Furious Fiction 13 – July 2020

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 take place at either WEDDING or a FUNERAL.
  • Your story must include something being cut.
  • Your story must include the words “UNDER”, “OVER” and “BETWEEN”.

If you have been following my stories over the last few months, you’ll know I have centred them around Frankie the Flamboyant Dresser.  Frankie’s story was not suited to a wedding or a funeral, so I have branched out this month with a completely different story line.

I have Frankie’s next moves planned, so I will wait till next month’s Furious Fiction competition to see if I can make that happen.


Rebecca’s Wedding

Somewhere between the speeches and the cake being cut, he told her it was over.

The blood drained from her face.  Her rouged cheeks and overly red lips making her look like a zombie bride. Her thoughts whirred through her brain but they were trapped under a blanket of ugly rage.

“The drinks package hasn’t even expired and you’re telling me it’s all over?”

She glared, he slumped.

“Why didn’t you tell me yesterday? Why didn’t you tell me last week? Was it all for nothing?”

“I didn’t know!” he spluttered, “I’m sorry! It’s not really my fault, Rebecca.”

She smiled ferociously like a lion might smile at a gazelle.  He turned away, wiping a tear from his eye realising too late it definitely was a case of like mother, like daughter.

The echoing, too loud voice of the DJ pierced their private angry moment,  “And NOW let’s welcome the happy couple to the dance floor for their first dance as Mr and Mrs McGRATH!”

Rebecca hitched up her skirts and grabbed his wrist, “Listen, pal, we’re going to put on such a show that no-one will suspect anything. You’ll say nothing until tomorrow, do you hear me? Nothing!  I am not going to have my mum in tears over this now! Not after all she’s been through! And if you thought I was planning on using your name, you’ve got another thing coming!”

The instant they were on the rickety parquetry squares the reception joint called a dance floor, she melted into his arms in such a deceptive display of loving-kindness, the whole room was fooled.

“Such a lovely couple!” they cooed.

Rebecca’s mum Evie, did cry. She cried tears of joy for her lovely daughter and new son-in-law as they swang so effortlessly in synchronised perfection. The best man and chief bridesmaid, the only ones to join them; sensed the tension.

It had been worth everything to see them here so happy!

The waiter chatted as he cleared the table. “You must be a bit annoyed Evie?”

“No, why? They look so happy.”

“I thought you’d be disappointed. You had such a lovely wedding planned”

“But it is lovely.”

“Yes, but didn’t you hear? It’s all over.”

“Over?” Evie stuttered, the bottom falling from her stomach like she’d been punched.

“Yes, they lifted the restrictions this morning. The Corona rules have changed again. As from today you could have had fifty people, not just five! Ahh well,” said the waiter whimsically “At least you’ve saved a truckload of money!”

Now the blood drained from Evie’s face. The battle over who was going to come to the wedding had been fierce. So fierce,  in fact, she had regrettably but quite literally, stabbed her ex-husband in the back. He was now cooling his heels in her freezer.

“Look on the bright side,” she thought “at least we can have one hundred people at his funeral!”

 

Furious Fiction 12 – June 2020

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Here is my entry for June’s Furious Fiction, the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly competition. Lockdown is nearly over here in Australia, but things remain unsettled with racial tension adding another dangerous element to the world’s instability.

As I’ve said before, this competition is a fun activity with a terrific prize. You can read about it on their website.

Basically, it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for June were:

  • Your story’s first and last words must begin with J.
  • Your story must include a game being played.
  • Your story must include the phrase MISS/MISSED THE BOAT.

I’ve continued with Frankie’s journey and although I feel it is unlikely this chapter will make much sense as a stand-alone piece, I am now more focused on the challenge of completing his story using the prompts given.

This month’s entry was submitted on Saturday night at 22:15. 496 words.

You can read the previous chapter in Frankie’s story here.


Chapter 5: Justice for all.

Justice is a tricky concept.  Frankie knew justice didn’t mean fair. It didn’t mean right. It didn’t even mean protection of the innocent. It was a game invented by the people who owned the ball.  A blood sport rigged to ensure the rich always won, even if they broke their own rules. 

