This year Platform Youth Culture has collaborated with TasWriters in a creative writing opportunity designed to showcase creative pieces from talented young Tasmanians aged between 12 and 25. As part of this project, young writes were given the opportunity to learn from and develop their creative writing skills by receiving valuable feedback for their submissions from published authors such as Kate Gordon, Christina Booth and Anne Morgan along with the opportunity to participate in a series of creative writing workshops run by Arianne James, Project Coordinator at TasWriters.
“I can’t wait!” Sophie said. “Look at what it says on the poster! All your secrets revealed. All your warnings given. Your future told here. A real fortune teller! Wow.”
Her older sister, Annabel, sighed.
“And you believe it?” She said, tiredly. “This fortune teller is such a fake.”
“She’s not!” Sophie cried, indignantly. “Max’s uncle said she told him he would ‘Experience great loss’. And he did! His sister died a month later!”
“Lucky guess,” Annabel said, dismissively. “It was during the war. Everyone experienced great loss.”
Sophie ignored her.
“I can’t wait!” She clutched hold of Annabel in excitement.
“You don’t have to,” Annabel said, rolling her eyes. The line between them and the fortune teller’s tent had disappeared.
The inside of the tent was dark, shadowed and cramped. A small table was in front of them. On it, a crystal ball. Sophie squealed. Even Annabel felt slightly awed.
“Welcome,” a voice said. The woman was seated on a small stool in front of the table. She wore a velvet cloak that hid her face. She had a strange accent. Her fingers were covered with rings. Annabel twisted her blonde hair around her finger, nervously.
“Names?” The strange woman asked.
“Sophie and Annabel,” Sophie said, breathlessly.
The fortune teller jerked back in shock.
“You,” she said.
“Us,” Annabel said guardedly.
“Us?” Sophie asked.
“I have had many visions about you,” The fortune teller said.
“About us?” Sophie asked, her eyes shining.
Suddenly the woman banged her hands hard on the table.
“Beware of the robot.”
“The robot?” Annabel asked.
“He is hunting you.”
“How? Why?” Sophie asked, her eyes wide with fear.
“Let’s go, Soph. I’m not letting anyone tell me my future,” Annabel said, a slight tremor in her voice.
“O- ok,” stammered Sophie, obviously shaken. “Thank you, fortune teller, ma’am,” she said, as they backed out of the tent. As they were about to leave, the fortune teller looked Annabel directly in the eye and said,
“You are smart girls! Listen to me. Be careful. This robot is ruthless.”
“Don’t believe her, Soph,” Annabel said, firmly. “There is no robot.”
“Believe what you like,” the fortune teller said, as they pushed open the flaps of the tent. “I will see you again… whether you like it or not.”
Two years later…
“I saw it.” Sophie ran into Annabel’s room, her hair messed up and her eyes wild. Annabel looked at the clock. It was 12:00. Midnight.
“Sophie, go back to sleep,” she moaned.
“No! Listen, I saw the robot!” Sophie cried.
Annabel tensed. “Oh, not this again,” she said, but despite her cool attitude, Sophie could hear her voice trembling, and her face was pale with fear. Sophie knew why. Ever since the day at the fortune teller’s tent, Sophie had heard Annabel awake at night. Sophie, too, had been plagued with many nightmares about the robot.
“Anna,” Sophie said, “It’s real-”. But she was interrupted by a noise. Bump. Tap. Scrape. Annabel clutched Sophie; all reason forgotten. Her heart was pounding. It’s here.
“It’s… outside the window,” Sophie whispered.
“I guess it could be a possum,” Annabel suggested, half-heartedly.”
“I’ll open the blinds and see,” Sophie said.
“No!” Annabel cried. The room suddenly seemed darker, every shadow a place for a robot to hide.
“I’ll tell mum,” Sophie said, suddenly. “She’ll know what to do.”
“You can’t,” Annabel said. “She’s still at that party.”
“So, we’re alone in the house, with… it outside,” Sophie whispered. They fell silent. Tap, tap, tap, went the thing outside.
