If The World Was Up To You

If The World Was Up To You

If the world was a blank canvas

And you were its artist

Whatever would you do

If the world was up to you?

 

Would the sky be a watermelon pink

And streaked with golden rainbows?

Would the air smell like peppermint

Or maybe a cup of cocoa?

 

Would the rivers flow with laughter?

Would trees talk and drink champagne?

Would angels chase after

The pitter-patter of the rain?

 

Will the mountains be like fountains

Of overflowing music?

Would flowers look like painted porcelain

Or paper with acrylic?

 

By Ryan Teo 10M

 

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The man from Brazil

A silly piece of poetry I did a while back. It’s alright, nothing super. Give it a read?

 

There was a man from Brazil

Who went to a country called Glenville

He lived in this nice big flat

Which he bought at the drop of a hat!

He woke up each day

And ate at a buffet

Dancing up and down

He then complained with a frown

He exclaimed in fright

For what he saw felt like a bite

His things had been taken

As well as all his bacon

His abode had been ransacked

But he tried to look at it abstract

They were missing, his watch and his phone

He would now need to get a loan

There was a man from Brazil

Who fled from a country called Glenville

Now, all his friends gape

As he tells all, of his narrow escape

The wind blows,…

The wind blows, the tides shift

I sit on the sea shore, watching the waves

Above me sits a chalk faced cliff

Its shape and form change every day

The air is fresh, I breathe it in

Face to the sky, the stars like gods

Movement of hands, touching sand to skin

This beach, on this night, has no flaws

Such a perfect view, of the ocean when standing

Preoccupations take no hold, in this moment

The water seems so commanding

The urge to be in its engrossment

A final look at the infinite darkness

Then a calm stroll towards the brightness

 

 

Matthew Lyons – Short Story

PART I

What do you do when you’ve insulted the chief’s daughter of your village, have been exiled with your best friend, told to never return and your father couldn’t care at all? That’s what Max was thinking. All he had was a frugal pack on his shoulder, with an even sorrier looking wallet in his pockets. Max sighed. He didn’t know what to do.

 

A voice rang about him. “Come on, Max. Whatever happened to your usual bravado? Got exiled as well, did it?”

 

Max looked up at his friend. Leon smiled, and patted him on the shoulder. They were a strange pair, being different yet so similar. Their friendship began 8 years ago at their village’s school, where Leon broke their teacher’s necklace, yet Max took the blame for him. Ever since, they were together, talking quietly or engaging in mock battles, re-enacting the stories told by the greybeards of their families.

 

“Come,” Leon encouraged. “Perhaps before nightfall?”

Max smiled to himself as they began to jog south along the river Shepherd’s Beard, travelling down the path that would lead to the Temple of 100 Trials.

 

Their plan was something that even the village chief would balk at. It is because the temple is said to be inhabited by monsters, like goblins, giant spiders and horrors of the worst sort. After being exiled, Max and Leon felt it would be a great place to hide out until they figured out a way to redeem themselves, as no one would look for them among the ivy-snared walls.

 

PART II

As Max came back to their camp at the mouth of the Temple, arms laden with firewood, Leon was not there. Confused, Max tried to think while, as Leon was setting out the rations for their dinner before…

There! By the temple entrance, a muddy boot lay. Max flinched, as the boot’s partner rested forlornly on the dirt inside the Temple. Not knowing what to do, Max thought of his options. He could get help, yet that would mean going back to the village. Or he could go inside…

With a torch in hand, Max plunged inside…

 

PART III

The temple seemed innocent enough. The moon’s glow pierced through the ceiling and the pillars stood stubbornly, despite the forest’s vines curling about them. Yet architecture was the least on Max’s mind.

 

“Leon? Are you here?”

Max heard rustling. Holding his torch high, he glanced upwards.

Suddenly, the room was filled with moonlight, and a hulking mass landed on the ground. Max gasped, as it was a spider, yet it was bigger than a cow, and twice as smelly. The arachnid’s pincers snapped, before it let loose a stream of thread. Max rolled to the side, fear flooding his heart.

“MAX! Up here!”

Max looked up, flinching in surprise, for Leon was trapped in a cocoon on a pillar.

“Quickly! No time for lollygagging!” Leon yelled. “Over there! Look in the bones!”

Max stared in the corner, seeing something shining among the dust. Max reached down, and threw a stone at the spider, striking it in one of its eyes.

 

As it flailed in agony, Max rushed to the bone-pile, seeing a sword and spear in the skeleton’s hands. Dropping the torch, he grabbed them both and turned, but the spider was rushing at him, its 8 eyes rolling madly, pincers dripping with venom.

