The New World
The New World
Alex, a seventeen year old girl, is going on a life changing trip to England with her older sister for her birthday. Around the same time, a critical disease spread from the Middle East to Europe. Unfortunately the girls did not realize how dangerous the disease was, so they left New York to begin their adventure in England.0
Fantasy / Sci-fi
Alicia D. (Australia)
It was a warm summer night. The sun was ready to set and it made the sky a beautiful orange, pink color. I turned seventeen that day. My family gathered around the table as I blew out nineteen candles on the cake; one for each year, and one for good luck. My older sister Brin pulled out a small gift bag from under the table and gave me a wild grin. She was twenty two and had just graduated college this year. She handed me the gift smiling ear to ear. I opened the gift to find a plane ticket and a map of England. A bit confused, I looked up at her and in her hands she held her own plane ticket. We were both going to England together for a whole month. Ecstatic, I ran up to her and hugged her, and we both jumped and squealed like we did when we were little girls. She told me that we would leave in two days, so I ran up to my room to start packing.
The next day, I woke up to dishes clanging and the smell of pancakes cooking on the stove. I got out of bed and walked down stairs. I sat down at the kitchen table to find my dad reading the paper, my sister drinking her beloved, daily cup of coffee and my mother cooking the pancakes that I had smelled from up stairs. I decided to turn on the news to see what on. As soon as I turned the television on, Brad Chase the news reporter had breaking news about a disease that had formed in the middle east and was spreading to Europe. I immediately turned off the t.v. hoping that no one heard anything that Brad had just broadcasted. I was leaving for England in two days, and I couldn’t have any exaggerated story about a cold canceling my trip to Europe with my sister. I knew that I would never get an opportunity like this again, mainly because I was going to have to pay off my loan for college for many years to come. My next chance could be when I am sixty and retired to go to Europe.
The day after that, my alarm rang at three in the morning. Today was the day! At last I would go to Europe! I grabbed my bags and flew down the staircase to meet Brin waiting patiently for me with all of her bags packed. We both stood at the door waiting for the cab to come. I remember that I had never seen her grin so wide before this. She always smiled but this was different. We were both ecstatic and shaking with excitement.
The cab finally came after five minutes of torture waiting, and it took us to the airport in ten minutes. As soon as we walked into the airport, we realized how crowded it was. People were running around everywhere. Wherever I stepped I bumped into another person because of the lack of space there was from the crowd. Brin and I checked our boarding passes to see we were on the opposite side of the airport which was oddly empty. It looked almost like a ghost town. We sat down on a bench for thirty minutes waiting for our flight to be called.
When it was finally called, we jumped up and sprinted towards the empty plane. We sat down, and there was literally no one there but the pilot and flight attendants. The pilot looked at us like we had two heads and he asked us, “ Are you sure you want to do this?” A bit confused Brin answered, “of course why wouldn’t we want to go to Europe?” The pilot starred at us for thirty more seconds and then said, “ alright then”, and the plane took off not much longer after that.
After eight hours on the plane, we finally landed. I got my bags, and Brin and I shot out of the plane like a jackrabbit on a hot day. It took us until we reached the door to realize the airport was completely empty. Not a soul was present. As we walked out of the airport, an old woman with pale, faded skin, and deep wrinkles was sitting on the road in front of the building. I ran over to see if she was alright, but when I asked her how she was feeling, she jumped up and growled at me. A bit confused, I stood there. She then jumped at me grabbing my flesh as she tried to bite me. Brin sprinted over and whacked the back of her head with her purse. The woman fell down she looked like she was unconscious. There were no buses or trolleys in front of the door, so we had to run away from that crazy woman. After we were about a mile away, from the airport we began to walk.
