Natalia’s Night

The freezing winds heralded their arrival and their arrival meant death. The winds were always cold this time of year, but these winds were far more ominous, bringing polar temperatures that the north had not seen in centuries. The fields of barley had stood no chance, each stalk ripped from its home and cast into the night. Starvation had begun to take hold of Natalia long before the first signs of them had approached their cottage. The locals called them frostmen, beings that walked silently, the cold was the only omen of the frostmen’s approach. They came in the night and her mother’s screams reverberated in the confines of their small cottage. She didn’t run to save her. Instead, she hid under her thin blanket until she was sure all that remained in the cottage was her mother’s frozen corpse.

She found her mother panting heavily on the floor, her skin deathly pale. Pale, but alive. Her mother gasped when Natalia’s light footsteps approached her, but smiled a weak smile at the realisation that her daughter was safe.
‘Natalia…my flower, safe and… and all alone in this world now…’
‘Mama, I’ll get you warm! I-I’ll s-start a fire and we’ll be w-warm and…’ she stopped when she realised her mother was crying. She reached for Natalia’s face, gently caressing her cheek and sliding a lock of golden silk behind her ear.
‘My flower…leave me, Mama will be fine. Run Natalia, they’ll be back and-‘
‘I won’t go Mama, I won’t leave you, please don’t make me run,’ she whispered, clawing at her mother, desperately clinging onto the life she had known for nine years. Her mother smiled and her eyes drifted shut, tears frozen on her face as a silent prayer formed on her lips and the cold overtook her.
‘Run Natalia…’ She murmured as the ice overcame her face and she lay still, limp and cold and dead.

Natalia ran into the night, panting, her breath condensing as shimmering vapour streamed from her mouth. She stopped and looked back at the cottage, the sight of her mother’s body still visible in her mind, branded into her memory. She wanted to go back, to hide herself in her mother’s arms, to hide from the cold and the ice but she knew better. She knew they would catch her like they caught her mother so after a final glance at her security, she whimpered and bolted into the forest of larches.

Freezing tendrils grabbed at her, spreading a plague of glacial dominance over the lands. Their winds chilled her, ice creeping into her bones. It was cold. It was so very cold. She had wandered down the path warm, heat in her soul, warming her like a wildfire blazing through a forest. She had to run, she would always run, but her fire was dying and those frigid fingers would not release her.

She gained sanctuary from the winds as she stumbled into a cave, blinded by the snow whipping around her face. The sight of the dull embers burning in the cave made her rub her eyes. Could she be so fortunate? Natalia crept towards the flames but the sight of a figure resting against the wall caused her to jump back. She shrank back but the fact that the figure was wrapped in furs made her realise this was not a frostman. It was a human.

She inched closer to the fire, warming her palms, the heat filling her up, and she greedily accepted it. The figure was forgotten and all Natalia could think about was this relief from the cold.
‘A child should not be running around in the night.’
Natalia spun around to face the speaker. It was a woman, wrapped up tightly in furs. Brown strands of hair poked out from under her hood, which covered up most of her head. A pair of gentle brown eyes observed Natalia, welcoming and kind.
‘It’s cold out there, take this to warm yourself,’ the woman said, as she threw a cloak to Natalia. Natalia buried herself in the cloak, grateful of the stranger’s kindness.
‘Th-thank you. Please don’t l-leave me, my mama’s gone and I-I have nowhere to go,’ she sobbed, her small eyes pleading for the woman to stay. The woman smiled a reassuring smile and reached for Natalia’s hand.
‘You’re safe now, little one. Don’t worry, I won’t leave, I’ll protect you,’ the woman repeated into Natalia’s ear as she drifted off to sleep. She was tired, she had run for a long time. But now she was safe, she was safe. Her thoughts of home and her mother and this kind stranger dissipated as she gave into her weariness.

Bernard Tso 9L

Poem: “Letter of Resignation”

I don’t miss you.

I don’t miss you
The way I used to.
I don’t miss you at all.

I’ll take the buses
To where I saw you
Every day, where you’ve left
Not a trace.

I’ll play the songs
You sung to me
And hear only emptiness.

I’ll search for what
I buried to find there’s
Nothing left in the ground
But corpses.

I’ll look up at the sky
And see stars that don’t burn
For anything at all.

I don’t miss you.
I can’t miss what was never there.

