Furious Fiction 6

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

It’s the first Friday of the month again and the Furious Fiction email is in my inbox. Yeah!! I have 2 hours before I go out with friends, and I’m already booked up for the weekend. So this time I gave myself only an hour to write the piece before submitting! Once again it’s not great but it’s done!

FURIOUS FICTION SEPTEMBER 2019 – THIS MONTH’S CRITERIA

  • Your story must include the name of at least ONE element from the periodic table.
  • Your story’s first and last words must begin with S.
  • Your story must contain the words TRAFFIC, JOWLS and HIDDEN.
  • And finally, your story must include something that BUZZES.

500 words 55 hours $500 prize money!

Sweet sounds of silence

Stephanie sat behind the wheel, her mouth opened wide, and her eyebrows raised higher than a tranny’s pencilled-in line. She looked over at the couple sitting next to her in the traffic. They were laughing, clearly enjoying her antics.

“What?” she said aloud, gesticulating impolitely. “Never heard of facial yoga? Hey! Honey your jowls could sure do with some tightening!”

The couple turned away, the lights changed, and they accelerated away.

“Pffft” Stephanie shouted after them.

“Calm down, Stephanie!” The little voice inside her head cooed.  “They’re just not worth it”

She took a few deep breaths and returned to the facial gymnastics, indifferent to the effect it was having on those around her. This was her time, her space!  She could stay hidden in the safety capsule of her car and do whatever she liked. Stephanie looked forward to the drive home. It was her peaceful sanctuary from the raucous and relentless buzzing of the world.

For Stephanie, the world was a noisy and disturbing place.

The whooshing hand dryers in bathrooms.

The grizzling, guzzling coffee machine blowing out steam.

The beep beep beep of the road crossing alert.

The clackety-clack of heels on the concrete floors.

The loud music in the supermarket.

The audible chewing of the fellow next to her in a cafe. 

Every sound set her on edge.  There was no escape. At least in her car, she could cut out some of the noise and calm her frayed nerves. Without that peace, she knew she’d meltdown quicker than caesium held in her palm. She was grateful for the days when an accident delayed her.  Although in a pang of guilt, it did occur to her that her win was likely to be someone else’s tragedy.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a woman she knew, walking down the street with big, fat, puffy earphones covering up half her head. Her face was serene and blissful. Stephanie’s head craned around to get a better look. “What are they? What is she wearing” she asked the universe. “She looks so happy! She never looks happy!”

Up ahead was an appliance store. Stephanie careened off the road and screeched into the car park.  She strode into the store with her single purpose in mind.

Buy Bliss Making Headphones.

The sales clerk asked if he could help. “Big puffy headphones”, she blurted out, holding her hands like cups over her ears.

He took her to the rack. She tried a few on but felt no bliss.

“People like you usually like these best,” he said quietly.

He put the muffs over her ears and flicked the switch. The noise retreated into a muffled, manageable murmur.

“People like me?” she asked

“Yes” the sales clerk said shyly. “People on the spectrum”

 

You can see my other Furious Fiction Pieces Here.

Furious Fiction 1

Furious Fiction 2

Furious Fiction 3

Furious Fiction 4

Furious Fiction 5

 

 

Two years old!

Happy second birthday, Old Chook Enterprises!

My blog is two years old today! Well, not ‘today’ today because I wrote this in May and the second birthday happens in July but I’m publishing it on the second anniversary of my first post! Now that’s not confusing, is it?

I am celebrating because unless something tragic has happened in the last few days, I have posted consistently every week for two years. Sometimes more than one post a week but at least every week!  I am proud of myself for doing that.

In the time leading up to this post, I will have been chronicling my trip around Scotland. This particular piece I wrote in the comfort of my home on May 16th, 2019. A little “here’s one I prepared earlier” post.

I still have a way to go till I hit my goal of 1000 followers, but my “followship” (is that a word?) has been steadily increasing. Sadly extrapolating from my current growth rate, it will be about 2027 before I hit that mark. I need some exponential growth!

