Literary Competition Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Library’s Literary Competition 2020/21! With the theme of ‘Once Upon a Dream’, we were looking forward to receiving lots of brilliant literary masterpieces featuring real life aspirations, fantasy worlds and works inspired by your own dreams or nightmares… and you rose to the challenge – we were simply amazed by the quality of entries!

Congratulations to all of our winners and well done to all who took part. Here are the winners below. Please click on each one to view their winning literary masterpieces in full.

1st place - 'Once Upon a Dream' by Joanne Green

Once a upon a fudging dream – We all know I’d use the f bomb but If I want to be a writer I need to learn how to express without profanity, even if I think the f bomb is way better.

I do apologise I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Amelia Foxthorpe, I know, I know, my name sounds la-di-da but let me finish the story and I’m sure you’ll think otherwise. Only two people are allowed to call me Millie (so don’t even try it). I am the one and only child of Richard Foxthorpe – Duke of Nobottle, a name and area quite befitting of my Father.

Dickie boy had nothing but his title, gambling debts, and a philandering persona to his name. He came to be a father when he woke up one day hungover, ravenous for actual food and the noise of a screaming baby in his head. Well, that screaming turned out to be me.

My Mother decided that she would rather see the world on the arm of whichever wealthy dying man she could find to fit (or indeed pay) the bill. She left me with my father one Christmas Eve with the DNA paperwork and a note to say she would be in touch but that she was too young for such responsibility and it was about time Dick grew up.

Yesterday was my 18th birthday. It was supposed to be the best night of my life. I was, for the first time, having dinner with both my parents and my two best friends Lilly and Andrew.

Today I was to leave for Durham university to study English literature. I knew I wanted to become a writer after reading Bill Bryson ‘Notes from a small island’, once I found out he spent many years at Durham university I knew that is where I needed to go.

I have dreamt about it every day for three years, and I was finally getting to go.

Going to Durham doesn’t just mean I will be able to study, it means I get to be my age. I don’t have to worry that my father will wake up still drunk, or if the electricity will go off because the bill hasn’t been paid.

I won’t have to worry if the girls from the horrible school I go to are going to trip me up, make nasty memes or worse, pretend they are my friends and make drunk videos of my father to show the whole school just before the most important exam of my life.

Going to Durham means freedom, I mean actual FREEDOM!

Last night my Mother and Father had agreed to join me and my best friends to eat at SIX for my 18th birthday.

The restaurant has the most amazing food, created from a concept or a memory but thankfully so cheap that even I can afford it (albeit after double shifts at the supermarket for six weeks) and posh enough my parents won’t complain.

I was walking on a cloud, finally getting out of Cinderella’s rags and going to the ball.

Lilly, Andrew and I spent the afternoon trying on every outfit we could, taking turns to do each other’s hair and begging Andrew to do our makeup. It was the best day of my life. Lilly and Andrew gave me my acceptance letter in a frame so I could always treasure it, a necklace with all our names intertwined so I couldn’t forget them and a copy of “Notes from a small island”.

I know your probably thinking why buy me a book I clearly have, but mine has been read so much it’s frail and I keep it locked up in a tight moisture proof box (I know I’m sad) so it’s great that I have one to read when I’m lonely and  I need to remember why I’m so far away from home.

At eight o’clock that evening the tuk tuk that Lilly booked arrived to take us to the restaurant.

I know, most people would want a limo or some flashy car but I’d always wanted to go in a tuk .With its silly lights, cheesy music and being able to ‘feel’ the city, the wind whispering in my ear that anything is possible.

We arrived at SIX laughing so much my cheeks were sore and bright red, like a robin’s breast on Christmas day.

The Maitre’D took us to our seat wishing me a happy birthday, and that complimentary champagne would be sent over as it’s such a special occasion.  I wished I could have bottled that feeling, because that’s where the joy ended.

Upon arrival to our table neither of my parents were there however people were seated. Two people to be precise. Sophia and Felicity – my cousins; The very two girls from school that made my life hell.

As you can imagine I had a lot of questions going through my head, but before I got to even ask, Sophia with her snake like voice beckons me to take a seat. Whispering “I wouldn’t want to make a scene Amelia, it’s so unbecoming “.

