#QUICKFIC 23/11/2018: The Winner

a quote from H.G Wells' "The Time Machine" set against a background of a cloudy sky as the sun is setting. The clouds are all coloured in various gradients of pink, white and black. The quite reads "It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning."

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.

#QUICKFIC 23/11/2018

Good morning, flash fiction fans!

We’ve got another stunning #QUICKFIC prompt for you, but first, the rules. If you already know How to Play, then keep on scrolling:

  • We’re about to show you a prompt.
  • Look at the prompt and, by the power of my photoshop skills and the wise words of another author, you should be granted the inspiration to write a fiction piece of 250 words or less.
  • Send us that piece in the body of an email with the title and the word count included to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50 pm today
  • Because if you do, you’re in with a shot of winning these books:


That’s it for the How To’s, and, for once, I’m going to keep quiet and let someone else’s words take center stage for this week’s prompt. See you back here this afternoon at exactly 3:30 pm!

a quote from H.G Wells' "The Time Machine" set against a background of a cloudy sky as the sun is setting. The clouds are all coloured in various gradients of pink, white and black. The quite reads "It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning."  

By entering Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC , you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. 

#QUICKFIC 16/11/2018: The Winner


Runner Up: Laura Riley

The Illusion of You

I was always a little bit in love with you. I know it’s crazy to say. We never exchanged a deliberate word. And until that day I didn’t know your last name.

You were just Simon: head down, earphones in, always on the move, portfolio case banging at your side. Like a shark, forever in motion. That red hat, your crown whatever the weather; the blush of my cheek matching its hue, whenever you rushed by.

I sat behind you in art class, and would often lose half the hour, watching as your hand danced across the page, silently creating beauty I knew my paintbrush could never express. I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to speak up; to tell you how great I thought you were; how your talent almost made me cry.

I learned your surname on the first day of our final year. My final year. The Head said you’d passed away over the summer, his face grey and long as he fumbled for the right words. Gasps of ‘drugs’ and ‘suicide’ filled the air as we left the assembly hall; but nobody really knew the answer to why you were gone. Just as we hadn’t really known you when you were here. The illusion of you took precedent over who was really inside. Not a loner, but lonely; not aloof, simply shy.

You were just the boy in the red hat; and how I wish I’d stopped to speak to you, before you went by.

Runner Up: Jose Varghese

Caught on Camera

Omar looked up, as Ron gave instructions to the light boys.

The room is stuffy. He wondered whether Ron was capable of adding even the rancid smell to the frame. He would be excited if that was possible, but all Ron works with now are the various elements of light.

‘Shut all the windows and switch off all the lights except the zero-watt bulb above him. We need to highlight the redness of his cap.’

Omar felt reduced to colours and contours Ron made tangible, with his craft.

‘Omar. What the hell are you waiting for? Switch on the phone and hold it exactly at the middle, below your chest.’

‘Oh, yes. I’ll do that. Is this right… or higher?’

‘No, man, keep the phone closer to your body.’

The phone. The body. Two objects Ron needs for this five-second shot.

What happens to Omar after that low-lit moment is trapped on camera? Ron would spend an hour more on it in the editing room for sure, to get things right in his perfectionism of visual language merging seamlessly with the story.

Omar would have to leave, as they make space for more important things.

He wouldn’t make it to the posters. No one would remember the random man in the bar’s dark corner where the hero has a fight later.

Even the bar is a major character. He’s just a part of the setting.

Do I get some dialogue later? – He swallowed that thought, scared of what cameras capture.

Winner: James Atkinson

Losing sight of you, gaining insight

Your red hat and your height have always helped.  I could always pick you out in a crowd, even before my eyes began to fail.

After they told me I began to memorise every part of you, linking sight to touch and smell, learning to feel changes to alter that memory, keep the image up to date.  And where I couldn’t, I studied your tattoos, the formations of your unraised moles until they were as familiar as my own.

“I won’t ever forget a single feature.”

As the black curtain began to draw in, I ramped up my efforts to recreate you perfectly when I closed my eyes.  I tested myself frequently, described you to yourself while seated in another room, drew pictures, wrote stories.  Created an avatar to serve in your stead.

