“A Better World” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Thomas Shelley, British International School Budapest, Hungary.

A Better World

Jake was a boy who dreamed, dreamed of a better world. A world where there was no pollution, no deforestation and, most of all, no war.

War in Jake’s eyes was the worst thing that could possibly happen. It destroyed everything in its path, scaring people for life with the amount of death that they saw, damaging people in the war and those close to them, the ones left behind.

Jake was one of those people. His father had gone to war one year before Jake was born and he never came back. Jake had a picture of him that he would look at whenever times were tough, encouraging him to be brave, just like his father. It was his most precious thing in the world.

Jake hated school. His results were terrible and his teachers horrible. The only thing that kept him going was his one friend Jeremy; they did everything together. He longed to run away but he knew that if he tried it would be like a mouse trying to escape from a cats jaw when it had already been bitten.

Then one break-time everything changed.

Jeremy and Jake were being chased by the two school bullies when, losing sight of Jeremy, Jake hid in a cubicle, standing up onto the toilet seat. Suddenly, he slipped and before he could blink he was spinning down into the toilet. He was turning so fast that he couldn’t focus on anything, not even for a millisecond.

Finally, his feet touched the ground. He wished he had some water to quench his thirst. Suddenly, as if by magic, a glass of water appeared in his hands. Jake’s thoughts were in a whirl. Why had the water appeared in his hands, where was he and how had he got there?

When Jake finally stopped feeling dizzy he looked around. He was in a beautiful wood bursting with autumn colours. As he walked, the dry leaves crunched and crackled beneath him. Despite the shelter of the trees, he was dreadfully cold and wished he had a jacket. Suddenly, like the water, there appeared a lovely warm sheepskin coat.

He put the coat on and turned around. He saw a door and looked at his watch, “Gosh” he thought, “it’s almost end of break.” Jake tried the door; it creaked open slowly. He cautiously stepped through, immediately spinning again. He found himself in the same cubicle in which he had hidden from the bullies. He left quickly and the rest of the day passed as normal.

That night, lying in bed he considered the question, how had the water and the coat appeared? He thought for a while, then an idea came to him. Maybe if he wished for something it would appear. He’d try out his theory tomorrow. He’d bring his photo of his father to show him his secret world.

For some reason though, he decided not to tell Jeremy. At break the next day Jake went straight to the bathroom. He went into the same cubicle and stood on the seat. Again he started spinning but this time he was ready because he’d done it before. He landed in the identical place and, to test his theory, he wished for an ice cream Sunday, and sure enough, there it was.

Wow, what a magical world! So beautiful, so pure and all your wishes come true. He ran without a care in the world through the magical forest. He wished he could stay here forever but he knew he must go back to the real world. Jake slowly trudged over to the door that took him back to the horrible world where the human race dominated.

That afternoon, when Jake was walking home he suddenly remembered something. He had taken his fathers’ photo. He felt for it in his pocket. No, it wasn’t there! Jake lay in bed weeping that night. The next day he knew what he had to do. He had to find it.

Arriving at school, he went straight to the toilet. Just before disappearing, he saw a slight movement out of the corner of his eye but he couldn’t stop and before he knew it, he was back in his world.

Suddenly, behind him someone appeared.

“You’re a liar!” Jeremy shouted.

”Why didn’t you tell me about this world of yours?”

“I was going to tell you about it, I promise!” Jake replied

“ Promise eh? I don’t believe you! I don’t want to be your friend anymore.

So bye-bye forever Jake”. Jeremy pushed open the door that led to the outside world leaving Jake standing alone.

Jake slumped down on a rock, crying. “It might seem beautiful, but now I’ve lost my father and my friend. Is this really a better world, when you’re all alone?”

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