We asked you to submit a short story, no more than 500 words, to win some fabulous prizes in our writing competition… and they did not disappoint! This year, the theme of the competition was ‘Awakening’. After reading over 70 amazing tales, we have selected the ACL Choice winner (chosen by our Creative Writing Tutors), Awaken.app, a truly captivating story!
ACL’s Choice Winner: Awaken.app written by Gemma Gargrave
“Pop your finger against the pad to get you signed in.. that’s it. You have admin functionality but we would always recommend contacting our team if you want to make any big changes to your account.”
“Of course. How do we wake her up?”
“Go on the app home screen. See the black circle, top left? Give it a tap and it should turn white. The cog is where you go to make alterations. You can only access that when the base is offline.”
“Yes, Tia. Anyway, that’s me all done. There are lots of tutorials and tips for getting the most out of the system. All that sort of stuff is accessible via the brain icon.”
“Right. Thank you so much for your help.”
“My pleasure. If you get a moment to review the service online it will be much appreciated.”
Frank saw the installer out. Shelley’s finger hovered over the black circle until she heard the door click shut. She tapped.
The sleep functionality was everything Shelley and Frank could have hoped for. For the first time in four years, they were all actually sleeping through the night. Tia was well-rested and calm.
A little too calm.
Shelley clicked on the brain and typed “fun” and “playful” into the search bar.
“What do you think, Frank?”
“I don’t know, do you really want to change who she is?”
“Of course not. You’re not here with her all day though, you don’t see how bored she looks. I’m not talking about a drastic change, just helping her along.”
“I guess. But just a little bit, yeah?.”
She tapped the cog and made her selections. In six clicks it was done.
Turning up the fun was tiring, but that was fine. Shelley just gave Tia more sleep-time during the day. It was during one such sleep that Shelley saw a video of her neighbour’s kid reading a book. I wonder…
When Tia woke up, Shelley handed her “The Cat in the Hat”. Ten books later and Shelley couldn’t believe how easy parenting could be. Until Frank came home.
“You did what?!”
“I just helped her on her way! Isn’t she clever?”
“I don’t know, is she?” Frank’s face crumpled a little as he looked over at his daughter.
The conversation grew more heated. Tia began to cry, louder and louder until her wails drowned out her parents’ voices.
“Just be quiet, both of you!” Shelley screamed, reaching for the app and switching Tia to sleep without even realising. The silence made the thud seem louder. She was even silent when her head hit the table edge. Silent still, when her father rushed over to cradle her body. Silent despite her mother’s screams at the silent stream of blood escaping her skull.
An ear-splitting screech came from the phone. “Base disabled, unit offline. Dialling technical support.”
“George speaking. Can I help?”
“My daughter!” Shelley screamed down the line. “What have I done?”
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