Posted in Prizes!, The Winner

Melinda’s FABO Report For The Competition Ending June 9

It is wonderful to see so many of you participating in Fabostory, even from as far afield as Canada (Hi Ella!). We received 67 entries for this challenge. Wow! Good effort, people!

It was really interesting to see several of you take the story in an Alice in Wonderland direction with cakes saying ‘eat me’ and drinks saying ‘drink me’ and odd doors and special keys.

There was some terrific writing although sometimes it was let down by the lack of an ending. It is true that good endings are hard to come up with, but there are other ways to finish a story in a satisfying way, even if you can’t figure out a resolution. Please, please make sure you check your story for mistakes, correct punctuation (are there enough full stops and commas), consistent tenses and that it is complete before you submit it. Some wonderful stories had too many mistakes which meant I marked them down.

There were many lovely images and ideas – like this from Maddie Mitchell at Raumati Beach School, “Great,” I thought. “Now I have a chance of getting strange-looking-vine-from-tree-o-thermia.” And Fear hung in the air like a thick mist from Maia at Carmel College. My feet vacuumed me down like I was getting pulled down a plug hole, by Maddie at St Cuthberts and Jake Richards at Upper Moutere wrote – the forest had eaten us.

I liked Vaya and Laela’s (Sunnynook Primary) idea of the children being in a video game. Charlotte Ng Waishing from St Cuthberts created a very interesting world of sweets trapping Maria and her friends. It was cool how intasab Zohra from Sunnynook Primary linked this story with the previous challenge, and how Natalie Lamb from St Cuthberts wrote the story as a police procedural.

Rosie Shiu from St Cuthberts had an interesting approach with the forest having a Dark Side and a Bright Side. The story by Indie Cowan from Cambridge East School was well paced and had some great action. Amber Wastney from Upper Moutere had a fresh, original idea for her story using mirrors.

Alex B from St Cuthberts had some lovely language – My heart was pounding like a piston, and, I blow the evening zephyr a kiss.

I loved these lines from Mackenzie Carkeek from Carmel College – ‘Are​ ​we​ ​seriously​ ​going​ ​to​ ​do​ ​this​ ​you​ ​know​ ​how​ ​it​ ​always​ ​ends​ ​in​ ​action​ ​movies’​ ​said​ ​Josh​ ​in​ ​a worried​ ​tone, and, ​the​ ​air​ ​was​ ​still​ ​a​ ​nose​ ​burning​ ​stench.

Jade from Clevedon School had a really intriguing story with chapters. And I loved the idea that the world was ‘degravitised’ in Leah Joy Werner’s (Upper Moutere School) story.

I liked Julita Seumanutafa’s (Carmel College) use of ‘voice’ – All these questions popped up in my head like, “What was I supposed to tell her parents?, especially her mum she would probably bite my head off.

If I just told her that Maria’s feet just disappeared, she would have asked me if it was her daughter’s feet that had vanished or whether it was my mind that I had lost.
And also Lola Wood at Raroa Normal Intermediate – Crawling through talking bushes isn’t exactly where I excel…

Grace Chisnall and Rosa Kelly both from Upper Moutere School had some great over all writing as did Annabel O’Rourke from Carmel College, Rebecca from Northcote Intermediate, Julia Wilkins from Willow Park School, and Cole Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School.

My runners-up for this challenge are Ella Ava Bruce Sievert from Verran Primary, Nathan Stacey from Churton Park School and Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School. Great writing folks!

I have a special prize this week for Marlow Cornish from Taupaki School who is new to the story writing business but who impressed me with his vivid and cool ideas. Well done Marlow! Keep up the good work.

And finally, drum roll please …. The winner of this challenge is Anita Lese from Ellerslie Primary with great poetic language and a smart twist. You can read her story below. Congratulations Anita!!

Marlow, please could you email your postal address to me at melinda@tale-spin.com so I can send out your prize (or I can forward it to your school if you prefer). Anita, Tania is going to send your prize and has already emailed you.

Anita Lese’s Story

Her shriek morphed into a nail, and drilled itself into our memories. We retreated as a pack, shins scraping against bare bush, hearts pumping under our blazers. With our fear came sweat, penetrating the safety of our group.

I struggled forward searching for any changes to the scene. A puddle of dry mud encasing a pair of sneakers met my eyes.

A rustle of dead leaves reminded me of my companions. As if acting to cue, a hand squeezed my shoulder. I turned my head and saw the worried face of my friends. “Are you going in?” Rosie questioned, voice crackling with fear. The crackles turned into a roaring fire. The squeeze of my shoulder was a way of releasing nerves. I am the brave one. They are a shaky building, and I am their supports.

With new authority I nodded and threw my now undesirable bag over my shoulder, along with my strangling tie which flew through the air, then nestled around my discarded bag. One by one they followed suit. “You don’t have to.” I said. “We know.” Replied Charlotte and they continued to copy me.

Panting heavily in anticipation, we jumped into the great unknown. Our brains were radios all tuned to the same station. The ‘Save Maria’ station.

Everything was dark. Our eyes drifted around, searching left, right and centre. Searching for clues. Maria. Light. There was nothing.

Suddenly a light formed and slowly grew into a sun, we laid back relying on the sun’s familiar rays to calm us. A burning sensation in every spot the sun touched us was our repayment.

Faster than a wink something was sprouting from our shoulder blades and spreading to our fingertips. Wings.

The fear was back, eating our insides. Coursing through our blood. Lungs yearned for air, but mouths wouldn’t open. Once again, the fear led to sweat. It was sliding sloppily down my brow.

Animal like whimpers escaped Charlotte and Rosie’s mouths. Their worries gave me strength, reminded me I was the supports. I must stay calm. I pointed to the sun, then indicated my wings. Luckily they understood my wild gestures and each clasped my hands.

With that simple act our lungs opened, letting in fresh oxygen. Clearing our minds from any worry. We rose up, uncertainly flapping our wings. Could we trust these wings? With everything that had happened would this be a blessing? A curse?

The air was alive with the sound of our flapping wings. We were doing it, soaring high above the ground towards the sun. The wings were trustworthy, no hoax.

A sneaker patterned limb waved in front of my face. Maria. I clutched her leg and pulled her along with us.

“We escaped. We survived.” I tell the teacher. But she doesn’t believe me, she just gives me the knowing look only a teacher can give. Maybe that excuse was a little too crazy. Next time I’ll just do my homework.

Or stick with the classic, “The dog ate it.”

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Johanna’s FABO Report!

Thanks for your entries, everyone! I loved reading your stories, and was thrilled by how many different types of popcorn accidents you managed to dream up.

Winner 1:
I’ve chosen the story by Abigail Shin-Kelso (Glen Eden Intermediate School) as one of the winners. Abigail had a great idea and wrote a tight, dynamic story, with well imagined scenes, where no detail was irrelevant or out of place. Her dialogue gave the reader important information and moved the plot along, but at the same time, sounded perfectly natural and in character. Everything led up to the wonderful ending, and there were no loose ends left hanging.

Winner 2:
Also a winner is the story by Laylani Wendt-Fa’apoi (Glen Eden Intermediate School). This is a beautifully written and paced ‘slice of life’ story – where the sometimes antagonistic, but ultimately loving friendship between a brother and a sister gradually unfolds.

Runner up 1:
Another story I loved was Montana Harper’s (Greenhithe Primary School). Listen to the satisfying rhythm of this paragraph. It’s great to read aloud:

She looked everywhere, under the stove, in the oven, then stopped as she heard a strange popping sound. Pop, pop, pop. She moved around the kitchen. The sound got louder and louder. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. She stopped in front of the microwave. The popping was the loudest there. Carefully, she peeked through the tinted glass and gasped. Before she could open her mouth to scream, the microwave exploded.

There are three characters in the story – all beautifully drawn – and what I especially liked about this story is the ending.

Runner up 2:
The story by Benjamin McQueen (Kohia Terrace School) is the second runner-up I’ve chosen. This is a long, detailed, complex story, full of great ideas and enjoyable characters, and set in a really well-imagined place. I get the feeling this could be developed into an even longer story! (And I have to confess – this reminded me of elaborate, ambitious stories I wrote when I was at school.)

Special mentions:

Madeline Renner-Daun’s creepy demonic popcorn princess sent a shiver up my spine. (Birkdale Intermediate School)

Paige Cusiel’s story is a beautiful depiction of sibling relationships, and showed some wonderful psychological insights. (Remarkables Primary School)

To the six of you above, a prize pack will be heading your way soon! I’ll be in touch with you to get your postal addresses.

Once again, thank you to everyone who entered. I genuinely mean it when I say I was impressed with so many of them.



Winner: Abigail Shin-Kelso

Bryn turned, and started to walk down the stairs of the small building they called home. They had been living there their whole life, but every time there was a full moon, since the beginning of their lives, the next morning a mess of popcorn awaited them at the front of their house.

Cilla followed Bryn down the stairs anxiously, and out to the front of their house. Popcorn was everywhere. It was strewn across the grass and rolling off the roof onto the small lawn which was overgrown and wild.

Bryn opened the door, with Cilla following close behind, and stepped onto the front porch.

When they walked out, they triggered an explosion. Beneath their feet, popcorn flew out of nowhere, whacking them in the face, and raining down on them.

“How do you stop it?” Cilla yelled in the direction of where she last saw Bryn.

