June Flash Fiction

Entry Conditions:

Entries are limited to paid members only. Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by 5:00pm Friday, 23 June. Voting will open here on the blog at this time and will close at 5:00 pm on Wednesday 28 May.

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 28 May, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction parameters are:

Prompt: Include the sentence, “You’re an Idiot”

Genre: Drama 

Word count:  100-110

May Flash Fiction

1. Playing Mummy

Word count: 258

I was given a big bag of blocks for my birthday, red and yellow, green and blue. With them I knew I could build the best tower, a tower to the moon! I sat and worked, I worked so hard, my brow wrinkled in concentration.

Despite my care the blocks fell with a crash.  I took a deep breath, refusing to cry and simply started again. I kept at it, smiling at my efforts knowing that everyone would see and know that I had done it. “Look at that!” they would say, “How amazing,” they would gasp. I could almost hear the applause as the tower slowly grew taller and taller.   

Then one day I put my hand into the bag and realised that it was empty. Without more blocks I’d never finish my tower. I looked around, I knew my friends had some, but they were all too busy doing their own things. One had a toy car, Beep, Beep, Zoom, Zoom, another was playing house. They took no notice of me and I didn’t have the right words to ask.

I sat and cried alone for awhile. Then wiped my nose on my sleeve. I plastered on a broad smile, smoothed down my pretty skirt and tucked my sadness in.

I left my unfinished tower where it was, I went and picked up my dollies. They stared at me blankly with their frozen faces, as if they didn’t know the thing for me to do was to give up and resign myself to simply playing mummy. 

2. The Meaning of Life

Word count: 275

“It could mean …”

“or it could not!” the other interrupted.

“Or it could not!” the first had to agree, but added, hastily to avoid re-interruption, “DANGER!”

Splat! Crunch, crunch, crunch, Burp.

Some time passed.

“Oh my!” Papa Cicada said, and, “Why didn’t anyone warn them?”

Even protected by hardened green skin, his innards felt even greener; like they might soon become outtards. And outtards they became in a rush as his biggest little’un came running up shouting, “Daddy! I found a spare leg. Remember when Grandpa’s last leg was bitten off by that orange cat?  He’ll like this spare leg, won’t he, Daddy? Look there’s another, and another. Daddy, you said I should become an entrepreneur. Is this a magic spare leg supply source? We cicadas have six fragile legs each. We’ve got demand. Now we’ve got supply!”

“That’s awful,” Mama Cicada said, her voice the shrillest of all the family.

Something orange flashed across the greenery that Papa always said the humans referred to as “the garg-en” though Mama Cicada had thought that it sounded more like “guard-den.” The human child often said, “whoosh!” standing, just as she was now, at the edge of the grass blades’ mass planting; looking towards the barks of the trees where many cicadas lived.

“Oh, oh, oh!” Mama Cicada shrilled; past top C.

“Not ‘awful’ Mama, but ‘awesome.’ Shut up Mama! Listen, the human child’s saying ‘shoosh!’ not ‘whoosh!’”

Yes, Papa had had a flash of brilliance. His green hide re-toughened. Silence. Magically, the orange flash stilled; a cat confused by the sudden quiet.

“Come Kitty,” the human child said, “there’s a bowl of milk for you inside.”

3. The Magic Rings

Word count: 274

Shhhh

You can see me?

You may be small and green but I am not as blind as a boat. Give me your unicorn and I’ll whisper you a secret not even the trees know?

I’ll be as quiet as a marshmallow if you tell me your secret but I cannot give you my unicorn.

If you’re quiet as a marshmallow on a hot summers day and make me a new pink and purple unicorn I’ll tell you the secret about my magic rings.

Magic rings you say, ok but if I make you your very own unicorn you can’t tell the albatross that you got it from me.

Oh I promise I won’t tell the albatross that you made me a pink and purple unicorn, but do it quietly or the trees might tell him.

*Quiet poof*

Now whisper to me about your magic rings, you have your unicorn as beautiful as fluff.

