Furious Fiction 19 – January 2021

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This story was meant to wrap up in December 2020, but the trials of Frankie are far from over. Once again I have entered a chapter of my now serialised novel in the Australian Writers Centre’s Furious Fiction competition.

The Furious Fiction 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. The plot twist fairies and the prompts are not helping me get to the end. Once again it runs on directly from the last instalment so read that first.

The criteria for Furious Fiction this month were:

  • Your story must begin at sunrise.
  • You must use the following words somewhere in your story: SIGNATURE, PATIENT, BICYCLE.
  • Your story must include a character who has to make a CHOICE.

This month’s Furious Fiction stats:

This month I submitted the story at 10:15 AM on Sunday. I started thinking about the story soon after the prompts came out on Friday night but did not start writing until Saturday evening about 6 PM. Then lots of tweaking on Sunday morning. 499 words.

The Biker’s Alarm App.

These days EVERYONE used the *amazing* Biker’s Alarm app. It went off an hour before sunrise automatically factoring in the daily astronomical variation. It gave a weather forecast, a half-way warning based on time, AND you could choose your favourite bike-related song for the alarm! These wonders of technology disguised some of the less palatable aspects of the app. 

This morning, like every other morning, O’Mallory was jolted from his restless half-sleep by Queen’s “Bicycle Race”, and despite his oppressive fatigue, his feet slapped on the floor enthusiastically. There was no way on God’s Earth O’Mallory was ever going to miss a single legal opportunity to wear coloured clothing!  As he pulled on his purple leggings and gold jersey, the Judge sang his favourite line of the song;  

“You say black; I say white!” and chortled at his courageous rebellion.

The ruling Ultra Conservative Party, which prohibited the wearing of anything other than black, white or grey clothing, had paradoxically exempted cycling gear. Although touted as a health initiative, most people knew it was a paper-thin excuse manufactured by duplicitous Middle-Aged Male politicians who fancied themselves In Lycra!  

In the end, it didn’t matter why the UCP let you ride in coloured lycra, they did.  *Everyone* in the country now had a bicycle, and the nation had never been fitter! 

O’Mallory unlocked his Bluetooth bike lock by agreeing to the App’s T&Cs from his phone. 

  1. Colour permitted forty minutes either side of sunrise. 
  2. No dismount for any purpose except to repair a flat tyre. 
  3. Maximum of four riders in any group. 
  4. No motorised traffic other than bicycles allowed. (Essential services excepted) 

Non-compliance: $5000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment. 

With an 80-minute window, there was no stopping for a coffee or a chat like in the old days. McDonald’s, never missing an opportunity, modified their drive-through so you could pedal-through and refill your reusable McGoCup with their signature McSunride brew.  

Mobile coffee vans pivoted to become tyre repair stations with all the gear an *unlucky* rider might need to fix a puncture. You could *guarantee*  a flat tyre every time you rode over a *particular* nearby spot.

Riding quietly, O’Mallory thought about his next mutinous steps. Armed with evidence, thanks to Frankie; it was time to act!  He’d been patient long enough. 

So engrossed by thoughts of sedition, O’Mallory didn’t notice the whisper-quiet Tesla creeping up behind him until it was too late.  The tinted windows gave no clue to whom was inside, but a  non-essential vehicle on the road at this time of day only spelt trouble. 

He rose in the saddle to pedal faster and negotiate the last hill before home, but as he rattled down the other side at breakneck speed, the Tesla broadsided him. 

In that nanosecond,  O’Mallory had to choose between going over the bonnet or under the wheels; either way, it wouldn’t end well for him.  

As he soared over the bonnet, he looked back to see the door open and saw …

Furious Fiction 15 -September 2020

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You know the drill! Another month, another Furious Fiction story. This month I had to deviate from my Frankie adventure as one of the prompts was a picture of a cruise ship.

The prompts for September 2020 wereScreen Shot 2020-09-07 at 20.29.48

Check out the Australian Writers Website to see who wins Furious Fiction this month.


Stevie and Nic’s Romance at Sea.

“Should we go inside?” Stevie asked “It’s starting to get cold. We don’t want to get sick, not now!”

“Wait a little longer? We can watch the sunset one last time.” Nic replied

“Stay here and I’ll get us a jacket. We can switch sides and watch the moon rise too.”

Nic liked that about Stevie.  So thoughtful and romantic, sprinkling the world with loving-kindness wherever they went.

It was hard to believe they had met less than a month ago. Nic had first spied Stevie sitting in a full lotus position at the Yawn-Dawn Yoga Class. Decked out in white baggy pants, tight singlet and one of those stretchy bandana things that claim you can wear them fifteen different ways, Stevie was the epitome of stylish serenity.

Nic?  Well, Nic couldn’t even hold tree pose for more than 15 seconds without a significant death wobble cascading the tree to king dancer to forward fold all with the grace of an elephant.

“Did anyone notice?” Nic asked themselves as they stayed head-down-bum-up in the only pose they knew they had mastered: downward dog.

Stevie had noticed. Yes, Stevie had certainly noticed Nic. Nic was so unsure of themselves. Their perky energy not harnessed or restrained, but bubbling over in a torrent of words as if they feared the silence. Feared silence and the thoughts it may bring.

When they had introduced themselves to each other,  Nic started laughing.

“Haha we must have been made for each other! Stevie Nic,” Pointing from one to the other. “You know, like Stevie Nicks! The singer…” Their voice trailing off as they realised that  Stevie had in fact, got the joke. Realising it wasn’t that funny and they were probably just making themselves look sillier by the second. Contrary to Nic’s fears, Stevie felt like they had scored the winning goal and found a potential life partner.

