My my… it seems the combination of people being stuck at home and perhaps starved for creativity has led to this month’s Furious Fiction competition smashing previous records as 1700 entries came flooding in! These were the criteria:
- Each story had to begin on the side of a road.
- Each story must include the words APRON, PIGMENT, RIBBON, ICON, LEMON (notice A-P-R-I-L anyone?).
- Each story had to include a splash.
Opening by the side of the road sure did result in a lot of flat tyres, hitchhikers, fruit stalls and lemonade stands! In fact, despite only needing to BEGIN there, so many stories chose to stay out on the road – including our eventual winner, Zakk Watson of USA. Congrats Zakk – you’re pocketing the cash this month, and we’ve featured your story below, along with a bunch of other noteworthy shortlisted entries and the longlisted entrants.
If you entered but missed out on getting a mention, chin up – this was a tough assignment with the biggest ever numbers. We still believe in you and think that YOU will win next month (shhh, don’t tell the others).
APRIL 2020 WINNER
UNTITLED by Zakk Watson, USA
If there was one thing Dennis’s mother had imposed upon him, it was to always be wary of strangers. But when he spotted the girl walking alone, he immediately threw his Chevy into park, clouding the world in a splash of dust.
After all, while his mother had often uttered the parable, “Never trust a stranger,” his father had once spoken the more obscure and suddenly relevant gospel, “If you see a woman on the side of the road, you help her.”
The woman stared blankly at Dennis through the descending glass of his driver's side window. She was dressed in strange metallic garb that had a flap on the front, with eyes that carried a pigment close to cobalt and a peculiar way of blinking one at a time. Although, the strangest thing to Dennis was her hairstyle or lack thereof. Regardless, a bald woman was a woman nonetheless. Dennis offered a smile and asked, “Where ya heading?”
“Uhh-” she blinked, “Beyer Farm.”
“I didn’t think anyone lived there. Not since the lemon grove got foreclosed.”
“We have colonized the area due to its geographic proximity to a vast array of livestock,” she replied.
Dennis eyed the woman carefully. Something about her was starting to become suspicious. “You ain’t some real estate agent who wants to turn the old lot into an apartment complex are you?”
“That is an incorrect assumption.”
Dennis smiled. “Then get in, Beyer’s ain’t far.”
The woman sat in the passenger seat and he took off. With a couple of minutes to spare Dennis figured he should offer some conversation.
“Where ya from?”
“The Gorlax Nebula,” she replied.
“Is that… north?”
“What brings you all the way out here?”
“My species is on the run and hoping that this can be a temporary residence while we collect supplies.”
Dennis nodded, and while most of her words bounced meaninglessly around his skull, the gears between his ears had begun to turn. Her strange style, her fancy words, her bald head, all of it was bringing him to a surreal realization, and he was dumbfounded he hadn’t realized sooner.
She was one of those liberals.
Thankfully, Dennis wouldn’t have to keep the strange woman entertained for much longer, because his Chevy pulled up to the property.
The old barn had been all but torn down, with only loose rubble reaming under the new structure. The building was entirely metal, with a sleek saucer shape.
Arguably one of the weirdest trailers he’d ever seen.
“You have done my people a great service,” she said.
Before departing she reached into the pocket of her apron to reveal a shimmering cloth decorated in strange twisted icons that Dennis guessed were Russian.
“This ribbon will make you an honorary member of the Gorlaxian guard, an honor of the highest accord.”
“No problem ma’am,” Dennis said and headed home with a big old grin.
She might have been a liberal, but she knew how to make a man feel appreciated.