“We need to scare it off,” Annabel said.
“Yes,” Sophie whispered. “Wait, how?”
“Well, here’s the plan…” Annabel explained.
Sophie sat at the window, not moving, the blinds open just enough for her to see her sister calmly leave the house, slamming the front door behind her. She couldn’t see the robot, yet. Annabel walked slowly down the path, pretending not to notice the loud bangs that began coming from the other side of the house. Footsteps. The robot was coming. She stared, as a dark shape slowly walked around the house until it was standing behind Annabel. It was tall, looming above her like a giant shadow, and had two holes in its head where a human would have its eyes. It emitted clanks and moans like a zombie orchestra. It was the most terrifying thing Sophie had ever seen. Annabel ran, tearing down the path, not looking back, not pausing until she reached her bike. Without stopping to put on her helmet she pedalled down the street, the robot in pursuit. Sophie scrambled to her feet. She only had a little bit of time to put their plan into action before Annabel- and the robot- returned.
Sophie worked hard for fifteen minutes, whilst Annabel kept the robot busy. Finally, though, Annabel could keep it up no longer and turned towards the house, the robot on her tail. She hoped Sophie was ready for them.
She was. When Annabel pedalled into the yard, Sophie was hidden and waiting. Annabel rode her bike towards the garage. Sophie, crouching in a nearby bush, pressed a button on a remote that made the garage door close. By the time Annabel reached the door, it was too low for her bike to fit through, so she dropped it and crawled through on her hands and knees. When the robot reached the door, it was closed, and Annabel was safe. The robot banged on the door with its fists. Sophie crept past, the thumps concealing any sound that she made, until she was safely hidden behind a tree. She knew she didn’t have much time. The robot had stopped hitting the door and was examining it instead. Sophie had no doubt that the robot was smart enough to find a way into the garage. Adrenaline pulsed through her veins, making her braver. Ok. Time to get rid of this robot, once and for… Crack.
The small, subtle sound of a twig snapping beneath her foot. Barely a noise at all, yet it was enough to alert the robot. It slowly turned, and began heading towards the tree. Sophie was out of ideas. Their plan had failed before it had even begun. She whirled around, preparing to flee. She felt like a wild animal, fleeing a predator.
She was prey.
She tore across the yard and was about to climb the fence when she heard a crashing noise. A panicked noise, and it was going away from her. She turned around, and to her relief, the robot was… running away. What had caused it to flee?
Slowly, her eyes followed the path of broken sticks and footprints that the robot had left. There, standing in the middle of her yard…
It was her.
Sophie hadn’t seen her for two years, yet she still haunted her dreams.
The fortune teller.
“What are you doing here?”
The fortune teller pressed one finger to her lips in a shushing gesture. Then, she held out her hand. Sophie looked down at the remote to the garage and passed it to the fortune teller, raising her eyebrows. It never occurred to her not to trust the fortune teller- even though Annabel had been so determined not to. After all, she may have just saved their lives.
Without a pause, the fortune teller opened the door to the garage. Annabel screamed, holding a cricket bat in front of her face.
“It’s ok,” Sophie called out, but as she spoke, the fortune teller did something very strange. She walked right past Annabel and into the darkest corners of the garage.
“What?” Sophie asked, as Annabel turned very pale.
“D-don’t go in there,” Annabel said, her voice trembling.
“Why?” Sophie said instantly. “What’s down there?”
The fortune teller kicked some boxes aside and pushed through a rack of old clothes. Sophie turned to follow her. They pushed through some more junk until they came to a pile of papers covered with a black sheet.
“Sophie, please,” Annabel called from the entrance of the garage.
“What?” Sophie asked, bewildered.
The fortune teller whipped the sheet off the pile, and Sophie saw what was hidden there. Blueprints, a whole stack of them. They were covered with drawings… of the robot.
“Please forgive me,” Annabel whispered.
The thought, Annabel had made the robot, hardly registered before Sophie ran, brushing tears from her face. Away from Annabel, away from the fortune teller, away from the whole mess.