By coincidence, their 8-day cruise had been extended by another 14 days. The cruise company said the all-expenses-paid extension was beyond their control. Many of the other passengers complained. For Stevie and Nic, it was a chance to cement their relationship even further. No point whinging, whichever way you sliced it they had more time to spend together.  More time to discover if this holiday romance had hope once they were on land.

****

Stevie came back up on deck and broke Nic’s reverie. They put their jackets over their shoulders and kissed softly.

“Last day tomorrow,”  Nic sighed.

“Yes, back to normal, well new normal anyway!”

“Yes, new normal.”

*****

In the morning as they lined up to disembark they had to wait for the Medical Officer to stamp their forms.

COVID-SAFE in bold red letters.

This passenger has been isolated for 14 days and tested negative for COVID.

They walked gingerly down the gangway into a barrage of questions from the jostling media frenzy, “What was it like? How many people died?”

New normal indeed.


Gender ambivalent storytelling?

I am hoping it is a gender-ambivalent story and that Stevie and Nic could both be male or female or neither. The story is not about gender but about people making the best of a tough situation. It was a new experience for me to deliberately use non-gendered pronouns to replace he/she and him/her.  Some of that difficulty arises from it not being my usual form of speaking or writing and also because they/them frequently refer to a plural form.

I am not sure if I succeeded and this story was penned in the final few hours of the Furious Fiction’s competition window after I had tried to force Frankie onto a ship, then developed 3 other stories lines before hitting on the Stevie and Nic story. It’s not my best story, but I got it done!

497 words submitted at 20:15 on Sunday night.

 

Furious Fiction 14 – August 2020

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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 contain HUMOUR/COMEDY (which is defined).
  • Your story must include the following five words: DIZZY, EXOTIC, LUMPY, TINY, TWISTED.
  • Your story must include a sandwich.

 

If you have been following my stories over the last few months, you’ll know I have centred them around Frankie the Flamboyant Dresser.  Last month, I couldn’t progress the story because there was no wedding or funeral needed in Frankie’s world.

This month’s criteria fell into Frankie’s lap! I was looking for a way to create a bridge between him meeting his kindred spirit, George in the Gibson Desert, to his arrest and entrapment in the park. This story gets me part of the way there. Next month, with suitable criteria I can make to next leap.

On the other hand, I am also looking for a route to the finale where Judge O’Mallory, Andrea and Frankie join forces. But that’s beginning to give too much away!


Fried up Kombi

Teetering on the window sill of the 18-wheeler rig, George was making exploratory darts left and right, up and down with his boot searching for any foothold to stop him from dropping to the ground or falling into the cab completely.

Attempting to charm the driver, a lumpy-arsed blue-singleted specimen, he agreed that yes it was a long way, but it really wasn’t that far out of his way to take them to Perth.  Or…  no… no worries, if that didn’t work for him, Adelaide would be fine too. Just anywhere other than here next to the fried-up Kombi.

Frankie, George’s companion, couldn’t resist the obvious next line, “Just smile and give him a Vegemite sandwich George! That’ll convince him!”

George twisted his neck out of the window at such an angle, that Frankie thought his head would snap right off and onto the road.

“Shut up Frankie!” George hissed “He’s agreed to take us to Adelaide. Stop acting like a dick!”

Frankie held his finger to his mouth in an exaggerated shush, “Yes Boss!”

Seconds later, Frankie was twerking down the road like an exotic dancer, singing to himself. He stopped abruptly and spun around  “Hey, where exactly is Brussels, anyway?”

Shrivelling away from George’s withering glance, Frankie spun back around and continued his dancing only to stop even more abruptly before exclaiming “Shit, I’m dizzy!” and spewing all over the road.

That ended George’s discourse with the lumpy-arsed, blue-singleted driver who unceremoniously pushed George out the window, as he put his truck into gear and sped off. Well, as fast as a fully laden 18-wheeler can speed off from a dead stop.

“Bloody wankers!” the driver yelled out the window as he rumbled away in a cloud of bulldust.

Photo 27-04-13 8 51 02

“Nice one, Frankie! Nice one! Now we’re stuck here until the next truckie comes along, and who knows when that’ll be!”

“Sorry, I  got a teeeeeensy bit too excited!” Frankie slurred, trying to defuse George’s anger with a cute voice and a gesture with his fingers showing exactly how tiny his excitement was.

“You’re pissed” George sighed.

“YES, I AM!!” said Frankie “And dehydrated and hungry! And smelly!”

It had been a long night since George’s Kombi had literally fried, leaving him stranded six hundred kilometres east of Broome with a lost soul he had only just met.

A long two-bottles-of-bourbon night, where Frankie and George had talked and talked about ALL the things, cementing their new friendship with secrets and dreams.

All the bourbon was in Frankie’s belly now, so it could only get better. They’d just have to sit and hope the next driver would take them to Perth or Adelaide or anywhere! Anywhere, before THEY fried.

“Hey George, do you reckon he says chunder or plunder?”

With that, George stood up with a menacing smile and rolled Frankie into the ditch whispering, “You better run, you better take cover!”

And then he whistled like a flute…Do-diddle-do-Do-da-di-da-di-do-da!

(You’re singing it, aren’t you!)

Desert Pano3


In case the cultural references are too parochially Australian, they refer to a Men at Work song  From the Land Down Under, a big hit in the 1980s.