What we loved:
Poor dim-witted but hospitable Dennis has no clue that he’s picked up a hitchhiker from another galaxy – and that’s where the true charm in this story lies. His Uber service for the Gorlax Nebula people is a pleasure to read, particularly the comedic interplay between inner thoughts and reality. The deadpan delivery of the answers to his questions is seamless and takes the reader along for a joyful ride. If you choose to read deeper into it (and you really don’t have to), it’s also telling us that out in ‘those parts’ anyone not local may as well be an alien. And alongside the dozens of other hitchhiker stories, we were simply glad no one pulled out a knife…
A LONG WAIT by Eugenie Pusenjak, ACT
When she emerged from the truck stop bathroom, the RV was gone. It wasn’t at the petrol pumps, nor in the carpark out front of the diner, nor on the wide expanse of bitumen behind, where the truck drivers parked their rigs. Linda scanned the highway in both directions. Nothing. Just a grey, desolate ribbon of road.
Unbelievable. Derek had left her behind again. She was going to kill him.
This was going to be a bloody repeat of the infamous Mid-North Coast trip of 1998. Not to mention, the wretched Coober Pedy ‘holiday’ of 2011. Stuck at Spud’s Roadhouse for over three hours before Derek noticed her absence! Luckily this time, she had her phone. She pulled it out, already rehearsing the words in her head: “I’m at the truck stop, dummy!” But as she touched the ‘call’ icon, the screen died. Damn! She’d spent all morning playing ‘Fruit Fall’ – not even bothering to look up when Derek pointed out the Big Turnip, the tractor museum, and the Hoxley Sinkhole – trying to get those lemons to line up, and neglected to charge her phone.
Maybe the diner had a pay phone? She entered, inhaling grease and sweat. A bunch of truckers were seated at the counter. Behind it, a waitress in a grubby apron worked the stove; oil splashing and sizzling. The walls were adorned with battered license plates and Coca-Cola signs; the latter’s pigment faded to a dull, ugly orange.
“Excuse me! Is there a phone I could use?”
The waitress ignored her. The radio blared country and western. One of the truckers finished a joke (she caught the punchline: “You can unscrew a lightbulb!”) and the others laughed.
Great. Real, friendly crowd. But in the back corner was a pay phone. She fished a dollar from her purse, dialed Derek’s mobile.
“You’ve reached Derek’s phone. Or more specifically, his voicemail. Please leave a message, and I’ll get back to you, unless you are a telemarketer.”
Linda slammed the handset down. She pictured Derek, oblivious, singing along at the top of his voice to his Roger Whittaker CDs. She was going to kill him.
Nothing for it, but to wait.
Hours ticked by. The truckers left. Where was Derek? Had he driven all the way to bloody Sydney without her?
Outside, the skies darkened, and the six o’clock news came on.
“First up, a fatal accident on the Colchester Highway, leaving one person dead. The brown Bedford was travelling in an easterly direction when it hit a tree.”
Linda tossed aside the ancient magazine she’d been skimming. “Can you turn that up?”
Again, the waitress ignored her.
Oh god. That was why Derek hadn’t returned. He was dead, and-
“… just past the Hoxley Sinkhole. The male driver was taken to hospital in a critical condition. The female passenger died at the scene.”
Oh. That explained things. Bloody Derek. She was going to…
She settled back in her chair. Might be a long wait.
What we liked:
With short word counts, you need to deliver the reader information fast. That’s the case here, where immediately we have a dilemma. Derek’s gone and this isn’t Linda’s first abandonment rodeo. The story then proceeds with a simple concept in a clearly detailed setting (you can picture that shade of orange) and some subtle foreshadowing before the twist ties the threads of this roadside diner drama together nicely. Considering his past forgetfulness, we’re not surprised Derek didn’t see the oncoming tree – but once you realise why the waitress continues to ignore Linda, the skies darken quickly on a once innocent wait.
THE STAND by Martin Lindsay, WA
The Council Ranger’s van pulled up with a splash, pools of water running off from the property’s defective retic sprinklers. Two officers emerged, sternly staring at their quarry.
A girl with pigtails in ribbons stood at a makeshift lemonade stand, a pony-themed apron protecting her lovely pink dress. A tall jug of yellow liquid and an arrangement of plastic glasses sat around a cardboard sign reading “Too Dollers eech”.
