Common sense isn’t typically what we go for in Faber Academy — we’re more on the whimsy and reaching for the sky and achieving your dreams side of things — so why would we take H.G.Wells’ advice here? No waiting until the morning for us, here are your #QUICKFIC flash fiction competition winners for this week:
Runner Up: Annie Bien
Sensing the Night
The crickets stopped their night strumming, a hiccup of silence. Then the bullfrogs stopped belching, two alligator seconds. She recognized the tiny feet of a friend scrambling across the grass and dirt, followed by larger feet pressing down the brush. Car tire sandals.
Car tires sandals were cheap and left no trace of a poacher’s foot size or shoe style, just another tire track on the road into the conservancy. She picked up her rifle, nudging her companion who nodded. They edged out, following the footsteps. Her eyes easily adjusted under the moon crescent. She lived here now, breathed the bush. No one would treat her charges the way her ex-husband had treated her.
She saw the back of a man putting the small ball of scales into a sack. She placed the rifle in the poacher’s neck.
“Drop the sack. Hands up. No pangolin for you.”
“Evelina? Is that you, darling?” Her husband asked, unafraid. “Come home, you’re tired. The children miss you. So do I.”
That singer’s voice, cooing at her. The sack was still. She cocked the trigger.
“Wait. You know I love you. There’s never been anyone else. Come home. A good night’s sleep brings a fresh start in the morning.”
Her companion put the cuffs on her husband. She never spoke to him again. Tenderly opening the sack, the pangolin unrolled and ran into the dark.
Runner Up: Alex James
The sky was turning the colour of a bruise, of an inflamed gum. I stroked his head in my lap. He was shivering, his jaw working on nothing.
“I’m sorry,” he croaked.
“It’s okay.” We were leaning back into a pile of dirty duvets, a few reinforced shopping bags. Everything we had, soaking up the cold from the ground.
The cars passing overhead were deafening. I had to shout.
“I said its fine.”
For a while, we just sat like that, watching the sun duck from cloud to cloud. Our stomachs growled. He picked at a scab on his hand and looked up at me. Under the grime I could still see the lines of his cheekbones. His eyes were hot, wet.
“I’ve got a plan. We can hitchhike to Stockport; post up at my uncle’s place for a while.”
This again. I said nothing. I knew he hadn’t talked to his family in a decade, maybe longer. Why did he say these things? Always at dusk, when he knew we weren’t going to go anywhere, or do anything.
“I know you don’t believe me. Doesn’t matter. We are going to get out of here,” he said. “Out of this life. I promise.”
“Sure, babes. Wait ‘til tomorrow morning, yeah?”
Tomorrow morning, we would wake up and hike into the centre of town, as we had done every day for a year. Tomorrow evening, we would be here, making our plans all over again.
The sun dropped, readying itself.
The Winner: Cait Gillespie
Nobody is Watching
She moved about the darkened room, following her hips as they beautifully crashed from east to west. It was past midnight. Her head turned like a hunting owl, catching my gaze before twisting back round in the opposite direction. Her fingertips caught the music and held it solid, pushing it in pulses through her belly and into the ground.
I was in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, and she had shape shifted into an Egyptian dancer. I liked routines and exercises that could be repeated neatly, with more accuracy each time. My mother-in-law didn’t do routines, and repeated nothing that wasn’t commanded by emotion. I had to shake off my Scottish cladding of self-consciousness, and move with her, to somewhere else.
I was now standing beside her, a veil swept across my shoulders. She starting moving her elbow in delicate circles, her forearm poised at an angle that suggested things unseen.
I was now the centre of gravity, as she passed the pulse to me. The tempo of the drums quickened and my hips started to twitch. I closed my eyes and pictured nothing. The drums tapped faster and faster. I listened to my joints, tested out my muscles. They were in agreement. They moved. I kept my eyes shut, and started to move my feet. They were ready, and stepped out a quick pattern, pushing the pulse back to her. I was caught in the dance now, and couldn’t stop until every possibility had been explored.
Congratulations to Annie, Alex and Cait. Many, many thanks yous to everyone that entered this week; that beautiful sky and reprieve from my nonsense made you produce some beautiful pieces!
Lovely weekends all. We’ll see you next Friday.
For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.