My most viewed post to date is No day shall erase you from the memory of time which was featured by WordPress as an Editors’ Pick. This post looked back at my visit to the 9/11 Memorial in New York and still gets a few views every week.

A few of my own favourite posts are

RAOK – (Random Acts of Kindness) about a magical few minutes on a train when everyone was kind to each other.

Pandora’s Box about the briefcase full of letters between my ex and I.

It’s not been hard work but sometimes a bit stressful when I have has no posts up my sleeve, and it’s Thursday night. Every photo and video has been my own (unless I say otherwise and it’s only a few). I have not reblogged anyone else’s work. Not once. Not ever.

My original goal for starting the blog was to find a place for a side hustle in writing and creativity. That hasn’t panned out yet. It still costs me more to run than I have made. My obvious talents (sic) are still underappreciated.

But nonetheless, I’ll keep going. I still enjoy writing. My friends IRL seem to enjoy my candid posts. This Old Chook still feels like she has things to say.


When I get home from Scotland, I will be updating my theme to give my blog a fresh new look. I hope you’ll stick around!

This reel is me over the last 10 years.

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Furious Fiction 4

The Australian Writers’ Centre’s Furious Fiction competition for April 2019 centred on three lines of dialogue.

Viz:

  • “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”  from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • “He’s never done anything like this before.”  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • “What’s it going to be then, eh?” A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

You can find out more about this fun competition at https://www.writerscentre.com.au/furious-fiction/

Here is my story.

Black Widows

The door of the pub flew open, and an old woman, lugging an oversized suitcase and a heavy backpack, struggled to fit through its frame .

She flung her suitcase bedside a table close to the fireside and strode up to the bar.  The bag was big. She was small.

“Impressive!” the bartender thought, surprised by the old girl’s strength.

“What’s it going to be then, eh?” he asked.

She ignored him as she poked around in her backpack muttering to herself.

“It’s in here somewhere. I know I packed it.”

He presumed she was looking for her wallet, but when she slammed that down on the bar, he figured he was wrong.

“Madam?” he tried again, “What will it be?”

Judging from her skin, her hair and her sensible shoes, he figured she must be around 70. The backs of her hands had the tell-tale age spots that he’d seen on his own grandmother.

He figured she was deaf. “MADAM?” he said with more volume.

She shot him a soul-withering glance. The crimson glint of the fire was reflected, blood-like, in her dark, bright eyes. He took a step back. He figured he wouldn’t ask her again.

“Ahhh! Here it is!” she said holding a small crystal vial. It was filled with fluorescent liquid that sparkled with the same red he had seen in her eyes. His curiosity stirred.

“Toilet?” she asked abruptly.

He pointed to the corner of the room. The woman turned on her heel, leaving her stuff in a pile on the bar.

When the woman returned, her skin was smooth and lustrous, the age spots gone. Her dark hair no longer anchored by steely grey. Thirty years had vanished!

His mouth flapped wordlessly.

“It’s fantastic, isn’t’ it!” she said.

“What is it?”

“It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution,” she whispered as she held the vial up to the light, twitching it, so the ruby liquid sloshed about.

“Would you like to try it?” she asked, her voice laced in honey and silk.

“Yes,” his gasped, with fearful anticipation.

“It’s not cheap…come.” she beckoned.

He took all the cash from the till and followed her into the cold night.

….

In the pale morning light, the police officers stood over the bartender’s cold, grey body.

“It’s a bit queer that his lips are still so red, isn’t it Sarge?” the constable asked.

“I don’t understand.” the sergeant said quietly as he removed a vial from the bartender’s stiff fingers. “He’s never done anything like this before.”

The noise of tyres on gravel distracted them and they watched as a red convertible passed slowly by. Their eyes were drawn to two identically dressed women sitting up front. Mother and daughter perhaps? One around 40, the other maybe 70?

Their lips painted red.

Their eyes bright and hard.

Their licence plate –  BLKWYDOS

 

Hello? Is there anybody out there?