Frankie was playing for the wrong team. Judge O’Mallory, on the other hand, was on the winning side. Frankie imagined O’Mallory had been fullback for the First XV at St Swanky’s or wherever his type goes to school.  He probably went to boarding school, packed off at five by his neglectful cold-hearted parents. 

As the bailiff dragged him screaming from the courtroom, Frankie decided it was time he learnt to play by their rules.

He needed someone to tell his story.

——-

“Bailiff! Take him down!” The thunderous words were still ringing in Judge O’Mallory’s ears as the door slammed on Frankie. He wasn’t feeling like a winner. He’d sentenced another poor wretch to five years in prison on the whim of a corrupt government. A government that allowed for the tyrannical rule of the black-shirted Fashion Police. 

—–

Personal grooming had sunk to all-time lows after COVID. People didn’t even bother wearing pants when they were Zooming! The lack of respect spilt over into other areas of life and before long there was anarchy!  

The lack of decency and dignity was deplorable! Someone needed to do something! 

Someone did. 

The UCP. 

The Ultra Conservative Party burst onto the scene after the Pandemic with their promises of a return to the “Old Normal”. Changes in the laws were incremental. Like a lobster in a pot, the heat was turned up so slowly no-one noticed until it was too late. The populous had missed the boat on the democracy front.

Low-slung jeans were the first to go. No more dudes with the crotch of their jeans down around their knees. Who could argue with that? A ban on exposed underwear was quickly followed by the prohibition of activewear anywhere other than the gym. Again a significant portion of the population supported that particular ruling. 

Then bright colours, florals, patterns, stripes and animal prints.  

The UCP controlled the market by buying out all the boutiques.  Easily done, since most had gone under in the lockdown.

They introduced a regulated monochromatic capsule wardrobe which stipulated less than twenty items, a mandated date for changing from one season’s capsule to the next, and jail time for those who breached the code. 

—–

O’Mallory wasn’t the only judge feeling uncomfortable about the fashion laws. The secret rumblings amongst his colleagues were getting bolder.

They needed someone to tell their story.

Frankie’s opinion of O’Mallory was wrong. He didn’t know he had an ally in silk and horsehair

Both men needed the same thing, a fearless storyteller! Someone who was willing to blow the whistle on corruption and intolerance. Did such a person still exist? 

What they needed was a bloody good journalist! 

Furious Fiction 11 – May 2020

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Another First Friday rolls around and here is my entry for May’s Furious Fiction, the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly competition. Like last month we are still in lock down, although restrictions are beginning to be lifted in most places. Hopefully, not too soon. My heart goes out to the people of America who are now suffering the most.

As I’ve said before this competition is a fun activity with a terrific prize. You can read about it on their website.

Basically, it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for May were:

  • Your story’s first word must be FIVE.
  • Your story must include something being replaced.
  • Your story must include the phrase A SILVER LINING (‘a’ or ‘the’ is fine).

This month I was able to achieve my aim of getting Frankie in front of the judge. I also realised in my first chapter of this story our protagonist’s name was Charlie and somewhere along the line I switched it to Frankie. Ah well, from now on our flamboyant dresser is Frankie!

This month’s entry was submitted on Sunday morning about 9 AM although it was essentially finished on Saturday afternoon. 496 words.


Andrea’s Surprise

‘FIVE YEARS? You’ve GOT to be joking? Because I wore brightly coloured clothes? FASCIST!’ Frankie shouted as the gavel hit the sound block.

‘ORDER!’ Judge O’Mallory shouted back, ‘Bailiff! Take him down!’

‘Five years? I can’t! I’ll die!’ Frankie pleaded with his barrister. ‘Please! Do something, you’ve got to appeal!’

The barrister nonchalantly scratched the itch under the horsehair wig as the door slammed on Frankie and the din of his wails receded.

Do the crime pal, pay the time! Andrea thought. Frankie had been a difficult client. He had flouted the law several times, had already served time and here he was again only a few months after he had been released. He shouldn’t be surprised.

He was a recidivist.

He deserved it!

Didn’t he?

On the other hand, these Fashion Police and the Fashion Laws were getting a little out of hand. She couldn’t help thinking it was just another “-ism” oppressing the poor.

Well, it didn’t really matter what she thought, it was the law!

