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 12 – June 2020

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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

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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.