These rings in my ears are magic they allow me to see things others can’t. My uncle bought them from a land far away, a gift for my birthday.

If I made you another unicorn would you give them to me?

If you made me a gazillion unicorns I would not give them to you.

A gazillion and three would you lend them to me?

I would if you turned your snot to gold.

My snot to gold that’s as easy as windows on a mac.

*Second quiet poof*

The third loud poof had the trees attention as she tickled under his nose with a feather and the gold, unicorns and rings were all hers as his head was shed.

4. The Upside of Down

Words: 263

‘Shush, you can come in but you must be loud,’ Annabel whispered as she opened the door.

‘Loud?’ I asked as I ducked my head. ‘Don’t you mean quiet?’

‘Yes, that’s what I said,’ she replied, indignant.

‘You said loud.’

‘No, you said that.’

I blinked, and moved into the small cold room.

‘You can sit over there on the upside down chair.’

‘How can I sit on an upside down chair?’ I asked, perplexed.

“Silly you, you can’t sit on an upside down chair.’

‘But you just told me to.’

‘No I didn’t say that, you said that.’

I shook my head as I looked around the room – the dolls sitting upside down, the doll’s house perched on its roof, the toys all upended.

‘You can pour us a cup of tea,’ Annabel demanded, waving her hand towards the teapot, its spout pointing downwards. Beside it sat the cups, the saucers resting on top.

‘I have unmade a cake,’ she smiled, going over to the table. The icing lay thick on the bottom of the cake, spreading out over the plate.

‘Why is everything upside down?’ I ventured to ask.

‘Nothing is upside down in here silly! You are standing upside down, don’t you know that?’ she giggled.

My head was swirling. ‘I have to go now,’ I said, suddenly feeling dizzy.

‘Yes I think you should stay, and don’t come back until you are standing the wrong way up!’

I quickly closed the door and hurried off.

‘Pooh! Grownups say such silly nonsense!’ Annabel thought, returning to her upside down world.

5. The Secret

Words:258

I’ve got a secret – a great big secret that’s bubbling up inside me like a fizzy drink. I have to close my lips into a tight straight line so my secret won’t burst out of my mouth. Mum made me promise not to tell ANYONE, especially NOT DAD! No; definitely not Dad – not after what happened last time.

When Dad found out that secret his face went all red and he shook his head a lot. He said it was ridiculous and unbelievable; then he went for a big walk like he does every night after work, only this time he forgot to change out of his suit. While he was gone Mum cried and I watched TV, just like I do when HE is taking all Mum’s time. When Dad came back they cried and talked. He said he forgave her, even though she did it on purpose. He said that everything would be alright.

It’s really tricky not to tell – maybe I could just give you a hint. If you guess for yourself I won’t be breaking my promise. Last time, after Dad went to work each morning, Mum opened the door and there he was. She hugged him, kissed him and stroked his hair. I was allowed to watch lots of TV so she could spend time with him and now it’s going to happen all over again.

I don’t know what Dad will say when he finds out. Have you guessed?

Yes, that’s it – you’re right! I’m getting another baby brother!

May Flash Fiction

May’s Photo Prompt

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Photo by Petra Österreich Via pixabay.com

Entry Conditions:

Entries are limited to paid members only. Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by 5:00 pm Friday, 26 May. Voting will open here on the blog at this time and will close at 5:00 pm on Wednesday 31 May.

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 31 May, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction parameters are:

Photo prompt: Use the photo above to inspire your story 

Genre: Nonsense 

Word count:  250-275

April Flash Fiction Winner

Contestants for Aprils flash fiction competition where asked to write a Young Adult story with the title, “The Gift of Truth.

I’m pleased to announce that our April Flash Fiction winner was Neville Hiatt, entrant number four.

I’d also like to give an honourable mention to Linda Young for her story, number two, which came in a close second.

Congratulations to both Neville and Linda!

