Part 33a

New Town High School students Josh French, Matt Trenham and Marley Sar’i present part one of the concluding chapter of the never-ending story….

AND then they woke up and realised it was all just a bad dream. For just a
moment Johnny let himself think that was how this story would end. But he
knew it wouldn’t be that easy. As Eliza fell to her knees sobbing, Johnny
walked over and comforted her, trying to not show his despair.
“I guess we should give Alice a proper burial,” he said. “Yes, we can’t leave her like this for the crows,” Eliza said. As she wiped the tears off her face, a dash of the little girl’s still-warm blood smeared across her forehead.
Johnny remembered the list from the journal and said “We … we need some of her blood.” Johnny could tell by the change of expression on Eliza’s face how she felt about performing that task. She picked up Alice’s backpack and searched through it, finding an empty drink bottle. As Johnny collected the blood, Eliza and Andre dug a grave for the little girl’s body.
“Okay, so we have the blood, we have the three bones; now we just need the raven’s heart,” Johnny said with a growing confidence. Eliza sat on a log a few metres away staring sadly at the ground. Johnny knew she was strong and was holding her emotions in, so he thought it was best to just to sit quietly next to her.
Andre limped wearily over and also sat next to Eliza, gently resting his head on his twin sister’s shoulder.As the sun fell below the horizon, a cool sea breeze began to blow softly against them. Eliza was still in agony over the death of Alice and it was getting cold so Johnny hugged her tightly and, absolutely exhausted, the three drifted off to sleep.
Johnny woke to the sound of the wind rattling through the trees.His heart skipped a beat when he realised there was no sign of Eliza. “Eliza where are you?” There was no answer. He started to worry.
Looking around, he noticed the indent of crow’s feet in the sand. “The crows have her,” came a voice from seemingly out of nowhere. “Huh?” Johnny spun around, looking for the source of this unwanted news.
“I said the crows have her,” repeated Musta from his perch high above. “I can’t believe I let myself fall asleep! Where is she? What have they done with her?” “She is unharmed – for now. But to save her, you must gather the items from the list,” Musta said. “When you combine these ingredients under dancing flames, the crows will be drained of their strength. They will then be weak enough to kill.”
“Okay,” Johnny said. “The only thing I need is a raven’s heart … but where can I get that?” “Take mine; I said I would do anything to help you.” “Would you really give your life?” “Yes, I will if I must.” “No Musta! There has to be another way.” “There is not. You must kill me.”
“Musta, I’m so sorry. Thank you,” Johnny stroked the proud black feathers of Musta’s wings. “It’s okay Johnny. Good luck.” A tear rolled down Johnny’s cheek as he clenched his fingers around the noble bird’s neck and the quiet snap somehow seemed to echo throughout the entire forest.
With Musta’s lifeless body resting in his hands, Johnny looked towards the horizon; many dark shapes appeared in the sky.
As he heard the crows caw in the distance his fears where confirmed; they were coming for him and fast! Johnny grabbed the ingredients and ran to
cover. “Andre! Andre! Wake up, the crows are coming!” “Huh?” Andre said
sleepily. “Eliza was taken by the crows and Musta sacrificed himself so we
can save her. This is his heart,” Johnny explained quickly. “Now c’mon – we need to find cover, because they are coming!”
Johnny and Andre dived in to some thick foliage for cover. The crows flew straight past them, swooped suddenly to the left and disappeared out of site. The boys cautiously followed the path taken by the crows and discovered a small opening in the rocks.
They squeezed their way through and found themselves in the narrow
mouth of a cave with a faint flicker of light coming from deeper down. Their jaws dropped as they discovered where they were: in the crows’ lair.
In the centre was Eliza, bound and gagged, being held prisoner in a human-sized birdcage.
On every branch, ledge and surface of the cave’s walls were crows:
hundreds, if not thousands of them. “We have to save her!” Andre whispered to Johnny. “First we have to build a fire and burn the ingredients so we can weaken the crows!” Johnny whispered back.
The boys crawled out of the cave, found a secluded spot and, after a few failed attempts, lit a fire. “Do you reckon the flames are big enough?” “It will have to be.”
The items were  all laid on the ground: three alpha-crow bones, blood of a dying soul and heart of a raven. As Andre began to put the ingredients in the fi re, a lone crow swooped down and snatched one of the bones in its beak. “Johnny! Get it!” Andre yelled. Johnny sprang into action.
The bird was slow and barely a metre high; the fire must have already weakened it. Johnny looked up and realised  the crow was heading towards the cliff; this was do or die. He was gaining, his heart was pounding: he could do it.
As the trees on either side of Johnny cleared, he knew the cliff was close.
With the cliff only metres away, Johnny lunged forward and snatched at the crow right in front of him. His hands empty, the crow fell off the precipice and Johnny followed it, both of them flapping helplessly as they plummeted down, waves lapping at the rocks below.

To be concluded next week

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

New-Town-part-33-webTHE student-written story Lovesong of the Crow should be turned into a movie, say the last three authors. Three New Town High School students have worked together on the final chapter of the Lovesong of the Crow, which is being presented in two parts. They are Grade 8 students Josh French, Matt Trenham and Marley Sar’i.
They were selected by the school’s head of English, Daniel Howard, because they had all chosen writers’ workshop as an optional subject for next year. “I thought it was an amazing opportunity to be able
to write something that would go in the Mercury,” Josh said.
Matt said his first impression was that this was going to take a long time. “The first thing we did was read through the whole story so far and write down notes about the important events that had happened in the story,” he said.
The group shared their ideas for the story and then picked the best ones to include in the final chapter. Marley said the hardest part had been the re-reading of the previous 32 chapters. “The biggest challenge was probably just bringing all the ideas from past writers together. It was really hard to finish it all off with a satisfying conclusion,” he said.
The boys thanked their teacher Daniel Howard for the opportunity, as well as science teacher Duncan Brain who had followed the story all year and provided some useful insight. “I think that the story should become a movie now,” Matt said. “And I should play the role of Johnny Dance,” said Josh. Mr Howard said he was proud of the way the boys had embraced the challenge and dealt with the pressure of working to a deadline.

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