Monday, 19 September 2016

The Comb Cycle

It called me to come over the ravine. To climb its steep slopes, to clamber across its jagged floor. I stall. I feel its presence, its desperation. It needs me but the reason refuses to step into the light and my bewilderment continues. I flee.

I retrace my steps across the fields of Asphodel, through the plains of judgment and out through the gates of Ivory. The path is worn down from my continuous passages into the Jotunheim. As I solidify into the light, I let out a low moan and collapse.

Stupid stupid stupid, I taunt myself as I wake up. I mustn’t keep pushing it like this. One day I could enter Jotunheim and fade completely.

I wake up in a field. My grass hut is fluttering in the wind. I try to stand but my legs refuse to work; I sigh as I begin to drag myself to my home.

I only enter Jotunheim twice a month. I can’t remember anything of my early childhood, I only know my name Nala and how to enter Jotunheim. I lead a solitary life, gathering berries and seeds from the meadow. I sell most of them to the village and with the money I buy supplies.

The villagers fear me - they think I am in league with the devil. They only let me enter the village when I come to trade once a month. My life is a cycle: gather, trade, stock up, enter, leave, and the cycle resets.

It is a normal day when it happens. I am bargaining in the village when something catches my attention. An old women is selling antiques and in the middle of the display is a comb covered in ancient symbols. I have seen the markings once before, in Jotunheim.

I stand there speechless, as the old women smiles and beckons me towards her. A million things go through my mind at once.

"How much?" I squeak, pointing at the comb. She holds up three fingers. My hands dig deep into my pockets searching for coins. Nothing. I have nothing to trade either, but I want that comb. I need that comb. I have never been surer of anything in my life. I grab it and start running.

I hear the old women wailing "Stop her! Stop the thief!" but I am already out of the market square. I reach my field after running for 20 minutes and sit down in the place where I always enter Jotunheim and concentrate.

Insects soon home in on me, attracted to my sweat. I try to swat at them with my hand but they just dodge it. I hear yelling and dozens of footsteps - the villagers have formed a mob. I need to concentrate for a couple more seconds. The world starts to fade around me, colour drains away, the insects are frozen, the yelling has stopped, but the gate of Ivory hasn’t appeared.

I concentrate harder, picturing Jotunheim, picturing the black grass the covers the fields of Asphodel. I picture myself there standing under the white gum trees that sway in the hot sulphuric wind.

A hole appears in front of me. I jump in it and immediately the temperature starts to rise. At first it's merely uncomfortable but soon it becomes unbearable. It’s a long fall to Jotunheim and I try to relax. Soon I start to slow down and a vast expanse opens up before me. Rivers of fire and ice crisscross the land and red wispy clouds cover the sky.

As the ground closes towards me, I ground to a halt, hovering. Then I land face first on the smooth floor of the plains of judgement. The plains of judgement are just a vast flat area of Jotunheim. Here everything is grey. My skin becomes grey and so does my hair. Time and distance are different in Jotunheim - if you get distracted you could get lost and never find your way back.

The terrain is against you here - the air is poisonous and the only source of water burns like acid when drunk. I’ve landed at the edge of the plains of judgement and the Fields of Asphodel are very near. I can hear the grass rustling in the wind. I start to run.

Ten minutes later I stand at the edge of the ravine. I take out the comb. I don’t know what to do with it, so I examine it more closely. The letters start to glow. I take it and start to read out loud. I don’t know where the words come from, but it silences the Creature. The fog that blocks the ravine starts to dissipate. I see the Creature for the first time: it’s a girl.

Her eyes sparkle with happiness. She bows and disappears. I try to comprehend what has just happened but suddenly the ground starts spinning and I start to rise and float towards the position of where the girl was. I float where the girl once was, facing the other side of the ravine from where I was standing.

The comb levitates and zooms towards the gates of Ivory. I am trapped here but the comb is my third eye. I have some control over it; I can move it and make it influence objects around it. A shadow appears over me. A hand picks up the comb and places it in between two pieces of cloth.

The third eye stays dark for a week. During this week I learn of why I am here. The comb is eternal. It finds and lures girls away, wipes their memories and places them far far away from their families. It teaches them how to reach Jotunheim and after a couple of years of mastering this skill, it introduces itself to the girl. The girl goes to Jotunheim and frees the previous girl but becomes the Creature that lures the next victim.

Suddenly, the cloth over my third eye is lifted and I am placed in a glass box. I use my new learned power to search for girls to be lured away from their parents. But my powers don’t work behind glass, and I sit gathering dust. I am the last in a long cycle of suffering.

by Tamir Greenwood

The Hunstman's Trophy

Hello, it’s me again! Yep, little old me, the thing you raise above the crowd one day and shove into your neglected old pile of useless junk the next.

Before all this, I was the head of one of your old enemies, with a life to live and family to love, just like you. I was killed with the spearhead of one of your arrows, from that bow you hold so dearly.

So, ask yourself again, am I really worth nothing to you?

I was hung by that very arrow string you shot the finishing blow from, and all other ones that once missed me now are hung below me. All of this is your doing, so, ask yourself one more time do I really mean nothing to you?

If you are in fact the maker of me, are you the judge or the guilty party?

You were, after all, the one who shot me and raised me above your head like a flag. You used me as a sign of victory, but in the end who has lost the most? You, the man with a guilty conscience for slaying an innocent man? Or me, the free spirit with nothing else to live for, but to loom over you like a shadow?

A shadow that you want to forget but even when the sun falls I will be there. Even when your world comes falling down around you, I will be that unwanted shadow that follows you to the bitter end, just like you did to me.

