1st Place: Hazel Ng, 7yo | The Wishing Well

The Wishing Well

Sunlight darted through the windows as I squinted around my new bedroom with half-opened eyelids. We had just moved into our new home yesterday. Jumping out of bed, I scurried to the bathroom to get ready for the day. I wanted to explore the nearby woods as soon as possible.

 “Be careful, Hazel! Don’t be home too late!” hollered my mother from the kitchen, as I skipped out of our main door. The morning was beautiful and the sky was full of cotton wool clouds. Ten minutes later, I was at the opening of the woods. Not too far away from where I stood, I spotted a well that was half covered by a huge tree. I had never seen a well before. I ambled towards it with butterflies in my stomach. The well was old and the bricks it was made of were damp. Inching my head forward, I peered cautiously down the well and saw that it was half-filled with water! “Is this a wishing well?” I thought to myself aloud. I reached into my pocket and was ecstatic to find a coin. I threw it into the well immediately.

Suddenly, a white four-legged creature appeared before me. It turned around and I saw that it had a horn between and above its big and beautiful eyes. Transfixed by the scene before me, I was speechless when I realised that my wish for a unicorn was granted. I came to my senses a split second later and decided to take the beautiful creature home. 

Luckily, the house was empty when I reached home with my new friend, which I decided to name Sparkles. I let the unicorn into my bedroom. Crash! Sparkles had knocked down my bookshelf. I gasped at the mess that Sparkles had made. Sparkles had also made itself comfortable on my bed. It decided to take a nap. Suddenly, there was a loud sound coming from its face. Sparkles’ snores were so loud that I felt my house shake every three seconds! To my horror, every time Sparkles breathed out, a puff of glitter dust would scatter onto my bed and all over my bedroom floor. “Mother would faint if she saw this mess!” I muttered under my breath worriedly. 

While Sparkles slept as sound as a baby on my bed, I realised that it would be a challenge to keep Sparkles with me. It was not only loud but it was huge too. It was also a very rare creature. Anybody would want to keep it for themselves. With a heavy heart, I woke Sparkles up and led it quietly back to the wishing well and made a wish again. This time, a different one. With that, Sparkles disappeared without a trace. Although it was only for a day, I felt thankful that I was able to be with a unicorn. I will never forget Sparkles. 

1st Place: Estelle Lek, 12yo | Untitled

The lush green vines twirled around the broken and mouldy windows. A pungent, musty smell lingered in the air and filled my nostrils as I pushed open the door with a deafening creak that reverberated throughout the building. Up close, the paint on the walls that were once pearl white was now filled with vomit green patches of mould. Tick tock, tick tock. The sound of the clockwork echoed throughout the empty space. “Is anyone one home?” I hollered, as I took careful steps into the building on the creaky, wooden floorboards, heart thumping away against my chest like a beast rattling its cage. My voice seemed to bounce off the walls and all I heard was only echoes.

As I tip-toed up the flight of stairs, careful not to scratch myself on the splintered wood, I wondered if I had made a foolish choice to come to the house that the villagers had often called “haunted” by the landlord’s dead wife, who was mentally unsound. Some even said the landlord was so tired of her that he had locked her up. Once, a mischievous boy named Adam had gone to the mansion but never came back. Of course, a rash and impulsive girl like me just had to prove them wrong. As I climbed up to the attic, I pushed the door open with a loud creak and stumbled into it.

The attic was surprisingly not as bad as the rest of the house. There was a small window that allowed the relentless sun rays to enter which lit up the room and a few boxes at the corner of the room. The walls were a light shade of yellow with a few spiders scuttling across it and a few cobwebs. The old mansion was previously owned by a wealthy landlord but that all ended when he died and he had no children to carry on the family name so he donated everything to charity. Most of the boxes in the attic were empty but there was just one that had an old family yearbook in it. Curious, I crouched down and opened the book gingerly, careful not to tear any of the fragile yellow pages. Flipping through the book, I noticed that many of the photos were faded. However, I realised that the photos had only contained a middle- aged woman standing in the centre of the photo, her eyes piercing into mine.