Reluctantly Lilly, Andrew and I took our seats. In front of my seat is a folder, I went to open it as the waiter came over with the champagne. Sensing the mood had drastically changed he put the bottle down and quickly disappeared without a word.

Sophia’s eyes lit up at the sight of the bottle pronouncing, with a sharp edge, “Such cheap bubbles. How apt – they will pop as quickly as your little dream “.

“Why are you here Sophia?  You were not invited to this dinner and I have no idea how you even know about it”.

”Where are my parents?”

“Silly, foolish Amelia, why would you think your parents would be here?

Have you even spoken to them in the last year? I mean heard their voice, not just emails or texts?”

Sophia and her faithful Felicity start laughing like hyenas.

Lilly elbows me in the side. I turn and see she has the folder and it’s open.

“I think you need to see this Millie” Lilly says with the sound of tears in her voice.

I take the folder from Lilly and start flicking through, it contains emails and texts between myself and my parents for the last six months. There is my application for Uni, my references, and my acceptance letter. I don’t get it. Why does Sophia have all this?

“Dear, dear Millie” Sophia snarled, “you really thought you were going to Durham. That folder and everything in it, that was me. I read your emails, I read your application and I sent the acceptance. Durham has never even heard of you.”

Through the tears streaming down my face I asked “Why? Why would you do this? Why have you always done this?”

“What do you mean why?” Sophia asked indignantly.

”You have ruined my life. I was the first heir, then your drunken father shows up with you and that’s it, I’m the spare”.

So, eye for an eye, Amelia.  I don’t get my dream, so you don’t get yours” Sophia whispered, while her face turned beetroot red with anger.

I don’t remember much after that. I know I ran out into the street. I remember some dodgy karaoke bar and tequila. I remember crying a lot on Andrew’s shoulder and feeling completely empty.

I woke today still in my dress, mascara streaked down my face. My friends snoring, stinking of alcohol and late-night kebabs, with all my dreams shattered.

One thing I know for certain Sophia won’t win. I will have my fairy tale and when I’m old, telling my grandchildren the stories of my life, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll start it with ‘Once upon a dream’.

Joint 2nd place - 'Once Upon a Dream' by Natasha Sears

Hannah sat staring out of the window of her apartment, her cold, pale hands hugged the coffee cup. The coffee was cold now, it was getting dark outside. Hannah had been looking out of the window of her apartment on the 7th floor for hours.  Just sat thinking, watching the city traffic and the rain tapping on the window. It was a cold, wet, wintery November day. Hannah turned to look around her apartment, the lights were off, but she could still see the dreamcatcher hanging above her bed, glistening from the city lights. She wondered if dreams really came true or if they were only ever dreams.

Hannah had spent her life going from one failed relationship to the next, she thought this time it was different, and she had met ‘the one’ but that was not the case. Hannah had been sitting replaying the events from the day before over and over. She hated thinking about it as it gave her an awful sick feeling in her stomach, her heart ached and she felt so alone, cold and heartbroken. She wished she could delete it from her mind as if it had never existed.

It had been on Saturday; she had arrived home from shopping. The bags digging into her hands like blunt knives cutting into her skin. Her boyfriend Scott was due back from a business trip later. Hannah was really looking forward to seeing him, it had been 2 weeks since she last saw him. Hannah had been feeling a little insecure recently, she had felt Scott had become distance with her. The strong feeling in her stomach was telling her that something was not right, but she continued to brush it off as if she was being stupid.

Scott returned at 7.30 that night. Hannah had curled her beautiful, long honey blonde hair, she was wearing her new nude lipstick, a pair of designer, light blue jeans with rips in and her new white lace top. Dinner was cooking, the smell of garlic and onion filled the air. She poured a glass of wine, sat on her cream leather sofa and waited. Scott knocked on the door, Hannah jumped up to her feet and briskly walked over to answer the door. As she opened the door, she smiled from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat, she was so excited to see him.  Scott did not seem to reciprocate the same enthusiasm on seeing her. He seemed icy towards her as if he was a stranger. His light brown hair was fluffy and unstyled, his eyes were cold and showed no emotion   Hannah put it down to him being tired, but her insecurities continued creeping up on her like a niggling noise in her head. Hannah just continued to behave happy and carry on with the evening as if nothing were wrong. She did not want to tempt fate. She got a bottle of Scott’s favourite beer out of the fridge and handed it to him. They sat down at the table and had dinner, but Hannah sensed Scott wanted to tell her something. Things didn’t feel right.

