Congratulations to Meg Ross, winner of this month’s flash fiction competition, for her story, ‘Little Fish’.
Word count: 200
Key word: owl
Entry 1 The Owl and Its Food
It was not the chill in the room that caused the field mouse to tremble so, but rather the large and looming form of the school principal, Mr Owl.
With eyes that were almost all pupil the barn owl glared down at the manuscript in front of him. “And you think this is satisfactory?” Mr Owl said, his voice low.
The field mouse hid his nervousness by adjusting his school uniform, “Well, Sir. I.I did my best.”
The homework that had been issued out to the class had been to report on the principal’s favourite work. The Owl and its Food.
A truly mouth watering adventure through the common owl’s dining habits.
“You misspelled Tyto Alba.” Mr Owl said. Normaly the principal would see this as a minor offence but the feild mouse had shamlessly plagerised much of the work.
A shiver ran down the feild mouse’s back. “I.I’m sorry, Sir. But. It’s just… I didn’t find the material as enjoyable as you might.”
The cheek of this hooligan. No doubt he was just a lazy troublemaker. Or worse. An anarchist.
Before the field mouse could apologise for his literary crimes, Mr Owl gobbled him up.
Entry 2 Spoke Without Thought
Who? proclaimed the owl, Quack! said the duck.
The doctor cried foul! and the goose run amok,
What’s the lesson in this? You ask, surely I’m just playing
“Don’t open your mouth, unless you know what you’re saying”
Entry 3 The Owl of Discontent
Orry was a disgruntled owl, sitting in the tree each night, looking down at the house. ‘I want to be part of a family,’ he thought, as he watched the little boy playing at the window. Families were happy, kind, and shared their food. Orry wished for a better life; not like the other owls, scavenging and fighting for food during the cold winter nights. He told them he would find a family and never return.
‘You won’t like it there’, they hooted. Orry didn’t listen, and turned away.
Harry, his friend, was a wise old owl; he understood Orry’s discontent. ‘You are part of us Orry,’ he reassured him.
But Orry wanted to find his own family, and flew down to the house. A light shone from the bedroom window as he landed on the window sill. He heard the sound of crying, of pleading. ‘Don’t hurt me daddy, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’
Orry blinked rapidly, and stared into the room. Trembling, and with ruffled feathers, he took off back to the tree.
Harry eyed him with concern. ‘So have you found your family Orry?’
‘You’re my family Harry,’ he whispered, eyes lowered, as he settled on the branch.
Entry 4 A Tale of Power and Right
Once upon a time a wise old Owl and a cunning Rat were deciding who would fight the bush fire raging in their forest. The cunning Rat demanded the right to control all the animals to fight the fire, but the wise old Owl was not so sure. The cunning Rat smiled as he had a secret backer, the wily Fox.
Anyway cunning Rat ordered for his fellow rats to come and fight the fire, but the fire was too strong and drove them back.
The wise old Owl however, asked the owls, all sixty thousand of them, and they came and beat their wings as one, and blew the fire back to where it came from.
Now the cunning Rat understood the power of the owls, and he wanted to control it himself, so he called in a favour from the wily Fox, and together they cajoled all the animals and birds to accept the cunning Rat as fire controller.
The owls could not abide by this and simply flew away, leaving the wily Fox scared and alone, and the cunning Rat standing there knowing he had usurped power, but certainly had no glory.
Entry 5 Foul Owl
There was an owl who smelt quite foul
Both night and day she’d often howl
About the repercussions of
The smell that deprived her of love
This odour handicap she had
Made all round her feel quite sad
Because they had to remain afar
Afraid … as if owl were jaguar
Well, not quite, although she may as well
Be cougar, lion or fanged beast-from-hell
The effects so rank, the stench so fetid
Attempts to approach owl were always regretted
Until the day when, hooting soft
Our owl was spotted from aloft
A human came and did not notice
Owl’s stink, in fact she smelt like lotus
To this human with his different nostrils
Who realized owl’s links with fossils
An ancient breed owl turned out to be
Whose existence (scientists agree)
Was on the verge of complete extinction
Females – the ones that smell with distinction
Were prized and feted with affection
At least they were from human directions
Owl it turns out moved to Spain
A place with others in-the-same-vein
She reproduced with another fragrant owl
A daughter! With stench astronomically foul
A moral to this story could be
Hoot soft even if your fate seems howl-worthy
Entry 6 The Owl and The Tadpole
The Owl sat perched on a large branch
when he heard, “Help! Help!”
