I am delighted to announce the results of the first Northampton Literature Group (NLG) Flash Fiction Competition… I only found out the authors’ names yesterday (30th July).
Drum roll please while I give the dramatic pause that they love to do on TV…
- 1st Place: ‘Road Trip’ by Will Macmillan Jones – winning £75.
- 2nd Place: ‘Little Red Riding Hoodie’ by Fay Dickinson – winning £35.
- 3rd Place: ‘Bindweed’ by Tracy Fells – winning £15.
These three stories are below for your reading pleasure, and will be posted as a sub-page to this blog’s https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/competitions-calendar/nlg-flash-fiction-competition page within the next 24 hours. The results and top three stories will also appear on http://www.northamptonliteraturegroup.org.uk in the next few days.
And the seven Highly Commended (in alphabetical author surname order) are…
- ‘The House Viewing’ by Jan Baynham
- ‘Valhalla and all that’ by Tracy Fells
- ‘Junkmail’ by Jane Hughes
- ‘All in a Day’s Work’ by Shirley Jungnickel
- ‘No Secrets’ by Tony Oswick
- ‘Flawed Ending’ by Christine Steenfeldt
- ‘Short for Julia’ by Christine Steenfeldt
These seven stories will not be shared online (so the authors are free to use them elsewhere) but certainly being Highly Commended is something to add to their CVs.
Congratulations everyone. Brenda, NLG’s Competitions Secretary, will be in touch with you Will, Fay and Tracy to arrange your payments.
One story was disqualified for being over 100 words too long so folks, please do read the rules when you enter competitions.
And now for the three winning stories…
1st Place: ‘Road Trip’ by Will Macmillan Jones
Adam slammed his hands onto the steering wheel, in time with the beat of the music.
“Angus! Angus!” he roared, along with the long dead crowd. He didn’t know who had prepared the compilation CD he had found in the car, but their taste was impeccable and helping relax his tension. Selecting the Range Rover from the car pool when he first set out on his road trip of a lifetime had seemed a great idea. Designed to transport the occupants over any terrain, in great comfort, the designers had slipped only on one detail: a sensible fuel consumption.
He reached out with a dirty finger, and tapped the fuel gauge. Obligingly, the needle slid a little further down, and the CD changed to Jackson Browne’s ‘Running on Empty’. “Typical” he thought. He began to worry again at the prospect of getting stranded. Not out here in the badlands. The map reassured him that a town was ahead. Should he use the onboard computer to see if he was going to make it? His nerves probably could not cope with the answer, he decided.
At last, a rusting sign appeared out of the desert haze and a dilapidated gas station came into view. Adam relaxed a little. Pulling up in front of the pumps, he ate some candy as he waited for the ten minutes safety time he had chosen, and checked his shotgun. One shell left: time to get some more, next chance he had. Maybe the store here at the gas station would have some.
Adam climbed out of the car cautiously, carefully locking it behind him. The emergency generator should be around the side somewhere. Stealthily he peered around the side of the building, shotgun at the ready, but the coast was clear. There was a shack attached to the wall of the service station. Adam walked up to it and pulled the doors open with the barrel of the shotgun. Inside was a large generator. Electric start: good, emergency pull cord: good, severed arm hanging from the pull cord: bad. Shocked, he dropped the shotgun.
A noise came from behind him, and as he spun around he could see THEM. Two coming at him from the forecourt, two from the rear of the garage. One shell: he could deal with two of THEM before they got him. With a deep, resigned sigh, Adam bent down to pick up the shotgun and as he did so, his iPod dropped out of his pocket. At full volume it started playing Johnny B Goode, the immortal riff hardwired into everyone who had ever lived along this crumbling highway. Including the Zombies, who started dancing.
Laughing, Adam started the generator. A few minutes later the fully fuelled Range Rover pulled out onto the highway, heading east, away from the dancing Dead. And as the CD started playing another of Adam’s favourite songs he reflected that, in this post apocalyptic world, even Zombies could get their kicks on Route 66.
2nd Place: ‘Little Red Riding Hoodie’ by Fay Dickinson
Little Red Riding Hoodie was off to visit her grandmother who lived in the middle of the ‘hood in a flat on the tenth floor of a tower block. Not a good place for an old lady you might think, but Granny, who preferred to be called Annie, was only forty-nine.
