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! 

Furious Fiction 11 – May 2020

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Another First Friday rolls around and here is my entry for May’s Furious Fiction, the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly competition. Like last month we are still in lock down, although restrictions are beginning to be lifted in most places. Hopefully, not too soon. My heart goes out to the people of America who are now suffering the most.

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 May were:

  • Your story’s first word must be FIVE.
  • Your story must include something being replaced.
  • Your story must include the phrase A SILVER LINING (‘a’ or ‘the’ is fine).

This month I was able to achieve my aim of getting Frankie in front of the judge. I also realised in my first chapter of this story our protagonist’s name was Charlie and somewhere along the line I switched it to Frankie. Ah well, from now on our flamboyant dresser is Frankie!

This month’s entry was submitted on Sunday morning about 9 AM although it was essentially finished on Saturday afternoon. 496 words.


Andrea’s Surprise

‘FIVE YEARS? You’ve GOT to be joking? Because I wore brightly coloured clothes? FASCIST!’ Frankie shouted as the gavel hit the sound block.

‘ORDER!’ Judge O’Mallory shouted back, ‘Bailiff! Take him down!’

‘Five years? I can’t! I’ll die!’ Frankie pleaded with his barrister. ‘Please! Do something, you’ve got to appeal!’

The barrister nonchalantly scratched the itch under the horsehair wig as the door slammed on Frankie and the din of his wails receded.

Do the crime pal, pay the time! Andrea thought. Frankie had been a difficult client. He had flouted the law several times, had already served time and here he was again only a few months after he had been released. He shouldn’t be surprised.

He was a recidivist.

He deserved it!

Didn’t he?

On the other hand, these Fashion Police and the Fashion Laws were getting a little out of hand. She couldn’t help thinking it was just another “-ism” oppressing the poor.

Well, it didn’t really matter what she thought, it was the law!

The bubble surrounding her reverie popped as Andrea caught the eye of her learned colleague across the aisle, winking and nodding his head ever so slightly toward the door. Although her own reaction was equally as imperceptible, the message was received loud and clear, and thirty minutes later Lloyd and Andrea were shouting seductively at each other across the noisy crowd in a bar. Crime Does Pay was a very popular venue for the lost souls of the legal fraternity. There was no colour there, only a sea of grey. The black gowns and white jabots replaced by the sedate and State-sanctioned garb that kept the law off their own backs.

They could let their hair down, but not their guard! No-one was safe from the Fashion Police. No-one.

 ‘What I don’t understand,’ Lloyd bellowed above the ruckus, ‘is why you take on these cases in the first place, Andrea?’

She had liked the look of Lloyd, but the more she got to know him, the more she realised their values were not aligned, and maybe looks were not enough. But then, it was Friday night, and it beat going home alone.

 ‘You know I can’t resist the underdog!’ she laughed.

 Lloyd pulled her close, ‘Ready to go? I’ve got a real surprise for you tonight!’

Andrea was perched on the window sill of the hotel room, high above the sparkling harbour. She smiled at her reflection, knowing the pink negligee was irresistible. She sipped her Moet and in her best bedroom voice called out,

‘Where’s this surprise you promised me?’ 

Lloyd emerged from the ensuite, naked. Naked except for a black cape with a silver lining.

He twirled.

The cape sparkled.

She gasped.

It was then that Andrea realised the real benefit of money was not buying expensive things, but rather a way of enabling you to hide your own vices and avoid detection.  Crime did pay –  her!

‘Now, that’s what I call a surprise!’ she cooed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Challenge

Looking for a short story challenge? A couple of posts back I published some old stories I had found languishing in my messy Google Drive. I also found these fragments of stories.

I had a sort of futuristic vibe going for a while.  Both stories were intended to be longish short stories or shortish novellas. I was aiming at around 10 – 15,000 words.

I don’t remember what my complete original plot lines were going to be.

Disconnected was going to be the story of a group of older people, led by a curmudgeonly fellow (think Harrison Ford type figure) who refused to connect to the internet. They go on to help people escape from the grips of the “government” which has collapsed into a 1984-style dystopia.

NOWASTE had a similar theme. Jeez! I must have been on fire when I came up with that acronym! It is again set in a future when thought police are real. I think the main character (well the only character so far) was going to turn into some sort of resistance fighter. Perhaps even influenced by The Handmaid’s Tale

Many of my older stories would have been better written as screenplays.

