Mary Poppins Literary Comp 2023 – Literary Winners Year 7-9

Article | Issue: Jan 2024

The Annual Mary Poppins Literary Competition for young writers and poets was established to commemorate the writer P L Travers (the creator of Mary Poppins) who was born in Maryborough, Qld. 

Over the years enthusiastic young writers from across the region have showcased their creative talents via this competition. 

Congratulations to the Year 7-9 winners of the Short Story category!

 

 

Short Story Winners Years 7-9

 

1st Place, Abigail-Rose Scopelliti

INTO THE MANGA

‘The rain has finally come!! I want to eat and do some reading.’ I thought to myself walking to my kitchen.

My phone’s notification ‘pinged’ but I decided to ignore it. I finished making salad and grabbed the manga I had been reading, about two clans fighting a generational war. I started reading and felt a faint tug in my chest, like something was pulling lightly on my heartstrings. I looked up from my page dizzy and weak but saw nothing, just a void of endless dark. I was floating? Suddenly I heard the unfamiliar voice of a male, his tone was deep and authoritative, but also sweet and innocent, ‘Welcome Traveller’.

My eyes fluttered open and a male with silver hair in a plait over his shoulder comes into focus, he looked relieved.

He helps me to my feet then turns to his desk. He opens his mouth however is interrupted by a female running towards him.

‘Doctor!!! We need medical attention! Please!!’ She wails, close to bursting into tears.

‘I already served my time under Danuja …’ He replied.

‘Please one last time!!!” She begged on her knees.

‘Fine but I’m taking Traveller.’

He grabbed my hand and an old, weathered leather medical bag and followed the girl.

‘Don’t touch me!’ I exclaimed while pulling away from his grasp.

It was too late; I was blinded by a bright white light. When my vision returned, I was outside an old brick hospital?

‘Wait, I recognise this place …’ My thoughts interrupted as the doctor pulled me towards a field medical tent.

‘How?’ I mutter.

‘Oh, thank the grandmaster you came! Follow me.’ Said a relieved male medic.

‘I guess I should explain what’s happening, yes?’  the ‘doctor’ said to me.

‘Yes, you should!’ I replied snappily.

‘Alright. A rift opened in the manga. You received the message stating, “warning reader, a dimensional rift has opened, please be mindful. If you continue reading, you’ll be transported into the book.” Now if you die here your journey will end and you return to your normal life.’ He explained in a hushed tone. He continued, but I zoned out feeling nauseous.

‘Through here.’ Said the medic.

‘Now Traveller it will be gruesome, do you want to go in?’

‘Do I want to go? Well, I’m reading the manga it cannot be that bad, can it?’ I reasoned as I followed him. I was mistaken, the injuries were horrific, they looked like they had been mauled by a wild beast. I ran out of the tent; I could hear the doctor chuckle at my childish actions.

I decided to explore the town. ‘Wow, this IS the main trade district, you know what? I am going to see if I can find the grandmaster Danuja …’

I rounded a corner and smelt smoke. Instinctively my feet carried me to the front of a half-burning wooden house; I heard screams from inside and without thinking I ran in. The house was filled to the brim with smoke. My only thought was ‘save them.’

I found the first group surrounded by fire; I looked around and found a blanket, I threw it onto the fire, thankfully it stopped the flames from going higher!

‘This way!! Quick!!’ I shouted.

They scurried to the exit; I continued searching and found two small kids.

‘Hey there.’ I mutter softly, “‘I can help … Follow me … Okay?’

The children were scared but with them clinging onto my shirt, I led them out, where they ran to safety. I’m sure I heard one more voice, I go back in. By now the smoke is extremely dense, before long I’m struggling to breathe, ‘NO!’ I gasped. I coughed and wheezed trying to get air into my lungs. Crumbling onto my stomach, my limbs felt like they were melting and lungs burning. My vision blurs and I’m engulfed in darkness, the glum voice of the ‘doctor’ floats to me.