The bubble surrounding her reverie popped as Andrea caught the eye of her learned colleague across the aisle, winking and nodding his head ever so slightly toward the door. Although her own reaction was equally as imperceptible, the message was received loud and clear, and thirty minutes later Lloyd and Andrea were shouting seductively at each other across the noisy crowd in a bar. Crime Does Pay was a very popular venue for the lost souls of the legal fraternity. There was no colour there, only a sea of grey. The black gowns and white jabots replaced by the sedate and State-sanctioned garb that kept the law off their own backs.

They could let their hair down, but not their guard! No-one was safe from the Fashion Police. No-one.

 ‘What I don’t understand,’ Lloyd bellowed above the ruckus, ‘is why you take on these cases in the first place, Andrea?’

She had liked the look of Lloyd, but the more she got to know him, the more she realised their values were not aligned, and maybe looks were not enough. But then, it was Friday night, and it beat going home alone.

 ‘You know I can’t resist the underdog!’ she laughed.

 Lloyd pulled her close, ‘Ready to go? I’ve got a real surprise for you tonight!’

Andrea was perched on the window sill of the hotel room, high above the sparkling harbour. She smiled at her reflection, knowing the pink negligee was irresistible. She sipped her Moet and in her best bedroom voice called out,

‘Where’s this surprise you promised me?’ 

Lloyd emerged from the ensuite, naked. Naked except for a black cape with a silver lining.

He twirled.

The cape sparkled.

She gasped.

It was then that Andrea realised the real benefit of money was not buying expensive things, but rather a way of enabling you to hide your own vices and avoid detection.  Crime did pay –  her!

‘Now, that’s what I call a surprise!’ she cooed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furious Fiction 8 – February 2020

Wentworth Emporium

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

I didn’t get a chance to submit an entry for the December and January editions of Furious Fiction but here is my effort for February 2020. Furious Fiction is a fun competition with a terrific prize and you can read about it on their website.

Basically it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for February were:

  • One of the characters had to be a GUARD
  • It must include the words NARROW, GLOSSY, GOLDEN and LEATHERY
  • The first and last sentences can have only two words.

Let me know what you think!

Frankie’s Folly.

“Not AGAIN?”

The guard’s exasperated look said it all. This was the third time Charlie had tumbled through the narrow shute from the prison van into the processing room.

“Lord, it’s only two months since the last time you were here! Will you never learn?”

“‘Fraid not, Frankie,” Charlie said as he held out his leathery hand for a defiant high-five. “I will always express myself as the creative individual I am. They will never wear me down!”

When there was no return slap Charlie withdrew his raised hand, seamlessly morphing the gesture into a head scratch. Frankie wasn’t risking being seen on camera fraternising with the inmates. Secretly, he hoped that one day, Charlie might learn how to keep himself out of trouble. At the very least, learn to keep his felonies private and behind closed doors.

The first time they met, four years ago, Charlie was in for three months. He arrived in golden hot pants and silver knee-high boots.  A clear Code 7 Violation: Mixed Metallics.

The rigorous and brutal re-education sessions had had little impact because a year later, Charlie was back. This time in a glossy vinyl jumpsuit adorned with sequins AND fur. Code 8 slapped down right there! Texture Abuse.  The Judge was less inclined to be lenient for a second offence and Charlie was in for a full year.

And here he was a third time. Granted, Charlie was a little more subdued in a blue shirt and green trousers, but Frankie wouldn’t help him this time. There’d been a crackdown on contraband and it was too hazardous to smuggle the ‘Zines in. Last time, he had pushed pages torn from Vogue under Charlie’s cell door but despite the hints, he just didn’t get it! It was too much for Frankie, he had compassion fatigue.

Frankie read Charlie’s charge sheet and shook his head. The Judge had really thrown the book at him.

“Crikey Charlie?” He swore under his breath. “Everybody knows its law!” The mandatory five-year sentence was excessive but without a doubt, this was a serious offence. There it was in black and white:

“Blue and green should never be seen unless there’s something in between. Code 10 Violation: Catastrophic Colour Error. Maximum penalty!”

As the other guards dragged Charlie away,  Frankie felt for him, he was obviously trying. He had made a rookie error, he had forgotten the belt.

Frankie sighed, it was definitely time to forget this fella. He had done what he could.  Who knew what sort of family Charlie grew up in? No doubt his mum wore black bras under white t-shirts. His dad probably had a mullet. There was little hope of redemption.

