#QUICKFIC 21/06/2019: The Winner

Well well, much like rays of light in the darkness your pieces came to brighten up my slow Friday. Hello to our new participants and to my old guard, welcome back! Here’s your prompt one more time:

Runner up: John Peter Horsam

La Fete de Sainte-Jean.

I knew it was solstice, well vaguely, Australians don’t celebrate such
things. Here in France it’s a very special occasion. It’s not banging
drums and being a Druid, it’s a Fete De La Musique. All the squares are
full of performers… jongleurs, minstrels, mountebanks too, possibly.
The ancient city is performing for me too, shadows and flashes on Gothic
arches.

It’s also La Fete de Saint-Jean. I’m called John, a musician too, so
it it really is my day.

Not the best of days for photos, overcast. It hasn’t been good for my
project, I’m after shooting stars. I’ve sat up all night, twice this
week, trying to catch just one. I get quite good star trails…. but
nothing untoward ever crosses my lens.

Tonight, I’m in the crowd, but not really. I’m the outsider. It’s
quite obvious. A woman, my age I’d guess, touches my arm.
“The best photos will be over there.” Good English.
It’s a roped off playing field. There’s a man eating fire…. bit
boring if you’ve hung out with as many hippies as I have.
“Get ready!”
She kisses me.
“For luck”
Didn’t see that coming.
“Camera now.”
The fire-eater has set fire to his hair. A French gasp is a lot
different from an Australian one.
I have my shooting stars. I’m bedazzled.

I’d love to tell you we’re now married, but she’s gone, faded away
before the last sparkles flickered out.

***********************************************

Runner up: Roger Evans

Anniversary

Sit here by me, daughter, and learn your history. Tonight you will start your future, just as I did with my mother all those years ago.

Out there is the Dreamer, living in his ramshackle hut. He is old, older than we know. He was old when I was young and sat where you are now.

Every night he dreams, not such dreams as you or I may have, but dreams of lives, short and long, rich and poor. And each morning he wakes and a new name is inscribed on the many faceted gem by his bed.

Tonight, midsummer’s night, solstice, the Dreamer will not dream. Instead he will bring his year of dreams to this barren patch of ground, whilst we wait. For we are the Watchers – as essential a part of this as the Dreamer; without us to Watch no-one would know of his Dreaming, no-one would validate its worth.

See the barren patch of ground? It is not devoid of life because of a lacking; it is ready, open, for the Land to listen.

Tonight those dreams will burst forth from his hand; incandescent, radiant, a rain of furious fireflies burning their days in moments, to fall flaming to the ground.

And the Land will remember.

Winner: Chloe Heskett

Illuminating

“Welcome to Grafton, Pop: 121.”

The sign flashed by me, and in the back of my mind I vaguely registered that I was passing through a town. If you could call it that. My headlights briefly lit a mini-mart, before leaving it enveloped in darkness behind me, along with the rest of the so-called town. 

The road felt endless, and worse than that unchanging—not even a curve in sight. What a place to run to. It felt like a cruel joke: I fled the mundanity of my life, but there my path stretched—endlessly, mind-numblingly laid out before me. You can’t get away, it whispered through the sounds of my tires on pavement, you can’t change your life.

I turned on the radio; nothing but static. The miles ticked by slowly. I drifted. 

That’s when I saw it: the light up ahead. Not headlights, not a town; it was like a cloudburst where each drop traced a luminous streak through the air as it fell. Dumbstruck, I didn’t even think to slow the car as I whooshed by. There was a man at the middle of it all. Solidly built, of late middle age and in a canvas jacket and jeans. 

The beauty of it, and the ordinariness of the man, filled my eyes with tears. I wished I had stopped, or at least slowed down. I peered into my rear view mirror and started—it, he, was gone.  Darkness filled the landscape behind me.


Many thanks to you all for your lovely submissions. A round of applause for John, Roger and Chloe — Chloe, what a wonderful debut! Welcome to the #QUICKFIC club.

I’ll see you all next week at the earlier (less monstrous) time of 9:50. Or does starting it earlier make me more monstrous? Who can say. Either way, until then, goodbye!

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

#QUICKFIC 21/06/2019

Welcome back, oh lovely #QUICKFIC-ers and welcome to our latest round of Faber Academy’s flash fiction competition #QUICKFIC. One week on from the Summer Party and the ritual appears to have worked, bringing heat and sunshine and rejuvenation etc etc. And also a new prompt!

First up, a whip through the rules of the game. Old hands, scroll down. New folk, read on:

  1. At the end of this post is a prompt (this week it’s a picture. Next week it may not be, but this week it definitely is!)
  2. Using that prompt, I’d like you to write me a single short piece of fiction. A piece of flash fiction, if you will.
  3. That piece needs to be 250 words or less. I’ve started checking, so stay honest!
  4. Title your work, pop it into the body of an email along with a note telling me the wordcount and send it to academy@faber.co.uk with the subject line #QUICKFIC 21/06/2019 no later than 2:50 pm GMT
  5. At 3:30 pm GMT I tumble back in with a new blog post revealing your winners

And what’s winning without prizes?! This week that luck person receives The Rapture by Claire McGlasson, In Paris with You by Clementine Beauvais, translation by Sam Taylor and In The City of Love’s Sleep by Lavinia Greenlaw.

 

(The rose is not included as I suspect it won’t survive the post.)

