Great news!! My story Street Art Nature Magic won the 2019 Lune Spark Story contest.
Street-Art Nature Magic by Nico Roman
Abstract: In this urban myth, a secretive young street artist activates his own creativity, magnificent murals and a touch of magic, inspiring an entire generation through an epic struggle to save his city and the world’s most vulnerable, threatened living creatures from destruction.
Judges Commentary: This piece of writing blew me away… The story is raw and authentic in its storytelling. One can see fantastic descriptions of imagery throughout the story. The author has a great command not only over the language, but also over vocabulary. This story reads like a lyrical poem and has been successful in delivering the message the author wanted to deliver. The story shows that the author has a wonderful sense of philosophical things. This piece of writing, according to me, will certainly resonate with the readers. There is a writing talent who will go much ahead in his writing career.
Read the full story below 🙂
Street Art Nature Magic by Nico Roman Cordonier-Gehring
In the first rays of dawn, a secret street artist peeled away from the wall as his shimmering sprays whispered the last sapphire, emerald and scarlet streaks across the blackened industrial slabs. His new endangered species mural was finally finished!
On the sooty cinderblocks of the deserted factory, Shimmer had painted a lush green bamboo grove with an anxious family of velvety Giant Pandas, their ivory and ebony faces gazing out of the mural with concern. In the foreground, the dusty cinnamon coats and clasped coppery paws of two distant relatives, Red Pandas, sheltered in a candyfloss cloud of a cherry blossom tree. And in the distance, the emerald bamboo shoots of their habitat splintered away, as the ominous claws of new roads and railways crisscrossed their horizon.
The artist slipped quietly away across the shadowed slate rooftops, his ragged jacket, indigo bandana, dark jeans and battered high-tops fading into September’s city skyline. Shimmer’s smile glowed softly. His hopes were high that his message would be heard. People would understand and help to halt the destruction. Shimmer’s purpose was simple – to activate art against the Conglomerate Inc. The industrial oil, biofuel and plastics corporation had built itself a twenty-story steel rat’s nest as a global headquarters in his city. Conglomerate Inc’s strategy was to control the nastiest projects in the cheapest, most desperate places in the world. They paid governments to look away while profits piled up, then disappeared, leaving behind degraded ecosystems, poisoned communities and changing climates for others to clean up or simply, hopelessly endure.
Shimmer was frustrated. He had vowed to wage a one-boy crusade. His art was to be a voice for the most vulnerable creatures – animals, insects and plants who were losing their lives while Conglomerate Inc’s terrible toxic spills, angry asphalt scars and plastic processing plants advanced. But in the end, maybe he was just one sad kid, alone with his spray cans in the night, trying for a better world. And unfortunately, he seemed to have no real chance of winning.
By October the city was buzzing with rumours. Through local schools, parks and markets, people murmured: “he’s like a pixie, skipping across our rooftops to leave sparkling, colourful messages.” Kids took photos of the murals which went viral across Instagram and Twitter, getting over a million hits. But in the halls of power, debates tasted like bitter deceit and vengeance. “This creep will vandalize our city and annoy property owners – we must stop him!” growled the industry council. “He is just a petty rebel – and he is laughing at us!” bellowed the corrupt Mayor and his cronies.
In November, the authorities played their next, catastrophic card. Shimmer was declared a danger to the city, a terrorist. Anyone who could identify him was offered a thousand pounds reward and a golden medal. But they could not find him. Ironically, as the authorities hunted Shimmer, the city grew ever more famous for its magnificent, magical, multi-hued murals.
In December, on the side of an abandoned, bankrupt Toys-R-Us store, Shimmer streaked an elegant sage, butterscotch and aquamarine Leatherback Sea Turtle being strangled by garish crimson plastic clown masks, while rainbows of delicate Dragonfish, lacey forests of kelp, convoluted corals and silky Tiger Tail Seahorses danced across a turquoise ocean floor.
Covering an annoying billboard advertising glittery nail varnish, Shimmer sprayed a congress of ginger Orangutans swinging away in terror from the slashing roar of a steel chainsaw, the oily coils of diesel smoke curling above charred rainforest soils.
“He’s a leopard – going anywhere he wants each night!” grumbled the Chief of Police. Posters reading ‘Wanted – Dead or Alive!’ were plastered on every smoke-stained lamp-post. They hung from chain-link fences. But all through January and February, Shimmer would fade into the mists at dawn, slinking silently away alone. Every time they increased the reward or instituted a new citywide search, he would just paint more furiously, until he was finishing a new mural every other night.
No-one knew where his art would strike next.
On the dank brick of the Tesco’s across from a blighted petrol station, against a backdrop of radiant stars and cobalt-stained aurora borealis, a silent alabaster Polar Bear and her two small cubs gazed sadly over the city, reflected in a spreading stain of oil that cloaked the icy aquamarine Arctic sea.