Frankie squared his shoulders in a Scarlett O’Hara-esque way and strode down the hall to unload yet another van-load of sorry souls in their offensive glad rags.  The decal on the cop car outside at least reminding his jaded psyche of his raison d’être.

Federal Fashion Police. 

Dress Proud.

 

 

 

NEWS FLASH!!! I didn’t win but this story did get long-listed! woot woo!!!!

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 19.07.04

 

 

 

 

The smell of coffee in the morning

A cappuccino in a green cup.

When I first started writing, I was part of a Writers’ Group. We would get together once a month for a “meeting” hosted by members in turn. We would discuss our own projects, give some constructive criticism to each other and generally give support and encouragement.

At the end of each two-hour meeting we would have a fifteen-minute creative writing challenge based on a prompt suggested by the host.  I wrote this short fictional piece in response to the prompt to write something from  the point of view of a single sense. This one is based in the sense of smell. I have only done a light edit. Not bad for a fifteen-minute burst in my opinion! I might go back and have a go at the other senses as well.

The coffee welled up inside my head. Deep, rich earthy and warm. It smelt like a morning. A late morning, but a morning no less. It was time to get up. Time to start the day.

I pulled back the sheets and the raw aroma of the previous night’s sex wafted up from the linen. Sweaty, slightly fishy, not yet unpleasant. I thought about the time we had spent entwined in each other’s arms. Hesitant at first, then with reckless abandon that seemed embarrassing now in the coffee rich morning. He had smelt of rum. Rum with coke. Sweet, spicy and heady. The very thought of it made me quiver again.

The hot water took a long time to emerge from the tap. The chlorine, pungent and clean, drowned out the fresh citrusy bursts from the soap. It was like this in the winter. The chlorine did not have the energy to evaporate and clung to the water like a silver coat; lazy and slow.

I washed the sex away reluctantly. It had been a long time. A long time since I had smelt a man on me and in me. I lingered a little longer than necessary on the folds of my body and began to relive the passion.

The knock on the bathroom door snapped me back to the now.

Oh, that’s right! I wasn’t alone this morning. Not like the years of mornings that strung together in an endless stream before this morning. That’s why it smelt like coffee! There was another somebody in the house and he was making the coffee. Deep, rich and earthy.

How would it be now that the beer goggles were smashed by sobriety and the harsh winter light.

In my mind, I always saw myself as 27. That was a good year. Slim, tanned, lithe and strong.  But 27 was 27 years ago. A marriage ago.

What would I say? How would I act? This was worse than the first time! At 15 I had all the confidence of a goddess who bestowed precious gifts on the lucky. Now it was I who felt lucky – that this rum-soaked man had seen me despite the invisibility cloak of menopause and maturity.

I slid the door open a crack. There he was, coffee in hand, in trousers but no shirt. He was older than I had thought. Grey speckled hair, his skin half a size too big for the muscles underneath. But he smiled and his eyes shone. He handed me the coffee. He looked awkward and shy.

“Have you finished? He asked pulling a face “I have to pee!”

That’s how it was going to be – relaxed and friendly. I remember this. It was a start. Perhaps there’d be more coffee in the mornings.

 

Furious Fiction 5

What …with planning a big adventure to Scotland and all my creative energy directed towards travel and photography I haven’t written anything other than blog posts for a LONG time! Here is my effort for the August 2019 Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction Competition.

500 words 55 hours $500 prize money!

I give myself the added restriction of if it doesn’t get finished on Friday night I don’t submit it. So essentially done and submitted in five hours!

The rules from their post are as follows:

Hey hey, it’s ‘Adjective August’ (not to be confused with ‘Alliteration August’) – and we’ve gone absolutely description crazy…

  • Your story must include, word for word, ALL of the following SIX descriptions (describing whatever you want):
  1. SHINY, SILVER
  2. COLD AND GREASY
  3. SCRATCHED AND WEATHER-WORN
  4. SWEET AND PUNGENT
  5. INK-STAINED
  6. SHRILL, PIERCING
  • One of these six descriptions MUST appear in the first sentence of your story. (The rest, wherever you like.).

