1st Prize - £500
2nd Prize - £100
3rd Prize - £50
Entry Fee: £6 for one entry or £10 for two
Closing Date: Friday 8th June 2012
Judge: Amanda Hodgkinson
Results: All three winning entries will be published in the August 2012 issue of Words with JAM.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Below are the winning entries from our 2011 competition:
Sunset Dust by Abdul-Rehman Malik
I walk into the staffroom and it feels like someone just kicked me in the soul. My colleagues are huddled around the kettle, desperately seeking the solace of a steaming cup of caffeine. They’re old and overweight, waddling over and sinking into the couches, silently protecting their coffee with one hand and massaging their brow with the other. Their faces sag. Dead dreams and forgotten ambitions well in deep pools under their eyes. This. This is what these kids have for inspiration.
I had to get out of there. I walk outside into the light of the ruthless South African sun to the sound of screaming children and peals of laughter. Table Mountain and Lion’s Head brood in the distance, silhouetted against a deep blue sky. Kids run in circles around me before zooming off to another game. I take a deep breath, even though it stings my nose, and breathe in the unique Cape Town air.
Why the fuck am I here? In the company of these worn out educators? I see them looking at me from the corners of their eyes with cautious suspicion. They’re wondering the same thing I am. What is a white Afrikaner doing in a black school? Let me tell you, it’s a good question.
Two kids, two black girls, come sprinting towards me, kicking up small mushroom clouds of dust in their wake. One of them – the pintsized Berna-Lee – is in my class. She is holding her knee as bright strawberry blood erupts through the fortress of her fingers and snakes down her leg. She’s crying, her face knotted in exaggerated anguish, already screaming about which girl pushed her over in the playground.
Before I can console her and get some bandages, Principal Abels slinks up behind me and whispers, “Don’t touch her, she’s HIV positive.”
Let me tell you a bit about Abels. She got the job of Principal two months ago when George resigned. Everyday she sits behind her desk with her laptop in her fancy dresses and bouffant hair typing away at incident reports and fee absences. Monday mornings she leads a school assembly, which starts with the same greeting, “Good morning learners and how are you today?” Their response? “Fine thank you.” Always fine. Never good, never great, just fine. Every time she speaks her mouth opens like some gaping chasm, every word over-emphasised, every letter enunciated to death.
Altered by JW Hicks
Chapter 1 - Trouble in New Swansea
So what are you going to do if you’re a fem with a sizable corpse on your hands and a fused filament on your flesh-cutter? Hell, if you can’t slice and dice there’s only one damn option, leave town.
Now, that’s a fine idea if you’ve got a haven to head for and blunt to get you there. But what if you’re skint and there’s no safer place to skip to? What if that’s the reason you landed in a sinkhole like New Swansea in the first place? Let me say that on a hot-list of the resurgent cities of New Britain, New Swansea comes right at the arse end printed in crayon.
I try the knife again, pressing the on-switch so hard I damn near break my thumb. And what do I get? A pathetic little gnat-whine, that’s what. Effing cutter’s dead as the stiff. And now the pain drills in. The real cost of the killing – a giant sized bradawl in my skull! And it’s my own damn fault; I flung the mind-bolt and now I’ll pay the price. But the creep did sneak up on us ... Okay, we acted too hasty, slapped him with more power than was strictly necessary. Soon as I let fly I knew the snoop wasn’t gonna be the only sufferer. Granted he got the sticky end of the deal – hell, he’s dead isn’t he? But my brain’s not as robust as Raft’s so I caught the whole back-slap. Well, he wasn’t power scorched at age five! It’s taken me thirteen years to get back what I lost back then. Not that all my talent came back, and what has isn’t exactly reliable – more like damned iffy, Raft says. Used moderately, it’s steady enough. Some mind-talking, bit of teleporting ... flicking the odd flame, things are fine, but doing something like offing a slimy snooper ... then I get a brain seizure. The rat insists it’s a psyche-wound, whatever that is. Says I’ll need therapy to over-mount the prob. Got a big vocab, does ratty. A lot of knowledge in that lumpy, rodent head.
This World and The Next by JW Hicks
Chapter 1- The Move
Ever had dreams that cast a day-long shadow? Dreams that frit you into fear-sweat, or wow you all bliss-soft? No? Then luck on you. Got one a coupla days ago that had me jonesing backwards all day, like there was something direful back of me. But last night I woke with colours in my mind, all cosy like I was floating in a warm bath, scented with some spice I never smelled before. All around me swum fuzzy things that loved me. Look, I don’t know how I knew they loved me, I just did. I been zinging since first wake-up, despite the twins’ wrangling.
The twins, my brothers, Saul and Zephaniah. Thirteen years old, two less than me and cursed with the same red hair and green eyes Pa handed down, together with his skinny frame. Look like me? Yeah, but inside they’re alien – girl hating, staring mutoids. They do speak, but only to each other and fellow grous in a patois that changes so fast you need code breaking wet-ware to keep pace.
They been cuffing and spitting since light on, despite Ma’s rants. Did I say they cultivate deafness? Pa’s lucky; he’s on earlies this month up and gone with the dawn.
‘Faith, stop trancing, get ready for college. I don’t want any more calls from Mr Summers saying you’re lagging behind. You’ve got to keep up, get qualifications, or you’ll be stuck in shit forever.’ That’s Ma; sweet she ain’t. It’s best I keep my mouth shut. She don’t want to know what it’s really like in Zone 3 ComColl. She’s deaf and blind to what we see and hear each day. The three of us just mute and stare, like always.
‘Who’s that?’ Ma screeches as the door runners grate.
‘It’s me, Ma.’
‘Les? What you doing here?’ she shouts, as she drags the twins to the wash unit. ‘Surely you didn’t leave your keying-in card home?’
Pa doesn’t answer. He’s pale and breathing like he’s been running hard. I pull a seat-shelf from the wall and he sags down and drinks the water I hand him. Ma’s muttering about wasting work-time sitting and drinking.
CLICK HERE for more information on our 2012 competition.