Posted in The Winners!

FABO Story Report for Competition 4 judged by Weng Wai Chan

Thank you to everyone who entered this fortnight’s Fabo Story competition. I really enjoyed reading your stories and seeing what your imaginations came up with. There were mermaids, pirates, all kinds of sea creatures, as well as time travel, portals and levitating frogs. Ash and/or Ash’s friend came to a nasty end a few times too.

Some of you made me laugh, like the following entries:

Makere Cowie-Beaufort This sentence was not only funny but showed us how Ash felt about a girl he’d just met, without needing to tell us directly (a great example of subtext) Ash kept patting down his messy bronze hair and turning slightly pink at the sight of her.

Sophie Strugnell I felt like I was in some horrible travesty of the Princess and the Pea story.

Mattie Lang I feel the portal reach out to me and suck me in like you would suck soup through a straw.

Katie Lee Was this real? Was I dreaming? A levitating frog with a southern accent had just greeted me. I began to question everyone’s existence, including my own.

Jessica Mclean We ended up being famous. But we got two day detention afterwards.

There were some great animals and hybrid animals:

Maite BriderI-it’s a cat with a human head!!!’

Alexander Cooke and the octoshark.

Toko Achiwa Suddenly, there was a whispered croak, like the sound of a bullfrog with a sore throat. 

There were also some wonderful descriptions:

Kate Ye A great whip of seaweed hair smacked Ash straight into the water.

Gia The water got darker, like a pool of octopus ink.

Guy Deans-Emerys The fog rolled away like a car parked without the brakes on.

Abi Crowley Now we were in some kind of large grotto, covered with luminescent rocks that gave off a spooky glow.

Lachy’s story showed some great problem solving ideas, including using a watch to flash sunlight to catch the attention of a passing ship’s captain.

There were some terrific endings, like the fish-people who came to a bad ending through their own devices in Tim Zhao’s story: The underwater city exploded and Ash saw the explosion. “Look at that”, says Ash. “It was probably those bombs they made”, I say.

Bill Kelly’s story was a rollicking yarn of ghostly pirates versus an enormous whale, which ended with this great line: Was this what our teachers meant by school camp pushing us out of our comfort zones?

My two winners are:

Junior winner: Kahlan Allen (Aged 10) Kahlan’s story had an exciting beginning, an interesting middle and a lovely ending.

Senior winner: Indigo Kelly (Aged 13) Indigo’s story was imaginative, poignant and beautiful, yet had an ending that made me laugh.

Well done Kahlan and Indigo!

Weng Wai’s Story Starter: An Unusual Situation

I could tell Ash was feeling awkward, but I didn’t know why. Maybe it was just from being the new kid at school. Now wasn’t the time to talk about it though, as the waves were getting worryingly high. They sloshed over the side, making a puddle that was getting deeper every minute. It was getting really windy too. We were in a two-person kayak and getting further away from the beach with every gust of the wind. The other kids seemed to have made it back to land okay, but not us.

‘I’m never going on a school camp again,’ I groaned. ‘It was fine and sunny a minute ago. Where did that huge cloud come from?’

‘Let’s head for that island,’ said Ash, who now seemed less uncomfortable than before. I looked up and saw what looked like a rock with a palm tree sticking out of it. What worried me the most was that the tiny island was the only thing between us and the enormous, heaving, grey expanse that was the Tasman Sea.

I really hoped Ash was good at coping with unusual situations, especially as something appeared just next to us that was totally weird.

Kahlan’s Winning Story

 I realised what was in the water. A colossal squid! This was way unusual. Colossal Squid just about never come up from the midnight zone! It seemed frightened, and I didn’t know why. That’s when a strong current started pulling us toward the island. We leaned over the side of the kayak, and before we knew what was happening, it tipped. We fell face first into the murky water, right where the colossal squid had just squirted ink! My life jacket slipped off, and I panicked, and started to sink. I didn’t know how to swim! “Kat! Hold on!” Ash called. I gripped his arm, and with strong strokes, we made it to the island. Surprisingly alive. I could see a mark on Ash’s arm, where I had gripped onto him, and instantly felt guilty. “Sorry about that,” I said. pointing at his arm. “Don’t worry,” he said. Then, his face fell. “Do you feel that?” he asked. I had already felt it before he had asked. The island was rocking, side to side, and as it rose out of the water, we realised it wasn’t an island at all. It was a giant sea turtle, waking up from his late morning nap. He shook, and with great force, we went plummeting into the sea. Then, everything went black.

