Part 29

Parklands High School student MATEESHA HOWARD has a shocking reunion in store for Rourke and his wife in part 29 of the never-ending story.

ROURKE gripped onto Alice’s arms as they both neared the edge of the slope. Harry stood before them, his arms outstretched with his hands unfolded. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he assured them.
“Leave us alone!” Alice screamed, her voice piercing through the ears of Rourke and Harry, causing both of them to recoil. “I told you, I’m not going to hurt you,” Harry said.
“That display back there doesn’t really incite trust in you, Harry,” Rourke quipped. After all, Harry had lured them to an ambush and then revealed himself to be a crow.
The sky thundered up above and great raindrops fell splashing to the ground and onto the foreheads of Rourke, Andre, Harry and Alice. Beads of rainwater trickled down Rourke’s hardened forehead.
He allowed the raindrops to make their way from the bridge of his nose, refusing to move from his protective stance around Alice. “You needn’t be worried about the girl, I’m not here for her,” Harry said as he softened his body language, standing coolly with his hands by his sides. “I’m not even here for Eliza, Andre or Johnny, Rourke. I’m here for you.”
The grip on Alice’s shoulders relaxed and she darted out from under Rourke’s hands to the sharp drop of the slope she’d seen Eliza fall from. She dropped to her knees and lay down on the cool earth, her shoulders and head leaning over the edge.
“Eliza! Eliza, can you hear me?!” Alice’s tiny voice echoed down the slope, bouncing off the rocks that circulated at the bottom. No response.
“What do you mean, you”re here for me?” Rourke”s eyes locked onto Harry’s, confusion
swirling in his deep brown eyes as his eyebrows furrowed together in the centre of his forehead. “What do you want from me?”
Harry’s face broke into a devilish grin. “It’s not what I want with you; it’s what Virginia wants with you.”
“Virginia? What does any of this have to do with my wife?”
Harry laughed bitterly. “Are you so blind that you didn”t realise that the only reason you’re still stuck on this island is because of her? The only reason any of you are stuck here is because of her.”
Rourke looked dumbstruck as he tried to process the words that had just come out of Harry’s mouth. How could his wife have anything to do with their predicament? Rourke didn’t even know if she was alive.
A piercing scream broke Rourke’s thoughts as Alice leapt to her feet from her stance at the top of the slope. She dropped to her knees and lay down on the cool earth, her shoulders and head leaning over the edge. “I can see them! They’re alive!” she cried.
Rourke ran to her side and peered down over the edge to see the bloodied faces of Eliza and Johnny at the base of the slope. “Is everything okay down there?” he called down to them.
“Yeah, do you think you could get us up sometime soon… as much fun as it is bleeding to death down here,” Eliza teased, holding her bleeding arm elevated in her other hand.
Harry made his way to the slope and stood beside Rourke. “Don”t worry,” he said, the devilish smile still fixed on his face, “they’re here.”
They looked to the sky to see dozens upon dozens of black-clad crows flying in their direction. The head crow screeched as she landed delicately at the base of the slope.
Her murder followed, with the exception of several crows that retrieved Rourke, Andre and Alice from the top of the slope and dropped them clumsily at the feet of their leader.
Eliza and Johnny were pushed into place beside Rourke as Harry flew down from the top of the slope.
“It’s good to see you again Rourke, it’s been a long time,” the crow said as she morphed into her human form. “I don’t suppose you recognise me now I”m the alpha crow.”
Rourke raised his eyes to the black-clad women and the colour drained from his face.
“Virginia?”

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on October 30, 2012

ADVANCED English student Mateesha Howard is the
writer of part 29 of the Mercury’s never-ending story Lovesong of the Crow. Mateesha is in Grade 10 at Parklands High School in Burnie. Teacher Karen Slade said Mateesha had a strong interest in English and was leaning towards studying
journalism but she also had a fascination with medical science that made her contemplate studying medicine.
The fourth of five children in her family, Mateesha has three older brothers and one younger brother. She has lived in
Burnie all her life and is eager to venture out of the North West Coast to
bigger cities. Mateesha wrote her first story when she was six. It was about
a tiger cub named Stripy who had lost its mother.
She hopes that being part  of Lovesong of the Crow project for the National Year of Reading will help her with her dream of being a novelist. Her two favourite books are by Australian authors – The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak and Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi.

Part 28

Eliza saves Johnny’s life in part 28 of the
never-ending story, written by NIAMH BRADY from St Aloysius Catholic College.

