Congratulations to Katie McAdam of Firrhill High School, winner of the recent Pentlands Book Festival short story competition for 12-15 year olds.
The 501 word writing competition was on the theme of The Big Mistake, and Mike Scott, of the festival committee, spoke of the ‘amazingly high standard of entries from the three high schools that lie in the shadow of the Pentland Hills’.
Katie McAdam (pictured), who was particularly commended for the originality of her idea and her effective use of language, said, ‘The idea for the story came because I wanted to make something really boring sound interesting and funny. I wanted to look at something that seems really ordinary but from a different perspective’.
We’re delighted to publish Katie’s winning story – unabridged and unedited – here:
A TOAST TO TOAST
He was ripped from his steel white resting place, thumped into a polymer handbag. Yet these handbags weren’t just for him, they were For Life. Nestled between the bags of aromatic leaves and the unfertilised baby chickens he lay. The screaming small Giant exclaimed for a monster truck for ants. The footsteps edged towards a conveyor belt. He was pulled from his companion the rooster box the Giants cover in dairy products. He slowly edged towards the red laser and his striped DNA keyed into the machine. He shouted “beeeeeep!” as his identity, ‘WARBURTONS MEDIUM SLICED WHITE BREAD £1’, was copied on to a reel of a white and orange adoption certificate. Luckily he was reunited with the rooster box, only this time the famished small Giant had made him lose a few grams. The plastic sleeping bag opened again and his new owners walked him to a metallic box on wheels. His new owners placed him in their in their movable room and edged towards his new home. He was thrilled, yet a private concert of “Uptown Girl” sang out from the separate machine and drowned him out.
His new family exited their movable room and went to a building with 48 on the front.
Still enclosed in his plastic sleeping bag, he was removed and finally got his own room! Above the boiling cylinder there was a frame opened by the Giants’ five attached keys; they never lost them as they were always on their arms. His new bed was wooden but he had to share it with edible straws and the alphabet in a tin. He snoozed – he was in a place where he belonged, even though his kind were meant to be in a bin.
The footsteps woke him up. He was wrestled out from his slumber, his blue coat torn away. Forced to leave his siblings behind, he is dropped into the sunbed; the electricity runs through, glowing his skin. His slight Magaluf tan descends into a crisp fake bake manufactured by the orange swirls. Suddenly he finds this sun bed is really on a springboard above the Costa del Sol swimming pool and he springs into the air. A new creation is formed. This once weak softie has turned into a hardened being the Giants call ‘toast’.
Out of the heat he takes the flight to his execution. Little does he know his fate. Out of a pristine, chilled white compartment a golden ice cube is pulled. This is not just any golden ice cube, this is a spreadable, 19% fat and vegetarian friendly, golden solid sun ray of the ASDA smart price variety. The beam is split and covers his crisp tan. He has spent a bit too long in the sun, so now he is peeling; this after-sun cools him. Covered in this thin layer, it soaks into his body. The preparation has finished and he’s placed on the chopping block.
The sharp spreader that cooled him with the after-sun will now be his murder weapon, yet on himself. The Giant swings his arm and he is decapitated. His life is over. His corpse spread on an unbreakable Fireman Sam plank. He is carried to his final resting place. The small Giant tears a chunk away from his body, leaving a curved pattern. He wails the final testimony: “Daddy, I wanted brown toast. This is white toast.”
Katie received a certificate and a cheque for £50. The runner up was Ellie McDonald, also from Firrhill High School, who recieved a certificate and a cheque for £25.
The stories were judged by a panel chaired by Professor Ian Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Scottish & Victorian Literature at the University of Edinburgh and Chair of the Saltire Society Book of the Year Awards judging panel.
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