 

Ten reams to go:

The shrill, piercing shreik punctuated the dark, quiet air like an ill-placed comma. It disturbed the reverie of the gnarly old writer for only a second, but this was enough to fracture her flow so completely that the shiny, silver lake of ideas that had been swirling in her mind was sucked into the vortex of her brain as is someone had pulled the plug. The story, the line of dialogue, was now a  slithery trail of deceptive fiction never to be found again.

What had sounded like a dying baby was in fact only a peacock, settling in the trees after another steamy day in Paradise.

“Hah! Paradise!” she thought. How that description seemed so distant from the truth. The boundless enthusiasm of youth had been replaced by the scratched and weather-worn psyche of an older, creakier woman.  The entertaining antics of the monkeys, now dull. The massive, crawling creatures that infested her shoes, no longer a source of wonder. She’d been here 25 years. 24 years, 11 months and 2 weeks longer than she had intended. For her, the holiday in Paradise had turned into something very different – a lifelong commitment.

She got up from the rickety table, pushing herself back with ink-stained hands. No computer for this one. She had to take it slow. She had to be more deliberate and carve each word into the paper indelibly with a slender blue pen. The cut and paste needed to happen in her mind before any words could land on that precious paper, fully formed and perfect. Editing was not a simple keystroke away but rather a laborious trudge of rewriting. Editing meant wasting paper, and paper was more valuable than anything she’d ever owned.

She placed the cold and greasy remains of her Sunday dinner on the floor and banged on the door.

“I’m done” she called.

While she waited, she farted and enjoyed the sweet and pungent aroma of herself wafting around her, enveloping her with the only marker of self-identity she had beyond her writing.

The heavy boots boomed down the corridor. The top hatch opened, and the eyes peered in.

“Move away from the door,” the warden barked.

The bottom hatch opened, the tin plate was whisked away and replaced by five sheets of paper. Five! It was Sunday, Paper Day!

She danced as she held the sheets tightly to her chest. Not too tightly! She didn’t want to crease them.  She glanced at the other 6500-odd slivers of joy in the corner of her cell. They groaned under the weight of tightly-packed double-sided scrawl. The once bold script faded, in the same way her initial rants and protests had faded into a jaded acceptance. 

The judge had said “Life” when he had banged that gavel. Life? This pile was her life!  Would it be as tall as her when they shipped her out in a box? She did the maths. Ten reams to go. She’d run out of time.

 

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

 

Furious Fiction 3.

I have decided to make short stories a regular part of my blogging, I think it makes a nice change from photos, travel and gut bacteria! Most months I enter the  Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction Competition. $500 prize, 500 words and 55 hours to write it. My stories are not polished. I write it on the Friday night it comes out. If it’s not finished by Friday bedtime, I don’t enter. You can find two other stories here and here

The prerequisites for the January competition were

  • the first word had to be New
  • it must contain the words nineteen, desert and present
  • It needed to include a list (open to interpretation – either include an actual list or have a list included as part of the story)

Here is my story. I hope you enjoy it!

“New Years Resolutions,”  the brand new pink glitter pen wrote with an excessively enthusiastic flourish on the first page of the blank journal.

The woman looked at the Pen’s work; satisfied and pleased with its efforts!  She liked this Pen.

This year was gonna be a good year!

“We’re gonna party like it’s twenty – nineteen ….

no.. no..

Party like it’s twennnn-ty ninnnnnne-teeeeen.”

No matter how hard she tired, she could not get the rhythm right…

She brought her attention back to the blank page. It shone creamy-white, like a desert waiting for the rain to transform it into an oasis and fulfil its real purpose. #blessed

Enough of the inspirational quotes, let’s get down to it….”New Year’s Resolutions”. The Pen traced over the letters and filled in the missing apostrophe.

  1. Go all year without alcohol.

Scratch that. The Pen scribbled over the statement. Listen, Lady, that’s just silly. It’s your birthday in three weeks. Then there’s Henry’s birthday and then Valentine’s and then….

So many “and thens”. The Pen knew more than the woman even though they’d just met.

“Let’s be more realistic,” it said. The woman obliged

  1. Go without alcohol for 6 months.

What in a row?

Ok… not in a row.

  1. Go without alcohol for  6 of the 12 months; it doesn’t need to be consecutive.

Good!

The Pen was ready to move on

2. Exercise six days per week.

Does yoga count as exercise?

