Welcome to the jumbo-sized December Furious Fiction story showcase – and a chance to celebrate our community’s creativity! It’s also the opportunity to have YOUR OWN story featured or acknowledged – out of hundreds received from around the globe. Here were this month’s criteria:
- Each story had to take place at either an AIRPORT or TRAIN STATION.
- Each story had to feature an awkward hug.
- Each story had to include the words EIGHTEEN, EGG and ELEPHANT.
(Longer variations were okay if original spelling was retained.)
Did we receive more train stations or airports? Actually, there were about half of each – reflected, quite by chance, in an equal number of each location in the showcased stories below! There were all manner of awkward hugs of course and plenty of eighteen year-olds, eighteen-year gaps and gates or platforms numbered ‘18’. (And yes, we have even picked eighteen stories.) As for eggs and elephants? Well, you’ll just have to see for yourself!
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES
As we predicted, airports and train stations really ARE great locations for reunions or farewells. But there are also plenty of people who work in these locations every day, and a couple of the stories chose that angle instead.
- Familiar settings work well in flash fiction as you don’t need to waste words setting the scene. Your reader is likely to already have a clear idea of what the location looks like.
- The REASON for someone to be departing or returning was often the difference – coming up with something original helped certain stories stand out.
- There was a lot of fun to be had with these prompts, and humour played a big part in many of the stories.
- These locations can also be places of observation or reflection, with some quieter pieces finding their way to our attention.
- Every day, thousands of stories take place in trains and airports – it was nice to see the variety in stories this month!
And on that note, please enjoy our selection of stories below, followed by our longlist of highly commended pieces from the many hundreds received. Congrats to all those featured this month and we hope to see YOU lining up for the first Furious Fiction challenge of 2024 on Friday 5 January!
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Cee Ford, WA
(B-B-BING) The next service to… Cripplingregret…will arrive on Platform Eighteen in…ten minutes.
(B-B-BING) Attention passengers… the last service to… Avoidingmyfamily via Dreaddingit… is departing now on Platform Five.
(B-B-BING) Passengers are advised not to leave unattended luggage, eggs and other personal items on the platform. Unattended items may be removed or destroyed by security services. Also, passengers are reminded that today is Christmas Day, not Easter.
(B_B_BING) The next train to arrive on Platform… Eighteen… goes to… Cripplingregret
|Then express to… Anawkwardhugwithyourmotherinlaw.
And then… Vodkakaraoke.
Then all stations to Cripplingregret.
(B_B_BING) Closed circuit and remote video monitoring is used at this station to record your dead-eyed faces as you scroll your phones and ignore other passengers instead of spreading festive cheer with your fellow human beings.
(B-B-BING) May I have your attention. We are sorry to announce that the train to Cripplingregret… will be diverted due to a track issue. This train will no longer be express and will terminate at… Yourimpendingdoom. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
(B-B-BING) Passengers are reminded that the riding of skateboards, elephants and reindeer driven sleds is not permitted inside the station. On-the-spot fines will apply.
(B-B-BING) Attention passengers… We are sorry to announce that the train to… Yourimpendingdoom… has been slightly delayed due to the Devil’s tennis match running to five sets. It will now arrive in six minutes.
(B-B-BING) The train to… Avoidingyourfate… is now approaching Platform Nine. This train does not stop here. Please stand clear of the edge of the platform and take stock of your life.
(B-B-BING) Existential Railways would like to thank you for travelling with us today and remind you that any feeling of intense embarrassment caused by your actions during the silly season is merely a metaphorical form of death. Family Christmases can be painful and disastrous but we urge you not to take your loved ones for granted.
(B-B-BING) Attention passengers..The next service to… Yourimpendingdoom… is arriving now on… Platform Eighteen… Alternatively… we are pleased to announce… a replacement bus service to… Cripplingregret… has been provided… and will depart from the upstairs Bus port in… thirty minutes. Merry Christmas.