“You get on the grass, I think!” Bryn yelled back through the mass of popcorn.

Cilla struggled through the flurry of popcorn, and fell onto the grass. “Freedom at last!” she announced, sighing with relief.

A minute later, Bryn waded out of the cloud, and sat down beside her.

“Let me guess, you ate some popcorn,” she assumed.

“Well… Um… Maybe I guess.”

Cilla rolled her eyes. Obviously her brother ate some. He loved popcorn.

“It tasted really nice,” he tried to justify. “Like butter.”

“Whatever. We need to find out why there is popcorn everywhere.”

“Well… It could be a Were-popcorn.”

“Really?”

“What? I’m just suggesting.”

“I know!” Cilla excitedly exclaimed, “We could stay up tonight and see.”

“Ok.”

Later that day, at around eleven at night, Cilla crept into Bryn’s room to wake him up. But there was no one there.

“Maybe he’s waiting for me outside?” she voiced aloud, and crept out to the front door. Outside, it was silent. She walked softly to a nearby bush, and hid behind it.

She waited in the dark night for about ten minutes, then a rustling came from the bushes opposite the one she was hiding in.

A giant kernel of popcorn walked out from behind the bushes, and started throwing popcorn everywhere.
Cilla froze, confused. This was what attacked with popcorn every night. She turned, about to whisper something to Bryn, but realised he wasn’t there.

A stray kernel of popcorn flew over the bush she was hiding behind, into her hand, and she placed it in her mouth. As she ate it, a buttery taste appeared in her mouth, and she realised something.

Bryn, her brother was the giant kernel of popcorn.

She was shocked, but it made sense. His love of popcorn. Why he wasn’t in his bed when she looked earlier. Why he always seemed tired the morning after a full moon.

Cilla walked bravely out from behind the bush, and spoke. “Bryn?” she called softly, “Is that you?”

The giant popcorn turned to face her, and walked over.

Cilla cowered slightly at the size of it, but continued talking. “If it is you, please, stop attacking with popcorn. Just maybe leave a little bit.”

The popcorn nodded, like it understood everything she said.

“Thanks,” she concluded. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She walked back over to the house, and collapsed on her bed. The next morning, Bryn woke her up.”Sorry I didn’t come with you last night. I can’t remember a thing, and I’m so tired,” he explained. “How was it?”

“Good,” Cilla replied with a knowing smile. “Nothing interesting happened.”

 

Winner: Laylani Wendt-Fa’apoi (Glen Eden Intermediate School)

Bryn cringed. “You really aren’t going to like it.”

Cilla raised her eyebrows. She didn’t believe that it could be ANY worse than last time. “That’s what you think. After last time, I’ve seen everything.”

Bryn put his hands up to his face again.“No.” His voice sounded muffled. “You really aren’t going to like it… Oogh I really don’t want to show you this.” Bryn covered his face with a bright Christmas scarf from around his neck.

Cilla crossed her arms and tapped her heavy Doc Martens down on the lino floor. “Just show me already.” She rolled her eyes and tied her hair up, as if she was a warrior. “I’m ready.” She chuckled as she followed her little brother’s small footsteps.

Bryn’s hand shook as he turned the handle. He turned and faced Cilla. “Don’t kill me,” he whispered, and backed into the corner and huddled his knees to his face, rocking back and forth.

Cilla stared, shocked by the things she saw. “MY CLOTHES!” She contorted her face into a small frown. “WHAT did you do!”

Bryn shook, scared to speak. “I was making popcorn in your room with your popcorn maker and it was hot but I touched it and… It tipped over and scorched through your clothes.”

Cilla held her head in her hands. “Mum and Dad are SO NOT going to get me another new one. UGH you’re such a little brat!”

Bryn shivered. The words ran down his spine and chilled him giving him goosebumps. He stood on the balls of his feet and cringed. “I know what you’re going to do…” Bryn cringed again, this time, he felt worse.

Cilla clapped her hand against her knee. “I almost forgot! Thanks for reminding me, now for the torture.”

After two hours Bryn was a fully-fledged makeup guru. Ombré lipstick, cat eyed eyeliner and even contouring. He was wearing Cilla’s favourite pink dress, now ripped in awkward places and also her white leather Jimmy Choo high heels from their rich grandma.

“Don’t forget, I still have more makeup, despite the amount you MELTED.”

Cilla grabbed her iPhone and opened up the camera. She giggled, “Say cheese!!” She laughed as she thought about the blackmail she could do with it.

Bryn raised an eyebrow while wiping his face with his hand. “Yeah okay I get it, but how on earth do you get this stuff off? You didn’t really do a good job…”

Cilla smacked his leg playfully “oh hush up! Here.” She handed him a makeup wipe that removed the grunge from his face with ease. “And by the way, my makeup skills are better than yours, you wouldn’t have even guessed to use the lipstick to help your olive complexion shine!”

Bryn muttered while wiping his face down, “ugh, girls.”

He shoved off the clothing and laid on her bed. He was wearing truck boxers and a white shirt. On his way out, Cilla chuckled. What he didn’t know is that he’d laid on the melted makeup that was open. He walked out with makeup all over his back, and a note saying ‘BEAUTY GURU’.

Cilla covered her mouth with her hand, shielding her smile from him, “that’ll teach him to mess with my stuff.” She laughed and then tripped up on her dress, showing a note: ‘Shame on you, I’m wearing your only good shirt.’

Cilla ran down the stairs and wrestled her brother in the kitchen.

Exasperated, Bryn blurted out, “sorry, not sorry!”

Cilla laughed and ruffled his hair, “I guess this is how it is to have siblings.” She rolled her eyes and laid her back on the ground.

“I love you Brynny.”

“Love you too, Cils.”

 

Runner-up: Montana Harper

… 10 minutes later, they were standing at their door. “This better not be like last time Bryn, if it is I’m not helping.” Cilla stared at him, he was looking devastated. “Really Bryn! I thought you would have learnt from last time!”

“I forgot.” he said sheepishly, looking down at his toes.

“You always forget! Will you just go away so I can sort this out!” she shouted.

“O.K. Cilla” Bryn looked down, and shuffled off breathing short and sharp. She immediately felt guilty, but she had to do this herself, without her little brother.

Bracing herself, she walked into the kitchen. It was spotless. “Huh?”

She looked everywhere, under the stove, in the oven, then stopped as she heard a strange popping sound. Pop, pop, pop. She moved around the kitchen. The sound got louder and louder. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. She stopped in front of the microwave. The popping was the loudest there. Carefully, she peeked through the tinted glass and gasped. Before she could open her mouth to scream, the microwave exploded.

One huge popcorn piece leapt out of the microwave and called in a strangely deep voice, “fill her mouth comrades!” He waited a few seconds and sighed, remembering that he had swallowed them all to make himself giant. “Ooops?”

Suddenly a bark sounded from outside, and Cilla had a lightbulb moment. Carefully, she jumped up and walked slowly towards the verandah door.

“What are you doing beast!” screamed the popcorn.

“I’m… oh I don’t know but it isn’t good for you. Holly! Come girl I have some dinner for you!”

The popcorns eyes widened “No!!!”

 

Runner up: Benjamin McQueen (12), Kohia Terrace School

They entered the theatre where a screening of ‘Gemma Danger 2: The Truth About Lies’ had ended just a few minutes earlier.

Bryn, the cleaner, had already experienced many messes in the theatre, including a couple of days back when he found popcorn EVERYWHERE! Literally everywhere, all over every seat and under them. The special lazyboys at the back where the adults sit and drink wine were absolutely covered in popcorn! Crushed popcorn, half eaten popcorn,popcorn butter wiped everywhere. It was a nightmare and it took just under an hour to clean up.

When Cilla walked in she was expecting the worst. As the manager and owner of the RedMoon theatre, the only theatre in the small town of Tirau, near Matamata, with only a couple of small auditoriums for the screenings, she had quite a stressful job. Especially because of one boy that came to almost every screening Cilla was proud that in her theatre she never showed any movies above the rating of M), called Roger (Rog for short) Macfarson, who could not sit still and would always throw around his food when the credits rolled because he wanted to watch another movie. Thus he was the official ‘messmaker’ of the RedMoon Theatre.

Cilla just shuddered at the thought as she prepared to enter the dim auditorium. She looked at her feet as she entered and managed to muster up the courage to look up. She was surprised to see that everything was quite clean. ‘Hahaha! Very funny Bryn!’ she said sarcastically.

He didn’t reply, he was hardly even paying attention to Cilla whatsoever. He was looking up, to where the projector was. Cilla dared a look up. She was shocked with what she saw. The projector was ruined, along with the window that separated the projecter room from the auditorium. It was cracked and part of it smashed out, and the projecter hanging half in half out through it, its long black reels of tape hanging out and dangling down, almost touching the floor below. (Cilla could not afford a new age projector yet so she relied on an old one).

‘How can popcorn do that?’ she asked Bryn.

‘Actually it is a bad coincidence really. When Rog had his usual tantrum after the screening, there was popcorn everywhere and with popcorn comes butter, and with butter comes grease, with grease comes slipperiness and of course that causes a trip hazard. And one of the viewers slipped and her coke bottle that she was holding that she hadn’t drunk through the movie and was planning to save for later fell to the ground. You know what fizzy drinks are like and this particular bottle had been shaken around quite a lot already and the bottle cap had been twisted around as well (this viewer got scared quite easily), so when it hit the ground it reached it’s limit… you can probably guess the rest.’

