Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for pre-intermediate learners (so, just above beginners). The name of the story is Crow Island. You can find a transcript of the episode at easystoriesinenglish.com/crow. That’s easystoriesinenglish.com/crow. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So, today is the first time I’m putting my own original fiction on the podcast, and I’m very excited about it. I really hope you enjoy the story today.
It’s actually one I wrote quite a long time ago. I mentioned, I think in Episode 1 or 2, that I speak Esperanto. I’m an Esperantist. So, Esperanto is a language that was designed for international communication, and I go to Esperanto events around the world quite frequently.
A few years ago, I was at an Esperanto event in Slovakia. And during this event, there was a course about literature in Esperanto, and part of the course involved us writing our own stories. So this is a story I wrote then, originally in Esperanto, of course, but I liked it and it’s short so it fits the podcast. So I decided to translate it into English.
It’s an adventure story, and I usually don’t read adventure stories, and I usually don’t write adventure stories. But I do think it’s something that I want to do more of. I used to read a lot of adventure fiction as a child and a teenager, and I think I told myself, ‘Oh, I’m over that. You know, I’m not interested in that anymore.’ But actually I am. So I should just follow my interest.
There’s nothing like a well-written action scene. And hopefully, the action in this story is interesting and exciting for you.
This is kind of a chapter, a piece, an extract, of a longer a story. I haven’t written any more, and I don’t know if I want to, but if this episode gets a lot of positive attention, if lots of you like this episode and want me to write more, then I certainly will.
It ends on a cliffhanger. So, a cliffhanger is literally, well… It originated in a story where the episode or chapter would end with a car hanging off the side of a cliff. So the people in the car don’t know if they’re going to be able to get out or fall into the ocean and probably die.
I don’t remember what show or book it originally came from. But now it’s used as a general term. So, a cliffhanger is when you end an episode on a surprise, a really shocking thing, and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. And it’s usually to do with some kind of very serious danger to the main character.
So, just a warning that this episode does end in a cliffhanger. I know some people are not big fans of cliffhangers, but hopefully it will be exciting, and if you really like it then I will continue the story.
So the story is called Crow Island. You might not know what a “crow” is, so I’ll quickly explain it to you before we begin. A crow is a kind of bird that’s black all over. It has black feathers, a black beak, and small, round black eyes. In most cultures around the world, the crow is associated with mystery and, often, death. And, that’s kind of the reason I find it so interesting and why I decided to include it in this story.
The first time I wrote it, I just wrote the birds as “birds”, but then I thought, “Well no, I really need to pick a specific kind of bird to make it more of an image. To make a deeper image in the reader’s mind.”
The story is set in a jungle, so at first I thought of making the birds parrots or some other kind of tropical bird. But, parrots aren’t really very threatening, are they? I mean, I don’t think anybody has ever looked at a parrot and thought, “Ooh! That’s scary!” Whereas crows, when they cry, they make that caw caw sound that’s really kind of creepy. So I think they fit the setting very well.
I also just think they’re really cool. I’m not a goth, but I do like gothic things, and crows definitely fit under that category for me.
Anyway, remember that you can find a full transcript of this episode at easystoriesinenglish.com/crow. That’s easystoriesinenglish.com/crow. The transcript contains all of the text for the story, as well as my conversation before it. So you can read and listen at the same time. In fact, I recommend you do that. That’s how I study foreign languages.
OK, so, listen and enjoy!
The awful crows circled overhead. At least, they looked like crows when you first looked at them. But when you stared at them for long enough, you started to see strange things. Unnatural things. Real birds don’t stand in the same position for such a long time, without ever moving. And real birds don’t run out of batteries. The robot crows cried unnaturally often, and if their battery was dying, the cried would come out hoarse. Like they had smoked a whole packet of cigarettes in one sitting.
At first, I thought I could wait for each of them to die out. I counted the hours, and I celebrated each hoarse cry. But then, as time passed, I started to realise a problem with my plan. The crows were being replaced. They did it in the night, when I couldn’t see. The groups of birds never went below a certain number. And those were the ones I could see. I had no idea how many were hiding in the trees all around us.
So in the daytime, we had to find a hiding place. Usually it was a cave. The robot birds couldn’t go inside the caves, for some reason. But when we moved further away from the facility, there were less caves. So we had to crawl into bushes, cover ourselves with leaves, or find a tree with no birds in it and hope we were lucky. One time, I had to crawl inside an old tree, which was full of beetles. Those hours felt like forever, feeling the beetles crawl up and down my skin, across my lips, even under my clothes.