THUD! Eliza’s body crashed to the cave floor. She groaned and sat up, seeing Johnny about 10 metres in front of her. “Eliza, you have to look at all this,” Johnny said, forgetting that she had just fainted.
“What is it?” She murmured, her vision still blurry. Johnny was busily rearranging some of the  wires in the broken aeroplane wing.
Not terribly interested, Eliza shuffled over to inspect the other half of the cave. She was going through some pieces of paper when she heard something unusual.
She leaned in against the cave’s muddy wall. Tick, tick, tick. “Something isn’t right,” she thought as she listened carefully.
“Johnny” she whispered cautiously, but he didn’t hear her. He was still in his own world. “Johnny,” she tried again, a little louder.
He still didn’t hear her, he just kept muttering to himself about the wiring in the wing. “Johnny!” screamed Eliza, suddenly. “What?” he asked, irritated. Eliza grabbed him by the arm. “Run!”
Before he knew it Johnny was being dragged out of the cave. She was still injured from the fall, but adrenalin had taken over.
“Eliza? What the…” Johnny was cut off by Eliza’s desperate scream, “Get on the ground!” He ducked and put his hands over his head, following Eliza.
Suddenly, there was a deafening bang and Johnny’s ears began ringing. After that nothing seemed to make any sense. He remembered  Eliza dragging him away, then nothing.
“Johnny!” Eliza cried. Johnny’s eyes fluttered open and he saw Eliza, red in the face – but whether it was from exhaustion or pain Johnny couldn’t tell.
“What just happened?” asked Johnny. “I don’t know, the cave blew up and you fainted and I, I…” Eliza suddenly burst into a fit of sobs.
Johnny embraced her. “It’s okay, we’re fine,” he said, reassuringly. Eliza pulled away after a while. “I’m sorry,” she said, shaking her head.
Johnny waved away her apology and stood up. He stumbled back down almost immediately, in shock. The image of the smoking, flattened cave was overwhelming his mind.
What was even worse was the crows swarming over it. It was disgusting, a black sea of crows engulfing the ruins.
“Why are they swarming all over it?” whispered Eliza. Johnny ran sweaty fingers through his hair. “I dunno, must’ve been important to them. But why?” Eliza and Johnny sat there.
They didn’t dare move. They heard the ominous screeching of the crows. It seemed to last forever. A shadow crept over the pair as a magnifi cent black crow flew above them.
Eliza groaned and Johnny turned to look at her. Her arms were red with blood and there was a deep cut on her calf. Johnny bit his lip, he didn’t know first aid.
He took off his shirt and wrapped it tightly around Eliza’s leg but blood soaked through almost immediately.
Eliza’s face was pale and she gradually sunk into unconsciousness. Johnny sighed and looked into the sky.
The golden sun hung in the sky like a lost balloon. The blue sky would soon be turned black by the dark veil of night.
Johnny turned back to Eliza and shook her awake. “Huh? Oh, Johnny I…” She was cut off by her own groans of pain.
“Don’t try to move, just stay still,” said Johnny. Eliza gave a weak nod and lay back down, holding the journal she’d found close to her heaving chest. “I wonder where the others are,” she pondered. Johnny shrugged.
After a few long moments, Johnny and Eliza heard the high pitched scream of a young girl. “Alice,” said Johnny, already on his feet.

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on October 23, 2012

WRITING this week’s chapter of the Lovesong of the
Crow has reinforced St Aloysius Catholic College student Niamh Brady’s interest in a literary career. “I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and when I was offered this incredible opportunity by my teacher, Sally Broadribb, I
was ecstatic,” Niamh said. “A few of my friends enjoy writing, so sometimes we team up and write books, or hold creative writing competitions,” she said.
The Grade 7 student said the process of writing a chapter for the Lovesong of the Crow project had seemed very realistic. “It was as if I were publishing a book, and it has really helped me to decide that I want a writing career,” she said. Niamh said her treatment of the cave may seem a bit harsh but she hoped it would provide opportunities for future writers to explore. In particular
she hoped other writers would seek to explain why the crows had swarmed over the
ruins of the cave after it had been blown up. “I am also very excited to see the explanation of the journal come together,” she said. “Once again, I would just like to thank my teacher Sally Broadribb and Damian Bester at the Mercury for this opportunity that I am so happy to have had.”

Part 27

Ogilvie High School student DANIELLE SALTER brings the never-ending story back to the present in Chapter 27, returning to the moment where Eliza was reading a mysterious journal and suddenly realised there was somebody in the room with her.