The Owl looked down into the small pond below
he could see a tiny tadpole crying for help.
“What’s wrong Tadpole?” the Owl asked,
“My tail is disappearing” replied the Tadpole.
“Have no fear,” said the Owl.
“Everything will be alright.”
A few nights later the Owl
was flying over the pond.
The Owl could hear cries for help.
The Owl flew down to the pond.
It was the Tadpole.
“My tail is still disappearing and I’m
growing legs” cried the Tadpole.
“Have no fear” said the Owl,
“all will be alright.”
One moonlit night the Owl
decided to check on the Tadpole in the pond.
The Owl flew down to the pond
but the Tadpole was no where to be found.
A Frog started to ribbit
the Owl went over to the frog.
The Frog said, “Do you remember me?”
“Of course.” replied the Owl.
“You taught me as a Tadpole not to fear
and all will be alright,
now I’m a Frog.”
”Yes you are” replied the Owl
“and a mighty fine one too.”
Entry 7 Amidst the clatter of empty nightjars
Largely nocturnal, and fabled for its incoherence, the white-throated nightjar might be a delusion of poetry.
Who hasn’t observed the undersides of those mostly white throats at full stretch, that lump fully purposed? Self-classified as vulnerable, their dependence on the nightjar restricts their range.
Poor hunters, they haunt the night with their wonderings. They envy owls, in particular the masked owl. Incognito, enigmatic, a stone cold-killer, the masked owl is a lesson to all pretenders.
Amidst the clatter of empty nightjars and the yowling and whimpering of poets, comparisons with the barking owl are inevitable.
But if poets had a choice, they might claim the status and beauty of a greater sooty owl (never the lesser), and snatch their words straight from the sky with talons unhindered by lumps in white throats or the consumption of nightjars.
Alas, the white-throated nightjar lacks the purity of owls, along with vocabulary, perspective, and shame. White-throated nightjars are another species altogether.
Our wings are imaginary, and stored beneath our shirts, the rods careful-folded across our backs. Occasionally, one of us will take flight, and is transfigured when reminded that we can see in the dark.
Entry 8 Hootie
Hootie had to get to the other side of the forest before sundown. It was the final task he had to complete to join the fraternity. The stories that were told about this final challenge were legendary. From one poor lad who got so lost in there he missed the first week of classes to those that were never seen again. Myth or not some of the creatures said to be living in the forest gave some nightmares just in the telling of such stories.
This didn’t scare Hootie though as he climbed the first tree trunk and scurried along the first branch. He’d studied so many of these stories and 99% of the dangers either lived on the ground or came from the earth itself. Leaping from one tree to the next was the wise move he deducted. He might have only just started university but he already thought he was as wise as an owl. Just as the sun was about to set he reached the very edge of the forest and leapt from the last branch smiling. Grinning even bigger, Roger the eagle swooped down catching him before he touched the finish line. Beware those 1% ers.
Entry 9 Little fish
When you are swimming in the right pond, with fish who are your kind of fish, you are on the right path.
When you can look at your sparkling fins and think ‘you are beautiful’, rather than ‘you should have hooves, like a cow, or feathers, like an owl’, you are on the good path. The path to being a happy fish.
It’s easy to be in the wrong pond. You can even be born there. And it’s easy to be with the wrong fish, and feel like you are wrong.
You have to swim a bit further to find your pond. You might have to wait to meet your true fish.
In the right pond swimming feels easy. Movement is fluid, like your surroundings. Light bounces off your bright scales.
In the wrong pond, you feel like you’re swimming in mud. Through liquid as dense as syrup. And the other fish make you feel lonely. Not like you belong.
It’s possible to get to the good pond, the friendly pond, with the welcoming fish. It might take a while. It might take some work. Keep going. Keep trying. It’s worth all the swimming to get there.
You must be a Ballarat Writers member to enter.
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.
All entries are to be submitted to competitions@by Friday, 24th June. Your email must include author’s name, story title and word count.
Voting will open the next day here on the blog.
Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday, 29th June, 7pm at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel to hear the winner announced. (Results will also be posted here on the blog the day after.)