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An Adult's Rites

Coln woke to birdsong, and knew that something was different. He stretched, and let his eyes take in his surroundings.

He was in his bedroom, but propped against his chair was the family leather Ritesuit. Coln grinned as memories flooded back - it was the day of his Adultmaker's Rite.

Flipping back the covers, Coln inched out of bed to begin the ablutions necessary to purify himself.

In line with 12 other boys undergoing the Rite, Coln fidgeted nervously, until he caught his mother watching him. She smiled, and Coln glanced away, chagrined.

Staring forwards, Coln was aware of the Maker progressing down the line towards him. As the stooped Elder reached Coln, he gazed at him searchingly. Strange, thought Coln, how old the Adultmaker seemed suddenly; with a lined aquiline face, and hooded eyes that looked through you. Even the formal robe that the Maker wore, with its embroidered curlicues, had an air of antiquity.

The Elder seemed to sense Coln's thought, and stopped staring abruptly. He turned to the assembled watchers, and called, "This one will start."

Coln thought his heart would burst with pride, and saw his father with arms around his mother, hugging her tightly in a rare show of joy.

The Adultmaker motioned Coln towards the entrance of the Making grounds with his staff. Coln ran through the Rules of Combat in his head. The basic aim was simple; to kill the creature sent against him, with just a spear to aid him. Coln entered the enormous sandy bowl aware that everyone was watching. The Creature's Gate opened, and an enormous bird-of-prey waddled in. Coln gasped, he hadn't thought that he'd merit an eagle.

Never mind its beauty, he told himself, you've got to kill it.

Circling round it, Coln hefted his spear, and almost stopped as he heard a voice echoing in his mind.

"Please don't," it said, and the raptor bowed its head. "I know what you've been told, but I'm not savage." Then the eagle opened its mind and suddenly Coln could see the truth.

Unaware of cheers from the watchers, Coln ran towards the bird. "I'm sorry," he thought clearly, as he vaulted the raptor's back to sit between its wings. As Coln's eagle launched them into the air for their first flight, Coln heard the voice of the Adultmaker as clearly as if spoken: "Well done, Adult Coln, you've passed the Adultmaker's Test."

Coln and his eagle soared in the sunlight, incredibly happy; ready to start a new life - as partners ...

Nicki Smith, 15, Malvern Wells, Worcestershire

The Children's Story welcomes previously unpublished stories of up to 400 words by children under 16. Send stories with a stamped, self-addressed envelope large enough for return of original work to Wendy Berliner, The Children's Story, Section Two, the 'Independent', One Canada Square, London, E14 5DL. Please give your age.