Grade 9-10 Winners
GRADE 9-10 HONOURABLE MENTION
The national spotlight being on the tiny little town of Pearce, Ontario, was strange.
With a population of a little less than 4,500, it wasn’t really that much of an interest of many people. Most would consider it to be boring and not a bit entertaining. It certainly wasn’t a tourist town, that’s for sure.
Pearce was mostly filled with families. It was a very old town. It had been founded over two centuries ago, when the country of Canada was still being formed. Some of the families had ancestors who were there when the forest was being cleared for the town.
It was odd having the entire country looking right at the town when really, it was the definition of normal. Well, mostly.
However, the publicity was to be expected given the circumstances.
The mass homicides occurring in the community caused all of southern Ontario to come to a halt. That kind of thing just didn’t happen in such small towns, which was one of the many reasons why it had drawn so much attention. The other reason why it had suddenly popped up in almost every major Canadian newspaper and magazine was that the murderer had somehow not been caught.
He was smart, and didn’t leave behind even the slightest amount of evidence. That is, other than the bodies.
What the media didn’t realize was that the homicide detectives assigned to that case were even smarter.
Their names were Aaron Radford and Royce Gordon.
Aaron was a man in his early thirties, the older of the two. Unlike Royce, he wasn’t married, and didn’t have children. He wanted to focus on saving people, and a woman had yet to put up with his slightly obsessive personality. But he was also observant, and that made him good at his job. At the time, his job and his partner were the only things he cared about.
Royce was in his late twenties, and was married to a woman named Marilyn. He had two children, a son and a daughter, but he used to have three. His oldest daughter, Cecelia, had died a year and a half ago after she had been diagnosed with Leukemia. She had only been nine years old, and Royce never really moved on. How could he?
Royce had always said that his children and his wife were the only things that truly mattered to him, other than Aaron. He used to have such a bright and infectious personality. Even Aaron was a victim to it. If Royce smiled, you had to as well. If he chuckled, you laughed too. He had been a joyful man, but this happiness that had once been seen in him was gone after Cecelia died. After he lost her, he turned dark and unconnected. He was determined to stop all evil in the world. He focused on his job, even more than his partner did.
And to Aaron, that was dangerous.
His partner was a loose cannon. It was as simple as that.
Royce had been acting odd, and Aaron, being the observant person he was, took note of that. He wanted to find out what was wrong, but when it came to anything other than Marilyn, Royce wasn’t all that great at expressing his feelings. Aaron was like him in that respect.
“Somethin’ wrong?” Aaron asked his friend as they both got into Royce’s car. “You don’t look very well.”
“I’m fine,” Royce said, his voice cracking a little. “Don’t worry about it.”
In respect of his friend’s wishes, he let it go.
That was his first mistake.
When they got to the diner that Royce had chosen, Aaron also noticed that Royce had taken his keys and placed them in the left pocket of his jacket. He never did that. He was a right-handed man, he always put his keys in his right pocket. As Aaron took a slightly closer look, he saw that Royce had something in his right pocket. This was very odd for Aaron to see because Royce wasn’t one to keep his pockets filled up. He only ever carried his keys and wallet. This thing, whatever it was, didn’t seem to be either. The object was small and rectangular, but big enough that it poked out.
If it had been sunny outside, Aaron would have realized that it was metal when it glinted in the sunlight. Then, maybe, just maybe, he would have realized that it wasn’t metal. It was stainless steel.
When Aaron asked him what was in his pocket, Royce once again spoke in a shaky voice, but this time, it was more of an annoyed tone. “Don’t worry about it!” he snapped.
Aaron held his hands up in defense, and they both walked into the diner.
Aaron had been so entranced in trying to find out what Royce was hiding, that he didn’t even realize that Royce hadn’t actually ordered what he always did. He usually ordered a BLT and a coke, but today, he only ordered a cup of coffee. That was especially strange for a man like Royce, who was the type of person whose favourite subject in school was lunch.
That was his second mistake.
However, Aaron did notice the way that Royce’s fingers trembled as he drank the coffee. It certainly wasn’t from the cold, it was the middle of September.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Aaron asked, and before Royce could snap at him again, he continued, “Your hands are shaking.”
