Furious Fiction 17 – November 2020

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.

Furious Fiction 13 – July 2020

Another month, another attempt at the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Furious Fiction Competition. 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

This month the criteria were

  • Your story must take place at either WEDDING or a FUNERAL.
  • Your story must include something being cut.
  • Your story must include the words “UNDER”, “OVER” and “BETWEEN”.

If you have been following my stories over the last few months, you’ll know I have centred them around Frankie the Flamboyant Dresser.  Frankie’s story was not suited to a wedding or a funeral, so I have branched out this month with a completely different story line.

I have Frankie’s next moves planned, so I will wait till next month’s Furious Fiction competition to see if I can make that happen.


Rebecca’s Wedding

Somewhere between the speeches and the cake being cut, he told her it was over.

The blood drained from her face.  Her rouged cheeks and overly red lips making her look like a zombie bride. Her thoughts whirred through her brain but they were trapped under a blanket of ugly rage.

“The drinks package hasn’t even expired and you’re telling me it’s all over?”

She glared, he slumped.

“Why didn’t you tell me yesterday? Why didn’t you tell me last week? Was it all for nothing?”

“I didn’t know!” he spluttered, “I’m sorry! It’s not really my fault, Rebecca.”

She smiled ferociously like a lion might smile at a gazelle.  He turned away, wiping a tear from his eye realising too late it definitely was a case of like mother, like daughter.

The echoing, too loud voice of the DJ pierced their private angry moment,  “And NOW let’s welcome the happy couple to the dance floor for their first dance as Mr and Mrs McGRATH!”

Rebecca hitched up her skirts and grabbed his wrist, “Listen, pal, we’re going to put on such a show that no-one will suspect anything. You’ll say nothing until tomorrow, do you hear me? Nothing!  I am not going to have my mum in tears over this now! Not after all she’s been through! And if you thought I was planning on using your name, you’ve got another thing coming!”

The instant they were on the rickety parquetry squares the reception joint called a dance floor, she melted into his arms in such a deceptive display of loving-kindness, the whole room was fooled.

“Such a lovely couple!” they cooed.

Rebecca’s mum Evie, did cry. She cried tears of joy for her lovely daughter and new son-in-law as they swang so effortlessly in synchronised perfection. The best man and chief bridesmaid, the only ones to join them; sensed the tension.

It had been worth everything to see them here so happy!

The waiter chatted as he cleared the table. “You must be a bit annoyed Evie?”

“No, why? They look so happy.”

“I thought you’d be disappointed. You had such a lovely wedding planned”

“But it is lovely.”

“Yes, but didn’t you hear? It’s all over.”

“Over?” Evie stuttered, the bottom falling from her stomach like she’d been punched.

“Yes, they lifted the restrictions this morning. The Corona rules have changed again. As from today you could have had fifty people, not just five! Ahh well,” said the waiter whimsically “At least you’ve saved a truckload of money!”

Now the blood drained from Evie’s face. The battle over who was going to come to the wedding had been fierce. So fierce,  in fact, she had regrettably but quite literally, stabbed her ex-husband in the back. He was now cooling his heels in her freezer.

“Look on the bright side,” she thought “at least we can have one hundred people at his funeral!”

 

Furious Fiction 12 – June 2020

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Here is my entry for June’s Furious Fiction, the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly competition. Lockdown is nearly over here in Australia, but things remain unsettled with racial tension adding another dangerous element to the world’s instability.

As I’ve said before, this competition is a fun activity with a terrific prize. You can read about it on their website.

Basically, it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for June were:

  • Your story’s first and last words must begin with J.
  • Your story must include a game being played.
  • Your story must include the phrase MISS/MISSED THE BOAT.

I’ve continued with Frankie’s journey and although I feel it is unlikely this chapter will make much sense as a stand-alone piece, I am now more focused on the challenge of completing his story using the prompts given.

This month’s entry was submitted on Saturday night at 22:15. 496 words.

You can read the previous chapter in Frankie’s story here.


Chapter 5: Justice for all.

Justice is a tricky concept.  Frankie knew justice didn’t mean fair. It didn’t mean right. It didn’t even mean protection of the innocent. It was a game invented by the people who owned the ball.  A blood sport rigged to ensure the rich always won, even if they broke their own rules. 

Frankie was playing for the wrong team. Judge O’Mallory, on the other hand, was on the winning side. Frankie imagined O’Mallory had been fullback for the First XV at St Swanky’s or wherever his type goes to school.  He probably went to boarding school, packed off at five by his neglectful cold-hearted parents. 

As the bailiff dragged him screaming from the courtroom, Frankie decided it was time he learnt to play by their rules.

He needed someone to tell his story.

——-

“Bailiff! Take him down!” The thunderous words were still ringing in Judge O’Mallory’s ears as the door slammed on Frankie. He wasn’t feeling like a winner. He’d sentenced another poor wretch to five years in prison on the whim of a corrupt government. A government that allowed for the tyrannical rule of the black-shirted Fashion Police. 

—–

Personal grooming had sunk to all-time lows after COVID. People didn’t even bother wearing pants when they were Zooming! The lack of respect spilt over into other areas of life and before long there was anarchy!  

The lack of decency and dignity was deplorable! Someone needed to do something! 

Someone did. 

The UCP. 

The Ultra Conservative Party burst onto the scene after the Pandemic with their promises of a return to the “Old Normal”. Changes in the laws were incremental. Like a lobster in a pot, the heat was turned up so slowly no-one noticed until it was too late. The populous had missed the boat on the democracy front.

Low-slung jeans were the first to go. No more dudes with the crotch of their jeans down around their knees. Who could argue with that? A ban on exposed underwear was quickly followed by the prohibition of activewear anywhere other than the gym. Again a significant portion of the population supported that particular ruling. 

Then bright colours, florals, patterns, stripes and animal prints.  

The UCP controlled the market by buying out all the boutiques.  Easily done, since most had gone under in the lockdown.

They introduced a regulated monochromatic capsule wardrobe which stipulated less than twenty items, a mandated date for changing from one season’s capsule to the next, and jail time for those who breached the code. 

—–

O’Mallory wasn’t the only judge feeling uncomfortable about the fashion laws. The secret rumblings amongst his colleagues were getting bolder.

They needed someone to tell their story.

Frankie’s opinion of O’Mallory was wrong. He didn’t know he had an ally in silk and horsehair

Both men needed the same thing, a fearless storyteller! Someone who was willing to blow the whistle on corruption and intolerance. Did such a person still exist? 

What they needed was a bloody good journalist!