 

Feeling courage swell in his heart, Max stepped forward, sword in his left hand, the spear in his right. Yelling with fervour, Max leapt, thrusting the spear into another eye, and he hacked at the spider’s legs with the sword, before managing to kill it with another spear thrust.

 

Max breathed deeply. He would’ve earned great renown if there were anyone to have seen his deed. Speaking of anyone…

THUD! Leon groaned, as his cocoon had fallen down with him in it. Max ran to his friend’s side.

“Are you okay?”

“You would think a spider would’ve woven its cocoon properly, but no, it did a botch job…”

Max chuckled as he helped Leon unwrap himself from the webbing. It was a good sign if Leon’s usual good humour was returning. He put the spear next to Leon.

“Here, if we get attacked again, at least we can defend ourselves.”

“Huh. Never knew you had the warrior in you, Max.”

“You know I always said that I wanted to be a warrior.”

“You say a lot of things, Max. I don’t listen to everything you say.”

 

They stood up, yet shock took hold, as all of a sudden, on the other side of the room, the wall gave way. Yet what was more surprising was the noise of grinding stone. Which could only mean…

 

Leon and Max peered at the ceiling, which was easing itself downwards. Then, they looked at the exit’s door, which was already closing. They looked at each other, their eyes answering the questions. With a nod, they dashed deeper into the temple…

 

PART IV

Max and Leon dived into the next room, hands over their ears as the ceiling of the previous room crashed to the ground.

“You realize this is probably the stupidest thing we’ve ever done?” Max remarked.

“Didn’t stop you from coming, though, did it?” Leon retorted.

“Well, you remember that legend about the village’s Sacred Ruby?”

“How could I forget?  My sister never stopped talking about it when my gaffer raved about it last year…”

Leon looked at Max, stepping back from the look of his grin.

“Max, no. That’s insane, even for your standards.”

“Think about it. If we got it, they’d take us back! We’d be heroes!”

Leon sighed. “Ah well, it’s not like we have a choice anymore, since we’re stuck here.”

Max clapped his friend on the shoulder. ‘Then let’s get a move on. If this temple goes by its name, we’ve got another 99 trials to get through!”

PART V

There were two types of trials that Max and Leon had to complete. Some tested their combat prowess (Max was prominent in these) in battling other-worldly creatures, including goblins and reanimated skeletons, while other tests involved mental puzzles and riddles (Leon was the main contributor in these).

 

 

After slaying another pair of goblins, Leon bent over in exhaustion, his spear clattering to the ground. “Who knew killing goblins could be so tiring?”

Max rested his back on the chamber’s wall. “I dunno, but we gotta keep going.”

Grunting slightly, Leon got up, and he and Max went through to the next chamber, after which the door closed behind them.

Looking warily around the room, there was no sign of an enemy; just two passageways.

“Do you think this is another puzzle thing?” Max whispered.

“Might as well find out,” Leon replied as he stepped forward.

 

Suddenly, a mist formed in the room, completely obscuring Max’s vision and Leon disappeared. Max cried out and was about to run forward, yet a figure formed in the fog. Max exclaimed in fear, as the shape turned into his father. It spoke aloud,.

“You killed your mother.”

“No…”

“Because of your birth, you took her away from me.”

“I…”

“You disgrace our family; make yourself the biggest fool of Shepherd’s Ford, so banishment is a fitting punishment…”

‘Father…I…”

“You disgust me. Why don’t you give into despair? With you gone, the world will finally be rid of your insolence.”

“Dad…please…”

“You sucked the life out of her. You have the same brown hair, the same face and you stole her green eyes from this world.”

“Dad…I’m sorry…”

“Your apology means nothing. Give in, boy. Allow the darkness to fill you. Let its fingers grasp your heart, and may the light never enter your eyes again…”

Max curled into ball, sobbing uncontrollably, feeling grief submerge his mind, until…

“THAT’S ENOUGH!!!”

 

Max opened his eyes. The figure of his father melted away, and the mist twisted together into a woman. She wore a commoner’s dress; her hair fell by her shoulders into masses of brown. Then, she opened her eyes, and Max was astonished by their colour. Like two bright emeralds…

 

“Mom?”

“Oh, my son. How you’ve grown. The fact you’re here means that you have your father’s audacity.”

“Was Dad an illusion? Are you real? Am I…dreaming?”

“Come, Max. I may not be here in flesh, yet heed my words.”

Max sat up, staring at his mother in awe.