Royce didn’t answer. He simply looked at Aaron, then licked his lips and set the mug down. He stood up from the chair, and told Aaron that he needed to use the men’s room. Aaron once again let the subject go.
That was his third mistake.
When Royce came back a few minutes later, he had his hands shoved into his pockets and a worried and somewhat frightened expression on his face. “I need to go,” Royce said.
“Alright, give me a second,” Aaron said, taking another bite of his grilled cheese sandwich. He wasn’t finished his meal, but something was wrong with Royce and he wanted to leave. Aaron was eager to find out what his friend was hiding. Perhaps he would tell him on the ride back to the station.
“No... I need to go alone,” Royce replied, then turned and left.
Royce walked straight out of the diner, leaving Aaron to watch him in surprise. It was a good thing that they were only five blocks away from the station, because Aaron’s ride back had just walked out the front door.
Aaron had let his friend go, despite the way that he had been acting. He didn’t even pay for his meal, Aaron had to do it. He threw a twenty onto the table, and was getting up to leave, when he heard a scream.
He ran to wherever the sound was coming from, and it ended up being the hallway that led to the public bathrooms. A man was holding a woman to him, her head turned away from the room where the man was looking with a horrified expression. The woman was clearly distressed, sobbing into the man’s shoulder. It appeared that the two of them worked there, they wore aprons and nametags on their t-shirts. It seemed that they had found something that the woman had been afraid of.
Aaron looked at the man, who was only staring at the door of the men’s room. They would have told him if the murderer was in there, right? He didn’t have to worry about anything truly horrible behind the door.
That was his fourth mistake.
Aaron pushed the door open, and as soon as he did, he knew what was so terrifying.
The bathroom had bloody handprints all over the white tiled walls and counter, like someone had hit the wall repeatedly and then leaned up against both surfaces with exhaustion. The mirror was broken too, some of the shards still there while others were laying on the counter and in the sink. Maybe someone had gotten angry, and just took their frustration out on the mirror? Perhaps they had stayed in the bathroom to calm down afterwards?
Aaron was too hopeful for his own good.
He was proven wrong when he looked to one of the stalls, where a pair of feet were poking out from under the door. It was as if someone was laying on the floor with their back against the toilet, and when Aaron went to knock on the door, he knew he was right. The door swung open when his knuckles hit it, and he finally knew what had scared the two people so much.
The man that was leaning up against the toilet was the source of the blood. His throat had been slashed open, likely by one of the broken mirror shards. The blood still trickled from his neck, which was startling. His eyes were blank and empty, but also wide, as if he had been terrified when he was killed. Of course he was. His left hand was curled into a fist, like he had been trying to defend himself. Once again, of course he was.
Aaron turned to the two people outside the bathroom. “Do you have any idea who was in here with him?”
“Th-That guy from earlier... The policeman... He came in after him. But the policeman was the only one who came back,” the man explained, still holding the woman close to him and shielding her from the the grisly site. It seemed that two of them were too scared to move away from the door.
Aaron’s heart sank when the man’s words processed in his mind. It was Royce. Royce had killed them. That was the problem, that was why he was acting so strangely lately. He was the murderer. He had been all this time.
In that short split second, Aaron almost convinced himself that he didn’t have to turn Royce in. He didn’t have to tell anyone about the murder. He could just say that the man and woman were lying, that they were delusional. He could get Royce some help, get him out of town long enough and far enough that they would never guess it was him, or guess that he had left.
But he realized that the very idea of tricking those around him was not realistic, nor was it right. It was against every single motive or natural instinct that a detective like him stood for. It was against every code that Aaron tried so hard to keep.
Friend or not, Royce might have killed someone. Aaron didn’t know for sure. However, if he did really kill this man, then he needed to pay for it. He needed to be kept away from the public, and be given the help that he needs.
And so, he reached down to his belt and pulled his radio off of it. “This is detective Radford, and I’m reporting a seventh homicide,” he said, licking his lip and sighing softly before he continued reluctantly. “And a suspect.”
He could now only hope and pray that this was not his fifth mistake that day.
GRADE 9-10 WINNER
TWIST OF FATE
"Jonathan! I don't know what you want me to tell you bro!"
"Jake, why hasn't it shown up yet? I'm almost nineteen!" I cried.
