Winner of the Sele School writing competition

By Zaid aged 9

While Ahmed was drifting off to sleep on the vast Magna walls, the slow, swift wind blew into his face. He had only just gotten his first winks of sleep when a legionary party erupted into the air, jerking Ahmed awake. Ahmed scorned the cruel, selfish legionaries, as they always teased and sometimes even hit the auxiliary troops. But what Ahmed hated most about the legionary troops was the pay. Whilst the auxiliary troops were barely surviving on twenty-five denarii a month, the legionaries would party with seventy-five. 

As Ahmed knew that this was wrong, he devised a plan. In the dead of night, Ahmed silently crept down to the legionaries' cabin and glimpsed all around the dark, gloomy room. He selected a soldier exactly his height and crept towards him. He took out a bottle labelled `taipan venom' out of his shirt sleeve and then carefully opened the unfortunate victim's mouth. He glugged the mixture down his throat; then it was all over...

Early in the in the morning, at around 4:00, Ahmed heard a loud barking voice. "Get up you lazy thugs! The centurion wants you up and ready in five minutes!" yelled the voice. Looking around the corner, Ahmed realised that this was the optio. Ahmed suddenly felt a stroke of fear passing through him like cursed pints of wine. He regretted this thoroughly, however there was no turning back now. He then glanced at all the other legionaries wearing all of their magnificent, dazzling armour. Ahmed had buried the young body and had the armour, so he wore it over his tunic. If you were an archer and wanted to be a legionary, there would be just one problem. One of the main qualifications of being a legionary is great hearing, however archers had a deaf ear because the arrow damaged their ear every time they shot... 

Nearly instantly, the optio realised this and told the centurion; it was jail-time for Ahmed. The cell was so dark and damp that it would make a swamp jealous. Later, Ahmed heard an oddly familiar voice from a distance, then the stomping of boots and the rattling of chains. Ahmed got the surprise of his life when he observed a giant, bulky executioner with an axe opening his cell door. When he grabbed Ahmed by the neck, he knew he was done with. Crawling out of the cell, Ahmed nearly fainted when the executioner took off his mask to reveal...

Jamal his old army friend! Ahmed had never been more relieved in his life! "But how?" Ahmed mumbled.

"Shush! I'll tell you later," whispered Jamal. Then he carefully took out a stone in the wall leading to a hidden room underground. He let go of Ahmed's now-pale neck and they both crept down silently. There were two guards guarding a door so they bashed their heads and stepped through door. Ahmed couldn't believe it! They were now in Vindolanda! However, there was a surprise for them there. A surprise so terrible that you could faint seeing it. The legate was waiting for them there!

Zaid submitted his story to the Vindolanda Trust as part of a writing competition with the Sele First School in Hexham. The children and teachers helped to contribute feedback to the Missing Dead app. Marta, our Site Archaeologist and final Judge of the competition has this to say about his story.

Marta says: ‘Wow, this story has it all! I started reading and immediately felt some sympathy for poor Ahmed, freezing and underpaid. Then, Ahmed surprised me by killing an innocent solider! Jail-time was surely a suitable punishment, but what about death? I was shocked when Jamal came to the rescue and wondered what happened when the legate caught them both. The title you picked is also great. I’m happy to say, you are my favourite writer this time.’