Posted on June 9th 2017
'Time Machine' Writing Competition - Read the Winners
Pictured here are some of the winners of our 'Time Machine' writing competition for years 7 and 8.
Girls were challenged to journey through time and produce a piece of descriptive writing based on a period of their choice – past, present or future – for a competition run by the National Literacy Trust.
The challenge was to make the writing historically accurate and as descriptive as possible. And with just 350 words to play with, each one had to count.
There were some fantastic prizes on offer for the best entries including book vouchers and your very own eReader.
Here are the winning entries for you to enjoy. The overall winner received a certificate, book mark and collection of 16 Michael Morpugo books, with other winners receiving certificates, bookmarks and fountain pens.
Joint winner: Nadifa, Year 8
The ugliness of war reflected off the empty eyes of the dying soldiers. Blood tainted the sky, as the sorrowful tear-stricken eyes of the clouds watched us. Cries of agony sliced through the air as the lost souls of the soldiers departed their lifeless bodies. Mothers wept, holding their innocent children to their chests. Others ran, screaming, believing that their deceased children were alive, as they promised to find them a hospital.
Tears filled my eyes as I watched on at the destruction we had caused. Regimented and fear stricken, I marched continuously through this perilous path. The oddments of bullets and grenades grazed the sky. The odorous stench of the decaying soldiers and innocent people hung in the putrid air. The town that we had corrupted with evil had become a nondescript empty shell. A tattered Nazi flag waved tirelessly from a stick in the ground. Its stripped lines reminded me of those held captive wearing striped pyjamas in concentration camps.
As the sun began to set, the silhouettes of dying trees shook in the soft breeze. All that could be heard was the shallow breathing of our dying lungs. After seeking refuge in a minuscule hole, I finally began to relax and close my eyes. Flashbacks of the deaths I gladly caused and witnessed today drilled through my thoughts. My mind began to play tricks on me as children rose from the dead, pleading for me to help them. Before I could find the will to move my legs, the children were blown to pieces - at the hands of a German Nazi soldier. Their bloody limbs flew across the battlefield. I let out an unmanly scream as a child's head landed in my arms. Eyes wide open in fear…
What the judge said: "This piece evokes an emotional response in the reader from the outset. The entire piece is successful in engaging the reader and transporting them to the war torn environment and for that reason it has received first place.
Joint winner: Kandia, Year 7
Under the scorching hot African sun and the most breath-taking blue sky, Addae was hard at work in the land where he was treated like an animal. His sweaty hands clasped the axe tightly while he chopped the tree bark in half. The sun violently burnt his skin. He threw his axe down and put his hands on his knees to rest.
“LUCAS!” Master screamed at the top of his voice as he thrusted his whip onto Addae’s back. The sting was likes nothing he had felt before, it cut through his skin. He had been whipped numerous times before but the immense pain was never something he could recreate using his memory. The sting made him jolt upright and the shackles around his feet shook uncontrollably. In no time, he got back to work, trying to fight the tears and pain of the lash.
Master never calls him Addae, he gave all of them new, ‘western’ names. He’s just too lazy and ignorant to bother to learn names, he doesn’t care about culture.
Another turns and looks at Addae.
“Whachu lookin’ at?” he mumbles.
“What?” his voice is quivering with anger and pain. Master gives him a threatening glance and shouts across the plantation in a deep southern accent.
“Hey, you’re doin’ double the work today and if you don’t it’s an hours lashing. Ya hear me?”
Addae gets right back to work with fear in his heart. An hour's lashing? I’m not even halfway through my daily work. He’s seen fellow workers leave the tiny hut where it takes place. Their whole bodies are red, oozing with blood. Their screams defeanening and full of pain, calling on God to answer their prayers and save them. Addae’s eyes well with tears and he starts praying in hope for a better life where he can see his mother and siblings again. He longs to sit down and eat some beans for lunch and to laugh and joke with his father. He wants his life back. He doesn’t even know if his family is safe. He wants to be a human being again. Is it that much to ask for?
What the judge said: "This story is able to create a strong sense of character while still making a moral judgement and giving an understanding of the conditions of slaves. We are given a clear understanding of the environment Addae lives in as well as a sense of the relationships between himself and the other characters present. A great deal packed into a short story.
