Books·The First Page

Children of Nine by Cheyenne Gawley

Cheyenne Gawley, 14, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2019 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

Cheyenne Gawley, 14, is a 2019 finalist in the Grades 7 to 9 category for The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Cheyenne Gawley)

Children of Nine by Cheyenne Gawley is one of 10 stories shortlisted for the The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 category. Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. Nearly 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Gawley, a student at Dr. Knox Middle School in West Kelowna, B.C., writes about illegal immigration.


05-11-2169
SECURITY LOG- 0310
CAMERAS- s079-s080-s082
SUBJECT- AURELIA "NONA" WHITTAKER, 21
Operator- REDACTED

She is not supposed to be here. Her tracker says she's still in her flat. Still in her apartment with her messy roommate and his clumsy boyfriend. So, here we are relying on this crummy security footage of the girl to follow her movements.
Camera s079 wakes up when there's movement in the alley and I see a girl step into frame. The light's behind her and I can't make out any of her features, only her shadowy figure. I can see enough to know she's wearing her hair in a tail directly on top of her head and killer heels.

She walks further into the alley turning her head from side to side casually, as though she's merely looking for a friend. Then she looks directly into the camera lens. How she found it so easily is beyond me, but she cocks her head to the side and winks.

That little—

She exits the view of the camera, leaving through a door in the alley I hadn't seen.

Camera s080 is already awake when she walks into view. There are two people huddled around a screen built into the wall. An older model.

She's dangerous. The girl's been screwing with government files and using secure networks, all to let in a few immigrants.

Our girl has managed to shed her jacket between the camera angles and I can see she is now wearing a slim dress that reflects the light in the room.

We've been tracking these hackers for weeks. They call themselves The Children of Nine and I'm certain they have some ridiculous deep and meaningful reason for calling themselves that. It's also where she gets her name. "Nona." It means Nine in some Old Era language. They say their leader actually works in the CSIS. It would make sense. And, to be perfectly honest, it makes me nervous that she's only now decided to make an appearance. She's dangerous. The girl's been screwing with government files and using secure networks, all to let in a few immigrants.

The immigrants have been coming in tides now, with the Republic not accepting them through their borders, they've found ways to get to ours. We've let in as many as possible, but they don't seem to think so.

She's the first lead we've had in… well, she's the first lead we've had at all.


About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2168. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Kelley Armstrong is the bestselling author of more than 40 books. (Kathryn Hollinrake)

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling YA author Kelley Armstrong, most known for her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series. The winner will be announced on CBC Books on March 11, 2020.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books.

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