Running – Chapter 2

Her legs hurt. They burned like a fire that refused to go out. Her feet were weights secured to the two narrow pieces of string that were her legs. She was too afraid to look back, if she did she was sure that she would stop. Stop to look at the monstrosities coming towards her. Stare in horror as cold, dead hands reached for her and grabbed her. The thought of them gaining ground on her kept her positively terrified, so she ran. That’s all she knew how to do. That’s all she could do. The darkness threatened to overtake her, to devour her torch and leave her in darkness. The torch was fighting desperately in a battle against the dark, and it was losing. As she ran along, she shook her torch with the sheer force of moving forward, bouncing the small light ray she relied on against the sewer walls around her. The cobbled floor beneath glinted at her. She did not dare step near the edge of the narrow platform which separated her from the sewer water, she did not want to know what hell lurked there. How long had she been running for? A few minutes? An hour? It was impossible to tell. All she knew was that she was getting tired, fast. She wouldn’t be lasting much longer. Her hope faded, and she started slowing down, getting herself ready for the horrors behind her.

A light appeared. At the end of the tunnel, it was barely visible because of the distance, but it was just visible. Her eyes lit up brighter than her meagre light source and she put on an extra burst of speed, using the last of her energy for the final stretch. She panted, her chest heaved, her body begging for her to stop moving. The light grew brighter and larger as she got closer, and she caught her first glimpses of the sun…

____________________________________

“Damn it…” mumbled Zach. “Another wasted hour.”

A lone figure stumbled out of a small house, kicking a nearby stone as he passed by it.  The stone half rolled, half bounced along the pavement, finally stopping at a garbage bin further along the street. He swung his bloodied baseball bat over his shoulder for the umpteenth time. “Did the people here discover some new way to gain sustenance or has food just gone out of fashion…” he mumbled to himself. He ambled along the road, ignoring the dried blood all over the walls of the houses around him.

The sky was a pale, cloudless blue. The sun was unrelenting, trying it’s hardest to send more unbearable heat his way. If the infected didn’t kill him, the late Summer would. It was hot, humid and Zach was sweating more water than a running tap. He reached the stone and kicked it again, sending it skittering over the cracked tar of the road. It bounced and stopped at the edge of the pavement, startling a nearby crow. Zach watched it spasm its wings and flap its way to the top of the house next to him. It turned to eye him with a dark, spiteful glare. He chuckled and kept walking.

These days, the loud caws of nearby crows were the only traces of life that made him sure he wasn’t the last living organism on Earth. He hadn’t laid eyes on a person in a little while. A normal person anyway. He found solace in kicking stones following them, looting houses along the way. This was his new way of life, and hell did he like it. Call it what you will, but he called it adventure, albeit with the risk of a painful and horrible death. At least it was better than the life he had been living before this mess.

He reached his stone again but hesitated in kicking it. He realised he was at the bottom of a slope, and kicking the stone wouldn’t get it over the slope. The uphill road obscured any vision he had ahead of him, so he had to get over it, but he wanted to keep his stone. Rolling the mental dilemma in his head, he realised something. Using the tip of his worn out runners, Zach flicked the stone up in front of him, and swung with all his might with the bat in this hands. The stone soared over the hill, setting him running after it. He reached the top of the uphill climb and was astonished at what he saw.

The line of houses that he had been walking alongside ended abruptly at the end of the street. He had the choice of either going left or right, or straight. What troubled him was what lay ahead of him. The ground ended where he stood and dropped steeply, curving a few meters down and finally coming to rest horizontally. The slope repeated on the other side. Poking out of the slope at the other side was a large opening, looking like the cross section of a pipe. A large grate hung on its side on the pipe-like opening, sprinkled with rust and peppered with dents, as if it had been recently been driven into several times. The inside was cut off by darkness, but the occasional glint of water flashed at Zach’s eyes. He squinted his eyes and raised his hand to the sun to block off the light, managing to see a small flow of water dripping out of the pipe and into the large space before him. He saw something poking out of the water just beside the pipe, and for a moment he caught the flash of something golden…

The Matrix – Remade

Just a thing we were doing in the meeting

___________________________________

Jason woke up feeling suffocated, before realising he was submerged. Panic surged through him as he swam upwards to the small bit of light that he could see. His head almost broke the surface before he was painfully yanked downwards. He frantically flailed his arms and realised a series of cables trapped him, and a large metal chord seemed to have attached itself to his chest. He kicked away the cables, rapidly running out of air, at the same time trying to yank the chord off his chest. Pain surged through his body as the chord disconnected with a sickening pop that left an angry red scar. Now free, and almost out of oxygen, Jason kicked his way tot he surface. He broke the surface panting heavily, holding onto a steel beam above him. Finally able to observe his surroundings, Jason saw that he was in a glass, egg-shaped capsule filled with water, a narrow slit between the roof and the capsule.

