The Quiet Town
By Rownan, Stage 5
Art Write Light 2021 is a creative writing project curated by Story Factory, in collaboration with visual artist Blak Douglas. During the program, students from Bonnyrigg High School and St Clair High School were introduced to the work of Blak Douglas, and created written and audio pieces responding to his artwork. The audio you’re about to listen to features a young writer from the program reading an extract from their work.
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO OF THE STORY
The Quiet Town
It was a normal day. Until the whole town went silent. All of the noise stopped. All the birds stopped chirping and the trees stopped rustling.
I’m taking a walk through the woods like I normally do before I go to sleep. But this time was different. I could feel eyes watching me no matter how far I go. I hear a twig snap behind me. I ran as fast as I could without looking back. I wasn’t fast enough because I heard the footsteps getting closer, until I feel a sudden sharp pain in my left leg.
I close my eyes tightly and when I open them I’m laying in bed.
Thank goddess it was just a dream. I still feel a throbbing, sharp pain in my leg. I cautiously peel back the blankets. As I do I can see my bed drenched in blood. There is a massive, sharp machete embedded into my thigh. I let out a scream of pure agony. So loud that the birds woke up and flew away. As tears pour down my pale face, I reach for my phone. I try to turn it on but the battery is dead and the charger is in a different room. I scream as loud as I can, desperately wishing that someone will hear me.
Just as I start to lose hope I hear three rapid knocks at the door. I call out to tell them to come to the window and smash it open. I hear footsteps racing closer to my bedroom window. I see dark puffy clouds which got covered by a man I’ve never seen before. He must be the person coming to help me. I tell him to grab a rock and smash my window. He grabs a big rock, stands back and launches it at my window.
The crash scared away the few ravens that didn’t leave from my screaming.
The man crawled in my house through the window and told me to stay calm. He reached into his pockets and pulled out his phone. He quickly dialled triple zero and asked for an ambulance. He removed the phone from his ear and asked me what the address was. I told him it was 253 Rose Field. He raised the phone back to his ear and repeated the address.
I hear a faint voice coming from the phone saying help is on the way. A couple of minutes later, I hear sirens in the distance. Within 30 seconds, they are at my house. My neighbour opens the front door for them, then a group of four come storming in. They raise me onto a stretcher and into the back of the van. Once my neighbour hopped in and the door was closed, they started to attend my wounded leg as much as they could. I closed my eyes and drifted into a deep sleep, they had to put me to sleep so they can operate.
I hear glass breaking and sirens all around me. Then I heard gunshots. After the shots, the whole world seemed to freeze. I then realised where I was.
I’m at my mother’s nursing home.
I immediately leaped through a broken window and dashed towards my mother’s room. I break the door open to see blood surrounding the bed that my mother was lying in. I ran to her, tears pouring down my face. I turned over her body to reveal two deep bullet wounds in her chest. I drop to the floor, surrounded in tears and blood. All of a sudden, everything went fuzzy and there was a bright light shining down on my face.
I’m laying in a hospital bed with my leg covered with plaster.
I see my neighbour sitting in a chair. Once he saw I was awake, he rushed over to me asking me how I felt. I couldn’t help but have a worried expression, remembering that my last dream came true. I told him I felt good and he went to tell a doctor I was awake. Once he returned, a doctor came with him. The doctor asked how I’m feeling and he wanted to know how the knife got in my leg. I didn’t know what to tell him. If I told him what actually happened, he’ll think I’m crazy. I told him I don’t remember how it happened.
He wrote down something on a piece of paper and left. A few minutes later, a nurse came in with a tray of food and put it on a bedside table. I quickly grabbed the food and ate since I haven’t had anything to eat today. After a few days, the doctor came in and told me I could go home. My neighbour insisted he would drive me home and watch over me. I allowed him to, so as soon as I got home, he made some food. I went straight into bed and he brought me a bowl of noodles.
I put the bowl on my bedside table and as I did, I saw my phone. I put it on charge since it was still dead. As soon as it turned on, a notification popped up saying I had 43 missed calls from the same number. I quickly called them back and it was a local funeral home. A deep male voice picked up and told me my mother passed away three days ago when someone armed broke in and shot multiple residents. My phone drops from my ear as tears pour down my face. My neighbour runs in to see what’s wrong. I tell him everything that happened. I was worried he wasn’t going to believe me but surprisingly, he did! It was such a relief that someone believed me.
I picked my phone up from the ground and to my surprise the person was still there. He tells me that the funeral is in two days at 12:00 pm. I repeated this to my neighbour and he told me he would drive me there. I thanked him and fall asleep.
Two days later, we get ready and headed out. When we get there, the funeral home was mostly full of my mother’s friends, as all relatives besides me had already passed. It was hard for me but I got through it. After the service is done, I went up to the coffin and stared at her lifeless face for the last time. My neighbour came up behind me and put his arm over my shoulders. He said to me, “My name is Dave, by the way. Trust me, it gets better.”
Much is Rife, Blak Douglas, 2021
Art Write Light is generously supported by the Balnaves Foundation.