Lifestyle

Young Islanders" tales enchant

The following short stories are the winning entries of the ``Enchanted Island'' writing contest as part of last Friday's Potterfest. The event marked the release of ``Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince,'' the latest in the series of children's books by author J.K. Rowling.

First-place winners in the three age groups was to have their stories published in the Reporter. Prizes for runners-up included Apple iPod Shuffles and other gifts.

Co-sponsoring the writing contest and Potterfest were the Mercer Island Library, the city Parks and Recreation Department, Island Books and the Reporter.

Rules of the contest called for the stories to begin with the following phrase: ``Across the shimmering waters, the Island... .'' The stories had to be original and less than 500 words.

``Cutthroat Island''

Alec Bryan,

10-12 age group

Across the shimmering waters, the island was harboring a weathered wooden boat. A single torn flag rippled in the warm tropical wind. This flag was special, for it was a Jolly Rancher, a flag adorned by nefarious pirates. On the beach was a group of hideous looking, foul smelling pirates. They all surrounded a tall man wearing a faded navy blue jacket, dark blue pants, and a black skull & crossbones captain's hat. Most noticeable was an eye patch on his left eye. This was a magical eye patch once worn by the infamous pirate, Captain Kidd. The man was Captain Kidd's son, Kidd II.

``Before my father died he knew too many bounty hunters were after his head and he would be killed!'' boomed the outlaw. ``So he buried his horde of treasure here on this small palm-treed island. He had an enchanted map encoded onto his eye patch; only members of the Kidd family can read it. This voyage has lasted three grueling years now, so let's get the treasure!''

``Haazah!'' cheered the band of bloodthirsty pirates.

Standing next to Kidd's son was his first mate Todd Graphton, dubbed ``Blood Dart'' for his quick reflexes and bloodshot eyes. Young Graphton was a robust man with broad shoulders, a crooked mouth, and bloodshot eyes like that of a hound. Born in a rough city, Todd was a tricky character who knew how to command and kill. He was in his early 20s and respected the captain, always doing his work at the best level and quickly. He also shared the black heart of the captain. Because of this, he earned the captain's respect. The two were the best of friends and had grown fond of each other.

``Graphton my lad, go give everyone a small bottle of rum. Oh and be sure to add some shark venom into that fat man's one. He's not working hard enough,'' ordered the pirate.

``Aye sir, but may I ask specifically what is in the treasure?'' inquired the young convict.

``Well a great deal of gold and platinum coins, a few diamond cutlasses, and of course ... the priceless amulet of youth and power which is adorned with numerous gems and strung with an unbreakable thread. Now get back to work,'' answered the greedy pirate.

Two hours later a pirate exclaimed happily, ``I've dug up a fancy wooden chest!''

``Well,'' said the captain after he saw the chest, ``I have no intention of sharing this treasure other than with Blood Dart, so I do not need you anymore.'' With that, a bunch of natives who treated the captain like a god came out from the luscious green bushes and fired their crossbows. Ten bodies dropped to the ground, never to rise again.

Captain Kidd suddenly felt a tip of a gun at his neck. ``You led me to the treasure and I get it,'' whispered Graphton as he pulled the trigger. Greed shall perish all.

``Homecoming''

Sara Wong,

13-15 age group

Across the shimmering waters an island bobbed over melodic waves, back and forth. A breeze playfully nudged his palm trees, and fully-ripe coconuts clicked and clacked like castanets. Rocks and shells, scattered specks of blue and pink and gray, tumbled over the sand. High above, the sun smiled upon the island's mindless drift across the sea.

Anything and everything the island saw was blue; be it the endless azure sky over him, or the foamy waters bubbling under him. To his surprise, one exception floated by a few weeks ago. A mile east of him, he saw a smaller, dome-shaped island. Even from afar he could see her millions of leaves flushed in sunlight, emanating an enchanting green glow. He loved how white frilly waves adorned the ends of her pale sand dress. But most importantly, the island gazed at her because he sensed a vague similarity between them.