‘You’re really telling me that a fizzed up coke bottle really had the power to just shoot up and do… that?!’ She asked, disbelieving.

‘Yes, unfortunately.’ Bryn replied.

‘Wow… just…wow. Well, we might as well go up and take a look at the state of the projector room! If it’s as bad as it looks from down here then I’m going to have to ask Rog’s parents to donate some money and maybe we might have to ban him from the theatre if he disbehaves.’

So they made their way out of the auditorium and up into the projector room. Sparks were flying as they entered. There was coke everywhere, fizzing all over the equipment and on the floor. Cilla noticed that the flying coke bottle had turned the projector completely around and it was now facing them, a faint glimmer in it’s lenses.

Suddenly, almost as soon as they entered there was a bright flash and Bryn and Cilla were temporarily blinded. When they managed to regain their sight the found themselves standing before a strangely familiar figure. ‘Gemma?…Gemma Danger? In real life? I must be dreaming!’ Bryn exclaimed.

Cilla just stared.

‘You are not dreaming!’ she said. With her flaming red hair and her blue eyes, her blue fedora tipped up at an angle, khaki shorts and her brown leather jacket covering a plain green T Shirt, Gemma Danger looked quite marvelous (maybe due the fact that there were sparks flying all around her in the background like one of those action movies).

‘B-but…how?’ Cilla asked her mouth gaping.

‘To be honest I have absolutely no idea whatsoever and I don’t even know where I am. All I know is one minute I’m being chased by Doctor Raskar and his army of Egyptian assassins through a pyramid and then suddenly… I’m here!’

‘Which means somehow you got transported through that projector from the movie world and into the real world and it must have something to do with the coke…’ Bryn said thoughtfully.

Suddenly there was another flash, this time brighter and more powerful, so powerful that the force of it almost pushed them all down the carpeted stairs. And from inside the ball of light a strange figure appeared, he wore a midnight black cape with silver lining and black pants and a black shirt with an intimidating silver pattern on the torso. He hair was also black and stood up menacingly on his head, he wore a monocle and had a scar from his emerald green eyes down to his scraggly chin.

Gemma gasped. ‘Doctor Raskar!’

He laughed menacingly. ‘You really think you can escape me, Gemma Danger! And who are these people? Your new friends? Hahahaha, all the more to destroy!’

Bryn and Cilla were terrified. ‘Run!’ Gemma said, grimly.

They quickly ran down the stairs and made their was down the corridor as fast as they could. Cilla heard the slide of metal behind her, and she turned around to see Raskar with an unsheathed rapier that had been hidden behind his cape in one hand, and a revolver in the other hand. He cackled loudly as they rounded the corner and down another flight of stairs to the small ground floor. And they dived down behind the snack bar, Gemma toppling over a coke bottle which spilled its contents onto the floor.

Bryn jumped as someone gasped behind him, right beside his ear. He turned around and saw Gemma staring at her fingers in shock. All five of her fingertips had disappeared!

‘Some spilled coke splashed on them,’ she explained.

Suddenly Bryn had an idea. He got the half empty coke bottle and held it ready like a weapon. Suddenly a shot rang out and one of the glass fridges shattered. ‘Whatever you’re planning, do it now!’ Cilla whispered.

Bryn stood up. ‘Come on you coward, come over here and fight me, man to man!’

‘Hahahaha! You’re hardly a man but I’ll take it!’ He threw his revolver and rapier to the ground and bunched up his fists, advancing towards Bryn. He didn’t seem to notice the coke bottle in Bryn’s hand or what it was about to do.

Suddenly he threw himself forward and poured the coke all over Raskar from head to toe. At first he just spluttered and shook himself then suddenly he started to disappear. ‘What th-!’ Sparks suddenly burst out of him and he vanished into thin air.

At that moment Cilla heard a strange noise and turned to see the glass fridge repairing itself. ‘So the coke sends them back to the movie world and fixes what they did in the real world.’

She turned to Gemma who was eyeing another coke bottle nearby. ‘Well thank you my friends, but I must be going. I need to catch Raskar before he escapes.’ She grabbed the bottle and popped of the cap. ‘Farewell… I never learnt your names!’

‘I’m Cilla’

‘And I’m Bryn,’ they replied.

‘Good to know, goodbye Cilla and Bryn, I hope to see you again soon!’ And she poured the contents all over herself. Just as she was about to vanish Cilla and Bryn heard her say, ‘Why does this soft drink have to be so sticky?!’ And then she was gone, and the coke spills automatically repaired themselves.

Cilla and Bryn sat in silence, letting the past 10 minutes sink in. Then Bryn said: ‘We still have to clean up the theatre!’

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Sue’s FABO Judging Report

Fabsters, I am so impressed with you all! I was hoping for a bunch of stories that gave me the creeps, and you rose magnificently to the challenge. You had me looking over my shoulder and jumping at the slightest sound, just like Jack the caretaker.

As the entries came in I made a “possible winners” file on my computer, and it grew and grew like a monster in a science lab. Many of you made the connection between green smoke and Miss Green (extra points!). There were also mentions of rats, and Merlinsky and Lancellotus put in an appearance. I love how we seem to be on our way to an entire novel (possibly horror) about this school … which still needs a name. Something to think about? It was also great to see the bonus words used in such inventive ways.

Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. Before I tell you who are my awesomest of the awesome this time, here are some honourable mentions:

In Noah Fifita’s (Ardgowan School) Jack cleverly defeated a dragon, turning it from fearsome and magnificent into “embarrassed and soggy”.

In Jess Hudson’s well-written story (Remarkables Primary), the smoke became a “thought reader” with Miss Green’s voice. I loved this line: “Jack, I assumed you would have realised by now that I wasn’t my usual self. Green smoke, Miss Green. It connects.”

Deanshi Mani – great writing, but you can’t leave a story without an ending: “He finally got a glimpse of the figure and immediately recognised what it was, and what he saw was unbelievable…” YOU LEFT ME HANGING!

The creepy little boy in Sanjana’s (Marshall Laing Primary School) story sent shivers down my spine.

In just a few paragraphs, Frances from Newtown School managed to write an awesome epic fantasy complete with demons and an entire army. Frances you ALMOST won, but there is clearly a Part 2, so it didn’t really have an ending. FABO stories need endings.

Felicia Chen from Milford Primary School, I loved your happy-memory-eating ghost.

Madeline Renner-Daun from Birkdale Intermediate School, thank you for these two memorable lines, “An indistinct figure, just a flitting shadow in the dark night,” and “Rowan won science fair, and it wasn’t long until the Tim Tams and tea came back.”

Joshua Napier, from Adventure School (this is an actual school name? How cool is that!), your story about blue, green and purple men had me chortling.

Charlotte Sutton’s descriptive writing blew my socks off. The potion in the bottle had a skin on like “gravy left unstirred for too long”. You also mentioned master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe. Clearly you know your spooky stuff.

Bessie Martin from Houghton Valley School, your story ticked all my boxes – well written, great ending. You were a very-nearly-winner. So close!

Stella Peachey from Te Mata School, I LOVED this line: “His personality would have run and hid under the bed, and that’s what it did. But Jack’s brave side stayed and studied the lab.”

Grace Gardner’s story (Te Mata School) was also a very-nearly-winner. It featured two monsters, a bomb, a great conclusion, and used all the bonus words in clever ways.

Emma McLagan (Te Mata School) – your descriptions of the night outside the school window were beautiful, and I’m wondering if I can borrow them for my next ghost story. “It looked as if somebody had thrown a handful of salt into the darkened night. Stars danced among the moving clouds. The moon shone like a glowing orb. The trees whispered to each other in the silence.”

Vanessa Dang Nguyen (Mission Heights Primary) featured in her story a creepy little doll that demanded, “Play with me.” When Jack doesn’t, she banishes him to a place with nothing but books. But Jack loves books (of course!). So she sends him to clean a dungeon for the rest of his life. Brilliant story, Vanessa.

Katie from Te Mata School’s story was beautifully written, and I loved the phrase “little licks of quantam flew out.”

And so to the winners. I couldn’t choose between these two so you both are my FABO champions this time.

Joshua Roberts from Adventure School (another Adventurer!) your story about Donald Trump had my whole family crying tears of laughter, and making people laugh is a great thing to do. On top of that, your story was well-written. Congratulations!

And Finn Wescombe, from Aidanfield Christian School, whose story featured not one but two Jacks, a parallel universe, clones, orbs, and quite a lot of science.

Congratulations everyone, and Finn and Joshua, contact me via the FABO website and I’ll send you both an autographed copy of “The Ghosts of Tarawera”.

Joshua’s story

Jack walked silently as a mouse over to the bench. The green gas smelt like stinky socks and Jack started to feel dizzy. He stopped again and said, “Who’s there?”

A head popped up covered in what looked like a ginger cat from behind the bench. Guess who it was? Jack was surprised to see Donald Trump on the other side of the bench.

“Hey, what are you doing?” said a shocked Jack.

Donald Trump coughed and cleared his throat and said, “I am making obeying potions to force people vote for me, so I can be the President of the United States.”

Jack replied, “It’s not fair to make people vote for you. They should vote for who they want to.”

Donald Trump looked cross and said, “They have to vote for me because I want to be President.”

