Furious Fiction 23 – September 2021

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I’m sure I have said it before in one of these posts but the first Friday of the month comes around real fast! Here is my entry for September’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. Sometimes you have to use the exact word, sometimes you can use a different tense or variant. This month:

The story must include

  • either an attic or a basement
  • include some kind of insect
  • have the words EARTH, WIND, FIRE and WATER or variations of.

Story Stats: This month the entry is 480 words. I started at 5:15 PM on Friday and worked on it for about 3 hours. I tidied it up a bit on Saturday morning and submitted at 10AM. I started off with the character’s name as Geoff and Jennifer but decided to call him Brad. A small tip of the hat to Pitt and Aniston. I had the bones of the story in my mind before I started typing. Initially, Brad was going to be injured from the fall, but that got a bit grim.

I didn’t have a photo of a cricket – so a cicada shell will have to do!

It’s just not cricket

Brad was balancing on the top step of the now obviously too short ladder. One hand held a torch, the other the edge of the manhole. The ladder teetered as he hoisted himself into the hole. His tippy-toe was just making contact with the cap tread.

“Can you see it?” Jennifer asked from below.

“Nope, can’t see it. But your attic roof needs fixing. There’s been a lot of water up here.”

He pointed the torch “You see? Water has been dripping down these beams.”

She couldn’t see because the ceiling was in the way, but he went right on explaining anyway.

Cheers, thanks for the mansplanation” she thought, but out of her mouth came

“Oh right…OK…I’ll get a roofer to come and have a look…”

“I could try and fix it. I’m pretty handy.”

And then… the ladder fell. There he was, head and shoulders in the roof and his legs dangling toward the earth. He kicked wildly mid-air, trying to get a better grip. It was a good three metres to the floor, far enough to get hurt if he fell, but close enough to jump if he was brave.

Brad wasn’t the brave type but he also wasn’t prepared to let Jennifer know that yet. It was only their second date.

“JENNIFER! Stop laughing and stand the bloody ladder up” he shouted.

“Right, oh yes right. Sorry, but if you could see your butt sticking out of that hole, you’d be laughing too!”

And then… it was too late. Gravity won.

Brad landed in an untidy pile. Jennifer tried to stifle her laughter but it was no use. She fell down next to him, grabbing her belly and chortling.

“Are you ok?” she asked between snorts.

He nodded, “I think so – just winded.”

For a long time, they both lay on the floor, laughing each time they looked at the open manhole or each other, simultaneously wondering how to recover this train wreck of a date.

Jennifer had hoped for a romantic sit-in-front-of-the-fire type date, but they had run out of small talk before they had finished the first course. For her, the relationship was doomed despite the fact he was an Adonis.

Thankfully, a cricket had come to their rescue. Its noisy chirps necessitating a search and destroy mission. It proved an effective cover for their lack of conversation.

Now, an hour later, they were lying close on the cold, bare floorboards giggling like children.

She reached out to touch his chest. “Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yes, very.”

Jennifer drew even closer as he returned her caress.

“Told you I was handy,” he whispered.

Chirp, chirp chirrrrpppppppppp!

“Bloody cricket! It’s still up there!!” he said.

“It can stay up there for all I care. ” Jennifer kissed his full chiselled lips.

Maybe a third date was on the cards, the pest control could wait.


I enter this competition most months. You can see some of my other attempts by clicking on the links below.

Furious fiction 7

Furious Fiction 15

Furious Fiction 19 – January 2021

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This story was meant to wrap up in December 2020, but the trials of Frankie are far from over. Once again I have entered a chapter of my now serialised novel in the Australian Writers Centre’s Furious Fiction competition.

The Furious Fiction short story competition is serious fun and I recommend it to anyone who likes creative writing. Only 500 words with a prize of $A500. I’ve given up on writing for the prize, now I am just trying to write my story. The plot twist fairies and the prompts are not helping me get to the end. Once again it runs on directly from the last instalment so read that first.

The criteria for Furious Fiction this month were:

  • Your story must begin at sunrise.
  • You must use the following words somewhere in your story: SIGNATURE, PATIENT, BICYCLE.
  • Your story must include a character who has to make a CHOICE.

This month’s Furious Fiction stats:

This month I submitted the story at 10:15 AM on Sunday. I started thinking about the story soon after the prompts came out on Friday night but did not start writing until Saturday evening about 6 PM. Then lots of tweaking on Sunday morning. 499 words.

The Biker’s Alarm App.

These days EVERYONE used the *amazing* Biker’s Alarm app. It went off an hour before sunrise automatically factoring in the daily astronomical variation. It gave a weather forecast, a half-way warning based on time, AND you could choose your favourite bike-related song for the alarm! These wonders of technology disguised some of the less palatable aspects of the app. 

This morning, like every other morning, O’Mallory was jolted from his restless half-sleep by Queen’s “Bicycle Race”, and despite his oppressive fatigue, his feet slapped on the floor enthusiastically. There was no way on God’s Earth O’Mallory was ever going to miss a single legal opportunity to wear coloured clothing!  As he pulled on his purple leggings and gold jersey, the Judge sang his favourite line of the song;  

“You say black; I say white!” and chortled at his courageous rebellion.

The ruling Ultra Conservative Party, which prohibited the wearing of anything other than black, white or grey clothing, had paradoxically exempted cycling gear. Although touted as a health initiative, most people knew it was a paper-thin excuse manufactured by duplicitous Middle-Aged Male politicians who fancied themselves In Lycra!  

