Into The Smoke

Finalist in the 'Play On Words 2021' competition

“Hey! That’s my ship!” a burly man calls across the docks.
“Move out!” I yell to my crew, but they don’t need to be told twice.
“Come back here pirates!” he shoves people out of the way as he gains on us, sword now drawn.
“Everyone!” I shout, “Get ready!”
“Oh no you don’t” I hear the man’s voice now just a short distance away. I whip around, my drawn sword meeting his. His grin widened as he lunged forward towards my chest, but I spring far out of harm’s way bashing him across the head with the hilt of my sword. He didn’t go down but provided me with the head start I needed to make it onto the ship, and out of danger. I hear the man scream in frustration as we get away.
I walk over and stand leaning against the bow of the ship, looking out across the waves, to the giant wall of darkness. The best explorers have been sent out there every year and no one has ever returned alive. Until today. My crew would be the first to cross The Smoke and live to tell the tale.
Caught up in thought, I hardly noticed that night had fallen and we were fast approaching the darkness.
“Hey Captain!” I jolt my head up to the crow’s nest, where Leo is stationed, telescope in hand, “One minute until we hit The Smoke.”
“Alright everyone, positions!” At my instructions, my crew start to run around, preparing.
“10, 9, 8” Leo calls.
“Ok everyone listen up, we have come this far, let’s show the world what we are made of!” A cheer erupted from my crew.
“...3, 2, 1.”
And we pass beyond the smoke.
It was like a blanket had been placed on us, muffling sound, turning the world black. Everyone immediately stilled.
Suddenly an ear-splitting scream erupted all around us as a giant flying monstrosity, red as blood, swooped down claws outstretched.
“Fire!” I screamed and fifty arrows flew through the air, piercing into the creature. But it wasn’t affected and came down again, this time snatching Leo up in its claws. He screamed, but before we could help, the monster flew back into the darkness. A dozen more monsters came screeching down, plucking up my crew as if they were nothing.
We fired all the arrows we had, plunged daggers into their red skin, blasted cannons, yet it still wasn’t enough. I curse myself. Of course it wasn’t enough. I was foolish to think that we would even stand a chance.
But then I see the rest of my crew, fighting with everything they have, not giving up. They know it’s our time to show the world that we are more than what they call us. Thieves. Pirates. Criminals. Well, some might be true, but one thing we aren’t, is cowards, and we would live to tell our story.
We prepare for what could be our final battle.


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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