We are delighted to announce the well-deserved winners of our 2023 short story competition.

This year's judging panel were particularly impressed by all your entries, and after much deliberation are pleased to announce this year's winners.



Beana Tsui

Runner Up

Lucy Dowdeswell

YR 12 & 13


Emma Dear

Runner Up

Erica Motoc


Beana Tsui

Yr 11 & Under Winner

Age 12

Desire to live: The discovery of the germ theory in the perspective of a germ

For centuries, my companions and I have roamed free. Until now. It all started under the shining sun in the serene spring of 1854, with one man. Louis Pasteur, and his curiosity. Little did he know he would be known years later as “the man who discovered the cause of disease.” I envied him for this. We all did. We are the cause of disease.


The peace and tranquillity within the outside world was nothing compared to the utter chaos that lied inside the faculty of sciences in Lille. Perhaps it was not chaos, but a sense of confusion that was with us germs; however, we were unaware of what the man’s true intentions were. Over the next few years, the gentleman researched all sorts of strange substances, he worked tirelessly day and night to fulfil his desires. Finally, he discovered what he wanted: us.  


He first had to test his hypothesis. He did this by researching the souring of sugar beet; this was the moment when he figured out our pattern, our secrets. How we invade anything untouched, anything that has been left in one place for an indefinitely long period of time.  


The next few years came and went. During this, us germs developed some sort of liking to Pasteur, despite the fact that he continued to conduct his experiments and tests, we no longer minded him. I am unsure why we thought this, after all, we should have known something ominous was going to happen. It might have been his strong-willed personality mixed with his inquisitiveness and his burning passion to be the creator of something extraordinary. In this time, we stopped attacking humans entirely, with only a few minor cases here and there. We felt we could trust humans, that they were not a threat to us. Until 1861, when we were stabbed in the back.


In 1861, Pasteur published his ‘Germ Theory,’ telling the rest of the planet his findings: that we are the reason some diseases exist. At first no one believed him; thought he was mad. However, he did gain some recognition, that led to 1863, when he was employed by a brewing company at the request of French emperor, Napoleon III, who wanted to know why their beer was souring. Using a microscope, Pasteur found microorganisms, or germs, growing in the liquid, proving his theory. Taking the extra mile, to prevent contamination, he simply heated the beer, creating the process known as pasteurisation.


The delighted emperor, Napoleon III, expressed his thoughts and feelings in a recent interview with a journalist from the most famous local newspaper, “I am so proud of the people of my country, saving countless lives and working endlessly to do so. I feel so fortunate to have played a part in this.” There were many ups and downs when it came to people believing Pasteur’s hypothesis over the years. However, while hearing the interview, I too, felt privileged, but not for the same reasons, learning the perspectives of others makes me remember that there is still hope for us, so long as we know what humans think.


Now it is 1899, just three years after Pasteur’s passing. Of course, just like all great heroes he left the world before his deeds took effect. But us germs live on, we never die. Even if humans know how to get rid of us: washing their hands to kill us, sanitising, cleaning surfaces; the list goes on. Nonetheless we will never quit living, we want to grow, we will fight till the end. There are three clear options: attack, defend, or help them. Attack so you cause more diseases, so the atmosphere becomes unbearable, defend when you hide from those who long to pursue you; help when you put yourself before your loved ones and support your predator. I choose to defend, it’s not a bad choice, just a game of hide and seek that lasts for eternity. However, I do not know how much longer I can hide. After all, everyone has to show themselves at some point.

Emma Dear

Yr 12 & 13 Winner

Age 17

The Day I met a Genius

It was a slow business day as usual - we didn’t have any clients and I was starting to get irritated. The baths only cost two chalkoi, so why didn’t anyone ever want to use them? Craving something to do, I refilled the baths with steaming water and resigned myself to the fact that we weren’t getting any custom for the third day in a row. At this rate, we would have to close down - even our “best” days weren’t enough to keep us afloat.


My young assistant, Xanthias, had tried making conversation but my glare quickly let him know I wasn’t in the mood to talk. His sullen gaze infuriated me, so I sent him away to clean the showers. At least then I could mull over my failed bath-house alone.


At around noon, a few people came inside. Upon hearing their voices Xanthias ran out of the showers to greet them and was so excited that he almost fell in the baths. A part of me wished that someone had pushed him in. At least then I’d have something to laugh about, I had thought at the time.


