Sally Jane

The howling wind muffles the scream as it undulates and disappears amongst the suffocating cacophony. As the moon overlays the rising, eddying mass with a lustrous stairway, an insipidly thin body descends silently to the waters floor. Submerging into blackness, the ghostly figure noiselessly thuds with finality to the seafloor. She feels safe; whilst above the swirling mass heaves uneasily with greed.
Drumbeats. A climaxing percussion on the small tin roof as Sally Jane’s chest rises and falls rhythmically. She smiles to herself as the icy sheets of relentless rain form a gentle hum within her head; imagining a boisterous marching band advancing along the rooftop. The reverberation crescendos as her wrinkled face droops, and as her eyelids simultaneously succumb, she slips into an abyss of slumber.
Suddenly she is in the town of Swift River. The blinding sun shines down upon the valley, illuminating a community teeming with life. The church stands erect, three elderly folk sit wistfully on the veranda of a nearby home, sipping glasses of white wine. She peruses the village, gently moving towards the cascading river. Golden rays penetrate the rippling fluid, enlightening the mass of flowing aqua. She gazes into its depths, discovering amongst the currents a strangely mirrored face; youthful, innocent. No wrinkles or lines. Suddenly the water transforms to a sickening black. A lunging grey shadow smothers its way over the town; tendrils reach forward and then curl like fingers, as if they are pulling the remainder behind. A sickeningly artificial odour arrests Sally’s nostrils, and as the advancing wall finally claws at her skin, she begins to blister.
Tiny, searing stabs. Instinctively she flees, the misty swarthiness lapping at her heels as droplets spring free of the pursuer. They burn, as the pain burrows deeply within the layers of her skin. The left side of her face begins to sag, as if the muscles of her face had collectively died. The lid droops, almost concealing her eye as her mouth twists in an odd angle to the ground. Time and space lose meaning as the fog seems to invade her brain, muddling her thoughts. Beads of pain pepper her skin as she collapses in a heap to the ground, groaning as her body twitches uncontrollably. The barrage of gloom mutely encroaches, suddenly thickening as if it has pressed against a glass window and forced to condense. Sally squints with horror as the mass is slowly vacuumed into the sky. The abrupt clarity reveals an even more disturbing sight; the cemetery of the town has been uprooted. The houses, which had once stood so tall, have been bulldozed and removed. The colourful basin is now dark and unforgiving.
A flash of blinding lightning; and she finds herself above the valley. Murky, brown water is almost overflowing from the vast cavern. Her eyes transfixed, staring, glaring. A damp hand clutches her shoulder. It is her mother, gazing eerily with a hopeless expression. She speaks in a hoarse whisper.
“You have to let go Sally Jane”.
She desperately attempts to respond, compelling her mouth to open. Only no noise escapes. Precipitously she is falling, falling into eternal darkness. Her heart pounds unnaturally, threatening to force its way through her chest. Surrounding her are the skeletons of the townsfolk, sinking through the dammed vale. They call to her, emaciated fingers beckoning for her to join. Her heart convulses within her body; it hurts so much, so much.
Her hands begin to wilt, lines increasing in prominence until her eyes drift open. She had promised to herself that she wouldn’t dream about the Swift River anymore. She knew she couldn’t bring back the past, nor change it. It wasn’t the same. Shutting her eyelids once more, she can feel herself submerge. Silently thudding with finality to the valley floor. She feels safe, whilst the swirling mass above heaves uneasily with greed. She compels her eyes to focus, and to her left reemerge familiar houses amidst the ubiquitous liquid. Gleeful children weave their bicycles down the streets. Above the embrace of water she can faintly hear rain falling to the surface. Pit. Pat. Pit. Pat. The liquid’s density presses against her as her lips curl, forming a crooked smile. It must be another noisy marching band jesting me to sleep, she thinks.
She feels safe.


25 was established in 1997, and since then we have successfully completed numerous short story and poetry competitions and publications.
We receive an overwhelming positive feedback each year from the teachers, parents and students who have involvement in these competitions and publications, and we will continue to strive to attain this level of excellence with each competition we hold.


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