 

“You are courageous, my son. Counting this chamber, you have already passed through 37 trials, which was more than the Shepherd himself, who never got past the first.”

“So, the skeleton in the first room, the sword and spear…”

“Aye, they belonged to the Shepherd. You and Leon fought like the warriors of old.”

“You know Leon?’

“I am a spirit, Max. I see far and see all. I have watched over you since my mind left my body, 15 years ago in our home. I am so very proud of you.”

“Mom…I…”

“There is little time for me. Already, my strength falters. So I will help you the best I can. Listen closely. Before the mist, you saw the two passages, correct?”

Max nodded.

“Very well, I advise you to take the passage on the left, as it will lead you to the end.”

“A shortcut?”

“Yes. Now, I bid farewell to you, Max. Your road will be difficult, yet remember this. Your father is a good person at heart, despite his gruffness.”

“But Mom!”

“Hush. I leave you now. Be safe. I love you.”

“MOM!!!”

 

PART VI

“Max! What happened?”

After the mist had appeared, Leon stood stock-still, waiting for it to dissipate. Once it did, he saw Max kneeling with an empty expression, and so Leon feared the worst.

Max shook his head as he stood up, and looked Leon in the eye. “I need you to believe me when I tell this to you, Leon.”

 

Several minutes later, Leon shrugged.

“You believe me, don’t you?”

“Max, it seems illogical, but this temple is really weird, so I don’t doubt it. So, ready to go through the left passage?”

“Of course.”

 

PART VII

Max and Leon were blinded by their arrival into the final chamber. The walls were dotted with jagged green crystal; its light giving the room a green glow. But what really caught their attention was the pedestal in the middle of the room. On it lay a stone, glowing dimly with a deep red. It was the Shepherd Ford’s Sacred Ruby!

Max and Leon were struck dumb by its beauty. As they stood in front of it, they could see themselves reflected a hundred times over.

“By my father’s belly,” Leon muttered. “The stories didn’t describe it well enough.”

Max raised his hand. “Come, let’s take it.” His hand rested on the jewel’s multifaceted surface.

All of a sudden, the crystals grew dark, their light disappearing into nothingness.

Crying out in alarm, Max released his grip on the stone. The stench of brimstone pervaded the chamber, and an eerie glow on the other side of the room twisted into the figure of…a man.

Dressed in tattered, faded robes, it had a pointed hat on its brow and it had a long beard. Yet what were most unsettling were its eyes, for they pierced their very souls, scouring the corners of their very beings.

Then, it spoke.

“WHO DARE DISTURB THE RESTING PLACE OF THE SHEPHERD, THE ONE WHO MADE MIRACLES WHEN HE BROUGHT HIS VILLAGE FROM DAMNATION TO SALVATION?”

Terror overcame them, yet while Max cowered, Leon stood defiantly.

“Max and I came, o Shepherd, creator of Shepherd’s Ford,” Leon began. “As we seek the village’s Sacred Ruby, so we may barter it to our village chief’s and renounce our banishment.”

“Umm!” it replied. “Your claim seems plausible, for even in death, I know the chief of my ford and his daughter are fools. Yet, by what crime earned you your banishment?”

The spirit waved its arm, and the light returned to the chamber’s crystals. Picking himself up, Max stood.

“The chief’s daughter made comment about my mother and the fact that she died soon after giving birth to me,” Max said slowly. “For that, I insulted her ridiculous blonde pigtails. Her father was drunk at the time, and so in his befuddled state, he banished me.”

The spirit nodded thoughtfully. “I would have done the same thing that you did, if I were in your place. Yet, who is your companion?”

Leon stepped up. “We are friends, and so I defended him, yet the truth was ignored, and so both of us were banished.”

The shepherd turned away and laughed. “Such loyalty! It is unusual in these times for such a bond to form! It reminds me of the old days, when Ryan the Blacksmith and I were brothers in arms…”

Max started in surprise. “Ryan?” He asked. “My great great grandfather was Ryan!”

The shepherd looked at Max with a new light in his eyes.

“Well,” the spirit started. “At least my friend’s brethren turned out well. Very well then.”

The spirit grasped the ruby, placing it in Max’s hands.

“I give it to you now,” the spirit murmured. “In return, I ask for my weapons, the sword and spear, so that I may finally rest in peace.”

Max and Leon placed them on the pedestal, and the spirit gazed at them fondly. He pointed to the wall, which came away to reveal a passageway.

“Follow it and return home. Do not disturb the temple any further, for I will not be around to help you.”