‘It wasn’t your time! I have failed you … My apologies …. Traveller.’ His voice drifting off to a soft whisperer. I awoke in my chair with the manga and salad in my lap.

My heart was racing, I ran to my bathroom mirror to determine if it was a dream. I assessed my reflection, my clothes singed and burned.

Astonished I mumble ‘it wasn’t a dream.’ I wiped the soot off my face, a little disappointed that my journey was so short. If I read it again, could I go back?

 

2nd Place, Hudson Frahm

DRAGONS ECLIPSE

It was a brisk September morning. The sun had barely risen above the horizon of the large grassy plains, when the serenity is disturbed by the coming of a young man, wrapped from head to toe in a black cloak. He holds his hand to his eyes to block the light of the morning sun. Soon after he arrives, other people begin to show up. The second to come is a short man in a white shirt with dirt stains and overalls, with a small amount of stubble growing on his chin. The third is a tall woman in a green and lilac coloured dress. She is graceful in her movements; it looks as if she flows across the ground. The first one introduces himself as Callum and tells them that he is a magician, the second to arrive tells the group that his name is Nash and that he is a dwarven smith. The first woman to arrive says that she goes by Persephone, and that she is a woodland elven princess. They get to know each other a bit and then they set out to explore. They search the entirety of the plains and forest without finding anything that was interesting or special enough to prove themselves to their villages. They make their way up the mountain and at the top they find a plateau with a ravine dividing it down the middle. As the group approaches, they see large eggs in a nest of sticks and straw, jutting out from the side. When they reach the nest a man appears out of the shadows and tells them that they are dragon eggs and, of how the eggs have no one to protect them because their father died and the mother left because she was grieving.

The man informs Callum, Nash, and Persephone about how the Dragons main predator, the Dracon will come and eat the eggs as a source of power boost. He tells how they were going to hatch at the eclipse that night and will need protection. Once he finished telling them he crumbled away to dust as they watched, like he was never there in the first place. They were so stunned that no one move, they just glanced at each other in suspended silence. Callum is the first to break the silent stillness, he whispers ‘alright guys, you heard the man. It’s our duty to protect them now.’

Persephone and Nash accept this with solemn nods of acknowledgement. Persephone constructs a shelter using her woodland magic. Trees grew their trunks making walls and the branches intertwining to create a roof that keeps the elements out. A few hours pass but they remain alert. Soon a bellowing roar echo’s up from the base of the mountains and a great scaly beast emerged. It was 20 feet high and of a maroon colour shot through with gold and orange in a beautiful cascade of colours. Its teeth were long white canines. As soon as it appeared, Callum threw his hands out and a blue light appeared and formed a protective dome around the shelter. The Dracon reaches the forcefield and crashes into it, it shudders, and Callum let’s out a pained groan, but it holds steady. Persephone kneels and touches the dirt and starts murmuring indistinctly. Roots start tearing out the ground and vines start wreathing, suddenly they jerk and wrap around the Dracon’s legs, neck, tail and waist, slowly forcing it toward the ground and immobilising it. Nash then punches his fist into the ground, this causes the ground to crack and shift. With the dirt heaving, the Dracon could find no purchase on the constantly stirring ground. It’s feet and forearms and legs slide into the dirt. Nash stands back up and the ground stops moving and calms back into place. The Dracon is trapped and cannot move, so they begin to relax.

