighed in relief, I’m alive. Just two more to go.