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Fall Showcase on our Year 11 Creative Writers and Thinkers

The power of short writing assignments impressively highlighted by our a few of our Year 11 creative writers and thinkers. To demonstrate understanding of the gothic conventions, after analysing The Signalman by Charles Dickens; and in preparation for their forthcoming World Literature text exam on short stories, our Year 11 students were asked to write modern Gothic stories. 

We've shortlisted a few of our impressive 'fall' favorites here: 

Modern Gothic by Alexis

The Peculiar Case of Vincent Vandervalk, by Sana 

Tap. Tap. Tap. by Viola

21st Century Gothic Story by Cerys

 

  • Year 11 English Students

Modern Gothic by Alexis

Once in a while, for everyone, including me, a nightmare likes to resurface itself. However, less frequent than when you were a child, but still just frequent enough to keep you on your toes. But at that particular moment in time Lucy Tarentine had the worst nightmare yet. One that stripped away from the sense that it was not real and became its own entire reality. Some may have called it Lucid dreaming, others a strong imagination, however I liked to come up with my own individual name. 

It had all started the night Lucy, at 13 years-old, decided to finally watch the Avengers Endgame movie. Now although the movie did not give Lucy the creeps nor scare her, it did however urge on a nightmare that would eventually change her life forever. 

This nightmare started out just like any other dream would for a hormonal teenager, with the occasional celebrity crush and their favourite tv characters. Yet a continuous eerie feeling tended to occur ever so slightly rousing her. This continued throughout the night until the time had come for Lucy to live her worst nightmares. Lucy had finally drifted into a deep sleep, when the first gun shot rang through her house and shocked her awake. However, she was not in her house anymore, but a room of paintings. Paintings of her entire family tree, dating back to hundreds of years ago. These paintings did not move nor speak but created a buzzing noise, one that got louder and louder by the minute, until the buzzing started to form into words. At first Lucy could not make sense of the words but after a while they started to come together. They were not words of encouragement but ones of her worst fears…

“You worthless child, you have no right to be on this earth, nor to enjoy the memories your family has provided you with. And where has that gotten them, shot in the head by a stranger who had no idea of their names. But no, you got to survive…”

Lucy tried to scream, to cry out, to block out everything from her mind but nothing worked this voice continued to blast on…

“You think you have a place in this world. No one will ever accept you for the person you are. You are a walking freakshow who thinks she owns the land she is standing on. But just wait that land will start to crumble and then we will see who is laughing then…”

The voice broke Lucy down, mentally, and physically, completely draining her, yet she still had the ability to run. To try and get away from the hounding voice, but no matter how far she got the voice was still clear as daylight, the only thing that stopped her from running any further was the sense that she was no longing going anywhere, but was just running on the spot. And she was right. She was no longer racing through the halls of the house she had wound up in, nor on the sidewalks outside, but in the centre of a room full of mirrors. A second gunshot rang through her ears. Lucy was determined to escape this hell house, determined to save whatever life she still had outside those walls…

“Oh, you have hope to escape, now that is just sad. I mean look at yourself, how do you think you can ever escape. Your weak, broken down by a simple awakening, no wonder they left you alive, there was no point in killing you considering you have no future…”

The voice continued, poking, and prodding at everything Lucy tried to hide from the world. She had, had enough. A third gunshot rang throughout magically summoning a knife, rope, and a gun…

“Don’t worry you do have a fourth choice to live, but only within these walls, you will never feel the sun again nor the touch of your loved ones, well you can’t do that anyways considering their dead, so why not join them. Your choice…”

Lucy stared at the items, tears streaming down her face, was she really going to go through with this, I mean what other choice did she have. Lucy very slowly started to walk and gradually picked up the gun. If she was going to die she would go down the same way her family did. She held it up to the side of her head, trying not to think about what she was about to do, and as she pulled the trigger, she took one last glance at herself in the mirror.

“I am weak!”

This was the last thing Lucy had thought before she woke up the next morning with blotched cheeks and drenched in her own sweat. It was all a dream; she could not believe it. Lucy ran down-stairs just to make sure, and there they were her family sitting at the breakfast table waiting for her to come eat breakfast.

After breakfast Lucy went back upstairs and tried to go through what had happened throughout the night.

“It was not real, my family are alive and well and I am strong, not weak, and that voice was all just inside my head”.

And then she heard it. A faint buzzing and the sound of three gunshots.

 

The Peculiar Case of Vincent Vandervalk, by Sana 

Individuals may say that the weather of torrents and gloom is to be perceived as a bad omen. The only thing that ran through the mind of Sylvester Valdemar, however, was the measly wage he was to receive after his shift. Lightning brightened the sky, exposing the abyss of the night to the viewers below. Stargazers and insomniac wanderers strolled aimlessly, contemplating the meaning of their very existence. Valdemar did not not concern himself with the thoughts of passersby as he trudged through overgrown weeds and jagged cobblestones, hastily trying to escape the downpour. 