As I flipped through the book, I noticed something amiss about the photos that sent a shiver down my back. All the photos had the same woman standing in it, with the same look on her face, the same dress she was wearing and posing the same way. The only difference was that the photos seemed to zoom in on her in an ascending order as I flipped through the pages. When I turned to the last page of the book, I was as close as to the woman’s face! Instead of having the same impish smile on her face for the previous photos, she was grinning from ear to ear, flashing her pearly whites, which were as sharp as a sword!

All of a sudden, the world started to swirl around me and before I knew it, I was sucked into the photo! With adrenaline pulsing through my veins, I stumbled into an unknown playground, my chest rising and falling rapidly as I struggled to catch my breath. That was when I noticed that the middle aged woman in the photo was staring at me from afar. She was sitting on a swing, swinging back and forth in the gentle breeze, her ruby eyes gazing at me. Convulsing in fear, I looked around me, but not a single person was in sight except her and I. I was in a completely unfamiliar place too! What was even stranger, was that the playground was surrounded by tall rose bushes that were filled with prickly thorns.

There was no way I could escape! With no other choice in mind, I decided to seek the help of the middle aged lady. As I turned my head towards her, I let out a blood curdling scream as I was face to face with her!

“Now I have someone to play with again! Another new toy!” She shrieked. “Excuse me, I need to get out of here, can you help me?” I asked hopefully. She tilted her head to one side and then replied, “I might, if you play with me on the merry-go-round.” Taking a deep breath, I cast a glance at the merry-go-round that was entangled in vines, and then at the creepy middle aged lady who acted like a child. “Play with me, play with me!” she exclaimed in a shrill voice. 

1st Place: Koh Jun Wei, 14 yo | The Demon On The Train

The Demon On The Train

The man stepped aboard the train, the wooden floorboards creaking with years of pressure. Photos advertising everything from brothels to operas and opium dens dominated the train’s mahogany walls. He sat down on a spindly chair and opened his newspaper as his straw fedora hat dropped low and covered

The man’s name was Han Wenbin, and he was a detective investigating a murder case. Seven bodies were found on the train travelling on the Woosung Road railway line, Shanghai, from December 1901 to July 1902. The victims were murdered on the 21st day of each lunar month, their blood fully drained with surgical precision. The condition of the bodies was relatively preserved, meaning the killing was committed on the train. If the murderer’s modus operandi stays consistent, he should be attacking again today.

Han’s attention was arrested by a particular figure seated a few seats in front of him. It radiated sinister energy which churned Han’s stomach inside out.

His gut feeling screamed at him that the figure was their guy, but his heart told him to stay back as if it knew something was wrong. He got up from his wooden chair and meandered his way towards the figure. He should’ve trusted his heart.

The figure was crouched low, on the floor, feasting on what looked like another man. The victim’s face was gaunt, pale white and shrivelled up like it had been completely drained of fluids. His eyes were about to crawl out of their sockets, bulbous and fat, and his mouth was frozen in an eternal scream of fear.

The killer had disappeared with the flickering of the gas- discharge lamps. Han was again face to face with the carcass, present with strange holes scattered throughout his body like his blood had been siphoned.

Han felt something breathing behind him. “After your head has been scooped off… You will feel pleasurable hearing the sound of your blood, at least for a moment, gushing out of the stump of your neck. ” Han felt the vitality in his lungs being squeezed out by a python.

He had been dealing with a hell spirit from the start, the victims had been found without any qi; the vital force of the soul, with no indication of proper burial rites being performed. These spirits were known as COLLECTORS, amassing the souls of hundreds of humans to grow in power and keep living.

“The eye of fire burns all, fulminate all evil with my sword,” Han breathed, cupping his hands to summon his ASTRA. It had been given to him by his late father to defeat spirits. Each ASTRA the corps’ members possessed was unique, one never like another.

