Shane Campbell & Ariana Vaisey, Finalists in Lisa Rector Young Writers' Scholarship

Lisa tells me that the entries from Shane Campbell, a grade 12 student from Lord Byng Secondary in Vancouver, and Ariana Vaisey, a grade 9 student from Coquitlam were so close as to be almost a tie. Therefore, today we'll share both these wonderful entries with you, beginning with Shane's story, the second place winner.

The Diary of Eric Daniels

July 25th, 1994

Dear Diary,

My name is Eric Daniels. I’ve never been much of a writer but in hopes of being famous one day I’ve started to record my daily life in you, my diary. So here’s the update: my brother is a tool. A week ago he managed to convince both my parents and my school counselor that I am “mentally unstable” and imagine a demon named Merv. That’s right, Merv. Now any logical person would have laughed and told him not to be mean to his younger brother but they were so stupid that they put me through numerous tests to see if I was capable of hurting myself or others. The verdict: my outbursts of anger could prove dangerous to others. So now here I am in a white room with nothing but a chair, a table, a bed, and you, my diary. Nothing sharp or pointy because I might try to hurt myself in this hellish prison. I’m here for three days until further review.

July 27th
Dear Brother,
If ever by chance you come across this personal memento, I want you to go kill yourself. Every day they give me three meals consisting strictly of some sort of brown goop and a glass of water. It’s supposed to help me concentrate, but on what? If I focus hard enough do people’s heads explode? Is that why I’m in confinement? That would actually be kinda awesome-sure better then Merv the demon.

July 28th
Dear Diary,
I was just told after review that I’m being put into temporary confinement for two weeks. What are they even basing this on? All I ever do is sit, write, sleep, and eat. Something doesn’t make sense.

July 31st
Dear Diary,
Okay. Just being theoretical here. If “Merv” did exist what would he look like? I see a lean smirking man about 6’1. He has long black hair and wears only black including a leather jacket. His jeans are black with a silver stripe running down the left leg. His shoes are polished and shine in the light. The final touch is the gold earrings that are in the shape of tiny ravens. This is all hypothetical of course.

July 33rd
Dear Diary,
Your new official name is Merv. Just for kicks because I need some sort of friend in this bleached hole and you’re the only one I’ve got even if you’re only made from paper and ink. Tomorrow my doctor is coming in to see how I’m doing and whether I’m eligible for release. Release? Am I the latest video game or something?

July 34th
Dear Merv,
That’s your new name remember? You’re my best friend because you’re the only one I have. The person who never gets to be my friend is Dr. Harkoff. He says that my condition is worsening and I need to eat my vita-mix. I told him to stop being a douche. Needless to say he wasn’t very happy when he left. Now I’m moving into a new room with bright colours to make me happier. If nausea is joy then I’m freakin’ Mr. Dress-up.

Dear Merv,
You don’t seem to blend with the colours. The black of your suit seems to make the whole room seem like a darkened Disneyland where everyone is high on ecstasy. After my meeting with the nurse I heard whispering outside the door and I think the doctors have found a permanent room for me. I just hope it has navy colours so that you look like a pirate of death instead of the only emo daisy in this field of insanity.

Dear Merv,
You seem different after the treatment last night. Your earrings have changed. The raven now stares through me with such a hatred it is as if being trapped in this hell is my fault.

Dear Merv,
I saw my mom today. She looked pathetic as usual. Why did I have to come from this crackpot family? She says that I need to stop pretending that you exist and I told her that maybe smoking weed while being pregnant didn’t help either. She burst into tears and started screaming. I left the visitor’s window smiling because I proved I wasn’t the biggest nutcase in the family.

Dear Merv,
I saw Jason, my brother, today. He looks horrible but at peace. It turns out that Jason slammed himself in the face with a hammer. To the best of the doctor’s knowledge he did it to kill his schizophrenic demons. All that’s left is a drooling fool for whom I felt a fleeting moment of jealousy.

Dear Merv,
You are my brother’s creation. But you already knew that. Now you come here and taunt me with that look in your eyes that says I’m a fool. How did they know that you came to me to drive me to the brink of insanity? You were my only friend and now you’re the only person I hate. In the darkness all I can see are your ever smiling white teeth and their shine. I’m so afraid and so very alone.