My challenge to you dear reader is; how would you progress them? What would happen next? Please outline some possible scenarios in the comments below! We can start our own virtual writers’ group!


Disconnected (October 2017)

Greta ran as fast as she could from her doorway to next door and these days that was not fast! It was after curfew but she risked it anyway. She needed to see him and she couldn’t connect any other way. Since the beginning, he had refused to connect.

“If people want to talk to me they can come and see me! In person!”

It wasn’t that he was a Luddite, as such. He had just read Orwell’s 1984 so many times that he began to see it as a reality.

Greta would tell him he was just being paranoid.

“Just wait”  he’d say sipping hard on his beer. The beer he brewed himself from scratch. 

To most people, he was just a crackpot. He thought the establishment was out to get us all.

We would argue “but we are the establishment – this is not the Government!” He didn’t buy the argument that we the masses, decided what was posted on social media, that it was a platform for disruptive change.

“You are so naive” he’d say and we would ignore him and take another photo of our breakfast pancake stack to prove how magical our lives were.

Sometimes on public radio, we would hear that a shocking study showed that the content on social media was manipulated. That the Millennials in charge had actually been doing secret experiments where they showed some people happy posts and other sad posts and watched how it affected them. It would stay in the news for a while and then vanish. Public radio didn’t last long after the last election. 

OVER TO YOU!


 

NOWASTE (December 2018)

Patricia was careful to not draw attention to herself. It was much better to keep things low key. To fly under the radar. To blend into the crowd. To think in cliches. To avoid original thought. 

At 63, Patty still remembered how Christmas used to be. Oh my god, she thought the word!! She glanced furtively at those around her. Had they heard her thought? Would she be arrested? 

Keep cool. Look calm. Repeat the mind-block mantra Money doesn’t buy happiness. Stuff doesn’t buy happiness.

No movement towards her.

No telltale wailing of sirens approaching. 

No flashing drone locked over her position. 

Phew. Perhaps they had all been too busy suppressing their own thoughts to be worried about tuning into hers. 

It was not that we didn’t celebrate anymore. It was just that we were careful not to include thoughts of religion, ageism, sexism or wanton consumerism when we did. The focus was now on The Agreement.  It just so happened that the New Order World Agreement for Sustainable Trade and Emissions (NOWASTE) was signed on the 25 of December in 2018. (Glorious day)

It was a good thing. Global warming had slowed down and only a few of the smaller Pacific Islands had vanished. 

 

…. so what next??

Furious Fiction 10 – April 2020

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Another First Friday rolls around and here is my entry for April’s Furious Fiction, the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly competition. This month I didn’t have to feel guilty about being at home in front of my computer on both Friday and Saturday nights. Australia and most of the world remain in some form of lock-down. Your location will add a different flavour to your circumstances, with some countries in complete lockdown and others having what can only be described as a half-hearted attempt.

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 April were:

  • Your story must begin on the side of a road.
  • Your story must include the words APRON, PIGMENT, RIBBON, ICON, LEMON (plurals are okay).
  • Your story must include a splash.

As I said back in March, I intended to  write the next chapter in my story about Frankie, the flamboyant dresser. I actually had a story mapped out and had even made a voice recording so I would not forget it.  It WAS going to be the next chapter, after Frankie’s arrest and prison processing. However, I could not get the prompts to fit that story so I have written Chapter 0, the start of Frankie’s journey. Perhaps next month I can get Frankie into court!

This month’s Furious Fiction entry was submitted at 8:20AM Sunday. 497 words.

a red dirt road stretching into the horizon

Frankie Starts His Journey.

Frankie stood up at the first sight of bulldust rising on the horizon. He got ready to wave down the approaching road train. His ticket to the big smoke. He’d had enough of living a lie out here in the back of beyond. It was time to cut those apron strings and leave the family home. He was never going to fit in out here. Never. He was a round peg in a very square hole.

The bulldust cloud was getting closer. The bright red pigment paint screaming out “Broome or Bust!” from his sign. He hoisted his backpack, so he’d be ready when the driver slowed down. Frankie was in no doubt the driver would slow down, it was outback lore. No one, no decent person, would leave a lone hitchhiker out here without asking if they were OK.