The air around him was instantly encompassed in a ring of fire that burned the wooden floor until it was a charred black. A sword made of bronze coins materialised in his hands, the metal held together by a strong enough force to withstand the fire. The spirit leapt back, and was across the other end of the carriage in the blink of an eye.

Han had finally caught a glimpse of the spirit’s face without interference. It had eight murky white eyes, scattered throughout its face, and bore a huge grin. Knifelike shiny teeth hung from its gums, capable of killing a human in a single chomp.

Its skin was a putrid green, bumpy with patches of lacerated pus overflowing through. As it breathed, red incense seeped through the crevices in its teeth.

The Hell Spirit’s once humanlike body had now transmogrified into an abomination. Four more arms shredded themselves through its body, from its ribcage to its abdominals which sprouted stick-thin arms.

The arms, or rather now appendages, soared through the air towards him. Han sprinted forward, pulling his sword back and gathering momentum as he heaved through countless droves of the spirit’s arms. The coin sword tore through the arms like paper, his fiery blaze burning the spirit to the bone.

Han dashed forward, till he was up close with the spirit. In one fell swoop, he stabbed his sword through the spirit’s torso, the blazing flames so hot it burnt the flesh around it. He twisted the sword and it screamed, a discordant ring echoing throughout the carriage. Crimson smoke escaped through the creature’s mouth like a smoke bomb, inundating the carriage with the red gas.

Han bludgeoned his coin sword through the spirit’s head, severing its body in half. The spirit fell to the ground, limp and dead, its remnants breaking apart and drifting into the air like ashes.

Han coughed from inhaling the viscous red smoke and wondered if the passengers in the carriage were okay. The poor woman and the small child were huddled in a corner of the carriage, whimpering in terror. Han breathed a sigh of relief. 

Runner-up: Tinuviel, 9yo | A Trip to Emerald Forest

A Trip to Emerald Forest

It was one of those peaceful holiday mornings, perfect for lazing in bed. The sky was crystal clear, reflecting a soft hue and shade of emerald green… GREEN? “Wait a minute, green sky?” I rubbed my eyes in surprise. Before I could jump out of bed to investigate, I felt static in the air and my hair stood on end. Suddenly, something as bright as a thousand stars flashed across the sky, blinding me momentarily. As soon as I opened my eyes, I saw something fly in from my window. Thereafter, everything became normal again, with the familiar cerulean sky, gentle breeze and chirping birds. I looked again, and the strange object was still on the floor. 

“Am I dreaming?” I pinched myself and realised it was all real! I panicked. 

When I was calm enough, I gingerly approached the strange object on the floor. It looked like a map. Using a pencil, I prodded it, tapped it and shoved it around. Realising it was harmless, I picked it up gently. It was indeed a map with a note left on it. “Dear Tinuviel, please come to Emerald Forest today. I have something for you. I shall be waiting,” I was flabbergasted! A real magical adventure happening to me! “Well, I should get going,” Excitedly, I packed my bag, studied the map and set off for Emerald Forest. 

I had to cross mighty mountains, deep lakes and vast grasslands. It was a long and arduous journey. Finally, from the horizon, a green sun rose. “I guess this is it, the Emerald Forest.” Suddenly, I heard a soft gentle voice echoing in my mind, “welcome Tinuviel, to the Emerald Forest. Please proceed to the clearing where you will see three sparkling trees lined up in a row.” I did as I was told, but nothing happened. Maybe the voice was playing a trick on me? Maybe it was the wrong clearing? So many questions popped into my head.

Disappointment was welling up inside me as I glanced around the empty clearing. Then I felt an extreme itch at my back. Before I knew it, a pair of wings were sprouting from between my shoulders. The wings continued to grow until I felt I could lift myself off the ground. I was astounded with my new power! Then, I heard the familiar voice again, “this is my gift for you. I chose you because I know you have always wanted the ability to fly. And most importantly, you have a pure heart. I have also bestowed you magical powers to do good. Now, go save the Earth!” A badge appeared in my hand and I instinctively knew what to do. 

