Zarah Carroll-Kelly, Grade 9
The gate is being raised in the “Win a Life Tournament 3500”. There are razor sharp spokes on top of the hurdles that leave no margin for error and three sledge jumps which grab hapless riders with tentacles of flames. I adjust my balance and hear the deafening crowd cheer their champions. My parents are out there, somewhere, praying that I can gain another amnesty for them. I am the fifth-time defending champion. If I win this race they will be allowed a reprieve from neutralization and I will be able to become a parent in my own right. Ultimately, I can reach inter-galactic stardom. I hear the beep and my Horse Flyer roars out of the stall.
Competing in the Horse Flyer Championship is magical. I feel that I can break the light barrier and enter the outer stratosphere. I roar over obstacles around circuits over and over again. My sun-streaked hair streams behind me. ‘This is my happy place.’ The track is my life and will lead to more life.
My god, I love the adrenalin rush. I look to my right, as I see a flaming ball of carnage. I adjust my balance to avoid a collision. There is a large red Horse Flyer swerving towards me. He stalls and I overtake him. There is the threat of too much violence in my happy place. ‘Focus,’ I tell myself. ‘ Toughen up!’ I tell myself over and over again.
My training partner is competing with me. He rides a blue Horse Flyer that he built from recycled bottles. His role is to annihilate the opposition with spray oil, so that there will not be any other victor. He has nothing to lose. He is the youngest in a family of losers. He rides well, but does not have what it takes to be a winner. He is disposable, like his disposable Horse Flyer. Each of his four siblings was sacrificed to keep me victorious. ‘I must stay focused’, I tell myself.
The blue Horse Flyer is airborne and crashes into another competitor, SO LONG LOSER! There is a pungent stench of melting tyres that are spiked to the hurdles. I must increase my speed. I am in front. The stadium is pulsating with lights and music that amplifies the cheering crowd. I must win! I think that motherhood would be the best happy place. I must win! I am in my happy place.
I feel myself slipping away. My Horse Flyer is sliding into the final hammer. I am looking into myself now. ‘My happy place is the track,’ I tell myself. I will not be there to wear the crown. My parents are cheering for my little brother who was always their favourite. He is to be the winner and save them. The crowd (recognizing another young star) leaves me alone, in my happy place, racing to heaven.