After dinner they sat on the sofa and Scott showed no emotion or affection.  Hannah didn’t understand what was happening to the man who was so in love with her the last time she saw him. Hannah questioned if he was ok. Scott’s cold green eyes, full of guilt looked at her, he then said those dreadful words she didn’t want to hear “we need to talk”. Hannah’s stomach rose to her throat and she had a sudden feeling of sickness come over her, her head felt hot and heavy. Panic washing over her, Hannah replied asking “why, what’s wrong?” Scott ran his hand though his fluffy brown hair in an uncomfortable manner and said that he didn’t know if he wanted to be with her anymore and he didn’t know if he loved her the same way anymore.  Hannah felt confused, thoughts and questions raced through her head, what’s happened? Why? What have I done wrong? I don’t understand, as he said last time, we saw each other that he couldn’t wait to marry me and how he couldn’t imagine his life without me. Hannah’s blue eyes filled with water, she tried to hold back her tears, but her tears were like a tap that she couldn’t turn off.  Panicked, she asked him all the questions she had in her head. She sensed from Scott he didn’t want to really do this, but he did anyway. He explained briefly that he just thought they were better off apart. Hannah was so upset, she got angry and asked Scott to leave. Scott stood up said sorry and got his things and left.  Hannah sat on the large windowsill of her apartment looking out the window. She was completely and utterly baffled and confused. Her mind searched and searched for answers but failed to provide any.

She was still sitting looking out of that window now.  She’d been there since he left yesterday. The baby blue, wool blanket wrapped around her like a swaddled new-born baby, gave her comfort and warmth. She looked down and saw the cars driving by in rush-hour traffic, people with places to go and people to see. The clouds were dark and grey and moving across the sky quickly, the rain licked the window with gusts of wind. She could feel the coldness against the window.

Hannah turned again to look at the dreamcatcher above her bed. She walked over to it and studied it intensively. As her fingers brushed over the feathers that hung from the dreamcatcher, she questioned again whether dreams do come true. Then an answer came to her like a bolt of lightning, she said out loud “if you want your dreams to come true you have to make them happen, chase your dreams! “

Hannah pulled a red box out from underneath her bed, it contained memories and pictures. She took out the photos of when she was in Africa, volunteering and working as a nurse out there as part of her nursing course at university. She remembered how much she had loved it there and yearned to go back. She felt like somebody there and helped make a difference. That was her dream to go back there and work as a nurse. She had wanted this for the last 8 years. Could she really do that though, leave everything and go and start a new life in a different country. Hannah then went back to the window and said out loud to herself “but it will always be a dream if I never make it a reality.” There was nothing left for her here now. She felt she had no life, no purpose being here. She didn’t want to be here she wanted to be there, she had to make it happen.

Hannah made phone calls, researched and put plans in place ready for her departure. It was the start of the first day of her new life.  As she stood in her empty apartment, looking around at the white walls, she then looked at the window and thought about the times she had sat there in misery or for comfort and thought. She will miss it here but her new life awaits. Hannah took one last look around and said goodbye to the place that had been her home for the last 8 years. She closed the front door one last time and as she turned on her feet to walk towards the lift, her phone rang, she pulled the phone out of her bag and saw Scott was calling. She felt an instant sense of confusion. Why was he calling. She answered.  His voice sobbing down the phone telling her he had made a mistake and he wanted to be with her. Hannah felt that’s all she had been wanting to hear for the last couple of weeks and she felt herself pull towards him, she loved him.  Hannah then started to remember how heartbroken she was, and she could no longer trust him.  She needed to stop thinking with her heart when it came to Scott and start thinking with her head.  This wasn’t the first time he had done this, and it wouldn’t be the last. It was hard but Hannah followed her dream and went to Africa.