The next man who arrived looked relatively young, despite the prominent crease lines across his forehead. The serious look on his face was more befitting of an old politician, I remember thinking. He was polite enough, but barely acknowledged our presence and walked alone to the baths as if he were in a daze. I dismissed him as some strange foreigner and went back to my brooding.


I heard a terrific splash shortly after and hastily rushed to the baths in alarm, immediately stepping in a puddle of water. The entire floor was soaked, and my other guests looked enraged. Xanthias looked gleeful, delighted that something remotely interesting was happening. Waves were flowing from where the young man had jumped in. He had a very intense expression on his face, staring at the remaining water as if he were trying to remember something.


Before I had recovered my senses enough to escort him out his movements became erratic. His eyes opened wide and he started shaking violently. It looked like he was seizing up from the shock of the cold so I ran to help, but he brushed me aside and jumped out of the bath, howling and shrieking. Everyone, including myself, started to panic as the man began to run laps around the pool, slipping on the tiles like some comic and yelling only one word.


“Eureka! Eureka!”


Not knowing what on Earth to do, I stood there helpless as the crazed man abandoned his towel and ran outside the bath-house completely naked. All he could say was “Eureka!” Whatever he had found, I knew I didn’t want it. I could hear the gasps of horror from the public and when I ran to look outside I saw people from all sides swerving to avoid him as he dashed around a corner. That was the last I saw of him, but I could still hear his (and other people’s) screams long after.


I knew now that my dreams of owning a successful bath-house were over. The man had been seen running out of my establishment, and the general consensus was that we were to blame for his hysteria. I noticed the dirty looks sent my way and dejectedly turned back to apologise to our remaining aggrieved customers, who left immediately and made it clear they would not come back.


Turns out the man was some inventor that King Heiron recruited to find out whether he had been cheated by a goldsmith, and he had figured it out whilst in my bathhouse. Word got around, and now we have plenty of tourists coming to the “Famous Sicilian Baths” wanting to reenact their own ‘Eureka’ moment. The obols are pouring in, Xanthias is much more high-spirited now he gets paid and I’ve fulfilled my dream. So all’s well that ends well.


Oh, and Archimedes you crazy man, if you read this - for the love of Apollo please never visit again.


- Diocles, Owner of the Sicilian baths


Lucy Dowdeswell

Yr 11 & Under Runner Up

Age 15

Freedom Fighters

Brash sun blares through the window of my house. Well, it’s not really a house, more like a hut, actually, it’s a shack. It was built by them, the big people who tell us what to do. They own the land and us. And if I’m being honest, it’s not a window, it's a hole in the rotting wood that makes up the foundations. Although our ‘home’ is just foundations. They don’t give mum and dad much money. I hear them complaining, saying the big people don’t care. We only get one thousand Yen a month. They say that’s below, what was it, minimum wage. I think it’s my fault we have so little. If I wasn’t here, maybe they could have their own blankets and maybe they could finally try some bread. I would love to know what it tastes like. I’m only nine so they don’t give me anything. They say I’m too small to do any meaningful work. I guess that’s true. But that doesn’t matter. Not today. Today the well will be finished. We could have running water only a few metres away, not miles away where the river is. I can’t wait.

Just as I’m about to go to work, the distinct clanging of the yáolíng echoes through the village. They have found something. It could be anything from jewellery to a body. I leap up from the floor, not even bothering to fold my blanket. Flying out of the door I sprint toward the well, wheat whipping my bare arms and legs. It slices through my skin but I don’t care, I need to see what they've found. A huge crowd has already gathered, everyone in the village pushing to get to the front. Despite the ground being cracked and rough on my knees, I manage to crawl beneath the crowd, weaving in between shuffling feet. Dad’s voice rings out, telling everyone to be quiet so he can talk. He has an exuberant smile and joy emanates off his skin, his excitement spreads through the people like wildfire.        

‘We have discovered some unique red soil and shards of clay beneath the farm. Over the next few weeks, we will continue digging to see what we can discover. Since we are not far from the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum mound, this could be related. Please go back to your allocations and we will keep you updated.’          

For the next few days, this extraordinary discovery was all Xiyang Village could talk about. It consumed my mind. Every spare second I had, was at the well, watching and waiting to see if they found more. Five days later they do.

Dad found the first one. A life-sized terracotta figure. The details were so delicate that they looked like they had been painted on by the finest paintbrush.

Later that day, they sent the figure to the restoration centre and not long after a local journalist came knocking at our door and started asking questions.

