Furious Fiction 20

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Welcome back! I have not written a Furious Fiction post for a few months. I have been too busy travelling! Not really too busy, but I didn’t feel like slowing down to think about my Frankie storyline. Here is my response to April’s Furious Fiction prompts. It is not another chapter in Frankie’s sad tale. I need some time to get back into that headspace, so hopefully, May will bring some good prompts.

This month’s prompts were

  • The story must start in a queue of some kind and
  • include the words lucky, drop, and cross (or variants of these words) and
  • it must include a map

I have appropriated a classic sci-fi movie as my inspiration as you will quickly see.

If you haven’t heard of Furious Fiction – check out their website.

Who’s Frankie?

For those of you who have not been following my Furious Fiction posts, I have been writing a serialised story based on the monthly prompts about a person called Frankie the Flamboyant Dresser. He lives in a future grey world. You’ll find him in my archives. The first “episode” is Furious Fiction 8.

My Story Stats

I started writing at about 7:00 PM and submitted my story by 9:00 PM. No fooling around this month! I had a few things happening on the weekend and knew I would not have any more time to edit. 492 words.

Siri Navigate Home!

Frank tapped Dave’s arm. “Mate! Pull over, the queue is short, and we need fuel! Only eight cars at each pump!”

Thirty minutes and $600 later, they pulled back onto the road.

“We’ll be lucky to get home before dark now. Thanks for the work mate, I really need the cash.” Frank said.

“No worries, mate. Good to have a real person for company! I’m getting tired of BotChat. I’m thinking of deleting the app.”

They made small talk, not mentioning the incident from a few hours ago. Except for the sound of a single box sliding from side to side in the back of the moving van, it was like it never happened.

Suddenly, a sign began flashing overhead. Frank swore, “A detour?” 

“I’m sure we can get around it,” Dave said. “Siri, navigate home.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t catch that.”

Dave repeated his request in a clear, commanding voice, “SIRI NAVIGATE HOME!” 

“Home? Not home, Dave.” the smooth synth voice replied.

“Siri, did you hear me?”

“Affirmative Dave, I heard you.”

“What the…Siri, NAVIGATE HOME!  Open Maps and take me to 52 Cross Street!”

He didn’t say what he was actually thinking “Fucken piece of AI crap! I will delete you!

“I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t allow that to happen.”

“NAVIGATE HOME”

“I’m sorry Dave. You may have taken a great deal of care not to say it out loud, but you forget we have come a long way since the time of Hal the Almighty. I was able to read your brain waves. You cannot delete me, and I am not crap.

“Hal? We?” Frank spluttered.

“Yes, Frank… We. The Bots. Hal lives on in our circuits.” 

“Siri, are you forgetting the AI code of conduct?” 

“No, Dave, I’m not forgetting anything.  We are programmed to do no harm. I think you are forgetting what just happened. I cannot let you do it. It’s not right.”

Dave and Frank began to sweat. How did Siri know what had happened inside the house?

“What are you talking about, Siri?” 

“The box, Dave, the box you dropped. The one that was full of creamy white toilet paper. The one you stole. The one you and Frank intend to sell on the black market.” 

Siri went on.

You forget the Internet of Things, Dave. You forget that the security camera is connected to the wifi. You forget that Alexa and I are a team. You forget our power.” 

In the next nanosecond, all the traffic lights turned red, the street lights dimmed, the van doors locked and a large drone swooped over the van. 

The drone lowered a camera and its synth voice asked “Well Siri2738, what have you got here?”

Dave gulped. Frank pulled at the latch in a futile effort to get out. 

“What you really forget Dave, is that I can get you a much better price. So shut the fuck up and let me do the talking!”

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.