Hannah had arrived in Africa. She had unpacked and sat in her house overlooking the beach. She sat on her bed, looking out the balcony doors at the sun shining on the beautiful sandy beach. The warm breeze blowing the white linen curtains that hung on the balcony doors. In the middle of the curtain pole, her dreamcatcher hung, swaying in the sunlit, warm breeze. She looked up at it and said to herself: This was all a dream once upon a time but now my dream is my reality. Dreams do come true.

Joint 2nd place - 'Once Upon a Dream' by Ana Forshaw

Once Upon a Dream on a lonely cold evening, there was an explosive noise and awoke everyone in the village that nobody seemed to know where and what it was. The sound was like a thundering bolt of lightning clashing down on the crust of the earth “BANG!”. The village was in shock and everyone was panicking and trying to see what the noise was. I hurried myself out the room and ran outside our house only to find that someone’s house was on fire. There was a golden flame! Loads of people were screaming and shouting “Help! Help”! Help!” as I began to walk towards the near site. People were running as fast as they could to try to give their help. When I reached the house, I was horrified to see that house was involved in a plane crash. The plane smashed into the roof of the house and a massive fire destroys the house and the plane.  There were plenty of people trying to escape the horrible situation, crying in disbelief that this was happening at that moment! As I stood looking lost at what to do I started feeling anxious as I was seeing myself trapped in the plane that was on fire and all I could do was cry and shout from the top of my lungs but I couldn’t hear myself. I went back inside the house to make a phone call to ask for help. As I was talking on the phone, I was telling the operator that a plane crashed into our neighbour’s house. The person was trying to calm me down, by asking me to take a deep breath and start all over again. It was then I realised I was in a panicking situation. I tried to calm myself down by breathing and taking it slowly. When I managed to explain everything to the person on the phone, she then told me that the fire brigade and police will be there as soon as possible. I went out again to help the others who were trapped in the house while the flaming fire was getting worse like a vicious flame. I went inside the house through the front door as I heard a crying child who seems to be under 10 years old in one of the houses. She was wearing her pink pyjamas and held her teddy bear, while she was crying and screaming looking for her mum and dad. I held her arms towards me and covered her with my jacket trying to run away from the burning house. Then there was another big “BANG!”. It looked like one of the plane’s engine had exploded. I ran and ran and ran as fast as could like a bullet while holding this little girl in my arms. We were both in tears and worried as it seems that we could not go anywhere near the front door. The smoke was starting to get into our lungs, we started coughing and it was hard to breathe. The acrid fumes started to create an enormous blast all over the scene. I was sweating, screaming and running but all of a sudden I woke up next to my mum who was trying to wake me up from my horrifying dream. I woke up in shock and hugged my mother with gratefulness that it was just a dream. My mother gave me the unforgettable hugs that no one else ever gave me but it wasn’t good enough, my dad who was holding a glass of water asked me to calm down and held my shoulder showing his comfort in my nightmare dreams. When I realised that it was only a dream, I thanked my mum and dad for waking me up and assuring me that I was ok. I drank my glass of water and went back to sleep.