Matrix, Truth, Reality, Identity, Morpheus and me

Reagan showed us a couple of clips from the matrix. I decided to put myself in Neo’s shoes.

Morpheus stared at me. “The red pill, or the blue pill, Alex.”
I stared at Morpheus. “Is there a purple pill?”
“A purple pill?”
“Yeah, a purple pill.” I said. “I’m allergic to red dye. Or a green one, I’m not that fussy.”
“So you want the red pill?” Morpheus asked.
“I want to not have an anaphylactic shock.” I replied.
“This world isn’t real, Alex. You won’t get an anaphylactic shock.” Morpheus asked.
“The world isn’t real, Morpheus, so why don’t I shoot myself in the head?”
“It’s not the same.” Morpheus said.
“It’s exactly the same.” I said, unimpressed.
“Take the bloody pill, Alex.” Morpheus said.
“Take the bloody gun, Morpheus.”

 

By Alex Joshi 10D

Get Smoking Signals

Letter to the editor I wrote last year. This was published in the ‘Comment’ section of The Age- October 12, 2015

Some background context – There was another letter sent by someone else blaming our past for glorifying smoking. This is in response to it.

I saw a woman aged no more than 30 outside South Yarra railway station blow the kindness and generosity of others on a packet of cigarettes. Television ads show graphic images of the effects of smoking, such as tar-infected lungs. Cigarette packets also add to this with gruesome images of cancer and death. Smokers are shied away from and treated as outcasts. And with the price of cigarettes higher than ever, why do our youth still take up smoking? We must stop looking at our past glorification of smoking (Letters, 9/10), a slow suicide, and develop more effective ways of discouragement and help people to quit.

Jason Li MHS 11N

Crossing the Line

Hi readers, the following is a story I wrote for an English task at my last school. Attached is a statement of intention. It’s a long read but I hope you enjoy!