‘Hello, young lady.’
‘Do your parents know you’re selling lemonade?’
‘Yes,’ the girl said proudly. ‘Dad said it was very ontra-pren-errial of me.’
‘Did he now.’
‘He made a phone app for me, too.’
The girl held up a small phone-shaped piece of cardboard with a print-out of a “Buy” icon stuck to the front.
‘Very impressive,’ said the first ranger. ‘And did they say anything about needing a vendor’s license to provide food products to the public for monetary gain?’
‘Mum did, but dad said that was a load of old bulldust. He helped me make the stand while mum went to their room for a little nap.’
‘Dad said to offer a free glass if nosey people in uniforms asked questions.’ The girl produced two glasses.
‘Have your mum and dad ever explained the word bribery to you?’
‘Come on, Alan,’ said the second ranger. ‘She’s barely eight.’
‘I’m seven and three quarters,’ the girl stated proudly.
‘It’s just a tea party to her,’ the second ranger said, walking over to accept the freebie.
‘That’s abetting an unlawful act, John.’
‘Have you sold any yet, love?’
The girl shook her head.
‘So, no profit, no financial exchange, no crime,’ the second ranger concluded. ‘We don’t have to always be such sticklers for rules, Alan. Part of the job is good community PR. Besides, it’s free.’
The first ranger wavered, then joined his partner. He eyed the contents of the plastic glass. ‘It’s very yellow.’
‘That’s because Dad put pig mint in there.’
‘He put in what?’
‘Pig mint. He said if it looks more yellow then people think it tastes more lemon. He says people are dumb like that.’
‘I think she means pigment,’ the second ranger suggested.
‘I know what she means!’
‘Cheers!’ said the second ranger, raising his glass.
Against better judgement the first ranger completed the toast.
They both drank, then winced then coughed.
‘Well, she’s hardly going to profiteer with that,’ the second ranger said, rasping.
‘That’s because dad also put in the special ingredient for nosey people in uniforms,’ the girl said, disgruntled.
‘…What special ingredient?’
The girl bit her lip, trying to remember. ‘Vodka.’
The rangers stared at their plastic cups.
‘Dad says nosey people in uniforms are just revenue raisers. Because they keep giving him parking tickets. He says it’s en-trap-ment.’
The rangers’ throats were dry.
‘And he said he’ll be filming you drinking on duty on his phone. See, he’s waving at the window.’ The girl waved excitedly back at the house. ‘Hi Daddy!’
What we liked:
Refreshment meets entrapment in this entertaining, dialogue-rich story filled with playful exchanges between a pint-sized vendor and uniformed victims, garnished with a splash of pig mint. It’s not easy to keep a reader engaged with a story heavily loaded with conversations, but this one deftly keeps the narrative flowing with plenty of fun along the way. A lesson for us all to beware possible vodka-laced roadside treats while on duty.
SPLASH by Kathy Castle, TAS
Standing at the bottom the road just looks steep. I don’t know what I expected. This bridge is an icon – the infamous Tasman Bridge – but that first sweeping curve doesn’t look so steep when you’re looking at a postcard.
I’m going to have to walk up there, aren’t I?
I guess it’s a bit like visiting any temple. You have to humble yourself. You have to prove you’re worthy. That’s so completely perfect that I grin. I heave a sigh and take the first step upward.
It’s cold and wet and the only amusement the walk has to offer is the view. The Derwent winds away from me, smooth and black as oil. Orange and white lights line the banks, reflecting over the river. Only the centre retains that essential blackness. It reminds me of that pigment made from animal bones.
I’m panting hard when I get to the top. I take in the view while I catch my breath. It’s silly, this desire for comfort, but I need to feel at ease with this decision. If this view is the last I’ll ever see, that’s not the worst thing in the world.
The worst thing in the world already happened.
I climb over the railing and stand on the other side, facing the road. There’s nothing below me now but the water. It’s a deep river, and cold. If the impact doesn’t end me the river will. I begin to turn so I can see where I’m going.
