By Sara Quelch | Posted: Thursday May 20, 2021
Some of our writing Extension pupils have entered the Fabo Story competition, where a guest author writes a story starter, and pupils from throughout New Zealand are invited to finish the story in less than 550 words.
Ava Schaumann R11 entered the competition with a story starter by author Kathy White recently, and was one of about 10 pupils commended for their efforts. Kathy’s comment about Ava’s writing was :
Ava Schaumann’s fantails had a very specific goal: “Ridding Stewart Island of ALL humans that infest it!”
This is the story starter with Ava’s continuation.
Adventure on Stewart Island
“This place is pure magic,” I whisper. I’m watching a white-tailed deer amble past the North Arm Hut. She stops next to the picnic table and bends down to nibble at the leaves on the ground. Right where we had lunch today. Behind the hut, I can hear two possums squabbling and then a thump as one of them falls out of a tree onto the corrugated iron roof.
This natural magnificence all happens as the sun goes down, painting a rosy glow across the bay, and it all would be perfect … except Dad and Sam haven’t noticed any of it. They’re still talking about football. Unbelievable.
I glance over at them drying the dinner dishes. “Hey, are we still getting up early to look for kiwi?”
“Absolutely,” Dad says. “How about I wake you at 4?” He winks at me.
“No way, José. We’re on holiday,” Sam says, flicking his tea-towel at Dad. “I’m not going anywhere before lunchtime.”
Dad shrugs at me as if to say there’s nothing he can do. I know he likes sleeping in as much as Sam, and Sam is the laziest brother a girl could have.
“This IS MY birthday present,” I remind them. “And I want to hear and see a kiwi. It’s all I want.” But Sam’s already back to talking about Ronaldo and his famous free kicks, and why he thinks he might be talented enough to be Ronaldo the Second. Right now, I’d like to give him a famous free kick of my own.
I flop onto my bed in the bunkroom and reach under my pillow for the treasure I found earlier. It’s a golden crescent-shaped whistle. The initials KW are scratched onto the back of it, which is kind of freaky because those are my initials and it even looks like my writing. But it’s not mine. I try blowing it again for what must be the 6th or 7th time today but there’s still no sound coming out. Not even a rattle. Perhaps I need to give it a good blast.
I tuck it into my swanndri pocket, grab my torch and a roll of toilet paper, and slip out the back door. It’s a bit of a hike up a steep hill to the toilet, and you do have to check the seat for spiders, but it’s the only place for a girl to get privacy here, and even then you have to put your foot against the door to stop annoying brothers from barging in.
I’m just about to drop my pants when a small voice squeaks. “I’m so pleased you called. It was so faint, I nearly missed it.” In the halo of my torchlight, I see a young rat perched on the edge of the basin. “Are you ready to go? Do you have your whistle? We don’t have much time.”
I looked down shocked, seeing nothing.
"Hello?" I said almost hoping there wouldn't be a reply, but alas the strange voice squeaked again.
"Oh good you heard me, climb the ladder!" My heart thumped as I looked around, nothing was there! Suddenly my eyes settled on a rope ladder and then, at the top I saw a little fantail beckoning with it’s wing. My curiosity got the better of me and I climbed up to the top. My eyes were as big as saucers glancing around, there were fantails EVERYWHERE! As I looked closer I saw all manner of native birds. Then I noticed something strange. A huge emblem sat on the wall, with the word: FEATHERS.
“Welcome,” said the fantail “To the Flying Extreme Animals That Help Endangered or Rare Species, or FEATHERS for short! I’m Agent Spritz and you must be Kathy!” I listened as Spritz explained how the women in my family have been able to talk to birds for centuries. I finally interrupted.
“Hang on, if I can talk to birds then why are you the first one I’ve ever heard?”
“Dear girl, sometimes you just have to find the right one, anyway I called you here for your task!”
“What task?” I asked (wondering if I would fly).
“ Ridding Stewart Island of ALL humans that infest it!”
“What if I say no?” I asked hoping for a choice. He chuckled menacingly and rubbed his wings together.
“If you ever want to see your brother and father again then you won't!” I looked where he was pointing and saw my Dad and Sam in a giant bird cage on the wall. I screamed in outrage and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Noticing an empty room, I ran inside, shutting the door. Just to be safe I bolted it and closed the windows. Looking at the walls I saw they were covered with… KEYS! Frantically searching I saw a key labeled ‘Cage’! I grabbed it and nearly ran outside, before something blocked my path, it was the white-tailed deer from this morning!
“Hello my dear,” her voice was a soft cloud, “You must get to the loudspeaker and blow your whistle, then you must wait until they are driven away by the noise and follow me to the boat.”
“I’ll try?” I said fearfully. She nodded and set off the alarm.
I dove under a desk as the guards entered. They yelled and searched the roof (thankfully, being birds they didn't check down low). I slipped out the door and immediately bumped into Agent Spritz.
“Oh THERE you are, come and I will announce your decision!” He took me to the loudspeaker when, to my shock, he got an alarm call! He rushed off without a second thought! I walked over to the speaker and pressed the button. A red light came up so I blew the whistle, I couldn't hear anything but the birds definitely could! I ran outside where all the birds were screaming. The doe brought me to the cage and I unlocked it. As we ran to the beach my brother said,
“You know I could have beaten them with my FAMOUS Ronaldo kicks.“ I sighed choosing to ignore him. The adventure was over, at least for now…