Day 4: Ocean
29 December 2017


We Should Have Listened (1st Place)
Alyssa Yap Xin Yi

The ocean had a heartbeat of waves and a language of tides.

A kind soul by nature, she caressed our skin with soft touches and gentle tides. She let us explore her beauty with clear waters, uncovering her hidden treasures. We grew up surfing in the crest of waves, marvelling at schools of shimmering fish, and enjoying her seemingly endless wonders.

The ocean became a constant in our lives. We studied it in our books, saw it on television, and dreamt about it in our minds. The ocean would never go away, we thought. After all, how could something so large and permanent ever disappear? So we explored it deeper, took our boats further, and didn't look back.

If the human heart had one flaw, it would be the fact that it was the most easily corrupted being in the whole world. It could be broken by a matter of words, toughened by an armour of lies, tainted by a mere touch of greed. But the ocean did not know this. The ocean did not know anything of the monsters humans truly were, until it was too late.

“There's no such thing as overfishing! That’s ridiculous!” they said.

“So what if we dump a little chemicals in the ocean? We’re not hurting anyone,” they insisted.

“Those are just exaggerations. Don't worry about it,” they assured.

We emptied the ocean of her kindness, and filled it with our madness instead.

Upon seeing her loved ones slaughtered and dumped, she cried her heart out in storms that wrecked our boats; we built new ones to repeat the act. We ignored her pleas in the floods she sent, begging us to stop and listen. We turned the other way when broken pieces of dried coral began to wash ashore, her message kicked away into the sand. We covered our ears when she howled with pain, her skin scalded with black oil, body poisoned with chemicals.

We did not mourn when she died.

The tides only began to change when our children began to ask us about her. How could we describe what they have never seen before? What words would capture its iridescence - the million shades of turquoise it encapsulated? Where do we begin to entrance them with tales of coral reefs and the life that thrived among them? Why would they forgive us, when we admit that we were the ones who destroyed it all? How could we admit to ourselves, that we killed the ocean without mercy?

The ocean was no longer a cradle of life; it was a bed of bones. Fairytales had to be modified, because children couldn't imagine a mermaid living in such a desolate place. Beaches didn't exist anymore, only deserts and barren wastelands. This time, we were the ones who couldn't sleep at night, for monsters get nightmares too.

We're listening now, but there is only silence.


Red Ocean
Dylan Wong Yun Xian

My kind are depicted to be gruesome and vicious beings that live in the ocean. Mercilessly and brutally killing our prey with jagged teeth and strong jaws Mother Nature herself has given us. It was a regular day as I carried out my daily routine of hunting for smaller fishes to feed on. I sensed fresh blood present in the vicinity and slowly and quietly beeline towards the source of the blood. As I closed in, I spotted my target floating in a pool of thick red blood. I circled my prey for a few time, slowly inching nearer and nearer towards it. It appeared to be some sort of dead carcass and when I was in striking distance I immediately pounced onto it. It tasted heavenly, something that I have never tasted before. My enjoyment was only short lived as a sharp hook pierced the flesh on the roof of my jaw. The pain was excruciating. A dark oval shadow loomed over me restricting my vision. I tried to free myself from the foreign metal but the more I struggled the deeper it pierced. The hook pulled me towards the dark figure above me and I tried my best to resist. I struggled for what seems to be an eternity until I was forced to oblige as I was in deep pain and exhaustion. My dorsal fins broke through the surface of the ocean and now I was at the mercy of what seemed to be a boat. I heard voices shouting orders about something called a ‘harpoon’. I did not know what it was. Seconds later, a huge and sharp weapon penetrated my skin and buried itself deep into my flesh. I had done nothing to trouble these beings yet they still chose to harm me. I was pulled out of the ocean and I could not breathe. My consciousness was slowly slipping away. Little did I know that my suffering had only just begun. I saw a huge and sharp object swinging towards me and right before my eyes; my dorsal fin went flying off my body. I could not have done anything to prevent this. It was as though I was burning in the fires of hell. I watched as my fins were cut and placed in a pail. They did not even have the decency to throw me back into the ocean but left me on the boat, prolonging my suffering. Their raucous laughter and talk of profit sickened me. How can any being possibly have such sadistic regards for dying animals? I was then thrown over the boat like a piece of trash. I tried to swim but was incapable of doing so. I contemplated on my life while lifelessly sinking to the bedrocks beneath. My beings may be aggressive and cruel but the real question is, are we really the ones who are gruesome and vicious with a lack of empathy and remorse?