Bertie 1st Place Entry, 2017

We had a lot of wonderful entries in last year’s BERTIE, a writing contest for middle-schoolers. Below is the 1st Place ($100.00) entry in the 12 & 13 year-old category. I hope you enjoy this awesome story!

The Book Whispered, by Skylurr Hall

Chris entered the small shop, clutter in every corner, he took a deep breath dust and his exhalation dancing in the air. He looked around for a moment before an old short woman appeared. She had tangled silver hair, small black eyes, and pale wrinkly skin. Chris recoiled at the sight of her but attempted to look less revolted, faking a sweet smile and standing up straight. The woman began speaking in a grave yet kind voice “Hello, I assume you’re here to look around? Or was there something specific you’re searching for?” she gave a small smile revealing yellowed and chipped teeth. Chris ignored this fact and gave a short reply “Just looking, thanks” he looked away and turned around, eyes scanning the dark shop. After a moment his eye was caught by the smallest amount of light gleaming off a leather bound book. He, unknowingly, began to approach it and all the while the woman watched. Chris picked the book up and it seemed to ripple under his grip; he flipped the pages and made a thoughtful “hmmph” sound. The old woman was behind him in an instant, laying a hand on his shoulder, and she spoke “Beautiful isn’t it” she whispered “I’ll give it to you for…2 pounds” she said in a sly voice. Chris thought for a moment, the book really was beautiful, he bit his lip “fine” he said. Chris was an aspiring author and he wrote short stories, the book would be perfect. Once out of the store,new book in hand, he set off towards his flat in central London. After paying the cabbie and entering his flat he opened the book, grabbed a pen, the got to work writing.

The sun has swept over the entire front room when Chris opened his eyes, looking down at the story he had just barely finished when he fell asleep. He sat up and yawned, bones popping as he stretched. The young man set off to his room to change before heading to his university.

When Chris arrived at the campus he was quickly greeted by his best friend Philip. They talked to one another in excited voices and Chris started telling his friend of the book “I’ve already finished one story” Just as he finished a black car sped around the corner, soon pursued by police cars. The boys looked at one another for a moment before Chris flipped through his story and as he thought it began with this exact scene. He blew it off as a coincidence but when the black car ran into the side of a building and caught on fire he began to hyperventilate. Philip began to try and calm his friend “are you okay? What happened?” he ask. Chris look at him responding in fragments “cars…story…fire…I…story” after giving up with his explanation Chris pointed to the beginning of his story. Philip read it and began to frantically tap the book. Chris finally calmed down “w-we’ll discuss this later” he whispered.

After five days Chris had written four more stories and they had all happened exactly. He felt like he was going insane but he also couldn’t stop. The boy was now sat in a coffee shop, sipping a mocha latte. He blinked as he watched out the window the scene unfolding. Two people were arguing over a five pound note that was on the ground and Chris knew exactly what would happen next. He had written it the night before and as he thought a child ran between the two adults grabbed the note, taking off. He smiled at the innocence and watched as the two adults began to laugh and then apologize.

Chris was home and staring at his book that was compelling terrible things to him. He had now owned it for two weeks and had stopped going outside and socializing at all. The book whispered to him “write it” then “you’ve had enough time” and of course “write your own death”. The young man had been fighting it for about three days and it was getting harder to fight now, he let out a drastic groan as his phone began to ring. He didn’t even pick it up, he knew it was Philip. Chris got up and made himself a cup of coffee,completely black, and downed it quickly. He then gets to work writing, telling himself “no” the whole time but not being able to control himself.

Chris woke up just like he did every time he wrote, except this day was different. He stood up and walked to his room, putting on his best suit and fixing his hair. Chris had a cup of coffee and brushed his teeth. He felt like he was being controlled like a machine, he couldn’t stop it. He tucked the book in his suit and left the house. Chris walked and kept walking, getting looks from some people. As he walked he began sweating, sighing loudly. He made it to his destination after an hour and looked down at the train tracks below him. Standing on them and looking from left to right. He stay this was for two hours until the slow chugging of the train could be heard. It got louder and he began to realize that in a car trains seem to move slower than Christmas but, when you’re waiting to die they move all to fast. Tears began running down Chris’s face as he realized what was happened then he smiled and thought about how he was stopping someone else from his fate. Thirty seconds later there was a loud train whistle, bright lights, and a choked scream. The old woman looked at the man in front of her, the front page of the newspaper he was reading said “University Student Run Over by Train”. She clicked her tongue and shook her head before saying “terrible isn’t it?”. The man closed the paper and checked the front page before nodding “yes it is” he said. “You know” She stated “I think I have something that might interest you”. The man had told her earlier that he was a journalist and was between jobs but enjoyed keeping a steady story count. The woman, now behind the counter, as the man watched and pulled out a leather bound book. The man smiled and instantly ask how much it would cost him, she replied with an equal smile “2 pounds”.


Don’t forget to mark your calendars for September 1st when The Bertie begins!



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