There were over ten million Instagram followers by March, and street merchandise was starting to appear – T-shirts, mugs and tea towels with Shimmer’s images. The authorities were baffled, and Conglomerate Inc increased their security, installing angry alarm bells and searchlights that pierced the city sky at night, further annoying the residents.
One April night, Shimmer nearly met with disaster. He was crouched on the Guildhall fire escape, painting the last iridescent glimmers into a metallic Azure Hawker Dragonfly’s wings, hovering over a calm willow-ringed wetland pond next to an open, bleeding sewer. Dark vans came cruising by, then screamed to a screeching halt and a patrol clambered out, surrounding him and forcing him into a side-alley. Two grim, iron-grey men with pasty, angry faces came out of the smog in dark, expensive coats – it was the Mayor and the CEO of Conglomerate Inc, so close he could see their twisted grins as they arrived, television cameras tracking their triumphant strides.
As the boy backed further into the dead end, a rope-ladder suddenly slung down beside him. Shimmer scrambled for his life, his battered satchel swinging wildly as he shot straight up, then slipped across the shingles, sliding down the next dark drainpipe and away.
For all of May, armored trucks crowded the streets, searching for the artist. It angered the local people even more, but after his narrow escape, Shimmer was afraid he’d have to give up.
Then help came from an unexpected direction. The city’s youth, thousands of kids, took to the streets for Shimmer. They clambered the rooftops and alleyways every night, balancing on brick walls and dancing parkour over chimneys, wearing bandanas of all colours, carrying battered satchels, sporting paints of all kinds and ragged jackets. As the undercover struggle wore on, alarms began to peal every hour in different wards, triggered by his admirers, and Shimmer would slip into the shadows as yet another ‘kid artist’ placed hands above their head and turned smiling into the powerful police torch beams, only to be proven innocent later.
Still, by June, Shimmer was exhausted, worn down to the bone from the pressure of his craft. His risky strategy was becoming more dangerous. It was time for his last hope.
He dug deep into an old chest in his quiet attic room. Nestled in newspaper fragments was a legacy box of special paints from long ago. He dusted them off, and carefully dripped a few precious drops of each shimmering liquid into his special lucky set of spray cans. Then he pulled on his indigo bandana and ragged jacket, slipping off into the night.
Shimmer’s most important new mural was destined for the wall of Conglomerate Inc itself, looming high above the city centre. He needed every bit of his stealth and skill to bypass the cameras and guards, shimmying like a charcoal leopard up the elevator shaft.
In his final message, Shimmer’s city itself, in luminous sprays, formed a chain of friends and allies. The children were standing tall on foundations of schools, libraries, urban gardens and galleries, all glowing with life, their hands raised up. In their palms were protected the most vulnerable creatures of the world. The animals marched proudly onwards, circled by a mosaic of beautiful birdlike figures.
Once he had sprayed the contours, Shimmer reached for his special spray-cans.
Into the gleaming ivory arcs of the lost Elephant and Black Rhinoceros tusks, he added a spritz of Desperation, then swirled in two splashes of Strength and Survival. Into the accusing eyes of the advancing Gorillas, he mixed jets of Resistance and Hope. Across the placards of protesting youth and the petitions of supporting citizens, he blended shades of Inspiration and Solidarity. Slashing the curving howls of the CEO and Mayor, their faces fully revealed as their frozen forms tumbled endlessly from penthouse heights, he dripped Justice and Bitter Defeat.
And into the quiet, shadowy figure of one lone street-art crusader, armed only with his spray-cans, Shimmer painted Victory.
By July, the world had changed. A new city government had been elected, with a Mayor who vowed to cleanse the town of corruption and protect nature. The CEO and senior executives of Conglomerate Inc were indicted after a dawn raid of their global headquarters and the firm went bankrupt. The Mayor and all the politicians that had been paid off were investigated and imprisoned. A Street Arts Council was established to celebrate Shimmer’s creations, and the city experienced an eco-tourism boom as people travelled from all over to visit the magnificent, marvelous and extravagant murals.
Shimmer himself, of course, was never
found. Every magic has its price and every ghost his moment. But he is
watching. Somewhere in the world, if a new depredations begin, a ragged figure
with indigo bandana might peel away from a nearby mural, tucking his paints
into a battered satchel, to begin again as the spirit of his generation.
 Special thanks to all my family, my godparents and my English professor Grandmother for all their advice, ideas for word choices and images, and help with the tricky spellings over nearly 3 months of work, and 10 re-writes. Especially thanks to my brother for helping to make a really long list of great creative words for different colours. I think I used nearly all of them.