Issue 10, 2023

2023 Orbit Writing Competition Winners

Mr Erasmus and Sylphie Quicksilver

We received hundreds of wonderful entries to our writing competition! After lots of reading and rereading and thinking hard and long, we selected one winning entry and three honourable mentions. Congratulations to everyone who entered—there were so many clever, creative submissions.

Read the story starter below and then enjoy the terrific continuations by our winners!

The Whiffle Powder

‘WELL, I’LL BE SWIZZLED,’ gasped Mr Erasmus loudly as he squinted into the old, dusty bottle he’d just uncapped.

‘What’s made you gasp so loudly?’ enquired Sylphie Quicksilver, by his side.

‘This bottle, and what’s inside it. Oh, Sylphie, I thought I used up the last of this powder years ago.’

‘Powder? What’s so special about old powder?’

‘Oh, this isn’t ordinary powder, my friend. No, this is all that remains of the extra-rare Whiffle Powder, a powder created by my great-great-aunt Shirlosia a long time ago.’

‘Whiffle Powder?’ Sylphie queried.

‘Yes. It has the most amazing qualities. But it can also be dangerous. Why, if you were to sprinkle it carelessly about, you’d—’



The Whiffle Powder
story by Kay | illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Mr Erasmus had dropped the bottle, and the sparkly silver Whiffle Powder spilled onto the polished wooden floorboards.

‘Whoa!’ Sylphie gasped.

The house started trembling violently. The walls squished and squirmed so that they closed in and the roof lowered.

‘Is the building … shrinking?’ Sylphie questioned as she helped Mr Erasmus out of his squashy armchair.

‘Yes, and we must flee, as we’ll be flattened if we don’t.’

The windows groaned and then shattered. When they reached the door, Sylphie hastily pulled it open and they both shuffled out. Waterfalls of Whiffle Powder cascaded out of the broken windows.

‘So, it shrinks whatever it touches and makes itself bigger?’ she asked.

‘Correct, my friend.’ Mr Erasmus nodded. The shrinking house let out a squeal and then seemed to deflate into the size of a dollhouse.

Sylphie chuckled. ‘It’s so tiny!’

Mr Erasmus smiled.

‘It is. Though I’m afraid we must reverse the effects if we want a house to live in.’

‘And how would we do that?’

‘With Splat Powder!’ He held up another vial. ‘Splat Powder reverses the effects of Whiffle Powder by—’

‘Mr Erasmus! Watch out!’

Mr Erasmus had dropped the bottle, and the shiny blue Splat Powder spilled all over him. ‘Oh, dear,’ he said, as he started to grow.

Soon, a giant Mr Erasmus was staring down at Sylphie through the trees.

She sighed. ‘Here we go again.’

Honourable Mentions

The Whiffle Powder

story by Ayane 

Mr Erasmus looked up to see an old tattered suitcase tumbling down from a brittle shelf! SMASH! Sylphie stared in bewilderment at an astounded Mr Erasmus, shattered glass from the bottle and bright pink fluorescent powder spilt everywhere.

'Good grief—' he started but that was when the wooden cottage floor started trembling violently …

'Sylphie my dear, grab onto something! QUICK!' Mr Erasmus shrieked. Sylphie whizzed to a door knob and grasped onto it while ducking a falling cascade of buttons and odd trinkets galore.

'Mr Erasmus—WHAT IS HAPPENING?' she yelped.

'The pink Whiffle Powder turns anything to life!' he replied (wobbly due to the constant shaking). 'It must have turned the house to life! Oh deary me, whatever shall we do?'

'EEEP!' Sylphie squeaked as the house rumbled louder than before.

Suddenly… SPLAT!

'The pie!' yelled Mr Erasmus suddenly.

'What pie?' Sylphie quizzed with a worried look on her face. She turned around quickly and saw that a delicious smelling apple pie had been placed onto the table and created a big mess when it hit the floor! What chaos …

'Mr Erasmus, I’ve got an idea!' Sylphie said brightly. Mr Erasmus was all ears, as Sylphie was always full of good ideas (most of the time …). 'I’ll go check what’s happening outside!' she declared.

