Winnie Weng won the High School Category of the 2020 Melbourne Writers Festival's storytelling competition 'Bold New World'.


By Winnie Weng

It’s 11.55 at night. I toss on my hot pillow, like in a long bed of thorns, cannot fall asleep. I am anxious. When can our life back to normal? How will our world be like after this crisis?

Just as I dozed off to sleep, I feel someone is clapping me on the back and saying something. I open my eyes and look back. This is not my bed! Why does the sun shine so brightly in the sky? Where am I? I look around. Queens Street? It can’t be. Everyone should be at home. I fumble my pocket and get my phone out. ‘September 27th, 2025?!!’ I shout out. What is this going on? Do I travel to the future? I look up; some strange detectors are whirling around tall pillars; these are not in here before.

My heart is jumping. I am excited, flustered, and curious. Everything becomes so different. I get up my nerve and walk towards a man who is sitting there drinking a cup of coffee. ‘Excuse me, sir.’ ‘Hi, what’s wrong?’ I point at those pillars and ask, ‘What are these?’ ‘These pillars?’ ‘I never seen them before. They look advanced.’ The man smiles and says, ‘These are public health detectors for protecting the health and safety of our community. Do you remember the pandemic happen five years ago?’ ‘Yes, that was a very hard time.’ ‘After that pandemic, everyone becomes more aware of our community environment and public health. Some volunteers discovered these magical devices.’ ‘Magical devices?’ ‘They are very smart. These smart devices will sound an alarm when they detect excessive dangerous substances, dial the health department, and give instructions to help us, which effectively reduce the impacts on our society.’ I am surprised, ‘Are they really that helpful?’ ‘Of course! From then on, there’re no serious pandemic happen anymore. Even the frequency of bush fire has reduced! They are powered by solar power. Very sustainable!’ He explains. ‘Wow, there must be a lot of change after that pandemic.’ ‘Every country in the world experienced a different impact. Fortunately, people are more aware of the significance of sustainability. Not only that, there are more international programs which allow scientists to discuss with each other. Union gives strength. Lots of advanced and smart inventions appear to help promote our world to be greener. Together, we create a new world. A fantastic world that is more inclusive and more sustainable.’ I thank him and leave.

As I am wondering where I should go, a car passes by me gives out a harsh light. I can’t help closing my eyes. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by darkness. It feels like a moment later that I regain consciousness. I open my eyes and find myself lying on the ground. It’s a dream! I immerse myself into deep thinking. Just as what that man said, ‘Union gives strength’, I believe we will overcome all difficulties and our life will soon be back on the right track. This pandemic is not a crisis, but a lesson that reminds us the importance of sustainability, a chance for us to develop a more inclusive and environmentally friendly home.