Furious Fiction 25 – November 2021

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Another month, another short story! You know the drill by now! 500 words, 55 hours and $500 to the winner. Sigh! Maybe one day it will be me. Check out the Australian Writers Centre’s page for details.

In November the prompts were:

  1. Your story must include someone PACKING A SUITCASE.
  2. Your story must include the phrase “ACROSS A CROWDED ROOM” (as dialogue or narrative).
  3. Your story must include the words CHARM, CRUSH and FAINT. (or variations)

Crushed Velvet

The faint pink of dawn was beginning to brighten the sky.  Minette stood by the window and looked out over the ocean; flat and calm. A mere shadow of its former self. In the dark, it had been a roiling, churning monster. Now? After no sleep and a bottle of wine? It was like a bath; mercury smooth and shining like gold.  

Minette was not spontaneous, yet twelve years ago, the sight of a crushed velvet jacket had been enough for her to turn her life upside down and make the immediate decision to marry Reese. That human was going places! Minette was ready to buy before she tried.  She had never been so sure of anything in her whole life.  Her eyes locked on Reese’s.  She stepped over the discarded corflutes and bunting that littered the party room floor and their embrace was long and seemed everlasting.  Later at their wedding, they joked about the whole  “and our eyes met across a crowded room” trope, but it’s what had happened. Really? Really-really!

Like all modern elections, Antony had called it by 9:30 PM; much to the annoyance of those watching at home with a few bottles of  Pinot in the fridge, waiting for a slow reveal. It wasn’t any fun these days. The computer could generate the trends so quickly you were tucked up in bed by ten. The ousted pollies would be packing up their office before you’d even had your Weetbix. 

Minette remembered that night well. It was the night of the earthquake-sized, landslide, total demolition of the Government. The Opposition’s promise of climate action had worked a charm and the electorate had bought it. Anything seemed possible, even marrying a dork in a 1980s blazer. 

Twelve years on, the Party was as sad as Reese and Minette’s marriage. Not dead, but on the way out. None of their promised reforms or targets had been met. The bushfires (arguments) had gotten worse.  The storms (sex) more (less) frequent.  The coastline crumbled into the sea, despite the wall.   

Reese had suggested they move from their beach house six years ago. Minette had refused. It looked bad. The headline “Party faithful leave the coast like lemmings” didn’t seem like a good fit. The media would have a field day. She had insisted they stay. Re-election was worth the risk.

Her window-side reverie was shattered by a now-familiar sound.  She watched as the neighbour’s house slipped into the ocean, room by room. Thankfully the Millers had left last year.  They knew the writing was on their wall. 

As she pulled the zipper shut, Minette realised she had something else to pack. She folded the velvet jacket carefully. It took up a lot of room. It didn’t even fit Reese anymore, but it was a symbol of their hope. 

Hope might not be enough but it would do.  Minette pulled the front door shut, then laughed at her absurdity. No door won’t keep old Neptune out! 

496 words.

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