The streets were empty almost like they had been deserted for weeks. “I don’t understand.”, I told Brin. “Where are we?” Brin shrugged. She said, “I think we are in London but where is everyone?” We walked passed some empty stores and restaurants. A lonesome man limped behind us. Brin turned around to ask him why the city was so empty. He moaned at her. He too, looked pale, and he had a large wound on his leg. The strange man attacked Brin as if she was a juicy steak. Brin blowed the man in the nose, and he fell back and looked as if he was unconscious. We continued to walk down the street. I said, “ok this is starting to get really weird”. We passed a small store down the street when I heard a psst. I thought I was imagining it, so I continued to walk until I heard it again. Pssst! I walked over to the entrance of the store with Brin tip- toeing behind. The large door quickly cracked open and what sounded like a man whispered to us to get inside. Brin hesitated at first until the man whispered with a more stern almost angry voice. “Hurry! Get in!” he whispered. We both quickly squeezed through the slightly cracked door.
“Where are we?” I asked. The man sighed and said ,“London, England. You're not from around here are you? “ No, we’re from New York.” Brin replied. “ Well, welcome to England. I’m Joe. Joe was a tall man around six feet tall. He looked to be around twenty five years old. He had short dirty blond hair and scruff on his face like he forgot to shave this morning. Brin introduced herself and I as we were hiding in the abandoned, empty store. “ Hi. I’m Brin and this is my sister Alex.” “What’s happening? Why are people attacking us?” asked Brin. Joe sighed and explained what happen he said, “ A disease has spread from the Middle East into Europe. When you are infected with the disease, you go into a coma for an hour and then you wake up as a cannibal. Everyone infected got the disease because they were bitten by another contaminated mouth. The queen evacuated the city, but very few people got out without being infected. However, I heard there is a safe house up in Northampton. I was planning on leaving tomorrow. “ Oh really? Would you mind if we came with you?”, asked Brin. “ Sure, you can come with me ,but we are leaving tomorrow at sunrise, so be ready.” ,said Joe.
The day rolled by and before I knew it, it was run rise of the next day. Joe stood in front of the store door with a string bag and a huge blade in his pocket. Brin took her pocket knife that she kept in her purse. We all snuck out of the store hoping not to grab the attention of any hungry infected people. We hopped into Joe’s car and we were off to Northampton.
The drive was going smooth until we were five miles away and we ran out of gas.
We all had to get out of the car and push it. Unfortunately that grabbed the attention of many of the infected. About ten of them came limping over to us looking as hungry as ever. They all about two yards away from them, and I didn’t know what to do. One of them grabbed Joe and was about to bite a chunk of his arm off before he punched it in the chest. It backed off for a second or two but then it began to attack Joe again. Brin took her hand purse and whacked the infected in the head. We decided that we had to leave the car and set out for Northampton. I looked back at the city of London as we left, and I knew that I was about to start a new life in a new world.
Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1
Attention to mechanics
- The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
- Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
- The protagonist didn’t always respond believably against the backdrop of the story. Ask yourself if people would really answer to a situation in that way. Think about whether the characters’ voices could be more convincing for their age, background, gender, time period, genre, gender and ethnicity. Dialogue should be natural and consistent throughout the story.
- Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
- Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
- Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
- Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals and conflicts were clearly conveyed.
Plot and pace
- Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a difficult balancing act. Are you sure all the material is relevant to the plot, setting and atmosphere? Make sure each sentence makes sense to the reader, and each paragraph moves their experience forward.
Suspense and conflict
- The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
- When writing is tight, economical and each word has purpose, it enables the plot to unravel clearly. Try and make each individual word count.
Point of view
- The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
- Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Atmosphere and description
- A writer’s ability to create mood and atmosphere through evocative description is vital to the reader’s experience. It’s a real skill to craft out how the characters react to the setting and atmosphere and perhaps your story could go further in its description. The reader wants to experience the same sensory and poignant journey as the characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
- The scene needs to be vivid and realistic in order to hold the reader’s attention. Being concise and plausible at the same time is tricky. Giving this further attention could perhaps be worthwhile.
Opening line, paragraph and hook
- Great stories, nowadays, start with a powerful opening line and compelling hook in order to keep the reader engaged. Have you baited the reader enough?