There’s a girl of around eight or nine skipping up the footpath toward me. She’s wearing a white skivvy with a yellow apron – or is it a pinafore? There’s a picture of a lemon on the bib and her blonde curls are held back by a thick, yellow ribbon tied in a bow. She’s smiling at me as though I’m some kind of early birthday present.
“Hello,” she chirps when she reaches me. “Are you going to jump in the water?”
I have no idea how to respond to this. “I’m not sure.”
“I see lots of people jump in the water here,” she tells me. “I live right there.” She points to a small white house at the bottom of the bridge. “I always want to help but lots of them jump before I can help them.” She looks at me so earnestly my heart goes out to her.
“I’m not sure you can help me, sweetie.”
The railing is so cold on my fingers I can feel them going numb. Our breaths are frost clouds. This sweet child shouldn’t be out here because of me. I look over my shoulder at the dark river and make my decision.
I begin to climb back over the rail. “I don’t think I will jump after all,” I say.
“I’ll help you,” she cries. She runs forward and pushes me. “Splishy splashy!”
I’m too surprised to scream.
What we liked:
Here, attitude mirrors altitude as the rhythm of this Hobart-set story cleverly mimics the slow uphill climb, slight pause then dramatic drop. We never learn the ‘worst thing’ that has prompted our narrator’s walk – exposition is unnecessary. Once at the railing, there are some great lines which inject a dash of humour (‘she’s smiling at me as though I’m some kind of early birthday present’, “Splishy splashy!”) before our ‘helpful’ girl subverts the saviour role by shoving a tidy twist into the ending below.
(If this story felt familiar and you’d like to talk to someone, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 here in Australia.)
LEMON CROSSING by Nick Story, USA
The townspeople waited at the side of the road for the lemon crossing. In these parts, the lemons were special. Every year near the end of May, for as long as anyone could remember, the lemons would fall from trees in the distant groves and roll through the fields, over the road, and into the lake beside the town. The lemons floated and steeped and turned the lake water into an unsweetened lemonade, the official local beverage, the one featured on the tourism board’s website, very much an acquired taste.
The rolling was accomplished either through some inner motion the lemons had or a poorly understood citric-lacustrine magnetism. It wasn’t yet clear which, but smart people were looking into it.
The spectacle brought a crowd to the roadside: Locals, tourists, business leaders, merchants, the mayor in his sandals and chain of office.
The crossing happened suddenly and was over in minutes, so artists gathered to capture what they could of the event. There were painters with their aprons and ateliers, mixing yellow pigments. There was a writer smoking in a lawn chair, changing her typewriter ribbon.
Everyone stared at the horizon for a long time waiting. The lemons were late. They used to be quite punctual.
After several hours of waiting, a man reminded everyone that the lemons hadn’t actually crossed the road in several years. Three years ago there had been limes. Two years ago it was some old cabbages. Last year nothing had shown up at all.
“Maybe they aren’t coming anymore,” he said.
The crowd shushed and shouted him down. “Trust the lemons,” they said.
But internally they were nervous. What if the lemons weren’t coming anymore? What if the tradition of the rolling yellow icons was over? No one could imagine the town without the lemons rolling in every year. The town had always been about the lemons crossing this road and getting into that lake. Without the lemons, they were just another dot on the map, if that.
The woman at the typewriter wondered: Have we done something to anger the lemons? She wasn’t sure. She had two cigarettes going at once.
Suddenly, there was a rumble in the distance. Clouds of dust and dirt sprang up on the horizon. The earth shook.
“Here they come!” shouted the mayor.
Everyone was ready to bear witness. A child dreamed of future lemonade. But what rolled in that year wasn’t lemons at all: it was skulls. Mostly rodent and deer skulls—but some were recognizably humanoid, perhaps from the old burial mounds in the hills. The skulls crossed the old road past the shocked crowd, thousands at a glance, down the hill and into the beloved lake.