He never noticed his loneliness until she appeared, and understood the deadweight creeping through his branches was her fault. With every passing day, the island realized how he desperately craved a companion. As a result, the lonely island prayed with forlorn hope that one day, the tides would carry him to her side.

It was during a prayer that he saw a streak of light. In response, the sea shivered restlessly. The island warily looked up to see rebellious clouds gathering from every direction, closer, closer. They merged quickly, consuming each other in a cannibalistic frenzy to become one. Not before long was the sky blanketed in a murky, ominous shade of gray. Droplets fell one by one, and as the dirt got wetter it gave off a bitter, acidic smell. Without transition, the gentle drizzle became heavy blobs plunging into the water like angry fists. The ocean reacted with vengeance, twisting and turning, wildly shrieking its protest.

In the middle of the chaos the island shrank in fear. The rainstorm fell like bombs, the impact plundering the little plants, the explosion of water drowning the rest. From underneath, waves crashed into his sides. They scraped away pieces of him with a force that rocked him to and fro. Because of the pain, the island's vision blurred. Soon enough, the blur started to spin. He could concentrate on nothing but the whirlpool before his eyes -- churning faster, faster, faster, until it stopped, and there was no whirlpool, nor wave, nor rain. There was only a faint memory of blackness.

A familiar warmth filtered through his weary body -- ah, of course, sunlight. The island groped for consciousness before he finally found it. At once he saw the beautiful island, floating only a couple of meters away! Ahead of them, a vast land emerged from the horizon. Words were unspoken but they both knew. Across the shimmering waters, the two islands were heading home.

``Metamorphosis''

Brittney Wong,

16-19 age group

``Across the shimmering waters, the island...'' the narrator's British accent is more of a dull lullaby than the beginning of a supposedly Oscar-worthy film. Turning toward me, Shelby tosses her hair back from her eyes. A flash of blond bangs graze my face and catch my attention. ``Can you say lame with a capital L? The screenwriters should be shot for treason against their own profession.'' I try a knowing smile, then instantly wish my teeth were as shockingly white as hers. Shelby whispers come quickly, impetuous as her next illegal adventure. ``Let's dash over to Theater 4. They're showing that R-rated film Metamorphosis.''

Swallowing my instinctive, good-girl hesitation has become routine for me. I hear my voice take on a snarl of aggression for extra impact as I laugh back, ``Hell yeah!''

Like expert movie theater renegades, we stroll over to the bathroom for an inconspicuous pit stop. For once, Shelby actually needs to use the restroom, leaving me alone and helplessly surrounded by huge mirrors. At first glance, I don't even recognize myself. Shelby's new makeup that she painted on me earlier cakes my face and suffocates my virgin skin. The mascara adds years to my eyes -- I can't decide if that's a good thing or not. The thunderous rush of the toilet flushing startles me. Shelby emerges and stands next to me, examining her perfectly crafted features in the streak-free reflection. My blackened eyes are exact copies of hers, our lips glisten with the same shade of Passion Fruit Punch. With a murmur of satisfaction, she executes another flirty back-flip and starts to leave. I attempt to mimic her sassy trademark, but my wispy brown mop could never achieve that level of sex appeal.

Right before we glide nonchalantly into Theater 4, a cute usher taps Shelby on her shoulder. ``Can I please see your tickets stubs?''

My body paralyzes involuntarily. Never have I done something prohibited, let alone gotten caught at it! But apparently Shelby has; she knows exactly what to do. ``Oh gosh, I think I accidentally threw our stubs away in the bathroom!'' she frets innocently. ``I hope that won't be a problem?'' As if to seal the deal, she honors him with a toss of her lightning-bright hair. It glimmers iridescent in the artificial movie theater light. Knowing defeat, the young usher mutters something along the lines of ``don't let it happen again,'' and slumps back to the monotony of ticket-tearing.