I flew around the world helping children and their families. I saw a hungry child begging for food and I grew a prolific fruit tree for his family. I saw a homeless child shivering in the rain and I built a house for his family. I saw a sick child groaning in pain and I grew some herbs to comfort him. Gradually, the crystal on the badge grew brighter and brighter until it could illuminate the night. I knew it was time to return it to the Emerald Forest.

I flew back to the clearing where it all started. The crystal on the badge had transformed into a lovely iridescent flower. “Your wings and magic powers are yours to keep,” echoed the soothing familiar voice in my mind again. “The crystal flower is your well-deserved reward. Whenever it radiates a greenish hue, it is time to visit Emerald Forest again. However, it glows according to your will. Goodbye, Tinvuviel.” 

Back in my room, I was bursting with pride, and grinning to myself silly at the same time. “Continue to do good,” a voice said from afar…

Runner-up: Zoie Tan, 10yo | Plant Eternal Eureka

Plant Eternal Eureka

“Bye, have a good day in school!” I chirped as I waved to my children. Upon seeing that they were gone, I trudged back to the house to wash up. I looked up at the mirror and stared at the wrinkles on my face. Once beautiful and youthful, the crow’s feet were shouting out to remind me how much I have aged. Images of myself dancing on the competition stage flashed through my mind. “If only I could always be young and win dance competitions again….” I sighed as I caressed the haggard reflection of myself on the mirror.

“Ahhhh!” I shrieked as my eyes widened. An unknown force suddenly pulled me into the mirror. Transfixed by the scene in front of me, my limbs wobbled uncontrollably as the swirls subdued me with extreme force. That was when I blacked out.

“Where…where am I?” I mumbled softly as I rubbed my eyes. Just then, I vaguely made out a figure of someone approaching me. “Welcome to Planet Eternal Eureka!” a handsome young man wearing a suit chimed as he shot a charming smile at me, “Hi, I’m Robbie, let me give you a tour around my planet.” I scratched my head as I scrutinised the unfamiliar surroundings. I had no choice but to follow him.

I had no inkling of what I was about to witness at that point. I was first bewildered by the colourful mushroom structures. What was that, I thought to myself. “Those are mushroom houses for us, it keeps us recharged and young.” Robbie announced as if he read my mind.

To my surprise, all the people I saw were young and good- looking. “Why do I not see any old people like me?” I enquired, but was silently in the doldrums that I would be the oldest person on the planet. Robbie burst into roaring laughter upon hearing my questions. Confused, my eyebrows furrowed into a deep frown. Whipping out a mirror from his pocket, Robbie brought the mirror to my face. I was taken aback. I was young again! “What? How is this possible?” I yelled at the top of my lungs as I stared at Robbie who was grinning from ear to ear.

As I listened to Robbie who was rattling on about how I could recharge in the mushroom houses to maintain my youth, my heart fluttered with excitement. Ecstasy was written all over my face upon hearing that I would forever be young on Planet Eternal Eureka. Seeing that I was twirling and dancing while admiring my twenty-year old body in awe, Robbie chuckled in delight, “Do you like dancing? There’s a dance competition going on now, let me bring you there!” I was on cloud nine and nodded my head eagerly.

Colourful banners and decorations filled the room as I admired the beautiful dancers prancing on the dance floor in their stunning leotards. “Who will win? All of them look equally good. I didn’t see any of them make a single mistake!” I exclaimed as I stared at them in astonishment. “There is no winner on Planet Eternal Eureka because everyone is equally gifted!” Robbie explained. “No wonder there was no one cheering for the competitors since there will be no victories to celebrate,” I mumbled softly to myself.

As we walked on, I asked with doubts still swirling in my mind, “What about your families?” Robbie clarified that everyone lived in solitude on the planet. In this way, there is no interaction and thus no arguments and discontentment. Everyone is talented in their own ways, and there will be no reason to fight. Therefore, there is eternal peace and eureka on the planet.

