★ The sixth FABO Story competition for 2021 has finished and author Elena De Roo is reading your entries. She will announce a winner on this website in the next few days.
★ The seventh FABO Story competition for 2021 has started and author Maureen Crisp has written a story starter. Finish the story your way, and enter now!
1. Read the story starter and continue the story.
2. We prefer your story to be 500 words or less (not including the story starter). Stories over 550 words will be disqualified.
3. You have two weeks to write your story, so there’s no need to rush! Take your time and send us the best story you can write.
4. Send your story to us by 7pm Friday August 20th (NZ time).
5. The winner of the competition will be announced on this website a few days after the competition closes.
6. Every fortnight there will be a new competition and a children’s author will post a new story starter for you.
7. The competition is open to kids aged 13 and under.
8. The winner will receive a mystery prize donated by the judge.
Maureen’s Story Starter
Tere balanced on one leg in the swamp. He had left his gumboot back in the mud. Around him he could hear the rest of the class as they began their swamp study.
‘Hey everybody, Tere is doing ballet,’ laughed Max who had gone ahead of him.
‘Shut up Maxie.’ Tere carefully inserted his foot back in the gumboot and heaved. A sucking slurping sound came from the mud as it reluctantly let go of his foot. The stench of rotting plants wafted all around him. He screwed up his nose trying not to smell it.
Suck. Gurgle. Squelch. Every step brought clouds of midges around him hunting for food from the mud he stirred up. They batted his face. He could feel them on his skin and in his hair. Tere waved his arms trying to get them away from him and clamped his lips tight so he didn’t swallow any.
When he finally squelched to their study section, Max was waiting for him, casually leaning up against a cabbage tree. ‘Took you ages to get here.’
‘Yeah,’ said Tere. ‘Thirty seconds behind you. Come on, let’s do this work so we can get out of here.’
They marked out their square metre and then leaned down for a better look at the mix of plants, mud, and stinky swamp water in their section. ‘Living animals first,’ said Tere, ‘millions of midges.’
Max picked up a long stick to push aside clumps of grass. The clumps bobbed away. ‘The grass must be floating on the water,’ he said.
‘Is it living fauna?’ asked Tere, ‘cause that’s what we’re looking for, eels, fish, frogs, birds, insects.’ He had their clipboard ready to list all the things they found for their assignment.
‘Well, it could be.’ Max poked at the grass again. ‘It could be a disguised swamp monster.’
Tere sighed, this promised to be a miserable school trip, stuck in a swamp with Max-imum Idiot as his partner. ‘Grass is flora. We’re looking for fauna first.’
Max poked at the clumps a few more times, pushing them under the water and watching them bob up. When he poked the biggest clump, his stick went down into the water and stuck fast. Max flailed. His body arched like a bow as he struggled to stay anchored to solid ground.
Tere grinned as he watched Max struggling. If Max fell in the mud, it would be a sweet payback for all the hassle Max had given him. I’d better help him, he thought or we’ll never get this thing finished. He grabbed the back of Max’s shirt to haul him back but he was ready to let go, if he had to.
‘Aaargh the stick is getting sucked down.’
‘No, I’ll fall in. Pull me,’ yelped Max. ‘Something’s got the stick.’
There was a stirring of mud and water and an awful stench surrounded them both. Max was almost a bridge now. His arms stretched, hands gripping the stick. His back was flat and his legs bent. His feet slid into the soft mud goop.
‘The only way out, is to let go,’ said Tere, still hanging on the Max’s shirt. He was trying hard not to laugh out loud, glad that Max couldn’t see his face.
The muddy swirl around the stick kept churning. ‘That’s not natural, is it?’ Tere frowned. The goopy mud bubbled and slopped getting nearer to where he was standing.
‘Look out, I’m coming through,’ said a voice.
Tere turned. ‘Oh No! Don’t!’