It is almost midnight when a dark storm quickly gathers. It forms in the sky around them, they are in the eye of the storm where it is all calm. Outside the eye, lightning flashes, wind swirls, and rain pours. As the moon hit’s its apex, the air fills with the smell of ozone and then lightning flashes from the North, South, East and West. The lightning is a mix of all the colours of the rainbow. It strikes at the Dragon eggs; the mountain is lit up a brilliant mix of colours as it makes contact. The glow fades and nothing happens, Persephone exclaims ‘What! Isn’t something supposed to hap…’

She gets interrupted by a loud CRACK. The sound had emanated from the three eggs. They go to investigate the sound and find a massive crack going up the blue egg. Two more cracks appear forming a triangle, then a leg sends a piece of the egg flying, the leg is a dark sapphire blue. Soon the whole egg was broken and there stood the blue dragon hatchling. A few minutes later and the yellow egg had hatched, and a golden hatchling had joined the first, then the green hatched and added an emerald to the other two. They feed the new-borns almost all of their rations, then they all fall into a peaceful sleep. The next day they all return to the plains where they had first met and say a heartfelt goodbye. They then head back to their home towns, Callum to his village, Persephone to her city kingdom in the trees, and Nash to his cavern town.

 

3rd Place, Jonathan Douglas

JOURNEY TO THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN: JACQUES PICCARD’S JOURNAL 

Seas Above the Mariana Trench, January 23, 1960

Dear Journal,

Many people look up to the heavens for mysteries, I however, look to the deep dark where no man has ever set foot. That is where I will go today and also why I’m out in the middle of the ocean. Wind is spraying seawater in my face, and I feel as if the ocean is trying to shake me off its back. I can barely hold on to the rungs built into the topside of the Trieste, a hollow, submersible boat. I can smell the gasoline that filled the Trieste, its stench was painfully similar to rotten eggs. As the final preparations were completed, Don Walsh, my partner in this undersea excursion, tapped my shoulder and said, ‘let’s go.’

I climbed down the hatch into a tiny orb bolted to the underside of the hull, with an acrylic glass window. This orb will be the cramped cabin Don and I will stay for the entire perilous journey. With that, the ballast tanks filled, and we began sinking. Our adventure had begun. Eventually, a reef came into view, highlighted by fluorescent blue damselfish. As we entered lower strata, the surrounds became a black abyss. ‘Lights, please,’ Don’s deep voice called out. I flicked a grey switch, and the sea was illuminated by a pair of floodlights. I suddenly felt an immense chill. I glanced at Don, who gave me an entire block of chocolate and announced, ‘this will keep your metabolism running.’

Then we hit the seafloor. I exhaled and felt relieved that the five-hour journey was over. We stayed at challenger deep for 20 minutes, celebrating and relaxing. The only thing I saw was a flounder fish that appeared to be made of glass with bioluminescent dots. Suddenly, out of the darkness, I saw two giant glowing eyes with no pupils or irises. I could just make out a mouth, large enough to fit a navy warship, filled with narrow, but incredibly sharp teeth. I saw a long eel shaped body with spikes similar to the creature’s teeth, sticking out of its pale pink flesh which must be as hard as stone in the unfathomable pressure of this depth. Terrified, I pressed a red button, discarding the iron weights in the ballasts hoppers and the Trieste started rising.

With a boost of unearthly speed, the creature lunged forward. ‘Bank to port,’ Don yelled. I pulled to the left, just as it clamped its jaws shut. It had another go, and Don shouted, ‘starboard.’ However, the monster anticipated this manoeuvre, and sunk its teeth into the Trieste. A ballast tank was torn off the bow and swallowed. We began rising faster, and I got an idea. If I could manoeuvre the stern towards the monster before it took another bite, then perhaps when it takes its next one, it would tear off the last ballast tank, and we would be light enough to rise faster than the monster.

The monster chomped down as the Trieste swung round. Teeth met steel, as the last ballast tank was consumed. We began rising at an exponential rate. After a while we entered higher strata. We thought we had escaped it, when it came charging at us from the depths. Its jaws stretched wide open and began enclosing around us. Suddenly, it halted. Its body was not used to the weaker pressure of the upper strata, and its eyes began bulging. After two minutes, somehow still alive, yet so swollen it looked like a cartoon, the creature fell back. Although we thought the danger was over, cracks webbed the entire surface of the window. An hour of intense fear and anticipation passed before the Trieste broke the surface of the ocean.