What better way to start this pre-Christmas showcase than with some announcements, and from the first “B-B-BING” we are already doing that electronic voice in our heads as we read the mix of hilarious ‘destinations’ that are sure to capture the mood of many at this time of year. This piece means no real harm – playful and ultimately well-meaning about the family obligations that accompany this time of year, with the repeated announcement structure a fun device throughout. While there was no requirement to have stories set at Christmas, this one is a welcome humorous addition to the frantic holiday season. (Also, we wouldn’t be surprised if “Cripplingregret” is an ACTUAL British village, not far from “Little Whinging”…)
GOODBYE MAMA by Scott Davies, UK
The largest airport in the Universe is found on Galactagar, a planet found on the outskirts of the Protoneggular nebular. It is named the Interplanetary Exchange and has no less than eighteen terminals.
It is from here that hundreds of species travel on lightspeed aeroplanes to far flung planets on business trips, vacations, and interspecies speed dating events. Mostly interspecies speed dating events.
The bathrooms are vast, with mirrors as far as the eye can see. The stalls are so large you can swing an Elephant in them and find it to be relatively unharmed by the time you are done with it.
This happened so often on the opening of the Interplanetary Exchange that signs have been erected on the inside of each cubicle door depicting an elephant inside a red crossed circle, beneath which the sign reads, ‘Quit swinging Elephants, we don’t have big enough shovels’.
The sign has had little impact.
At terminal 187, Space Flight Colonel Franz Tasteech is bidding farewell to his mother.
Franz is boulder sized, standing at twelve feet tall and looking every inch of it. He walks with a stoop, more out of habit than necessity, and his hands cup inwards into constant half-fists, the hairs neatly combed across his dry, cracked knuckles. His eyebrow is the texture of a yard broom and is cut once a year by a brave tree surgeon. His navy blue suit screams for help at the chest where its buttons close over the top of a white shirt and short purple striped tie. The medals of valour pinned to his blazer tell the story of a well-seasoned veteran of the National Space Division.
His mother sits on his shoulder, her handbag in her lap, a pink cardigan draped across her shoulders.
“It is dreadfully cold in here, Franz. Why did I have to come with you?”
“Mama,” Franz booms, his voice rattling his mothers chest, “this is my last trip. I want to wave goodbye. Like the humans do.”
“Well it seems silly to me. Do you know how much the parking costs?”
“Mama, I pay.”
“You’ll do no such thing. I won’t hear of it,” she scolds, her leathery skin wrinkling at the brow as her eyebrows raise above her cat eye rimmed glasses, “have you had a wee?”
“Mama…” Franz dips his chin to his chest, “I don’t need one, mama.”
“Are you sure?”
Franz thinks for a moment. You can tell by the smell.
“There’s a good boy. Now,” she says, straightening the hem of his trouser leg, “you better get going. You don’t want to miss your flight.”
“Be back soon, Mama,” he lies, stooping as low as he can and wrapping both arms around his mother until she disappears inside his arms, “I loves you.”
“I loves you too, Franz.”
With that he collects his briefcase and walks to the boarding desk. He turns and waves his gigantic hand. His mother returns his wave, just like the humans do.
World-building brownie points go to this intergalactic piece – one of very few to decide to set a story off planet. Within its vast expanse, we learn that while things aren’t quite the same as they are down here on Earth (elephant swinging, anyone?), they’re also not completely alien either – with said alien hoping to replicate our soppy farewell rituals. We loved the efficiency of Franz’s speaking and the general ridiculousness of the scene as we witness a touching moment, just like the humans do. Yes, it’s silly, intergalactic nonsense – but well-written silly, intergalactic nonsense.
UNTITLED by Emily Jenik, VIC
His focus is absolute, eyes on the train as it pulls into the station. He’s spent hours and hours perfecting the scene, crafting the tiny benches along the platforms, even filled his miniature bins with rubbish. He eases the train alongside the station then pulls the levers to open the doors one by one. He looks at his watch. He will wait exactly three minutes before closing the doors again and sending the train on another journey around the track.
I cannot help but love him. Maybe it’s just biology – he grew from my egg, so he’s a part of me. But every day I get to spend with him fills me with equal parts joy and anguish. Yes, he’s happy to sit here and play for now, but I can’t ignore the elephant in the room. What happens when he turns eighteen? When other kids his age would be moving out, starting to become independent? What happens when I’m not around anymore? What does his life look like after his parents are gone?