'Bad idea Sylphie, you can get hurt—' Mr Erasmus started, but with a woosh and a whizz she was out the knocked-down door.

'Sylphie?' Mr Erasmus called from the shaking house.

'CHICKEN FEET!' Sylphie exclaimed loudly from outside!

'Chicken feet? Sylphie my friend, this is no time for jokes. Is everything all right?' Mr Erasmus asked, certainly worried.

'No, Mr Erasmus … the house grew chicken feet and it’s making a nest out of the Treasure Trove!'

The Whiffle Powder

story by Lucy

An explosion came about and sent rainbow sparks of glitter cascading down the bookshelves; a sweet honey smell came from each miniscule spark. It was as if the library had been lit up by sparkling fireworks.

‘BLOBS OF FROG SPIT, RUN!’ Mr Erasmus screeched, holding his hands over his head.

‘But—but—it’s BEAUTIFUL …’ Sylphie stammered.

She was right, of course. The usual wooden floors were covered in swirls of purple, orange, yellow, silver, blue, and green. The glitter was still descending from the air towards the oak floor.

‘No, you don’t understand,’ Mr Erasmus said, trembling because of the sudden explosion. ‘It may be beautiful and smell of sweet, sweet honey, but if it makes contact with your skin, hives will appear, changing your looks and personality!’

‘Oh no!’ Sylphie exclaimed, genuinely worried now.

All of the sudden, a loud SPLAT came from Mr Erasmus and Sylphie. Huge hives the size of a dragon scale popped up on their skin making them look out of this world.

‘No, No, No!’ Mr Erasmus said—barely, as there was a hive nearly covering his mouth. ‘Now, because of your nubness, we must travel to the witch's hut to get the spell. Thanks.’

Mr Erasmus did not sound like himself as the glitter had turned his personality into a sour, dumb, ugly, kind of person.

‘Off we go then!’ Sylphie exclaimed.

The Whiffle Powder

story by Owen

A horrifying mix of melted floorboard and cupboard reared up behind Mr Erasmus. It formed itself into a head and face as Mr Erasmus jumped out of the way, while a swirling mass of toxic vapour poured from the creature’s mouth and gushed past where Mr Erasmus had been standing seconds before. It took a vaguely humanoid shape and launched itself after a shocked Mr Erasmus.

‘Mr Erasmus, I’ll save you,’ Sylphie Quicksilver shouted as she picked up the incredible Whiffle Powder and drizzled it over the now defined form of the monster. The monster fell to the ground, like a balloon popped with a pencil, until it was just a pile of wood and broken floorboards. Mr Erasmus thanked Sylphie profusely.

‘Oh, whiffle me whopping walrus, what quick thinking. You just got my special powder and splat! It never stood a chance,’ said Mr Erasmus. Mr Erasmus was panting, he lived in an ancient, quiet estate and was not used to action.

When Mr Erasmus had stopped trembling, he realised what had happened. ‘I dropped some of the powder on the floor!’ exclaimed Mr Erasmus, looking at the Whiffle Powder’s black bottle. ‘The powder made that awful, awful creature but it also destroyed it,’ Mr Erasmus said with amazement.

Sylphie, who had collapsed on one of Mr Erasmus’s cracked old chairs, was watching Mr Erasmus. Suddenly she let out a cascade of words. ‘Mr Erasmus! What are you going to do about the powder? Why are you still holding it? It’s dangerous! What if it hurts us, or your beautiful house!’

Sylphie’s sudden exclamation startled Mr Erasmus.

‘Argh, you made me drop it!’ he yelled.

‘Oh no, Mr Erasmus. RUN!’ Sylphie cried, as a horde of little floorboard blobs began to form. Sylphie snatched the incredible Whiffle Powder up and they rushed out of the house, sprinting past the ornate water fountain depicting Mr Erasmus’s favourite animal, the beaver. They finally slowed down at the wrought iron gate marking the end of Mr Erasmus’s property.

‘We’ll make a stand here. We’ll use the powder—they won’t be able to get past!’ Sylphie said, and with that Mr Erasmus and Sylphie turned to face the gigantic wooden monster now lurching down the path towards them.