 

 

April Flash Fiction

1. THE GIFT OF TRUTH 

Word count: 500 

“We’re all … MAD! HERE, I’m mad! THERE, you’re mad! We’re all …MAD!” Alicia chanted the words in unison with the beat box voice from her Retro Pocket Hologram. Her best friend, Neuleighah, gasped; her hand over her mouth, she said, “Shooosh! Turn it down. Quickly! ” Neuleighah stared hard at the device. It was enough to flip the thought-activated switch. Its voice fell silent. But it was too late. Neuleighah’s parents had heard the hologram’s voice … and Alicia’s.

The expensive Retro Pocket version (the RPH) had just been released. Alicia had won hers in a promotional competition to compose voice riffs using the RPH’s multi-toned voice function and any retro theme, of each competitor’s choice. Alicia had chosen the six centuries old (forbidden on some planets) classic, “Alice In Wonderland” as the theme for her riff. The age cut off point to enter had been fourteen years old. Alicia had just fitted into that category by 6 weeks.

“Why?” Alicia said.

The small four person runabout spacecraft hurtled through space towards Alicia’s home planet. One of the disadvantages of modern technology was that it had ‘advanced’ ways of fine tuning itself. The craft could read the combined thoughts of its passengers – on any number of parameters. If the combined reading from all passengers calculated a value of “we’re feeling too cold” the temperature would rise, to a new averaged out acceptable setting. The temperature had shot up by several degrees. It felt too clammy.

“You’ve made them turn cold towards you, so the craft’s misreading their thoughts and raising the temperature!” Neuleighah explained. “Wipe your forehead or something. Pretend you really can’t stand this heat anymore.”

Alicia laughed. “What?” But she did it anyway when she saw that Neuleighah meant it. And the temperature did come back down to ‘comfortable.’

“‘Why?’ you ask, Alicia.” Neuleighah’s parents spoke in unison. “Haven’t your parents taught you the truth about subversive works like that?” the father added.

“Uhm, I’m not sure …” But they cut her off mid-sentence.

“Look, we’ll still allow Neuleighah to spend the week at your place,” Neuleighah’s mother said. The craft was now only two minutes away from Alicia’s home. “But, well, I want a word with your mother.” She turned to her husband and said, “I blame the parents.” He nodded.

Her father said, “This will be a test for you, Neuleighah. Just remember The Truth we’ve given you! You’re fourteen now. That’s old enough to practice resisting those who would dismantle Known Scientific Reality … only to reassemble it in any haphazard, uneducated way they see fit, like that fool of a so-called ‘thinker,’ the author Lewis Carroll. This is the 25th Century after all, not the dim past!”

The craft landed outside Alicia’s home. Her mother was waiting outside to greet them all. The girls hurried ahead of Neuleighah’s parents towards the house.

“Hi Mum, thanks for the gift!” Alicia said as she scurried past her.

“What gift?” Alicia’s mother said.

Neuleighah smiled at her … then followed Alicia inside.

2. The Gift of Truth

Word count: 499

On the way home from school Ben and Jed are there waiting for me. They’re huddled together, whispering and plotting what we’re going to do next. Jed carries the tools in an old school bag. They’re older than me; they skip school and hang out in the mall until school finishes. Jed hands me the gear; I know what I have to do. They’re my friends so I go along with the plan. As I’m the smallest they heave me up and I jemmy open the window, climb through and unlock the doors. It’s easy. We grab the stuff, bolt down the back streets laughing and, for a while, it feels great being part of the group. But as I head home, it doesn’t feel so good anymore.

When I get home mum is angry, ‘You’re late; where have you been?’

I don’t look at her, just shrug as my stomach tightens.

“What have you been up to?’ she demands, frowning.

I turn away and head to my bedroom, slam the door and lock it. Pulling out a box from under the bed I shove the stuff inside and jam the lid down tight. I don’t want these things, don’t want to do it anymore; don’t know what to do. I lie on the bed, pull up the blankets, and try to block it out. I just want it to end.

Mum calls out, ‘Tea is ready.’

