Peter Inglis: The Food Trolley Lady

‘It’s that time again’ she thought to herself, while tearing off a piece of some sort of stale bread to dip into her soup in the Hogwarts staff room. She slipped on her red cotton tank top and headed to the secret nook she had found a few years ago. This was her place, where she did it every year. She swished her wand a few times at a large silver trolley as blue and pink sparks spewed out of it and just like that the trolley was filled to the brim with every kind of magical sweet you could imagine, with a little tray on the side for the money.

The small, old lady hobbled along to Dumbledore’s office to say she was off. After a brisk and painful walk to the train station she made it just in time for the departure to Kings Cross, platform nine and three quarters. She was hoping there weren’t any nasty first years this time. She looked back into the past when Fred and George had joined Hogwarts and played a nasty trick on her by giving her the teeth of a rabbit, meaning that every carriage she went to she got lots of strange looks and sniggers.

The train had arrived and crowds of children with all sorts of things with them piled in, looking for sweets and seats. After a while of confusion and tearful goodbyes, the great steam-powered beast started to move again, letting out a blood-curdling scream of the whistle as first years scurried to try and find somewhere to sit. It was her time.

She went around all of the little pockets in the steam engine, saying the same thing every time in her soft old voice: ‘Anything from the trolley, dears?’ Usually people would just buy a few chocolate frogs or some Berty Bots jelly beans for a joke, or a group of Slytherins would rudely tell her to buzz off.  She didn’t like most Slytherins, because they were like spiders waiting to catch someone in their web of mischief.

As she made it to the final seating area and opened the slightly rickety door she immediately recognised a face she thought she would never in her lifetime see in person… Harry Potter. This was nerve-racking, as she thought he would be a mean, lean, cocky machine, but to her surprise, he seemed very timid compared to what she’d heard. She said her line and all he replied with was ‘We’ll take the lot,’ handing her a big pile of money. This obviously surprised the Weasley who was sitting across from him as well, with his bright ginger hair and many freckles.

And that was her shift for another year, and it was a good one at that.

Eva McGhee: The Food Trolley Lady

I love my job. The kids are so nice, apart from a few who I won’t go into much detail about! If you didn’t already know, I’m the lady who sells sweets off the trolley on the Hogwarts Express. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that you don’t care and that this is going to be some boring story about my job because the kids don’t think much of me. I mean don’t get me wrong, they’re nice enough, they know their manners and thank me when they buy sweets off the trolley, but they definitely don’t think much of me. I’d be surprised if they even remembered what I look like! For example, not one of them said to me ‘good to see you’ or ‘how are you?’ But I’m used to it by now, I’ve been doing my job for years. Now, enough of me complaining! Let me tell you my story.

A long time ago, I went to Hogwarts myself. I was a pretty good student, straight A’s and generally good reports but I had this one teacher who hated my guts! Professor Dolicrumus. Stupid name, I know, sums up his stupid personality! I’ve heard some of the kids talking about Professor Snape and thought he sounds a lot like Dolicrumus. Although that’s just from what I’ve heard, he could be a perfectly nice man for all I know! But anyway, back to the point. Dolicrumus hated me and my best friend Lilly Potter. Her name wasn’t actually Potter, I just called her that because she had the hugest crush on James Potter and I knew he liked her too and I always knew that they were going to get married! Dolicrumus would always give us extra homework and random detentions for not knowing answers to really hard questions and would make us write lines which took hours, or at least felt like it! Lilly was a good student as well, we didn’t know why Dolicrumus hated us so much. Lilly said it was probably because she was in Griffindor, but I was in Hufflepuff but there was no excuse for me! He was the head of Slytherin, of course, with platinum blonde hair, and he kind of looked like a rude year 7 boy I served on the train a couple of days ago. Would be a coincidence if he gets Slytherin too!

