In the Storm by Hao Lun Li

Hao Lun Li, 13, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2020 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

The First Page student writing challenge asks students in Grades 7 to 12 to write the first page of a novel from 150 years in the future. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

In the Storm by Hao Lun Li is one of 10 stories shortlisted for 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. More than 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Li, 13, a student at Kwayhquitlum Middle School in Coquitlam, B.C., writes about politics and the division between parties.

The chilling sounds of the winds blowing into the crater was deafening. I almost have to keep my hands on the goggles to my face with how much wind is going by. Suddenly I hear a voice.

"Check what I found," says Connor.

I head over and look at what Connor dug up.

"What is that?" I said.

"It's uhhh... I think it's a piece of metal part of a machine. Look there's writing on it," he replied

The piece of metal that Connor was holding was twisted and bent in so many different ways. The only thing that stood out was the faintly showing green paint on the metal. On it there were words.

"The Ill Wind? What is that?" I asked Connor.

"I don't know, might be part of a plane. Maybe it was one of those that dropped the bombs."

"Don't be dumb, they were missiles. Whatever it is, it isn't important. Look for supplies."

Politics bore me, but they are also the reason why all of this is happening.

We had no time to hide so our only option was to run.

We continued scrounging through the empty factory, trying to find anything, anything to survive. A bottle of water, some meat, heck, I would even be satisfied with a slice of bread. Just as I was digging through a pile of what looked like magazines, a jarring sound pierced the wind of the canyon. It was a motorcycle, no two, no three. I cautiously peeked out of a window and there it was. A whole convoy of vehicles with blue flags heading straight to us.

"GET IN THE CAR!" I yelled as I quickly sprinted out of the room.

The sounds of the whole pack of cars quickly loudened. We had no time to hide so our only option was to run. We got into the hunk of metal of a car and sped off quickly.

Two new sounds pierced the winds. The sounds of bullets whizzing by.

About The First Page student writing challenge

David A. Robertson is a Governor General's Literary Award-winning author and judge of the 2020 First Page student writing challenge. (Amber Green)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2170. 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.

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by award-winning author David A. Robertson

Robertson is a Cree writer from Winnipeg who writes books for readers of all ages — including the Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book, When We Were Alone and the Reckoner Rises graphic novel series.

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on April 16, 2021.

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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