So, ask yourself again, am I really nothing or am I the thing that keeps your blood flowing as you run from my shadow?

by Matt Gilbert


I was made in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
I was carved and hollowed out of wood. My very first owner was a fisherman.
We have been on many trips together, but none as memorable as the last. It was stormy and rainy, before our trip I could hear my master being advised not to go out at this time, yet being the stubborn man he is, he left anyway.

It was rough from the start but many fish were caught. I gazed upon the biggest wave yet but at this point I knew we had made a terrible mistake. The wave was coming in quick and the stubborn fisherman panicked and just stood still in shock. It came in and smacked him off right my deck.
A horrible sight indeed.
After the storm cleared up, I was discovered by one of his mates and brought back to the docks. That was the tragic end to my first owner.

I was then sold to a sculptor, a young one with much ambition.
Trips were relaxing with this one; he took months making a small model of me. During the breaks we would just sail near the docks, following the coast. His miniature model was good but never as good as he wanted it and we both knew that.

I was still kept by the sculptor for his personal outings but the model was sold to the Pitt Rivers museum, where it was displayed for visitors of the museum to inspect it. We had an enjoyable time together for the rest of my time as a boat.

by Reuben Su

Feather Headdress

I was made in India so long ago; I belong in India. Plucked from the finest bird, the most intricate patterns and stunning colours anyone had ever observed.

Every morning I was delicately lifted onto the head of the chief’s son. He respected me. I was always treated with care. I would be greeted and admired. Constantly complimented, comments that helped my personality evolve from shy to confident. I was honoured to sit on my owner’s head and watch the world from there.

I experienced grand ceremonies and festivals, smelt the wafts of sweet spices in the air and felt the vivacious vibes. I was part of the tribe, and I got the best seat to witness everything. However some things I’d rather not have seen; memorials or burials always made me want to look away or shut my eyes so tightly it was like they’d never open.

Then one day my life changed. I’d never be included like I was in India. I’d never feel the same.

She sneaked in when they were sleeping. Her long locks were a tangled mess, garments torn and she wore a look of guilt.

“Please forgive me,” she muttered. Then she snatched me. Grasping my body, clasping her fist closed around me. I still remember the pain she inflicted on me, gasping for air. I was unsure what the future held. I wanted to be raging, furious with anger. But all I felt was sympathy. She had so little left, stealing me was her last option. I could feel the guilt radiating off her.

I don’t remember much of the journey. I was so used to being treated attentively that being thrust into a dark bag where the shadows danced with flickers of light intimidated me.

When I finally saw light again my body throbbed. The first face I saw startled me. His silvery strands of hair were coated in grease and every deep wrinkle on his face told a story. His eyes gleamed when he saw me, but I saw a glimmer of arrogance in his face. His stale breath suffocated the room, making me gag. I dreaded my time there.

The man captured me and threw me down onto a bitter surface. He took some kind of pencil and precisely sketched my shape, he then fastened a tag onto me that read:

Feather from India. Donated 1923.

Next, I was sent on a long journey in the dark, then planted in a glass case. Since that day I’ve never left it. I live in a prison. Trapped behind glass, watching the world but never interacting with it.

I used to love being seen and commented on, now it feels like I am being inspected. I can never get out; I will always be stuck here.

by Clemmie Gillespie


The Parish council of Romania thought it would be a magical experience for the children to run round looking for eggs.

But did they think about the eggs? No.
No they didn’t think about the eggs destroyed, I saw my siblings murdered, smashed to pieces. Their yolks stain the forest floor. Some of us were never found, left to rot.
The children grabbed us, crushed us slowly, tried to eat us. We were positioned at our posts, under rocks, overlooking wooden, twisting staircases and next to seas that only flowed one way.

It wasn’t only the children that destroyed our army, though. We were attacked the previous night, too. First the territorial tribes came: vultures, lions, wolves ate us and if they didn’t eat us they tormented us by licking us, poking us... but were tame with the giants.
Then we had to survive the night, natural disasters picked us off, landslides, floods. The floods came from above and hit us like rocks. We nearly got our yolks spilt.

As the sun rose we thought it was all over. It was calm, the wolves were still there, but this time they were on ropes held by giants. We peered out over the battle field. The heat warmed us, took away the flood but it wasn’t calming for long. We remembered our original assignment, to stand our ground against the children and be “found”.

The battle was a vicious one, neither side backed down, yoks were spilt, fingers were pricked. Most of the murdering was at the start, the poorly positioned ones were scouted out immediately, but as the day went on, less were murdered; we weren’t found as easily. Under my rock I was untouched, physically speaking; but I was tormented mentally by the scream of eggs as they were mercilessly crushed, their shells crunching by the giants’ hands.

Eventually the sky darkened. The clouds were grey; it started flooding. The giants were scared of floods, they ran away under the cover of huge leaves on sticks.
Why were they afraid? They weren’t going to be hurt by it...
I’m not complaining though. Floods are deadly for eggs, as I have witnessed, but not as deadly as the giants. Well, that’s what I thought...

As the ground got more soaked and slippy, my cover of rock started lowering, but by the time I noticed it was too late. I was sinking into the ground, suffocating, not able to breathe.
It was dark but I could still hear.

I am sixty now.
They finally rescued me from inside the ground. I was taken in a box and put on a huge bird. It was freezing in there. I had no clue what was going to happen to me. My shell was numb.

I got taken into a huge room, placed inside a glass box to be stared at by giants, never to walk freely again.

by Tom Harrison


Welcome to our collection of Year 8 Stories called 'Objects in Time'.

These pieces of creative writing were all inspired by a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in Oxford.

The school trip was organized jointly by the English and Art departments, and resulted in some wonderful work both in writing and in painting!

Very well done to all our students for their effort and hard work, and we hope you enjoy this showcase of their stories on our blog...