The crowd was stunned. After a few silent minutes, the mayor sighed. “Better luck next year, I suppose,” he said. As everyone packed up to go home, the painters tossed their canvasses and brushes onto the dirt.
What we liked:
There’s a lot to enjoy in this ‘citrus circus’ story. Apart from the hilarious personification of the lemons and a genuinely creative premise, we also get splashes of witticism as all the small town splendour come out to celebrate this momentous occasion. A mild dig perhaps at the things small towns do to put themselves ‘on the map’ but really just a random and ridiculous roadside romp reminiscent of the likes of Monty Python.
HALF MOON by Dreena Collins, Jersey
Taut, regal, she is standing on the pavement in the dark. One arm curls around a mixing bowl, the other ends in a wooden spoon. She is mixing, rhythmically. Staring into space.
It’s night-time. Grandma. You need to come indoors.
She doesn’t acknowledge me. Her stirring continues, batter rolling smoothly in the bowl.
The half-moon is clear, sharp, in the sky.
A car comes past, and I pull her back by her apron, in a reflex. It rides through a puddle and a wave of water lands on my left foot, just as a glob of batter falls to the ground in a splash. I look down, see another half-moon, its unsteady reflection, flickering and wobbling below.
I have forgotten my strength. She has staggered back a little onto the heels of her shoes. She trembles and then steadies herself – continues stirring.
I am close now, can smell the crisp lemon and butter in the mix.
I guide her by her elbow and we walk up the short path to the front door. My bare feet land on grit and gravel; my dressing gown flaps open a little, bereft of belt. Only underwear beneath.
She is stately by contrast. An icon. She has painted her face, her nails, her hair into an echo of herself, in hues and pigments of red. So close to what she was; so far.
Inside the house, I step in broken eggshells, granules of sugar, lemon peel. The oven is on. The kitchen table is laid for two.
What have you been up to, eh, Grandma? Why are you baking so late at night?
I take the cake mix from her, and her arms continue to move, ballroom dancing in the gaps where the bowl and spoon were. I walk her through the kitchen into the space that was, once, the dining-room. It is now her space. Photos of Grandad dot the room.
His tie is on the bed.
I lift her arms, remove the apron. I seat her on the bed and slip off her shoes. Automatically, she starts to unbutton her dress and I notice the blue ribbon of her nightie, still on, beneath it. When she is ready, I lift her legs by the ankles and slide her under the sheets. She is asleep before I leave the room. Or perhaps she was never awake.
In the morning, the sweet and acrid smell of lemons is in the air. I walk downstairs, wondering if I have managed to get up before her: thinking of tea and toast.
She is there, sitting at the kitchen table, head nodded to one side, eyes closed.
On the table are two slices of cake. Two half drunk cups of tea. A teapot masked in a cosy in the middle. Binary. Symmetry.
I lift Grandad’s tie from the crumbs on the table, and notice the teeth marks that carve semi-circles into the cake, both slices – two halves of the same moon.
What we liked:
This piece weaves poetic descriptions and symbols together like an expertly mixed batter – creating some haunting imagery of a woman sleep wandering through memories and lost love. All this is seen through the eyes of her grandchild, patient and sensitive to continued routines despite the waning of this once full moon. Beautifully written – filled with descriptive, sensory text.
THE PLAN by Samuel Faull, NSW
They only rolled once. Strange, thought Lily. She spun her head around, craned her neck as far as she could, but, in an instant, they were out of sight. She was pretty sure they only rolled once. So strange. She thought they’d roll at least three times. She’d pictured it over and over, they’d hit the dirt and tumble into the long grass, splash into the pond, never to be found again. But no, they just rolled once, landed, and sat there. Perfectly poised. Side by side. It was like someone had placed them there. This was not her plan.
