Runners up in the 14 to 17 Year old Category

Life and Death by Simon Ezra-Jackson

Henry Parker was a nice man. He donated as much money as he could afford to charity, was a community volunteer and just generally a pleasant person to be around. So it came as a shock to the good people of Lesser Manning when they found him without his head in a disused bus stop.

It upset his wife, not because she loved him, but because it meant a huge amount of extremely tedious paperwork and inquiries with the police.

It upset his dog because it meant he was going to get put down by the Pound or left in the hands of Henry’s wife, and he didn’t know which option would be more painful.

But most of all, it upset Henry Parker, and as he sat in the Afterlife Processing Centre awaiting Death (Death recently had his funding cut in half by the council and was feeling overworked) he felt Life had given him the metaphorical short end of the stick.

He was raised in a dirt poor part of Glasgow and had to grab every meagre chance Life tossed him, the only problem being Life couldn’t be bothered tossing chances as she was applying for a minor administrative post in Death’s organisation (which was rumoured to be a lot less stressful and apparently had paid holidays), so as a result Henry had ended up as an insurance salesman.

Death finally finished with the backlog and motioned for Henry to come in. As he shuffled in to the room, Death glanced up from some papers. “I’m very sorry, but it seems you’ve passed away.”

Silence.

Henry was feeling particularly aggravated at the moment, and as a result had decided to ignore Death. He hoped this was all a by-product of too much beer and that he would wake up in the morning with a splitting headache.

“Excuse me? Are you listening?” Death would have scowled, except he didn’t have a face. “You know, I’m an extremely busy entity who doesn’t have to do this, and if you don’t respond to me I’ll just send you to the back of the queue.

Henry didn’t reply.

“Alright, that’s it! Get your sorry soul to the back of the line or— or—or you’ll be sorry!” Death yelled.

Finally Henry opened his mouth to speak. Just then, a portly woman with a clipboard popped up behind Death and cut Henry off. “Mr Reaper, we’ve told you about treating the dead spirits disrespectfully. I’m afraid you’ll have to be disciplined”.

“No!” Death screamed. “I’m sick and tired of being treated like a kid. I quit!” And with that he grabbed his Adidas backpack and stormed out of the office.

Henry, not one to miss opportunities, quietly exited the room as well, returned to his body, screwed his head back on, quit his job, divorced his wife, became a monk and moved to Dundee with his dog.

He lives there to this day.


The Creature by Daniel McConnachie

How do you fight a creature you can’t even remember exists? That’s the question I had to ask myself four days ago. I work as an engineer on a scientific spacecraft called “Est Lati”. It started off as a normal day, fixing broken machinery, making sure the engines are operational and just generally making sure the ship doesn’t explode due to a fuel leak. It was around four pm when I received a message on my data pad:

“Danger.

Specimen Has Escaped Containment,

Evacuate!”

I’ve experienced tricks and pranks of drunken crewmen and so I relayed the message to one of my close friends Rowen just to make sure it was a real alert.

I took out my Personal Communication Device (PCD) and relayed the message to Rowen then pressed the toggle at the side and asked:

“Rowen you got any idea if this is real?”

There was no reply. I thought about the chances of it being a genuine evacuation message and a knot began to form in my stomach I pressed the toggle again:

“Rowen you there?”

There was no response, I began to panic. I quickly put my tools back in my box and ran down the white padded walls of the ship, my boots clanking on the metal floor. As an engineer I’ve worked in different parts of the ship and when you work in different parts of a ship you overhear a lot of people talking about different subjects. Once when I was working in the Laboratories I overheard two scientists talking about their “Specimen”. They said that the Specimen had a rather severe effect on a person’s brain. It would be hard to contain the Specimen unless we have soldiers with the right implants so that they could perceive the Specimen. I reached the elevator, went inside and proceeded up the 2nd deck where the control room was. When I got there I rushed out into the hall with the same white padded walls and metal floor but with a green stripe on the lower part of the wall marking the way to the control room.

The blast door was closed and when I pressed the button on the side of the door, the door opened with a soothing metal sound. I was surprised to see that the room was empty… In a normal ‘evac’ procedure, the 1st and 2nd captains would go to the control room and make sure all the crew got off safely before they did, but there was no one there. The room had panels with flashing lights around the walls connecting to desks and a large screen with green oval-shaped dots representing the escape pods but they were still docked; none had been activated. On the other side of the room was the blast door that went to the laboratory which was closed. At this point panic became confusion; I had no idea where everyone was. I decided to go to Rowen’s quarters on deck three.

I descended the elevator and arrived at deck three. I walked along the long corridor to room 78 and opened the steel door and as I expected it was empty. The bed was against the left wall and there was a drawer next to it with a lamp and picture of Rowen standing next to his daughter underneath a tree outside his house. There was a closet on the right wall of the small room. I opened the drawer to find Rowen’s PCD but it had no power. I put it in my left pocket and looked back in the drawer and pulled out Rowen’s Omni-tool which I remember was a gift from his father.

The rest of the contents was just junk, like an old tooth brush that was probably brought along as a spare. I headed back to the command deck to figure out what I would do from there. I reached the elevator, for some reason out of breath and went to the 2nd floor. I exited the elevator catching my breath and suddenly the realization that I wasn’t running hit me. The confusion I had was back now. I made my way back to the command deck and entered the command room. The monitors on the walls had changed to a large red box that said danger. On the main monitor damage reports were appearing; most of them were for the engine room. The palms of my hands began to sweat as I noticed that the door to the laboratory, which was closed before, was now open…


The winning story, The Woods by Cleo Luna, can be read in Shoreline of Infinity Issue 15. Copies are available here

Both Cymera Festival and Shoreline of Infinity offer our congratulations to the winners, a big thank you to our judges, and a massive round of applause to all our entrants. We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who submitted a story to our competition - we really enjoyed the great variety of stories we received, and we hope you will keep writing!