Today, we were under a bed of thick, red leaves, with a tiny gap to look through. The colours in the forests were amazing. I used to be the kind of person who loved nature holidays. I had hiked through the rainforests of Costa Rica, taking photos of waterfalls and tropical birds and snakes. Now I saw the scenery for what it was: food, a hiding place, or danger.
I barely slept in the daytime. When I did, I had nightmares where I was hunted by men with crows’ heads. Then I would wake up, and it would be night, and we had to walk like zombies through the trees.
“We” was me and my dog, Fido. Thank goodness I had Fido. Without him, I would have gone mad a long time ago. I found him soon after my escape. I thought that once I was out of the facility I would be safe. I didn’t think that there would be a whole island surrounding it, full of humid forests and all-seeing robots. If I hadn’t found Fido, I might have lost my mind then and there.
I reached over and scratched Fido behind his ear. He waged his tail, but not loud enough to draw the birds’ attention. He was the smartest dog I’d ever met. He stayed quiet all day, hiding in the grass with me. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to move. He could see in the dark, and night was the only time the robots couldn’t see us. He guided me through the forest, and kept us away from the humans hunting me.
The crows ahead of us flew away. My heart jumped up to my throat. That was odd. That rarely happened. I sat there, still, for a long minute. Fido moved beside me. It looked like the area around us was clear.
Carefully, I got to my feet. Fido wriggled out of the leaves and shook them off him. He was such a good dog, to lay silent and unmoving for so long. I gave him another ear scratch, and he wagged his tail again. He was a labrador. I had always wanted a labrador, back when my life was normal.
I stretched my legs and we got moving. It was still light, but I was eager to take advantage of the opportunity we had. Fido ran ahead, clearing the way through the thick trees. It was like a rainforest, but not really. Real rainforests were so overgrown that you had to use a machete to cut through them. These ones only grew to a certain level, and then stopped, like a setting in a videogame. Just thick enough to stop prisoners from escaping, but not so much that they couldn’t easily be found by them.
Something moved in a nearby bush. I stood still. Fido stopped a few metres ahead of me. He made a face that said, ‘What are you stopping for?’ Maybe I had just imagined the sound. I started walking again, more urgently this time. Fido continued as well. He never seemed scared.
A few minutes later I heard another sound. Someone was pushing a branch away from their face. I saw some red smoke to my left. They had found us. I started running. I fell several times, because my legs were weak from lack of food. Only fear pushed me forward. Fido moved quickly and easily. Maybe he had already known the danger. We pushed through trees cut through branches.
Then suddenly, Fido stopped. I almost crashed into him. Thankfully, I didn’t. There was a bright light, and when my eyes had got used to it, I saw that the forest had finished and we were standing before a steep cliff. In the distance the sun was setting over the sea.
We had made it. The edge of the island. But a hundred-metre drop lay between us and the water.
I looked right and then left. I could hear the hunters crashing through the trees behind me. There was no path down the cliff, only a few bits of rock sticking out.
Either I let myself be taken alive, or I died trying to escape. The choice was clear.
Fido, reading my mind, started making his way down the cliff. I followed behind him. It was so steep, and the only option was to jump between the pieces of rock. After so much time running away from the hunters, I was weak, and when I landed, all the bones shook in my body. It was easier for Fido than me, but he was still struggling. He jumped onto a spike of rock, and it looked like he was going to fall off, but he threw his legs around it just in time.
I threw a quick look behind me. There were two men stood on the edge of the cliff, guns in their hands. They were shouting and pointing, but they didn’t shoot. I didn’t know how long that would last, though.
I heard a loud cry. I spun around. Fido was falling down the spike of rock. He tried to hold it with his paws, and then fell off. He landed on the sharp rocks, and bounced off, falling bam-bam-bam all the way down to the bottom of the cliff. His body fell into a pile by the sea. It was an awful shape.
‘Fido!’ I cried.
I jumped forward–I didn’t care if I broke my neck. I managed to catch myself on the spike of rock. The skin came off my hands. I stayed just long enough to regain my balance, and then I jumped again. A gunshot exploded behind me, breaking the spike of rock in two. I jumped from rock to rock, moving like a puppet. Somehow, I managed to get down to the water without killing myself.
Fido turned his head towards me.
I almost cried, and hugged his head against my chest. It was hot. Too hot.
I looked down at his body. One of his legs was broken, but where there should have been blood and bone, there was metal and wire.