Then big men come to Xi’an and start digging up the crops and making deep holes. I don’t know why. Mum says the government sent them and we found something important. But I don’t care about the discovery anymore. They have destroyed our land. We won’t have anything to sell. Which means we won’t get any money. We’ll die.

It’s been weeks since the big, uniformed men arrived. I just want them to leave already. There is a pounding on our door. Mum opens it and one of the men stands smiling. He talks to my mum for ages, and she starts crying so I hug her.

‘Oh Mei, I’m not crying because I’m sad, these are happy tears. We don’t have to work on the farm anymore, we won’t have to worry about food.’ I look at her inquisitively. Then she tells me.

Underneath the farm is an army, built of terracotta. That’s what my dad found. Because of him we are going to be famous. People from across the world will come to our village just to see them. They will give us money. The big men don’t own us anymore because this is a special place now. We are free.

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Erica Motoc

Yr 12 & 13 Runner Up

Age 12



Date of Publication: April 2011 Edition


Readers, welcome to April 2011’s edition of ELLE-ectron Magasine. This month we have a special interview dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the ground-breaking discovery of superconductors. Below is the unedited transcript of the interview:


[Interviewer] Thank you, Cooper, for making time for us here at ELLE-ectron.


[Cooper] Thanks for having me, ELLE-ectron Magasine to talk about how I started to zoom through my way of life resistance-free!


[Interviewer] Would you like to start by telling us about life before your part in the discovery of superconductors?


[Cooper]: I used to ponder why I was placed upon this universe and always came up with the same-old boring answers that kept me submerged in the monotony of daily life; reality was not mine to question. I simply vibrated and collided in my plane of existence just like everyone else, sad and lonely.


That is, until 1911 when something peculiar happened- I broke through my bumbling about life with no real purpose but to carry the charge I was born with. 1911 got me over hitting obstacles and heating up with nerves- happy things used to only come to me with great resistance.


These days, it is every electron’s rite of passage to be cooled down to 4.2 Kelvin. In fact, my cousins in Japan working for the Central Japan Railway Company get well-paid to be responsible for the mechanisation of the superconductor magnetically levitated trains over there, and it’s great fun too!


Of course, many electrons may not yet have had the cooling experience, but my friends, I highly recommend. You thought emerging after the Big Bang was fun- wait until you get to whiz around resistance-less, expelling magnetic fields all around your material- this is when the party really starts.


[Interviewer] Thank you Cooper, this is very inspiring- we would love to hear more about how you were involved in the historical discovery of superconductors.


[Cooper] I started the whole trend off in 1911 when rave-boss Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, the first supplier of liquid helium gave me a boost; and there is no turning back once you get the good stuff. Not wasting the moment, I grabbed another Cooper’s hand (a fellow electron) when we were in some mercury together, and overcoming our mutual repulsion, dressed up as bosons and got on the same energy level to have a long-distance tango.


[Interviewer] Haha. Is that why you are called Cooper Pairs?


[Cooper] Indeed! A very funny pun of Cooper and myself, but it is no laughing matter that together, we have been responsible for Nobel Prizes all over the place, going through 1972 and even 2003. The trick to keep your influence is to stay regular on your upload schedule, so when feeling the liquid helium freeze, give the people what they want and dance about a bit. I’m practically super-famous because I decided to shake things up a bit, join with Cooper, and the rest is history; we now are a hugely prominent couple known internationally.


[Interviewer] What other impacts have you had on the world these days?


[Cooper] Because of me, in the rave-supplying world people give us more liquid helium to get their scientific trophies or whatnot, whilst us electrons have fun. I am adored by fellow electrons in my finessing the art of distorting ionic lattices. This makes greater positive density in regions as electrons go, allowing other electrons to be able to overcome their general repulsions and get that bit more connected when they forget their fermion ways and dance the ‘Cooper pair’.


[Interviewer] Thank you again for coming onto ELLE-ectron Magasine for the discussion!


[Cooper] Thanks for having me, ELLE-ectron Magasine! Readers, I hope next time you hit 4.2 Kelvin, you’re just as inspired to enter that new state of matter of superconductivity and have a superbly-conductive great time!


[Interviewer] Down the electron connection lines we have heard you have a podcast coming out- care to elaborate?


[Cooper] Yes! My podcast comes out next week, it is named why Onnes, Ollsen, Meissner, Oschenfeld, Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer have nothing on me, Cooper the Electron, the true star of superconductivity.