Civica Tales of S Winning Entry
‘Tales of S’ is an annual writing competition organised by Civica Singapore as a platform for students to submit original and creative pieces of writing, based on a varying theme each year. The competition showcases the creative talents of Singapore’s young authors, allowing them a chance to get published and hopefully springboard them to further pursue their creative passion for writing.
This year, the challenge was for students to write an original short story to match a title of a list of existing books. The stories they submitted could not bear any similarity to the original plots.
We are pleased to announce that Wang Silang of Secondary 4/4 has done our school proud, winning a spot for himself in Civica’s 2018 publication with his entry, ‘Holes’, featuring a futuristic sci-fi storyline where humans have to hide from an incoming alien attack in gigantic cavities dug in the Earth’s surface. What does the future hold? - his short story ends on a provocative question, leading readers to think about what we might face in the unknown future of our planet.
Here is Silang’s short story:
by Wang Silang S4/4
Outram Secondary School
"... So that means we are... hey, are you alright?"
Martin's words pulled the half-sleeping Raj back into reality, who was in dire need of rest after carrying out an operation for the past two days. Still, he gave his leg a forceful pinch, an action rarely executed by a medical personnel, knowing that he must not miss what his colleague was speaking.
"I am sorry, but could you... repeat?"
"I was saying, everyone in Singapore are to move to Malaysia within this week. Yesterday, a world-breaking news was released during your two-day shift: NASA announced that the Hubble Space Telescope has detected a fleet of alien spacecrafts heading towards the Milky Way. By calculation, the aliens are not heading straight towards Earth, but we are in the vicinity of their travel route. Judging from the appearance of their ships, we are nothing more than tribal savages holding handmade spears to those inhuman aliens and perhaps colonizers armed to the teeth. The UN has reached a consensus to launch a global project called "Holes".
There will be five gigantic underground cavities dug around the globe within this month, enough to accommodate more than a billion people each and sustain them for one year. The nearest one to Singapore is being constructed in Malaysia, where all the people in the entire South East Asian region are to move there within this week. We are going to hide ourselves from the aliens until they have moved past Earth unknowingly and unsuspectingly."
Time appeared to have frozen, and Raj felt that he was being asphyxiated by the air wrapping around him. Unbeknownst to himself, beads of sweat started to condense onto his forehead, and his mind turned into a blur, where he could almost see stars silhouetted against the sunlight with superb space crafts flying across them.
"There were other suggestions such as flying the entire population on Earth to the dark side of the moon, hoping to achieve victorious in the upcoming interstellar hide-and-seek. But the UN eventually decided to go with the "Holes" project, rating is as the safest choice we have right now."
A long and deafening silence followed.
"The way we used to lead our life is no more. "
"And possibly the way we will ever live."
The two men talked no more, and bid farewell to each other solemnly.
21 March, 2050, the day of departure had found Raj and the rest. Places such as shopping malls, stadiums, schools were all turned into provisional boarding locations where the locals were welcomed onboard the purple driverless pods heading towards Malaysia, in which the crew kindly assisted all the passengers to settle down. The fleet of driverless pods was cordoned off by the militaries and personnel wearing different coloured uniforms, which together with the pods coalesced into a rainbow of hope. After boarding the violet transport, the worry and anxiety in Raj gradually receded, as he knew that just like how the purple hue of the rainbow was facing the earth, he as well was heading towards the underground heaven.
After a hour of flight, Raj woke up to a spectacle. Just like all other people who had gathered at the "Hole" in Malaysia, he was utterly gobsmacked when the view of the future accommodation for humanity unfolded in front of his eyes: squinting from air, the "Hole" was truly a boundless maw, with its circumference spreading far beyond the sight of any passenger onboard the flying transport, merging with the last thread of twilight at the edge of the world. Inside the gigantic pit, a platform covering the entire cross-sectional area of the subterranean hole slowly dilated from the centre like the pupil in the iris to take in fleets of ships and driverless pods from all around the South East Asia.
It seemed that Earth had become the living embodiment of the hundred-eyed Giant "Argus" by then. As if watching out for extra-terrestrial threats, Earth "opened" all five of its "eyes" to protect its inhabitants, just like how the giant Argus was watching over its subject with all hundred eyes of his open.
However, the Greek mythology had it that when Argus fell asleep and closed all its eyes, he was immediately slain by Hermes who was order by Zeus to bring back his lover Lo, Argus' subject. The pertinent parallel between the myth and reality Raj happened to stumble across sent a shiver down his backbone. Is it really a prudent act to just wall ourselves up before even knowing the purpose of the aliens visiting the Milky Way? He supposed no one could answer that, and probably no one would ever be able to.
Finally, it was his turn to enter the "Hole". Adjusting its position, the driverless pod descended through the wide-open "pupil" of the platform into the subterranean cavity, which in Raj's point of view was like a fly landing inside a pitcher plant. The first stage of the "Hole" is nothing more but pure concrete walls inhabited by no-one, due to safety function it served. The sheer amount of space and kilometres-wide inner diameter of the hollow robbed the puny human of his faculties as he descended through it, whose adrenalin level told him that the pod was moving at high velocity, but his apparent displacement from the surrounding said otherwise.
Eventually, Raj arrived at the second stage, where so many visual points of reference returned him his senses. Around him, each level of the second stage was taken by one country, with a ventilation shaft right in the centre of every storey, which also served as the way in and out. At the fourth level which felt to Raj like the four hundredth level, he saw the familiar red and white flag, and all of a sudden Raj just could not help but wonder maybe their ancestors had long figured out that mankind was never the sole star shining in the universe.
What does the future hold?