Anyway, there was this girl, Estella who bullied me for not having enough money, for having hand-me-down robes and not living in a big mansion like hers. Although it bothered me, Lilly always stood up for me. She was very confident but I was very quiet and easy to pick on, so how we became friends, I don’t know! One day while Lilly was sick and was staying at the Griffindor dorms, Estella was horrible to me again. This had been going on for about a year now so I just FREAKED OUT, stood up and punched her. She was taken aback, especially since Lilly wasn’t there so there was no way she could back me up now. I was scared of what Estella was going to do to me. But she didn’t hit me back; she just fake-cried and screamed ‘in pain’. I didn’t know what to do. ‘Should I run?’ ‘Should I hide?’ Thoughts came rushing into my head but there was no chance: Professor Dolicrumus ran out of his office as if he had been waiting for this moment his whole life.

“I should have known it would be you.”

And with that, he grabbed me by the scruff of my collar and dragged me along the corridor, up the moving staircases and to the headmaster’s office. I remember crying because I felt so sorry for myself and because Dolicrumus was holding me so tight and it hurt!

And that was it. My Hogwarts journey over, and only in year 11… What were my parents going to think? Were they going to think I was a disappointment? What about Lilly? She wouldn’t know what had happened to me. I cried and cried. The saddest part was, I never got to see Lilly again.

I didn’t know what to do for a job since I couldn’t just get a normal job in the muggle world, since I’m a witch of course! So I begged the headmaster for a job at Hogwarts. I was willing to do anything! But he said no. So I finally found a job here. A train worker. Pathetic, right?!

I always wondered what happened to Lilly, and if Dolicrumus was still nasty, but that was an obvious! Then 11 years ago, I heard the news… Lilly was dead. It broke my heart. I cried for weeks and despite me having been her best friend up to year 11, I couldn’t go to her funeral since I had been expelled from the school. What if I could have helped? What if I could have been there? I really regret punching Estella. I wish I could have said goodbye to Lilly.

Then, on the train, I heard the kids whispering ‘Lilly and James’ kid’… ‘Yes, yes Harry Potter’. My eyes lit up but then again, I thought it must be a joke until I went into a carriage and saw him. Those eyes. That scar. Definitely Lilly & James’ kid. I asked him if he wanted anything off the trolley and he replied “We’ll take the lot”. I thought he was joking until he pulled out so much money! It was more than I’d ever seen in my life all at once! It was crazy! Exactly what Lilly would have done, I thought. I gave him the sweets and left. I didn’t want to embarrass him.

Besides, he probably doesn’t know who I am because after all, I am just a failure who was expelled from Hogwarts…

Niamh Stevenson: Project – Afton

Tam was in the back of the van with nothing to keep him company but his thoughts. He knew he should have snuck out the back door, but there were police at every exit, so maybe he would have been caught either way. He had messed it up nonetheless, and now he was going to have to face the consequences.

Crash!

Tam was jolted from his thoughts and thrown from his seat. He was lying on the ceiling of the dingy police van, looking out of an open door. This was his last chance to complete his unfinished business, before he was confined to a cell for the next 10 years.

He got up, stumbling. The blood was pouring down his face and he felt dizzy, but that didn’t stop him. Without thinking, he sprang over the barrier on the motorway and dashed towards the wooded area on the other side of the road. It was barely bright enough to see and the tall, thick trees only made it worse. The cold chill down his spine made him nervous. Tam knew that the police weren’t far behind him: they were bound to spot him at some point.

A few metres ahead, he ducked behind a thick tree and held his breath. ‘Where’d he go?’ He heard footsteps gradually getting quieter and he sunk down onto the ground: his breath was sharp and the sweat was dripping profusely down his face. When the coast was clear, he got up and ran away.

The sun was starting to come up, which made him hotter and sweatier than he already was, but the trees blocked out the light and occasionally he would trip over his own feet, or a large twig. Worst of all, his stomach was beginning to growl like a lion, and his throat was as rough as sandpaper. He hadn’t eaten since the night before.

He kept going for what seemed like hours until he came to a large town. He began to look around and found what he was looking for: “The O’Shanter Medical Research Laboratory”. Tam’s face was glowing. He snuck into the medical lab to the left of the main entrance.

