QuickFic 27/05/16: The Winner

qf64_799

Runner-up: Anstey Spraggen

A Truth, Universally Acknowledged

Everyone was relieved when science finally took over from love. It is true that my generation have been slow to match-up, reluctant to replicate, and completely physically unable to buy houses; even so, my mother’s enthusiasm was extreme.

Her hands trembled slightly as she held the letter. ‘My son-in-law.’ She practised saying it until her tongue hurt.

When both parties had accepted the Initial Proposal and our Deeper Gene Matrices showed that we would be best suited to two children, a boy followed by a girl, my mother was beside herself. ‘You should start the Gender Direction Supplements now,’ she said. She began knitting blue booties.

There were several couples meeting that afternoon. My parents were specks on the pavement, their excitement trembling up from eight storeys below. My husband was the tall man by the door.

You were standing behind him making that same face I was; doubting eyes, a careful smile. Yours was directed at a beautiful woman in a red dress.

I could smell your skin. You looked at me and my heart went tight in my chest.

Red dress girl took your hand.

You said just two words to me as we waited by the lift, betrothed couples with our matched genomes, our certificates, our futures.

‘You too,’ you whispered so quietly as you passed.

My life is wonderful. My husband is kind and good. My children are the perfect products of decades of research.

I miss two words. I miss them every day.

You too.

Winner: Van Demal

Breakthrough

Nobody wants to say it out loud, the wash of dawn rendering us all confessional quiet. Knowledge fizzes inside us. We are points in a constellation, each submerged in the collective excitement of this new world. Our glances are eloquent. Our little smiles punctuate the sentences we cannot end.

You realise of course…

But can you imagine…

To think that we…

And now anything could…

‘I should go clean the lab,’ says Vladimir. We look at him, and then we laugh. What does it matter? But Vladimir remains serious. ‘Yes, we have done this,’ he says, ‘but still the lab must be cleaned.’

‘You’re right,’ Anjali says to him, then to all of us, ‘this is an end as much as it’s a beginning. Maybe we should all go, all help.’

‘No, no,’ says Vladimir, ‘to clean afterwards is my role. I will go.’

He stands on his dignity and we feel it move through the room, the understanding, the correctness of what he says. The sadness of it.

Our work is complete. What can we mean now? As the light rises, as the news spreads, it will define us. We will become he and she and you and I. We will become names oft spoken. We will never be like this again.

‘Yes,’ says Vladimir as he looks at his shoes.

Yet he remains. The eloquence remains, the glances, the smiles. In this penumbra we draw closer while the city emerges beneath us, blinking at the light, unknowing still.

Congratulations, Anstey and Van! And thanks to everyone who sent us stories. We love you.

See you next week!

QuickFic 27/05/16

Hello there. Can we interest you in a little Friday flash fiction party? Everyone’s invited…

As always, a new prompt awaits you at the bottom of the page. If you’ve QuickFic-ed with us before, head on down there and get your Muse musing. But if this is your first go, a quick explanation of how it all works:

Every Friday, at 9:50 on the dot, we show you a prompt (picture, quote, anything goes). We’re looking for stories of 250 words or less, inspired by that prompt, and we’d like them sent to academy@faber.co.uk (in the body of an email, and including a title and a wordcount) by 2:50pm (that bit’s important). We in the office have a lovely time reading them all, and then at 3:30 we announce the winner.

This week, the winner will win these lovely Faber books:

qf64_books

Nice, right?

And here it is, this week’s QuickFic prompt:

 

qf64_799

Ready? Let’s write!

By entering our QuickFic writing competitions, you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. The winner will also get a chance to win a place on one of our Start to Write one day courses, because at the end of the year we’ll be choosing our favourite of all the winners – the champion of champions, basically.

For more creative writing exercises, click here.

QuickFic 20/05/16: The Winner

qf63_799

Runner-up: Penelope Sandle-Keynes

Consumed

It had been a long day, and he was hungry.

The crowds were heading home, laden with freshly-baked brioche and artisan cheeses, jute bags crammed with organic produce. It would be unpacked onto granite worktops, stuffed into American larder-fridges, stored in enamel bread-bins, the remains discarded once the hustle and bustle of a new week had begun. Consuming was no longer about eating; it was the buying that mattered.

He scoured the pavements, one eye on the dozy couples who stepped carelessly into the road. His hand reached over to the glove compartment and extracted the little dog, placing it carefully on the dashboard in plain sight.

The hunger gnawed at him.

He spotted her in one of the side streets, conspicuous in her lack of shopping bags. She was alone, looking lost, trying to work out which way to go. A tourist, caught in the middle-class melee.

‘Can I offer you a lift?’

He watched her eyes take in his clothing, then catch sight of the mascot smiling beguilingly at the back seat. The dog had to face inwards. He liked to watch.

Her hesitation was minimal – his outfit saw to that. He drove her away in silence, away from the crowds, away from the consumers with no idea what it meant to truly consume.

Finally, he stopped the car and turned to her. Putting his hand to his throat, he watched her eyes widen as he pulled away his dog collar.

Now he could eat.

 

Winner: Simon Higgs

Happy Harry

Double parked I filled the boot with whatever I could grab and carry, no time to work out which one of us bought Back To Black or Parklife.

“They’ll tow you away.” A stallholder said, but one look silenced him. I did not care if they towed the car, they weren’t towing me away, I’d already been towed, my heart hitched to a heartlessbitch, a makemesick, a fickleshit and other creative compounds.