The gargantuan doors sat open, as if welcoming Valdemar with open arms. He accepted the embrace and entered the warehouse with a deep sigh. His eyes searched for Vandervalk, but his gaze was greeted with a void. Flickering lights illuminated the area for split seconds before sending it back into darkness. The deep groan of thunder shook the walls of the warehouse, as if trying to convey a message of sorts. Despite the symphony that played on the roof, the warehouse was eerily taciturn. It was as if the silence was drowning out all other forms of sound. Hesitantly, he approached the time chart stuck on the far wall. Unsure of why he was afraid to produce any noise at all, he winced every time his foot created a soft thud on the cement. 

Approaching the piece of paper tapped to the wall, he raised an eyebrow. Vandervalk checked in for his shift half an hour ago, it stated. The signature and timestamp were proof enough. Perhaps he had gone for a break, his logical thinking prompted. Refusing to waste any more time on the matter, Valdemar settled in and made his way to the loading dock. 

“Vinnie! Aye, Vinnie! Will ya hurry yer backside in here and gimme a hand?” he bellowed for Vandervalk, hoping for a response. His attempt was met with more deafening silence. 

“Useless old fool,” he whispered to no one and nothing in particular. 

Giving this peculiar situation no further thought, Valdemar began loading boxes onto conveyer belts and taping shut the ones which lay open. Gentle thumps and high-pitched sounds of ripping tape echoed through the warehouse, creating the impression of a chasm. His eye was suddenly drawn to a nametag, wedged between a conveyor belt. It was Vandervalk’s. Not giving it the time of night, Valdemar tossed it aside and continued with his duties. Barely ten minutes passed since the start of his monotonous work and he was met with an odd sensation. He turned to find the warehouse as he saw it not a minute ago. He saw nothing strange, but the air had shifted. 

“Vincent?” he asked to the empty space. He hadn’t even finished speaking when a rush of frigid air grazed the back of his neck. Valdemar leapt, his hand automatically reaching for the spot that had felt the sensation. A soft drumming of rain became apparent to his senses and his eyes traveled to a window that sat open. He chided himself for falling prey to the eeriness of his shift, for it was but a breeze that had made its way through the open window.

Valdemar sauntered towards the pane of glass, intent on preventing any more frights. The wind whistled and shifted pieces of newspaper that lay on the ground. As Valdemar approached the window, a segment of the paper floated right in his path. He looked down and a familiar face gazed back up at him. He tentatively picked up the paper, squinting at the picture. It was an obituary. A man, who had passed only the day before last. A suspected accident with an industrial conveyer belt, it read. The face was that of Vincent Vandervalk.

 

Tap. Tap. Tap. by Viola

Steve bent over the keyboard, laboring under the faint glow of his computer. His small cubicle was the only source of light in the large room. He was working late for the fifth time in a row, so anxious he was to prove himself to his superiors. Besides, there wasn’t anyone at home to notice his gradually lengthening hours, except perhaps his fish which spent most days as a dark shadow endlessly circling its transparent cage. Steve knew that every other person on the 65th floor of the office had left, returning to loving families and spouses hours ago, and yet, he couldn’t quite manage to shake the feeling that he wasn’t alone.

   His chair made a loud screech as he shifted position, startling him. A quick glance over his flimsy cubicle walls showed an empty room, full of dancing shadows and dark offices. A room where anything could hide. Steve felt the back of his neck prickle and whirled around, only to be greeted with his own reflection in the windows. Eyes wide and bloodshot from days with no sleep, mussed hair from running his hands through it in frustration, shirt buttoned wrong; he looked crazy. 

     Sighing, he sat back down in his chair and pulled out his phone, dialing his last called number - the only number in his recently called list since he got the phone a few months ago.

     Riiinnnngggg… Riiinnnngggg… Riiinnnngggg…   

     “Golden Dragon’s Chinese Palace, what is your order?”

     “Yes, I would like—“ Steve paused. He looked around.

     There was that feeling again, but there was no one in the room.

     “Hello?… Are you still there?” 

     Steve hung up.

     He had seen something, something that had unnerved him to the core of his being. As he slowly rose, grabbing his keys and jacket in his hand, Steve watched as the green light on top of his computer eyed him, unblinking. The security camera in the corner swiveled slightly to follow any small action. Trying not to make any sudden movements, he exited his cubicle, the silence in the dark room suddenly stifling, the only light coming from those incessant small dots watching, always watching. He couldn’t say what exactly had made him so sure that someone was on the other side, some unknown sinister figure, but there was no mistaking the suffocating weight of the eyes upon him. 

     Traversing the maze of cubicles, he gradually sped up as he got closer and closer to the elevator, his salvation from the penetrating gazes. He was halfway when it happened. 

     He fell.

    Suddenly Steve found himself face to face with the ugly corporate carpeting, rough fibers rubbing against his cheek. He froze, petrified. The only movements were the sharp spasming of his chest as he panted in terror. Nearly sick with fear and apprehension, Steve swallowed hard. And looked up.

     A shadow rose above him, its monstrous figure evoking a horror in him unlike anything he had ever felt before. Gasping, he crawled as fast as he could into the nearest cubicle. There was an eery silence, a brief respite before the buzzing began.

