‘Borderless Embers’ by Bailey Knowles, Age 14, Year 9, Bury St Edmunds County High School

I brace for impact as we race to saltless shores. Jagged stones, all these spiked rocks act like jaws of the ocean. Munching, biting, eating up our ship like a loaf of bread. The stench of blood filled our dead. The floor’s turning red. Soke shaded our hope from golden rays. The sky’s turning grey. There is no saving us. It is like the devil himself has us under his thumb. I feel numb.

The rushing waves seem relentless. The vomit and gore blind in my sightlines. Men calling for their mothers, children with their guts pulled out. It’s all so terrible. Hell really is real, and I am in it. Crack! The mast is breaking, it can withstand the heat. If this keeps going… We’ll fall. But alas! Hope! We are nearly at dry land, we can make it! We can-

We hit the beach, and I am flung overboard. The waves overpower, and I am overwhelmed. It’s all over. The coarse ocean currents cut my tongue with flavours of intention. Intention to kill. My vision is clouded with blood; my hearing deafens till mute. I can’t feel anything now, not even my heartbeat is distinguishable from the whirlpool of silence. I try to open my eyes but they can only envision the flames of hell above, as I am pulled deeper below. The depths are calling.

But I refuse to answer the call. I steady my balance as my breath draws low. Not that I can breathe anyway. The depths are shouting now, beckoning me to stay. Yet still I refuse to die. I will not pass through the border of hell. I will not. The currents cease as I begin to ascend, flames turn to golden sunbeams, darkness turns to light. As I surface I am bathed in glorious heavens as hell comes quiet. I have survived, I say. I have survived! I stumble onto the bronze bay bearing a brilliant gaze of happiness, relief, and grief. Where to next? I don’t know, but the worst is past me.