I scraped my knee on an edge of the upturned microwave and let it bleed down to my sockless shoes. I lifted too many boxes at once and she tried to stop me but I screamed that I could fucking manage then lost balance for a moment and I, an ass, a stupid ass, buckarooed the contents down the stairs and out into the busy street where the hazard lights blinked on the car that was still not towed.

I yanked things from the floor – books, birthday cards and photos from happier days. My knee-blood stained some, others my temper ripped. Nothing mattered.

I slammed doors – house and car, then sat in the motionless cabin. Blurred noises from contented shoppers passing, the tick tick tick of hazard lights, and my heartbeat echoing, still pounding.

Happy Harry sat stuffed and smiling at me as he always did on the dashboard, blissfully ignorant, unchanged token of changed love. I picked him up and squeezed him for all I was worth, so glad they had not towed him away.   

 

Congratulations, Penelope and Simon! And thanks as ever to everyone for another haul of tip-top micro-fiction.

Happy weekends, happy writing!

QuickFic 20/05/16

Good morning, QuickFic-ers.

Firstly, apologies for our unannounced absence last week. It was Friday 13th, Nicci had swanned off on holiday – things got a little out of hand. But we’re back! So let’s get right on with a new round of flash fiction fun.

As usual, we’ve got a prompt for you at the bottom of the page. You should write us a story, of 250 words or less, inspired by that prompt, and then send it to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50pm today. Please include a wordcount and a title.

At 3:30pm, we’ll announce the winner, and the winner will win this towering stack of frankly excellent books:

qf63_books

Like a delicious book burger of wonder.

Alright?

Great. Here it is then, this week’s prompt:

qf63_799

See you back here at 3:30!

By entering our QuickFic writing competitions, you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. The winner will also get a chance to win a place on one of our Start to Write one day courses, because at the end of the year we’ll be choosing our favourite of all the winners – the champion of champions, basically.

For more creative writing exercises, click here.

QuickFic 06/05/16: The Winner

Runner-up: Anne Petrie

Silence is Golden

Sometimes fans still turned up on the doorstep, looking for an autograph or a photo.

‘Send them away, Gerald,’ she would say, and Gerald did.

‘Miss du Moulin is not receiving visitors today.’ She insisted Gerald always used those words. Every time a new Gerald arrived, he had to learn the rules. Recently the Geralds that the agency sent were not what she considered proper butlers at all. The latest one was a girl. ‘Can’t discriminate today,’ the agency had said. Still, the girl seemed alright.

Now, sixty years after her last appearance in front of the cameras, she had agreed to one more starring role. She deserved it. There had been no ‘Garbo talks’ moment for Marguerite du Moulin. She’d had to tell Gerald about the plan. Gerald thought it was ‘really cool.’

Gerald helped her arrange herself on the chaise longue in the drawing room. They had chosen the outfit together: midnight blue evening gown, a silver fox stole draped over what were now undeniably crepey arms and sequinned high heels that she couldn’t stand in. The wig of crimped blonde waves was the one she had worn in ‘Miss Maisie’.

Gerald showed the TV documentary crew into the room. They stopped dead, as she had known they would.

‘Darlings,’ she said, her voice a rich baritone, ‘I’ve been cross-dressing for nearly eighty years. It’s such fun to grow a beard again. Come on, get on with it. You can’t discriminate today.’

Winner: Julie Durdin

The Big Scoop

After all the trouble they had gone to, they hoped the tip-off proved its worth. The competition was on, and they had been happy to forego their dignity and their hard-earned pennies in order to attain pole position in front of Doris Anders’ door.

They’d drawn straws, and then bickered over the outcome. They’d thrown pennies in their caps and then argued over the fairness of that, their hats differing in size and shape. A quiz on Doris’s former life as an escort, model and then millionnairess had decided matters.

Toby Watson, the youngest news guy on the block, had done his homework and now stood in front of the rest, outside the famous recluse’s door, poised to capture her on film – front-page news.

Would she still be a beauty or had the years since her last public appearance taken their toll? Soon they would find out.

Fingers at the ready, all talk ceased as Doris’s bedroom door opened a crack. She was about to emerge.

A camera clicks.

“All you got is a picture of a door, mate,” someone says.

The door opens fully. Two men dressed in black step over the threshold. Perched on their shoulders is a white coffin. Draped over it is a purple feather boa, Doris’s trademark neckwear.

“Not much better than the door,” someone grumbles.

Slowly, the coffin bearers walk past the newspaper guys and Doris Anders, the famous recluse, faces the cameras one last time.

 

Congratulations, Anne and Julie! And thanks to everyone who played. We’ll see you guys next week – happy weekends, all.

QuickFic 06/05/16

Good morning!

Another sunny day dawns – and with it, another round of flash-fiction Friday fun times. Hooray!

Remember: your story should be 250 words or less, and inspired by the prompt below. Send it to us (academy@faber.co.uk) by 2:50pm (please include a title and a wordcount), and you might win a lovely stack of Faber books.

These books, in fact:

003

And here it is, that aforementioned prompt:

What they lookin' at?

What they lookin’ at?

Got it?

Great!

See you back here at 3:30, when we’ll announce the winner.

By entering our QuickFic writing competitions, you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. The winner will also get a chance to win a place on one of our Start to Write one day courses, because at the end of the year we’ll be choosing our favourite of all the winners – the champion of champions, basically.

For more creative writing exercises, click here.