CSEC Sample English A Short Story 3

The graveyard was cold, dark and dreary. One weary old oak tree leaned over the entrance gate and broken battered headstones were scattered all around. I could hear the sound of the howling wind and the creak and groan of branches as they swayed in the storm. The smell of fear and rotting leaves filled my nostrils and I swallowed deeply afraid I would get sick.

As I walked towards my brother’s grave, I heard another noise. It was slow heavy footsteps. I turned. A tall muscular man was walking towards me. His face was tough and covered in stubble to hide the scars which criss-crossed his jaw.

“I don’t think this is such a good idea”, I shouted over the wind.

“It’s too late to change your mind”, the man replied in a low threatening voice. “Either we dig him up now or you spend the rest of your life wondering how he died”.

“Ok, ok”, I mumbled, afraid to say anything more in case the lump in my throat would cause tears to run down my face. I could still remember the day those two army officers arrived at my house to tell me my brother was dead. Their cold hard faces gave little away when I asked how he died. “Killed in the course of duty” was all they would say. Everything else was “classified”. They handed me a letter from my brother, saluted, then turned and left, the click-clack of their shoes on the pavement slowly dying away. I stood frozen to the spot, dazed, confused and devastated. I finally opened the letter with trembling fingers but only one line stared back at me.

“I’ll always be with you brother. Karl”. What did he mean? How could he be with me ever again? He was dead. Now I leaned heavily on the rusty shovel in my hands and started to dig, determined to uncover the truth. The scar-faced man beside me began to dig at the other end and soon my brother’s coffin began to emerge from beneath the layers of sodden earth.

Faced with this moment of truth, I began to panic. What if I was wrong? I knew Karl hated the army, I knew he wanted out. His girlfriend Sarah hadn’t turned up at the funeral, hadn’t contacted her family in the two months since his death. But maybe she just needed some space? I looked down at the coffin as my hired helper tugged at the lid with a crowbar.

With a loud snap the lid flew back revealing the frozen corpse inside. My whole body filled with relief – there was a dead man in the coffin. But it wasn’t my brother.


Question 5: A cold hand grasped his wrist as he slumped to his knees.  Write a story which includes these words.


This story is based on Question 5 above.


A Miner’s Story

The gold bearing plateau of the Guiana Shield is every miner‟s destination. But many times, it is also their doom. The rainforest holds a hellish hatred, a demonic grudge against all intruders, and batters them, strangles them, and eventually, destroys them. Amazonia is no place for man, and here, nature reigns supreme.  The men trudged through the mud, in the sunken crater, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. All around them were trees, in excess of fifty metres high, ferns, creepers, moss and lianas. The world of vegetation was grey-green, alien to mankind, as the early morning fog hung low among the ferns. This team was here, for gold, but man cannot tame nature. All of them, faces haggard and mud-streaked, clothes torn with dried blood in dark spots, their rifles and digging tools already rusting with moisture were on death row. They had a fouled compass, no medicine, and half of the original eight-man team was lost; dead, in the middle of nowhere.

Carl Royston shook his head, cursed under his breath. He was a young miner from one of the villages in the mountains, but he looked twice as old as he was now, as the men lethargically stumbled through the perpetual gloom in the barely penetrable rainforest. He glanced at Lewis, his number one rival. Lewis was a big, burly, bearded buffalo of a man. Lewis stared at him, scowled as they moved deeper into the bowels of the forest. Carl hated Lewis with all his heart, for reasons he chose not to remember. Now they were together, members of the same team in the heathen jungle.

“Hold up, rapids,” was the call from Mason, up ahead.

A cascading torrent was before them, foaming white water thundering around jagged black rocks on the riverbed. Funny, he hadn’t heard it before. Carl brushed it aside. He had a fever anyway. The rapids sounded as if the floodgates of God had opened, especially from so close.

“It’s okay, boys,” Mason, the American prospector said.

“We’re crossing in a minute.”  Carl hated Mason‟s accent. Why couldn‟t he speak like the rest of them? He stepped closer, to the edge of the water.  From here, it sounded like a bullet-train tearing through a tunnel at three hundred miles per hour. He stared across the water that swirled with unearthly gyrations, to the opposite bank. Fifty feet of raging water, from bank to bank. His head hurt, and everything swam before his eyes for a while, and he felt nauseous. The tumult didn’t help much, and he staggered.

“You okay?” Lewis voice came. Carl glared at him and snarled.

“If I was …” He began, but Mason cut him short. “Okay men, let‟s cross.”

The next few seconds flashed; then he was knee-deep in foaming water. The rapids unleashed their full fury, and spray flew, and Carl felt himself stagger under the assault, and foundered. A cold hand grasped his wrist as he slumped to his knees; water, foam and spray flew as the big man, Lewis, hauled him over to the other side, to safety.