“You won’t ever want another creature.”

“I don’t want to.  But what if I do forget?”

And now that I cannot even see your entire face at the same time, my hands and fingers trace your face evermore desperately while you kiss me to reassure me, tell me not to worry.

“I will be here.  By touch, by smell, by ear

Memory does not matter once love has beget.

(And when it doesn’t need to make sense.)”

I knew I feared the unknown more than anything, that an avatar was never needed when I had you.

Your worn hat full of your smell will always help.  And I’ve always been pleased that I am taller than you.

A mysterious figure in a hat, and you sure did come up with some intense backstories for this one! Congratulations to Laura, Jose and James. And well played to everyone who entered — I will be leaving this office with a deep suspicion of red beanie hat wearers from now on.

Happy weekends all, and I’ll see you next week!

For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.

#QUICKFIC 16/11/2018

Hello there lovely #QUICKFICers,

Can I entice you into writing a piece of flash fiction for me? I can?! Brilliant.

It’s fairly simple; you’re about to be hit with a prompt. Using that prompt, write a short story of 250 words or less. Paste your offering into the body of an email, including the title and the wordcount, and send it to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50 pm today. Here’s what’s up for grabs this week: 

a stack of books "The Red Haired Woman" by Orhan Pamuk, "Leila" by Prayaag Akbar and "Caroline's Bikini" by Kirsty Gunn -Faber Academy's flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC 

Without further ado, here is your prompt:

A face looms form the darkness. Only the top half of this face is visible, with the mouth and 80% of the face shrouded in darkness. The only bright colour in the image is a plain red knitted beanie, perched atop the person's head. We can also just see a tuft of hair peeking out from the brim of the cap. The rest of the image is plain black. - Faber Academy's flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC 

Chop chop! We’ll be back at 3:30 pm with your winning entries.

By entering Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC , you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. 

#QUICKFIC 09/11/2018: The Winner

Runner Up: James A

Walled Garden

Sat in the dark, dank shadow of the garden’s wall, Tom pressed his ear against its damp, cold face.  He listened to the sounds beyond, imagined the actions that made them, wondered how it was possible to do likewise.

Tom did not understand summer.  He knew about it, saw people getting excited about it, don shorts, go outside, listen to their summer soundtracks, cook meat and drink outside… while he remained outside that walled garden, listening, imagining.  

He thought of it as a music service he couldn’t afford, and so could only listen to snippets of songs.  Or film teasers that were never replaced by trailers, let alone the full feature. He knew these things but did not know them.

In his heart and mind, Tom knew he would sit there always.  The darkness within the wall would confirm his insecurities and keep him there, listening, waiting for the winter when he would be alone again, the revellers’ noise gone until the sun returned. 

Jane would often sit and look across the park, watching the lovers walk by, the dogs chase balls, the children running and playing… and a curious man across the way would always catch her eye.  Always sat alone, he would stare as if unseeing, as if there were a wall between him and everyone else.

If she had more confidence, perhaps she would have gone to talk to him.  She guessed everyone had their own walls they would not cross; and certainly she knew her own.

Runner Up: Simon Yates


“I’ve got to get home.” Peggy said. “He’s waiting for me.”

“Don’t go.” I said.

She laughed and it broke my heart. A laugh shouldn’t carry that weight of misery.

“Don’t laugh.” I said. “You can stay with me.”

“And your parents will be OK with that? They’ll let me sleep in your room?”

I looked away. I didn’t want to say the word that was forcing its way up into my mouth. I’d said it once and she hadn’t spoken to me for a week.

“It’s not his fault.” She said. “It’s the whiskey.”

“He needs help.”

“I’m helping him.” She hugged her schoolbooks tighter and clenched her jaw even harder, daring me to argue.

“Professional help.”

It was too close to the word that could never be said. She whirled away, her ponytail whipping after her, and strode along the pavement.

“Peggy! Don’t.” I called. “Please?”

She didn’t listen. Every step took her further from me in every way. I just watched, as usually useless as always. She didn’t look back.

That night I didn’t sleep. Every time the wind blustered or the bed creaked, I imagined the worst. I played scenarios through my head where I was always the hero, the rescuer, the lover. But I was fourteen. My bedroom stayed safe no matter what I imagined. So different to Peggy’s.