Dear Merv,
I can’t take it anymore. Don’t hurt me. The second I close my eyes you pull out a sword that seems formed from all of the things I hate. The glint in the raven’s eye is back. That eye makes me think that the world despises me, that I am crazy. You’re pulling your arm back and you’re laughing, the first sound I’ve ever heard from you. Will it be the last Merv? The sword is cold Merv. Take is out. Take it out Merv. How could you even get that in here, nothing pointy is allowed in here. That’s right, the doctor came this morning while you were sleeping. Do you know what he said Merv? I told him he should be proud of the diary I’ve kept. He should be proud of you. He told me there are no pointy objects.

“There is no pen.”


Congratulations, Shane! 


And now, from Ariana Vesey, the third place winner:



The Inuksuk

I step into the rock of an ancient inuksuk. Its feet are sunk deep in snow and even deeper into the sands of time. Centuries ago, the inuksuk was built by the Inuit as a marker. Its tall stone form is easily visible in the barren landscape. Like the rings on trees or the wrinkles in a man’s face, its age is marked by memories. Years, generations, and centuries have passed in front of it and turned to dust. Through these eyes, I observe my country.

Annakpok digs her mittens into my narrow crevasses. Her black hair curls in frozen rivulettes about her face and swings against her thick brown parka as she clambers up my surface. When she finally reaches the top, Annakpok sits on one of my stone arms to gaze across the vast arctic landscape.

The white expanse of snow extends as far as the eye can see. It melts into the clear blue of the sky and spreads over every hill and rock in the distance. Scrawny trees determinedly hold themselves erect under piles of white crystals and far away a cluster of igloos is visible. Clouds, huge puffs of cotton candy, float in the chilled air.

“Inuksuk,” Annakpok whispers. “Thank you for showing me the way home.” She slides to the ground and begins trudging towards the distant igloos. The last things I see are her caribou skin boots before the image blurs into another scene.

I love you-ou-ou, I love you-ou-ou! Blaring music, accompanied by a large blue minivan, lurches down the highway several centuries later. The car screeches to the side of the road and a young boy jumps out. His blond hair flying and a camera bouncing against his bony chest, Johnny runs towards me. Click! The photo is taken and he re-enters the crowded car. It swerves back onto the road, spewing me with gravel, and disappears in the direction of the city. I, like the environment, am nothing but a memento on some more important journey. Once more, the image swirls into darkness.

I stand under the same sky that has blanketed me for thousands of years. Yet, in the distance, trees wilt from over-saturated ground. The permafrost that used to keep them upright has melted and lakes drain into the moist earth. Foreign plants grow in the recently formed marshes soaking my feet. Blocking the horizon are concrete towers and grey clouds. My body is covered in soot and I cough in the black smoke that erupts from a refinery. People have replaced sleds with gas-guzzling cars and igloos with stucco mansions. At night, I can hardly see the stars because their glow is blocked by street lights. The spark that used to shine so brightly inside my people is also harder to see. Like the landscape, it has dimmed in their search for material rather than spiritual wealth.

I am still faithful to my ancient purpose. Standing tall, I hope to guide my people back home to the land they’ve forgotten. The path they’re headed on is one of destruction and loss. As the Arctic shrinks, polar bears lose their habitat and seals can’t hide from predators. I see pine beetles destroying forests in the south because they’re no longer killed off by cold weather. While droughts increase, water will soon replace oil in importance. I pray with all my stone being that my people will choose to change their ways. Peering into the future, I focus on another scene.

Alexandra’s breath comes in short gasps and steams against my surface. Her cheeks are warm and pink from running. She squats down on the snowy ground and leans her back against my solid leg. Behind me, giant wind farms spin their turbines and roads are virtually empty of cars. Farther on, the streets now fill with bikes, buses, and pedestrians. Houses boast green roofs, collective gardens, and energy-efficient appliances. Carbon taxes, implemented four decades ago, have revolutionized industry. Alexandra opens a notebook to write her story down – the story of a new generation. As ink spreads over her page I notice the small green recycle logo at the bottom.

“Inuksuk,” I proclaim as I step out of its stone form, “I will change.” 

Congratulations, Ariana!

And to finish? On this spookiest night of the year, what better than a shot taken by conference attendee Julie Kentner (and messed with a bit, by me) of the Scary Slade and one of his loving fans after his live-radio performance of Three Skeleton Key... 




Happy Hallowe'en!


also blogging as leftwriter