This year's Write Path is dedicated to the memory of wonderful author Tommy Donbavand who sadly died this year. He donated story starters for the project every year and was the funniest, kindest man you could ever wish to meet. We are honouring his memory by including one of his starters each day.
“Double maths again!” I groaned to Max as we trudged slowly towards room 14. “It can’t be a whole week since last time.”“I was thinking the same thing,” said Max. “I reckon Mr Chronos has got some sort of time machine that lets him bring Thursdays around quicker just so he can find a way to control our brains.”
I laughed. It was just like Max to come out with something crazy. Like the time he suspected the school dinner ladies had been replaced with identical robots built by the head teacher. “You should write this stuff down!” I told him as we reached room 14 and made for our desks near the back. For once, we were the first to arrive. “It would make a cool script for a sci-fi movie."
“I’m being serious,” said Max with a frown. “Mr Chronos is an evil genius from the future sent back to find victims for his evil schemes.”
“So...” snarled an angry voice as the classroom door slammed shut. “You’ve figured it out, at last!”
We spun around to see Mr Chronos walking slowly towards us, carrying a...
Mina Tooke was 11 before she went abroad for the first time. And that was an accident. Mina had been living happily with her mum, dad, brother Tom and their dog, Scooby, in the same house in South East London since the day she was born. On this eventful day during the summer holidays, Mina woke up wondering what on earth to do as the rain pelted down outside and her 8 year-old brother played noisily with his annoying friends, Dylan and Raj, who had been on a sleep-over for Tom's birthday. Today, Tom and his mates would be allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted, that's always what happened in their house on birthdays. Mina looked at the present she'd bought Tom, something she'd picked it up in a junk shop on Peckham High Street. It was a sort of lamp, old and rusty, but Tom loved things like that, anything he could take apart, put back together, fiddle with and make good. What Mina didn't know - and what she would find out any second now - was that all the lamp needed to change their lives forever was for a boy with a birthday to rub it with his grubby sleeve and make a wish. It wasn't long before Tom was wishing he'd thought more carefully about what he was demanding as he attacked the rusty magic lamp with the cuff of his favourite football shirt..
The Panther Initiative
Toby stared at his phone screen. There it was again. Just a flicker, nothing you could take a screenshot of; it was too fast. But it was definitely a panther. An image of a panther, black, sleek, with glowing eyes, was every now and then flashing up on his phone. It didn’t matter which app he was using. It even happened on the lock screen.
‘Hey.’ He said it casually, as though it didn’t matter; wasn’t freaking him out. ‘Any of you getting a weird panther pic on your phone?’
His mates stared at him. ‘What?’
His body felt hot and cold. ‘Nothing.’ He gave a shrug, and a laugh. ‘Think my phone’s dying.’
Sayid slapped him on the back. ‘You want a new phone? My uncle just took in a load of reconditioned iPhones. Dead cheap.’
‘Mmm,’ said Toby, glancing at his phone screen again.
There it was. So fast, you wouldn’t notice it if you weren’t looking for it. He stuffed the phone in his pocket, and headed after the others, pulling up the collar of his coat against the chill wind.
Some instinct made him look to his right. There was a figure just outside the school gates, wearing a dark coat. Standing very, very still – and looking right at Toby.
"Darkness lives inside all of us. The only choice we have is whether we fight it, or let it in..."
Who would have thought something like this would happen on an ordinary school day in October?
It had all started out the same as usual: Jason had crossed the main road and gone into the street opposite his. This was actually walking away from school but Toby’s parents both left for work early and Jason had to make sure his friend was up and about. Just like every morning Toby had messed around putting his school things together and Jason had asked himself for the millionth time why his friend couldn’t get organised the night before. Then they’d set off. They’d had to wait ages to cross the main road and now they were hurtling down Marsh Lane trying to get to the school entrance before the second bell.
“Come on, step on it,” Jason shouted. “We don’t want another prefects’ detention this week.”
But they’d had to stop. There were several police cars blocking off the road. Loads of their fellow students from Phoenix High were gathered behind some blue tape and there appeared to be smoke coming out of the ground.
Georgie was used to her mother’s fads. For days on end she would be running round the park, or eating foods with unpronounceable names, or making ‘useful’ things from old cardboard.
Soon, it was as if the wild enthusiasm had never existed. The only evidence was crammed into the cupboard under the stairs. An exercise bike was hidden under half-sewn curtains. On top lay a single wellington boot, decorated with pictures cut from a magazine.
So it was no surprise when Georgie’s mother got hooked a podcast about tidying up. The house rang with the recorded voice of a smug woman nagging everyone to chuck out anything that wasn’t really needed, and soon the garden was littered with stuff destined for the charity shop or the dump.
Georgie was given the job of sorting through the books. She had a lovely time, rediscovering old favourites, and hiding them to make sure they wouldn’t get thrown away. Then, down the back of the bookshelf, she came across an unfamiliar volume. It was pretty tatty, but its leather binding must once have been smart. There was no title on the outside. She opened it up. The pages were filled with tiny handwriting. It must have been somebody’s diary. She flicked through. The last few pages were blank. Then she noticed the heading on the final entry: 23rd March. It didn’t say which year, but it was no wonder that the date caught Georgie’s eye - 23rd March was her birthday. That was why she started reading at end of the book, and the last few words changed everything, forever. They said, “...