I'll be nineteen soon and this stupid name hasn't shown up yet. What if fate gave up on me?
Everyone has a lover, a soulmate, a partner, whatever you would like to call it. Once you turn eighteen the name of your lover appears near the bottom of the palm of your hand. It is like a tattoo. Your lover has your name on their hand too. Normally they are sort of hard to find. Your soulmate is most likely live in your country, but good luck trying to find them.
If the tattoo doesn't appear on your skin within a year after you've turned eighteen, it means fate couldn't find your match. It means you will have to find someone yourself. Once you find your match though, it's supposed to be like heaven. The tattoo turns red after you've truly fallen in love with your partner. My parents say that when they first met, they could feel the electricity reflecting off of each other. It took only two months for their tattoos to signal that they had fallen in love.
I am about to turn nineteen in two weeks and my tattoo has not shown up. I have lost hope and even Jake has lost hope. Jake is my best friend. He got his name on his palm the day after his birthday. Her name is Jessie. Jake has not found her yet, but he is searching still. Summer is just around the corner. That is when everyone goes looking. I am sure I will have no lover to look for. I had been so excited on my eighteenth birthday. But never had I thought it would have taken this long.
"Dude, just go to bed. We've argued over this way too many times." Jake says, placing his head on the pillow. The blow up mattress he is sleeping on is old and smells a little, although we have both gotten used to it.
I fall asleep however, to the light tingling on my left hand. And sure enough, the next morning it was there. Two weeks—well, a week and a half—before the deadline. That morning I woke up to the sound of Jake yelling at me. He was bouncing around me on my bed.
"It's there! It's there!" Jake exclaimed.
I quickly looked down at my hand and there, imprinted in black cursive writing, was the name Alex. It looked beautiful. Nothing like an actual tattoo, but more like a part of my skin. People without lovers have tried to get real tattoos to make up for it.
But there's no actual feelings when they meet their "soulmate". Mainly it is because fate is planned before the beginning of time and cannot be controlled. So those people become desperate and vulnerable for one. Although, I am thankful to not have been one of them. Not anymore, at least.
"I bet she's so hot!" Jake laughed as he too looked down at the name.
"Good luck finding her though." He joked lightly but I knew there was meaning behind it.
Once my parents saw my palm they took me out to dinner right away to celebrate. Personally, I did not want to make a big deal out of it. But just when I had lost all hope, my marking appeared and proved me wrong. So yeah, I think I deserved the celebration.
I know my parents had been worried. It took my mum one month for her name and it took my dad a week for his to come in. For my older brother, he got his name after three months. It was the middle of summer when his lover's name appeared. He went looking right away. Just recently, my brother had found her. Her name is Anna and they have been together for a month now. He is really lucky it only took him a year and a half to find her. It took my grandfather four years to find his lover.
My grandfather always said, "If fate makes you wait, often there's a reason." Maybe that means I'm special. Maybe Alex's name will turn green. Although, I have never known anyone who had taken as long as me to get their name. In a way, that worries me. What if there is something wrong with Alex? I hope she's okay.
I picture her, as a small brunette, she's petite yet very sassy. She won't be that much shorter then I, her blue eyes will be almost at eye level with my green ones. I wonder if she's already searching for me. Jake says she most likely is.
Grandfather was normally right about everything. However this time, I wished he wasn't. Fate waited on me, like he'd said, the reason was extremely surprising.
I ended up finding Alex quickly. It was a week after my nineteenth birthday. I had to admit, I wasn't looking for Alex at all. The day I woke up with her name printed, Jake insisted I went into town to look for Alex. After that day, I had made no effort because Jake and I had both agreed to just wait for summer to roll around.
I ended up finding Alex, at the park by my house. Fate was extra nice to me, I had found my lover within two weeks, with no effort.
The day had been perfect until I actually met Alex. That's when my life completely changed.
It was after dinner, maybe around6:30 pm on a Friday night. The London weather was damp but the sun reflected nicely against the spring leaves. I had told my parents I was going out to the park, I had enough of playing video games.
I walked through the park quietly, which was quite calming. But as I walked deeper through the path, I heard someone crying. I walked closer to the noise. It was coming from one of the hiking trails through the park. So I kept following the noises.
