Tag Archives: Furious Fiction

Ho ho ho!

Time for another Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction entry. And this story was LONGLISTED! Even more surprising is I actually like this one, so I’m sharing it. It’s also very appropriate for this time of year in this year!

December 2020 Furious Fiction criteria:

  • First sentence must be exactly 3 words long.
  • The story must include a gift of some sort.
  • Must include the words ROSE, PALM & MATCH (or longer versions of those words, provided the word remains intact e.g. MATCHing

My Story Placed: Longlisted! (it’s times like this that I wish Word still had marching-ants font – I’m showing my age now)
My Story Word Count: 498
My Story Title: Christmas 2020
My Story Story: The first three words came to me in a flash, then the rest of the story wrote itself. I was convinced every other story would start with the same 3 words.

Christmas 2020

“Ho ho ho!” I stop myself before I say ‘Merry Christmas’. It’s been banned this year. Not just because there isn’t a lot of Merry around, but it’s not considered inclusive enough. Just another in the long list of disappointments that 2020 has served up.

The next kid vaults onto me before I’m ready. The bones of his bum dig into my thigh like an angry masseur.

“Not this year,” I laugh through tears of pain as I try to slip him off. “Don’t forget social distancing.” He’s already counting off what he wants on his fingers. He doesn’t even look at me.

“A PS5, earbuds, smartwatch, electric bike…”

As he rattles things off, I manage to push his legs to the ground, relieving the agony in my leg. That’s when I realise he’s not counting his requests on his fingers, he’s reading from a list he’s written on his palm. He clearly didn’t want to forget anything.

His mum lifts her phone while I’m grimacing. I guess with the mask on it must look like I’m smiling. She snaps a few photos and I reconcile myself with losing another $5 commission for the official store photo that won’t be purchased.

“Well, laddie, that’s quite a list you’ve got there.” And worth more than I’m likely to earn this year, even with Job Seeker. “Here you go,” I hand him a gift from the box beside me. “Remember, don’t open it before December 25th!” We don’t want any tears here – I know he’s going to be disappointed.

I watch him walk away. When I turn back there’s a little girl standing next to me, a rose in each cheek and emeralds for eyes. She looks frightened. Wise kid. I drop my voice a little in the hopes of appearing less scary.

“And what would you like for Christmas?”

“To find my mummy.” Her bottom lip quivers. Looking around, I can’t see anyone trying to take photos or watch my hands like a good parent should.

“Carol,” I say to the woman who drew the short straw today. Her name’s not Carol, but the contract we both signed says it is for this gig. “Give me the mike.”

“Sure, Santa,” she says, passing the microphone like a baton.

“Attention, everyone! We have a lost child. Please come and see Santa if you have lost a child.”

A desperate woman breaks through the crowd of shoppers lined up at a juice bar beside us. The matching set of wild emerald eyes tell me we’ve got the right woman before the joyous squeal beside me confirms it.

“Thank you!” the little girl says. She darts in to hug me before her mother sweeps her up in an embrace of her own. They start to walk away.

“Wait!” The little girl cries. She turns her bejewelled eyes onto me. “What do you want for Christmas?” she asks. My heart melts.

“I want everyone to have a reason to be merry this year!”

 

April Furious Fiction

Time for another failed Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction story. Failed only insomuch as it failed to place. I actually liked how it turned out, even if the judges didn’t.

April 2020 Furious Fiction criteria:

  • Start on the side of a road.
  • Include the words APRON, PIGMENT, RIBBON, ICON, LEMON
  • Include a splash.

Shortlisted stories and winner can be read here.

My Story Placed: Not a cracker
My Story Word Count: 498
My Story Title: Stakeholder Liaison
My Story Story: This was an attempt at the thriller genre, which I don’t really go into much, despite being a horror writer.

Stakeholder Liaison
by Natalie J E Potts

The splash of rain on my face woke me. Where was I? I sat up, instantly regretting it. The world spun as pain burned the back of my head. Had someone hit me again?

I looked around. I was on an apron of a muddy track where it joined a pot-holed road. Next to me was a lemon of an old car. It wasn’t mine. The company would never let me drive something so cheap.

I was cold and needed to get out of the rain so I could think straight. Using the bumper of the car for support, I stumbled around to the driver’s door. I collapsed into the front seat and pulled the door shut against the cold outside. Something bit painfully into my knee; the key was in the ignition.

It took a couple of turns before the engine caught, then I cranked up the heater. Spiderwebs unfurled in the weak breeze from the vents like ribbons, and I smelled the burning warmth before I felt it.

It took longer than it should have to realise that if the car was running, I could drive. I put it into drive and let off the break. The back of the car suddenly slammed down onto the road, and the subsequent grinding made it clear I wasn’t going anywhere.