Personal Blog - personal photos

According to my stats, I have more than 400 followers. (434 to be precise at the time of writing) Despite this,  I rarely get more than 30 views on each of my posts. Does this mean no-one out there is reading or are you reading via the WordPress Reader page?  Perhaps you are reading in your email rather than on the browser?

Apparently you only get “views” counted in your stats if readers read your post on your actual webpage.

I’d like to get an idea of who is out there and why you’re reading (or not reading as the case may be)

Can you help me out by filling in this survey?  Thanks! 😀

Old Chook Enterprises Reader Survey

Please don’t add your name or other identifying information. It’s better if it’s anonymous and please play nice!

PS: I will collect responses and turn the survey off in a month’s time. (ie March 22, 2019)

 

 

Furious Fiction

The Australian Writers’ Centre has a marvellous monthly competition. On the first Friday of each month they publish a set of criteria for a 500 word story. They allow 55 hours to write and submit the story.  There is one prize of $500. You can find details for Furious Fiction at this link.

I have entered a few times now and it’s great fun. While I haven’t won (yet) I have been enjoying myself immensely. The writing prompts seem to limit you at first but then as your brain gets ticking, the story takes over and it is indeed, furious!

In July, the restrictions (in addition to the word length) were:

  1. The first sentence had to be a question.
  2. You needed to include the words jam, jackpot and jungle.
  3. The last word had to be BANG!

You can find the winning entry and the short listed stories here.

Here is my effort.


Be careful what you wish for.

“Do you want strawberry or raspberry jam?” Gary asked with his arm hovering mid-shelf.

“What? What did you say?” she said as she shifted her attention from the young couple in front. They looked so peaceful. He just picked things off the shelf and put them in the trolley. The woman nodded. Nothing was said, and they went ahead.

“Strawberry, Gary. Strawberry will be fine.” Her flat voice failed to hide the anger that was ready to burst through her hot skin and slice him into a million tiny shreds!

When she had first met him, she thought she’d hit the jackpot! A caring fellow who always considered her before making decisions that affected her. She had been ready to leave the dating jungle, so she jumped in and got married.

Now after 23 years, he was so damned annoying! Could he not do anything without asking?  Could he not stand on his own two feet without checking in? Just once?

There only seemed to be one way out of this mess. He was worth more to her dead than alive. But how to make it seem like an accident?

“Do you want strawberry or raspberry jam?” Gary asked with his arm hovering mid-shelf.

He was always careful to make sure he asked her first. He knew if he didn’t there’d be an argument. Gary liked raspberry, but she always said strawberry. If he suggested they buy both, she’d bite his head off.

“Strawberry, Gary. Strawberry will be fine.” she snarled.

He looked away. The young couple in front reminded him of how it had been, once. They looked so peaceful. He just made up his own mind and put things in the trolley. The woman didn’t care. She didn’t censor his choices at every turn.

He thought about leaving Miriam. Every day. Her once charming wit had turned sour.  But he knew he couldn’t compete in the jungle where the cougars gobbled up younger men and never considered balding 57 year-olds with pot bellies.

After 23 years he knew her relentless brow beating would go on forever unless he cracked the jackpot and she carked it.

There only seemed to be one way out of this mess. She was worth more to him dead than alive. But how to make it seem like an accident?

Finished at last and with the car packed, Miriam got behind the wheel. She started to reverse then had to brake hard as the young couple from before walked behind them.  Miriam watched them in the mirror as they kissed.  She sighed.

Once on the highway, Miriam and Gary both stared mournfully ahead, secretly imagining their own personal murder-mystery episode.  Time passed, neither spoke. Gary turned on the radio to drown out the silence.

A flat-bed lorry carrying huge rolls of newsprint thundered past.

They were doing 100 and it was going faster.

The 18-wheeler swerved.

The load shifted.

The cable snapped.

The roll dropped.

 BANG!


This month’s Furious Fiction just started!! (If you’re reading this on the first Friday of the month!!) Have a look and get started!! You’ve got around 54 hours to go