I know better than to pull him towards me for a hug, but my emotions overwhelm my senses and I give it a shot anyway. My arms around him, he paws at me to release him, grunting wordlessly with distress. His hand connects with my face, fingers poking my eye, and I’m rocketed back to reality. This is not a child who hugs. I let him go, ashamed of my selfishness.
Free from my embrace, I see panic dart across his face as he hurriedly pulls his sleeve up. Relief washes over him as he sees the three minutes have not yet ended, and he watches the second hand tick around until it does. Then one by one he closes the train doors and sends it off on another trip, starting the cycle all over again.
So simple in its premise and with a ‘why didn’t we think of that?’ idea at its core, this story delights in flipping the script to set it at a miniature railway station. Having already got our attention with this clever diversion, it goes on to make the setting meaningful with a loving mother watching her son enjoy a pastime that is famously popular for those on the spectrum. Her inner musings and genuine worries read as authentic as the hilariously attempted hug that follows (we loved the ‘he paws at me’ description). And again, the time-keeping and pure focus matches what is clear but unsaid in this tenderly crafted story.
PICKING UP STEAM by Athena Law, QLD
The shriek of the whistle echoes, causing a fraction of a pause in the bustle of bodies around me. The royal-blue locomotive stretches along the tracks, a curved iron dragon huffing out steam into the chill of the morning air.
A crackle as the two-way clipped to my belt shouts my name through static, directing me to Trailer 3. Shouldering my portable makeup kit, I navigate through piles of carefully stacked vintage suitcases and hordes of excited extras.
Stepping from the party-like atmosphere on-set into the tense silence of the trailer, I see a blonde, Marcel-waved wig slung onto the floor, and the usually effervescent PA cowering in the corner. The star is sitting on a stool staring silently into the mirror, hair clipped unforgivingly to her skull. The PA meets my gaze, grimacing, and I nod towards the door, releasing her gratefully to the outside.
‘You have approximately five minutes to make me look eighteen again.’ The star’s tone is rueful as her tired eyes meet mine in the mirror, but she forces a smile.
‘Your face was perfection when I left.’ I say sternly as I position the wig back on its stand, smoothing out the pale curls.
She points to her iPad. ‘That was before I saw those awful paparazzi shots. Taken in the sun, wearing that hideously bulky wool coat, looking like a literal elephant wearing makeup! Preposterous, who am I kidding?’
I’m behind her now, smoothing her face which is creased in dismay and embarrassment, this face that I have gazed upon for perhaps my whole life. In my career I’ve formed an immunity to being starstruck, but there are always exceptions.
Picking up a soft brush, I begin gently applying makeup.
‘Forget the paparazzi. What do you see?’ I ask, delicately contouring along her jawline.
Her sigh is deep. ‘I see an ancient crone who thought she could make a triumphant comeback, who can’t leave her trailer.’
I catch a tear with my brush before it escapes down her cheek.
‘Well, I see a woman with a fabulous sense of humour, one wonderful son, two Cavoodles, immense talent, three Oscar nominations and hundreds of adventures…. Who has earned some lovely laughter lines to go with the stories. You’re magnificent, and I would love to be you when I grow up.’
Mere minutes later I am escorting her to the platform, heads turning in her dazzling wake.
‘One last piece of advice.’ I say quietly. ‘Forget the egg-white omelette tomorrow morning and insist on a bacon buttie, you’ll thank me later.’
She steps closer, those famous denim-blue eyes lit up in a smile.
‘I’m going to thank you right now. And as they say, I’m completely ready for my close-up.’ Carefully, so as not to disrupt her well-draped wool coat and perfectly positioned wig, she brings one arm around my shoulder in an approximation of a hug. I inhale Chanel as they call ‘Places please’, and the shriek of the whistle echoes.
Places? Please. As here we see another clever take on a train station – this one being a filming location and our protagonist a part of the crew. All that said, the opening paragraph plays a big part in drawing the reader in here, with its iron dragon huffing into the chilled air – far more dramatic than any star tantrum could have been. We also appreciated the lack of any “And cut!” twist (it gets done a lot, FYI) – instead being open about its setting from the beginning. And then, liberated from any need for arrivals or departures, we see a rather different storyline, one that still ends in an awkward, fragrant, hug. (Clever title too!)
