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					                     THE TOWN HE NEVER KNEW

“ Fire!”
       Max loads the cannon and fires it far into the distance. But this
isn’t quite what you might think. Max isn’t fighting a battle. He isn’t even
outside. Max is quite simply living a virtual life. He spends hours a day
playing his video games; he doesn’t look outside, let alone go outside
and rarely does he go socialising with his friends. On this one particular
day though something quite different happens to the regular regime of
staring at the TV screen.
       It’s dark outside and Max is beginning to get quite tired. He wants
to sleep but he needs to complete this level before he can rest and
nothing or no one will stop him. As he plays on and advances in the
game something quite peculiar happens, the TV turns off. The lights in
the house turn off and Max is left in complete and utter darkness.
Suddenly, to the surprise of Max, the TV turns on and glows a bright,
shining white. It gets whiter and whiter until Max has to use his arms to
shield his eyes from the illumination. It gets so bright his eyes begin to
strain under the strength of the light and he can go on no longer. He is
knocked out.
       The light of the morning sun and the cold air begin to awaken
Max and his eyes slowly open. He is shocked to find that he has
awoken right outside the Carrickfergus Town Hall. Except it doesn’t
have its familiar yellow paint. Its completely different to how Max
remembers it. He turns around to find everything else completely
different as well. There are no recognisable shops in sight and
everything seems strange to him. It’s eerily quiet for some reason and
all the shops seem to be shut. Horses and carts clop up and down the
street and Max has to run across the pebbled road, trying not to get
knocked down. He knows something’s wrong and it doesn’t take him
long to realise he has travelled back in time!
      His clothes seem strange to him and he doesn’t know where they
came from. As he explores this new land he notices someone up above.
“Gardez lou!” they shout and they throw something suspicious out of a
dirty bucket. Max runs trying to avoid its contents and has a lucky
escape. When he turns around though, he nearly vomits. He sees
sewer rats jumping in and out of the mess and scurrying in and out of
the crooked looking homes and shops.
      The sun rises further, bringing a new day with it and the light
helps Max to see his surroundings better. Though, the only thing
recognisable to him is the Carrickfergus Castle, overlooking the town.
      “Built in 1117 by John de Courcy” Max says as he remembers
one of his may school trips to the Castle. As he stares in amazement at
this fantastically historic town he walks past someone who gives him a
funny look.
      “Do you have no home to go to? Do you not know what’s
happening today?” He asks Max.
      “Well I’ve only just arrived!” Max says puzzled.
      “Don’t be so stupid! No one’s been allowed into the town since we
were captured by the Garrison Troops.
      “Are you not meant to be in the Castle? You look like a soldier to
me. You better hurry; the Duke of Schomberg will be here any time
soon!” Immediately after the man hurried along to his home clutching
his belongings as he went.
      Max knew what was happening and he was excited! He loved
history in school and couldn’t believe what he was about to see. He
went up to the castle and was hurried inside.
      “Where have you been?” Someone angrily asked him. Max didn’t
have time to reply as he was pushed into the middle of a crowd of
soldiers. At this point he was beginning to get nervous. They were being
organised and told what to do and where to go. When they came to Max
they didn’t know what to do with him.
      “I haven’t seen you before.” the officer said with a puzzled look on
his face. “You can help with the cannon.”
      “But… but….” Max muttered.
      “GO! HURRY!” someone shouted at him. He was pushed towards
one of the huge cannons overlooking the town. There was a sense of
panic in the air as everyone knew a battle was imminent and they had
all heard about the strength of Schomberg’s army.
      Hours passed and Max was beginning to get rather bored. He
can’t stand having nothing to do, usually he just changes the game he’s
playing but this isn’t any game. Nobody talked, everyone had a deathly
look on their face as the dark clouds rolled over high above and the
distant rumbling of thunder sent a shiver down everyone’s back.
      “LOOK!” shouted one of the soldiers.
      Max turned to see what he was pointing at. It took him a while to
see what it was because it was so far away. Across the Lough he could
see boats, lots of boats. Gradually edging closer and closer. They didn’t
dare come too close as they knew the castle was armed with cannons.
He turned around to see the sturdy walls of Carrickfergus, protecting the
town but beyond the walls he could see soldiers. Soldiers better
equipped, ready for battle.
      The bombing and firing started. Instructions were being shouted
on both sides. Bombs were exploding and people were being killed.
Max was horrified at the sight and he was overpowered by the strong
stench. The graphic videos games that he constantly played had
prepared him for nothing of the terror he was witnessing. He had to do
what he was told though; he didn’t dare think what would happen to him
if he didn’t. He poured the gunpowder into the cannon and compressed
it as much as he could, that was his job you see. He stood back as the
cannon shot the heavy ball into the distance. The noise was deafening
and each blast brought about a frightful rumble.
      The battle continued for 7 whole days and the death toll was
increasing day by day. Max was unbelievably tired and just wanted to
go home, he didn’t want to fight and worst of all he didn’t want to lose
his life. He could see that the Garrison Troops were gradually
decreasing in numbers and Schomberg’s Army was making good
progress. The gates into the Town were weakening and eventually they
gained entry by smashing down the sturdy barriers. King James II’s
control over the castle looked likely to be finished as they were being
taken over. Schomberg’s Army stayed strong in numbers, while Max
began to notice the rapid decrease of soldiers fighting on his side.
      As the soldiers poured inside the walls of Carrickfergus, they
caused havoc. They tore down houses and Max watched as the town
slowly crumbled. Eventually at the end of the 7 day battle, the Garrison
Troops surrendered. They had no reason to continue fighting, they
knew Schomberg’s Army was too strong for them and if they’d
continued the only outcome would have been to loose more troops. Max
was relieved; he lay on the ground exhausted, watching the bright white
clouds gently pass by. Such a stark contrast to what had been
happening under them just earlier. Max closed his eyes and drifted off
to sleep, listening to the deafening humming inside his ears.
      Morning came and Max gradually awakened to the sensation of
the warm sun. But he wasn’t in the castle, nor was he outside the Town
Hall. No, he was back in his plain, old, boring, bedroom. He sat up
disappointed that the place he believed he was living in wasn’t real. Or
was it?
      He was sick of his video games, he hated the TV and for the first
time in his life he actually wanted to go outside into the August air. He
left for Carrickfergus. As he got closer and closer to High Street, he
began to recognise things. He noticed the old stone walls and he felt
content to be in the town he never knew before. As he entered through
the old town gate, things began to change. Shops were modern and the
old pebble stones had been replaced on High Street for new tarmac to
make way for all the traffic. As he looked around it was a lot busier than
he remembered. It was bustling, people darting in and out of shops,
buying birthday cards and making holiday plans. He liked it. It wasn’t
what he thought it would be like. A lot had changed since 1689 but a lot
had also stayed the same. Max was looking around amazed at the
beautiful town, not realising that Carrickfergus Castle was looking over
him all the while.

Ronnie McQuillan

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