They were yellow. Lemon-yellow, according to her mother. She would say, ‘Go and get your lemon-yellow ones, darling, they look so good on you.’ She thought they looked more baby-shit yellow. There was a brown tinge to them from day one. It was like the factory worker had let his mind wander for just a moment, his hands searching for a pen deep in the pockets of his leather apron as the brown pigment continued to flow into the vat. Ten seconds too long. Nothing major in the grand scheme of things, nothing to report. Enough though for her to notice. Baby-shit, not lemon.
They were plastic and a size too big. ‘Perfect to grow into,’ her mother responded when she mentioned this. Over summer the sweat would trickle down her leg and slide between the soft shiny plastic and her warm skin. The soles of her feet would slide back and forth over the strangely large embossed icon, her big toes a battering ram.
She hated them from the moment she pulled the pink ribbon off the box, but she still wore them every second day. She had to. She couldn’t see her mother’s face again like the previous year. When she’d asked to swap her necklace with another, the disappointment in her mother’s eyes, it was too much. Lily couldn’t see that face again so she smiled and grinned and wore them every second day.
But Lily was now 13 and after two years of wearing the too-big, too-shiny, plastic, baby-shit yellow sandals, Lily had had enough. She’d pictured this moment so many times. She’d wind down the window in increments. She’d slide them off. Bending down ever so slowly she’d pinch the sticky strap between her fingers and in one smooth motion they’d be flying out the window, tumbling, over and over, never to be found again.
They only rolled once. Her mother turned the car around. This was not the plan.
What we liked:
Something we often talk about is keeping stories simple. That’s what this one does – essentially creating a narrative out of a single throw. It may be a small story idea but it has massive payoff… proof that the simplest spark (a girl’s detested yellow sandals) can become story gold when executed in an original way. Framed and shaped wonderfully by its repetitious opening and closing paragraphs, this story does what the shoes did not – tumbling over and over until everything becomes clear.
UNTITLED by Suraj Kolarkar, NSW
Our story begins on the side of a road.
“Apron, Pigment, Ribbon, Icon, Lemon” reads our protagonist off the shopping list in his hand.
“Why am I doing this?” he asks towards the heavens.
“For five hundred dollars” says an omniscient voice echoing from the clouds.
But while this voice echoes, it does not have the gravitas you are imagining. It sounds a bit more high pitched than that.
It borders on friendly, but not quite as warm as that. It's acquaintance-y.
“But what do some of these even mean?” our protagonist asks.
“You'll figure it out as you go along. Run along now, and make a splash – you don't have all day”.
The voice disappears.
Our protagonist studies the list again.
Well, I'll go get the things that are tangible first, then I'll figure out how I get ‘Pigment' or ‘Icon'.
He figures he can get a lemon, an apron and some party ribbons at the supermarket, so he sets off towards the shopping centre.
As he walks out of the supermarket, having bought his goods, he notices a tanning salon.
“Hey… is that pigment?” he asks the voice.
“Hey you still there? There's a tanning salon there… Hey voice?”
“…Yes. But stop asking me stuff.”
“It … it ruins the mystique man. Just… just follow the list. Alright I'm done talking”
Our protagonist approaches the counter of the tanning salon.
“Do you sell fake tan?”
The lady at the counter is confused, because our protagonist is African American. It just hadn't come up yet. But now it has become relevant.
“It's for a friend” our protagonist tries to cover, unconvincingly.
“Smooth” says the voice.
“I thought you were done talking” says our protagonist.
“Yeah, until I saw that. Alright I'm going away now.”
He purchases some fake tan from a still-confused receptionist at the tanning salon.
He starts walking around the shopping centre, lost in thought as he tries to figure out what icon might mean. In his inattentiveness he bumps into another man walking the other way.
“Hey watch where you're going!” says the man as he walks away.
“Hang on… was that… was that Bruce Springsteen?”
He turns around, incredulous.
“It was! Oh my god… the Boss!”
He tries to compose himself to continue with his list, but he's far too starstruck, seeing this musical icon.
“Wait that's it!” our protagonist exclaims, as he turns on his heels and sprints back towards Springsteen.