Jack quickly and carefully picked up the beaker and emptied the green stinky sock-smelling potion into the sink before Donald Trump could reach it.

“Hey, that’s my obeying potion!” shouted Donald Trump.

Jack replied, “The people need to like you to vote for you. You are a silly man with ginger cat hair. Go back home and stop making obeying potions in school science labs.”

Donald Trump picked up his bag and walked out, never to be see again. Jack picked up his mop and bucket and continued to wash the floors, knowing he had saved the people of the United States from Donald Trump.

Finn’s story

The sickly green mixture frothed, rising until it began to seep over the top of the bottle. The drips sizzled as they collided with the heat mat and began to burn a hole. Acid, strong acid. The liquid was rushing down the bottle, searing it, but not breaking its HARG (Heat and Acid Resistant Glass) frame. The bench was slowly but surely disintegrating.

Without hesitation, Jack grabbed an oversized HARG beaker, and handled thick tongs to unceremoniously dump the bottle into it. He sighed with relief and watched the disappearing bench, knowing he could not save it. However, there was still the mystery of the person or thing that had set it up. And why. It would only destroy the workbench and a small section of the floor. There had to be more …

Jack suddenly heard an angry shout and turned to see what seemed to be his own reflection glaring at him and hurling custom swear-words at him. Jack screamed in terror and his copy seemed to notice there was another Jack around. Soon both were striving to calm down, taking deep breaths.

The other Jack began furiously, “You imposter! You come in here, impersonate me, and ruin my window cleaning mixture!”

Jack’s temper wasn’t an improvement. “Some cleaning mixture! Look at that work bench! What a mess!”

“It was an experiment!”

“That’s no excuse for hiding! I was cleaning! This is my job, see!”

“Your job! I was going to make a revolutionary cleaning mixture that disintegrates everything unclean, and I was startled and dropped my tongs when you entered – that’s not hiding!”

“Everything’s unclean, nitwit! Why are you impersonating me?”

“Oh look who’s talking!”

Jack fumbled for words. All he could come up with was; “Stupid.”

“Pardon? Wouldn’t you like the new ‘Perfectly-Clean-Window-Wiper-Stuff’?”

“Stuff?”

“Yeah, stuff.” The reflection turned away and stormed off to the cupboard with the bottle to create another PCWWS mixture.

Jack called after him, “Anyway, you aren’t even Jack!”

The reflection halted abruptly and turned, his face a mask of fury. “Oh I am. My parents are Lancellotus and Merlinsky!”

Jack frowned. “Those aren’t my parents, and the principal isn’t married… oh no, clones loose in the public!”

“I’m not loose, I work here! You’re the imposter!”

Jack scowled. This thing was exactly like him, just with a different background. In books he had read about “parallel universes” where the same people lived with different backgrounds and different decisions. If one where “he” was the son of the principal and librarian had collided with his own, things could get wacko!

“Get lost wayward universe, you’re trespassing on ours! Leave me alone.”

True to Jack’s nature the reflection couldn’t bear seeing someone with a mental breakdown. He started to clean as a coping mechanism. “Look, we can work together. We can return each quantum of this school to brand new, starting with that orb over there.” He gestured to a grimy globe. Jack grinned and began to polish Earth.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Tania’s FABO Judge’s Report

Wow, what wonderful imaginations you all have! I really enjoyed reading your stories.

There were thrilling tales of survival where the class was transported to a jungle. In some, Miss Green become a vampire, or monster. We had aliens, world wars, lions, zombies, a gargoyle, dragons, mutts, an angry chihuahua, and of course… rats!

Excellent Stories

With so many entries, there were LOTS of  stories that deserve a special mention. I’m sorry I can’t comment on everyone’s stories, but here are just a few that stood out:

In Bessie’s story, the class went through a portal to a forest where they had to survive. Bessie, my favorite line in your story was, “The portal made a weird noise, like the last of a milkshake being sucked through a straw.”

In Julia’s story, the class was divided into two teams – the Bogies and the Bloods. Julia, I loved the gates made of giant tarantulas standing on top of each other. You wrote a great story, with a clever ending.

Isla had the class have to cross a pit of lava, and poor Tom fell in. It ended with them being pushed out of an aeroplane – and I would have like to know whether they all made it to the ground safely.

Finley wrote an exciting story with zombies. I loved that the students had been infected with the zombie virus while watching horror movies. Great story, Finley!

Rebecca, I loved that Miss Green turned into a Gargoyle in your story. My favorite line: “I will lap up your blood as happily as a cat will lap up cream.”

In Lola’s story, Miss Green’s red eyes meant she could hypnotise the students, which was a clever twist.

Carolyn, your story was short but clever. I liked the way Miss Green melted in water.

Bronte, you also had Miss Green melting at the end. I loved how scary Miss Gree was in your story.

Lynette, your story had the darkest ending! Poor insane Lydia!

In Sophia’s story, Lydia managed to trap the evil Miss Green down a hole. I liked the line: “Kids and teachers crowded around her like a meerkat at the zoo.”

Montana had Lydia summon a white witch to deal with Miss Green who was an evil witch. I loved the tree covered in cobwebs in your story, Montana.

Morgan, your story was entertaining and made me laugh, especially the ending. Good Fun!

Jessica, I really liked the way your story was split between the point of view of Miss Green, Lydia, and Sam. And this line was great: “She ran her tongue along the bottom of her lime- tinted teeth, savouring the horror filled expressions.”

Ruby, your story was highly inventive! A little over the preferred word count for FABO though, so you might want make your next one a little shorter. I was glad they managed to unlock the spell that was on Miss Green in the end.

Finn, your story was excellent, and I especially loved the last line: “Just teach, don’t bite. That’s simple enough, okay?” Good job!

Matthew, your story was very well crafted – great writing! Clever Lydia creeping past all her classmates in the night to be first back to the airport.

Avala, I loved the last couple of lines of your story when Lydia turns into a vampire: “Well done” purred Miss Green “You have passed.”
When the full moon rose that night the two bats flew off up to the kingdom of the moon.

Best Use Of The Word Gloop

A lot of you worked the word ‘Gloop’ into your story very well. My favorite Gloop line was in Alice Sutton’s story. “A gloop of murky green slime oozed out from the crack underneath the door.” Well done, Alice. Your story also had a very good ending. I enjoyed it!

The Winners!

Your stories were all so good it made it difficult to pick an overall winner. But in the end I managed to narrow it down to two finalists. Congratulations Zoe Greenwood from Northcote Primary School (10) and Alice Moir from Carncot Independent School (12).

Zoe, I loved the way you built the tension up in your story, and your unexpected ending. Well done!

Alice, I loved your dialogue and this line: “Stationary swirled dangerously around her demon teacher.”

You’ve both won a copy of FABO author Sue Copsey’s award winning book The Ghosts Of Tarawera. Congratulations! I’ll email you for your addresses.

Zoe’s Story

There was dead silence. ‘Screeech,’ Lydia heard the unpleasant sound of the chairs scraping against the concrete floor as the walls started to slowly cave in.
“One by one,” Miss Green said with a smirk, “you filthy children will be called to the front of the class to recite your times tables from 1 to 10 in 30 seconds. Starting with…” she peered around the classroom and set her eyes on Lydia, who was cowering lower and lower under her desk by the second. “YOU!” As if on command, the walls shuddered to a stop.

Lydia slowly got out of her seat and shuffled to the front of the class, where Benjiman saved her some precious time to clear her mind by raising his hand.
“Um, Miss? what happens if someone doesn’t finish all their multiplications in 30 seconds?” he questioned.
“Well, Ben, if you’re so curious to find out, why don’t you go first? After all, I do hear a lot from your math teacher that you never listen to him when he is just trying to help you.” Miss Green put on an obviously fake smile. Lydia straightened up at the thought and Ben did the the exact opposite, he sank lower than Lydia did!

Reluctantly, he stood up and walked to where Lydia was standing. She then walked back to her safe chair, full of relief. All of a sudden, Miss Green spoke.
“Your time… Starts… NOW!” Flustered, Benjiman launched into an unsteady start.
“Um, 1 plus 1 is, no. 1 times 1 is 2. No! It’s 1! Um, 1 times 2 is 2? 1 times 3 is-” “Fiiiiiiive seconds!” Miss Green was so happy she was dancing!

“I’m never going to finish.” he looked up at Miss Green and winced. “Where do I go now that I failed?” without a word or even a quick glance at the poor boy, she pointed over to the corner of the room. ‘The torture chamber,’ Lydia supposed.

“Now, Lydia, it’s your turn.” Trying to seem confident, Lydia strode to where she had been standing 30 tense seconds ago. Miss Green repeated exactly what she had said when it was Benjiman’s turn.
“Your time… starts… NOW!” Without a second thought, Lydia began the worst 30 seconds of her life with a stutter. But, being the smartest kid in her class, let alone the school, she was already up to 3 times 4 in the first five seconds! Sadly, that still wasn’t enough. After her 30 seconds were up, she found herself sitting with Benjiman in the torture chamber. Not only had she let herself down, she had let all her classmates down. If Lydia, the brains of the school couldn’t do it, no one could! Totally discouraged, the next student made their way up to the place where your mind goes blank.

