Part 23

A cave and a mysterious journal are among the new elements introduced by St Aloysius College student WILLIAM COOPER in part 23 of the never-ending story following Harry’s return from the crows’ lair.

AS Harry stood before them, Eliza felt fearful, relieved, and guilty. Alice’s face showed confusion at the whole situation as she held tightly to Rourke’s arm. Having been sitting by the fire, Johnny stood, a look of distaste bold and threatening on his face.
Andre didn’t stand, but stared expressionless at Harry, as if waiting. Eliza did not realise that she had been slowly walking backwards, nearing closer and closer to a slope. A group of crows flew over the canopy in their direction, sending her toppling down.
As she fell backwards onto the edge of a bank, she reached frantically to prevent herself from plummeting further, but only cut her arms as gravity tore her downwards. She screamed and yelped as she fell. She made impact with the branches bellow her, then fell through them and slammed into a group of rocks.
As the rocks tumbled from beneath her, she was forced to slip through an opening in the side of the bank. Eliza screamed, not knowing which cut to tend to first. The pain was unbearable, and she grimaced as the searing and burning overwhelmed her.
It was minutes before she reminded herself to breathe, and when she finally focused, she managed to calm herself down. As she regained some of her composure, she realised that her wounds would become dangerous if infected. But she was distracted by something she could see.
The appearance of the inside of the bank was unexpected. For several metres, the  ground was the same sandy, rocky surface as outside, but after that the surface of the ground, walls, and ceiling became an old, dirty, metallic material. She stumbled into the opening, and screamed when a light came on from within.
Slightly embarrassed at herself, she scanned the inside of the opening; it was a room, filled with things that she didn’t really understand. There didn’t seem to be anyone around, so with a cautious look behind her, she walked into the room.
Eliza reached a table that was in the centre of the room, and examined the strange objects littered around it. There were strange, mechanical things everywhere, and at the back of the room, she could see at least two strange devices that resembled pods, like the ones that peas are in, except much, much larger, and metallic instead of
organic.
Underneath a plate of shiny, blue metal, Eliza found a shaggy book that seemed to fall apart at her touch. She lifted it gently, and tried to open the first page. The text was faded, and all she could read was “J N” “J URN L”, which she thought must have once said someone”s “JOURNAL”.
She slid her finger into the pages to open the journal to the next page, but as she did,
pages separated from the spine and fell out, onto the table. Eliza was about
to give up and explore some more, when one page stood out to her.
She picked out several noticeable fragments: “never thought we would make it away
together”, “I think she”s over him”, “after all this time, she is finally with
me.” But the tone of the journal changed on the following page: “he”s back. He found us! How did he”, “No! can”t lose her agai…”, “I will kill him!”
Eliza continued to make her way through the pages. Most of them were nonsensical, but she found several pages of sketches. All of them included three main images: a man, a woman, and a recurring appearance of a bird-like creature, sometimes scurrying along the ground, other times sitting on the shoulder of the man.
Who were these people? What were they doing here? Eliza placed the sketches down on the table, and noticed another sketch of interest. It was of a boat, and printed on its side was the name, Lovesong of the Crow.
Eliza frowned, what was going on here? If only more of the pages were legible, then she might understand the meaning behind all this. She turned in shock as she heard feet behind her. Someone else was in the room!.

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on September 4, 2012

ST ALOYSIUS College student William Cooper was
pleased when asked to write chapter 23 of the Lovesong of the Crow. The Grade 8 student is a member of the college’s Writer’s Workshop class and was identified as a suitable candidate by teacher Sally Broadribb.
A keen reader, William often shares stories and ideas with his friends and as a group they create all sorts of things from short films to sketches and written stories. “I was offered the opportunity to write Part 23 by Mrs Broadribb
because she thought I would be capable and willing, as she was my teacher last
year and knows my work fairly well,” William said.
In writing his chapter, William was keen to provide new ideas that could lead the story towards the meaning of the title, Lovesong of the Crow. “I didn’t
think that the crows should be simply pure evil, so I tried to open things up
towards a deeper meaning of the crows, by giving them a chance to have a
background story,” he said. “I also brought the boat back in, because I
thought that it shouldn’t be left behind so easily.” William said he was
interested to see what future writers would do with his ideas and where the
story would lead.