THE journal slipped out of Eliza’s grasp, landing on the table with a loud bang. The parchment paper tumbled out and fl ew through the air, landing all over the table top and the floor.
“Eliza? Why are you in here?” It was Johnny. With a sigh of relief Eliza turned around slowly. She felt her racing heart slow down and the blood return to her face.
Johnny looked around the room. Well it wasn’t a room as such, it was more of a cave, with walls of light brown clay and a fl oor with the appearance of marbled sand and
dirt.
There was evidence everywhere that someone used this as a place to experiment and invent things. There were bits of machinery everywhere you looked, and Johnny – who knew all about engines and metal mechanisms through his love of making model planes – could tell what someone had been up to in this cavern.
“I just … I fell and I …” Eliza started to explain.
“Oh my God!” Johnny cried. “Look at you. Man, I saw you fall about two metres. How come you’re not dead?” Eliza didn’t have to look. She knew. She could feel the blood dripping down her legs from the open cuts on her calves, elbows, back and head.
She’d fallen on her back onto a pile of rocks, she should be dead. Her head was pounding, her body ached and she had probably broken her right arm, she thought.
“I found this, this book. It’s so weird. And this place is so strange,” Eliza groaned in pain. Her eyes were fogging over, but she knew she had to tell Johnny what she’d found.
She sat her left hand on the edge of the table for support. “Well, it’s not much use on the floor, is it?” Johnny asked rhetorically.
Eliza held back the urge to slap him. After all, she’d just nearly died, and he was being sarcastic? “Could you not?” she asked bluntly.
“Okay, okay,” Johnny said patiently. “Look, we …” But Eliza never found out what “we” were going to do, because she had fainted.
Johnny swore loudly and bent down to pick Eliza up. She was a tiny girl, barely 150cm tall, but all her martial arts training had built her muscles, and she was heavier than Johnny would have thought.
He couldn’t carry her; he had to wake her up. He shook her by the shoulders. “Eliza. Eliza, wake up! You can’t do this to me,” he pleaded. “They don’t let people do this on movies – you aren’t meant to close your eyes!” Johnny said hopelessly.
Eliza’s eyes fluttered open and Johnny helped her up into a sitting position. He then stood her up and started to assist her out of the room, but something drew his eye in the far corner of the cave.
He turned his head, ignoring Eliza’s protesting murmurs, to see what the thing was. He recognised it immediately, taking him back to his days of creating model planes.
It was a an aeroplane wing – almost identical to the one off the plane he had crashed in. It had been ripped open, its metallic insides strewn all over the floor.
To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on October 16, 2012

OGILVIE High School student Danielle Salter is the author of part 27 of the Mercury’s never-ending story Lovesong of the Crow. Danielle wrote her chapter as part of her individual writing in the Grade 9/10 writers’ workshop class. She said the the hardest part of the assignment was deciding Eliza’s fate after she had fallen several metres down an embankment.
“It was really hard, because if you fell like that you’d be seriously injured,” Danielle said. “I had to think really carefully about how she would handle it,” she said. “I also wanted to incorporate Eliza’s martial arts and Johnny’s knowledge of model planes. I thought little things like that were important because it makes them who they are.”
Danielle loves to read and write and she is inspired by her favourite author, Cassandra Clare. She loves to play netball, although her part-time job means that she can’t spend as much time on the court as she would like to. “I’m glad my teacher Mrs Hunt gave me the opportunity to do this, it’s been so much fun,” Danielle said.

Part 26

St Aloysius Catholic College students LEAH BURGESS and BRADEE KEAN explore the background of the mysterious Harry in part 26 of the never-ending story.