Little Red Riding Hoodie was fifteen. She had a red-hooded fleece, a nose ring, a belly button stud and an ASBO.
On the way to Granny Annie’s, Little Red Riding Hoodie met Mr Wolf.
“Hey, Mr Wolf,” said Little Red Riding Hoodie, “what big teeth you’ve got and what big, grey ears. You wanna get some dental treatment and ear clippers, you ugly git.”
“You cheeky…juvenile,” exclaimed Mr Wolf, remembering the instructions in his handbook, but he couldn’t help adding, “I’d give you a clip around the ear, but you seem to have several already.”
“It’s bling man, innit?” retorted Little Red Riding Hoodie. “Now eff off. I gotta take some fings to Annie.”
She trotted away, swinging her Primark bag with one hand and texting with the other.
Mr Wolf stretched to his full height, which wasn’t much, and began to follow Little Red Riding Hoodie. When she entered the tower block he made a call on his phone.
Inside the flat Granny Annie and Little Red Riding Hoodie were slicing the cannabis resin into chunks.
“You got me some real good cake this time, babe,” giggled Annie.
Suddenly the door burst open and Mr Wolf, accompanied by two equally diminutive colleagues, ran into the room. As he read Annie her rights she said, “Your undercover disguise is crap, and I remember the days when policeman had to be tall.”
“Yeah,” snarled Little Red Riding Hoodie. “Now all we got is The Three Little Pigs.”
3rd Place: ‘Bindweed’ by Tracy Fells
Blinking away tears Rose slashed at the stranglehold. ‘Get off her you murdering bastard,’ she spat. Slicing secateurs glinted as they flashed through the twisted tendrils. The delicate honeysuckle was choking to death, while the mocking heart-shaped leaves of the bindweed flapped in her face.
‘Fancy a brew, Rosie?’ The pinched, purple face of Rose’s neighbour erupted above the fence. Ted had pulled out the Buddleia, excellent cover, leaving this gap in her defences. She had warned him to stay out of the garden, her territory, but when did Ted ever listen to her. ‘Ooh, see you’ve got your hands full. Bet you could do with a break.’
Rose bowed towards the earth flopping the wide brim of the sun hat over her eyes. ‘No thank you, Mrs Parker, I’m rather busy.’
‘Sweet aren’t they, like celestial trumpets.’ The woman fingered the weed’s white flowers.
Mrs Parker, like Ted, was a horticultural philistine. She wouldn’t recognise a voracious killer as it wrapped its twine around, and around, her neck. Rose had to tackle this last bindweed incursion. A pile of gleaming green towered on the lawn, fodder for the later funeral pyre. Dig out the roots and then burn the bloody lot – the only way to get rid of it for good. Rose observed that the vile roots slithered back under the fence to Mrs Parker’s unkempt borders.
‘Haven’t seen Ted for a while,’ continued Mrs Parker. ‘Bet he’s getting under your feet. My Sid was a nightmare when he first retired. Miss him like hell now.’
Peace and quiet. Was that too much to ask for in her garden? Not Ted’s playground for new power tools, or a soapbox for Mrs Parker to spout her inane drivel.
‘He’s visiting his cousins in Canada,’ replied Rose.
‘Canada, how lovely, but didn’t you want to go with him?’
‘You know how I hate to fly.’ Rose added cheerily, ‘Besides there’s so much to do in the garden this time of year. Without Ted I’ll get so much done.’ And without Ted’s taunts she could dress as she pleased. The sun hat – a donkey’s reject according to Ted – was her particular favourite.
Within the hour Mrs Parker appeared on the patio. Rose cursed Ted for not getting round to fixing the gate latch. ‘I’ve put the kettle on,’ the woman trilled, as if she were doing Rose a favour.
It had taken hours to re-stack the cupboards after Ted had muddled up the china and now Mrs Parker was dirtying the wrong teaspoons. Order and control. Was that so much to ask for in her kitchen?
She plopped the sunhat onto the draining board, obscuring Ted’s wedding ring. He always tugged it off before washing up. Gloved hands kneaded a ball of bindweed like knotted green wool. Twisting the leaves around each fist she twanged the stems tight. Pulled taut it became a tough, unbreakable ligature that she wound around, and around, Mrs Parker’s scrawny neck.
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