‘Code Crimson’ by Daisy Rainer, Year 9, Thomas Clarkson Academy

“What is this?”
There was a strange mist that bent and twisted about the forest’s naked trees, spreading into every nook and ominously swirling along every unsightly branch. Darkness enveloped the area, with only an inch of light peeking through, and the shadows shifted with the faint breeze. The harsh odour in the air was practically palpable, as filthy as the earth. But equally stranger was a tiny warehouse that appeared to have been undisturbed for years. Grime and rust turned the metallic walls an unappealing brown. Ava and Natty stood before it, the quiet pounding on their ears.

“I don’t know, but they’re here.” Natty was shivering, and not only because of the cold. Ava noticed, but she reached out for the handle and took a big breath. “Come on.” She pushed open the door with all her power, astonished it hadn’t already come off, and the silence was broken by an almost loud squeak. They walked inside.

It was empty (and much more repulsively dirty) inside, except for a few people with scarlet hair. The couple took a step back, their hearts pounding in their chests, until… “Isa… is that you?” Natty’s eyes widened with surprise. One of the people took a step closer, her smile widening into an awful face and her blood-red hair swaying side to side. She nodded.

A knife was suddenly hurled from her hand, flying faster than a dart, so sharp it could slice the air, and landing directly on Ava’s arm, immobilising her. The weapon slashed into the girl’s arm so quickly that she became paralysed in shock and collapsed to the ground. “Ava!” Natty screamed so loud that it rang off the walls. She began sprinting towards Isa, who was still standing peacefully, but then she discovered something.

The other Crimsons had cornered her and blocked the exit; there was no way out. Her hazelnut eyes darted around the room in fright, and her breath sped. Her throat was dry as a desert. For the first time in years, she started crying.