OLFACTORY TRIGGERS by Joe Durham, UK
I remember standing with my parents at the airport with my stupid cardboard sign. ‘Aunt Agatha’.
And I remember that smell.
As the blessed-aunt herself swept into the arrivals hall like a battleship arriving in port, she gave a little happy shriek, then presented me with a big fluffy toy as a gift. A cuddly elephant, this time, and I gave my own little whoop of glee inside. Outside, I stayed stony-faced, as only twelve-year olds can do.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: twelve year old boys don’t usually welcome fluffy cuddly toys, elephantine or otherwise, but you only think that because you know little of our dysfunctional clan. A few facts:
- Aunt Aggie is a very rich widow. Simply loaded. And as we are her only relatives, thoughts of her eventual demise always prompt discussion of bequests and heirlooms, and the importance of not alienating The Rich-One.
- Aunt Aggie is bonkers. Not a diagnosed mental illness, early-life trauma or learning difficulty, I hasten to add. Just, well… bonkers. She has eighteen prize hens in the back garden of her palatial home and pays a local man handsomely to look after them. To my knowledge, they have never laid a single egg.
- I learned long ago that if I simply overlook my aunt’s foibles and tolerate her age-inappropriate gifts, then my avaricious parents would reward me handsomely.
So, basically I reckoned that I only had to offer grateful acknowledgement to my idiosyncratic aunt, and I could trade the elephant up later for a new i-Pad. But not till I’d made my parents suffer a little.
As I received the offending elephant I kept my face cold, and I could feel, as well as see, the anguish in their faces, terrified in case I hurled my padded pachyderm to the floor, berated my airhead aunt and got us all disinherited. So I waited until my parents were practically gibbering with worry, then I stepped forward with an angelic smile and gave my dear Aunty Agatha an awkward hug.
My parents exhaled loudly in relief, while I suffered the bear-hug and inhaled the strange olfactory cocktail that my elderly aunt carried with her everywhere. A subtle blend of parma violet and pickled eggs. That smell.
Smells are funny things. Especially unusual ones. They carry associations as well as memory. And I still involuntarily smell Aunty Aggie now, twenty years later, whenever I encounter mercenary behaviour, hypocrisy and greed.
I realise now that she was unquestionably a good person, unlike my childhood self or my parents. She was kind to all she encountered. She was mocked and made fun of, but tough enough to take it. She was energetic and creative and deserved her wealth.
And so does the Pampered Poultry petting farm, to whom she bequeathed every cent.
Smells are quite possibly the most powerful time machines – able to transport you back to people and places with just one whiff. So the fact that this story is told as a memory immediately makes sense/scents. On top of that, you have some truly wonderful turns of phrase – “swept into the arrivals hall like a battleship arriving in port” painting a brilliant picture of Aunt Aggie! Some fun bullet-list facts give us an insight into what we’re dealing with, but eventually it all comes back to that signature fragrance (“olfactory cocktail”) of parma violet (a nostalgic British sweet) and pickled eggs. Mmmmm. Wonderfully bonkers fun and such a satisfying ending!
A MOUSE CALLED ELEPHANT by Bruno Lowagie, Belgium
He greets her with a European kiss; she goes for an American hug. She’s surprised by his lips on her cheek; he didn’t expect her arms around him. For a moment they freeze.
Then she breaks the ice: “How long has it been?”
“Seven years,” he replies. He resists the urge to add: “Two months and eighteen days.”
They were lovers once. Now she is back for a three-day conference.
“Thank you for offering me a place to stay after all that time.”
He waves away her gratitude, as if he would not have wanted it any other way.
“Do you still like your eggs sunny side up?” he asks.
He used to make her breakfast, even before they were a couple. She was a foreign student at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He had a spare room to let.
She smiles: “You remembered.”
Once graduated, she returned to the US. The long distance killed their relationship.
He smiles back: “Some things never change.”
She doesn’t answer with words, but her eyes tell him that nothing is the same anymore.
