It’s Tough Being A Virus 
By Eve Rodriguez

I wake up, another day of clinging on to my flying mammal’s fur which is warm and cosy. I’ve been here for a week, so at the next swoop, while this mammal brushes against a two-legged creature’s beard, I jump into the fuzz. This becomes my new home. The two-legged creature starts to eat some food when suddenly, with a sniff, I’m sucked into its left huge nostril which soon becomes my new home. After a while I am rattled around with an almighty “achoooooooo!”

Luckily, I survive what feels like a gale-force wind by grabbing on to a flimsy rope, but my new born babies are blown far away and cling on to door handles, lift buttons, mobile phones and pens. More two-legged creatures roam around and my babies are adopted as the creatures touch the objects that have become my babies’ new homes.

Feeling sad, I am gob smacked to see myself on a news screen in the corner of the room. I notice I’m famous but I don’t know why. Two-legged creatures are on screen using weird white covers on their mouths. With another huge stormy blow, I find myself crawling around the two-legged creature’s enormous hand.

Nervously I realise that the two-legged creature is walking towards a big bottle of clear, gooey liquid that looks just like the one I saw on screen. I shout “aaah help,” but it seems nothing can hear me. As the creature approaches the bottle, he uses one hand to squeeze the horrible poison out of the bottle and onto his other hand where I am sat. I remember I have just seen a similar bottle on the news screen where it said “anti-viral.” I manage to survive the poison by hiding in between two of his fingers. I feel weak now.

A few days later, I’m getting a little bit bored, because this two-legged creature has been told to stay in this room for two weeks, all because of me. But the question is, will I survive or will I find a new home.

Judge Charlie Durante’s Comments:

“Even the dire consequences of contacting the dreaded Covid-19 have not dampened our ability to turn it into something humorous. Eve’s prescient story, which must have been written in the early days of the pandemic, shows her grasp of the reality of the infection.  The humour lies in seeing the pandemic from the point of view of a bewildered, innocent virus which is trying to survive as much as we are.  Tossed about by humans and their thoughtless actions, the poor virus is ejected by a sneezing nostril, sees its babies scattered everywhere and hides between two fingers in an attempt to avoid contact with an anti-viral gel.  It then quietly settles to live through the quarantine! The story conjures up the now familiar picture of breaking news, masked faces, sanitising gel, and the obsessive hand-washing.  Eve has managed to transform a tragic situation into superb comedy-quite an achievement! This is testimony to our ability to elicit laughter even from a grim reality. An outstanding piece of writing.”


Felipe the Frazzled Flamingo 
By Darcey Evans-Cassano

There was once a flamingo named Felipe. He lived in an animal care centre near the park. Felipe always loved to strut and boast about his beautiful feathers. Not a single feather out of place, with amazing pink tones. They were spectacular!

However, Felipe had a ‘friend’, her name was Penelope the pigeon. But Felipe always used to think this: “Penelope is so boring in colour, a dull poopy brown, I do not really like her. She is not as glamorous or fabulous as me. Oh, and those ugly yellow eyes! Bleh! Oh, and most all, THE WALK! Yes, that walk. What an ungraceful looking walk she has, her neck stretching back and forward, bleh.”

The next day, Felipe as usual, was prancing in the hope that everyone was watching him. As he did this, he could not help staring at his reflection in the pond. As he strutted away singing “I’m a beautiful flamingo strutting my stuff, with my feathers not a single scruff, la la la. Penelope is so boring and when I see her soaring, I think bleh!”

Unfortunately, Felipe was not looking where he was going and he crashed straight into a thorny bush! Then all his feathers, his beautiful feathers got in a tangled mess. Felipe was horrified and getting really frazzled!! “Help, help, help!” he shouted. Along came Penelope the pigeon and Felipe thought “Ugh, what can she do to help?” But Penelope helped Felipe by untangling his feathers, one by one, with her small claws and beak. Felipe was grateful, he had learnt an important lesson, maybe it was not about the looks but about caring for friends and being kind.

From that day on, they were always together and the best of friends. Even Felipe was heard saying to Penelope “I like your feathers, nice eyes and how do you get your lovely claws so sharp?”

Be kind, be caring, be helpful, you might just need to help a frazzled flamingo in distress!

Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:

The attractive alliterative title introduces a story with an Aesopian flavour: an animal fable with a moral.  Felipe is a gorgeous flamingo, hubristic, narcissistic, flaunting his beautiful feathers and full of negative thoughts about poor, drab Penelope the pigeon.  It’s obvious the strutting Felipe is heading for a fall.  When this happens, it’s Penelope who disentangles him from the thorn bush.  This piece of writing is so unassuming and unpretentious, but it shows skill and a mastery of the genre. There’s no better way to learn a lesson than by telling a story! Very inspiring and pleasant to read.


The Birthday Balloon 
By Dexter Murphy 

Once there was a balloon, not just any balloon, a shiny, foil, birthday balloon. All he wanted to do was to go out into the real world. He waited and waited, all folded up in a piece of plastic, watching as other balloons were blown up and taken away. Then something amazing happened. A customer picked him out, from the rack and bought him. He felt so good being blown up and with a blue ribbon tied to him, the man took him out of the shop.

‘What a sight’ he thought, as they strolled down the street. The man knew everybody and chatted to them all. Then, all of a sudden, the man let go of the balloon. He didn’t mean to. The wind picked up and then the balloon was flying further and further away from the ground. It was very lonely so high in the sky, but discovered an amazing view. He saw the children play and the cars driving here and there. As he took in sight he realized he was slowing down and starting to deflate. He began to feel sad as he realised he had travelled so far, and nobody would be there to catch him as he fell.

He knew this great was coming to an end and there was nothing he could do. As he sank closer to the ground, he knew what his last wish would be. He could see cluster of coloured bins and that’s where he wanted to be. As he landed gently on top of a bin, he let out his last puff. He hoped to be recycled and to one day come back again as a big, shiny, foil balloon.

Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:

“Balloons connote celebrations, parties, and colourful displays.  Our balloon is aware of itself as a balloon and yearns to explore the real world.  This becomes possible when a customer buys the balloon, inflates it and then accidentally lets it float away.  Initially, the balloon is thrilled by the aerial view but suddenly the air starts to escape and a descent is inevitable.  However, this is a very eco-conscious, green-friendly balloon-it hopes to return as a foil balloon in a recycled form. Though plastic balloons are a serious threat to the eco-system, it is the thought that counts in this story.”