We are delighted to announce that two of our budding writers – Maximilian and Sophia – were longlisted in the BBC Radio 2 500 Words 2019 short story writing competition. Out of over 125,000 entries they made it through to the second round of the competition.

The competition was fierce, with a huge number of entries this year. The Reading Agency, who selected the Top 50 stories from the 5000 longlist, were hugely impressed with the quality of those stories which made it through the first round of the competition. The standard in the second round was exceptional!

This amazing achievement also gives them a chance to win tickets to be at the 500 Words Final held at Windsor Castle in June with live music, celebrity readers and lots of fun! We are very proud of their achievements and hope that it will encourage lots more budding writers to enter next year!

Here are their stories for you to enjoy:

 

A.I.R

By Maximilian H

I knew it was there. I could sense it in my heart beat, my breath, my hair. The air seemed static, in an overpowering stench of nothing. It crept into my pores scratching, searching. It wanted control. But I could not let this happen. My mind rebelled in a muffled mutiny, but the incessant pull wouldn’t stop. I struggled to stay standing, and staggered round as its poison enveloped me, grasping the icy rail in a fruitless attempt to stay conscious. It wasn’t enough. I fell.

Air sifted through a myriad of labyrinth-like tubes. Endless filters separated it into its smallest microscopic molecules, and then separated them further. Only the ‘clean’ collection of artificial life sustainers passed. The rest polluted the outside. But that was not a problem – no-one went outside.

So why was I here?

My eyes fluttered open after what seemed to be a second, but must have been more. A grey megalith of pipes made an ominous towering forest. It was hard to see the canopy of clouds through the smog. The only sounds were the wispy tune of echoing gas channelled through the unnatural maze of metal and a harmonic scraping which accompanied it in a melancholy duet that reverberated through this ghostly world. I stumbled on in agony, searching for an exit, an entrance. The grasping gas cast a bright firework show behind my eyes in a million shades of dusk. My blood seemed to swirl in tumultuous eddies and poured randomly through my veins on a wild goose chase. I didn’t know what a goose was. All these sayings must have come from somewhere, but where? When I was younger, my parents had read me the stories of ‘The Pretty Duckling’ and ‘The Goose with the White Egg’, and how their genetic mutations were altered to make the duckling ugly like the others and give the goose a normal, golden egg. I wanted to see a goose. Oh, it would be softer than the pillow factory. Just after Dad died, my mum told me about how before, all ducklings used to be pretty, and there were even other animals bigger than two people. Mum was a big believer of myths, like the ‘Rino’ or ‘Elfant’. But those can’t have been true. I was young then, before Mum died.

I strained to get up, and staggered on. My aimless ambling seemed to persist for a millennium, but eventually I sensed something through the stifling toxicity. I scrambled on. Suddenly, the pipes stopped. The sheer scale of the open expanse was breath taking. For nearly four hundred metres across, and as far as the eye could see, the dry ground was covered in movement. My eyes struggled to focus, as there were so many of them, and the smog was thicker here. Suddenly I realised: an army of robots. It had been predicted by so many, but finally it had come. The buildings had become graves and I was probably the last survivor of the A.I. Revolution.

 

The Lady in the Rainbow Dress

By Sophia C

Jed hated rain. The thought of his hand knitted socks drenched in water, his new coat turning a different color, his crisp white shirt becoming crinkled, all of this made him shudder. He placed a polished black shoe on the damp concrete step and once a calm and relaxed face turned to a sour looking face as if he had sucked on a lemon. The never ending noise of the enraged cars stuck in traffic also rose Jed’s temper. He had a brisk walk and had no time for distraction, let alone the warm smell of fresh coffee and pastries.

Striding along the pavement with his coat flapping behind him as if he was re-enacting a superhero rescuing someone, he slowed down as he got to the lights, he noticed a very strange looking woman. Jed saw a lot of people every day, some nice and some highly annoying, who got on his nerves daily. But he had never seen anyone as strange as this woman. There was something about her which he didn’t quite understand. She was wearing, a rainbow dress. She was just standing in the rain, watching something, Jed didn’t take much notice of her at first. But as he crossed the road and got closer to her he couldn’t help but to go and ask what she was rudely glaring at. He got to the other side of the road and was walking over to her, with caution in every step. Her face was as white as bone, and the rain on her cheeks looked just like tears. He stood in front of her and looked around, out of the corner of his eye he saw her reach into her pocket and rummage around. Almost as if she was grabbing something…inside her pocket. He quickly brushed the hair from his face, and thought about asking her what was wrong, but her hand tightened inside the pocket and before he could open his mouth, she murmured something under her breath, almost like purring. She grabbed him by his coat and shoved him over, and from the last glance that he saw her he saw her pull a dagger out from her mysterious pocket. She grasped it tightly in her hands and her smile stiffened as she strode off.

Jed’s mind twisted and he struggled to get up. As he was falling down. And down, through pitch black, he was falling. He landed on the floor with a thump and struggled to think. His voice echoed as he called into the darkness, he felt as if he was inside a cave, dark and musty. He saw a shadow sitting down not far from him and he crept over to the figure and gasped in absolute horror, as he saw a pale man tied against a mountain of bricks, he had hooks piercing through his eyelids and a dead mouse hanging out of his mouth.

Jed knew he was stuck. And had no way out.

Back to all news