I started to wonder if this is true happiness and many thoughts started circling in my mind. If I remain on this planet, I will always stay youthful and I will be able to dance gracefully in my young body forever. It was a tempting thought, but to be alone without my friends and family, will I still experience the joys and laughter of kinship? Although I will be talented and excel in whatever I do, will I miss the delights of winning? If I will never feel the despair of losing a competition or will never experience sadness after arguing with a loved one, will I still be able to appreciate happiness? I started to examine the people on the planet. Indeed, everyone was beautiful, perfect in every way, but somehow, I could not see the eureka of life radiating from their faces.

Turning towards my reflection in the glass window of a mushroom house, I paused. I reached out for that beautiful image and closed my eyes…

Runner-up: Ethel Ebenezer John, 9yo | True Friendship

True Friendship

Every time I see an asteroid or a star in the sky, I will always remember a true friend from outer space. You probably would not believe that this is true, but here it is…

A bright moon rose, bringing a starry night sky. A group of stars with lazy eyes were scattered around the moon. The gauze-like clouds floated in the sky, which seemed to hide the ethereal fairyland of the palace pavilion. The distant sky was connected with the earth, forming a beautiful scene of heaven and earth. I was lying down in bed, looking at the sky and thinking about tomorrow. I felt reluctant to go to school tomorrow because of Tom, the school bully. Tom always took my things without asking and kept on teasing me. Oh, how I wished I had a friend, I thought to myself as I sighed. 

Out of the blue, I heard a loud crash. Boom! There was a bright flash in the backyard. My parents had already fallen asleep, who, or what could it be? Upon seeing this, I jolted upright and dashed outside to see what happened. To my utmost surprise, I found a broken mini spacecraft and a baby alien lying in a heap on the ground. The baby alien had a pair of cute, shiny eyes, ears that sprout out of his head, a tiny little mouth with blue coloured lips, two arms with three fingers on each hand and two legs. 

It crawled over to me and tapped me on my leg. Its hands were slimy. “Can you help me fix my spacecraft?” the alien requested as it looked at me with its adorable eyes. “Of course I will help you! But first, you will need to tell me what you need to fix your spacecraft,” I asked, slowly picking up the baby alien. “Well, all I need is a spark plug,” answered the baby alien. A spark plug? Oh! I remember we have spark plugs in school! I thought to myself, grinning like Cheshire cat. Picking up the spacecraft, I tip-toed as quietly as I could to my room. I frantically looked for a place to hide the baby alien. There were not many good places to hide a baby alien! The only place was inside my wardrobe. To make it more comfortable, I pulled some clothes off my hangers and made a nice cosy bed for it in the deepest part of the wardrobe. Carefully placing it on the clothes, I warned it not to make a sound. In order for the alien to get some light, I bunched up an old t-shirt and used it to wedge the wardrobe door. By then I was so exhausted, I went to sleep. 

The next day, I woke up bright and early. Not because I ever enjoyed going to school, but because I had to think of an idea to sneak the baby alien and its mini spacecraft into school. Right at that moment, an idea popped into my head. I made a cradle out of a grocery bag by laying a few towels at the bottom. I hid the alien in my backpack which had a small hole, so that the baby alien could see. I warned the alien to not make any noise in school. 

During assembly, the bully put his leg out to trip me and I almost fell over. The alien let out a small squeak and the bully asked, “what’s that sound?” I immediately tried to cover up the noise by pretending to sneeze. That seemed to placate Tom. When Tom strutted smugly past me, the alien used its supernatural powers to from its eyes and made him trip and fall! He stared at me bewilderedly as I leaned down and told him to leave me alone from now on. 

At the science laboratory, I quickly explained the situation to my science teacher. Luckily, he believed me and rummaged through his storeroom and found the component needed to repair the faulty spacecraft. My science teacher and I gave a shout of joy when he managed to restart the engine and the spacecraft roared back to life! Back home, the alien advised me on how to deal with Tom, and gave me a special locket to keep. “Take this as my gesture of thanks. It can fulfil three of your wishes.” 