At this, Max and Leon bowed low to the Shepherd, before running down the passage, their hearts filled with silent joy and wonder at escaping with their lives, with the Sacred Ruby, and meeting the Shepherd.

 

PART VIII

Air! Sweet, night air!

The passage led to the side of the temple into a clearing of trees. Leon fell to the ground in exhaustion.

“Never knew that you could miss the taste of air and the touch of the night’s breeze,” he said.

Max breathed deeply, held the Sacred Ruby aloft and looked at Leon with a new light in his eyes.

With the gem in tow, and a new resolves running through their veins, they felt at peace.

It was time to go home again.

 

 

Midnight Murder…

Midnight Murder

Night falls, London shrouded in fog.

The white cloud hides a killer.

A tall dark figure looks and nocks;

A fair maiden. Brews a fever.

A glimpse at the tower clock.

 

In the frosty midnight hour,

He starts to stalk.

She knows nothing; see a kind sir

If she turns but she only walks.

The beauty, relentless of her,

Strikes him as if to taunt and mock.

Soft footsteps on the cobble, now quicker.

He closes the gap; he also sees white chalk.

 

A flurry of action and sound, a blur.

She turns, a shimmer of silver,

She reeks of shock and fear. Trickster!

Her hope is but a glimmer.

A plunge, a second, a third to be sure

The fire in her eyes burns dimmer

While his, glow brighter.

 

A demented caper,

A captured lover,

Midnight murder.

 

 

 

 

By Hanford 11C

The Drunkard

Look at him. Watch as he heckles the walkers. See him lie on the curb, abed with his sweetheart. Watch him beg for the unwary dime, to keep him the way he is – to buy the poison which pumps his lungs, and burns them also. The drunkard sits, and waits. He sits atop the brow-beaten curb. His form, dark and obscure, drains piteous gestures from the passers-by. Yet when he talks, he reveals himself, and it belies this ‘truth’.

He was married once, they say. He was once a man of means? Hardly, but he made do. He once had a child, and a wife. Though, he has no more. He says they are dead to him, as he spits upon a crevasse in the asphalt.

I went searching for the truth of this drunkard. I wanted to find what he hides behind the golden liquor – the veil of steel he hooks upon the rungs around his heart. He sits, and watches me cautiously as I approach him. And I, with my hooded cloak, hide my eyes, for he too may penetrate my veil.

“Maria!” He cried one night I was with him. Maria. That was the name of his bride. He was to marry her in the summer of 1982, and yet, I find nothing in the state marital records. It seems he did not marry this woman. My escapades through the obituaries reveal that it was on the month before his planned marriage, that she died.

It was a curious case – a door locked from the inside, and a room without other entry. Yet she was inside. Dead. They never found him – the murderer that is. I look at the door now, its hinges screech as it begs for its euthanasia. The room is empty, but for the dust that fills it. And there is a dark, brown stain upon the wall. That must be where she died. Nostalgic echoes rush into me. I rush forward to meet the floor, as my legs give way.

Did she cower, I wonder, as I sit hugging myself, shivering. Did she fear death, or did she embrace it? I realise that I shall never know, but there is no reason not to wonder. I throw a clay pot on the floor at the thought. Its form shatters into a myriad of pieces as it hits the ground, and one flies to my cheek. The ruby syrup drips down to my chin, and splatters upon the ground. How lucky she is.

Months later, he married another. A woman his brother found – Donna Favaldo. Her, I found, for she is not dead. She lives in a house, southwest of my own. I walked there one day, and saw a strange man stroll from the building, a dirty smile upon his face. The thought signalled the march of my food to my mouth – I threw up in her yard, and ran away.

I could hear her shout behind me: “What the bloody hell!” she screamed, half naked, hurling a large rock at me from behind. It turns out she is a prostitute.

His son I found as well, a bar tender in a local restaurant. At my questions, he flinched, and told me he knew nothing about the drunkard. I knew he did. He lied to me. I walked out, coolly, and sprayed the walls of the place with profanity that night. The bright pink spray paint sits there, to this day, disgustingly brilliant.

He has been forgotten – betrayed, and forgotten. He was a nice man. A quiet, dutiful man and he has been betrayed, and forgotten. He doesn’t deserve it.

His wife cheated on him. I asked the local gossip-mongerer Heroni of his story and that is what happened. His wife cheated on him.

And he knew. I look at him now, as he sits like a dog on the pavement, turning his head this way and that, following the people around him asking them for a dime. He disgusts me. He knew.

