Furious Fiction 14 – August 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 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.

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 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 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….

 

 

 

 

Furious Fiction

The Australian Writers’ Centre has a marvellous monthly competition. On the first Friday of each month they publish a set of criteria for a 500 word story. They allow 55 hours to write and submit the story.  There is one prize of $500. You can find details for Furious Fiction at this link.

I have entered a few times now and it’s great fun. While I haven’t won (yet) I have been enjoying myself immensely. The writing prompts seem to limit you at first but then as your brain gets ticking, the story takes over and it is indeed, furious!

In July, the restrictions (in addition to the word length) were:

  1. The first sentence had to be a question.
  2. You needed to include the words jam, jackpot and jungle.
  3. The last word had to be BANG!

You can find the winning entry and the short listed stories here.

Here is my effort.


Be careful what you wish for.

“Do you want strawberry or raspberry jam?” Gary asked with his arm hovering mid-shelf.

“What? What did you say?” she said as she shifted her attention from the young couple in front. They looked so peaceful. He just picked things off the shelf and put them in the trolley. The woman nodded. Nothing was said, and they went ahead.

“Strawberry, Gary. Strawberry will be fine.” Her flat voice failed to hide the anger that was ready to burst through her hot skin and slice him into a million tiny shreds!

When she had first met him, she thought she’d hit the jackpot! A caring fellow who always considered her before making decisions that affected her. She had been ready to leave the dating jungle, so she jumped in and got married.

Now after 23 years, he was so damned annoying! Could he not do anything without asking?  Could he not stand on his own two feet without checking in? Just once?

There only seemed to be one way out of this mess. He was worth more to her dead than alive. But how to make it seem like an accident?

“Do you want strawberry or raspberry jam?” Gary asked with his arm hovering mid-shelf.

He was always careful to make sure he asked her first. He knew if he didn’t there’d be an argument. Gary liked raspberry, but she always said strawberry. If he suggested they buy both, she’d bite his head off.

“Strawberry, Gary. Strawberry will be fine.” she snarled.

He looked away. The young couple in front reminded him of how it had been, once. They looked so peaceful. He just made up his own mind and put things in the trolley. The woman didn’t care. She didn’t censor his choices at every turn.

He thought about leaving Miriam. Every day. Her once charming wit had turned sour.  But he knew he couldn’t compete in the jungle where the cougars gobbled up younger men and never considered balding 57 year-olds with pot bellies.

After 23 years he knew her relentless brow beating would go on forever unless he cracked the jackpot and she carked it.

There only seemed to be one way out of this mess. She was worth more to him dead than alive. But how to make it seem like an accident?

Finished at last and with the car packed, Miriam got behind the wheel. She started to reverse then had to brake hard as the young couple from before walked behind them.  Miriam watched them in the mirror as they kissed.  She sighed.

Once on the highway, Miriam and Gary both stared mournfully ahead, secretly imagining their own personal murder-mystery episode.  Time passed, neither spoke. Gary turned on the radio to drown out the silence.

A flat-bed lorry carrying huge rolls of newsprint thundered past.

They were doing 100 and it was going faster.

The 18-wheeler swerved.

The load shifted.

The cable snapped.

The roll dropped.

 BANG!


This month’s Furious Fiction just started!! (If you’re reading this on the first Friday of the month!!) Have a look and get started!! You’ve got around 54 hours to go