After the whole class had joined Benjiman and Lydia, Miss Green stepped away from writing on the board again. The second passage read: Stage 2: You all find out how unobservant you are. After a moment of confused whispering, the class settled down to hear what the evil version of Miss Green had to say.
“You kids are gloop bombs!” she laughed, and pulled something red out of her eyes. “Look at the date. APRIL FOOLS!” the class stared at her in disbelief, then erupted with laughter.

“Oh Miss Green, you are so funny!” Lydia hugged her favourite teacher in the world.

Alice’s Story

Maybe they really were cursed.

“Come on, Miss Green, take off the contacts and tell us what we’re really doing today.” John ‘The Joker’ laughed. He sauntered over from his position on his friend’s desk.

“Oh dear, dear Jonathan. You won’t be laughing when I’m through with you.” Miss Green rasped in a voice like nails on a chalk board. In a split second she was at the the comic’s throat, squeezing her steel-like hands around his pale neck. John’s short ginger hair framed his colourless face.

She only released her grip when he went limp. The cacodemon stormed to the board, leaving her pupil in a heap on the floor. By now her eyes radiated heat, and it looked as though wars were being fought inside her eye sockets.

Miss Green addressed them from the front of the class, “Shall we begin the test?” She smirked evilly. Red goop oozed from the corner of her mouth. Even the deep crimson seemed fluoro against her stark ivory skin.

She flicked her wrist once; the door flew shut, slammed by some invisible force.

Again; the windows shut and the blinds covered them in a wave.

Once more; her teacher’s desk soared over the childrens’ heads and rammed into the opposite wall. Lydia cowered beneath her desk like so many of her peers.

The demon cackled, “Hiding, are we?”

“Being tortured, are we?” Lydia muttered bitterly.

“What was that, my dear?” Miss Green glided across the carpet.

Lydia shuddered, but rose, “Why are you torturing us?” She challenged hesitantly. Stationary swirled dangerously around her demon teacher.

“Why not?” She answered simply.

“Who are you?”

“I am your teacher”

“No, you’re not.” Lydia stated, “You’re a demon, a spirit maybe. One thing I know, you aren’t my teacher. I may not have loved Miss Green, like, at all, but I prefer her to… to… you.”

“How dare you!” The spirit screeched, her skin was flaming, as in, actual flames. Scissors and rulers alike flew at the girl, but she dodged and they instead hit her desk.

“Miss Green, fight her. Come back!”

“Give up! Your teacher is weak!” Miss Green’s skin blazed brighter. Then went out as though doused by water. Her scarlet eyes rolled back in their sockets. The teacher collapsed on the ground. Lydia raced forward to check her teacher’s pulse.

‘Ba-doom. Ba-doom.’

The girl breathed a sigh of relief while she watched the colour slowly returning to Miss Green’s skin.

They were alive.

They were safe.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kyle’s Fabo Judging Report

 We had a flood of entries this week. So many entries, in fact, that if stories were zombies the human race would now be doomed. Well, maybe just New Zealand …

It took a lot longer than expected to read all 245 entries. So apologies for being late with my report. Unfortunately most of the stories were really exciting, so I didn’t want to miss a word. A lot of stories went very close to the 500 word limit, too. And I suspect Genevieve from Hadlow School could have kept writing for another 5000 words.

Trying to pick a winner was incredibly difficult. Judges are like readers. Each judge looks for certain things in stories, and gives high marks for those stories that contain them. In my case, I like stories with a real surprise ending and writing that’s original and colourful.

There were a lot of stories with really interesting ideas that ended up being “just a dream”. I’m always disappointed with dream endings. So if you wrote a story like that, maybe next time try to come up with a different, more original, ending.

There were lots of original ideas with robots, candy prisons, clones, enchanted lands, portals and time machines running on rosehip oil. Sammie went to Book Town where famous authors hung from cables writing their bestsellers, while McKenzie had a tree that grew books for libraries. There were some amazing secret organisations, too. From Connor’s Teacher Superhero Service to Tara’s Stop the Bullies service with their terrible fart guns. While Ted’s Sectretum Magica was “the only group of magicians who use their powers for evil.” (Though I’m not sure why they needed an accountant.)

I enjoyed Rebekah’s story with the genie taking a shower and laughed at Aurora’s “cute, evil rabbits”.

There were also some great surprise endings. In Stacey’s story the Hulk had come to give Jake a message about his mum dying. Beth decided Mrs Merlinsky was The Hulk. And Charlotte let our hero meet a rather gruesome end – He turned back around, he saw a gleaming pair of eyes, yellow teeth in a mouth where there was more gum than teeth, a hunched black, and an arm holding a gleaming knife with blood dripping off.

But most excitingly, the writing in so many stories crackled and fizzed with energy. Though watch out that you keep the same tense (past or present) and perspective (I/he) throughout your story. Swapping between them often makes the story a bit confusing.

There are so many entries worthy of special mention, but there’s only enough space to mention a few favourites. (BTW I really love clever similes.)

Allicia – Terror drove him forward. The stairs were covered in dust and the intricate torches which had once lit up this gloomy staircase were out and filled with dark ash.

Gemma had some lovely similes (eg Spread-eagled like a starfish, Jake held his breath.) and I enjoyed her fairytale references – “I’ve got you now, Cinderella,” he growled, stepping into the darkness.” “There goes Alice… down the hole.”

Alex – Jake stared down in shock, his eyes the size of golf balls, his mouth hung open like an unhinged door. The inky darkness clutched his heart, squeezing out a good portion of his courage, he felt as though a thousand tiny scorpions were crawling up his legs, and spreading along his body.

Luca – The strange man stomped off as if he had farted in front of the whole world.

Rebecca – Old people tend to tell you everything, Jake thought. The walls had emerald green moss covering them which seemed to glow in the dark. Glow worms clamoured for space on the ceiling. Stalagmites covered the caves floor.

Eden also had some lovely writing, but the rules of FABO require you to complete Jake’s story. Here’s a sampler of Eden’s writing – I walk down the lonely track, crisp golden leaves fall around me landing softly on the rusty train line, I breathe the cool morning air and exhale intricate swirls of steam.

Thanks for sharing your favourite words, too. What a variety! Everything from squelching to nonchalantly, bemused to squirt, effervescent to sparkle. And most of you used the words cleverly in your story. But in the end I’ve chosen Sam Ridsdale who is home-schooled and whose favourite word is gadget. It came in handy for his story about the Anti-Bullying Corp (ABC) with its chili hot toilet paper and laxative chocolate. If you email your address, I’ll send a copy of my latest Dragon Knight story to you.

So job well done, team! But in the end there can only be one winner – Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School. The story is well paced with some great similes, funny dialogue and an ironic twist. Great work, Finn. So please email your address and a copy of Dragon Knight will be on its way.

Keep up the great writing, everyone.

Kyle

Finn’s story

Jake heard a surprised yell, followed closely by thumping as the Hulk charged, his tree-trunk arms extended. He hesitated a second too long, and just as he leaped down the first step, he was yanked back. Jake found himself staring the Hulk straight in the face. True to his nickname, the Hulk was literally a giant, or more precisely, an ogre. Jake was hit with a wave of the worst breath ever, a combination of rotting teeth and tuna sandwiches. Gross! Don’t bullies ever brush?

Jake squirmed in the Hulk’s vice-grip, trying desperately to avoid the smell. He wished the Hulk would hurry up. His right arm was going numb as the Hulk’s hand cut off the circulation. His arm burned. “So this… is… you’re not hurt… hurting much?” Jake struggled to say.

“Yeah,” the Hulk said it with as much sympathy as a rat gives to a piece of newspaper. He tightened his grip. Jake did his best to scream as loud as he could but his Larynx had gone on strike.

Jake stared at the gaping hole before him, unable to think up a plan. He strained to think of a way to get in there other than being dropped in by the Hulk. Suddenly The Hulk grinned and released Jake allowing him to fall to his doom. Or if not, to end his life in misery. The Hulk turned to the desk and began to fiddle with the drawers trying to close off the hole, trapping Jake.

Oof! Jake landed on something soft. Too soft for the bottom of stone stairs. He stood and looked down, and in the faint light from above he could make out pillows all around, obviously placed to soften a fall. He decided against exploring for fear of being trapped, but he wanted to find out more about this secret cellar. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could make out the outline of a king-size bed, a playstation, table-tennis table, eating table and a tiny kitchen. Jake was bemused. Who would live down here? He didn’t want to stay to find out. The sound of opening drawers echoed around the room, and he realised that the Hulk was trying to close off the hole. In a panic he started up the stairs, quickening his pace and hoping the Hulk would not see him.

The Hulk didn’t need to think as Jake emerged from the hole; he instinctively reached out and snatched Jake off the ground, grinning triumphantly. But when Mrs Merlinsky climbed the stairs, the smile faded from his lips.

The Hulk fled, dropping Jake. The librarian approached and assured Jake that she would deal with the Hulk. She gestured at the hole. “It’s a refuge for the bullied. You’re in!”

Suddenly Jake realised the irony of the situation. He guffawed, laughing uncontrollably until tears streamed down his cheek.

Mrs Merlinsky frowned questioningly.

“It’s just… the bully was trying to trap me in the refuge!”

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kyle’s Fabo Judge’s report!

This week we had over 40 entries and almost as many original ideas. It’s great to see so much imagination out there! There was everything from menacing gnomes, evil witches and nasty kidnappers to time travel and alternative realities. Even a phoenix made an appearance. I was especially fascinated to see almost all of you decided poor Mrs Hutley was not a very nice person, even though there was nothing to suggest that in the opener.