Other entries that received awards
Esther, Year 8
Stepped in ready to do this
Hours later bodies and bruises
Gun shots fired in the air
Men were shrieking in despair
How can we do this
Clutching my gun in my hand whilst downing my rum
Alcohol was my gate way to denial
of the dead bodies that soon begin to pile
Eyes closing and my feet hurt
Stomach churning and my thoughts revert
As I reminisce the sweet taste of chocolate dessert
And that's when they say hurry we need to get going
My eyes open and my body's alert
like I wasn't just complaining about how my feet hurt
How can we do this
I can't help but begin to frown
How many times will they have said man down
And what was a fluorescent field is now a turbid-brown
Only 3 hours in the first round
All for what
When will they stop
Is it when everyone Is six feet under
Leaving families demoralised,
Stripped of every increment of faith and optimism
That we'd return in one piece
Because the guy next to me lays decapitated
The stench of his body not yet evaporated
I will not slack, I will keep firm,
I will not run, I'll wait my turn
So you can tell the kids I was a hero
at the front line
A ten not a zero
As it's only a matter of time until the bullet penetrates though my head
Motionless on the floor, lying there dead
As to me it's still a mystery
That it will be one of the most important times in history
Hafza, Year 8
The innocence in my eyes became a defeated victim of the villainous sky as it poured down blinding torrents of light, abusing and torturing my ability to see. I stumbled back from the sudden spark of the sun’s light that reflected off our clashing, shiny, shimmering swords, shooting lasers at the pupil of my blinded eyes. Waves of wind pierced my skin with minuscule particles of fiery, golden sand that ruthlessly attacked my uncovered arms, mercilessly leaving me with dozens of crimson red marks. A silent scream instantaneously struck my body. Tumultuous, exasperating noises projected from the metal armour that had been vigorously pushed onto the bodies of menacing soldiers who fiercely and fearlessly marched towards me. Stumbling back and forth. The ferocious ground relentlessly began to convulse and rattle, strenuously turning and tossing large stones and bodies around. Booming roars viciously dominated the virulent atmosphere as maroon red blood unpleasantly spurted from our wounds and continuously dripped from our clashing swords. The shrieking sounds of scraping metal tirelessly extracted a wet, sticky, liquid substance from my pale skin. My exhausted heart abandoned my bruised chest to pound my dry throat as a nervous tic flickered beneath my confused eyes. A belligerent hail of arrows suddenly whizzed and whistled through the now rayless sky. A gentle hot breeze stroked my silky hair as a sharp figure forced and plunged its way through my thick yet weak skin, ripping at the strings of my heart. I fall to the uncomforting ground where I feel the cold chill of death approach me. Carelessly dragged along the deadly battlefield, small grains of stone-like material boiled and eventually dissolved into my scorching sweat. I took one last insufficient look at the scaring scene. Barley breathing, my breath becomes crisp and cold, leaving trails of steam behind me.
Bing, Year 7
My choice of shelter from the fatal sun outside, was a crash site of an old plane. It had plummeted down to ground a decade ago, the year of 3007, revealing bodies of passing humans.
Suddenly, a excruciating pain struck me, wounding my legs as the yellow sunbeam escaped through the windows. Swiftly, I shot myself into a shaded spot, hoping to avoid the pain.
A gunshot awoke me. BLAST! A bullet flew through the walls of my home, was I discovered? The only thing that rang in my head was 'humans'. My kind had no chance of gaining any resource for we were forbidden creatures
"Hold up your arms, creature!” a bellowing voice echoed. I was correct, I knew it. An explosion blast blew open the metal skin of the plane. A silhouette came into sight.. And another. Slowly, one by one, another and another came to sight.
I could see around a total of 20 humans, with machinery and weapons. They were deeply scarred, angered expression and vicious senses filled the atmosphere. How was I discovered? I showed no indication of my stay nor had I devoured human flesh.
But soon, my attention returned towards the looks they cast upon me, of disproval and infuriation. I was confused but the hatred I received! What harm had I done to them? What trouble had I caused that could lead to this?
Instantaneously, a bullet impaled my shoulder, shocking me as my sight faded. Slowly, I felt my self losing consciousness and finally I collapsed upon the floor. And what would happen next? Would I die, sleep or be taken away. Was I really worth so much of the human’s time?
And again, I was awake. Not dead, not asleep. But taken away, and it seemed like I really was important to the cruel creatures. Though I felt no honor or importance, they carried my restrained body and into the hidden territory of the humans. A flowing look of loathing fell upon me as humans passed by me. The future, our present, was truly ruined.
Tiffany, Year 7
“Toooooooootttt!!” The train chugged noisily as hundreds of children screamed and waved goodbye. I too joined them, waving madly at my Mother. She waved back, tears in her eyes. I loved her more than words could describe. I needed her, she needed me. I was Sophie. I was her rock, especially after Dad left….
I woke up to the glistening sun blinding my eyes. Quickly, I drew back the covers and shuffled into the kitchen for I could smell bacon cooking. As I entered, Mother was hovering over the stove and father was sitting at the table, his hands shuffling through the mail. “Do you want bacon, darling?”
There was no answer, instead father was staring rather hardly at a letter he had just opened. After a while, he seemed to come back to earth. “Child, please leave the room for a minute and get dressed.” he commanded.
“Yes father.” I said. I left them in the kitchen talking, probably about bills or something. I knew that we weren’t poor, but we definitely weren’t rich either. So, I was extremely surprised when I heard a cry coming from the kitchen, especially since Mother and Father barely argue.
“But you can’t go!”
“Keep your voice down, woman. The child will hear!”
“Let her hear! For she needs to know that she may never see you again.”
“Don’t be ridiculous! There are survivors from where I’m going.”
