2018 Winners and Honourable Mentions

CATEGORY A : 13 - 15 YEARS
Day 2: Decay
13 November 2018

WINNER


Asyiqin Zailani


Succulent flowers and tender leaves,

That’s how I start my day,

 

I yawned, rubbing at my eyes with a furry paw, a smile tugged at the corner of my lips as I think of what I’m going to do for the whole day. ‘Maybe hunting for some fruit? I think it’s already fruit season’, I thought to myself cheerfully.

 

But as months flew by like an autumn breeze,

That’s when I smelt the decay.

 

After a few months, the weather has still not changed. ‘Shouldn’t it be near winter now? Why is it still so hot?’, I briefly thought, before the rustle of leaves made me turn sharply, sprinting towards what I hope is a deer, as they are madly decreasing in this enormous forest.

 

I took no heed as I know I’m strong

And so I decided to stay,

 

I heard the pride of lions nearby growling over how they should move to a new territory, as food sources are rapidly decreasing in the area, which should concern me. But as an omnivorous bear, I have adapted to both plants and animals, so food should not be an issue to me.

 

Yet as days flew by, my whole place felt wrong,

And all of it’s caused by decay.

 

As days pass by with each withering sun, I know that something is wrong. The smell of putrid death surrounds me in a suffocating blanket, slowly choking me with a sense of dread. Trees started to wither and die an agonized death as the place where I grew up in slowly rotted its life away.

 

What did I ever do? Should I stay in a zoo?

But then I would never be free...

 

Living in a zoo might seem like a better option, but who would rather be ogled at all day by strangers who mock you for being born as the vulnerable species? I am aware that the minute I enter the zoo I will automatically be signing my death contract, as I will only continue to live without having a free soul.

 

Yet the sun is still glaring, and rotting my trees,

Until there’s no more food left for me.

 

I know that I have to get out of here,

And look for a new place to stay,

 

Although I don’t want to go to the zoo, I know that to survive, I have to move to a new territory that’s filled with life and colour. It pains me to leave my precious abode where I have lived my whole life, but I must survive this never-ending heat which still continues to scorch my skin.

 

Yet before I even set off to my journey, I saw

A bullet coming my way.

 

I could have just dodged it, and survived the shot,

I could have just run away,

But now my whole body is far too weak,

And all of it’s caused by decay.

 

And the last three words that I whispered to no one,

Is 'Please help me'.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

A Hunt for Sumatran Corpses
Evelyn Anak Ringkai


I grunted as I swung a leg over a fallen log. The straps of my backpack dug into my shoulders.

“I can’t believe the director is making me do something so torturous.” I was practically drowning in my own sweat because of the hot and humid nature of the Sumatran rainforest. The soil was slippery and the lack of tree roots supporting the soil meant my foot had nowhere to hold onto. I lost my footing and crumpled to the ground. I cursed, complaints about illegal loggings spilling out of my mouth.

My partner raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t it because you’re one of our on-field researchers with the most awards to their name? Plus, maybe he sent you here because you’re of Indonesian descent.” He offered me his grimy hand, his fingernails caked with dry mud.

“But does it look like I spend my weekends adventuring through uncharted jungles, Horace?” I scowled, but took his hand. “I grew up in Canada, and all my assignments had been in European woods, not the tropics.”

Horace stopped. We smelled it before we saw it. His nose twitched.

The stench of decaying flesh.

Regular people would’ve been put off by the foul smell. If it weren’t for the fact that I was a trained botanical researcher, perhaps I would’ve emptied my stomach on an innocent patch of mimosas.

We broke into a run. This was the best part of any expedition—the thrill of finally finding what you’ve spent weeks searching for.

Titan arum,” The sight of it took my breath away. “Finally.”

“You’re really adamant on not saying the full name, huh?” Horace snickered as he snapped pictures of the unbranched inflorescence.

“We both studied Latin, I’m sure you understand why I find the name absolutely vulgar, Horace.” I took out my measuring tape. “4.32 metres across, 2.78 metres tall.”

I had seen amorphophallus titanum before in one of our greenhouses, but the measurements paled in comparison to what grew in the wild. Nature never failed to impress me.

Horace picked up the golden seeds. “Is it edible?”

“I dare you to try it, Horace, and when you pass, send the devil my greetings.”

He decided to keep the seeds in an air-tight bag instead.

Eleven years ago, the Sumatran rainforest was still salvageable. Now, in 2029, with only 3% of it left, us botanists scrambled to save and cultivate whatever we could in hopes of one day restoring the rich biodiversity. If the past generations had controlled their greed and started conservation efforts, perhaps we wouldn’t be facing a worldwide crisis threatening Mother Nature herself.

I took one last look at the plant known as bunga bangkai in my native tongue, and vowed that I’d dedicate my life to saving the wilderness. Though the smell of the plant was nowhere near as sweet as roses, it was a symbol of the wonders of nature.

Perhaps one day the plant species wouldn’t be as dead as its own rotting smell would suggest.


Our Impending Doom
Dylan Wong Yun Xian


    I sat by the riverbank where I used to go fishing at. The river had always been crystal clear which had always offered a peaceful aura with its deep serenity. The scenery had always been very captivating, allowing me to stare at it in awe for hours. The sky itself had always intrigued me with it dazzling display of different imagery of clouds which constantly changed as the seconds go by.

Now, everything had changed.

I stood at the same spot as I once had 20 years ago. The blossomed tree had now withered away leaving nothing but patches of dead leaves. The air and soil around it has gotten so toxic to the point that it could no longer sustain itself. I pondered how something so beautiful could vanish at a moment’s notice.

I scanned the horizon which used to be a lush forest filled with varieties of flora and fauna. It had now been transformed into a concrete jungle emitting fumes into the grey toned sky. Chemicals from a nearby factory spilled into the river flowing along with bags upon bags of plastic. Each bag branded with a fish that had suffocated flowed downstream. The river had never been as polluted and as murky as this before. I sat on the wilting grass, pondering on how much longer this last will. The extinction of mankind is bound to ensue because sooner or later, we will die along with the Earth.

Our own actions have lead to the suffering of many and the destruction of life itself on Earth.

The dense smokes engulf the skies forbidding a single ray of sunlight from penetrating through. Mankind has been oblivious of how this has come to be as a result of their own greedy actions. Their thirst for money and power had driven pollution to sky rocket at unprecedented levels. Uncontrolled logging, increase of factories, ignorance and many more had ultimately lead up to this.

News outlets had already announced that research had shown that life on Earth will seize to exist in the next few years. But yet again, nothing had changed.

No one had bothered.

When Project Tetra, the transition of mankind to another hospitable planet, was declared a failure, widespread chaos ensued across the globe. It was already far too late to prevent our extinction. Pollution levels had already been perpetuating and showed no signs of decreasing.

Everyone was so dependent on Project Tetra and that everything would be alright. Everyone truly believed that they could make a fortune then and bring it over to our second home at the cost of our environment.

They were wrong.

Everyone could have played their part in sustaining the Earth but yet again, no one did.

I lay down as the corrosive soil burned away at my flesh. I thought to myself how everything could have been alright. How the Earth could have been saved. How my family could have lived.

I pondered those questions to myself, witnessing the Earth decay.