First place in Birmingham: A Droplets Journey by Jazmin Daley
Whenever the rain falls, millions of raindrops start their well-awaited journey.
It was the most tedious day of the year. As the blue sky dimmed, Clouds enshrouded the Earth like a warm, invisible blanket. Silent streets flooded with gas that had escaped the trafficked cars, as everyone rushed back to beat the rain that determined whether they were going to be dry or not when they returned home. Plastic bags danced down the road like fallen angels, abandoned by their owners who had rushed inside their heated houses. As the lights of the apartment windows were extinguished, the citizens lay to rest, leaving all their world-killing pollution behind.
While things were peaceful in the dark, gloomy streets, the atmosphere up in the ashen clouds was electric! All the young raindrops were eager to leave the clouds and see the enormous world. One of the petite raindrops was incredibly hyperactive, he was ready to escape.
As more rainwater filled the clouds, they were just about ready to burst and send the infant adventurers on their well-awaited journey. The pressure of all the water flooding in was too much for them; they were starting to lose control of the mob. Nobody noticed how uncomfortable the clouds were, until in three...two...one. The clouds began to rupture. As the clouds let out a sigh of relief, the miniature raindrops began to plummet to the ground to start their trip to the undiscovered world.
The most hyperactive raindrop was suddenly the most frightened raindrop, as he fell thousands of feet down, straight towards the ground. He had been told to aim for greater bodies of water, but seeing the ground get closer and closer every second was terrifying to him and he felt paralyzed. He needed to take a course of action- and quickly. After studying the ground around him, he had finally found a place to settle. There was a long river that was flowing through a city with a large clock tower. The young raindrop didn't know where he was, but what he did know was that there was water.
With a splash, he landed in the string of water. As soon as he landed, he noticed a foul smell that seemed to hang over the top of the water like a parent watching over their sick child. Alongside that awful stench were pieces of crystalline plastic floating across the river and running down to the ocean. This wasn’t how he had imagined his ‘water paradise’ to be. Everywhere he looked, where pieces of world-ruining litter, he was surrounded by plastic as far as the eye could see! The thought of home still lingered over him, and the sight of this river made that feeling of home-sickness stronger. However, even if this was his mindset- he was still determined to complete his exploration...
After several days of sailing through the seas, he’d reached a more torrid country. The terrain was rocky and seemed to have severe drought, he’d never seen an island that was so dry! Without warning, he was swiftly scooped up into a bucket. Flowing side to side, he was dazed from the shock, where was he being taken?
Despite being awfully hungry and thirsty, Mandla’s family were quite a cheerful family. Mandla had always wanted to live like the other children: going outside to play and not having to look after younger brothers and sisters. But every day he had to make the long, hour journey to the outskirts of the red sea. Although he longed to live like the other children, he knew that he needed to help his mom and he was doing just that. Mandla’s mother had told him that his name meant strength and that was the reason he was so determined. With this knowledge, Mandla ploughed on. This bucket of water was the first step to help him and his family.
The raindrop’s duty had been fulfilled; he had helped someone. That was his real journey. The real reason he had set off. But he wasn’t clean, he hadn't been filtered and was full of germs. Yet, Mandla’s family were happy either way to just have something to drink...
Many countries on our planet need extra water, the water they have isn’t clean enough and can give them diseases. They need help, we can unite with them and lend a helping hand. If we all work together, we can make it possible to fix world hunger, poverty and drought.
Second place in Birmingham: The Water Monster (Whoosh!) by Hafsah Rafiq
First place outside of Birmingham: Torrents of Time by James Burdsall
The President’s wife gives a blood-curdling cry. Six security guards rush into their bedroom.
It is seven o’clock in the morning and their alarm clock is sounding. They are expecting this as they must be in Glasgow for nine am. They will be travelling by private jet to urgently oppose the Climate Change Conference.
What they are not expecting however, is the metamorphosis that the President has undergone overnight.
“For goodness’ sake!” she trembles, “Call a doctor!”
One of the security guards pelts out the door. The remaining five stand frozen with terror.
The most powerful man on the planet is lying before them. A man whose success springs from being the greatest contributor of carbon emissions over the last century. And he is a man undergoing an accelerated physical change.
His once fair face and frame are sinisterly swelling.
“Who’s there?” he gargles.
He has the authoritative tone of the President, but it is not the President as they know him. For to their horror, his eyelids are so painfully puffy it has rendered him blind.
The nine o’clock opening of the Climate Change Conference is delayed.
World breaking news is grasping the attention of the planet.
“Is Water Having Its Say?!” is the headline.
A reporter pours out the story.
“Overnight, a global pandemic has swept across our sphere.” She is perspiring and pauses to lick her dry lips.
A wave of concern washes over the delegates in Glasgow. They too have beads of sweat on their brows. Some shift uncomfortably in their seats. Others move hastily towards the toilets.
“Strangely,” the reporter continues, “this follows yesterday’s unusual events, when Climate Clocks in every continent changed their display simultaneously. This has sparked speculation of a possible link.”
From every media platform available, the world is watching with flushed cheeks and feverish foreheads.
The camera pans towards multiple images of Climate Clocks. In shades of aquamarine, each simply reads:
‘Face the Truth.
Feel the Real.
Free the Future.’
Eerily, the passing of seconds is now accompanied by a rhythmical dripping sound.
The reporter sips from her disposable water bottle. “Many climate change sceptics dismissed the clock changes as a publicity stunt, saying it was organised by activists ahead of today’s meeting. Activists deny their involvement.”
