Earlier in this busy term I was involved with Net-A-Story, an online writing and mentoring program run in conjunction with the Curtis Coast Literary Carnviale (CCLC). 30 groups of students in Yrs 5 – 9 from across our region were involved in the project, involving both state and private schools. I wrote Chapter One – a story starter to get them going, then the school groups got busy writing the next chapters in the story. Each school contributed one chapter, before it was passed on to the next school. (There were five schools in each group, and we ended with six very different stories that all developed from my one chapter, below.)
Chapter One: Strange Sightings
“Waaah! Did you see that?”
Bazza clutched my arm, squeezing and shaking like a Rottweiler wrestling a bone.
“Over there, Mitch… Did you see it?”
I followed his quivering finger to look out over the sparkling blue water.
“Yep… I see it,” I said, “Beautiful, calm day, heh? Perfect for fishing. Woulda been good out in the boat…”
“Are you c-ra-zy?” squeaked Bazza. “There’s no way I’d be taking a boat out there.”
“Yeah – pull the other line,” I joked, reeling my rod in to take up the slack again. Bazza lives at the beach. On a calm day, he’s catching the fish. On a choppy day, he’s catching the waves. His Mum says Bazza has salt water in his veins.
“I’m serious, Mitch. You wouldn’t get me out there today for all the fish in the sea.”
My eyebrows shot up in surprise. What on earth had got into him? This quivering white mess was nothing like Bazza. His face was as bleached as his blond shaggy hair.
Maybe he was suffering from sunstroke…
“Bazza… Mate… Are you feelin’ Ok?” Throwing my arm around his shoulders, I tried to steer him up the beach towards the shade. Maybe he was suffering from sunstroke…
But Bazza jerked away, waving his arms and jabbering wildly.
“Mitch… Look! Out to sea… Over there… See?”
I squinted, shaded my eyes from the sun’s glare, and scanned the water.
“I can’t see anything, Bazza,” I said, shaking my head in confusion.
(© Kathryn Apel 2010)
The ‘Net-A-Story’ collection was printed in an anthology and presented to the schools inolved in the project. Representatives from the different groups read their story synopsis (below) during a celebration at the recent CCLC.
A Mystery From the Clouds: Bazza gives a crazed description of the dragon he’s ‘seen’. He’s convinced it dropped something – into the water. Then Mitch drags in his fishing line – and hooks a large egg, wrapped in seaweed.
The boys try to crack into the egg without success. They’re carrying it into town when the egg starts to rattle… and splits open! Mitch and Bazza think they’ve got a baby fire-breathing dragon.
While they’re arguing about who can keep it… the baby scampers away. The baby dragon is chased by a frantic woman, before being scooped up in an eagle’s talons and carted to its nest high in a gum tree.
Bazza is hurt attempting a rescue. Then the mother dragon returns. Mitch and Bazza watch in horror as a fiery, feathered fight ensues, over the dragon baby…
Sunlight Saviour: Three days after Bazza’s mysterious sighting, the boys are out in the boat, fishing. Suddenly, the temperature drops. Bazza’s rod flexes… and Bazza is catapulted into the water.
But just when Mitch is starting to panic, Bazza pops out of the water – grinning at his prank. Mitch is not impressed. And Bazza isn’t laughing when a large shadow appears and drags him down into the deep blue sea.
Mitch uses his satellite phone to call the Coast Guard, but before help arrives he is thrown out of the boat when he revs it up with too much power. While in the water Mitch discovers a cave down below, and trapped in the cave is… Bazza.
Mitch manages to rescue Bazza and they run deeper and deeper into the cave, with the shadowy monster in pursuit.
But there is no escape, and Bazza and Mitch are soon exhausted captives. Their only hope is the Coastguard…
Quest for Life: An eerie fog forms out to sea and the boys hear banging and stomping coming from the mist. A rotting medieval skeleton warrior, on an armoured horse, appears out of the mist. Bazza and Mitch flee in fear, but the skeleton warrior follows them. He is looking for the ‘Lily of Life’ so that he can drink the nectar and be immortal.
The boys end up in the water and are dragged down by a developing whirlpool. They land in knee-deep water inside a huge, stone cavern – with the skeleton warrior on their heels.
Bazza and Mitch start crawling through the tunnels looking for an escape route. But always in pursuit is the putrid warrior.
Finally the boys stumble upon the ‘Lily of Life’. They know that the skeleton wants to use the power of the Lily for evil – and he must never get his hands on it. But how can they stop him?
Riddle to Riches: Bazza and Mitch watch a sleek, jet-black, subterranean object emerge from the water. Six strange ‘Click, click’ aliens float out. They are searching the world for their lost daughter.
Bazza and Mitch join the search and are teleported to Egypt, where the great cat rests, bathing in the sun. When the entrance is revealed Bazza and Mitch are left to enter alone. The rescue the lost daughter but before Mitch and Bazza have exited the pyramid, the aliens have left!
The boys are teleported back to their beach, where they think perhaps they dreamed it all. Until they find the secret message; “Click, click, click, click…”
Stolen Time: Bazza, frustrated at Mitch’s disbelief, fetches a pair of binoculars. On the horizon, near Stolen Island, is an ancient pirate ship… and it’s sinking!
When Summer, a sassy girl from school, throws down a challenge, the three set off in the dingy to check it out. But something isn’t right out at sea. There’s a strange atmosphere… unexplained things bump into the boat… then the throttle gets jammed… and they find themselves stuck at sea in a thunder storm.
Summer, Bazza and Mitch seek shelter on Stolen Island – but find more than they bargained for. Much, much more! The three are engaged in a race against time…
A Fishing Tale: The boys see a greeny-brown creature coming to shore, but are too late to run away. Before they know how, they’re on the creature’s back and plunging down to an underwater cave.
“I am Poseidon, the last remaining shape-shifting dragon,” the creature declares. Poseidon has come to warn of a disaster to earth – an environmental disaster that will have far-reaching effects.
The boys return to the beach on a mission. But they trust their secret to the evil Professor Elmough, with dire consequences for Poseidon… and Earth…
It was wonderful to be involved in the project, which was made possible by funding from RADF and the vision/organisation of the wonderful Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale Committee. I especially appreciated the support and assistance from Chris McMasters, who set-up/maintained the blog, and co-ordinated the Elluminate Live chat that was broadcast to all participating schools.