*

The sun was setting as we were resting on top of the Trieste as it bobbed up and down in the waves. I was worried that no-one would find us, and we’d starve here, when Don stood up and pointed at a dot in the horizon. As it grew larger, it took the form of a small fishing boat. We began calling to it, in order to attract the attention of the driver. As he pulled over to let us aboard, he asked, ‘what are folks like you doing out at sea?’ Sitting down next to the driver’s seat, I told my story. It began like this, ‘many people look up to the heavens … ‘

 

Highly Commended, Georgia Mulligan

SUNFLOWER

My fingers hovered over the keypad, my eyes fixated on the magical species covering my computer screen.  Why have I never seen these? I scanned through the ‘related searched’, which filled with strange words like ‘sunflower’ and ‘rose’ and ‘daisy’.

4 hours earlier.

‘I want you to write an essay analysing a specific type of flower’, Mr Glover wandered around the class, gesturing his hands drastically as he spoke. Confused faces spread through the entire room, a quiet whisper growing.

‘You might be wondering what this is, well go home this afternoon and search them up’ the piercing ring from the bell interrupted his sentence.

4 hours later.

‘Mum, were you alive when flowers were around?’ I glanced up from the screen as I shouted down the hall, waiting for Mum to respond. I continued scrolling down the images, when a surprised look appeared from the shadowed hallway.

‘Is that what you’re learning about huh?’ Her voice wandered throughout the house, continuing to separate the basket of washed clothes in her arms.

‘Well … I never really fancied them much.  As nice as they were to look at, my allergies would never allow them in the house.  So, when they became extinct, it never really changed that much.’ She commented, her voice slowly saddening as her sentence continued.

‘It wasn’t the worst thing which become extinct in my time,’ she proceeded, ‘I remember the times you could go outside and see grass and tress!’ She chuckled, masking the mournfulness tone. These words were familiar to me, through never actually had the change to see one with my own eyes.

I pulled my arm from beneath my bed sheets as I reached to switch my light off, when a trail of familiar footsteps approached the doorway in my room.  Mum appeared, gripping tightly to a photo frame.” See, a flower! Your dad’s favourite,” a smile spread across her face as her eyes sat on the image of the wedding photo. My eyes faced the image, my dad holding my Mum, standing in a flower field.  I didn’t even notice the smile drawn on my own face, unintentionally mirroring Mums.  ‘That just goes to show how old we are!’  Mum chuckled, drawing the frame away.

‘Goodnight darling’, she drifted out of my room, I reached my light switch, not shortly after becoming lost in my sleep.

I rubbed my eyes, slowing gaining consciousness. The steaming sum sat above my face, staring down at my body tangled within the thick grass. Pulling my chest off the ground, my eyes instantly attracted to the beautiful formations protruding out of the ground and hanging so peacefully in the sky. I glanced up, my hand covered the vicious stare of the sun intertwining with the branches stemming further outwards. Trees? My heart throbbed, this could be no more than a dream, soon to be snatched away from my grasp. The graceful tune of the once living birds singing in the sky danced around, flowing through my ears. My eyes glanced around the colourful land I stood on. I projected my legs forward, trekking through the thick forested land.  My eyes hooked on the bright yellow frog projecting it’s loud call, and the green spotted lizard, running out of my sight. My lungs gathered the fresh, almost sweet air which surrounded me, never wanting to let go. The snapping of twigs beneath my feet followed me every step I took, my legs continuing forward in what ever direction the harmonious sounds of peaceful animals which I only ever knew as extinct took me. I focused more intently on the land ahead of me, noticing a clearing ahead, through the bright bushed and the tranquil trees. My arms forced the vines which blocked my vision, shifting closer to the clearing.  Suddenly, the trees ahead became no more, the clearing sitting front of me. Thinking it wasn’t possible, the suns glare shuns down even brighter, reflecting sharply from the petals swaying in the field. The majestic grassland housed hundreds of sunflowers, my arm reached out for one, but it became too far out of reach…

My body rose abruptly, snatching me from my dream, which still felt all too real.

