Books·The First Page

Where the Water Runs Red by Claire Trotter

Read the first page of Claire Trotter's novel imagining the world in 150 years.

2017 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Claire Trotter is a finalist for 2017 The First Page student writing challenge in the Grades 10 to 12 category. (Courtesy of Claire Trotter)

Where the Water Runs Red by Claire Trotter is one of 10 stories shortlisted for CBC Books' 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. Over 2,400 students submitted their stories.

Trotter, a student at Holy Name of Mary College School in Mississauga, Ont., tackles the effects of global warming and space travel in her piece.

"After deep consideration, we, the Federal Government of Canada On Guard, have come to the conclusion that radical action must be taken given the events that transpired during the annual Honouring Journey of The Remembrance Team on July 6th, 2167."

There is uneasy shifting among the group of listeners, but no one makes a sound; all eyes remain on the chosen spokesperson, wondering what "radical action" the government has elected. 

"Said events consisted of the untimely death of Aiden Allard, member 9 of the 17th Annual Remembrance Team, which descended to Earth on the 28th of June, 2167. Insofar as no person claims responsibility for this death, and no cause of death nor guilty party has been identified, the Federal Government of Canada On Guard reserves the right to place guilt and responsibility upon all members of the Remembrance Team."

Phoebe's legs give way under her and she falls with a gasp to her knees. Instantly Malachi and Athena move to her to help her into a sitting position and calm her. 

"I'm fine, I'm fine." she mumbles, and lifts her head to look at Tristan. With a deep breath, she addresses him, "Finish. Please." There is desperation in her voice. 

We turn our eyes to Tristan again. He swallows once more, and opens his mouth to deliver the final verdict. 

"In the interest of all that is good, and in the name of the country of Canada for which we hope, we therefore deliver this sentence; that all remaining 15 members of the Remembrance Team of the year 2167 must remain on Earth for the remainder of their days and hereby sever all connections and communications with the nation of Canada On Guard. 

"We regret the loss of this Remembrance Team, but we look to the future with the hopes that we may be able to sustain our great nation, and achieve our ultimate goal of returning to our home and native land, strong and free. 

"By order of the Prime Minister and King."

There is dead silence, except for Phoebe, who has collapsed into quiet sobs. In the silence they sound like screams for help. 

"Poor Aiden." says Kyan in a barely audible voice. But I can hear it, and something in me snaps. 

"Poor Aiden?" I ask loudly, fists clenched with anger. "Poor us! Aiden is fine; he's dead! Us?" I laugh humorlessly. "We're worse than dead."

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2167. 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 YA writer Erin Bow, author of The Scorpion Rules. The winner will be announced on CBC Radio's q on Jan. 24, 2018.

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 YA books.

CBC Books' next student writing competition is the Shakespeare Selfie Student Writing Challenge, which will open in April 2018.