In the end, it didn’t matter why the UCP let you ride in coloured lycra, they did.  *Everyone* in the country now had a bicycle, and the nation had never been fitter! 

O’Mallory unlocked his Bluetooth bike lock by agreeing to the App’s T&Cs from his phone. 

  1. Colour permitted forty minutes either side of sunrise. 
  2. No dismount for any purpose except to repair a flat tyre. 
  3. Maximum of four riders in any group. 
  4. No motorised traffic other than bicycles allowed. (Essential services excepted) 

Non-compliance: $5000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment. 

With an 80-minute window, there was no stopping for a coffee or a chat like in the old days. McDonald’s, never missing an opportunity, modified their drive-through so you could pedal-through and refill your reusable McGoCup with their signature McSunride brew.  

Mobile coffee vans pivoted to become tyre repair stations with all the gear an *unlucky* rider might need to fix a puncture. You could *guarantee*  a flat tyre every time you rode over a *particular* nearby spot.

Riding quietly, O’Mallory thought about his next mutinous steps. Armed with evidence, thanks to Frankie; it was time to act!  He’d been patient long enough. 

So engrossed by thoughts of sedition, O’Mallory didn’t notice the whisper-quiet Tesla creeping up behind him until it was too late.  The tinted windows gave no clue to whom was inside, but a  non-essential vehicle on the road at this time of day only spelt trouble. 

He rose in the saddle to pedal faster and negotiate the last hill before home, but as he rattled down the other side at breakneck speed, the Tesla broadsided him. 

In that nanosecond,  O’Mallory had to choose between going over the bonnet or under the wheels; either way, it wouldn’t end well for him.  

As he soared over the bonnet, he looked back to see the door open and saw …

Furious Fiction 17 – November 2020

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This month I found it really easy to use the prompts provided by the Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction Short Story Competition. The good luck fairies were standing on my side of the fence! I have been able to progress my Frankie story and have managed to get the Judge and Frankie in the same room. There may be a few continuity errors creeping in but heh…I’ll fix all that up when I combine all the chapters I have been putting together over this year.

This short story competition is serious fun and I recommend it to anyone who likes creative writing. Only 500 words with a prize of $A500. I’ve given up on writing for the prize, now I am just trying to write my story. I’m getting closer to the end!

November’s prompts

This month the prompts were as follows:

  1. LOCATION: Your story must take place at a HOTEL.
  2. OBJECT/PROP: Your story must include a PHOTOGRAPH.
  3. WORDS: Your story must include the following words: COLLAR, GLOOMY, POLICE, RHYTHM, SAPPHIRE.

In Australia, a hotel can mean a number of things. A pub or bar or a hotel where you can get accommodation. Theoretically all hotels have to offer accommodation.

This month I submitted the story at 6:30 PM on Saturday, although I had essentially finished it on Friday night. Exactly 500 words.


O’Mallory meet Frankie

It had been a long time since O’Mallory had been in a dive as gloomy as the Mumbai Sapphire.  Despite its name, there was nothing colourful or exotic about it. The air was fetid and the carpet sticky. He gingerly picked up his glass, and satisfied it was clean, he took a deep swig. He sighed and closed his eyes wallowing in the simple pleasure of an ice-cold beer.  

His eyes darted around the bar, looking for signs of recognition in the faces. Had any of these characters been in his courtroom?

As he sat waiting for the others he peeked at the photograph again, holding it under the table like a schoolboy with their phone. He snorted with glee! He couldn’t believe that the Honourable Karen Brooks, Minister for Social Inclusion, founding member of the Ultra Conservative Party and co-drafter of the Fashion Laws,  had been so indiscreet. So undeniably, comprehensively indiscreet! He snorted again! He wanted to drum his feet on the floor in a happy little rhythm. 

The longer he waited the less brave he felt. It was all very well to talk about sedition on a Friday night after a few whiskeys, but could he actually do it? He was tempted to leave the photo on the table and walk out. He was certain someone would report Brooks to the Fashion Police. The cops would collar her quicker than you could say Violation of the Federal Fashion Code. He’d read about it in tomorrow’s news from the safety of his own home, far away from any chance of being caught. 

He toyed with this safer but short-sighted option for a few moments.  The goal wasn’t to topple just one lousy Minister, however senior. He wanted to see every single duplicitous, shonky, hypocritical ratbag who made up the UCP scattered on the Parliamentary floor with no chance of political resurrection. 

To do that he needed more evidence. To get the evidence he needed Thomas Ball and the ex-con he was bringing, Frankie.  Frankly, he didn’t remember Frankie despite having sentenced him to five years.

Ball had heard about Frankie and his stash of incriminating photos when he was digging up dirt for his underground blog.  According to Ball, the stash was worth much more than a blog post.

The Judge looked up and there stood a man with a shock of Elvis-like hair, pasty skin and the eyes of a scared animal, dressed in the regulation grey outfit of the times.

“Guv’nor” the man said and then O’Mallory remembered Frankie, the serial offender. The one with the blue pants and green shirt. The one with the silver and gold sequins. 

The words fraternising with a known felon echoed in O’Mallory’s brain. 

“Right-o, Frankie, down to business,” O’Mallory said clumsily, “who are these men with their back to the camera?”

“Beer first, Guv’nor. Business second.” 

Frankie closed his eyes, and sipped his first beer in five years, he wallowed in the simple pleasure of the icy-cold liquid.


Are you a fan of short story competitions? Are there any others I could be entering? Add your ideas in the comments below.