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Winning Story
By Uthman Ahmed 

Nia swam rapidly towards her.


“Hey, Layla, come and look!” she called urgently. “There’s a creature down there, trapped on the reef.”


Layla held her breath and followed her friend below the waves. She blew gently through her rebreather mask, trying carefully not to exert herself. Nia swam ahead, cleaving through the thick water as she worked eagerly to reach whatever creature was stuck in the reef. The great entity of the reef stretched far and wide, sprawling its flamboyant, hairy arms over the ocean floor, embracing and sheltering all it found.


There, not far below them was the injured creature: a young whale who had been caught in a ghost net, a remnant of careless fishing. The spectral strands of white nylon trailed behind the sunken beast which thrashed and wrestled its restrictive bonds. Nia and Layla pressed forward, ignoring the compressing pressure of the water. If they didn’t reach it in time, the whale would run out of air and die.


Layla drew her knife and began hacking at the elusively thick knots. She could see Nia doing the same, but the whale wasn’t helping them. Mistaking their assistance as an attack, it began to writhe more, using up its already depleted oxygen supply. Layla was working as fast as she could but with the whale squirming, she was slowed down enormously. Then suddenly it stopped. The whale had finally understood they were trying to help. With the whale still, they worked at triple pace freeing the whale in no time. They treaded water backwards allowing the whale space to swim up. But it didn’t move. Layla approached cautiously, but then the whale’s corpse began to slowly drift to the surface.

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