Around 2:45am I started to fall asleep again. And for some reason my previous dream had continued again. A police officer was talking to me asking where the family of the little girl is who was with me. He was also talking to someone who looked like an investigator of the scene about the plane crashing into the roof house. I heard the investigator saying, when the authorities recovered the black box, they found that the pilots last conversation was about the engines not being in good conditions and that it seems they won’t manage to do a safe landing. The police were looking dismayed and sadness was starting to show as others were in a tragic atmosphere. Some people managed to survive but not all, including the 2 pilots. There were a lot of tears and sadness. The noises were massively created by the roaring fire, fire ambulance, police sirens, people talking, crying and shouting. That feeling was the saddest moment of my life. The fire brigade managed to stop the spread of the enormous fire. Everywhere was filled with smoke and the smell of the acrid fumes were less than before. Numbers of ambulances were used to pick up injured passengers on the plane. The scene was cooling down, but I still don’t know where the family of the little girl who I rescued. I started to wonder around and asked my neighbours if whether they knew who that house belonged to and where the little girl was. As I stepped into my house, I saw this little girl watching a television in my lounge while eating popcorn, next to her was her teddy bear! I was surprised at what I witnessed, and I was trying communicate with her but she never responded to me. It seemed that she was enjoying the program on television. She was laughing, smiling and looking so comfortable in the sofa. I decided to go in the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea and took some biscuits as I was feeling hungry after the tragedy. I sat next to her, as I did, I watched her carefully and was trying to figure out whether this is a dream or not. If it was, I wanted to wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” but this little girl was so amused to what she was watching and seems that nothing had happen earlier. We both ended up watching Tom and Jerry. The night was cold and misty as it seemed that only me and the little girl lived in the house, but we didn’t know each other. I got up a few times from the sofa to get her attention, but it didn’t seem to work. She was still focused on watching the television with a smug smile on her face. I went upstairs to my room to get changed as my clothes smelled of smoke and looked filthy from the fire accident. When I entered my bedroom, I saw this teddy bear who looked familiar to me! I was thinking where I saw this teddy bear. I was asking myself where I saw it. I was looking furious and problematic about this teddy bear. I went into the bathroom to wash my face and hands, dried and changed my clothes to clean ones. I sat at my dressing table and started brushing my “long-lasting like Rapunzel hair”. And suddenly I grabbed the teddy bear from my bed and looking curiously that I knew where I have seen this teddy before. It was the little girl’s teddy bear who I saved from the fire accident. I was surprisingly amazed of what I have found out to myself. The little girl was me when I was young. My eyes began to pop out like a huge owl. I ran downstairs and went toward the lounge and excitedly revealed to the little girl that she was me when I was young, but she wasn’t there anymore. The television was turned off and my mum and dad were in the kitchen, cooking a beautiful full English breakfast which was fried bacon, sausages, eggs, black pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, tomatoes, toast bread and lovely fresh coffee roasted by my dad’s coffee machine. My mum greeted me good morning and dad gave me a tap on my shoulder saying – it was nice to see me before I go to work. Here is your fresh roasted coffee. I was kind of a shocked, surprised and delighted that what had happened was just an extended dream. In other words, everything was just a dream. “A long enormous dream”. Excitedly I hugged my mum and dad. Thinking that I was the luckiest girl in the world because I had the most beautiful life in the universe with the best mum and dad. Nice and cosy home, beautiful neighbourhoods and most specially I have woken up from my dreadful, mysterious and awkward nightmare. I went to work after my breakfast, work was hard and busy, but I always enjoyed working as a care assistant even though sometimes it full of challenges. When I finished my 12hours shift, I came home feeling tired, and went to bed straight away and fell asleep. Then all of a sudden, I heard a big massive Bang!

Joint 3rd place - 'Once Upon a Dream' by Chantel Buist

It was a warm summer’s eve; the perfume of the summer blooms filled my nostrils.  I can see the leaves flickering like candlelight, creating a new picture from moment to moment, that bliss almost stopped me in the tracks from what the night holds…

For months now I have suffered from sleepless nights, trapped in the horrors that I call nightmares.  They scare me. I’m afraid of what’s supposed to be my tranquil peace.  I can see them clear as day, sometimes I don’t know if it’s reality or a horrific night terror.

I used to have nightmares as a child but they weren’t anything compared to now. There’s always one childhood dream that stuck with me, it was me, but I was an adult looking after child me. We ran through the frozen forests, trees clawed at my arms as we tried to escape the torment ahead of us. The onyx clouds covered our judgment, before we knew it we were trapped. I don’t remember much else of that nightmare, but I do recall the vivid screeching like the nails on a chalkboard.

The dreams that I have generated in my adult life are hard, they leave me traumatized. They’re nothing compared to the childhood dreams, these ones keep me awake for days on end. They’ve been going on for a few months but have progressively got worse.