By the time Frankie’s imagined road train was a hundred metres away, it had morphed into a yellow Kombi. The front tyre was flat, and the VW icon dangled on a ribbon from the windshield wipers.

Frankie wasn’t sure he wanted a lift in this particular lemon. Would it even make it to the next town, let alone Broome? He couldn’t be choosy, it was the first vehicle to pass him in four hours, and it was getting dark. The Kombi did slow down. It clanged to a stop with a burst of black smoke exploding from the dragging exhaust.

“MAN!” the driver said, “AM I glad to see YOU! I’m lost, my Kombi’s stuffed and I JUST ran out of petrol!”

Frankie blinked. When he opened his eyes, the Kombi was still there, still smoking.

The driver jumped down and held out his hand. “Name’s George,” he said, pumping Frankie’s hand enthusiastically while raising his eyebrow quizzically.

“Errr…Frankie,” Frankie said after an awkward pause. He realised he had been staring. George sure must have had some balls to be out here, in this place, dressed like that! His outfit was a riot of colour and style. A glorious cascade of sequins on satin. Frankie’s own chambray and denim, a shameful deception hiding his real desires,

“Let’s get this piece of shit off the road!” George said as he put his shoulder against the dead van. The heaving ended abruptly when the Kombi rolled down the embankment, hit a rock and teetered over.

CRUNCH!

“SHIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTT!” they said in unison, laughing. Unfazed, George scrambled down to retrieve some gear through the now smashed window. A huge suitcase, a pair of tall black boots, and a bottle of rum.

“Care for a splash of something smooth, Frankie? I think it’s gonna be a long night.”

They laughed again and sat down to wait for a real road train.

For the first time in his life, Frankie felt at ease with another human. He had found his tribe, here on the edge of the Gibson Desert. He’d found another round peg that wasn’t trying to squeeze into any square holes!

270413_3193

NOTE: some Aussie slang:

Lemon = a broken down car bought cheap and not likely to last long.

1 May 2020: EDITED TO ADD: I just realised my main character’s name changed.  In the first episode, his name was Charlie and the guard’s name was Frankie. Here I called our protagonist Frankie! Whoops! From now on he’ll be Frankie, the flamboyant dresser.

Furious Fiction – From the Archive

Furious Fiction – Australian Writers’ Centre.

Coronavirus “Iso” has given us the time to do things we would normally leave to  “when we got around to it”. What started as a valiant attempt to sort out my digital storage, descended into a trove of old stories found in my messy Google Drive.  Included in that hot mess were previous attempts at Furious Fiction competitions,  and fragments of stories I don’t remember starting let alone have an inkling of where I was going to go with the storyline. (I’ll publish them later and challenge you to finish them!)

Here is the entry I wrote for the September 2018 competition. The criteria that month were:

  • The entire story must take place in an airport.
  • The story must include the word SPRING somewhere. (Plural also okay.)
  • The story must include the phrase: IT WAS EMPTY.

This is the second of two found stories from my archive. I have also published other FF stories which you can find here.

Pam’s deception.

Always ready to spring into action, Krysia was scanning the crowd of bleary-eyed, unwashed, overfed and under-slept travellers who stood at the carousel waiting for their bags to be spewed out onto the belt. 

Like a tractor beam in an old sci-fi movie, her eyes locked onto the guy in the suit. Too tidy. Too neat. No doubt he flew first class. She directed her hidden camera on him. It scrolled through the biometrics, settling on an identity within seconds:  Clifford Saunders. Australian. DOB 25/09/78. No flags. No tags. No dossier. A clean skin. 

BINGO!

She turned to her boss. “Looks dodgy, Pam, I am going down on the floor.”

Pam nodded. “I’ll put the decoy in play.”

Decked out in civvies, Krysia sidled up to him and rubbed her eyes in a mock yawn. 

“I hate this part – just give me my bags already!” she said. “What flight were you on?”

Cliff ignored her. Not many refused her charm. Definitely dodgy!  

The decoy bag came in view. When it was right in front of him, she leapt forward. The accidental collision, a perfect distraction, as she triggered the micro-gas detector.

“Quick Pam, test that”  she whispered into her sleeve, as she wrestled the bag to the floor.