A few writers had wonderfully original ideas and some excellent writing that drew me into their stories… but lost their nerve at the crucial moment. Not mentioning any names (James, Cassandra and Faith), but everyone please take out a marker pen and write “IT CANNOT JUST BE A DREAM” on your foreheads. Better yet, get someone to tattoo it there. A dream is almost never the best answer, especially when there are much more exciting possibilities following your original ideas. If you have a brilliant, original idea it is a writing CRIME to use the “it was all a dream” card.

Although it’s not always necessary to tie up all the loose ends, some writers really left the story hanging a bit too much. Your stories finished with another beginning or mystery instead of an ending. Of course, sometimes it does work. Charlize, for example, rescued her family and then… “ran back home to a land of happiness. Well, until Baxter was found on our driveway with a garden fork in his chest! Everyone forgets about the dog!”

Some special mentions for especially original ideas –

Benjamin pulled me into an exciting world of espionage with the LKSO battling the evil KDC (Kerikeri Department of Chaos) and their Interdimensional Channelling Generator.

Both Sophie and John turned into gnomes, but they did it in very different ways. And the quality of their writing meant both stories were in my top five.

And, lastly, I really liked Isha’s story in which her parents turned into cave people and were living happily in that troublesome hedge.

There were a lot of great sentences in your stories, too. Some memorable examples –

Arabella – Suddenly I realize that I appear to be completely unprofitable.

Amber – Abruptly my parents start burgeoning into their ordinary annoying selves.

Gina – The bricks were a splash of brown and red.

Bianca – The days went by and I made friends with the beavers who helped me make my house.

Payton – The sun is shining on me like a light would in a play. It is 45 degrees and I think I am going to be a human swimming pool if I can’t get out of here.

Celia – The man has a perplexed look on his face, it looks like they had just blind-folded him and made him eat a giant cockroach.

And my favourite sentence of the week goes to Rhiannon – My future form wafts away, drifting off in tiny dazzling pieces.

Choosing a winner was really difficult. In fact, it was so difficult I decided not to award any prizes at all… What? Really? No, not really. So this week’s winner is Mike from Gosford Public School who not only took the story in a completely different direction to everyone else, but I think he writes with confidence and considerable power. Yay, Mike! If you can email us here at Fabo and let me know which episode of my new Dragon Knight series you’d like, I’ll pop it in the mail.

Kyle’s Story Starter

My feet begin to drag along the footpath, getting slower and slower. If I walked any slower I’d be walking backwards. As I turn into my street, the thought of walking backwards starts sounding pretty good. I’d do just about anything not to get home. Not after what happened at school today.

It wasn’t my fault. Not directly my fault, anyway. OK, so it was my idea. But I never imagined anyone would actually do it. If I did, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the place when it happened, would I? I’m not that dumb.
But my parents aren’t going to believe that. Not with my reputation.

I study the cracks in the concrete, wishing one of them would open up and swallow me whole. But no such luck.
When I glance up, I’m surprised to discover I’m standing in front of Mrs Hutley’s house. Her evil gnomes are staring right at me, daring me to enter. Which means I’ve walked right past my house. Weird. That’s never happened before. I must have been really distracted. For a split second I consider just keeping going. I could run away and join the circus. Or live under a bridge. Or…

I turn and reluctantly retrace my steps. There’s a thick, unruly hedge between Mrs Hutley’s house and ours. Dad is always complaining about it. He says if it spills into our yard any further our house will be swallowed whole. He’s been trying to convince the Council to remove it for years. But no luck so far. So he spends most weekends battling the unstoppable green tide.

I pass the hedge… then stutter to halt.

I’m standing before a white picket fence embroidered with pink roses. There’s just one problem – our house doesn’t have a picket fence. Or roses. I hurry along to the gate. My heart is pounding in my chest as I bend down to read the brass number 11. I spin round and hurry back the other way. Past the hedge to where a grinning gnome perches beside a letterbox holding a bright red 15.

I stumble back to the hedge and stand there, blinking furiously. My eyes refuse to believe what they see. Or don’t see. But my brain knows better.

My house is gone.

Mike’s Winning Story

The space between the houses is gone and now the two houses converge in a messy sort of single. I can’t believe it. The exact same thing happened at school. I walked into the classroom and expected to see my desk next to my friends desk. but there was nothing there. just the two desks on either side of me squashed into a two meter long irregular object. The same with my locker and favorite bench. This was weird. All my things are disappearing into shapeless balls of materials. Suddenly I am shaken back into the real world by a giant ball of crystal smashing up through the ground in front of me. The large,green crystal lands with a thud and I notice that it has tiny cracks that look like closed eyes. They open. I scream and fall back onto the hard concrete. The large yellow orbs glowing malevolently as slowly the ball unravels itself and shakes the dust from it’s hulking figure. It’s a monster. It looks like a human just bigger and covered in crystalline shards at crazy angles. I start to back away but it reaches down and picks me up. It puts me in a crack on it’s back and closes it up with a piece of his arm. All around me the crystals glow with pure light and the cool hard rock of the giant on my arms is really relaxing. I think I might just take a nap. I wake with a jolt. I have stopped moving around and there is a crack of sunlight peering through a gap in the rock. With a splintering sound to fill one thousand rooms, the great big rock lifted up and daylight poured in like warm golden water. The first look I have is of a vast range of crystal. there are crystal trees and flowers and birds and bees. The giant tells me the whole story. his voice is like music to my ears. He told me of great provinces and daring adventures to foreign lands he told of fantastic friends and power hungry miners. He told of over world collapse because of long forgotten crystal mines trying to find this crystal paradise. That explains the chairs and the house and the bench. suddenly I look down, my body feels rigid. A grey haze is working it’s way up my torso. I am growing out and up. I am now a rock giant.he doesn’t need to tell me that i’ll be here forever,standing strong for all crystals.

I already know.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Tania Hutley Announces the FABO Winners!

I got 29 FABO stories this time, and I was very impressed by your imaginations! Most of your stories were super scary.

A few of the stories were very short, which was a shame. If you wrote just four or five sentences, I didn’t feel that was enough to tell a satisfying story. In FABO we give you the beginning, but it’s up to you to write both the middle and the end. If you wrote something very short this time, why not try to write a longer story next time?

Honorable Mentions

Here are some of the stories that stood out for me:

Jessica’s story was scary, but it also had a great touch of humour. Jessica wrote: “I turn around to see who it is. A security guard. Just great. To make things worse he’s got a moustache. The moustached ones are horrible.” Brilliant, Jessica! I love stories that make me chuckle.

Kayla wrote two terrific stories, and they both had a very clear structure (beginning, middle, and end). In one, the heroine defeated a truly awful monster! In the other the heroine was saved at the last minute. Well done, Kayla!

Emily, your story was good but remember to use punctuation (full stops, commas, quotation marks). It’s more difficult to read your story if you don’t have them!

Rays, your story was great, but I wanted to know what happened next! Your ending didn’t seem to be the end of the story.

Angela had a very creepy clown in her story and I loved that he had balloon-smelling breath!

Georgia, I liked the ending of your story, and that it turned out to be a ghost tent that wasn’t really there.

Ollie, your story was super imaginative! I love that your hero found himself in a pharoah’s tomb.

Cassandra, good job with your story – the skulls were a nice touch.

Lily, I liked your story about werewolves. Good, descriptive writing.

Charli’s story was one of the few with something nice in the tent, so it ended well. Charli, I really liked that your heroine went back to the circus a second time to investigate the strange tent.

Tahlia, your story was very scary! Well done.

Suey, the python in your story was great! I was a little disappointed at first that it was a dream, but then when the snake crawled in her window it was scary again. I also loved this line: “Me and mum also joined in on the screaming and we produced the exact same sound which just shows how good I am at singing.” Well done.

Finally, Anika sent in a wonderful story, about a man with mechanical animals. I’m sorry, Anika, your story came in after the contest had closed so I couldn’t include it in the judging this time. I hope you’ll enter again next time!

The Winners!

The winners are Liadan and Mike, both aged 11. You both wrote excellent stories that held me spellbound.

Liadan, I loved your story! The spiders were scary, and your riddle had me scratching my head. It’s the letter ‘M’, right? Brilliant!

Mike, your story was wonderfully creepy! I loved the ending and how your hero was trapped there forever. It gave me shivers. One thing to remember for next time, is to use capital letters at the beginning of each sentence – it will make your story much easier to read.

I’ll email you both for your postal addresses to send out your mystery prizes.

Tania’s Story Starter

8f80b42defd4dd8335192da0bf092270My stomach felt like I’d swallowed a mess of snakes, and bile rose in my throat. I was squashed into a small hard seat, with sweaty people all around me. Clowns were racing around the circus ring in a tiny car, music blared from the overhead speakers, and everyone but me was laughing. All I could think about was how hot I was, and how awful it would be to throw up down the neck of the kid in front of me.

“You all right?” whispered Mum. She reached up to sweep my fringe back from my forehead, but I pushed her hand away.

“I’m going outside for a minute, okay? I need some fresh air.”

“Want me to come with you?”

I glanced over at my little sister, who was spitting popcorn crumbs as she laughed and bounced up and down in her seat. “No. I’ll come back in a few minutes after I cool down.”

“It’s hot in here,” she agreed. “But don’t be too long, or I’ll worry.”

