#QUICKFIC 15/03/2019: The Winner

I should never suggest you get dark with me, is what I learnt from today’s #QUICKFIC entries. Thank you to everyone that played along though! I may never look at forests, painting, camping, going on retreats or pylons the same way ever again. Here’s one last look at the prompt that inspired all that:

And here are your runners up and winner:

Runner Up: Lou Witts

On the Shoulders of Giants

The first blast took out the mobile networks. The second levelled cities. The last fragmented continents, decimated the population and sent us back to the Dark Ages. Where we stayed for the next four, five hundred years. Rebuilding took longer than anybody could have imagined. All records erased. Including the knowledge in our heads. So we retreated. To our make-shift homes, big enough to let us live, small enough to withstand the winds. Then, after what must have been nine, ten, eleven generations, we found a way. With enough light to power the plants, we passed our days sowing and reaping and watching the sun rise and set. Then sowing became hard work so we found tools to help. The tools became mechanised and the first sparks of electricity were rediscovered. What a joy, we said, what a joy to to be able to see after so many years in the dark. We’ll never let that happen again. And we really meant it, at the time.

Runner Up: Paul Jenkins

Getting Used to It

Your father warned you. His voice on the mobile responding to the good news. A boy, seven pounds exactly.

You yawn and your father laughs and says you’ll get used to it. A one-armed man glides past you with a drip trolley, seemingly oblivious to the lack of symmetry in his life. He got used to it. You’ll get used to it.

The boy’s mother smiles at you from the bed. The baby’s expression is one of resignation. Welcome to the world you whisper. You yawn again. No more sleep for you, your dad said and suddenly you see him as an old man.

Three years pass and you take your son to a park. The wind picks up; you check the hat is secure on your boy’s head. You check his coat is adequate.

Nearly there, you say to him.

But the park is full of people. Other children with diseases in their eyes and hate in their hearts. Look at the seesaw with its promise of knocked out teeth, the roundabout‘s silent menace. Your child is laughing and smiling. You push him gently on the swing. Everything is fine.

Higher Daddy Higher Daddy he shrieks, kicking out at the sun. That swing is creaking too much.

It is time to go home. Getting late, little man, you say in a voice you don’t recognise. You look at the sky, it might rain. That plane might crash.

How quickly it gets dark round here, how quickly it gets dark.

Winner: Gillian English

Outside

I didn’t ask to come. Easily led, that’s my problem. Always desperate to be part of the group, looking for friends who can substitute for family. Now here I am, lost in a howling forest, in a tent as thin as a plastic bag. The wind is battering and the tent is straining, ready to split and fly. Rain is pounding from above, seeping in from below. I might as well be outside; the only real protection offered by this flapping plastic is that it stops me seeing what’s out there. It’s been out there for hours, ever since I killed it.

And I really didn’t need to. It’s the most frustrating thing. If she hadn’t – well, no point wasting time on that. The others were no help, standing there open-mouthed, one of them whipping out his mobile to film me, not even asking permission. The next minute they were off down the path, chasing a signal. So here I am, waiting. The wind is dropping and I can hear something outside, edging closer, squelching across the sodden ground. A fox or a badger, I guess, attracted by the smell. It’s nature’s way, and she was always a keen recycler. But it’s right outside now and I’m wishing I hadn’t dropped the knife when I hear it behind me, slicing through the skin of the tent, opening me up to the wind and the wet, bloody darkness.

Many congratulations to Gillian, Paul and Lou. Keep them coming!

We’ll be back at 9:50 next Friday with another prompt. Personally, I’m rooting for some sunshine and light next week.

Until then!

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

#QUICKFIC 15/03/2019

In keeping with the current London weather and our continued stormy skies, today’s Faber Acdemy #QUCKFIC flash fiction competition prompt is appropriately dark and moody. I know how much you all love to get dark and spooky, but before you dive in, here’s a quick rule refresher!

You’re going to see a prompt. Using that prompt, we’d like you to write a short story of 250 words or less. No more than that please! Send your story in the body of an email, including the title and the wordcount, to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50 pm this afternoon. Our wonderful winner gets these books:

Without further ado, your prompt:

I’ll wait for the wind to blow some wonderful pieces of flash fiction into our inbox. See you at 3:30 to announce the winner!