That night, we bade our goodbyes as the alien launched his mini spacecraft back to space. I held the locket close in my palm and felt a million words melt in tears… “So long, I will be back soon!” the alien whispered as he vanished into the galaxy of stars.. 

As the saying goes, “a little goes a long way,” From this episode, I learnt about true friendship and that I was not alone anymore. This memory will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life.

 

Runner-up: Law Hsuan Ning, 10yo | A Dinosaur In Time

A Dinosaur In Time

Grrr. With a menacing growl, the tyrannosaurus rex stepped into the time portal, and…

The cerulean blue sky was dotted with white clouds. Carol had just been dismissed from school and was strolling home. Just then, dark clouds advanced towards the direction she was walking in. Nervous upon seeing the sight, she quickened her footsteps.

“Oh no… it’s still a long way home…” she mumbled to herself. Just then, she suddenly remembered that there was a shortcut through a dark alley which she was about to pass by. However, the alley was very spooky and there were rumours that it was haunted. “I have no choice though. I have to get back home fast,” Carol whispered to herself as she made a sharp turn into the alley.

As she dashed into the alley, hoping not to run into anything spooky, a humongous black hole appeared in front of her! “AAH!” she cried in terror, not knowing what to do for a moment. Suddenly, a teenage girl stumbled out of the hole. She had curly brown locks and her clothes looked like any other girl’s.

Who is she? Where did she come from? Thoughts like these raced through Carol’s mind as she struggled to speak. Her mouth opened and closed, unable to say a word as the time portal closed behind the mysterious teen. “What just happened? I feel…strange…” the mysterious girl blurted out. Then, her eyes widened in surprise. “What… Why am I not roaring? I’m just saying my thoughts out loud!” shouted the girl, obviously shocked. All that time, Carol was gawking at the girl. “Who… who are you?” she stuttered.

“I’m supposed to be a T-rex!” the girl screamed. “That… mysterious hole caused this! It must have been a time portal! And… Why are my arms so long?” she gasped.

So that was a time portal! Carol thought. Feeling sympathy for the shocked girl, she held out her hand and volunteered to help her. “Thank you so much!” the girl exclaimed. “I’ll just tell my parents that you’re just coming over for a sleepover.” Carol assured the mysterious girl before taking her hand and leading her to the house.

Over the next night, Carol learnt a lot about the mysterious girl. Apparently, she was supposed to be a tyrannosaurus rex whose name was Tina. One stormy night, she came across a mysterious hole in the jungle and decided to explore it. She had been sucked into the hole and transported to the present day.

After a sleepless night, the duo decided to find the time portal so that Tina could be transported back to her time. After all, it was a weekend. They looked in every nook and cranny of the alley, but no sign of the time portal was found. “Hmmm… the portal might have transported some of my friends here too! But where would they go first?” Tina wondered aloud. “Somewhere where there would be lots of dinosaurs…” Carol answered. Just then, they had a brainwave. “The dinosaur museum!” they exclaimed in unison. They hurriedly took the train to the dinosaur museum, much to Tina’s delight.

“This is the most modern thing I have ever encountered!” she whispered to Carol as they stepped out of the train.

After stepping into the museum, Tina desperately shouted out her friends’ name, attracting a few looks of disdain. “Tori! Tessa! Tammy!” she called. Just then, a girl with a long, blonde ponytail rushed towards her. “Are you a T-rex?” she asked desperately. “Yes I am! I’m Tina. Who are you?” Tina answered. “It’s me, Tori!” the girl exclaimed. At that moment, Carol shouted, “There it is! The portal’s appeared again!”

The trio took off like a bullet to the “Herbivores Exhibition”, where the time portal disappeared and reappeared repeatedly at different places. They rushed into the display and looked around desperately for the time portal, ignoring the stares of the other visitors. Just then, Tina made a dash for it and lunged towards the time portal which had reappeared a distance from her. Surprisingly, the time portal could be grabbed onto. Tori and Carol ran towards Tina as she grabbed the portal, and Tori leaped into the time portal. Just as Tina was about to step into the time portal, she told Carol, “If I get stuck in a time portal again, at least I’ll know who to find.” She smiled broadly at Carol before dashing into the time portal.