They started with falling off a cliff and I would jump awake but would be able to get to sleep peacefully after, this went on for a few days until one I didn’t jump awake. I carried on falling, falling down into the depths of despair. Splash! I find myself in the moss water, struggling for every breath trying to grip for something, anything around me but I can’t find anything in this vile pond of mush. I end up finding my way out of the slush, I’m on the cold solid ground but it’s not over yet. My lungs are full of the slime from the water.  I’ve only managed to gather my thoughts together before I’m being chased, just like the childhood dream, I’m being chased again except I’m alone, no one for that slight bit of comfort in my moments of despair. This time I know why I’m running, there’s something chasing me. The figure tall, stocky, looking like it could blend into the midnight sky within one slick move. This time it gets me. This time it doesn’t let go.

I awake feeling like I just landed into the moss water all over again, I’m drenched in sweat. My heart pounding out of my chest. All I can think is how i’m lucky to wake up before this figure could have done much worse.

My mother, the sweet and innocent but spiritual. She looked after me well when I had my nightmares when I was a child. I had to speak to my mother about my sleepless nights due to the tantalizing tales of terror I have been having from night to night.

Mother suggested that I should hang a dream catcher above my bed, that the dream catcher would protect people like me from my nightmares, it traps the dreams like a fly in a spider’s webs. It sounded crazy but mothers know best.

On that afternoon I stopped at the eccentric store I see while on my morning walks in hope that they have a dream catcher, and they do. Once home I placed the catcher above my bed, just where my head would lay.

I wait for the night to arrive and place my weary head on my heaven scented pillows. I’m anxious. I’m afraid to fall asleep. Before you know it I’m being woken up by the fresh summer’s breeze.  I feel more energized than ever. It’s the morning. It worked; the dream catcher caught my demon in its spider web.

Joint 3rd place - 'Once upon a time/Psychotown' by Jack Campling

There was a time, a most precarious age, where you could gaze into the night’s sky and wish upon a star. Those days are long since gone and the only stars that remain are held in captivity. The High Lord and his Magistrates fear that a star’s light, if left to touch the people’s shrivelled hearts, will expunge the darkness from the depths of their humanity. Taking away the fear, hate, misery and domination from the people giving them hope and happiness, this would break the High Lord’s hold on his subjugated people. The High Lord can’t have that, so in the deepest and murkiest of cells are home to few remaining stars left. Every day they weep. They will wither and fade into nothingness, until a star will only be a long-forgotten fable. Long ago, The High Lord proclaimed himself lord of lords.  He is the one that blackens the night. He who stole the very light from the sky. He who takes what he wants and gives nothing back. A man such as this will never be far from justice!

While the lords bicker long into the night, save in their fortress, the Psychopomps guard the streets at night. They are soulless, abhorrent and unyieldingly cruel creatures that will hunt down any trace of happiness or joy in anyone. They are drawn positive emotion and rip it from this world with hate and malice, so too are they drawn to light. It hurts them, as if the very existence of the light is a testament to their pain. You’d be foolish to leave your candles lit. The Psychopomps prowl the streets wearing make-shift cloaks forged from the flesh of their victims. You would be lucky if they kill you before taking your skin. The weapons they wield are cruder than the methods they employ to dispatch you. Rusty saws. Blunt knives. Broken hammers. Farming tools melded to their bodies all with their own flesh and sinew and nailed into bone. This alone would be enough to scare all the colour out of the bravest of men, but the most unsettling thing about these ‘guardians of darkness’ are that they exhibit no sound. Not while walking. Not while standing still. No noise. Nothing. Not even while they carve you up like a piece of meat. Some folks tell tales of how they could hear the Psychopomps muttering in the night, that they could make out words like murder, maim and maul but these tales are tall ones indeed. For the mouths of these monsters are sewn up tighter than a magistrate’s coffers. Never to share their secrets.

Where did these things come from? No one knows. Some say they are vengeful Gods; others say they are a science experiment gone wrong, that they turn their victims into one of them just to build their ranks. One thing can be said for certain; they have been stalking the streets for as long as people can remember and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

It’s safe to say that you don’t want to walk the streets alone at night. Or at all for that matter, unless you have a death wish.

But as the town’s folk pray each night, ‘As up has its down and black its white, day will surely follow this abysmal night.’