She wipes her brow with a sodden sleeve, “Dr Arnab is here to share her understanding of this condition so far. Dr Arnab, could the clock changes, conference and outbreak possibly be related? Or has coincidence snowballed into a conspiracy theory?”
“Thank you, Marina. Well, it certainly seems extraordinary. On today of all days, the first confirmed case is notorious climate change denier, President Abe Andon. It appears that water within his body is redistributing itself…pooling in places where it doesn’t belong. But it is also unavailable where his body needs it most. His face, legs, arms and eyelids are astonishingly swollen and yet his thirst isn’t quenched.”
Dr Arnab coughs dryly.
“Equally as frightening, is that palace physicians report that the President finds it excruciating to urinate. He urgently needs to go but passes very little. They say it is oily, tarnished and smells rancid…almost like petrol.”
Marina is horrified. She clutches her stomach, wincing.
“But not only the President is affected. Whatever this is, it seems to be afflicting everyone worldwide. However, not everyone has every symptom. Individuals are being affected to different degrees. What is becoming clear, is the most severe cases are within the developed world.”
Images of waterlogged people flow across every device. Foaming from their mouths. Bloated like bubbles threatening to burst.
Across the planet people are drowning. Some in their sorrows, others from within their own bodies. All fear they are on the brink of Armageddon.
Suddenly, the Climate Clocks strike ten.
Each hour of the clocks’ chimes is rinsed away by a splashing sound that seems to ripple across the globe. The digital display is changing. Its panels flash with disturbing scenes. They are real scenes. Scenes of the developing world. Flooding. Drought. Pollution. Refugees fleeing, homes destroyed, children drowning, loved ones dying.
When the clock splashes ‘ten’, the flow of images stops, and the clocks return to normal.
Worldwide, bodily water restores its natural balance within all people.
At the COP meeting, the Key Speaker, together with all nations, gasps with incredulous relief.
He opens his speech to gratified applause:
“Let’s Free the Future!”
Second place outside of Birmingham: Money in the Well by Harpriya
Fatigue pervaded every bone in her body, her every muscle urging each step on to the beige, dusty gravel. The early morning sun dug its way around her, finding a way to penetrate her eyes. The earthen pot in which her prize was to be collected was pushed against her ribs, her golden brown fingers wrapped around it. She was to go on, she was to collect enough of it to last her family a few days, it was Pec’s duty- tears could never fill the pot, so it was futile in shedding them.
The sound of wheels and engines buzzed in the air, plumes of smoke formed halos above the highway. She looked up, meek and exhausted, a sense of curiosity momentarily took over her indifference. She looked up to see a familiar image, the brand logo of ‘the Vineyard Motive’ printed on a truck, the same logo that her father took to work with him, on his uniform, the same logo that had been in papers and on posters. The brand put food on her plate, had brought opportunities of wealth and growth to the village, its name had flashed in dark, bold headlines for months as the factory was being made.
Albeit, she felt indignance wash over her as she followed the gaze of the driver’s scavenging eyes, they were steadfast on the well in the distance, the pot of endless gold, holding enough to grow grapes and to water vineyards. Her thoughts turned to the villagers, she saw a mother, selling her produce to put food on the table, to earn gold the same colour of the corn she gave, she saw a poor family, unable to achieve sanitation, she saw an old man, face calloused from years on farmland, unable to take his medicine with the water he needed. Companies like this had taken from their aquifers to fill the bottles of the cities, to grow the economy, to give jobs, but to take more.
As the truck wobbled near to the side road she felt exhilaration come over her, her sweat turned cold and her legs adopted a bounce. She leaped and adjusted herself on the wobbly back surface of the truck, her earthen pot being juggled across her fingers. The smell of mildew and dust choked her, the passing farmland giving off sporadic scents of grass and vegetables; to grow the vegetables water was needed, to transport them water was needed, to nourish the animals it was needed. At home, it was needed to give her siblings hygiene and to nourish them and to clean her home.
The heavy breathing of the driver as they approached the stepwell gave her a reminder to hold hers. Chatter rang in her ears as they approached, shouts and cries and voices carrying tension became more and more common. Pec heard a loud gasp, deep and full of fear from her unknowing companion in the vehicle. The truck halted, jittering in unison with her nerves. Buckets were held loosely and jaws were dropped, clamor filled the area- strong, emotive clatter. She stepped out, following eyes to wherever the peoples’ shocked gaze went. She looked over the ledge of a few steps, and saw that the well was full of gold coins, dirty gold coins.
As people arrived Pec saw momentary relief wash over their faces, they were joyous. They ran to the well, laughing and joking, scooping it up until it fell out from between their knuckles. She joined them, filling her maroon vessel to its brim. She imagined showing it to her little brother, how his eyes would sparkle, but with what? He was only young, gold would not fill his stomach, coins would not bathe him or wash his clothes. As she would walk home, the coins would be an encumbrance, they wouldn’t satisfy her when the heat caught in her throat and flushed her cheeks.
In anger, in fury, in anxiety and in fear she threw the pot to the stone floor. The coins dispersed from the place of the shattered clay like a million avid race cars, at least water would have stayed together. Never before would she have treated money with such disrespect, but now she knew it was without value, the driver of the truck, an employee of one of the world’s wealthiest firms stood with a pipe dangling in his arms. The coins did not even glitter with the sheen of water, for they had been in many filthy hands.