I woke up in a strange place. Ash hurriedly swam over to me. Wait, swam? We’re underwater. I have so many questions! “What? Why can I br-?” ”Hold up Kat! You know that myth about shipwrecks we read at school?” he asked. “ Yeah, But what’s that got to do with anything?” “Well, I’ve got somebody I would like you to meet.” He said. As Ash stepped aside, a small figure swam forward. She had long curly hair, and beautiful blue eyes. She wore a short purple T-shirt, and below that, she had a long green tail. She was a mermaid. A real mermaid! I blinked and rubbed my eyes. I thought I’d gone mad! “ Hi,” she said. “ I’m Lily. It’s great that you’re awake. You passed out for 47 minutes, you know.” I stared at her, mouth open. “Oh. Hi Lily. I’m Kat. Sorry, but where are we?” I asked, still completely shocked. “ We’re at my home,” replied Lily. “Cool.” I said. An awkward silence followed. “ Do you know how we could get home?” I asked. “Hmm… Let’s ponder it over tea shall we?” We agreed. We hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast.

The only thing Lily had was seaweed biscuits. We also had some peppermint tea. We pondered some ideas. Suddenly, Lily said, “Turtle!” Turtle? Lily realised our confused expressions, and said, “ The one who got you down here? He can make portals, and his name is Henry!” She made a whistling sound and then there was thumping. “Hello Lily. What do you need?” Henry boomed.” I met some friends. Can you help them get home to cabin 11 at Camp Remu?” “Umm… sure, just a moment.” He closed his eyes and a tornado appeared. “When he opens his eyes, step into the tornado.” Lily said. “Thank you so much for all your help Lily.” Ash said. We held hands, and stepped into the tornado. Ash was no longer the new kid at school. He was my friend.

Indigo’s Winning Story

Beside us a swirling tornado of sea was levitating slowly into the air. It whirled like a spinning top, strange mirages flashing with each rotation.

Suddenly a wave, the color of dirty sea glass crashed into us violently, spilling us into the centre of the malicious maw.

We whirled around wildly like clothes set on spin cycle, and when we were finally spat out like driftwood washed ashore in the tide, I realised that we were in an underwater cave.

Hundreds of abandoned things floated gently in an eerie cemetery. Some were rusted beyond recognition, algae coating the curves of the plastic digger, and seaweed tangling in the hair of the barbie mermaid.

In the corner stood an old-fashioned gramophone. It curved like a scallop shell from a decaying wooden base, and coppery rust coated the rim, the colour of wrinkled sunsets.

“Welcome to the cave of the lost.” The voice came from the gramophone, harsh and roughened at the edges, sand grating raw on a tearful throat.

“Why are we here?” Ash stammered, voice watery and indistinct.

“You, Ash, are a lost thing.” The gramophone boomed. “You escaped my clutches once, but you won’t do….” it abruptly cut off and began spouting The Wedding March. “Ahem” the rattling contraption cleared its throat and the cheerful bells ground to a resigned halt. “…do so again. I am the Curator of the Carelessly Misplaced Curiosity Collection, commanded by the sea itself. And you, my boy, are a curiosity.”

“No, no, no, no. It’s not true!” Ash started to back away.

The voice chuckled and the gramophone appeared to shake with suppressed laughter,

“Parents killed tragically at sea, now an orphan, living in a foster home. I’d say you were pretty lost.”

Ash appeared to curl into himself, like a catseye inside its shell.

“You’re right.” he muttered, almost to himself, “I was careless. I lost them.”

The gramophone released another long, low chuckle, “The sea wants you back my boy. You can’t hide forever. As for you,” the gramophone pivoted towards me, “I suppose you’re a bit of a curiosity too. A matching pair!” The gramophone jiggled ecstatically and started to play a victory march. But I had had enough.

“Lost things can be found again!” I yelled, suddenly furious, “Just because someone might have forgotten who they are doesn’t mean they can’t find their way back.”

The gramophone appeared startled. The victory march peetered peevishly out into silence. “You collect curiosities, don’t you?” I was almost screaming, “Well maybe you should start being curious about where they came from and who’s missing them.”

With every word Ash seemed to grow a little taller, a little bolder, like a pearl in fast-forward, metamorphosing from a simple grain of sand to a treasure as imperfectly scarred and beautiful as the moon.

“We’ll adopt you.” I told him, more quietly, “No-one is ever truly lost because kindness is the map to being found again.”

The gramophone appeared to be dribbling tears.

“So, so touching.” it sniffled emphatically, “I’ll return you to the surface.”

In a burst of light we landed back in our kayak. The sun was shining, and the sky was forget-me-not blue.

From far, far below us I heard an echoey voice,

“Could someone please get me a tissue?”

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