He looks away from her: “Is that your luggage?”
“I upgraded to a dog,” he tells her as he picks up her suitcase. They used to have a mouse called Elephant as a pet when they lived together. “I hope you’re not allergic. It’s shedding season. There’s hair everywhere, even in the bathroom.”
“I have a dog myself. Do you want to see a picture?”
She grabs her phone and swipes through a series of pictures of her Golden Retriever.
“He’s cute,” he says, happy to know that his own Labrador won’t be a problem. “Let me show you mine.”
They are both aware that she would have responded with a naughty pun — eighteen years ago — but now she doesn’t take the bait: “There's no need to. I've already seen him on your Insta. His name is Twister, isn't it?”
They leave the train station in silence, pondering how they’ll deal with the giant mouse in the room for three full days.
The ‘he said’, ‘she said’ format works very well in this reunion of former lovers – setting the scene (and a little foreshadowing) with the awkward American meets Euro style of greeting at the very beginning. While we had a lot of stories of people meeting up again after some time, this one stands out for its efficiency – no lengthy backstories or side tangents. Just a real-time back-and-forth that works in part because it too is awkward and stilted – one perhaps still hoping for a flicker of requiting. In short, it feels real. Also a cute way to incorporate the concept of an ‘elephant in the room’ without never actually saying those words!
SILENT NIGHT by Fulva Took, USA
The sirens wailed. Roland ducked, pulling his helmet more tightly over his head as the next bomb hit. There hadn’t even been time to get out of the train station before the Luftwaffe came again. The Nazis were especially focusing on the main supply areas in Manchester, and Oxford Station was one of them.
The bomb shelter in the station was small and cramped. The cement looked rather unsteady: hairline cracks spiderwebbed across it, like when you hit an egg against a bowl. Roland flinched every time a bomb hit. He couldn't help but wonder if the bunker would collapse, raining debris down upon their heads.
Not the cheeriest Christmas Eve he had ever spent.
He shut his eyes, thinking of home. Away back in Sussex. Had it really been eighteen whole weeks? He sighed. Mother and Father were there. Danny, Will, and Annette. His family. He remembered that last hug with his younger brothers, wishing he hadn’t been so uncomfortable about it. He should have held them tighter, told them how much he loved them. And now, he would never get the chance.
And there was Kitty, too.
They were to have been married three days ago, on December the 21st, if not for this bloody war. Roland pictured her lovely, shining face, with the softly curling, honey-colored locks, the bright blue eyes which always seemed to sparkle…
Another bomb. Roland flinched as a bit of plaster dropped onto his pack before he withdrew once more into his mind.
Kitty would be decorating the Christmas tree with her little sister, Rosana (who would, of course, be sucking on the tail of Gerald, her stuffed elephant). They would be lighting the candles, setting the golden paper star at the very top of the tree. They would sing carols and line up the stockings at the fireplace. Would they be praying, too? Of course they would. They would be praying for everyone to come back home. For all their loved ones who had gone off to war to defend their country.
Roland prayed, too. Prayed that, if he died, the last thing he would see in his mind would be Kitty’s face.
His prayer was granted that very night.
The Nazi pilot never knew that the last bomb that he dropped, the one that hit his mark perfectly at Oxford Station, crumbled the failing cement bunker beneath there. He never knew that beneath the rubble lay a young man, a mere boy, clutching a faded picture of a girl with bright blue eyes and softly curling brown hair. The boy was smiling.
The sirens wailed as the bombs rained down over England on that Silent Night.
Another Christmas tale, but this one hits somewhat harder – literally – as we are transported back to what is likely Christmas Eve 1940 and the bombs falling on Britain. Here, our Manchester train station becomes a target as our protagonist shelters from the storm and reflects on a world turned upside down. The comparison that incorporates the ‘egg’ prompt rings true to the crumbling setting and while we know the war would eventually have a happy ending, this particular encounter – and story – do not. The call back to the title at the end, with the repeated sirens wailing provides a tragic bookend to this historical piece.
THE ARRIVALS HALL by Leonie Jarrett, VIC
“Please let’s go Mum. Pleeeeease.”