A memory blossomed; a woman with a flat tyre. She’d seemed young at first, but once I’d stopped I could see the pigment of her lipstick bleeding into the barcode lines around her elderly lips. She looked like death.

A different smell started to fill the car. Exhaust fumes. The rust-bucket had broken open somewhere when I’d driven it off the jack. I wound the window knob, but nothing happened. I tried turning off the engine, but the key was now jammed.

I had to get out.

I pulled the plastic door handle and it broke off in my hand. Reaching across to the passenger door, I tried to coax it open, but its handle disintegrated like it was centuries old. Or sabotaged.

The fumes became overpowering as dizziness overtook me. Without considering the consequences, I smashed my elbow against the window. It bruised my arm, but had no impact on the glass. These old cars were built like tanks. Awkwardly, I coiled up in the seat to give my legs room to kick the windscreen. Nothing.

With increasingly heavy lids, I opened the glove-box to search for something I could use to smash my way out. Inside was a single white envelope, emblazoned with the icon of my company.

It looked like one of the many envelopes I’d dropped around to inform farmers of the groundwater contamination, for which we were responsible. Compensation was promised. It’s why I was there.

I turned the envelope over to see the name of my murderer. The front was blank, save for a single sentence in an eerily good facsimile of my own hand; “I can’t live with what we’ve done.”

The End

May Furious Fiction

The Australian Writers’ Centre runs a 500 word ‘Furious Fiction’ competition over the first weekend of every month. They set specific criteria each month which the story must meet, but besides that you’ve got full creative control. I’ve been entering since December 2019, but there are many who have been entering since it started in February 2018.

I’ve recently found the challenge great for getting me out of my COVID writing funk. It’s also been really interesting because I’ve often gone into genres I don’t normally write.

The problem is, if you don’t get shortlisted, no-one ever gets to see your story. For me, the whole point of writing is for others to read your work, so I’m going to start posting the stories on my blog. Below is this month’s entry, which didn’t get shortlisted, or longlisted for that matter. But I liked it…

May 2020 #FuriousFiction.

Criteria

  • Must start with the word ‘Five’
  • Must include something being replaced
  • Must include the phrase ‘a silver lining’

Shortlisted stories and winner can be read here.

My Story Placed: Not a cracker
My Story Word Count: 496
My Story Title: Brother
My Story Story: I haven’t managed to get a placement with any of my stories, so I moved away from Spec Fic for this one and tried out a more experimental format.

Brother
By Natalie J E Potts

Five mistakes got me here. With the gun pointed at my head, I couldn’t help but reflect on them.

  1. Trusting my brother.

From pulling my pigtails at 6 to crashing my car at 36, he’d never been trustworthy. He’d gotten in with the wrong crowd and was misunderstood. We’d been making so many excuses for him that I guess it was now a habit. I’d break that habit today. Assuming I survived.

  1. Helping him out.

When he asked me to take his car to the mechanic, I asked why he couldn’t do it. He said he had a job interview. He was trying to set himself straight. The implication was it’d be my fault if he went off the rails again. His next call would be to mum if I said no, then I’d never hear the end of it. So, I went around to his place to get the damned car.

  1. Going to his mechanic.

When I pulled up at the mechanic’s it looked like a dump. The gate was locked. I should have driven on to my mechanic to see if he could squeeze me in. But someone came out and undid the padlock, like he’d been waiting for me.

The ‘Mechanic’ took less than five minutes. I know I’m not great with cars, but my brother drives a beat-up old Toyota, not a Porsche, so even I knew they weren’t doing anything to the engine by looking in the boot. I was glad to get out of there when they said I could go. No-one asked me to settle a bill.

  1. Looking in the boot.

As soon as I was out of view, I pulled over and popped the boot. It was surprisingly clean given the mess that everything else in my brother’s life tended toward. The only thing in there was a suitcase.

It was locked, but plenty of international travel had taught me that a hair-clip did the job better than a key anyway. I cracked both locks in less than a minute. The suitcase had a silver lining, but I could hardly see it for all the small bags of white powder.

  1. Returning to my brother’s house.

I slammed the boot shut and took the long way back to my brother’s house, via the shops. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t followed. I eventually pulled up in my brother’s garage. Only the garage wasn’t empty. One of my brother’s bad influences was in the corner with a gun. I only saw him after I got out.

“Take the car,” I said, dumping the keys on the roof.

“You bet I will. But I ain’t turning my back on ya. Piss off.”

Like I was going to hang around?! I ran to my car and left before he’d started the engine. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t there when he realised that I’d swapped the contents of the bags for a kilo of flour.

 

The End