After thirty minutes of tense and awkward waiting,  there were only two bags left on the belt. The bag with the first-class tags was going past again. This time, Krysia stepped up to grab it, simultaneously flashing her ID and a smug smile. Cliff shifted on his feet, ready to run. She made the signal. A cloud of black-uniformed officers swarmed around him.

“It’s light – scan it” she barked. 

The X-ray showed it was empty.

After seven hours of intense interrogation, Krysia had to let him go. There was nothing. No residue of drugs, explosives or wildlife. 

She went upstairs to report to Pam. The walk of shame. She’d have to listen to the lecture about picking the wrong mark – again.  She’d been so sure this time! Apparently, there was nothing illegal about having an empty bag. There should be!

Pam’s office was empty. That’s odd?

Krysia filled out the forms and emailed them through. An out-of-office email pinged back within milliseconds. “That’s odd,” she thought “Pam didn’t say she was going on leave”

Odd indeed.  Krysia began to panic. She pulled up the CCTV footage.

There! Right there! Just when Krysia was causing a huge commotion with Clifford Saunders’ arrest, with every officer on shift in one place at one time, there, right there, was Pam picking up the second of the two remaining bags from the belt. There she was with a passport and a boarding pass like any other traveller. There was Pam walking through the arrivals hall and buying coffee. And there, seven hours later, was Pam, in the back of a limo, leaving the car park with Clifford. 

“I’ll put the decoy in play,” Pam Saunders had said.

BOOM! 

 

Furious Fiction – from the archives

Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction Competition

I was trawling through my Google Drive trying to tidy it up a bit and came across this story I wrote back on the 3rd August 2018. Given that that was a “First Friday”, I can only presume I wrote it for an Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction Competition.

My suspicions were confirmed after searching through their archives, where I discovered that the prompts for that month were:

each story had to include the following three sentences:

  • The door was locked.
  • She laughed.
  • It felt familiar.

I can see now that although I included the words, I did not include them as stand-alone sentences which means I did not fulfil the requirements. I guess that’s why I didn’t win! 🙂

The closest I’ve got to winning so far is this entry where I was longlisted.

The Erikson Case

As she fumbled in her bag for the keys, she came to grips with the fact that this time, he had, in fact, meant it. The door was locked, she was late, and her resentful husband was on the other side of that thick piece of wood and glass. She turned the key and pushed. Nothing. She pushed again this time with her shoulder.  She laughed! Oh, how she laughed. 

“Cunning bugger,” she thought “He’s gone and locked the deadbolt as well and I don’t have that key.” 

In the morning, when she was leaving for work, shuffling with the stilettos half on and the toast clasped between her teeth, he had asked her not to be late.  

“If you are late again. I’ll lock it! I mean it!” 

She grabbed the toast and pecked his cheek. 

“Yes, darling, of course you will.” 

“No, I mean it!  I really mean it! You said you’d be home by seven last night and you didn’t get home till 10:30. I cooked…”

She cut him off with another kiss, this time full and passionate. To distract him. To try and convince him that she was sorry. It had become their daily routine, and it felt familiar. Too darn familiar.

She pulled the door shut and wriggled her foot completely into the shoe.

“I mean it” she heard him yell through the door. 

She pulled a face “Yes dear!” she mouthed and started the car. It wasn’t as if she wanted to be late!  It came with the job. The long hours, the high stakes. 

“Are you having an affair?” he had asked on Tuesday. 

“No! Don’t be silly” she replied without thinking more of it. She wasn’t, and it didn’t occur to her that he needed more than a quick reassurance. 

Truth be known she was. Not with another man but with her work. It absorbed her. Took all her energy and gutted her soul. It drained her every day, and she felt like a battery with only 5% charge. A thin red line. 

“What is it exactly you’re working on this time?” he asked on Wednesday.

“The Erikson case.  Very tricky commercial law” she said, a little too quickly. They both knew she was lying. She changed the subject ineptly. That was something she needed to work on – lying. 

The locked door was no obstacle though. Not to her. She took the little tool case out of her handbag. The one with the tiny little lock picking tools. The lock clicked, she stepped inside. He was on the couch, the sound of the TV muffling his quiet snoring.  She kissed him gently and covered him with a blanket. The air smelt of pizza. 

One day, maybe one day, she’d be able to tell him, but right now she remained in her Majesty’s Service and her code name was classified.