You do, as they say, have to be in it to win it though! So here is your prompt and away you go.

 

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 07/06/2019: The Winner

Ah, a staircase. The thing you fall down, walk down, curse at and, apparently, today produced some of the best paces of flash fiction it’s been my privileged to read!  You all truly out did yourself this week.

Here’s one last look at your staircase of dreams before we hit the runners up and the winner:





Runner Up: Ana Acapella

Eid Mubarak

“Eid Mubarak” she silently whispered to herself as the early morning sun streamed down from the skylight onto her bed.

Half asleep, she reminisced of this day a year ago. So happy. So full of love. So different.

Normally she’d have spent last night helping her mum preparing the Eid feast, listening to her father’s stories of his bygone days and adorning her hands with henna. Staring at her bare hands, she thought that they were the perfect metaphor for today.

She rolled over in her bed, reluctant to start her day. Downstairs, she could hear a soft, thudding noise gradually getting louder. Footsteps. She knew exactly who it would be, even before the door burst open into her room.

“Aisha, Aisha! Get up!” Jenna said, ‘’Go downstairs now!” Aisha looked up quizzically at her best friend.

“Why?” asked Aisha but before she could get an answer, Jenna pulled her duvet away and chucked her out of bed. Aisha quickly grabbed her hijab as she was pushed out of her room. While Aisha tied her headscarf around her face, the two best friends wound down the mahogany, spiral staircase slowly.

They both could hear muffled voices getting louder until they stood in front of Shirley’s office. The first voice was definitely Shirley’s (her case worker). The second was of a male and he was vehemently asking to see Aisha.

“Dad?!” Aisha blurted out from behind the door.

Almost immediately, the door opened…

“Eid Mubarak darling” said her father.

Runner Up: Katy Brinicombe

13 Steps to Freedom

13 steps.

That’s all it would take.

13 steps to freedom.

This day was a long time coming. He had spent sleepless nights imagining how he would feel on this day, at this time. It had remained elusive. Even now, a mixture of feelings threatened to swallow him up. Where would he go? What would he do? He had always known that the world was a scary place – he had witnessed enough fear and terror to know that no-one could be trusted – but he had always had the safety and security of his room. Somewhere to hide and feel safe once more. His space.

But now it was gone. Today it belonged to someone else and he had to go. He grasped the handle of his small, battered case a little tighter. It was the one he had arrived with all those years ago, and he was sure it would still be with him when he died. It carried each and every one of his meagre belongings that he had accumulated over the years. It carried his identity.

He remained on that top stair, still unable to move. He looked at his feet, in the worn-out leather brogues, and willed them on. He took one last look up the stairs, at the scratched wooden doors, and of the ghostly faces that peered at him through the balustrades.

One deep breath. One step. Towards freedom.

Go.

Winner: Gillian English

History Lesson

Instead of the usual fast-talking twenty-something, the estate agent looked well past sixty and seemed to be struggling for breath.

“How long has it been empty?” I asked. He muttered something and then coughed violently, clamping a greying handkerchief over his mouth.

“You sit here, I’ll look round myself” I said, helping him into a chair. He was still bent over his handkerchief, taking long hoarse breaths.

I wasn’t going to be long – I could already see this was far too big for us. It even had two staircases leading to different parts of the building. Used to be a school, so someone told me.

I was on my way back down the stairs in minutes, wondering if I should take the old man to a doctor. But then I stopped. In front of me was the door to the front entrance. But now it had a large wooden noticeboard nailed across it, blocking it up. I must have come down the other staircase to the back of the building.

I went up and came back down the other way. And there was the blocked door. No sign of the old man either. I went up and down the stairs two or three more times, becoming increasingly short of breath, always ending up at the blocked door.

Then, wheezing slightly, I walked up to the blocked door and read the single dusty notice on the board.

“Influenza – school closure, 17 June 1918”

And I began to cough.


Big congratulations to Gillian, Katy and Ana. Thank you one and all again — this week was one of the toughest to judge, but you all knocked it out of the park. 

I’ll be gone again next week, trapped in a Summer Party induced haze, but I’ll see you again the week after that!

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

#QUICKFIC 07/06/2019

Oh well hello and happy June to you all! Welcome to #QUICKFIC, Faber Academy’s Flash fiction  competition where the prompts are wild, your stories are wilder and I, your faithful prompt master, am wilder still. It’s the first #QUICKFIC of June and I know you’re all keen to get started but first, let me tell you the rules of our fair game.

  1.  You’ll see a prompt (this week it’s a picture. Next week it may not be, but this week it definitely is!)
  2. Let the prompt get that creativity flowing and channel that into writing a piece of flash fiction
  3. That piece needs to be 250 words or less. And I check, so no cheating.
  4. Title your work, pop it into the body of an email along with a note telling me the wordcount and send it to academy@faber.co.uk with the subject line #QUICKFIC 07/06/2019 no later than 2:50 pm GMT
  5. Wait patiently as I devour all your lovely words then report back at 3:30 with your winner

As the winner you do also win a prize. Alongside our friends at Faber & Faber we’re celebrating their ninetieth anniversary. Current staff members were asked to pick their three favourite Faber books. This week you have the opportunity to win two of the books on that list and my own personal favourite:  Four Quartets by T.S Eliot, Rip it Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. 

 

So: you’ve got five hours, three books to win and 250 words or less to produce for me based on a prompt that you’re able to view…

 

 

 

 

Now:

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.