Books

Lobster by Samuel Budge

Samuel Budge, 15, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2020 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Samuel Budge, 15, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Samuel Budge)

Lobster by Samuel Budge is one of 10 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 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.

Budge, 15, a student at Bell High School in Ottawa, writes about fishing disputes. 


Night came early to Grey Rocks, the setting sun masked by the thick drape of mist blowing in from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Against the grey sky, the run-down houses and sheds, their paint peeling, made for a sombre scene indeed, a reminder of what Cape Breton had once been. Darius Zayre, however, had not come to the town to reminisce about the past. He was here on business. The only sound he and his two powerfully built associates, heard as they trudged down the weed-choked streets was the creaking of a rusted metal sign, swaying in the breeze. 

FRESH CHOWDER was stenciled on it in big letters. Darius snorted, but glanced through the grimy window above which the sign was hanging, nonetheless. Several tables and chairs were scattered through the dark room beyond. Pinned to a wall was a yellowed calendar, open to the month of June 2027 and a picture of an odd red crustacean. Darius spun back to check on the large box his two companions were carrying and winced as they bumped it on what must have been a picnic table. "Be careful, fools!" he snapped, lifting the tarpaulin to see that the glass was intact. The road led toward the water, finishing at a wharf that probably couldn't support the weight of the three men and a warehouse, with walls that had once been red and white, but were now an unsightly russet colour.

Chiago gasped as he saw its contents: It was a lobster, the first one seen alive in decades.

Crouching behind a rusted vehicle, Officer Crux Chiago of the Sydney Police Department watched the three men make their way down the path toward the warehouse. Having been dispatched to investigate rumours that Darius Zayre would be visiting what had once been Grey Rocks, the hours he had spent driving had not been wasted There was Zayre, standing meters from Crux's hiding spot, although what the smuggler was doing in the decaying village was anyone's guess. The policeman watched as one of Zayre's burly henchmen tripped on a block of cement, letting his end of the box drop to the pavement.

Zayre whirled around and snarled at the man, who stammered an apology. Without a word, the smuggler pulled a handgun and shot him mid-sentence. Kicking the man's remains aside, Zayre lifted the tarpaulin to ensure the glass tank beneath it was intact. Chiago gasped as he saw its contents: It was a lobster, the first one seen alive in decades.


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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