She dragged her tired body up the stairs and winced at the bruises she gained in today’s “tricky Erikson case”. 


A post on a Wednesday? “That’s odd”, I hear you say. “Don’t you normally post on a Friday and Sunday?” Yes! I am experimenting with posting days to see if there is much difference in my “view” count.

Furious Fiction 9 – March 2020

Wentworth Street, Port Kembla

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Gosh, the First Friday sure does come around quickly bringing another chance to enter Furious Fiction, the AWC’s monthly competition. As I’ve said before this 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 March were:

  • Your story must include a PERSON IN DISGUISE.
  • Your story must take place in a PARK.
  • Your story must include a MIRROR.

I made three starts to this story. The first attempt was about a private eye trying to catch a wandering spouse, then it morphed into an internet dating story before I finally decided to run with the same story arc as last month’s story. It had to stand alone and not rely on the previous episode to make sense. I have already hatched out the next episode and hope I can bend April’s criteria to suit.

Here is this month’s Furious Fiction entry, submitted at 9:55 PM Saturday night. 488 words.

Clark in the Dark

Miriam was swinging her legs under the park bench. 

“Stop fidgeting! You’ll blow our cover!”

She sighed deeply and went back to pulling at the fringing on her poncho. 

“How long do we have to sit here?”

Clark ignored her. 

Miriam shuffled along the bench, tapped her feet on the ground, stood up, sat down, adjusted her mohawk wig, looked at her watch and sighed again. 

“Gov, this is ridiculous. We’ve already hit our quota for the month. Anyway, don’t you think THIS is dangerously bordering on entrapment?”

Miriam waved her hands over the “this”. An orange and white crocheted poncho made from acrylic yarn, white lace-up boots and tight orange velour pants. 

“Miriam…” he said “It’s not about the quota. It’s about the law. We don’t just stop upholding the law because we hit our quota! We don’t just let the fifty-first murderer off the hook because we only needed fifty for the quota!”

Specks of white saliva were gathering in the creases of his lips.  

“No, Miriam, we seek out those poxy crims wherever they are! ”

When DCI Clark Weston was working up to a full spitty episode, DC Miriam Hensen knew it was time to take a backward step.

“We have a duty to society! We have to stop these scum corrupting our youth with their grooming. If you can’t stand the heat Miriam, get out of the sweatshop!”

“Gov, I joined the Unit so I could create change! I expected undercover work to be more than sitting in Hyde Park in a clumsy disguise trapping lost souls. I didn’t think I’d be using a bag full of second-hand clothes from Double Bay Vinnies to entrap the disadvantaged.”

“Don’t come the liberal social justice disadvantaged angle with me, Miriam! These people DO have choices! They can look in the mirror before they leave home you …”

He stopped mid-sentence, “Look!  There, case in point!”

There, coming towards them was a travesty of colour. A man in a blue shirt, green pants and no belt. 

“A Code 10! Bet you’ve never seen THAT before!“ Clark whispered excitedly “Blue and green with nothing in between!”

Miriam was shocked. The man’s eyes were bulging like a junkie craving a fix. Clark pushed her towards him.

“Remember, he has to agree to buy!”

She sashayed up to Mr Blue-Green, “Wanna look at my stash fella,” she cooed, swishing her fringing and holding the bag out provocatively.

“Yeah babe, if you’ve got any sequins, I’ll buy the lot!” 

And just then, just as he committed to the sale, DCI Weston of the Fashion Police, lept up and cuffed him. 

“You’re under arrest  for a Code 10 Violation – Catastrophic Colour Clash.” Clarke shouted, “You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say may be used as evidence.”

Clark looked across at Miriam with smug satisfaction. “Never forget our motto, Miriam. Dress Proud. THAT’S what you signed up for.”

 

 

A Family History.

William – An illegitimate son.

 

Prelude: I don’t know about you, but I need a break from the Corona Virus! I contemplated writing a piece about it and maybe I will later, but for now, I thought I would share a bit of family history. It’s  longer than my usual posts, but since some of you are in self-isolation, you’ve got more time!

 

My mum (Hi MUM!) has been working on the family tree for many years. My cousin, Jenny, is the resident genealogist in our family (Hi Jenny!!) and has put together lots of facts and dates etc. In 2017, I started working on a fictionalised version of one of my ancestors. I didn’t get far. It’s not finished, and one day I will get back to it.

