Stuff of dreams proves elusive

''Garry O'Grumboots was a crotchety old man. On Tuesdays he loved nothing more than to chew the furniture, swear at his cat and ... ''

Neil cursed under his breath, ripping the story of Mr O'Grumboots to shreds.

It was hopeless.

Two-thirds of his job seemed to be staring at miscellaneous objects around the room in an attempt to gain some inspiration, but even when he was writing, the idea would often be scrapped immediately because he would realise it had either been done to death or (more commonly) was absolute crap.

Neil continued scribbling for some time before eventually looking up at the clock.

Discovering it was three in the morning and feeling as though his skull had been caved in by the complete works of Charles Dickens, he decided the best thing he could do was to turn off his brain for a few hours.

Taking a swig of whiskey, he collapsed into his writing desk and slammed his eyes shut. He slept like a baby, gurgling incoherently and waking up every five minutes.

Sleeping hadn't helped, and neither had drinking or eating. In fact, not even the holy trinity of drinking, eating and sleeping at once had managed to pull him out of his rut.

Neil was getting very desperate, and in a very desperate moment of despairingly desperate desperation, he decided to do something he hadn't done for a very long time - take a walk.

It wasn't that Neil disliked exercise; rather, it was his immense hatred of other people that persuaded him to stay indoors as much as possible.

Regardless, he wanted to take a walk, and so he did.

The first thing Neil noticed upon shambling out of his doorway was that there was not a single person to be seen.

Not unfortunate, he thought, but rather unusual - he lived near a shopping centre, so there was always a steady stream of mad teenagers lurking about terrorising the weak and elderly or whatever it was they did for fun nowadays.

Whatever the reason, the streets were as clear of people as Neil's mind was of inspiration, and that was fine by him.

He set off on his way.

The second thing he noticed was the stone wall encircling his area, blocking off all exits.

Many different thoughts flooded into Neil's mind at this point, the vast majority being various phrasings of ''why is this wall here?''

At any rate, standing still wasn't going to solve anything.

Neil leapt into action, somersaulting effortlessly over the wall and landing in a swimming pool filled with money and porridge.

It soon became apparent to Neil that he was dreaming.

This was not a problem, however.

In a dream, anything could happen, and the creative juices which had become sour and tasteless were replenished.

Neil had become a god of his very own universe of imagination, and in the process had acquired ideas for countless stories!

All things must come to an end, and eventually Neil awoke with a new-found vigour, eager to write at last.

He grabbed a nearby scrap of paper, took a pen in his hand and ... and ...

What was it?

There was some quality stuff there, he was certain.

Something about a lemon, maybe?

Two lemons, even?

There might have been a wall involved.

Neil shook his head and muttered something obscene. It was gone.

There was only one thing he could remember. Taking a pen in his hand, he began to jot down his sole salvageable memory from the dream . . .

''Garry O'Grumboots was a crotchety old man. On Tuesdays he loved nothing more than to ... ''

• By Christopher McCombe, Year 11, Kaikorai Valley College

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