I pushed out of my seat, clambered over the legs of everyone in our row, and practically ran out of the big top. As soon as the fresh air hit my face, I felt better. I wandered around the side of the giant circus tent, breathing deeply, cooling down. After the crush of people inside, out here it felt eerily dark and quiet.

Behind the big top were lots of other tents. Smaller ones. What were they for?

One tent in particular looked old and battered, and the entrance was darker than all the rest, as though the gloom was intentionally gathering in front of it. A weird picture was painted on the tent flap. I stepped closer, and saw it was a spooky face, with hollowed out eyes and a slash for a mouth.

A shiver ran down my back. Creepy much?

What on earth could the circus people keep in that tent? I looked around nervously, but couldn’t see anyone. Music still drifted out from inside the main tent, but it was muffled and my steps were soundless on the grass. Nobody would know if I went over and peeked inside…

Liadan’s Winning Story

Inside the tent there was a menacing silence that made my hair stand on end. I felt a scratchy tickling feeling as if ants were running down my back. Then I saw it-a giant black spider- it’s red eyes glinting in the light filtering through the torn tent flap. It dangled down in front of me on a silk rope easily half an inch thick.

“Aah!” I quaked, I was more afraid of spiders than I cared to admit and this spider was the size of my bed. I almost turned around and ran, but my curiosity overpowered my fear. It grew steadily darker as I crept further into the tent, until I was surrounded by an inky blackness as if a black velvet curtain had been drawn across my vision. I felt something hairy brush against me almost knocking me off my feet and suddenly all I wanted was to get out of there. This was way too creepy!

I turned around and started towards what I thought to be the exit, but the tent seemed to go on forever. After what seemed like hours I decided that I would rather the circus people catch me trespassing than be stuck in the tent forever.

“Help, I’m stuck in the tent with the creepy picture on the flap” I screamed, but my voice was lost among the sound of many people streaming out of the big top. Suddenly I heard a strange hissing sound coming from a spot a few meters away from me, and an old hunched-over man appeared.

“One riddle we will gamble. Your life will be the price,” said the man his voice strangely hissy like that of a snake. Before I had time to ask what he meant, he had asked, “What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in a thousand years. You have ten seconds to answer!”

“Uh…time?” I replied.

“Wrong,” said the man. “Get her, spiders!” The huge spiders advanced on me, clicking their pincers menacingly.

“Ahh!” I screamed as the largest spider readied her bite. I tried to run, but my retreat was cut off by more spiders. The spiders just seemed to keep coming. There must have been hundreds in that tent!

Then the spider struck. I felt the pincers sink into my flesh. I thought about my family, just about now they would be wondering where was as my whole body went rigid.
I was left vividly aware, but unable to do anything as the spider wrapped its silk around me and I felt my innards slowly dissolve into a human milkshake.

Mike’s Winning Story

I peeked inside. it was cold and clammy. the flap waved gently in the light breeze as my eyes became accustom to the dim light.

i looked around at the interior of the shrouded tent and found to my surprise that it was littered with glass bottles of every kind. some were tall with swan like necks, some were short and stout with a rubber plug in the mouth. but the one thing the same was the fact that they all contained liquids. the bottles and jars were full of colored fluids and each had a small label on it.

I reached out and turned a bottle so the label could be seen. there, written in old ink were the words, powdered gold. she did this to many of the large bottles and found many grotesque names that sent a shiver up my spine. toads blood, squid pimples, even ground dragon spines. I shivered and sat down on the cold ground. i knew what it was. it was the house of glass.

I was still starring when the air around me positively shook as a stooped figure slunk into the room. he rose behind my head and i whipped around. he was a tall man who was heavily draped in sodden animal furs and wore a dark hood. i looked down and saw the numerous blades that hung from his scrawny waist. his voice was slow and raspy as he uttered the words that spelled doom.

“hello, I’ve been waiting for you here for such a long time. he grabbed my shoulder with hands like sandpaper and led me to a small hatch. he took a deep exhale and flicked a small red switch.

i looked as a small purple pot raced through a small transparent wire to a large device that had almost materialized out of thin air. a thin purple haze had began to creep in from the frame and in about a minute it was a large disc of purple that gave of purple sparks. i looked at the man and gave a quizzical look. he looked at my face and gave a leer.

“this, is the liquid-o-fire and this is how i get my precious liquids.”

i gave a gulp and looked into the haze and saw my future living in a compressed jar with no room to breath or move. the last thought i remember having was of mum, still waiting for me. that was the end of me. he shoved me in with his rough hands. what came out was not me. it was a sludge that had no form and no texture. and now i stand forever on his horrid shelf next to all the bits and pieces of other life forms. and sometimes i think that i can still hear my mum when we came to the circus.’It will be so much fun and you’ll never want to leave. well now I can’t.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kathy White Announces The Winning FABO Story!

Wow! The FaBo stories took directions I wasn’t expecting this time. Some were funny, one rocketed into sci-fi and one in particular featured a strange boy who barely said a word. He didn’t need to speak – he gave me the shivers just by what he did.

Some of you wrote something that wasn’t connected to the story starter. Some were only a few lines and needed a bit more to be a full story, and some needed to be checked for grammar and spelling, but on the whole, you did a great job. The stories I liked most were the ones with vivid descriptions of characters and places (Will), with realistic conversations between characters (Ava and Tashya) and a well-rounded story (Peyton). I liked the pace in Reuben and Kyle’s stories, and I loved the thoughts and fears of the main character in Amelia’s story. There were also some wonderful ideas – riddles (Helena), a magic notepad and pencil (Amanda), and codes (Madeleine).

Peyton Morete described the characters so well that I could see them. I ran downstairs and slung my backpack over my shoulder. Chloe had her pink miniskirt on and her purple tank top. Her sassy queen bag lay on her converses.

And then Peyton gave the story an interesting twist. Keegan and Chloe’s mum got changed and walked down the stairs, wearing a red dress and hair spiraled down in curls – just like the miniature wax figure in the front seat of the yellow VW.

The dad in Will Isaac’s story had died in a tragic car accident and the kids missed him terribly. It was a great idea, and Will did well to capture the sadness in the detailed memories about Keegan and Chloe’s dad. “… dark brown eyes, all-time favourite yellow suit (it was incredibly ghastly but I didn’t want to tell him that), his blue tie with cars on, and his incredibly polished R.M. Williams boots.”

I loved the detail. It made his dad come alive in my mind.

A good story becomes bigger when characters want something badly and they have to struggle to get it. That’s often what motivates them to do something extraordinary. It also needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes you find a great story by starting with your main idea and asking questions, such as “What happened to their dad on that tragic day of the accident?” Perhaps the items in the box were clues to what really happened to their father. What if there was a sinister element to his car accident? Or perhaps their mum lied about it? Why would she lie? Finding that out could spark off the rest of the story, with Keegan and Chloe going back in time to prevent it happening.

In a good thriller, the stakes need to be high.

It was difficult to choose a winner this week, because so many of you did something well. In the end my shortlist was Ava, Amelia and Peyton, because you all wrote well and you had a beginning, middle and end. Amelia, your story had a mood and tension that no other story had. It was like we were listening to your character’s thoughts and fears, and it was beautifully done. “I heard a bang in the middle of the night and in the morning my red headed friend randy was gone. There was no box or sign or note just the shoes of randy.”

It was a tough decision, but the prize this week is going to Peyton Morete of Te Horo School, for a well-balanced story with good pace and unexpected twists and turns. Congratulations, Peyton, and thanks to everyone for writing such entertaining stories for us to read. Email me your postal address, Peyton, so I can put your prize in the post.

– Kathy.

Kathy’s Story Starter

The doorbell rang.

Mum groaned, nearly stabbing herself in the eye with her mascara. ‘Why does it always ring when I’m in a hurry? Can you answer that, Keegan? I haven’t cleaned my teeth yet.’ She breathed into her hand. ‘Good gracious, I smell like a gorilla’s armpit.’

Keegan sighed and slid off his bar stool, vegemite on toast in one hand, and a Go Pro attached to his head. He had been filming all weekend for a school project called ‘BSI: A scientific investigation into boredom, during which he had fallen asleep in his food twice. He could have drowned in his bolognaise or got a bit of corn stuck up his nose. But did anyone care? No. His sister Chloe muttered ‘Gross’ like she’d swallowed a snail, and continued doing inane snapchats with her friend Marty. And his mother? Well, his mother did what she always did.

‘Have you tidied your room yet, Keegan? There’s a good boy.’

She was so busy these days, she wouldn’t notice if he died and rotted on the carpet. She would step over his fly-infested corpse in the hallway and moan that he was always leaving stuff around. Keegan sighed deeply and opened the door.

Standing on the doorstep was a man in a red-and-yellow uniform. He grinned widely and thrust a rectangular box into Keegan’s hands. ‘Special delivery for K Bennet,’ he said, handing Keegan a clipboard and pen. ‘Sign here.’

Keegan put a vegemite fingerprint and a squiggle on the dotted line. He couldn’t stop looking at the strange aquamarine eye printed on the box lid.

‘Enjoy,’ the man winked. ‘Oh, and happy birthday.’

Keegan frowned. ‘My birthday’s in January ….’

Chloe poked him from behind. ‘What is it?’

He shrugged and lifted the lid.

Buried under the tissue was a small yellow car (a VW), a wooden cat with a long neck, and a notepad and tiny pencil.