My name is Aryan Muhammad and four years ago, I crossed the line.
I was born in the summer of ’00 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I now live in Melbourne, Australia, and attend Palacent Boys College. My mother died when I was born and my dad is in Dhaka jail over alleged terrorism charges. I live with foster parents and my thirteen biological elder brothers. Times are always tough, with our financial and social status within the thriving community. Being a Muslim has exposed me to constant racism, both in and out of school.
When I first attended Palacent Boys College, I was asked to give an introduction about myself to the class. I am an honest person, and the thought of a cover story to shadow the ugly truth was not the right thing to do, so I explained to them how I came to be.
“When I was born, in Dhaka National Hospital, my mother died a few hours after giving birth to me. I was brought up for eleven years under the gifted guidance of my father, who taught me all moral responsibilities in life. I attended a small primary school, and we were a tight-knit pack who helped each other out. In 2011, my father was falsely framed for working for a terror organisation. What was worse was that the person who framed him had been a family friend of ours ever since I was born. My father was sent to a maximum-security jail for life. The police took me and my thirteen elder brothers to foster parents, people from the other side of town we’d never heard from or come across. They decided, against my siblings’ wishes, to immigrate to Australia. We rented an apartment with the help of a bank loan, and with the last pennies in our pockets, paid for education here at this school.”
The class was, quite frankly, shocked. In Bangladesh, we were always nice to each other, and empathised in each other’s problems. I quickly grew to learn that in a large place like Melbourne, this was not the case. What I had expected was some verbal gratitude, what I received was physical harassment. Within the first three hours of being at school, I had earned at least three nicknames for each class. People called me a terrorist, orphan, and all sorts of other scandalous sobriquets. No-one was appreciative of my background, they thought I was a shady nobody who would grow to be homeless. Even the teachers’ demeanour became politically incorrect towards me. They would ask me questions like, “Do you support the fact that girls are not allowed an education in Afghanistan?”
But, despite the constant struggles, I remained strong.
I remained hopeful, and mentally powerful.
Although I did not expect this sort of reaction to my past, I embraced it and took it as a notion that would be able to build my personality into something that I would be known for. Everything the school threw at me, I knew that they were wrong. I knew that being a Muslim was not an indication that I was a terrorist, but a humble, frivolous character whose values shone out in defining me.
Soon, the whole community knew about me, and the taunting and heartbreaking comments I received spread like a wildfire outside of school. When I joined the cross-country team, even my opponents from other schools would tease me before, after and even during the race. Whilst I was running, they’d push past me with intended aggression and scream out words of utter brutality. The feeling was is if I was being shot at by an archer or a gunman.
But through thick and through thin, I did not break.
I did not crumble into darkness and leave an imprinted image stating a message of cowardice and pusillanimity.
Some nights, I tried to consult my brothers on how they deal with the situation, hoping that their cultivated knowledge would be able to set me a direct path and approach to the long-term situation. They would offer their best condolences, but did not have a strong message that stood out from mere sympathy. Though I did not blame them. They too, were facing troubles at school, and there was simply not enough time to deal with the situation. My foster parents were working hard to keep us happy and healthy, and it was for that reason I decided not to pursue to subject with them, worried that they already had plenty of things to think about.
Despite always being the centre of victimisation, I was able to make one trustworthy companion. His name was Jared Samuels, a Christian boy who stood up for what I believed in. He and I would play handball during the school breaks, and talk together in class. He told me that he believed my father was innocent. I was rather intrigued by this thought and asked him why, without any materialistic evidence, he believed me so much. He said he was inspired by my introductory talk at the front of class, and praised my courage for standing up for what I thought was right, despite being put up against so many people. This made me feel joyful. But it was what he said next that made my heart leap.
“My father is a lawyer. I’ve told him about your dad. He said he is willing to help. Would you like to come over to my place this afternoon so we can talk about it?”
I was more flustered than anything else, but after a few seconds, I realised this was the perfect opportunity to solve everything. I agreed to his invitation, and before I knew it, school had finished and I was sitting at the desk of Mr Samuels.
Mr Samuels was a very smart man, both metaphorically and literally. He told me it was a huge bonus for him because he’d been looking for a big case for four and a half months. I told him it was going to be hard to free my father of a crime he didn’t commit, because a lot of authorities and officials in Bangladesh are corrupt, and do anything for money, be it right or wrong. He replied sheerly with confidence, doubtless certainty to get there in the end. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the sudden invite of help, and also the respectful hospitality I received upon entering the Samuels’ house. Jared’s mother had been quick to offer me drinks and snacks, and also gave me her benignancy in relation to the issue.
From then on, at least three times a week I would visit the Samuels’ house, and each time Jared’s father and I would work one step closer to freeing my wrongfully convicted father. Their home became a place of hope and blissfulness, it was almost like a second dwelling to my own house. After Jared’s father and I would discuss all the legal matters, Jared would come into the room and we would spend quality time together. We would discuss the latest video games, sport news and academia for school. And each time I left their house to return to my own home, a dawn of light would reflect in my new-found smile, and the message carved into my eyes was of optimism and prosperity, knowing that someday, justice would be served. Not only would my father be set free, but the modern-world issue of racism would be solved, and people would truthfully execute their moral values.
We are all human beings. No religion, nationality or skin tone is superior or inferior to another. The innovation-inspired positivity of today’s world is overshadowed by its issues. Racism is something that can be permanently halted if all of us make the effort. No spiritual belief is incorrect. We all look upon them through different eyes, through a different perspective. No-one should have the right to disenable anything you say or do based on your race. Whatever religion you are, whatever skin complexion you have, whatever your nationality is, it is important that you are proud of it.

Statement of Intention
I chose to change the story but convey the same message of the memoir, ‘Crossing the Line’, written by Bronwyn Bancroft. The story is about a girl whose father was Aboriginal and mother was a white settler. Throughout her life, she experienced racism, and wrote about how being a ‘tweener’, meaning cross between a black person and a white person forced her into a corner of victimisation and disgrace and hatred. Contrarily to how she was approached, she adored the fact that she had Aboriginal descent, and spoke from the heart about places she loved spending time at, such as the lake, where she could swim to her heart’s content, forgetting about the harsh realities she faced in her life. The message of the text was that she was persistent and proud of her heritage, and refused to believe that she was an outcast.
What I did with this story was modernised it, keeping the previously mentioned message of the story constant, but exploring the problems of today’s world, covering topics such as being the ‘new kid’ in school to going as far as the problem of terrorism today.
The story is told from the perspective of a Bangladeshi emigrant, whose father is in prison over terror allegations and mother is dead. He is a constant bullying victim at school, and his teachers are of no help to him. But, just like in ‘Crossing the Line’, he remains mentally positive and strong, and works with his lawyer and best friend to free his father, who was falsely accused, and be the symbolic ambassador in racism.
The story does not finish on whether the emigrant’s father was eventually freed or not, this is because it distracts the reader from the main message of the story.
Overall, the message conveyed is in strong relation to identity; both Aboriginal and modernised. It is a battle that seems impossible to win, but through the practice of displaying values, is victorious from the former victim.

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