It was nowhere to be seen. In a few hours, he would be too late. Then he spotted a clear bottle at the back of the cabinet containing a green liquid. The label on the front read: “Sweet Afton”. Tam picked up the bottle cautiously, examining the label: “Warning: still to be tested, only to be handled under supervision, can kill”. This was what he had been looking for. From the desk drawer, Tam removed a syringe and began to transfer the liquid. Once it was full, he put it in his pocket and dashed out of the front door. When he got outside, he tried to figure out which direction he had to travel in. He prayed that he was going the right way and hurried off.

He was almost there and started looking for number 34. He was on the right side of the street. 28…30…32…34! He ran up the stone path and stood in front of the wooden door. Tam removed keys from under the mat, but couldn’t find the right one. Everything seemed to be delaying him.

He burst through the door and bolted it shut. A tall, thin lady came running into the hall and pointed at a door to the right of the stairs. She looked frightened, but also relieved to see him. There was a banging on the front door and the hinges and locks were wailing with the strain. Tam hurried into the small room and headed towards a little girl lying in bed. He whispered under his breath, “Don’t be too late, don’t be too late.”

He took the syringe out of his pocket and rolled up one of the little girl’s sleeves. The front door gave in and two officers stumbled in just as Tam injected the liquid into the girl. The officers raced into the bedroom: one snatched the syringe and examined it while the other forced Tam’s hands behind his back.

‘We’re too late,’ the officer said, shaking his head. Then he turned to Tam and said, ‘what did you do?’

As he was led reluctantly away, Tam could hear the creaking of the bed as the girl sat up. ‘Dad?’

He spun around, a mixed look of disbelief and the beginning of hope on his face. The girl continued to speak. ‘How did you get the medicine? Mum told me the police caught you.’ ‘Dad? Medicine? What is this?’ the officer cried out, turning to look at the other in confusion. His partner displayed an equally confused expression on his face. ‘She was ill, really ill,’ began Tam, ‘but we didn’t have enough money to get the medication she needed to survive.

Both officers were now wearing looks of guilt on their faces, having realised the true motive of Tam’s escape.

‘Give us a moment’ one said and they began whispering to one another. Eventually, they turned around. ‘You need to come with us.’

Tam was in the back of the van, again, with nothing to keep him company but his thoughts. But this time, he was content in the knowledge that he had saved his daughter.

Juliet McKay: The Striped Paper Bag

The taxi pulled up as the rain poured down. The door slid open and a spindly woman was helped out by the disheveled driver. It was cold yet she was wearing a thin dress and was dressed entirely in black. She opened a large umbrella which I didn’t think necessary as her wide brimmed hat caught every water droplet that fell from the sky. None of the woman’s skin was showing including her face which was shrouded by a black veil.

The woman’s head turned towards me. Although I couldn’t see her eyes I knew she was staring right at me. Her hand reached down into her deep pocket reappearing holding a red and white striped paper bag. Peppermints. They were my favourite and they always had been. She held out the bag. As I reached forward I noticed that her sleeve had slightly pushed back and I peeked at the first visible bit of her skin. It looked grey and lifeless, how you imagine the skin of a rotting corpse. Something felt terribly wrong yet I still reached out for the sweets.

The woman bent her long legs to be down at the same height as me. If it weren’t for the veil we would be eye to eye. She dropped her umbrella which clattered as it hit the wet pavement. Still crouching, she lifted her free arm and gripped my shoulder. I looked down at her wrist. On it was a wristwatch. The glass was smashed and the hands weren’t moving yet it still made a small ticking sound.

She dangled the bag between my eyes. I grabbed it. For a brief moment our hands brushed against each other and my hand was filled with a cold sensation that spread up my arm. I took a step back, shaking her bony grasp off my shoulder. I took another step then another, then I turned and started to run as fast as I could. The rain got heavier as I ran and I could almost see the fog appear. The mist grew so thick in a matter of minutes that I could no longer see the paper bag of sweets I held in front of me. Then out of the fog I heard my name being shouted. I followed the disembodied voice through the thick grey clouds. As I blindly walked further I seemed to hear more voices. I walked backwards hands over my ears. The voices were deep inside my head and I couldn’t get them out. I could hear them closing in on me. I sprinted.