After the two had gone into the time portal, it disappeared, never to be seen again. At that moment, everyone was staring at Carol, their stares piercing into her soul. “Did those two girls… just disappear?” a man asked, shocked.

“No! You all were… seeing things,” Carol replied sheepishly. 

Runner-up: Ng Jun Ning Delaine, 14yo | Untitled

“Princess, you should not play with fire. It is very dangerous,” Emily begged the Princess with worry plastered on her face.

The Princess laughed at Emily and continued leaping around her room, holding onto a lighted candelabra. She is Princess Berry. She got everything she wanted since she was little and that made her grow up to be a spoiled brat. She had a domineering and arrogant attitude towards everyone and everything. The pretty Princess tripped on her own foot and the candelabra dropped on the floor causing the mat to burn. The bright orange colour dissipated amidst the once glamorous bedroom. The princess and her loyal servant lamented for god to save them as they clambered away from the fiery hunter. The lethal smoke embraced the Princess and put her in a deep slumber.

“I am sorry your Majesty. I did my best,”

The Princess lifted her lethargic eyelids slowly and began scanning the situation. The Emperor and the Imperial doctor were next to her and on the bed was…

“…M-me?” She muttered.

The exact copy of her body was lying inert on a bed. Her head began to spin a bit but she mustered the energy to move towards the lifeless body. She reached out her hand to caress the body but…IT WENT THROUGH.

“Hello Berry,” a girl whispered with an amicable smile on her face.

She had a rather sinister aura to her. Her eyes were sharp at its ends giving her the look of a Cheshire cat. Her features were fierce and her hair luxuriously flowed in the direction of the wind making her look even more majestic. The Princess’ eyes gleamed at her as she continued smiling. As the Princess began to wonder what was going on, the mysterious girl brought both her hands towards her. Thinking that she was going to give her a warm hug, the Princess leaned forwards. Instead of going around her back, the two hands slipped behind her neck. The girl, still smiling, tightened her grasp on her neck. The Princess attempted to claw her arms around the girl’s to beg her to stop. The Princess screamed silently, gasping for air. Sourness surged up her nose as tears started trickling down her cheeks. She felt her life slowly slipping away as she trembled tremendously. Just as she was about to have her last breath, the girl let go slowly. The Princess plopped onto the floor, trying to fight for her life. As she slowly looked up, the girl fell onto the floor. As if she were a piece of burning paper, her body began to evaporate. The Princess screamed in horror as weird looking people started to crawl into the room through the window. Some had no eyes, some had no legs but were floating and some had no head, but they were all smiling devilishly. They wanted the Princess’s soul but she could not give it. The monsters sauntered towards her, ignoring the presence of the three other humans. Then she realised that the three other humans did not react at all when she was about to die.

The odd looking things dragged their body across the floor as they approached the Princess, as if the ground was pulling them down. They looked as if they were zombies. The Princess sensed danger and began scurrying towards the door. She clasped onto the door knob but it was locked. She shook the knob for her dear life and banged on it while looking back at the monsters. She cried out while leaning onto the door.

“I want your life,” one of the monsters chuckled.

She stood paralysed on the spot, the menacing aura holding her in its grip. The monsters reached her and started hovering over her tiny self. She looked like a pathetic bunny about to be eaten by a bunch of wolves. She could not let herself die without putting up a fight. She flew towards the toilet and jumped out of the window with no care if she died from the fall. The monsters followed her as she ran for her life. A sharp pain lingered around her neck from the earlier encounter. She trudged on the path while shaking like a blender. She could no longer feel her pain. She was exhausted and was gasping for air but could not stop running…they were coming for her.

“Help…please..someone…is this the afterlife?” 

