Main Prize (Wadadli Pen 2021) – Honourable Mention Andre Warner

Andre Warner, 23, M, ‘The Brave One’ (fiction)

About the Author – Andre is an aspiring writer, chess player, and youth leader. He was a Wadadli Pen runner up in 2018 and winner in 2020. He said, “I love the arts of literature and (am) a fan of physical activities.”

About ‘The Brave One’: The story of a young boy caught up in the woes of the pandemic, viewing the virus as a monster and experiencing events from his perspective as he does his part to fight the ‘monster’.

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‘The Brave One’

“Bwoy just go back inna ya room on the zoom and sit down! Me cannot help you Javon, me tired ah’ 6pm”. Javon ran to his room in tears, his dad never shouted at him like this before. The unshaven red eyed man, absorbed into his laptop that he saw barely resembled his dad anymore, only six months ago he was a happy go lucky guy with a wonderful smile. It was all that thing’s fault, why his dad was not happy, why he couldn’t see his friends, and why mommy wasn’t here anymore. It was all that monster’s fault; it took everything but today he would take it back!

Javon looked at himself in the mirror: six years old, three and a half feet of determination. He began psyching himself up by thinking of the last six months. It all started when the news said something was out there, lurking. His mom told him not to worry it was all the way in China; “corona by the chiney man, we all the way in Antigua” she said. A few weeks later he heard more news, it reached to America and other places. Overhearing his dad talking with his friends about how they should close the ports to stop the virus from coming to Antigua; he started to question what would happen to his cousins that lived there? The same answer was given, not to worry. Then it came, Javon vividly remembered seeing his parents glued to the T.V, watching the man who he saw in social studies, the prime minister. Never had he seen his parents so silent or nervous, after the show they lectured him about safety protocols to follow. That was the beginning of the weirdest times he ever had.

It was so fun at first! Javon got to wear a mask and play ninja with his friends every single day. Everyone washed their hands; he hated sticky hands from candy and ice pops. Lastly, he got his own cubicle at school, just like his daddy had in his office at the hotel. But the fun stopped there, at home everything changed, his parents looked tired and sad every day. Javon always wondered why a virus you couldn’t see bothered his parents so much they were the: brave knights of Couchlandia in the land of living room, and the cut-throat pirates of the Bathtub Sea. Then he figured it out there was no virus, it must be a vicious monster spreading plagues. The signs were all there, a curfew? Only the evilest monsters hunt at night, so obviously no one would be allowed outside. Then, came the lockdown, only strong monsters roamed in the day. Javon’s mom was a nurse, and she was now ‘essential’ it was obviously to help wounded soldiers who fought the monster. His dad now stayed home as extra security, Javon did not believe his dad’s excuse of how the hotel job closed, how could the big world run out of tourists? None of that mattered to him now he had a mission, it was time to slay the monster.

To defeat his enemy Javon decided to learn where its nest was, creeping out of his room to grab an important tool: his mom’s phone. He immediately called the ‘Covid’ hotline that was advertised, and every call went unanswered. Javon decided he would have to investigate himself; he needed all the clues he could to find this monster. He put on his detective glasses to crack this case; online he found how the monster arrived by plane, attacking a college student then slowly spreading over the nation, what made him mad was the monster even had a green scoreboard for all its victims. Now was the time he could act the curfew was on, the hours where the monster prowled around had begun. With the trail hot Javon snuck into the bathroom and hopped out the low window; armed with ninja stars, a cork gun and a lightsaber the hunt began. Reaching to the monster’s den was a perilous journey; every shadow jumped at him, dogs barked, and cars zoomed past him. After three hours he arrived: Mount Saint John’s Hospital, the belly of the beast. With a deep breath Javon entered. Back in Piggott’s Javon’s father, after discovering his son’s absence and his intended destination, bravely broke the curfew restrictions and hopped into his car racing for the hospital not knowing what he would find.

Using ninja skills Javon crept through the quiet corridors and up the stairs to the upper floors after overhearing a nurse saying “all corona up in the top floor”. Facing the restricted glass doors, Javon heard machine beeps and people gasping for air. Reaching a hand forward he noticed that it was shaking, in fact his whole body was shaking! Just beyond those doors lay the monster. That is when Javon realized it terrified him; the monster that took his mom, broke his dad, terrorized the world and destroyed his life scared him. Once those doors opened there was no turning back, the reality of what he was doing sank in, driving him to tears. But he brushed them away, pushing his hands forward again he had to do it, someone had to be the brave one! Before his hand touched the door it was grabbed by a larger hand. Panicking thinking of the monster Javon struggled as he was pulled into a tight embrace. Recognizing the familiar scent and embrace of his father, he leaned even deeper into the hug bawling his eyes out. Through his sobs Javon explained what he was doing for everyone’s sake, feeling his father’s chest shake he thought him angry. Looking up through tear-stained eyes he saw to his confusion that his dad was, laughing? Turning to leave and take him home, his dad cheerfully apologized, and said “don’t worry son you don’t have to be afraid anymore, from now on I will be the brave one.”

This story was edited by the author, post-judging, prior to posting. This is one of the winning entries in the 2021 Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge. Please respect each writer’s copyright.

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