He catches up to him, and manages to squeeze Bruce Springsteen into his bag.
“Lemon, ribbons, fake tan, an apron and Bruce Springsteen… was that everything?” our protagonist asks the heavens.
“… yeah man. Jesus. I was fine with you taking a photo of Springsteen”
“I didn't know the parameters. And you wanted me to stop asking you things”
“Yeah but still…”
“I made a splash didn't I?”
“Yeah I guess… that was so unnecessary though. A lot of it didn’t make sense.”
“So did I win?”
What we liked:
Like a dash of lemon squeezed into a bag alongside Springsteen and some fake tan pigment, sometimes the sillier the story, the more refreshing it can be to stumble upon. We’ll admit that usually writing a “competition aware” story is unwise, however this one nudged our funny button with its stripped back, tongue in cheek delivery between our protagonist and the all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent voice from above. It’s not easy to get this kind of thing right, but this one sticks the landing. (“But no, it didn’t win…”)
Congrats to the following stories that stood out from the 1700 that we received this month. With that many entries, it’s about 3% – a great achievement in itself. You’re definitely on the right track – keep going!
APRIL 2020 LONGLISTED (in no particular order):
- CONTRABAND by Ben Tari, NSW
- DEAD WEIGHT by Angela McCrann, UK
- OUT OF THE WILD by Matt Crichton, Vic
- 3 MINUTES by Raven Qrow, Indonesia
- WHITTLING TIME AWAY by Andrew R. Krey, UK
- LEO by S M Kemmett, SA
- CARAMEL by Mike Smee, NSW
- THE NEW NORMAL by Rananda Rich, NSW
- GIRL ON THE RUN by Kelli Hawkins, NSW
- UNTITLED by T. A. Burch, TAS
- THE DENTS OF LIFE by Frances Wade, NSW
- THAT FIRST SPLASH by Dominique Cardot, NSW
- TILLY by Carly Blenkhorn, WA
- UNTITLED by James Inglis, Vic
- IN PLAIN VIEW by Courtney McDermott, USA
- WHEN THIS YOU SEE by Christina King, NSW
- UNTITLED by Vicki Milliken, Vic
- FORGETTABLE by Rianna Goodman, ACT
- A GENIE’S KISS by Louise Tigchelaar, NSW
- LEMONADE by Michael Law, Qld
- THE SHOES by Gael Bell, UK
- CAKED WITH TEARS by Jack Salt, Vic
- HE EDGE OF THE PRECIPICE by Cherie Mitchell, NZ
- HOME by Nicole Beckenham, NSW
- QUANDONG JAM by S. Thompson, NSW
- TAKE A PICTURE by Nathan Bachman, USA
- ROADSIDE FORTUNE by Marc Howard, Vic
- DRY by Claire Garrett, Vic
- HAUNTED by Corinne Melville, NSW
- LEMON SQUEEZY by Angela Armstrong, NZ
- THE MAID by Anna Dallas, Switzerland
- PIERRE LEFT MONIQUE by Kata Kiss, NSW
- FULL CIRCLE by Anna Mahoney, NZ
- THE GIFT GIVER by Lauren Ford, Qld
- FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD by L. McCree, UK
- THE CASE OF THE DAMSEL IN DISTRESS ON HIGHWAY 15 by Haley M. Hwang, USA
- PROTEST SONG by Helen Auld, NSW
- CASTAWAY by Geoff Gore, NZ
- THE ROAD by Adam Lax, NSW
- 7 STEWART STREET by Sue Tymms, Vic
- AS SHE FELL by Tim Barlow, UK
- DOG EAT DOG by Tom Connelly, Vic
- NOTHING DOES by Charlie Rogers, USA
- THE SWIMMING HOLE by Anna Mickelburgh, Qld
- IN PASSING by MC SCOTT, USA
- GLENROY by Christopher Morgan, Vic
- PARACHUTE by Amrita Khadilkar, Singapore