 

The long-story-short is that my great-great-great(?) Aunty Eliza had a baby when she was very young, and the family passed it off as her mum’s. Sarah Anne was a business woman and had a thriving company in Sydney that made embroidered regalia for military uniforms.

 

Firstly, I include an email sent to my mum to get more information. It was written when I was in transit to Israel. It sets the scene and then follows “Chapter 1” of the story. It needs a lot of work and is definitely a draft. I hope it makes sense!

 


January 2017

Hi Mum,

When I was sitting on the plane, I re-read the history you had written about Sarah Usher. I thought there were some good angles for a few stories there, but the one that stood out for me was William, Eliza’s illegitimate son born in 1874 and “adopted” by Sarah and Charles. Do we know any more about him? When did he die? Did he have any kids of his own? What happened to Eliza? Did she go on to have any more kids? 

It’s a fascinating angle coming from it with 2017 eyes. I wonder if they just pretended it was Sarah’s baby or was Eliza acknowledged as the mother? From what you wrote it would appear not. You’d think people would work it out. Frank was born in the same year…did they try and pass them off as twins?? Wow! I wonder where you would find out this stuff from. Sarah also had her last baby at 45! Old even by today’s standards but I guess in the absence of contraceptives, not unusual.

I wonder what sort of relationship William and Eliza had? I wonder if Wilhelm (who presumably skulked back to Germany) knew him. I wonder if he had other children? Children that perhaps could fight William in WW1. Do they not know who impregnated Eliza or did they just try and cover it up. Was Wilhelm a sexual predator or was Eliza a saucy young minx?

In the absence of facts, I am just going to make up a story! BUT I would like it to be “based on a true story” story. Any extra info you have would be greatly appreciated!

I wrote this on the plane and sent it once I arrived in Israel. Feeling creative at 11000 metres over the Himalayas!

Rx


Chapter 1: Eliza’s Baby

 

On 1874, two babies appeared in the Hund* household. Only one of them was welcome. At forty-five, Sarah Anne Hund (née Usher) gave birth to what would be her last child – Frank. Her oldest daughter, Eliza gave birth to a bastard called William. An illegitimate child. An embarrassment. A poorly kept secret. William Hund became his grandmother’s son. 

 

Sara Ann Hundt
Sarah Anne Hund (nee Usher)

This is William’s story.

 

By the time Eliza was 16, she knew she was clever. Not just clever-for-a-girl but clever. She helped her mum in the regalia workshop, ordering notions and materials. Organised and meticulous, great lists of mental arithmetic didn’t phase her. Writing work orders for the seamstresses was a doddle. It wasn’t hard. It was, in fact, boring.

So boring, she longed for some excitement. Of course, as things turn out even back in the 1870s, a girl looking for excitement doesn’t usually have to go too far to find it. 

 

In the summer of 1873, when Uncle Wilhelm came to visit, things perked up for Eliza. Wilhelm, her father’s youngest brother, was handsome and dashing, his clipped German-tainted English so refined and intoxicating to a clever young woman looking for more out of life. 

 

It turns out she was not as clever as she thought because by April she had missed two of her monthlies and she was pregnant. Marrying her Uncle was not really an option. By May, her mum asked her directly. In the days of washing out menstrual rags, there was no hiding anything in a household as crowded as the Hund’s on Cleveland Street.

 

Wilhelm was sent home. Eliza was banished to an old friend of Sarah’s  in Braidwood for her confinement.  VOILA, in December 1874, Sarah magically had another baby. A delayed twin to her own Frank. Of course, no-one was fooled. All the family and neighbours knew who the baby really belonged to, but officially it was Sarah and Charles’ baby. Baby number 13. 

 

William should have been the lucky first child, but he ended up at 13th. His mother’s search for adventure had led him up the garden path.

 

Frank and William grew up as brothers. The tension between their sister and their mum did not go unnoticed. The fiery glances, the cold shoulders, the unsaid words kept everyone on edge. 

 

William was clever too, although most of the time he stood in Frank’s shadow. Frank was always first. First to get the best bit of the lamb leg. First to get the juiciest part of the pineapple. Frank never realised, but William always noticed. 

 

Everyday. 

 

Frank was Mama’s favourite. William didn’t know why or what he had done, but as the years progressed, he learned to live with it. 