Fido barked happily. But something was wrong with that bark. It sounded… hoarse. Unnatural. I let go of him, crawling back on my hands and knees. But it was too late.
A second later the robot exploded.
TO BE CONTINUED…?
I hope you enjoyed the story. You can support the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes. Search for Easy Stories in English, give us a star rating, and say what you like about the show. It would really help us grow. Thank you for listening, and until next week.
Nice story I like that. thanks
Thanks for the comment, Sovindra 🙂
I enjoy to read your story. I hope to continue. Good job.
I m from Turkey and try to improve my English with you.
Thanks for the comment, Ömer! I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast 🙂
Thank you for the story, it’s really fascinating
Thanks for the kind comment, Irina! 🙂
It’s great!! Congratulations.
Ok, then what happens next?!
So, Findo was a robot??? Was he enemy???
Yes! That was the twist 🙂
I like that
Noooo! god! Fido!! ohhhh(
What a fabulous story. I wish the main character to find a real dog finally and love it forever.
Thank you so much, Luba! This comment has given me motivation to continue writing the story 😀
So, I’ve began to wait for it.
(I am not sure the sentence is right, therefore sorry if it is not).
Thank you for your efforts to make my English from OK to Good. Hope it works properly
You’re very welcome, Luba 🙂
I’m writing this comment from Turkey. I discovered this channel the last few days and also I’m so glad. I’m going to listen each episodes. I’m so appreciation for this glamorous work. Thank you so much. Good luck
That’s very sweet of you, Zeynepsu. I’m glad you’re enjoying them 🙂
Thank you, Serhii!
I had some difficult to understand some phrases… I listened all the beginners stories and I’m starting the pre-intermediates… Are you sure this is for pre-intermediate studente? Oh, god, I’m realising my English is not so good like I thought… There´s a long journey forward… But I still on the march!!!
Congrats for the story, it’s very good!!! I’m waiting for the continuation… I love Sci-Fi!!!
Hi João! Unfortunately, there are not enough Beginner stories right now to work all the way up to Pre-Intermediate. I recommend going to English E-Reader, a website with lots of graded ebooks in English, and choosing the Elementary level 🙂
This story is so cool, kept me uncertain till the end. Thank you for this Stories, it’s really helpfull!! I haven’t listened next chapter yet but i hope that Fido return somehow.. really Love dogs..
Keep it up !
You’re very welcome, Slawek! I still haven’t written the next chapter… it’s on my list!
Thanks Ariel for your history, it was so exciting and keep me reading very focus until the end. I hope you will continue it, I really like your writting way 😊👍
Thanks so much, Neus!
wooow!!! Nooo Fido! He was an enemy!!! I need more about this history!
Thanks so much Ariel for share your history and relate it. I am studying english with you. You are my companion in this times of coronavirus.
Un saludo grande desde Argentina =)
Thanks for the comment, Valentina! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the podcast so much 🙂 ¡Me encanta el acento argentino!
I like this history. thank you very much!
You’re very welcome, Rodrigo!
Hi Ariel Goodbody .. I have read whole stories in your website .. not all of them really . but all stories on the beginner and pre-intermidiat .. it’s really really really helpful and usefully .. after 2 months from reading .. I decided to write a comment that show the people I’m not afraid to create a issue or a comment or give my opinion without any fear to make mistake .. because it’s normal ..
“If you want to learn more you have to put you mistakefearya b side and go achieve your goals
Thank’s word not enough no matter what I say
Thanks allllllooooot My teacher you’re exemple for my whole life ..💙💛❤️
I’ll hold your website until achievement for level c2
Thanks for the lovely comment, Hassan! Your comment shows that you’ve grown in confidence, and I’m sure you’ve learned a lot from all that listening 🙂 Keep it up, and I look forward to seeing you reach C2!
I really love this story. I love the twist plot, it makes the story more exciting. But, why I can’t find the next chapter?
Because I haven’t written any more chapters! 😅 I wrote it a long time ago and never completed it.
Good job Ariel! Great story, I am wainting for next chapter, please write it
Thanks, Ali! It’s on my list of potential projects…
How will this story end? Hope it will be continued…
Good job, Ariel!
It was exciting from the beginning to the end.
Lots of people have asked! At some point I might continue it 🙂
“but not so much that they COULD easily be found by them ”
I think this sentence should be corrected like that
Hmm, I think it’s better with ‘couldn’t’! It’s a bit complicated grammar, though 🙂
waiting for it
I know, many people have said they want more chapters!