Furious Fiction 21 – May 2021

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It’s that time of the month again! The results for the Australian Writers’ Centre May 2021’s Furious Fiction competition are published today. The monthly Furious Fiction competition launches on the first Friday of each month and the prize is $500 for 500 words.

This month’s Furious Fiction prompts were as follows.

  • It needed to be set during a storm
  • It must include the words apple, mother and yesterday
  • Include the phrase sit/sitting on the fence

This month’s Stats

This month my submission is 498 words. Once again a rush job. Completed and submitted by around 10 PM on Friday night. Frankie is still out in the cold!

The Shed

The gnarly old farmer sat on the verandah watching over his orchard.  The heavily pregnant clouds were fully dilated and ready to break open. He loved a good storm but today the smell of ozone and petrichor was bittersweet.

He’d prayed for rain. 

Last month. 

And the month before. 

And the months before that. 

If the rain came now it would be a week before he could start picking. And that was a week he could not afford.

He needn’t have worried about the rain. The wind came first and with it a rattling shower of leaves and sticks. His precious apples quivered and fell. Their slender peduncles no match for the torrents of air.  He watched them bounce on the hard ground to their untimely death.

Plop.

Plop.

Plop. 

His first decent crop in three years. 

“They’ll be no good for the supermarkets now.” he thought. Their bruised and battered bodies would be no good for cider either. The bugs and mice would clean them up before he could get to them.

His wife came out to join him.  “I knew I should have picked them yesterday,” he said. 

“Even if you started yesterday, you wouldn’t have finished by today,” she said laying her hand on his tired shoulder.  

“Well, I should have started last week!” he shouted.

“But you didn’t have any pickers last week!” she replied quietly.

It was no use. He’d beat himself up over the lost crop regardless of the fact it was out of his control. 

He broke free of her grasp and headed towards the orchard. Towards the clouds and the storm and the impending rain. 

She watched as he stooped to pick up some of the windfall apples. He tucked a few in his pockets and then disappeared under the espaliered canopy of leaves. Fat raindrops began leaving diverts in the sandy soil. She knew he’d be gone a while so she went back inside.

Splat.

Splat.

Splat

The din on the metal roof was deafening.

Dink.

Dink.

Dink.

The storm was right overhead and the gap between the bang and the flash imperceptible. 

She sighed and made a cup of tea. “What will be, will be,” she thought. 

Time passed and she noticed the pitter-patter was pattering less.  Then there was one almighty flash-bang that sounded different to the rest. 

She jumped up to check the gun safe. 

Empty! 

She raced outside; wanting to see, not wanting to see.  

And there he was sitting on the fence, drenched to the bone, and crunching on apples. The shed was on fire and electricity still crackled in the air. 

“Did you see that?” he yelled “Bang! Right on the shed! The rain’s stopped. The wind only ruined a few. All’s good!” 

She stormed across the yard, moving faster than she’d moved in years! He jumped up and backed away from her flailing tea towel. 

“No, it’s bloody NOT all good! Where’s the bloody gun?”

”Steady on Mother! It’s only a shed!”

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 …