 

C-&-S-Hundt-et-al
The Hund Family

Frank and William grew up. They married. They lived their lives as best they could. And in 1907 their whole world turned upside down.

Mama died. 

Frank was appointed as executor to Sarah’s will. As they were going through all the papers, things started to get a bit complicated. Frank found his birth certificate. 

 

Mother: Sarah Anne Hund 

Father: Charles Friedrich Hund

Other children: There were his brothers and sisters, all listed but not William.

 

And then he found William’s certificate. He had to look at it twice. 

 

Mother: Elizabeth Hund. 

Father: (blank) 

Other Children: None

 

At thirty-three, William discovered Frank was not his brother but his Uncle. His sister was his mother and his mother, his grandmother. His world fell apart.


In my mind, the story will end up with William fighting his German half brothers in World War 1. There will be tension between William and Frank. Not sure what else will happen… yet….

* My mother’s maiden name has had a few iterations. Originally it was spelt HUND, then Hundt. Then it was changed (unofficially) to HUNT by some of the family to make it more respectably British. Then sometime after WW2 it was changed back to Hundt.

Furious Fiction 8 – February 2020

Wentworth Emporium

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

I didn’t get a chance to submit an entry for the December and January editions of Furious Fiction but here is my effort for February 2020. Furious Fiction is a fun competition with a terrific prize and you can read about it on their website.

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

The criteria for February were:

  • One of the characters had to be a GUARD
  • It must include the words NARROW, GLOSSY, GOLDEN and LEATHERY
  • The first and last sentences can have only two words.

Let me know what you think!

Frankie’s Folly.

“Not AGAIN?”

The guard’s exasperated look said it all. This was the third time Charlie had tumbled through the narrow shute from the prison van into the processing room.

“Lord, it’s only two months since the last time you were here! Will you never learn?”

“‘Fraid not, Frankie,” Charlie said as he held out his leathery hand for a defiant high-five. “I will always express myself as the creative individual I am. They will never wear me down!”

When there was no return slap Charlie withdrew his raised hand, seamlessly morphing the gesture into a head scratch. Frankie wasn’t risking being seen on camera fraternising with the inmates. Secretly, he hoped that one day, Charlie might learn how to keep himself out of trouble. At the very least, learn to keep his felonies private and behind closed doors.

The first time they met, four years ago, Charlie was in for three months. He arrived in golden hot pants and silver knee-high boots.  A clear Code 7 Violation: Mixed Metallics.

The rigorous and brutal re-education sessions had had little impact because a year later, Charlie was back. This time in a glossy vinyl jumpsuit adorned with sequins AND fur. Code 8 slapped down right there! Texture Abuse.  The Judge was less inclined to be lenient for a second offence and Charlie was in for a full year.

And here he was a third time. Granted, Charlie was a little more subdued in a blue shirt and green trousers, but Frankie wouldn’t help him this time. There’d been a crackdown on contraband and it was too hazardous to smuggle the ‘Zines in. Last time, he had pushed pages torn from Vogue under Charlie’s cell door but despite the hints, he just didn’t get it! It was too much for Frankie, he had compassion fatigue.

Frankie read Charlie’s charge sheet and shook his head. The Judge had really thrown the book at him.

“Crikey Charlie?” He swore under his breath. “Everybody knows its law!” The mandatory five-year sentence was excessive but without a doubt, this was a serious offence. There it was in black and white:

“Blue and green should never be seen unless there’s something in between. Code 10 Violation: Catastrophic Colour Error. Maximum penalty!”

As the other guards dragged Charlie away,  Frankie felt for him, he was obviously trying. He had made a rookie error, he had forgotten the belt.

Frankie sighed, it was definitely time to forget this fella. He had done what he could.  Who knew what sort of family Charlie grew up in? No doubt his mum wore black bras under white t-shirts. His dad probably had a mullet. There was little hope of redemption.

Frankie squared his shoulders in a Scarlett O’Hara-esque way and strode down the hall to unload yet another van-load of sorry souls in their offensive glad rags.  The decal on the cop car outside at least reminding his jaded psyche of his raison d’être.

Federal Fashion Police. 

Dress Proud.

 

 

 

NEWS FLASH!!! I didn’t win but this story did get long-listed! woot woo!!!!

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 19.07.04