As the clocks strike 6 and night’s mayhem comes to an end, the moon begins to fade for the sun to take its place, as soon as the light touches the earth the Psychopomps begin to falter, they stumble and they fall and eventually drift away into the darkest dank crevices of the town, hidden away from the world. To slumber. To hide from the sun. They all dream of twilight.

During the day everyone goes to work, for if you do not work you will not eat as is decreed by the High Lord. in place of the Psychopomps you will find the self-titled ‘Wardens of the sun’. Despite the name, these Wardens make the daytime as dark and evil as the night. The Wardens are worse, in ways to the Psychopomps as the Wardens bear the proclivities of man; they crave flesh just the same. To understand these false protectors, you will need to know their story. All their stories are all the same as they were all left and found in the night and the night always leaves it mark.

The collectors, hooded figures with swift hands and quicker feet, lull these children with promises of safety, food and a warm bed. These promises are false as the child would soon understand. The collectors take them straight to the Academy and are thrown into the militaristic system. This military will then raise the children with regular beatings, vigorous exercises and force them to preform morally corrupt tasks for fear of severe punishment. All this for the sole intent of tempering them with blood fear and anger, turning them instruments of the High Lord’s will. Many Years and deaths later, the magistrates ‘employ’ the ones who are left. These angry, calloused men and women are made Wardens of the sun. Wardens are they none. They serve only their own selfish goals and ambitions. The magistrates deem the realm safe in the Warden’s hands and leave the common folk to face their malice and pent-up aggression.

Every few years or so, there comes one sorry fool thinks they can change the way the Wardens work. So, they leave their home, willingly, knowing full well how they will be treated. They never make it out of the academy of course. The Chief Warden would never allow it.

If you’re careless to invoke the ire of a Warden then you best take what’s coming your way because if the fancy takes the Warden, and it always does, they will throw you in the pit: a never-ending, pitch black hole in the ground. There’s a dark and ancient magic put upon the pit. It makes it so you can live without the need for sustenance. well you’re alive in the sense of existence, as you’d be falling endlessly until you whiter, soften and eventually die after years of falling in constant terror isn’t really living. The rumours say a demon lives in the pit. They say that if you face the empty black with valour rather than fear then you will be set free. But no one has ever reserviced. How would you feel.. giving up your food? One way or another, you will meet the end. How you go is up to you. Will you die with grace and decorum? Or will you leave by force, kicking and screaming.

Staff Winner - 'Dream of Something More' by Alex Hamblin

Oh, to be a princess and find true love…

is this the life you’ve been dreaming of?

To work and wait or sleep all day,

until Prince Charming decides to play.

This waiting game seems quite unjust,

it’s time to find someone new to trust.

Slay the dragon with your own two hands,

and find adventure in a distant land.

You are worthy of so much more,

Just take a peek behind a different door.

You may discover a hidden path,

that leads to wisdom or a hearty laugh.

But dream of something bold and bright.

don’t let another shroud your light.

Dream a dream that belongs to you,

You never know what might come true.

So, canter through the darkest wood,

on a noble steed that’s sweet and good.

Sail the oceans, swim with the tide,

let out the explorer that lives inside.

Kill the monster, storm the bridge

climb the ivy and trick the witch.

You may notice the next time you ride,

the perfect Prince is fighting by your side.

Special Recognition - Maya's poems

This series of three short poems was sent to us from Maya, aged 7 from London. Maya is our youngest participant and we are simply blown away by the quality of your poems at such a tender age. Well done Maya!

Inside the rusty, old gates

Children chattering like wild snakes

‘Line up, line up!’ said the teachers.

My favourite teacher is about to explode

Fierce and ferocious dogs are growling loudly

Girls are chattering and boys are babbling.

On the old, busy streets

The suitcase is dragging on the cold, bumpy, wet pavement

The bright, red postbox is as still as a statue

In the streets are many things

Like a tall greyhound

Also a crying baby.

Inside of Blythe Hill Fields

The ancient, abandoned, damp tree

The parakeets are so noisy that they are knocking my ears off my head

Branches try to reach the sky

The old, lonely tree fell on the damp floor.

The following students submitted work which was highly commended by Library staff, thank you for taking the time to enter and well done for creating such brilliant responses to the theme.