The next morning Peggy still wasn’t speaking to me.

Winner: Daniela Azzopardi


“We should head back. Don’t wanna get lynched.”

“Daft boy,” Old Nate barked, fighting with the gear stick. “They’ll all be giddy to see you.”

“I doubt that.” Matthias clutched his knapsack. “On my last visit I sent e’eryone to the ‘backwater hell’ from where they had spawned.”

Old Nate wiped the sweat from his brow with a chequered handkerchief as Matthias looked out of the truck at the familiar landscape.

He missed it; the countryside, childhood friends, grumpy grandparents. Being that close to home had made him tumble to the nearest train station after his concert was done, forgetting the sourness which had ended his last visit.

As the train got closer to his destination, memories had rushed back with astronomical force. Before he could catch another train out of there, Nate accosted him, recognizing the child Matthias used to be, and dragged him to his truck, insisting on giving him a ride into town.

A soft summer breeze blew as they got to the main square and Nate’s truck ground to a halt. Matthias’ smiling face greeted them from a canvas poster almost as tall as the council house first floor.

Castledale – Home of Melodious Matthias

“Got ‘er up in time for the concert.”


“You’re a downright talent, Matt. Bit stubborn, but you’ll do great.”

Matthias’ voice faltered. “Does Sam think so too?”

Nate scoffed. “Sam? Who do think drew that darned poster?”

He turned to light his pipe, allowing Matthias some privacy with his emotions.

Thank you for playing along with the odd turn this week’s prompt took! Congratulations to James, Simon and Daniela, and thank you to everyone that sent a piece in. Keep them coming!

Have a wonderful, music filled weekend and we’ll see you again at 9:50 am next Friday.

For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.

#QUICKFIC 09/11/2018

Happy Friday! Welcome back to Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC

Quick fire refresher:

One prompt. One 250 word story from you. Send it in the body of an email (including title and word count) by 2:50 pm today to academy@faber.co.uk. You might win these books: 

"The Book of Chocolate Saints" by Jeet Thayil and "In My Minds Eye: A Thought Diary" by Jan Morris -Faber Academy's flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC

The days are getting shorter, it’s dark and cold and everyone is reaching for the tissues, but not in the Academy office! We’re bringing back that summer feeling and switching  things up a little. This week your prompt is not a picture, or a first line, or even an extract. It’s a playlist full of cheerful songs designed to make you think of warmer, golden days gone by:

Have a listen, get inspired and see what words you can produce.

One more programming note before we go though. Thanks to copyright, we can’t re-print any of the lyrics to these wonderful songs. Please don’t include them in your story, as that means it can’t go up on the website and that means you won’t win.

Until 3:30 pm! 

By entering Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC , you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. 

#QUICKFIC 02/11/2018

Remember remember, the 2nd November, when Jade-Louisa gave you all a new prompt…Yes, fresh off the heels of Halloween, we’ve got another themed edition of our #QUICKFIC flash fiction competition! This one is Bonfire Night themed. Or as I like to call it, Celebrating the Time a Crime was Narrowly Averted with Fire and Mayhem Night themed! The first is catchier, I’ll grant you that.

But before we get to it, a rules refresher:

  • Use the prompt below to write a story of 250 words or less.
  • Pop the story into the body of an email, including the title and the word count, and send it to academy@faber.co.uk. Make sure it’s in the body of the email, not as a separate attached document!
  • Do all that by 2:50 pm 3 pm today

And if you do, you’re in with a shot of winning these criminally good books:

"Death Comes to Pemberley" by P.D.James, "Fateful Mornings" by Tom Bouman and "Collusion" by Luke Harding -Faber Academy's flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC

And with that, here is your prompt: 

A shot of what we can assume is the very top of a bonfire set against a pitch black sky. The fire is spitting gold and orange sparks across the sky like a firework. The flame is so bright it lights up the bottom half of the image in a warm golden glow. -Faber Academy's flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC

Bye until 3:30 pm! 

By entering Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC , you’re granting us non-exclusive worldwide permission to reprint your story on our website should you win. 


