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Winner of Echo story comp: week 1

Echonetdaily was just blown away by the amazing entries in our weekly story comp!

The idea was to break out of this oppressive narrative of COVID-19 and tell stories to each other! And that’s exactly what happened.

Our youngest entrant was just 9 years old with a fabulous story of fantastical and almost diabetic proportions – Lollyland. We’d like to give Jeanie Evans a highly commended along with Willa B Hack who at 12 wrote of a magical realist friendship between a bird an a girl in her story Lucien.

David Williams wrote an allegorical tale for our times around greed called The Touch of Gold and Ninian Gemmell’s account of how he got to be called Ninian was both funny and a wonderful insight into the names that claim us.

Tree Change Tragedy or…? by Larissa Zimmerman tells the darker side of a life changing experience and Under done by Nim who was just 18 is a macabre and somewhat bleak murder ballad.

But the winner of the $50 was Lisa Walker – who wrote Night Calls – the story of a local toad hunter!

We invite more stories for next week! The main rule is the story has nothing to do with COVID-19. It can be no more than 800 words in length and there will be a $50 cash prize every week for six weeks!

Email your entries to[email protected] by 11.59pm every Tuesday for inclusion. Please include your full name, address, and phone number.

Please enjoy some of these amazing offerings as part of your weekly reading. We will be putting up all the other commended stories throughout the week so remember to check back here on a daily basis!

The winning story:

Night Calls. Photo www.flickr.com/photos/adammeek.

Night Calls

He wakes from a dream – the dream. It’s always the same – a spinning marble.

It’s almost dark – time for his work to begin. Getting to his feet he inspects the map.

The red pins move further south each year. South and west. Woodburn, Evans Head, Casino, Kyogle. These are the invasion fronts.

The enemy is getting better – more cunning, faster moving. It even has longer legs. He thinks he can hold them, but there’s no time for slacking off. The situation is desperate – twenty animals on the verge of extinction in his valley alone. Luckily he has all night – he doesn’t sleep when it’s dark.

He gazes at the map – a gnarled and sun-spotted hand shifts a pin. He pulls out a pen and circles the area for tonight’s operation.

It’s a good night. A gentle rain is falling – should be a good catch. He opens the fridge to check the storage situation – no problem there. A lump of cheese and half a litre of rancid milk leaves plenty of room.

He flicks on his torch as he steps onto the verandah and cocks his head – listening for the call. Brr, brr… The males are calling. It’s like a phone’s dial tone in the rainforest. Brr, brr – is anyone there?

His first catch of the night is a big one – ten centimetres. Hand inside a plastic bag he grasps it, knots the bag and drops it in his bucket. He gets back in his car, drives slowly down the dirt road.

The mountains rise above him – dark forest stretching all the way to Queensland. He pulls over – another hopping hunchback. It would be easy to swing the wheel – to flatten it, but that’s not his way. You need to check it’s not a native. It can be hard to tell who’s who and what’s what on a dark night.

A quick grasp, a knot and it’s in the back with the others.

A twig snaps behind him and for a moment he’s back there – heart thumping, hands sweating – every shadow a potential enemy. The forest crowds him. A damp smell of rotting wood rises to his nostrils.

He pulls out his map and the names blur, shift – are replaced by other names …

He still can’t stand the smell of Asian food –- is physically sick passing the Thai Restaurant.

What is it the Vietnamese say – the core of the body is not the heart, but the stomach? To be in anguish is to have one’s stomach chopped into pieces. Something like that.

Maybe he should have moved to somewhere barer – cleared plains. But this is what he knows.

It takes ten minutes for his heart to settle.

Back home he updates his records – sex, location, size – then puts his catch in the fridge. In the morning when they’ve gone to sleep he’ll move them to the freezer. There’s no need for cruelty. It’s just a creature out of place – wrong country, wrong time…

Destroying without intent.

He pulls more thumbtacks from a bowl, pins them to the map. If there’s a strategy to their invasion he’ll work it out eventually.

Six whiskies into the night he dials again. Brr, brr. Brr, brr – the phone rings in a house in Melbourne he’s never seen. His eyes linger on their photo.

I can’t live with you like this anymore. You’re scaring Becky.

I’ll get better, just give me time.

It’s been twenty years – how much time do you need?

He pictures a hand digging into a barrel; pulling out the marble with his birth date on it. He wonders how his life might have turned out if he’d been born one day earlier or later.

If he hadn’t become a creature forever out of place.

Brr, brr. Brr, brr.

He picks up his torch and stumbles into the night.

Beside his path a barred frog glistens in the torchlight. Its skin is golden between the stripes. Ok, ok, ok, ok, it calls.

‘It’s alright, mate,’ he murmurs. ‘I’m here now. We’re going to stop them.’



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5 responses to “Winner of Echo story comp: week 1”

  1. patricia warren says:

    Where does this magic wordcrafting skill come from……congratulations to all who entered and to the winner…..an enthralling piece with a timely twist …..

  2. Krappy Chino says:

    Excellent tale.

  3. Larissa Zimmerman says:

    A great story and congratulations to the winner! Definitely deserving! I did just want to clarify that the title for one entry was “Tree change tragedy or …?” and had humour, ending on a positive. Indeed the tree change allowed me to find that, while I lost the human love of my life, I found that nature is the love of my life 🙂

  4. Andrea Darvill says:

    Wow. Just, wow. Night Calls by Lisa Walker is one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read. I just read it three times; each time there’s more to discover.
    I hope this continues for longer than 6 weeks. Stories are so much more enriching than news stories.
    Thank you for this!

  5. Jocelyn Benner says:

    Love this story. hope to see more from this storyteller. congratulations.

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