Here is my entry for October’s Furious Fiction Competition. Furious Fiction is a short story competition brought to you by the Australian Writers Centre. 500 words, 55 hours and a $500 Prize.
This month’s prompts
Each month there is a different set of prompts that must be incorporated into the story. The prompts are published at 5:00 PM Friday and the competition closes at midnight on Sunday. This month 1 AM on Monday morning to allow for daylight savings time. Sometimes you have to use the exact word, sometimes you can use a different tense or variant. This month:
- The scene had to be a court of some kind
- one of the characters had to measure something
- the story must use the words umbrella, rock and balloon (or variations of)
Story Stats: This month the entry is 497 words. I started at 6:30 PM on Friday and worked on it for about 2 hours. I tidied it up on Saturday morning and sent it to my editorial team for review. (Thanks mum!) It was submitted at 9:15 AM, Sunday morning after some final tweaks. For the pedants, I know that there is some poetic license here. A compensation case would not be heard by a magistrate in a court. It would take a long time before it was heard so the “client” would probably not still be injured. It’s my story and I’ll control the action!
Any Reasonable Person
Jones rifled through the papers on the bench gathering his thoughts in response to the magistrate’s question.
“Technically, your Honour, he was acting under the instructions of an umbrella company.”
The magistrate sniffed with derision.
“An umbrella company you say. You mean your client was a stooge for another fellow that was trying to sell tickets to a rock concert in a paddock. In the middle of nowhere. In the middle of a pandemic?”
“If by stooge your Honour you mean ‘subcontractor’, then yes you could characterise it that way.”
“And what, exactly, was your client’s job?”
“As your Honour has quite rightly pointed out, we are in the middle of a pandemic. My client was engaged to determine the size of the paddock so that the promoter could calculate how many tickets he could sell. Your Honour is familiar with the 1.5 metre and 4 per square metre rules?”
“Yes, Jones. I am familiar. We are all painfully familiar with the rules after three years in and out of lockdown.”
The magistrate adjusted his mask and removed his glasses. “Bloody things keep fogging up!”
“Have you tried spitting on them, your Honour?”
“Spitting on them, you say Jones?”
“Yes, it works for divers’ goggles.”
“Spit on them during an air-borne pandemic? Grand idea, Jones! I can tell you thought about that as hard as your client thought about the sense of selling tickets to a concert during a pandemic. Aside from that Jones you should be familiar with the current laws that make public spitting an offence.”
The magistrate returned his glasses to his nose. “It doesn’t matter how big the paddock was Jones, they shouldn’t have been planning a bloody concert in the first place!”
“Ah yes, but my client was led to believe that the concert was to be held after the public health orders had been lifted.”
“Just a moment, Jones. Why did they need to measure the paddock then? It doesn’t make any sense. It wouldn’t matter how big the paddock was.”
“Good point, your Honour! But I remind you he was a subcontractor, he wasn’t organising the concert, just measuring the paddock.”
“Hrrrrmmpphh! There is also the issue of your client being well outside his LGA without a permit or an allowable exemption.”
“Yes, yes all true your Honour. Irrespective of these facts, there remains a legitimate claim for compensation for his work-related injuries.”
The magistrate looked at the man next to Jones. A sorry sight. Both legs and his right arm in full casts; his bruised eyes peeking out from behind heavy bandaging.
“That may be so, Jones. However, given that he was trespassing, without the appropriate permit and that he was involved in the planning of an illegal activity; I am not inclined to grant it. Apart from that, he should have bloody looked up. Any reasonable person could have avoided being under a hot air balloon as it landed. After all, it was a bloody big paddock!”
I have submitted stories for Furious Fiction lots of time (at least 24!) Never a winner, only long listed once but I look forward to it every month. My favourites so far have been the Frankie series. You can find the first in the Frankie Series here.