As I walked deeper into the woods, I found the source. There was a boy, around my age sitting on a wooden bench on the hiking trail. He was fairly small, his legs tucked up to his chest, his face down in his knees.
"Hello?" I said quietly. "What's wrong?" I walked up to the bench and sat beside the boy. He whimpered even more as I approached him. His hair looked nice and soft, and his dark jumper made it hard for me to see him.
"Leave me alone." He said quietly. His voice was muffled just like his cries.
"I can try to help you, I promise. Just tell me what's wrong." I spoke soothingly, trying to calm the boy. His sorrow swelled my heart.
"I-it's my tattoo." He looked up at me with wide blue eyes filled with tears. My heart nearly broke in two at the sight. I sat closer to him. His energy gave me warmth and I didn't know why.
"What's wrong with it? Is it not there?" I asked. Maybe he didn't get one? Poor boy.
"No I g-got it a year ago. B-but I always cover it up with makeup." He looked down at where our thighs touched, obviously feeling the weird vibe I was also feeling.
"Why?" I asked innocently.
"It doesn't matter!" He shouted. But I knew he felt guilty as soon as he raised his voice.
"Oh I-I'm sorry." I carefully placed my hand on his back and rubbed it. He flinched at first but relaxed quickly as I tried to comfort him.
"M-my mom thought I was one of the unlucky ones.... She umm, she saw my wrist at dinner time when I was reaching for my drink. I forgot to cover it up." He looked shameful, he was not sobbing anymore, but the tears still flowed down his cheeks.
"Shouldn't she be happy? You have a soulmate!" I said with glee, but the boy didn't seem very happy.
"No... There's something wrong with it." He pulled up the sleeve of his sweater. I looked down at his pale arm and there imprinted on his palm was my name. "I-it's a boys n-name."
I looked the boy right in the eyes still holding his arm. "Alex?" I asked stunned.
The boy jumped back in shock, recoiling from me entirely. "Jonathan?"
I frowned. "You can call me Johnny if you'd like."
A million thoughts ran through my head. I thought Alex was a girl! How could it be a boy! There must be some mistake. What will Jake think!? What will my parents think?! This is why fate took so long on me, because it got messed up! Something must have went wrong! It must have!
Alex and I had quickly exchanged numbers before running away from each other.
As soon as I got home, I ran to my parents and told them with tears rushing down my face. I told them how Alex was a boy and how he had gotten my name on his palm a year ago. I told them about how I comforted him and how now he has to go home to his mother, and tell her about how he met his soulmate who is a boy. He might get thrown out of his house!
It is bad enough that I am the younger sibling and how I am always compared to my older brother. Now my soulmate, my lover, my partner for life, is a boy! Things are just getting worse.
I told my parents about how I felt sitting next to Alex, they stayed quiet and listened the entire time. I knew this was wrong. Fate must have messed up. No matter how many times I tried to deny it, deep down I knew that I felt something, the same thing my mum and dad felt when they first met.
It turns out, that every one in one hundred have a same sex soulmate. I just so happened to be that one. I'd texted Alex about it. He said he's living with his sister now, she owns a condo around the corner from my house. I know he's very awkward about the whole situation. But this is my lover, the one that fate has chosen for me. I am supposed to spend my life with him. My parents were on edge with everything. We did not tell many people about it. I am thankful they were so accepting unlike Alex's mum. He is my forever, so we might as well start off well.
We became the best of friends at first. Alex was just how I imagined my soulmate in terms of personality. He is going to the same university as me, and we managed to share two classes together. Jake was suspicious at first. He was jealous of my new friend. So I had to tell him...
He did not take it well at all. He hated me. He verbally abused me as soon as I told him. It was the worst thing in the world. None of this was my fault and he couldn't understand it. Not many could, if only they were in my shoes, they would understand. I had to stop going to church, scared that Jake might have told the priest. Alex did the same.
Alex told me that he refused to be scared. He told me that even though we are friends now, we will be lovers in the future. And of course he was right. Alex's name on the palm of my hand, ended up turning red after one month of us knowing each other. We were only so young, and had an extremely tough journey together. That is the thing though, we were in this together. Fate had not gone wrong and I am not a failed experiment. In fact, I am kind of glad this was the outcome. Alex does not think fate had messed up because we ended up together, specially.