Yes…

OK! Lock it in Eddy!

3. Eat a wholly plant-based diet.

What about yogurt? Yogurt’s healthy, and it’s not from a plant. And kefir? That’s even better than yogurt!

OK! Ok!

  1. Eat mostly plants, but dairy is OK too.

Better!

  1. Be more mindful. Live in the present.

Hah! Why are we writing this stupid list then? This is a future based document. Your whole premise is just shot to pieces, and it’s not even 9 AM on the first of January! Hah!

  1. BE MORE MINDFUL!

Alright….don’t lose your cool. I’m only saying…

FIVE? How many of these do we have to have? Surely we should only have 3 – 4 SMART goals… not a great long list of things you’ll just look back on in a year and feel regret, remorse and recrimination over.

  1. Remain calm in the face of criticism.

What?  Having a crack, are we? Can’t handle a little constructive banter? Well, don’t be blaming me when you fall in a heap before autumn!

  1. Read at least four books from the “good books” list.

What? …Excuse me! You’re gonna do that anyway. You’re a librarian. You read books for a living! Surely you can come up with something more inspiring than that? Where are the resolutions that challenge the envelope? The ones that will stretch us to our limits? Heh? Where are they?

  1. Climb Mt Everest!

That’s better!

  1. Drop pink glitter Pen into the abyss!

Hang on… I’m only trying to heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllppppppph!

She chose another pen…

1…

Furious Fiction 2

This was going to be a post script but I decided to move it up front! Don’t be expecting any consistency in my posts! This is a short story. Sometimes I write about travel. Sometimes it’s divorce. Sometimes it’s about healthy living. Sometimes it’s nice photos.

But it’s always about being me. An old Chook hoping to inspire others.

A few months ago I posted a very short story I had written for the the Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction competition. This, as I said before, is a marvelous competition. Five hundred words, $500 prize  in 55 hours. It appears on the first Friday of the month. There is a set of parameters to frame your story. In May 2018 the rules were:

  • The story had to begin with the words “A long time ago”
  • The story had to include the words “star”, “war” and “force” (or a plural of those words).
  • The story had to feature something that flies.

The First Friday in May was May the 4th.

Here is my effort.

A long time ago it would have been different. I would not have had to use force to get the gate open. The bolt would have slid silently; effortlessly, without the grinding screeches the rusting, decayed metal emitted now.

When we had owned this place, we would fly up. Too busy to drive the 600 kilometres to rural-bliss-sea-change territory. The flight was only an hour. It took longer to drive to the airport. Nonetheless, we’d fly.  Ironic really. We’d been so worried about climate change we didn’t even think about the  Pulse. Now, without power, without electricity; nothing worked.

We had agreed all those years ago, if “it” ever happens, if ever the apocalypse comes, we would meet here. This would be the starting place. No matter if it was war or a nuclear explosion or what, we would meet here. No matter if we were together or apart this is where we’d  go. At the time it was a joke. As if! As if the world would end! It had stuck in my mind, so this time, I had walked the 600 km.

It had taken me thirty days to get here.  Thirty days walking. Before that, there was thirty days of waiting in disbelief. Was this it? Was this the end? It had happened so quickly. Other people were still waiting. Still waiting to be told what to do. I had to make a choice: get out or stay. Now or never.

My phone was good for nothing but I had decided to keep it in case one day, the grid was back on. For now, the only power we had was our pulsing, troublesome, distant star shining bleakly through the clouds.

I got on the highway and headed north. Past the abandoned trucks and cars, their batteries fried, and solenoids melted. Cargo containers had been torn open and their contents splilled about in messy piles. Clearly others had started out earlier than me. There were enough scraps left over to get a bit of a meal.  Things weren’t so bad – travellers were still sharing.

On the last day, I opened the gate, my heart pounding. I breathed as quietly as I could. Would he be here? I hadn’t seen him for over five years. Would he be here with his new wife? Would my daughter be here with her family? Would they remember? Would whoever lived here now let us in? We hadn’t thought of that.

The gate squealed behind me.

Silence.

There was nothing. No-one.

I’d wait. There may no electricity, but there was time. Plenty of time. I set my pack on the porch. I knocked on the door.

Nothing. No-one.

For three more days. Nothing. No-one. Then…

…the gate screeched….