     Down the hallway they flew. A swarm of thousands and thousands of enraged wasps. He curled up in a ball on the floor, trapped within the large stone walls that had risen up around him. The bugs descended on him as quickly as they’d come, until the loud buzzing was all he could hear. He felt his eardrums rupture, the hands pressed over his ears becoming slick with blood. They kept on coming until his body was swollen with agonizing welts. He felt himself become paralyzed until he could only watch in horror as the vultures above began to pick at his swollen flesh. Their beaks tore strips of flesh from his limbs and gulped the meat down whole. Choking, he coughed and coughed and coughed until his throat was raw, attempting to expel the seawater from his lungs. He was surrounded by the dark expanse of the ocean, all that was below him was miles and miles of water and monsters. His eyes began to water at the bright lights as the cars on the freeway bore down on him. He was underground, dirt up his nose and mouth, just swallowing more and more of the grainy particles as he tried to call for help. Looking down, he attempted to scream he fell, hurtling towards the earth. He fell and fell and fell. 

And then, nothing…

     The next morning, the janitor would find Steve’s dead body huddled under the desk he had dragged himself beneath. The paramedics report would list cause of death as a heart attack, after severe sleep deprivation resulted in vivid hallucinations. Not that Steve had anybody who would care to read it.

 

21st Century Gothic Story by Cerys

Plan: 

  • Fear of mental illnesses. 
  • Set in an abandoned asylum – security guard/staff member going around (richard burke) 
  • Danver's Lunatic Asylum – dead body not found till days later, rotting and said to haunt the grounds 
  • Approaches the window and the being of a woman jumps out, faces floating in windows and children laughing 
  • Mention the cemetery nearby  

Richard Burke had heard about all the stories. Everything about the 2,000 people that once inhabited the building, the jolts of electricity and the complete lack of basic hygiene. Legend has it that bodies would lie lifeless in the rooms, only discovered after days. The rotting stench would be carried around the building like a thick smoke. Once the bodies were buried, the souls of those would revisit the grounds, travelling around unnoticed.  

The moon was sitting directly above the looming building. Its eerie light was streaming through the dark clouds which floated across the sky, only scarcely revealing the pitch-black background that lay beneath. Once the broken fence was past, tombstones were scattered all over the ground, with trees growing around, nesting the home of hundreds of crows. They called out to each other in a low, cackly way. Some of the stones were simply carved numerically, as opposed to names.  Richard Burke could feel the dead, overgrown grass as it brushes up against his legs. Behind him, the air stirred, but the leaves were still. Beyond this, stood a sinister, castle-like building with windows boarded up and the face covered in overgrown moss. The remaining letters of Danver’s Lunatic Asylum hung down from above the door, swaying in the wind. 

The security guard approached the rotting doors. They towered high and seemed to smirk at him, as if daring Richard to enter the abandoned building. Swinging open, the doors send a whining echo through the asylum. Richard took a step past them and the sound of his step engulfed the never-ending hallways. His steps continued to follow him as he started through the building.  The walls were peeling, and the rooms were empty inside. The guard continued to walk through, peering around the corners, only to be met with complete emptiness. He approached a room that was different to the others, it was locked and had ‘shock therapy’ written in blood-red letters. A gust of wind suddenly flew through the hallway, tickling the back of his neck. Richard reached for his key and turned it in the door. The piece of wood moaned open and revealed a room that contained a lone chair in the middle. A stench of something indistinguishable wafted around the room, making it unbearable to remain in. Just as the guard turned to go, a small flash went off in the corner of the room. He turned back around and followed the light to a box that sat in the corner. Immediately after approaching, a faint sound started behind him. As he continued to look at the machine, the walls around him started to shake slowly, but the speed got faster, and the sound grew louder and louder. Richard turned around and the room fell silent again. 

He continued to walk through the abandoned building, peering into the open rooms, only to be greeted by overgrown moss and graffiti. After the guard had checked all the rooms, he went back to his area. The shadow from the candle flickered against the wall, whilst Richard Burke sat eating and reading a magazine. Suddenly, the candlelight burned out and the room fell into complete darkness. The sound of cackling started again, but this time it was in a loud, high-pitched tone, sending shivers down the back of the security guard. He got up and made his way over to the candle, but a shadow started to hang over him. He turned around, but there was nothing. The sound began to get louder and stronger until it was echoing through the entire building. The sound became distinguishable as a chant, the voices of young children saying, ‘HE DID THIS TO US, HE DID THIS TO US.’  Suddenly, the reflection of a face floated into sight. The mouth was curled into an evil smile and it was covered in ragged clothes. As quickly as it had appeared, the face had vanished again. Richard moved over to the window and a pale face jumped out at him. Dark hair framed the face, making it appear lifeless. Dark bags hung under the colourless eyes. 

‘Come join us Burke!’ .

 

At BIS Houston, our goal is for our students to graduate with both excellent academic results and a full and vibrant portfolio that demonstrates why our students have the skills, the motivation, the learning experiences and the qualifications to have the greatest positive impact in their future communities. To find out more about our love for learning and HS programmes, click here.