Araw

Australia

Writers block is a plague and I'm infected. Hi, I'm Araw. I'm seventeen and I call myself I writer.

Message to Readers

This is a story I had to write for Ext I English. It's a redo of an exam question that I totally bombed for our finals. @jengelman knows the struggle.

Star Catchers

October 6, 2019

FREE WRITING

5
It was my turn that night and my goal was the same as all those before me: to steal the gold stars that the newcomers pinned to their collars. Each time I watched someone vanish into the field of tents, I always thought of what I would do if I was them, how I would fulfil their mission. I imagined that I could do it the fastest out of all the other children. As I climbed through an old gap in the coiled barbed wire border, however, I began to have doubts. Something about that night felt wrong. Perhaps it was too quiet, or maybe the stars were too dark. Either way, my plan for this game, the one I had obsessed over for weeks, was lost in the freezing winds.

    The newcomers had been in this village for a little over five months. They were like aliens with their strangely heavy clothes and funny language, but the first things that caught my eye were the metal stars they pinned to their collars. They looked as if the newcomers pulled them straight out of the sky, polished to the point of being blinding if the light hit them in just the right way. The other children and I often wondered if these newcomers could to climb to the sky and pull them directly from space. The adults, however, did not seem concerned with these things. The first thing they noticed about these newcomers were the guns they kept by their sides at all times, bayonets sharpened like shark teeth.

    In the five months that followed the first newcomers, more of their kind came. They brought their thunderous trucks with tires large enough to create foot-deep tracks and unstable mud. They brought their tents, set up in a disturbingly uniform grid that went on forever. They brought their stars, forever pinned to their collars as if imprisoned there. We noticed that some of the newcomers had more stars than others, many having only one while a few wore up to five. Those with more stars did less work, held bigger guns, and ate more food. No one cared if they were bossy or if they were rude. Everyone simply followed them. Even our parents cowered off the path when these five-stars marched through. Without a fight, they submitted to the canes and whips these men brought down on them for things as small as stepping a foot within the camp boundary. We children envied the power these people got for simply catching a couple of stars. We didn’t think there was anything special about them because we could catch stars, too.

    Within the camp, I found myself surrounded not only by the darkness of night, but by lights that shone through the canvas of the tents and moved as if they were alive. At first I thought that these were the stars glowing like they did in the night sky, but with the scent of kerosene hanging heavy in the air, I realised that they were lanterns. In the newcomer camp, monsters did not hide in the dark but instead kept themselves in the light. To avoid them, I ducked into one of the quieter tents, one that was free of lanterns.

    The inside reeked of sweat. Its coldness showed me that the presence of human warmth had been absent for at least a few hours. This was where I was going to start. Following the smell and using my hands to guide me in the dark, I found one of the heavy green coats the newcomers wore, complete with five stars pinned to the collar. One by one, I removed them and one by one, I attached them to my own shirt. Just as I finished putting them on, lantern light flooded the tent followed by the smell of alcohol. A tall, sturdy man stood by the entrance, gun by his side as it always was. As he grinned at me, I could see his yellowing, crooked teeth framed by scarily red lips and uneven stubble. Although the newcomers used to intimidate me, I wasn’t scared. I had five stars and he had none. He didn’t even have his jacket. I stood tall and tried to keep my voice steady as I spoke in his language, little of which I understood.
“Out of my way.”
At first, the man didn’t react. It was like he didn’t hear me. Then, a chuckle slowly escaped his lips. It grew and grew until it was a hearty, beastly laugh. He pointed the gun at me. Still, I wasn’t scared. He wouldn’t dare shoot someone with five stars. As I waited for him to lower the gun, I noticed that the tip of the bayonet had some sort of dried, cracking, brown substance on it. I was too busy trying to figure out what it was to notice the man’s finger squeezing the trigger.

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  • October 6, 2019 - 8:10am (Now Viewing)

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