First place: 11-14 years
NATASHA MAYZEL / 13 / Coquitlam
I am a narrator. I am the narrator.
My curse: to see everything, record even the most lurid and gruesome sights. I must write of horrors from of the dead of night; hear the bloodcurdling shrieks of the doomed; the cries of the anguished.
And do nothing.
This is Minna’s story.
Her shoes crunched in the snow and her breath steamed.
Her threadbare coat did nothing, and her shoes felt frozen to her feet. She trudged on, her lamp glowing at her side, becoming more and more hopeless.
To be lost is terrible; to be lost without hope is dangerous. Minna became a target to the Shadowman.
The Shadowman, you’d think he’s imaginary. But you’re wrong. He’s real.
The Shadowman is an embodiment of your worst nightmares, your biggest fears. He strikes your weakest points, the cowardly craven. He turns your mind against you, and like a candle dropped into the sea, the life in you extinguishes.
He is shadow. You won’t see him unless he wants you to.
When the Shadowman first saw Minna, she still walked on, but was tired and shivered so, her lamp glowed with tremulous light.
He approached. All she felt was a brush of air as he whispered, “left.”
Seemingly subconsciously, she turned. She turned away from the streetlights, and her lamp became the only source of light. Every corner and shadow deepened.
The alley was dark. Ominously so. Minna slowed, then stopped when she saw a man, crouched against the wall.
Minna stared. The man stared.
“Be careful. The slightest wind would smother the flame.” He dropped a box of matches in Minna’s hand.
“Who are you?”
He smiled. “I, am the Shadowman.”
Wind blasted through the alley, extinguishing Minna’s lantern.
The wind stopped. Silence.
Minna remembered the matchbox, hastily struck a match, but it didn’t ignite. She struck it over and over until it broke. She tried each match until the empty box slipped from her cold fingers.
Suddenly, voices erupted in her head. A cacophony of metal on metal.
Minna screamed. Scenes skittered across her mind. The monsters she feared as a child; the basement of her house; the sky, a vibrant, blinding blue as she stood alone in a field.
She sank to her knees, the voices strengthened. Tears streamed down her face. “NO!”
She shut her eyes and covered her ears with her hands, yelping when they came away wet. In the darkness, crimson streaked her fingers as her ears bled. “STOP!” she pleaded.
She felt a part of her wrenched away and shimmery light snaked through the alley. In the silvery light, Minna kneeled on the ground, among blood spattered snow; wild terror dancing in her eyes.
Her last breath. A tiny puff of white.
She crumpled into the snow. Then, the light vanished.
I was alone.
Minna was found that morning. Her skin, pale as the winter sky, her icy fingers clutching her ears, coated in frozen blood. Her eyes terrified, as they stared glassily.