Here is 12 year old Isabella Sagar’s winning story:
The object at his feet glittered, even in the dim light beneath the trees. Jason held his breath as he leaned down and brushed the covering of soggy leaf-litter away. It was the eyes that sparkled, the greens, blues and pinks of inlaid paua shell looking alive, as if they were watching him. Yet the rest of it was a muted green. No wonder nobody had seen it. It mostly blended in with the vegetation. How long had it lain there? Where had it come from? Jason reached out to pick the patu up. His fingers grazed the hard stone, cool to the touch, but somehow alive, as if charged with an ancient energy. As his hand closed round the object, he felt a surge of power and images flashed through his mind…
…A whirlwind of faces, colours and names danced around him, moths to a flame. Jason reeled backwards, and fell to the earth. The musky, damp smell comforted him with a ghostly hug. All was eerily still. He peered at the patu. The greenstone surface was smooth and worn, glistening with fresh dew.
Glancing around at the surrounding forest, Jason’s heartbeat thudded unnervingly. The looming darkness seemed to embrace him. Branches crackled, animals snarled. He cupped the patu to his chest, the icy surface tickling his skin. Quivering, Jason got to his feet and ran to the mislaid bricks and unruly dandelions he called home.
The gate was left ajar, creaking sorrowfully in the night breeze. Jason slid through it, and slinked to the front door, easing it open silently. With a felines grace, he crept down the hallway and into his bedroom.
The butterscotch walls seemed to fold in on Jason as he examined the patu. It’s paua eyes glared relentlessly into his. It had an aura of prehistoric magic. Abruptly, a cool breeze kissed Jason’s face. The breeze became fiercer, lashing out at him until it became unbearable. A miniature hurricane rampaged around his bedroom. Wincing, Jason knew he had to return the patu to it’s rightful place. He shouldn’t have disturbed ancient energy. Racing down the weathered concrete path, he took a sharp right turn – into the forest.
Night creatures prowled through the darkness, and the trees danced with the wind, skeletal arms waving. The patu was making him start to hallucinate; Jason thought he had seen a wolf, king of the forest. When he got to the heart of the woods, he buried the patu under centuries of mud and stones. And took off into the darkness. He would leave it for someone more worthy to find it.
A century later, a young New Zealand boy was strolling the streets. He stopped, suddenly. Something had drawn him to this place. A bright flash of green caught his eye. Green was a special colour. His mother once told him about meadows of grass, bushes, flowers and trees. Nature had been plentiful then. Now, the world was smoggy gray.
He picked up a strange green paddle. It had intricate paua eyes which glared at him. Shrugging, he put it in his backpack and zipped it shut. He would examine it when he got home. There was something special about it.