“OK, OK, we’ll go.”
After all, it was the Summer school holidays and I wasn’t working that day. I should make the most of this time. It won’t be long before eight year old Oscar doesn’t want to do anything with me any more like this older brother who is hell-bent on breaking the World record for the most hours playing Fortnite or his older tweenager sister who watches YouTube make up tutorials incessantly.
I hadn’t planned to pick Dave up from the airport but Oscar wanted to surprise him.
Dave has always travelled a lot for work. I used to count the days (literally and figuratively) until he came home to me.
Now that we’ve been married for over eighteen years, the days blur with the busyness of kids and work. I feel like life is easier when Dave is not there. The kids and I get into a rhythm. And, let’s face the elephant in the room – there’s no arguments. Well, there are arguments but just with the kids. I can deal with the kids. The arguments with Dave are a whole other story.
If we’re not arguing, we’re treading on eggshells around each other.
“How did we get here?” I wonder silently as I drive. We were so full of hope and dreams and love Dave and I. Now, I’m driving to the airport to pick him up out of a desire to please our son rather than a desire to sweep Dave up in my arms.
The traffic isn’t too bad for once and we arrive at the airport as Dave’s plane lands. That gives us time to park and be waiting in the Arrivals Hall. We see Dave come out of the sliding doors. Oscar runs into Dave’s outstretched arms (as I used to do).
I stay put. Dave looks up over Oscar’s hug, finds me in the crowd and smiles at me. It’s a surprised smile. Nervous. Halting. A smile that tells me that Dave doesn’t know if I really want to be here at all.
Dave comes over to me with Oscar hanging off him. He sort of gives me a hug.
I feel like Emma Thompson in “Love Actually” as Alan Rickman arrives at Heathrow. Without the tawdry affair but with the tension.
“Nice surprise Sarah. Missed you,” Dave says to me.
“Yeah, me too,” I lie. “Let’s go home.”
A gentle study in the evolution/dilution of a relationship here – summed up perhaps by the question “How did we get here?” that our narrator Sarah asks halfway through. She’s driving at the time and while it’s often asked in a navigation-trance context, here it’s about the state of her marriage. Told through the lens of an airport pick-up, this is an example of not needing anything big, bold and dramatic to create a compelling, relatable (for many) narrative. In fact, it is that very lack of excitement that drives this story – “without the tawdry affair but with the tension”. Ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.
LOST AND FOUND by Emma Rigney, QLD
As the peak hour rush picked up through Central Station, Benita let a wide yawn escape. Being posted at the lost and found desk was her favourite position, but she struggled somewhat with the early start. The desk offered the best view of the Station, allowing Benita to people-watch. It was her most loved past-time. She perched on the stool at the counter, watching the early morning commuters hurry by.
It wasn't long before a small child approached the desk, tears welling in her eyes. She turned to gaze at her mother, who rested a hand on her shoulder and nodded encouragingly. The girl looked up to Benita and spoke quietly.
“Excuse me please. Have you seen my elephant? I lost it yesterday.”
Benita smiled warmly at the girl. “What colour is your elephant sweetheart?”
“Yellow,” came the timid response.
Benita turned to look at the numbered cubbies lining the back wall. Housed safely in number eighteen was a well-loved plush yellow elephant. She scooped it up and brought it back to the counter.
“Is this your elephant?” she asked the girl.
“Effie!” the girl squealed. “Oh thank you so much lady!”
Benita grinned, her heart swelling seeing the little girl so happy.
“Thank you,” said the girl's mother before leading her daughter away.
As the commuter crowd thinned out, the school children who relied on public transport began to take over the Station. Unlike the workers before them who were quiet and laser-focused on getting from A to B, the kids brought with them excessive noise. They yelled back and forth to one another, ran because they were about to miss their train, or were just being generally rambunctious.
Throughout the morning, Benita reunited a young woman with her flowered umbrella, an old man with his grey golfer's hat, a middle-aged man with a square package wrapped with brown paper and a pink bow, and a small boy with a hard-back picture book about frogs. She also received several found items, which she dutifully catalogued and placed in a cubby.