I turned in my sheets, my brain barely had time to wake before I remembered. The puzzle pieces clicked into place. The flower. I knew exactly where I had been.

A pleasing aroma tickled my nostrils, instantly moving my head towards the scent. Before my eyes lay a shining yellow petalled brown centre, attached to a rich green stem. I knew this familiar picture all too well. I know a sunflower when I see one.

 

Highly Commended, Rachel Nissen

A TREE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME

Bombs exploding. Country vs country. Men plotting pure evil. I was peeking through a crack in the rare, still standing thinking ‘Humanity has destroyed this once perfect beautiful, planet’.

These monsters had killed thousands of people, including my dad, and have exploded nearly every sign of life and building in the city. I couldn’t see a tree left standing. There was nothing left in this town but sadness and despair. I had felt like just giving up, to stop fighting for what is right and just let people perish into the rubble and let the monsters win. But I knew that saving people would lead to a better world for our future. So, I could lose hope. I could not give in to my terror. I decided that I was going to try even harder to save our city and try and make it the utopia that we all long for.

But, if I am going to do this, I need to find some more supplies and not just gardening tools. I had to be able to get around town quickly, so I had to find some wheels. Luckily, I knew this place like the back of my hand as dad had shown me these on our adventures around town.

Ricks’ Automotive was the best, and only, car shop stull standing. There she was and she was a beauty. Her slick honey yellow paint with obsidian black race stripes. What a gorgeous dodge. My plan was coming to fruition. I climbed up into the driver’s seat and wondered where do I start? I turned the key and the car jumped forward. I panicked. Then marvellous memories came flooding back when I used so sit on dad’s lap, and he let me steer. Time was ticking by, and I began to lose hope but on that note the car had started, you could hear the sweet rumble of her engine for kilometres which was a better reason to get driving especially since I didn’t wany any unexpected planes or visitors to drop by. When I was on the road, I thought about a lot of things. What was the world like before we started? Was there a time when every country got along? Did the world ever? Suddenly a bang drew my attention away from my thoughts. It sounded close. I heard it again.

I popped the boot and too my surprise it was a boy, his name was James, and he was the happiest person I have ever met. I didn’t understand how he could be feeling such joy in this depressing time. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was the key to the happiness in the world that we live in today.

I started gathering people in my yellow dodge with help from my partner James. We were getting them to safer ground. I finally felt like I was making a difference and finally felt like we rebuilt the city. I got more determined at the thought and announced to everyone that ‘I am going stop this war, one piece at a time’. However, the dimness of war was before us. The brown dust was everywhere. The city was dull.

We drove to James’ house on the outer edge of town. Luckily it was still standing. It was an exquisite building and I stared in awe as I loved the pasts infrastructure. I would have gladly stayed there for longer but something inside drew my attention away. The bright glow of the single ray of sunshine that shined down from the above through a window into a single shamrock green coloured tree. But the tree was stuck in a pot. I asked James why he hadn’t planted it into the ground. James wisely said ‘All good things come to those who wait. It needs to be planted in Queens Park in the centre of town so that the seeds of the tree could spread and regrow the city’. He seemed such a knowledgeable person for his age. This now had to be our priority.

So that’s what we did, we got the tree down to Queens Park and planted it for all to see. James covered his eyes from the dust and said, ‘From little things, big things will grow’. To my amazement the planes headed out of town, the gun shots seemed to disappear, and I felt a sense of achievement. The tree had brought hope to this sad world and had inspired the world to become better.

Nowadays the war had ended, and the tree is still in the park and has grown tall and strong. It has spread around the park and has now become a safe haven for all. We have a new mission now, it is not to conquer other countries, it is to restore this perfect planet for generations to come, because with our love, we can regrow the world.

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See the 2022 winning entries here

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