Furious Fiction 24 – October 2021

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’m in the basket. This image taken by the balloon crew.

Other stories

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.

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 22 – August 2021

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Here is my entry for Furious Fiction for August 2021. I have missed a few months with my last entry being way back in May.

The Furious Fiction criteria for August were:

1. The first sentence must contain only 4 words.
2. You must include the words paint, shift, wave and toast (or variations there of)
3. Something must be shared.

Based on a true story!

This story is based on a real life event although in much more benign conditions. In 1987 my ex and I were doing some painting. He had loosened the lid of a full can of paint and then went to do something else. When he returned he picked up the can and shook it vigourously forgetting he had loosened the lid! I walked into the room at the exact moment the paint was whooshing up all over his face and hair.

I grabbed him, and as it says in the story below, held him under the water forcing his eyes open – Silkwood style. Once we got him cleaned up, we started on the room. Once that was clean we went downstairs. We had a beach-comber style house and our car was parked underneath. It was covered in paint! That took another couple of hours to get that clean! A few days later he was still sneezing out blobs of paint. Funny but not funny.

The Furious Fiction Contest is fun, easy and low risk! But you could be $500 richer for your 500 words. Check it out at the Australian Writers Centre.

Story Stats: I started writing about 7 PM on Friday night. I did no more work on it until Sunday morning and spent another hour “polishing” it up and getting it under the word limit. All up about 3 hours. 496 words.

Whatever you want, darling!

“Whatever YOU want Darling”

Stephanie hated it when he said that. She was especially wary when the emphasis was on the YOU and not the Darling. It meant he didn’t like her decision but wouldn’t say so. Whatever you want really meant that the ‘whatever’ came with a whole side of heartache. It really meant “Darling I will remind you at every minute that you got what you wanted”

Exasperated, Stephanie waved her hand toward the deep crimson wall. 

“Well, what colour would you prefer Damien?” 

“I really don’t care Stephanie, like I said whatever you want” 

“Oh for goodness sake, Damien I’m sick and tired of you pretending you don’t care and leaving the decisions to me! Whatever you want darling” she snarled back in a mocking tone “No, it isn’t whatever I want. WHAT DO YOU WANT?” 

As she shouted, Stephanie shifted her weight onto her left leg and kicked the full paint can clear across the room. A thick unctuous arc of liquid vinyl followed a millisecond behind the rim of the can and draped itself over Damien’s head like a matador’s cape. The now near-empty can clanged against the wall and the last of its contents oozed onto the carpet. 

Damien stood motionless.  The paint trickled down his face. His eyes were opaque red pools. His teeth were smeared red and his spittle frothed blood-like at the corners of his mouth. Stephanie gasped and led him to the bathroom.  She pushed him under the faucet, holding his eyes open as the warm water sluiced the paint from his eyes. 

For the next hour,  Stephanie washed him gently but the red paint lingered. It was in his ears and nose. He hacked and spat as it dripped down his throat.  Neither of them spoke beyond Stephanie’s guilty clucks. 

Now that Damien was clean they went into the loungeroom only to be confronted by paint-splattered carpet.

“Thank god it’s water-based!”  Stephanie quipped trying to make light of things. She scraped the thick paint back into the can and poured buckets of water over the carpet. It seemed like a better idea to get the paint off first and worry about drying it later. 

Another hour passed and while a pink stain remained it wasn’t too bad. 

Damien finally spoke. “I’m hungry, let’s go get a toastie and coffee.” 

He grabbed her keys and headed down the stairs. Stephanie followed him into the basement garage, her remorse a heavy layer that slowed her down. Damien stopped abruptly on the bottom step and looked up at the dripping roof. The garage was directly under the painted room. The room that Stephanie poured buckets of water over. 

“Stephanie,” he said “did you ever stop to think where all that water was going?” 

Her shoulders slumped and she wailed. Stephanie’s black Peugeot was covered in a thin coat of red paint. 

Damien smiled. “I’ll share something with you, Stephanie.  I don’t like red. I would have preferred blue.”

A women in a protective suit and shower cape with a paint roller in hand.
Different house! All kitted up to pain the ceiling!