“Where ARE you going father?” asked a new voice to the conversation. I found out that the new voice was mine.
“Sophie go to school.” said Mama, her black hair hanging over her tearful eyes.
“Go to school!” she shouted.
I was stunned. Mama had never shouted at me like that before. I burst into tears and ran out of the house, my school bag banging against my side. By the time I got to school I was in tatters. Hair in my eyes, tears and snot falling down my face and dribbling on my chin. Whilst I was fixing myself up, I felt a sudden hand pushing me down to the ground.
Ava, Year 7
Their brazen orbs glimmer like newly fallen droplets of ink. Seas of ebony, brown and white are thrashing against each other vigorously. A veil of fear is hemmed to the blanket sky. Black and brown dots bellow chant and scream for their rights as pale soldiers enforce punishment upon them. Punishment as powerful as the force of a whip to brittle bone.
I remember watching solemnly as this injustice unfolded before me. The black and white images that followed on the television, I watched with widened eyes. Shattered remains of the streets were shown. I saw the demolished cars and violated shops. To ease the unsettling images, I mentally modified the sombre grey to that of a slight yellow, with dawn ever so slightly, starting to tinge the sky.
Yes, those people deserved to be heard through the suffocating silence- but that was not the way. No. It was definitely not the way to make everyone listen, notice- and respect. What really is the difference? I remember asking myself. We are dark skinned, they are light- we can do everything they can do- so what's the actual difference? Why are we treated this way? Do we have any significance?
I knew these questions were not asked in vain. They wouldn't listen to that reasoning - but they could be forced to. That was the day of the riots and that was the day I wrote my speech. Their passionate, dark faces etched in my mind as my motivation.
It is now, with quivering feet that I step onto the steps leading towards the podium where I will be greeted with obscene comments about my “insignificant race” and its “filthy blood”. A wonderful start.
An indolent, skeletal, pale man introduces me wearily, occasionally glancing at me as if I am a piece of unyielding moss, exploiting all that is good in the world. His introduction ends with a resounding “Martin Luther King Jr.” My breath hitches as I am torn from my trance. Remembering myself, I school my face of unease to a mask of self assurance and confidence.
“I am happy to join…”
Amina, Year 7
My eyes snapped open. It was time.
I felt my body shaking with adrenaline. I grabbed my daggers that were hidden under my pillow, and walked over to the door, looking back at the home that caused me so much grief.
Outside, everything was chaotic. The other women under Otrera's leadership were wielding their weapons with shocking power and ability. I ran towards Otrera, awaiting her orders. She told me to go with the northern legion. I did, without question.
The screams of the men who had contained us pierced the night sky. Despite the situation, a small smirk came to rest upon my lips. Who are the weak ones now? I thought to myself.
A few women passed by me and nodded in greeting. I continued up towards the Northern legion, who were leading the close quarters combat. Arrows sailed over our heads, as our group made our way out of the Spartan village.
Once we arrived at a good site, Otrera informed us that we would be staying there for the night. As I lay down my items, a woman came running towards us. She whispered something to our leader, the Spartan stood up. "A nearby town has heard of our conquering of the village, they are coming for us. I frowned, the Warriors wouldn't take us seriously, they would probably think that they could beat a group of girls with no problem. Well, we'll show them just how wrong they will be.
The ground began rumbling, and we heard the over-confident shouts of the male warriors. Raising my chin slightly, I looked towards the horizon and saw a group of lazily-clad men laughing as they took swigs from their bottles, no doubt filled with some kind of Alcohol. It disgusted me, how they thought that they would easily beat us. I saw some of the women out of the corner of my eye making silent prayers to Ares, god of war. They knew that the battle wouldn't be too hard, but nevertheless, Ares could spin the fight in anyone’s favour. I grabbed my daggers and smiled grimly…
Aamoya, Year 7
I stare down at my firearm in horror. I point the gun to my head. I am only doing this because I am losing my battles and the English and the Americans are coming for me. I figured, why let them kill me when I can do it myself.
Lurking about is a sense of fear and regret which have overcome me. I try to pull the trigger, my hands are shaking, and I’m not even holding the gun properly. Tears roll down my face, I quickly slap myself “I'm Adolf Hitler.” I shouted again and again. “I am the most victorious man in the WORLD”, I want to be a shining example for the world.
People look at me like I am “God”! I am a champion who brought victory for his country.
Yes I was that man, but today is different. I have my mind made up and there is no turning back. The gun is in my hand and I point it to my head again, “Come on you can do this.” I whisper again and again hoping that it will motivate me.
This is stupid, I was supposed to kill myself at 9:00 and now it’s 9:45. Each second feels like a minute and each minute feels like hours. The most absurd thing is, I can't even look at myself in the mirror. Yes, I know, tragic. I'm starting to feel dizzy. All around me, I can see the blurred faces of English and American soldiers. I want to go to them and beg for forgiveness, but they will do far worse to me than I can imagine. Time seems to stand still, I can hear them getting….. CLICK CLICK….. POW.