I blindly turned down random streets and quietly searched for my own house. I finally got there and slammed the door behind me. I stood, back hard against the wood, for a second steadying my breathing, still in shock and disbelief.

“Are you ok sweetie?”

I looked up and saw my concerned mum standing in the hall. She then glanced down at my right hand.

“Where did you get that bag of peppermints?”

“What? How did you know what was in here?”

“Who gave these to you?” she said her face a mixture of anger and worry.

“Just this nice woman in town..”

“Wearing all black?” My mum interrupted.

I nodded slowly still confused.

“Upstairs, now!” She said snatching the striped bag from my hand.

“Lock the door and do not let anyone in! I will tell you when it’s safe.”

I did as she said, frightened and confused. All of a sudden the temperature in my room dropped. It felt like a gust of freezing air had passed right through. I checked the windows but they were tightly shut. I went into my drawers to get a blanket and noticed a familiar leather strap. I lifted it and saw the dreaded cracked face and unmoving hands. I heard the strangely innocent ticking of the wristwatch. I shook the broken watch in a feeble attempt at getting it to work. A small bit of paper fell out of the back. Once unfolded it seemed to be a letter.

‘She’s coming for me and if you are reading this she’s coming for you too. I took her peppermints. She is sure to be here soon. You are in grave danger, it is too late for but I wish you the best of luck. Please keep in mind that if she can help it Zakara never loses a victim. Remember, no matter how tempted do not open the door. The letter worried me and left me with many questions. Who was Zakara? I went over to the window to close the curtains. She was there. The veil had been lifted and her grey skin was pressed right up against the glass. Her white eyes stared right into mine. I quickly closed the curtains. Shocked and dazed I sat on my bed. Then the thumping started. It began quietly and got louder as it continued. The window panes shook with every thud. I covered my ears and hid under my covers. I felt a single droplet of salty water run down my cheek. The tears rolled faster as I sobbed harder into my pillow.

I didn’t remember falling asleep but when I woke up the thumps had stopped. The silence was comforting. Then there was a knock at my door.

“Sweetie, come out, its all safe now!” My mum’s voice called out. I was relieved and walked towards the towards the door. As I walked closer the letter on the floor caught my eye. “Remember, do not open the door” I looked through the keyhole to see the abnormally slim waist of a woman wearing all black. I took a step back. Behind the door was some scratching and a single peppermint slid under the door. The door handle started to turn. There was no escape.

Elise Keenan: Meat is Murder

Douglas was an ordinary lad, who lived in Aberdeen with his dad Hamish, who was a pig farmer. As for his mum Morag, she and Hamish argued constantly. Morag was vegan, she would rant about how animals will one day take revenge. Douglas and his dad often ignored what she was saying, which had caused many of their arguments. Deep down Douglas knew they weren’t right for each other. They argued over the littlest things: who would get the groceries? Who drank all of the soy milk? One day the arguing stopped. She was gone by the time Douglas had woken up. Douglas and his dad were distraught for a while but they quickly adjusted to being a family of two. The one thing Douglas hated about his mother going away was having to meet all the women his dad had met on Muddymatches.com.

Tomorrow was the day that the pigs were scheduled to go to the slaughterhouse all ready for the market season. Douglas hated the slaughterhouse almost as much as the pigs. The outside was black like death; inside it was empty except for the ‘slicer’ and the ‘mincer’ in the corner. ‘Drip, drip,’ the blood splattered all over the walls, occasionally fell into a puddle on the floor. If you listened closely you could hear the past shrieks of all the pigs as they were brutally sliced into bacon and sausage.

Although the pigs couldn’t speak Douglas believed that they knew how their ancestors had been brutally killed and how they were going to meet their end. Douglas thought of last year; he remembered one of the pigs more than the others: that pig was trembling with fear, as it got closer he could see water pouring out of its head almost like sweat.