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 01/03/2019: The Winner

Runner Up: Daniela Azzopardi

The Art of Summoning

She is flying.

She glided over the hard wooden floor as easily as if she were being held up by clouds and the dim lights showered over her an ethereal glow as she stood on her tiptoes. Her movements looked effortless, but from the edge of the stage he could see her eyebrows furrow as she moved with the music.

It was just the two of them; the audience did not matter, the theater staff did not matter. In that moment, she embodied the whole world. He was present, living and breathing, through her gentle movements; the precise control the ballerina held over every muscle in her body and every fiber of his being.

What had started as mere jumps and clumsy pirouettes only months after she had started to walk, had now blossomed into a full art form that could enamour anyone whose glance fell on her. His eyes grew hot as tears tethered on the edge. Had it really been that long since he waited outside those classes, when she would dance her way to his car, her hunger for ballet still not satiated after hours of lessons?

The music rose to a crescendo. The crowd heard their breath as the ballerina dove into her final bow.

Applause erupted. A chill ran down her spine and as she glanced up, she could swear she saw a familiar shadow flicker out of sight at the edge of the stage; the shadow of a protector long gone, but never forgotten.

The Winner: Victoria Clarke

Second chance

Dust clings to my fingertips as I drag the box out from under the bed, I wipe it on my trousers. It’s been years since I’ve opened this shrine for a life that nearly was. They’re still there, underneath the torn ticket stubs and crumpled flyers: my ballet shoes, tattered and worn, scuffed at the toes from hours spent en pointe. A symphony of soaring strings crashes around the walls of my bedroom. I close my eyes and inhale it, savouring the bittersweet taste on my tongue, rolling it around, trying it out for size again. Nothing in life compares. We travelled the world, relieving ourselves of the hunger pangs by throwing each other against the wall. Slight we may have been, but meek we were not.

I’d never call her a mistake. She was borne out of love, out of romance. Or so I thought at the time. In truth, he was persistent and I was naive. And then she was here, and he was gone, travelling off with the troupe to the incense filled warmth of the Middle East while I boarded a plane back to Europe with a suitcase and abdomen fit to burst.

All the other girls do it, she said, face reddening, spoon discarded in her cereal bowl. You did it Mama, why can’t I?

The shoes slide on my feet as if I was Cinderella, at least Prince Charming gave me something. I’ll tell her yes when I collect her from school.

 

What a welcome back, courtesy of Victoria and Daniela. Many thanks to everyone that sent a piece in! We’ll be back the Friday after next for your next installment of #QUICKFIC.

Until then!

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

Link

It’s a week of firsts, apparently. It’s the first day of a month, the first day I acknowledge that Spring may one day return (the two days of sun we had doesn’t count, I’m afraid, no matter how many of you decided to eat ice cream) and the first #QUICKFIC, Faber Academy’s Flash Fiction Competition of 2019. Yes we’re back, bigger and bolder and brighter than ever.

First, it behooves me to explain the rules. If you’ve never played before or forgotten how over the break, here’s how to play:

  • You’re going to see a prompt on Friday morning at 9:50 am. prompts can be anything, including but not limited to: Playlists, Wikipedia Articles, Quotes, Pictures and anything else we can come up with, so be prepared!
  • Your task is to create a short story of 250 words or less inspired by that prompt.
  • Paste your story into the body of an email, including a title and your word count, and send that email to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50pm on the Friday afternoon.

At 3:30 we’ll announce the winner and runners up for that week. The winner receives a stack of books. This week’s stack is this rather lovely lot:

ack of three books including ''Owl Sense' by Miriam Darlington, 'Innocent Blood' by P.D James and 'The Silent Musician' by Mark Wigglesworth - Faber Academy's flash fiction competition quickfic

Get it, got it, good? Perfect. Then your first prompt is below:

- Faber Academy's flash fiction competition quickfic

Let the #QUICKFIC-ing commence! See you again at 3:30!

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.