Part 31

A small bone is shaping up as the key to the mystery at the heart of the never-ending story as five girls from Riverside High School present Part 31…

“WHAT’S that, boy?” Rourke asked curiously as Johnny silently slipped the bone from his pocket and thoroughly examined it. “I found it on the beach, ages ago,” Johnny replied. Andre watched the exchange from afar, leaning on his uninjured leg patiently. “Is that the bone they were talking about?”

Rourke reached out one solid arm and snatched the bone from Johnny’s fingers, ignoring the look of outrage on the teenager’s face. A few minutes of silence passed and Rourke finally looked up, acknowledging everyone in the group and trying to be as calm as possible when he answered the question that was on everyone’s mind.

“This is it. This is why Virginia was here; this is what they’re fighting for. This is now the key to our survival.” Andre nodded, accepting this new revelation. “Perhaps we can use it to our advantage; maybe if you, Rourke, are the one to kill the alpha crow, you can reverse the curse on Virginia,” Andre wondered out loud. “You might be able to reverse the transformation on your wife, Rourke,” Johnny agreed.

Rourke felt a surge of hope in his heart, he was scared to dream of the possibility that his wife may be returned to him in the fear of it failing horribly. “There’s a chance it could happen,” he murmured. “We should stick to what we know,” Eliza coughed as Johnny rushed to her side, concerned.

Despite her pain and injuries, she refused to be silent. “Virginia killed Harry and kidnapped Alice, or did you all forget? She won’t ever be your wife again Rourke and I want her dead.” Rourke stepped forward angrily, opening his mouth in protest when Andre interrupted to defuse the heated argument. “What happens to Virginia is not important at the moment; we need to find somewhere safe to rest,” Andre said. “We can think about this later, but right now Eliza is slowly bleeding to death, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

They all looked over to Johnny and Eliza, where he cradled her head in his lap and whispered, “Everything is going to be okay, Eliza, we’ll get you through this. I’ll be right here for you.” Eliza looked no better though, blood stained her top and it dried on her skin in irregular patches. There were scratches crisscrossing her arms and legs, deep and thick, contrasting the pale colour of her skin as she grew fainter.

Time passed and Eliza sat rigidly and silently at the campsite, with Johnny beside her silently. Her breathing had returned to normal and the spare bandage she was carrying was now wrapped tight around her right arm. She was watching Johnny and Andre by the fire and thinking of the events of the past day. “What do you think we should do? With the bone, that is?” Eliza whispered, keeping her eyes on the fire. Andre considered the question. “Maybe we could give it to the ravens? They are on our side,” he suggested. Johnny shrugged. “Well, they would be more capable of killing Virginia. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea?”

Rourke had been listening to the conversation from the other side of the clearing when he heard a sound from the sky. He squinted and watched as a black shadow flew across the sky straight towards them. “It’s a crow! Run!” Andre yelled behind him to the others, and went to grab Rourke to pull the motionless man away. “Wait, no, there’s only one, Andre. If this was an attack they’d bring more,” Rourke said. The black shadow drew closer, its wings open in the air. It settled beside them without a sound and Rourke’s eyes widened in realisation as the shadow transformed into a familiar shape.

“Musta?” Rourke asked and Andre looked at him in surprise. “You know this crow?” “Don’t affiliate me with such scum. I am a black bird of the night, but the crows are only my cousins. My brothers are ravens and I am one with them,” Musta snapped, settling onto the hard ground with a cold authority. “I have terrible news,” Musta continued, “I didn’t want to say this, but the ravens are not what they seem. They are not to be trusted with the bone, or your life and the lives of the ones you love. They are evil as well.”

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on November 13, 2012

CREATIVE writing students at Riverside High School worked together on part 31 of the Mercury’s never-ending story, Lovesong of the Crow. Teacher Jenny O’Shannessey presented the opportunity to her Grade 9/10 creative writing class and it was taken up enthusiastically by a group of five girls.
Ms O’Shannessey said Taniesha Cane-Wickham, Yullee Koesmapahlawan, Jacinta Mancini, Nausheen Mohamed and Michayla Harris had previous experience with collaborative writing. “They have all participated in the national competition Write a Book in a Day,” Ms O’Shannessey said. Four of the group were highly commended in the competition’s ES section covering entries from Queensland, Northern Territory, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
The Write a Book in a Day judges remarked that Riverside’s entry was so good they wished there could have been two first prizes. The fifth student was part of a team which earned a commendation in the same section. “They just love writing and jumped at the chance to
participate in writing Lovesong of the Crow,” Ms O’Shannessey said.
Riverside High School was the first school from the Launceston area to write for the never-ending story.

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