Runner-up: Rachel Ng, 13 yo | 2121

2121

“A bizarre tsunami struck the densely populated East Coast region yesterday, and millions, mostly weekend crowds who had flocked to the ECP, have perished. The government has released a statement this afternoon indicating this recent disaster has wiped out a tenth of the remaining population.” My parents and I recoiled as the CNA newscaster’s words slowly sank in, before they heaved a collective sigh of relief, grateful to have narrowly eluded the ‘natural disaster’. Just one look at my parents’ mien though, gave away the fact that they were beyond despondent. My cousins had, unfortunately, been at the wrong place at the wrong time. I had only escaped their fate due to the last minute school assignment that forced me to miss the beach outing. Assigned by the school council over the weekend, a coincidence of two unprecedented firsts was too hard to miss…

This time, however, there were no tears, no funerals, no nothing. We had been through this countless times. It felt so numb this time, especially when we now knew that it was the government’s doing.

Caterwauling inwardly, I recounted the thought of that day. Anonymous, a whistleblower known for his reliable sources, had leaked the government’s plan online for a fraction of a second before the post was expunged. Some screenshots managed to survive state censorship to reach my uncle. Father explained that due to severe overpopulation in the world, our government had followed in the footsteps of many more advanced countries by covertly planning artificially created ‘natural disasters’ and big-scale ‘accidents’ to reduce its population size as a nugatory attempt at ameliorating the ever-worsening situation of the depleting, limited island resources. Ostensibly, collateral damage was necessary for the survival of the chosen few in the elitist government. Now, as inner-circle members of the government playing God sit in their cocooned shiny capsules in Brobdingnagian gleaming towers, scheming, we, the citizens of Singapore, begin worrying about possibly losing our lives any moment. At least I still have my family, I thought as I jolted back to the present.

Come Monday, I went to school, or rather, what was left of school life. Many of the teachers, school staff, and students have been affected by the abhorred plan, but it suddenly dawned on me how providential my schoolmates were who somehow managed to survive the plan unscathed. Yes, perhaps they have lost relatives, parents, friends and neighbours, but invariably the entire student population was intact. A prompt check on disaster victim demographics in Singapore for the past ten years on my eye-phone showed how much better top-tier school students fared in comparison to the rest of the general population. Another more in-depth analysis showing mortality rates of family members of fellow schoolmates confirmed my suspicions that other man-made factors were at play.

As the teacher launched into a lecture about the importance of the upcoming State Trials that would grant us access to rare white-collar jobs in the government if we did well, I scrolled through the news on my screen. Technology did not allow the teachers to detect the multitasking features, for anti-detection features were always one up in the game. Forbye, there were many more solemn concerns to worry about. The Earth, our Earth, was in dire straits, so what was the point of learning about how mankind ended up in this mess? Climate change, rising water levels, greenhouse effects…topics that Earthlings took notice of — only when it was too late.

Abruptly, a thunderous distant bang swept through the campus, and tremors could be felt. Seconds later, just as the class was recovering to continue lessons after dismissal, we learnt that it was a distant earthquake from the abandoned Sumatra Islands, I drew in a sharp breath of air. The breaking newsflash triggered tears that welled up in my weary eyes. “Explosion in Jurong felt all over Singapore, 10,000 workers feared dead. ” was scrawled across the screen mercilessly as if taunting my new orphan state. People around me gasped and I looked up from the devastating news.

The ominous turn of an emergency newsfeed projection on the wall caused the teacher to double over, as did the faint hearted. All of our parents’ work for what was left of Singapore’s remaining potable water resources, after filtration technology could no longer catch up with the increasingly toxic waters.

Those affected included the teacher’s husband, and the fresh memory of the impact felt earlier which declared I had lost both my parents shook me. Anguished tears flooded down my grimy cheeks as anger coursed through my veins.

Was there a better way to address this calamity of drastic population reduction measures? Perhaps, I should start paying attention to the State Trials preparation.

After all, the only way to find out, I figure, would be to infiltrate into the inner circle.