That night Douglas had a peculiar dream, he dreamt that he was at his annual school fair, but he had no control over his legs. He felt bewitched. They led him over to a small black stall; from within some kind of green smoke seemed to be drifting out in clumps. He wanted to stop, his legs kept moving, and as he got closer a large, bony finger grabbed the back of his neck. His brain was telling him to scream and kick his captor, but his body failed to move. It was pitch black and silent except for the slight thud that the captor’s feet made and he dragged Douglas. Two seconds later he was falling down some kind of black tunnel, falling until he landed with a bang. He seemed to be in a witch’s lair, an enormous cauldron completely black except for the slimy green goo frothing out of it. There was something wrong with his body; again it seemed totally under a spell, forcing him to walk towards the cauldron, bend down and take a huge gulp of the liquid inside. It tasted like acid, surely burning his insides.

Suddenly he noticed he was shrinking rapidly. His hands turned into trotters; he was turning pink. Seconds later he had completely turned into a pig. Douglas awoke with a jump. ‘It was only a dream, it was only a dream’, he told himself. But it wasn’t. He rolled out of bed, and fell onto all fours, he tried to scream but all that came out was ‘Oink’.

It must have been a very loud ‘oink’ as his father had woken up quite startled, he was now standing outside Douglas’s room. He opened the door; at once he saw the pig, and not knowing it was Douglas, he grabbed it and put it outside in the barn with the other pigs, who were sleeping peacefully. Douglas tried to attract his father’s attention, but he couldn’t speak; all he could do was ‘oink’ hysterically.

Although he was a pig he had a human brain, so you could say he was the smartest pig in the world. Then it dawned on him: tomorrow was slaughter day for the pigs, and more importantly him. He was going to die. Yet there were 12 other pigs and he was the skinniest; maybe they’ll kill the fatter ones, he thought. At the back of his head he stopped fooling himself: he knew that there was no chance of his life being spared. He thought about running, but his trotters were no running material and although the skinniest of the pigs, he was still heavy. He managed to fall into a light sleep but still dreaded the next day. His mind was filled with possibilities: maybe his father would realise he was gone and would remember the pig he found in his room. Maybe he would recognise his bright blue eyes, different from all the brown-eyed pigs. Maybe he would turn back into a boy after a few hours. He vowed if this happened he would become vegan and never hurt another animal ever again.

The darkness became light; the night was now morning, Douglas was very tired as he hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep. His father came with the last feed for the pigs, he poured it into the trough, then left. Douglas didn’t feel like eating at all: he was far too nervous.

Soon all the pigs were on the conveyor belt that led to the slicer; his father was up above controlling it. Douglas stared up and his eyes met his father’s. Fear took over his body completely: his legs were shaking in terror, sweat was pouring out of his head. How he wished he had sided with his mum, he would be safe then. Douglas was at the end of the line, finally it his turn. He braced himself. ‘Slice.’ Douglas is now bacon and sausage.

Callum Thomas: Halloween

A full moon glowed through the mist, chillingly.

The eerie silence pressed in like a heavy blanket.

Pumpkins glared down, the faces of the long forgotten dead;

Ventriloquists’ dummies stared out of shop-fronts, twitching, moving;

A murder of crows huddled in a tree, cloaked, watching.

Rotting tree limbs reached out as if groping blindly for children to catch;

Skeletal figures stood silhouetted against dim flickering street-lamps.

In the cemetery, hunched figures hid watching, listening from the shadows.

Long dark shadows sprawled out, concealing the unknown.

This was a Halloween like no other!

Tiernan Blain: Halloween Poem

All darkness, except for the lights from the houses casting an orange glow down the street.

Silhouetted birds sat in the trees, like death himself.

The wind wailed as the leaves rustled around.

Jack-o-lanterns stared like dead dubious delinquents.

A cold breeze nipped my nose.

A million eyes stared at me.

As I stepped, the mud turned to stone.

Every sound seemed to echo around.

There was a crunch of gravel that I didn’t make; could it have been made by the one I loved?

She will go back to where she belongs

Tomorrow by night.