HARRY was standing at the edge of the steep slope. His eyes gazed down, searching for Eliza. With the sun blinding his eyes and tiny drops of rain slapping his face, he looked up and saw a black dot directly in the middle of the sunset.
The black dot was gradually moving closer and closer towards him. Could it be the crows? Harry took a closer look at the now larger black dot and knew, instantly, that it had to be.
Harry’s heart dropped as a cold breeze from the tall trees above him prickled his skin with goose bumps. “What do I do?” Harry asked himself .
Harry’s mind travelled back to that horrific day two years earlier, when his life was irreversibly changed. Harry and his parents were on a plane trip.
The plane ride was bumpy, and Harry had loathed it. John, an entomologist, had invited his family to join him in his search for a previously undiscovered species of grasshopper.
Unbothered by the turbulence, John and Linda’s interest had been garnered by a murder of crows passing by the plane. Harry didn’t care what his parents were looking at, as his mind was on starting high school in a new environment with none of his friends.
Linda and John, meanwhile had become so enthralled by the sight of the crows passing by it was as if they desperately yearned to be fl ying out there with them.
Suddenly, there was a loud smash, the plane jerked violently, passengers began screaming and the sound of crows squawking echoed throughout the plane. Opaque black feathers were flying in every direction possible through a shattered window.
Harry could only faintly hear the pilot’s advice above the deafening screams of the passengers. Harry was now in shock and knew, at that very moment, that his worst nightmare was coming true.
The plane began to jerk once again and Harry was lifted out of his seat, as if gravity ceased to exist. The passengers jerked and shrieked in their seats with their lifejackets tightly grasped in their sweaty, shaky hands.
They too knew what was going to happen: the plane was going to crash. The plane was now heading towards the water at break-neck speed. Harry turned to his parents only to see two crows with small beady eyes, short beaks and long, black feathers. Their talons pierced the seats.
“Where are my parents!?” Harry yelled, trying to be brave, but a pinch of fear entered his voice. No-one turned to him, as they were too absorbed in their own safety and that of their family’s.
Harry turned back to the crows, but they were gone. They had flown out of the shattered window, their presence replaced by the fanning of their wings. As Harry watched the crows disappear, he thought that there was something vaguely familiar about them that reminded him of his parents.
“Don’t be silly,” he told himself as he pushed the thought to the back of his mind. Once again, Harry heard the pilot speaking, asking the passengers to remain seated and prepare for a crash-landing.
Harry was now exceedingly worried about his parents. Where were they? Thinking of the crows once again, Harry knew, despite the absurdity of the idea, that his parents had transformed into crows and left him alone on the plane.
As the plane hit the water, Harry felt an immense impact before losing consciousness. When he awoke, Harry was panicstricken. He raised his head to check for other survivors, and felt something drip down his forehead: it was blood.
He then noticed that the plane was rapidly filling with water. Unexpectedly, there were two crows inside the plane. Harry noticed that these crows differed from his parents, and that they were coming for him, getting closer and closer.
In confusion Harry thought of his parents again, desperately wanting them to explain everything. He demanded the crows make him one of them. And they did.
Hearing again the familiar squawk of the crows, Harry’s thoughts returned to the present, and he continued to scan the slope for Eliza. There was one question he still couldn’t answer: “What do I do? Should I help the humans, or should I help my parents and the crows?”
Returning his gaze to the horizon, Harry realised the black dot had disappeared. “Where could the crows be?” He then looked directly up and saw what he thought was a murder of crows above him. Harry looked down, and then back up for a closer look, his eyes squinting.
He realised that they were not crows above him – they were ravens.
To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on October 9, 2012

THE authors of part 26 of the Lovesong of the Crow spent part of the recent school holidays working on their chapter of the never-ending story. Grade 7 students Bradee Kean and Leah Burgess took on the challenge after hearing about the story from teacher Sally Broadribb. “Our English teacher, Mrs Broadribb, told us about the ongoing story and thought we were in need of a challenge, and capable of contributing,” the girls said.

“Our favourite subjects at school are English, history and sport. We particularly enjoy creative writing, netball, cooking and art,” they said. “It was enjoyable writing this piece together as we both have similar writing skills, but it was quite a challenge.” Leah and Bradee worked on their chapter during the school holidays and provided their teacher with a draft on their return to school a fortnight ago.

Part 25

Jordan River Learning Federation middle school student JOSHUA PURSELL uncovers a tragedy in the life of young Lovesong of the Crow character Alice in part 25 of the never-ending story.

STILL daydreaming, Alice’s thoughts wandered further back to the time had she spent with her parents. She remembered the rainy day, several years before, when her mother Sharon and father Alan took her to the country to visit her grandparents.
Alice was just like her mother, with blonde curly hair, a small voice and short build. Her father was the complete opposite. He was a bald man with large muscular shoulders and a loud voice that if he yelled could shatter your ears.
Their blue Volkswagen beetle was still a few kilometres from her grandparents’ house when a maniac driver drifted around the corner on the wet, slippery road. He hit the side of the Beetle and they skidded out of control at high speed before smashing into a tree and the maniac driver was nowhere to be seen.
Alice’s grandfather had been looking out his window, keen to see his granddaughter.
Seeing smoke rising down the road, he put his raincoat on, walked outside and drove his bright red Toyota Corolla down to where the black smoke was billowing. When he arrived at the crash scene he got out of his car and was shocked to see that there had been a car demolished.
He was even more shocked to find Alice in the car, securely strapped into her child restraint. He rushed over and grabbed her out of the car.
“Alice, are you all right?” he said. Alice was a bit dazed but she spluttered, “Yes I’m okay.” Her grandfather quickly carried Alice away from the car so she did not see her parents’ lifeless bodies in the front seats.
Alice’s grandparents brought her to live with them in the country and as she grew older, gradually explained that her parents had died in the accident and she would not see them again. She loved both her grandparents but was closest to her grandfather, who always said “Don’t worry Alice, I will always be with you.”
Alice snapped out of her daydream and yelled “You said you’d always be with me but you lied!” Trees started violently shaking and Alice felt a chill up her back.
A ghostly figure appeared in front of her and as Alice was about to hide the figure started to look like her grandfather.
“Alice,” the ghost said. “I told you I would always be with you. You may be small but you can be brave and smart if you try. You need to believe in yourself and trust in your friends.”
Alice opened her eyes and found herself back in the present, at Grimly Point. Four evil-looking crows stared down from the branch of a tree.
To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on October 2, 2012