‘I don’t want any.’

She rattles the doorknob. ‘You need to eat something, what’s wrong?’

‘I’m not hungry. I’ve got homework to do.’

I hear mum and dad arguing in the kitchen. I know it’s about me. I can’t tell them about Ben and Jed, they’d never understand. They don’t know how lonely it is at school; how the other boys tease me, call me a midget.

Dad knocks on the door. “Marty we have to talk.’ I cover my head. ‘Please undo the door.’ With a groan I let him in and flop onto the bed. I don’t want him here, don’t want to talk. He sits beside me and holds a packet of cigarettes in his hand. I grasp in surprise.

He asks me gently, ‘Where did you get these?’

I shrug, ‘They’re not mine.’

‘Marty, we know you’ve have been stealing things; people have seen you in the mall with a group of older boys. You think they are your friends but they use young boys to steal for them all the time. Sometimes people get hurt and they don’t care. Do you want to be part of that?’

‘They’re not like that,’ I snap, angry and confused. I think back to the mall – shoving an old lady as they snatch her bag, laughing as she falls. I turn to help her, but they yell ‘run Marty run,’ and I take off.

Dad sighs, ‘You know you’re not like those boys Marty, and so do we.’

I feel his arm warm around my shoulders, and stare at the floor.     

3. The Gift of Truth 

word count:493

What lies is he telling her now? I hate him so much when I know he’s lying to Mum just so he can go and shag Mr Kirby’s wife. Only 3 weeks and 2 days left at school and I can expose them both for what they really are. Will I ever stop hating him, I wonder. I didn’t always hate him, especially when he coached my soccer team last year. And thanks to him we won the grand final. I was so proud of him, so proud and so stupid. Why did I say “I love you Dad”. I hadn’t said that since I was a little kid, and now I wish I’d never said it at all.

I need to see Jeremy today, I need to plan every last detail to make sure that I have all the facts so that he can’t lie and worm his way out of what he’s done, not only to our family but to Mr Kirby’s family as well. Apart from wishing that my father wasn’t the cheating lying rat that he is, the second worst part is that Mr Kirby has been my favourite teacher since I’ve been at Henderson College. I reckon he’s even better than any of the other teachers at this college who haven’t taught me. It’s not that I love Physical Education more than any of my other subjects it’s that Mr Kirby is just the coolest teacher.

Jeremy will back me I know he will. I also know we shouldn’t have been there, my parents have told me, over and bloody over, there are all sorts of weirdos and druggos that hang around the Creek once it’s dark so make sure you stay away. During the day is not so bad to go for a fish with Jeremy but I always had to be home before dark.

It was just too good an opportunity to miss. With Jeremy’s parents away in Sydney overnight it was the first time we were allowed to sleepover at his place on our own. With the thrill and anticipation of what we might come across at the Creek that night, we couldn’t ride fast enough. We weren’t stupid though, we would hide our bikes in the scrub a bit further along the Creek so nobody would see us coming. We’d then sneak along the bank till we got to the clearing.

Nothing could have stopped us that night, but bloody hell I wish it had. There was my father’s car, windows steamed up, back window open. What was he doing here? Parked next door was Mr Kirby’s wife’s car, nobody in it. The car was rocking and I could hear them. They disgust me. Every time I look at him he disgusts me. How could he?

Well only 3 weeks and 2 days to go until he and Mrs Kirby get the best end of school year present from me – the gift of truth.

4. The Gift of Truth

word count:499

I can still recall the night when John called me and said his girlfriend had just made him watch this movie and there was a photographer in it that had been to Naples and maybe it might be my Nonno. Now I’m sure hundreds of photographers had visited Naples the year before my mother was born but I had followed down dead ends before so what was one more. The first thing to verify was that the movie wasn’t a complete work of fiction it wouldn’t have been the first time John had told me something that he hadn’t verified before telling me. He was a great mate but sometimes..