Part 22

New Norfolk High School student SHANIAH SMITH starts part 22 of the never-ending story with a bang, following on from the revelation that Harry is a crow.

ELIZA felt as if she had been slapped. Betrayal washed over her. She could hear Alice crying and Johnny swearing as the rough cackles of the crows surrounded them.
She couldn’t believe that Harry was one of them. Yet when one of the crows congratulated him, the nightmare swirling in her head became real. All she could whisper was “why?” Harry was trying to keep it together, but to be honest he couldn’t breathe.
Eliza had trusted him. She was the first person to believe he was good in such a long time. He looked at her with remorse in his eyes as he heard her ask “why?” That’s a good question, Harry wondered to himself, why am I doing this? That last thought sent him over the edge.
Little Alice held Johnny’s legs in a death grip as the crows closed in. His gaze flickered to Harry the crow. He pondered how Harry had gotten himself into this position, then he realised that he didn’t care.
His eyes moved to Harry who was perched on the hut roof trembling. “Coward,” Johnny spat. Alice sobbed loudly at Johnny’s anger and buried her face in his  leg.
At that moment Harry swooped down from the roof and bowled another crow
over. This sudden movement created an opening in the crow’s defences. Now was
the group’s chance to escape. “Run!” Rourke roared and the rest of their group
took off with the Irishman at their heels.
As they ran away Eliza stole a glance at Harry. He was lying on the ground with the rest of the savage crows surrounding him.
She was puzzled. No-one was chasing them. As the group ran Eliza noticed Rourke’s pace slow and then he doubled over in pain. Eliza took a closer look and saw why.
One of the crow’s claws had pierced his back and had left ugly red gouges. She went to get the first aid kit. Her head spinning with thoughts of the crows and Harry.
Was Harry dead, Eliza thought? Had they killed him? She had to banish these thoughts from her mind. She needed to help Rourke.
Johnny bowled through the trees into camp, dragging Alice behind him. He didn’t want to upset her again, but his temper was fizzing out of control. Alice released her hold of Johnny’s arm and moved over to hold Rourke’s hand while Eliza was treating his back.
Johnny felt like an idiot. Everyone had believed that Harry had good intentions. Everyone but him. Johnny knew something was up and he hadn’t done anything.
In the  distance Johnny could hear pained cries, but they weren’t human it was the sound of a crow in distress. As the night came the cries faded until there was
nothing left but dead silence.
Eliza decided it was safe enough to build a small fi re, mainly to keep the others warm. She felt cold too, but it wasn’t  the sort of cold that everyone else was feeling. It was guilt. She hadn’t  known Harry for long but she had just left him there, in that clearing to
die.
A little gasp broke her out of her thoughts. It was Alice. She was staring into the blackness of the trees with an expression on her face that sent chills down Eliza’s spine. Eliza strained her eyes so that so could see what was in the darkness as well.
As the figure stepped into the light she let out a muted gasp too. Harry had returned.

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on August 28, 2012

WRITING part 22 of Lovesong of the Crow was an
independent project for New Norfolk High School student Shaniah Smith. The Grade 8 student has a passion for reading and writing that made her an obvious choice for the task. Shaniah has followed the story as each part has been published in the Mercury every Tuesday.
“Shaniah is a student with a talent for writing creative and inspired narratives,” teacher Megan Hoult said. “While she is younger than many of the other contributors to the story, Shaniah’s vivid imagination and compassion for her characters add a maturity and depth to her writing,” Ms Hoult said.
Shaniah undertook this project in her own time and crafted the piece independently, meeting Ms Hoult at the completion of each draft. Shaniah is also a talented singer and artist. She recently worked with a group of students to create a 3D mural to display in the school library during Book Week. “Shaniah’s enthusiasm and for this project is an asset to her,” Ms Hoult said.