AVOIDING the temptation to conclude the
never-ending-story was the biggest challenge for this week’s writer of the Lovesong of the Crow. Jordan River Learning Federation middle school student Joshua Pursell  said he had enjoyed the experience.
“I liked writing the story but it was a bit hard to come up with ideas and words to put in the story,” Joshua
said. “The hardest part is trying not to finish the story because of the
name: the never ending story.” Teacher Alanna Green had her Grade 8 students
work on the story as a class project and then a group decision was made on who
had written the best version of chapter 25.

Part 24

St Aloysius Catholic College student STEPHANIE
PALMER delves into the background of Lovesong of the Crow character Alice in part 24 of the never-ending story.

ALICE’S curly blonde hair dangled over her tiny shoulders as she stared into the distance. Her light green eyes focused on the silhouette of a bird, most likely a crow.
Her thoughts wandered back to her country life with her  grandparents. An only child, she loved playing in the paddocks of her family farm.
She enjoyed caring for her three rabbits, Rosie, Muffin and Lucy, and chasing her border collie Jack. Her grandma would call her name from the  kitchen and Alice would come running inside to devour a scone by the fire with her kitten Spots.
She would draw pictures of horses, learn to knit, play the recorder and dress up her dolls. Her grandfather would take her for rides on the tractor and she would make-believe she was a princess riding on a chariot led by beautiful white stallions.
Her imagination would run wild as she smiled and danced in the sunshine. Alice would bring her teddies out for a tea party on a tartan picnic blanket with a wicker basket of biscuits, tarts and cakes, lapping up the fine weather.She would sing sweet tunes to them and hum the nursery rhymes her grandma had taught her.
Alice’s childhood would never be the same again. Her new friends, Eliza, Johnny, Rourke and Andre, had all been kind to her, but they would by no means replace her grandfather who she so fondly remembered.
Alice wished that she could kiss Spots on the nose as she always did, and stroke her three rabbits. She so dearly wanted to throw a stick for Jack and go out on the tractor.
She couldn’t climb into bed with her grandma to be reassured that everything was fine.
Eliza had attempted to comfort Alice, but it was all becoming too much for her. The flight had been her first holiday and she very much anticipated flying through the clouds and
floating in the sky.
But it all went horribly wrong. She could recall her grandma waving goodbye with a cheery smile at the air strip. Alice had stepped excitedly up the stairs and skipped to her seat where grandfather fastened her seatbelt.
The plane began taking off which gave Alice butterflies in her stomach. It must have been longer but it seemed like only minutes passed before the plane descended with great speed. Alice closed her eyes and squeezed her grandfather”s hand. Then came the disastrous ending.
Living in the very inhospitable forest, Alice didn’t have any idea what she was doing; she just trusted Eliza and Johnny. With no real understanding of the circumstances, she was trying her best to help.
She sat, helpless, vulnerable and frightened, waiting for a miracle as she listened to
the sounds of wind whistling through trees, waves crashing into each other and
the dreaded cackle of the crows.

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on September 25, 2012

ALLROUNDER Stephanie Palmer is the author of
part 24 of the Mercury’s never-ending story project for the National Year of Reading. Stephanie, 13, is a Grade 8 student at St Aloysius Catholic College in Huntingfield. She enjoys English, music, drama, sport and reading. She loves animals and being with friends and family, playing guitar and eating ice cream and chocolate.
Stephanie was delighted when she asked to write a
chapter of Lovesong of the Crow, as she had followed the story from the beginning. In particular, she liked the recent introduction of Harry and the way he was almost persuaded to disobey the crow’s  commands.
Stephanie approached the story from Alice’s perspective. Her aim was to highlight Alice’s innocence while adding depth to the character by including background information.