My Nonna had always been very vague about who my Nonno was. I grew up knowing he was a foreign photographer but that was all I knew. It wasn’t until after her death that I found out a few more details. I still don’t know why but her passing created a yearning in me more intense than ever before. It’s somewhat understandable as she was the only family I had, yet I’m still perplexed at the intensity in which it came.

Within weeks I was rushing to the airport after a farewell night out with John, and three flights later, I was in the heart of America.

Travelling on the bus through so much open countryside had me feeling very alien. I wondered how many Italy’s one could fit inside America. It truly was like I was on a desolate movie set after everyone had gone home. Even now years later as I write about the journey that forever changed my life I can still close my eyes and feel that landscape so clearly.

As the bus pulled into town it stopped right in front of a diner which looked like so many movies I’d seen with John. Ordering a cheeseburger fries and a coke felt so American. I’d eaten burgers and fries before but this felt like a different experience. I didn’t even really like coke but I ordered one anyway.

The waitress didn’t know who Alister Jones was but pointed me in the direction of Samuel at the photo shop across the road just one block down.

Samuel knew exactly who I was looking for but the little known truth as he recalled it was he was actually Australian not American so I’d come to the wrong country.

It would be another year before I could save up enough to travel to Australia but I wasn’t going home empty handed. Not only did I now have a solid lead as to who my Nonno could have been. Samuel had given me a framed photograph Alister had taken while visiting his county which had hung on his wall so long there was now a faded mark on the wall outlining where it used to hang. Alister had given it to Samuel all those decades before and decades later it still hangs on my wall a most treasured gift.

April Flash Fiction

Entry Conditions:

Entries are limited to paid members only. Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the maximum word limit – even if by a word, and must comply with all the stated parameters. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.

All entries are to be submitted to competitions@ballaratwriters.com by Friday, 21 April 2017, voting will open here on the blog on this date.  Please note: voting will close at 5:00pm on the last Wednesday of each month, so please make sure that you get your vote in by then. 

Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 26 April, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)

This month’s Flash Fiction parameters are:

Genre:  YA

Word count:  490 – 500

Story Title:  The Gift of Truth

I used a random book title generator and chose six titles that seemed interesting then used a dice to narrow it down to one. When it comes time to vote, please take careful note of the number of the story that you wish to vote for as they will all have the same title, thank you and good luck.

March Flash Fiction Competition Winner

The winner of the March Flash Fiction competition was Neville Hiatt’s story Broken.

Please note: because this was my fist time using the voting app I did not set the closing time on the pole, which allowed voting to continue after the pole was in fact closed. I have rectified this problem and no one will be able to vote after 5:00pm on the last Wednesday of each month. Thank you for your understanding, Rebekah Spark, Competitions Coordinator

 

March Flash Fiction

  1. My Dungeon

Words: 99

This would free me from the relentless torment. I was standing at the gate of a dungeon, an archway of light ahead, waiting. Those cold and heavy bars were gone, the moldy and sour taste washed away and my path ahead clear. Only an empty cell to leave behind, the remnant of what I was. Those chains that held me down, bruising my skin and cutting my flesh. I considered the future pain that came with this sacrifice. Incomparable to that I left behind. This gate could lock away everything bad and painful and numbing. I would be free.

  1. The fate of bad habits

Words: 100

Below, in the dark, the most awful dank stench ridden place, where no sunlight ever reached, and even smoking torches reeked more putrid smoke than light, he dragged the resistant, heavy, slippery hulk of his latest mental nemesis, slowly, with halting steps, pace by agonising pace, stretching every few moves to ease the screaming muscles of his mind that objected to being unsettled, heaved, torn and wrenched from their habitual locations in the recesses of consciousness, once again bent to his task he carried his quarry with trudging frayed feet and gnarled fingers straining, towards the dungeon of his fears.

  1. Blowing in the Wind

Words: 99

As I sit outside the café enjoying a coffee amid the peace and quiet, a worker appears with a leaf blower. He’s wearing industrial strength ear muffs and moves along slowly, blowing the leaves off the footpath onto the lawn. Ear-splitting noise pierces the quietness and dust pollutes the air. As he ambles along, a gust of wind whips the leaves back onto the path.