#QUICKFIC 02/11/2018: The Winner

A shot of what we can assume is the very top of a bonfire set against a pitch black sky. The fire is spitting gold and orange sparks across the sky like a firework. The flame is so bright it lights up the bottom half of the image in a warm golden glow. -Faber Academy's flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC

Runner Up: Susannah O’Brien

Cheese Slices and Car Parks

There were fireworks the first day she met him, although it’s an awful cliché to say so. Both students, they were working at the big Tesco in town. He was meant to be cutting cheese slices behind the Deli counter, and she was normally on Bakery, but that day, their respective supervisors sent them both to help with Seasonal. So there they met, selling Catherine Wheels and Roman Candles to middle-aged men who had over-promised their kids.

“Make sure to check for I.D., and give them this safety leaflet,” Joe, Deputy Manager (Events), said to them.

There was a brisk trade and although neither of them knew the first thing about fire safety, punters were only to happy to ask for their advice, hand over the cash and walk off with Rockets and Sparklers in one hand and Joe’s leaflet in the other.

She was working the late shift, but he’d been in since breakfast. At 6pm, her Long Break and his Finish collided in the car park. They stood together, holding mugs of tea from the Staff Room and watched as the sky became a shriek of purple swirls and green stars from the municipal show down the road.

“Remember, remember, the 5thof November,” she whispered as he kissed her there in the car park.

“We’ll never forget our anniversary,” he said, putting his hands into the pockets of her Tesco fleece and pulling her in.

It was just a shame that they had broken up by Christmas.

Runner Up: Mike Blakemore

Remember Remember

His faced burned but he held his position, too close for comfort but determined to savour this moment.

Eventually, his sister pulled him away, just as she had when the old man had been alive. This time her tug on his arm was gentle but many times she had grabbed him hard, trying to save him from himself.

His father had laughed then, just as he had when he had been the author of violence and no one had been able to stop him. Not the tiny children at his mercy and not their terrified mother.

His sister wasn’t laughing now and his own hysterical response sounded more like a cry of pain than anything resembling pleasure. But this would be closure; this would be the beginning of happier times.

Yes, it had been tasteless to dress the guy in his father’s clothes but he had never hesitated, vigorously screwing up pages of the newspaper the old man had hidden behind at breakfast and stuffing them into the moth-eaten suit. This was the uniform of respectability his father had worn to work each day, seating himself at the desk where he would proudly point towards a family photograph when colleagues asked after his kids.

The guy was all but burned now and there was just one act left to perform.

He tipped his father’s ashes into the orange flames; a second cremation because burning him once had not been enough.

Winner: Laura Riley

Penny For the Guy

It all happened so quickly — at least the beginning did. A spark of an idea I couldn’t quite shake.

The car was leaking diesel again. A sticky pool growing larger each day. I knew I couldn’t collect it, that would certainly arouse suspicion, but I could still use it. A dab here, a drip there, only enough to appear accidental of course. He’d been sniffling all week, perhaps he wouldn’t notice the smell of a blot or two on his trainers or the edge of his jeans.

He’d already decided that we’d attend the Bonfire party at the crappy pub down the road. On arrival, I saw no evidence of safety precautions. If I was lucky, this could work.

I couldn’t leave him. He knew that. We barely had enough combined, what life would I have alone. Alive, we both had share of an empty pot; but if one of us was to die, our life insurance would fill it right up.

I’m not sure what I thought would happen — but I never imagined that a small child, afraid of the sparkler a parent had clasped in their hand, would finish the job for me. Loosening their grip, they let the glowing stick fall beside my husband’s shoe. In an instant the gathered crowd froze as fire took its natural devastating form. It licked at the sides of my husband, until he was just an effigy of a man, his screams in harmony with the wailing Catherine Wheels above.

No firework display or bonfire could hold a (Roman) candle to you lovely #QUICKFIC writers. Many congratulations to Susannah, Mike and Laura — three different but wonderful spins on this week’s prompt picture. Much like how no two Catherine Wheels will spin the same, yet all look beautiful.

We’ll be back next week at 9:50 am with another prompt, minus my bad attempts at making fireworks based jokes.

Until then!

For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.