‘What the …?’

Chloe snatched the card out of the box and read. ‘Happy birthday. We’re going back. We have to change the world, Keegan. We have no choice. P.S. Don’t forget the chocolate.’ Chloe looked up. ‘You have some weird friends, dude.’

‘Not half as weird as this,’ Keegan said, lifting the little yellow car into the air. There in the back seat were miniatures of Keegan and Chloe. And driving the car was ….

Peyton’s Winning Story

dress-clipart-red-dress-mdMum. She was wearing her red skinny dress and her hair spiralled down in curls. She looked amazing, her makeup made her features stand out. She didn’t look like herself, she looked like a… a goddess.

“Kids, I am just quickly changing. This outfit is too ick. Please get ready so we can leave.” Mum yelled from upstairs.

Geez, she was so messy these days, what was I to do.

“Keegan, clean your room up now.”

I groan, my go pro bobbing on my head as I bounced up the stairs.

After I had chucked everything into the wardrobe, I ran downstairs and slung my backpack over my shoulder. Chloe had her pink miniskirt on and her purple tank top. Her sassy queen bag lay on her converses.

I groaned, “Mum! Hurry up!”

“Just a minute!”

Normally that meant she was going to change her appearance again but who knew. But this time we heard her clattering down the stairs.

When she came around the corner, I nearly choked. What the…

She wore the red skinny dress and her hair was spiralled. This couldn’t be happening.

Chloe had obviously noticed, “Isn’t that like your toy car, K?”

“Hmm?” Mum asked as she reached over to get her purse.

“Oh yeah, I got this present for my birthday. You are wearing exactly the same clothes. It is weird”

Mum smiled at me and started to hum. This was weird.

She pats my shoulder and whispers in my ear.

“Go get in the car please.”

I groan, “Fine.”

I wander out to the car and strap myself in. Life was cruel.

I look at the car and look at Chloe, she is wearing a pink miniskirt…. Oh my god. What the hell.

I quickly zoom my eyes at my little wax body and see myself wearing the jeans and shirt I was wearing now.

This is weird, then I realised. Our car was yellow…

What. The. Hell.

I close my eyes and hear Mum and Chloe enter.

When we start to drive, I start playing with the car. Racing it along the seat, dodging the rocks that were spilled on the VW seats.

It was actually kind of fun to be back in my childhood memories. Then I made the car hit a big rock, denting the front of the car and smashing up Chloe and Mum.

Oops.

Suddenly the car screeches and I see a massive boulder on the road, we swerve but hit it. The car groaning and grumbling.

Then I realise before I black out. The note said we had to go back, We have to change the world, we don’t have any choice. I did go back to playing with this car. The world has changed because I don’t have a mum anymore. I don’t have anyone. There was no choice. This was always destined to happen. I blame whoever sent this. It was them! Or was it me…

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kyle’s judge’s report

What an evil bunch of writers you are! Most of you seemed to enjoy the idea of turning your parents into slaves. And for all sorts of reasons, too. Emma wanted to use her slaves to fulfil a dream, Sophie was out for revenge, Nik wanted to prove mind control was possible and Hine’s parents were going to be substitutes for the dogs she wasn’t allowed to have. There were zombie apocalypses and plans for world domination, too, with a Shrek and a wishing well thrown in for good measure.

Lucas and Noah wrote terrific chase scenes which left me breathless. Emma created a lot of suspense before leaving the story hanging on a knife edge … literally. Phoebe ate 10kgs of chocolate before blowing herself up. While Jonas’ parents were turned into babies. And poor Natasha’s parents are still slaves giving her money every day.

Of course a couple of softies decided they preferred to have parents than slaves. Peyton decides – “a servant is basically like a mother but doesn’t feel love.” While Libby had second thoughts after forgetting Screw number 53.

Some very weird imaginations out there, I must say. Fantastic!! Excellent writing all round. Though watch out for using two words which mean the same thing – eg slowly slipped off Mum and Dad’s heads gradually.

A couple of stand-out bits for special mention –

Lily Pringle from St Martins for this great descriptive passage – My feet were drowned in my tears and my face was as red as a beetroot. Thousands of thoughts raced through my head like a cheetah running at full speed.

Two thumbs up for Dan Clarke from Tighes Hill. One for adding a little humour in the perfect moment. With his parents frying on the bed and the house starting to go up in flames, his character thinks – “I’ll get a big power bill after this!” And a second thumbs-up for the cliff-hanger ending – Two figures loom out of the smoke and a voice is heard, “Are you ready to die, son?”

Chloe Read from St Cuthberts made me laugh with her fabulous line – My science teacher; Mr. McArthy the man two years older than me, 20. He fell in love with me at first sight. He’d do anything for me. Not saying that I would return the favour.

And you can’t do much better than Meghan Valins from Evans Bay Intermediate – World domination, I think to myself, doesn’t come without its sacrifices.

It was incredibly difficult to pick a winner. As with any story it all comes down to personal taste in the end. So for me the story which stuck its nose in front of all the others and won by a tiny fraction was the one which showed the writer was really thinking outside the box. Instead of continuing the story, Ollie from Central School went back in time to tell us how we reached our starting point – and completely turned the whole story starter on its head. Suddenly the boy we originally thought was the hero (or villain) of the story is just another victim … of an evil dog. Brilliant! Well done, Ollie. Please email FABO to let me know if you’d like a copy of Megasaurus Mash-up #1 or #2 OR a set of my Pop Hooper’s Perfect Pets series.

Kyle’s beginning Sentences:

Dad started to roll over, but I held him down firmly. I couldn’t risk him turning onto his side. He might notice the tight metal band around his head. Or hear the mechanism softly ticking above his ear. Beads of sweat dotted my forehead as I waited. If he woke up now and saw the screwdriver hovering above him, he’d know right away what I was up to. My whole plan would be ruined.

With a loud sigh, his body relaxed. Deflating like a balloon. A second later he was snoring loudly again.

I quickly adjusted the band then tightened the last screw, locking the mind control crown in place. I glanced across at Mum sleeping peacefully beside him. Her hair had fallen forward, concealing her crown beneath a thick fringe. If you didn’t know the device was there, you’d hardly notice it.

Perfect, I thought.

I flicked the switches of the remote controls. Two small lights started blinking in the middle of my parents’ foreheads.

“Wake up,” I commanded.

Ollie’s Winning Story

The day before…

The dog with black and white fur, with sharp gleaming eyes, with a small fuzzy tail, had been in my room lying on my cozy bean bag.

“THAT’S IT!!” I yelled, “I DECLARE WAR ON YOU”. All the dog did was look up at me with cute adoring eyes.

“Why” I thought, “Does everyone find him so cute? When I say everyone, I mean everyone, my sister, my mum and dad, my friends, probably even the prime minister for all I knew”.

And then it hit me, I could create a device, so that the dog could understand me.

So I set to work, with thingamabobs & sharp dangerous knives, pulling & pushing things apart, then finally I was done.

I held it to the light admiring it, then I put some food together and called the dog over.

He slowly padded over to me, gobbled the food and stalked off without any thanks. “Typical” I thought.

As I went to sleep I had dreams of a glorious day’s ruling our dog MHAWHAHAHA MWHAHAHA.

But that wasn’t going happen as I would soon find out…

Meanwhile at the dog house (A.K.A the mansion)

“Put that there and then here, then done”, the dog picked up the strange device and slowly padded though to the boys bedroom and waited for him to wake up

As the dog waited for him to wake, he couldn’t help but crack into a small high pitched laugh.

As I opened my sticky eyes I saw the dog staring at me.

“What” I mumbled and I felt a small tremble though my body. The small dog looked me in the eye and woofed “Do as I say.”

”Yes master” I replied coolly.

Seven hours later

Dad started to roll over but I held him down firmly…

A couple hours later…

‘Yes’ they answered.

The dog slowly walked in like a general inspecting his troops,

“COME” he barked

“YES SIR” we all shouted back.

As we walked away I thought what would have been the last thought I ever had – “Wow he’s leading us to take over the world”…

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!

A New Fabo Story Challenge!

dr-smallThe talented Kyle Mewburn is this fortnight’s judge, and he’s just posted a new Fabo Story Challenge!

There are sets of either Kyle’s Pop Hooper’s Perfect Pets series or a copy of Dinosaur Rescue Megasurus Mashup #1 or #2 up for grabs.

The contest closes on Saturday September 6th, so enter now!

pop_hooper-smallKyle’s Story Starter

Here are the opening sentences to start your story:

Dad started to roll over, but I held him down firmly. I couldn’t risk him turning onto his side. He might notice the tight metal band around his head. Or hear the mechanism softly ticking above his ear. Beads of sweat dotted my forehead as I waited. If he woke up now and saw the screwdriver hovering above him, he’d know right away what I was up to. My whole plan would be ruined.

With a loud sigh, his body relaxed. Deflating like a balloon. A second later he was snoring loudly again.

I quickly adjusted the band then tightened the last screw, locking the mind control crown in place. I glanced across at Mum sleeping peacefully beside him. Her hair had fallen forward, concealing her crown beneath a thick fringe. If you didn’t know the device was there, you’d hardly notice it.

Perfect, I thought.

I flicked the switches of the remote controls. Two small lights started blinking in the middle of my parents’ foreheads.

“Wake up,” I commanded.