I sit and ponder: the inventor of such a useless contraption ought to be consigned to a dungeon, forever listening to the aggravating sound of his creation, while nature takes care of the leaves.

  1. Broken

Words: 97

After a decade of war with both sides forces heavily decimated, my queen was finally liberated. They had not treated her as royalty and she was barely recognisable. Even now weeks later freshly bathed and restored in her royal gowns her eyes betrayed what they had done to her. I could still see the woman I once knew, but she was different. She would still not venture forth into public and was rarely seen in her once beloved private gardens. It broke my heart anew each day knowing the only place she felt safe was the dungeon.

  1. False light

Words: 100

I made my way down the worn wooden staircase. The room was lit by a single bare bulb hanging above the worktable. I watched my father, his unsteady hands fluttering across the surface of the table, like spotted butterflies, arranging and rearranging.

“Here you go Dad a nice cuppa.” I had tried to keep my voice soft, but still I’d startled him.

“I thought I’d find you down here pottering in your dungeon.”

“Martha, did I lose track of time?”   

“No Dad it’s not Martha, it’s Candice.”

“Candice yes, in this light you look so much like your late mother.”

  1. Nursing Home

Words:97

“Arh! Another dungeon!” I’d rescued my mother from one once. She’d been kidnapped by rogues within The Authority. The Rogues had grown so large, they were The Authority.

My hands shook, moving aside the entrance ornamentation.”Chandeliers still a favourite?” In the sunlight they did, je ne sais quoi … tinkle well with the ‘slow streaming’ of an adjacent man-made babbling brook.

“Mesmerized fool!” I said, “Just gather the evidence!”

Inside, my night vision camera-recorder rolled. Around a table someone was saying, “We’re purchasing the right to convert Your Elder into the maximum possible Units Of Currency. Agreed?”

  1. Dungeons and Dragons

Words:98

The baby is unfed, the sink is full, unwashed clothes are piled high, it’s past midday and nothing’s been done, as the game goes on. They’re all gathered round the computer when the dinner’s on the table, can’t come now there’s a monster to destroy, as the game goes on.

They’re addicted to the role that they have to play, saviour of the Nation must kill the dragon, or be thrown in the dungeon, as the game goes on.

Should I worry? Should I be annoyed? Maybe I should just let the game go on

   8. Dungeon

Words:99

I run my fingers along the damp walls- which are cold and slightly uneven. I feel shivers run through my body, as the fear of this place- the dungeon, make my senses alert.

I must not resist this torture. I must endure. The end will come quickly if I don’t struggle. I hear the water before I feel it- lukewarm and heavy. I gasp.

“If you didn’t struggle so much it would be easier for both of us”. I hear Mums’ familiar voice. I remove the large towel draped over my head, tent-like and let her wash my hair

9. Trapped 

Words: 99

The spotlights, fans screaming for more, the memories and flashbacks, felt as if they were stuck on repeat. Lately, every time she closed her eyes, and oddly, even more so in the mornings, when she returned to the empty house after kissing her tiny son goodbye and watching him run to his classroom, eager to be with his new pals in his first year at school. She loved him so much, but the ache she felt, for just one moment, to step back in time, to her life as a rock star, playing every night at the Dungeon club.  

10. Dungeon 

Words:98

My dungeon has brick walls.

Half-eaten flies stick to corners and sometimes contented spiders.

Papers and boxes untidy the floor. Literary or art paraphernalia crams the book case and a table beside the writing desk. Beneath the desk there are several unfinished manuscripts. On top sits my computer, and beside it, more works in progress.

The walls display my grandson’s kindy paintings, a picture of young Queen Elizabeth and a photo of a rocket launching with the caption ‘Dare to dream’.

The rubbish bin overflows with torn up edits.

Outside people pass by oblivious to my surreal world.