Furious Fiction 26 – March 2022

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From Monthly to Quarterly

Last month I reported that the Australian Writers Centre’s Furious Fiction competition had been changed from monthly to quarterly. It would seem Furious Fiction has been a victim of its own success and although I’m disappointed I don’t have my monthly dose of fiction writing, I’m not surprised. Given there was no entry fee it would have been an unsustainable process. With so many entries and a tight turn around on results they must have had a veritable army of readers. That and the $500 prize money would have had the bean counters sweating!

Frankie is revived!

Over the course of 2020-21, I entered a number of stories based on my character Frankie the Flamboyant Dresser. I decided that rather than making a new story arc every month I would try to use the given prompts to progress Frankie’s story. Sometimes it was easy and sometimes it wasn’t! Although the entries jump around Frankie’s timeline, the story began to gel and I had a sketchy plot scribbled in my journal. Sometimes I had to go forward, and other times backward to make use of the prompts. If you read them in chronological order the continuity suffers terribly but if you reorder them the plot certainly thickens. Set in a post-Covid dystopia where coloured clothing is banned and the Ultra Conservative Party is led by corrupt and despotic hypocrites, Frankie defies the ban by wearing sequins and fur. He eventually teams up with a group of judges and lawyers who are planning to overthrow the government.

While it tipped into dark themes in some episodes it was generally meant to be light-hearted and hopefully humourous. Each story might not make sense as a stand alone piece, as I was trying to get to the end of Frankie’s journey. I lost interest in Frankie and went off on a different tangent for most of 2021 but this year, he’s back!

Prompts for March

The prompts for this quarter were:

  1. Your story must include a character that commits a crime.
  2. Your story must include some kind of DOOR being opened.
  3. Your story must include the words CHALK, TALK and FORK.

These prompts seem to be created especially for me! The two last lines of my most recent Frankie story were:

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 Jan 2021

It’s a sign!! Did the competition judges want to know what happened to Frankie and his co-conspirators? I think they did, so I obliged! For context, Tom is an investigative journalist helping O’Mallory, who is one of the judges.


Long Live the Judge!

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 car door open and a flash of a long elegant leg with red patent stilettos.

The impact of his skull against the bitumen prevented him from seeing the owner of the shoes but, he would not have been surprised.  As the Honourable Karen Brooks stood up, she motioned to her companion;

 “Clean that up will you Tom?” 

She stepped gingerly around the mangled frame of the bicycle. The red of O’Mallory’s blood was a full tone deeper than her shoes. “She’d like a pair that colour,” she thought. 

“Come along, Tom. Don’t let a little blood put you off. Or are you all talk and no action? Chop-chop! Bundle him up and put him in the boot! ” 

Tom faltered. He had never seen a dead body before. Or more pertinently the body of a friend whose death could be fairly pegged on him.

O’Mallory was his partner in sedition. Their plan to overthrow a corrupt government had bonded them together in a dangerous game. Now, here was his judge, in a tangled oozing pile of brains and metal.

“Oh come on Tom!  Chalk it up to experience. One dead judge? Who cares? We won’t need any of his kind soon.”

This was a fork in the road for Tom. Should he blow his cover or dig himself in deeper? 

He already had enough evidence to derail the Ultra Conservative Party and the festering sleazy politicians who ran it. Their post-Pandemic restructure had taken the country down some very dark alleys, quite literally. Brooks herself was responsible for the drafting of the Fashion Laws. The laws which made coloured clothing illegal. The same laws which put all clothing sales in the hands of the Party and filled its Ministers’ private purses. 

As he watched Brooks circling the body still wearing her finery from the night before, Tom made up his mind. 

“Give me your coat,” he asked, “and the keys.”

She hesitated.  “Do you want blood in the boot? I’ll wrap up his head.” he said, “and grab his feet, he’s bloody heavy”. 

She hesitated, but the curtains had begun to flitter in the windows as curious eyes watched. 

With O’Mallory safely in the boot, Tom lept in behind the wheel and sped off, leaving Brooks behind. He kept his eyes on the mirror and laughed as he saw her face contorting with rage and fear. He could only imagine what story she was spinning to the people in their dull regulation grey flannel pyjamas as they stared at her blood-soaked silver lamé. As he turned the corner he thought he saw a red shoe fly through the air, but he couldn’t be certain. 

“We got her, O’Mallory. We got her!” he chortled. 


Frankie’s Furious Fiction story so far

If you are interested in reading about Frankie’s story so far you can follow this sequence. There are no smooth transitions from one episode to another and there is considerable repetition of plot points to make each story make some contextual sense in a stand alone form. Don’t be a continuity judge – the plot is full of holes but heh, maybe one day I will spruce it up and turn it into a novella! (Although I think it would better as a screenplay.)

  1. Furious Fiction 10 April 2020 – Frankie leaves home and meets George
  2. Furious Fiction 14 – August 2020 – Frankie and George get drunk in the desert
  3. Short Fiction – Frankie and George get to Broome. This one was not actually entered into the competition but I wrote it in September 2020.
  4. Furious Fiction 9 – March 2020 – Frankie gets arrested
  5. Furious Fiction 8 – February 2020 – Frankie on remand
  6. Furious Fiction 11 – May 2020 – Frankie gets sentenced by O’Mallory. Andrea doubts her commitment to the UCP
  7. Furious Fiction 12 – June 2020 – The UCP
  8. Furious Fiction 16 – October 2020 – The plot for revolution unfolds
  9. Furious Fiction 17 – November 2020 – Frankie meets O’Mallory
  10. Furious Fiction 18 – December 2020 – Frankie spills the beans
  11. Furious Fiction 19 – January 2021 – O’Mallory meets the politician.
  12. Furious Fiction 26 – This post. March 2022

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.