He knew that his wife was cheating on him, and yet, he accepted it. He agreed to it. He stayed quiet, and life was ‘business as usual’. He was weak; a coward. Once more the food rushes to my mouth – though this time I could stop it. I wish I hadn’t.

She drove him bankrupt, took his house, and threw him out. He is alone.

That is not the story of the drunkard who lives opposite my house. He has been a drunkard all his life. He did not love Maria, or Donna Favaldo. He has no son. He had no wife. He has nothing.

I approach him, and hear the expected ‘Have you a meagre dime for a poor man?’ Out of my pocket, I throw him a roll of 100 dollar bills. I see his eyes light up, and I pull down my hood.

I ask him for the bottle he holds in his hand, which he kindly donates. I walk back to my house, closing the door. I smile as I wipe the bottle clean. I drink whatever is left inside, the bitter liquid hurling me into inebriation, and I smash the bottle against my wall, half of it still left intact.

The world becomes abstruse. I feel myself fading away, as my blood pervades the carpet. I relax in my chair, and sit back.

Staring upwards, I see the fan turn. Cool air hits my face. I think of the moments. I drown in my memories – eyes lighting up seeing Maria, Favaldo, the bastard son I leave behind…

… and finally, the drunkard.

Michael Pryor’s tips for fantasy writing

Hi guys,

Michael Pryor’s Extraordinaires 1: The Extinction Gambit has just been recognised as a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book. Well done, Michael! I asked Michael (on Facebook) if he would contribute something for our blog, and he’s kindly shared his top tips for fantasy writing.

Top Tips For Writing Fantasy

Michael Pryor

I was going to call this ‘Golden Rules for Writing Fantasy’ but I wasn’t happy with

the ‘Rules’ part. Rules are a problem in Fantasy because when imagination is king, anything

is possible. So as Captain Barbossa said about the Pirates’ Code, these are more guidelines

than your actual rules.

Tip 1. Do all the other stuff really well.

Fantasy writing is tricky. You’ve got to do all the fantasy stuff – invent new worlds, create

bizarre creatures, imagine mighty magics – but you also have to do all the things that make

for standard good writing. You have to have interesting, complex, motivated characters. You

have to organise your plot so it unfolds in a logical but engaging way. You have to make your

descriptions colourful and vivid. You have to put your words together in the right order so

they make sense.

Many would-be Fantasy writers spend all their time on the Fantasy side of the equation,

creating a world full of elves and dragons and high enchantment, but don’t pay enough

attention to the basics of good writing. Don’t be like that!

Tip 2. Choose a setting.

Many Fantasy stories are set in a world that’s roughly like our European middle ages in, with

castles and knights and long horseback journeys. But Fantasy can be much more than that.

Remember: History is the Fantasy writer’s best friend. Cast your eye over history, find an

interesting time and place, add some magic and Bingo! You’ve got yourself a new world for a

story.

Tip 3. Choose your type of Fantasy story.

Is it There and Back Again, where your characters start in this world, somehow go to a

Fantasy world, then return (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)? Or is it a full-on Fantasy

world and the whole story unfolds in this Other Place (The Lord of the Rings)? Or do fantasy

characters/creatures intrude into this world and adventure ensues (The Alchemyst)? Or would

you like a combination of some or all of these?

Tip 4. Get your Dialogue Level right.

If you have a story set in an old-fashioned society, full of kings and queens and swords and

armour, make sure the characters speak appropriately.(Don’t use ‘Okay’, for instance.) But

don’t overdo it, either. Having your characters spouting off ‘Forsooth’ every second sentence

gets a bit boring.

Tip 5. Think hard about magic.

Magic is almost essential for a Fantasy story. In fact, I can’t think of a Fantasy story that

doesn’t include some sort of magic. But magic is a real challenge for a Fantasy writer. All

of your carefully constructed plot falls apart if the reader says ‘Well, why don’t they just use

magic?’ to get themselves out of the dungeon, slay the dragon, find the treasure or conquer

the Evil Overlord.

So how can you include magic and have all the good fun with it, without letting it spoil your

story? Answer: magic should have some limits. Remember Aladdin? He only had three

wishes. Imagine if he had limitless wishes. All his problems would disappear and we’d have

no story. So if you include magic in your story, you have to figure out a clever way to limit its

use. (Magic can only be used once a day. Magic can only be used at night. Magic can only be

used by red-headed people on Tuesdays.)

I’m sure this will be appreciated by keen fantasy writers. See his post about his recent book award on his website here.

The Official blog for Melbourne High Writing Interest Group (WIG)

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