Shelby's arrogant laugh pummels my ears. I look at her; equally strong feelings of admiration and disgust at her latest achievement color my already blushing cheeks.

``Hey,'' she grabs by hand, ``after you hang with me for a bit longer, you'll be able to do that, too.''

I smile weakly.

``After this, let's go to that Shins concert. I know a back entrance we can sneak into.''

I sigh inaudibly, a sigh emitting all the things I should have said.

``Sure,'' I mumble, and as we enter ``Metamorphosis,'' I feel myself slip away.

``Resurrection''

Patrick Fergusson, Honorable Mention, 16-19 age group

Across the shimmering waters the island grew distant with each stroke of the crews' oars. Morning light protruded through the clouds, reminding the pirates of last night; a night like last -- filled with bloodshed, victory, and sorrow -- would not be forgotten, especially by the crew of Nekros.

Captain Hudd lie shirtless at the stern of the boat, his hand dipped in an empty beer mug and his eyes shut beneath the brim of his hat. He slept and hours passed.

``Captain!'' Hudd stirred and woke, knocking over his mug. His disappointment upon seeing his overturned mug was replaced only by the realization that the mug was empty.

``Eh?'' What, come now you know I've been dreaming! How do you go about justifying your interruption of my precious shut eye!'' His first mate's expression showed little patience for scorn.

``Sir, it's behind us, the galleon from last night.''

``What, impossible!'' Pausing, Hudd realized that the sound of oars against water had stopped, and that the creaking of the ship had slowed with the incoming fog. The sun was beginning to set and a chill came with the darkness. On the deck his crew huddled both together and towards the cannons, the only real comforts available for a pirate at sea.

Glancing over his shoulder Hudd saw a black object three hundred yards off, racing towards the Nekros.

``We were rid of it yesterday. No way it survives now.'' Clenching the edge of the Nekros the captain tipped his hat, wasting no time in issuing orders: ``ANCHOR THE SHIP! We will NOT run a step farther and we will NOT taint these good waters with cowardice and discomfort! I am Captain Hudd, you are my crew and this is the Nekros! Anchor away boys, and let's discover how it is a ship can survive sinking. Prepare for battle!''

Back on the island the remnants of combat simmered with the shallow water. Abandoned clothes and assorted bodies swayed in and out with the tide, and the white sand was stained crimson with blood. The birds were quiet, the trees didn't dare move. Miles offshore two ships fought, cannons exploding against the setting sun. Minutes later both galleons sank, their bows pointed towards the sky as if to resist fate.

The night passed without sound. When the first rays of morning crept through the fog, silence was broken by thousands of gallons of water rushing into the air as the two previously sunken galleons emerged from the ocean. At that moment the island stirred as corpses rose to life and grabbed their weapons, their clothes. One of the emerged ships turned back toward the island to reclaim the lost pirates, while the other, marked Nekros, raced off.

Across the shimmering waters the island grew distant with each stroke of the crews' oars. Morning light protruded through the clouds, reminding the pirates of last night; a night like last -- filled with bloodshed, victory, and sorrow -- would not be forgotten, especially by the crew of Nekros.

``Enchanted Island'' writing contest winners

Ages 10-12

1. ``Cutthroat Island,'' by Alec Bryan

2. Untitled, by Tian Kisch

3. Untitled, by Alison Ross

Ages 13-15

1. ``Homecoming,'' by Sara Wong

2. Untitled, by Mercy Hoang

3. ``The Diamond,'' by Dorian Zimmerman

4. ``My Afternoon,'' by Haley Lepp

Ages 16-19

1. ``Metamorphosis,'' Theater 4, by Brittney Wong

2. ``Island of Dreams,'' by S. Elizabeth Gildart

3. ``Life of a Mortal Island,'' by Sergey Levine

4. ``Resurrection,'' by Patrick Fergusson

5. ``Dreaming,'' by Alexis Cheng

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