Benita snacked on her egg and lettuce sandwich as she watched early afternoon commuters and travellers bustle through the Station. She could always pick those who were returning from holidays, or were about to leave on one, as they had a single commonality. A suitcase on wheels.
Sometimes she would become captivated by the hello's and goodbye's that took place. Loud exclaims as family and friends reunited upon someone's long awaited return. Passionate kisses of lovers about to part as one ventured into the world. Awkward hugs between siblings as they said good-bye before leaving on their first solo adventure.
As her shift ended, Benita reflected on the day. In addition to reuniting twelve people with their treasured possessions, Benita had witnessed many moments. Some that were amusing, some that were heart-warming and one that was heart-wrenching. She looked forward to her shift tomorrow, where she could return to her people-watching post.
Why wish to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in a train station, when you can be at the ‘Lost and Found’ desk instead? When we offered these locations as prompts, it was suggested that as well as the travellers who pass through these places, there may also be stories to be found in those who work there. And so, here we join Benita as she goes about her day of reuniting people with their things (we’re sure it was fun coming up with the items – the umbrella, hat, package with pink bow, picture book on frogs!) as well as observing the comings and goings. It’s a great idea and we’d happily green-light a full series from this pilot episode!
ADVENTURES FOR DIFFERENT TIMES by Amy Zander, SA
The station is quiet as I sit on the edge of the platform, legs swinging over the open air above the tracks now overgrown with weeds. Mum says this used to be a bustling hub of life, that eighteen years of disuse and abandonment have turned it dead and boring. Mum thinks adventure is about bright colours and big crowds and things that feel impossible, like the circus she saw when she was ten, with acrobats and elephants and fire-breathers.
I think the station is alive and exciting now more than ever. Flowers grow between cracked bricks, visited by bees and butterflies when the sun glows down. The trees around breathe in a cooling rhythm of rustling leaves; birds dart between branches, filling the air with their songs; snakes slide amidst the grass and sun themselves on the pavement. My adventures consist of following the tracks as far as I can before my legs grow tired and I’m forced to turn around. Mum says it must be dull, the same walk all the time. I tell her that it’s not the same: I never know how far I’ll walk, and I’m sure the number of steps I take is different each time; the weather changes more than the tide at the beach, some days hot or sunny or rainy or cold in infinite combinations; the clouds are an endless gallery of abstract art; the plants grow and bloom and die; sometimes, where the tracks run beside the river, there are ducks, and sometimes there are ducklings. There’s always something new.
And there’s always the familiar home to come back to, nestled behind the main station building, with the same dented kettle on the stove and the patterned blanket on my bed and the wooden humpty-dumpty that sits on my windowsill in all his eggy glory. If I fell from the platform right now, I wouldn’t end up in irreparable pieces, but sometimes I wonder what would happen in this were a different time, if I could step off the platform and take a train far away, to a new city, a new life. If I would fracture. Sometimes the idea is as enrapturing as the storm clouds swirling and sparking on the horizon, other times as terrifying as the flooding rain and cracking thunder. It would be a different adventure. Someday, I might take that leap, risk that fall. Today, though, I open my arms and breathe in the fresh scent of the misting rain like I can embrace the sky. Lightning flashes and the wind rises in an abashed huff, making me shiver and let out a small chuckle of embarrassment. Adventure is a fickle friend, the world not as devoted a lover as I try to be to it. I hug my jacket close around me. The wind whips my hair into my mouth and stings my face with cold. The rain picks up. I run inside, and watch the storm with humpty dumpty.
Here’s a great example of a quieter, reflective story that still captures your attention in the way that it sees the world. We meet our young adventurer enjoying a leg-swinging moment of thought – in disagreement with their mother over the definition of an ‘adventure’ and also the perceived state of this abandoned station. The observation that in its decay and reclamation by nature the station is “alive and exciting now more than ever” is delightful in helping us understand this child’s perspective. We also, with the help of the humpty dumpty toy, take a final-paragraph detour into a glimpsed future, or is it a past? – to a time when a train would have whisked one away from that spot. Simple, yet expertly layered, storytelling.
ALONE TOGETHER by Jeremy Newsome, SA
Inching his way through the glittery ‘welcome home’ signs, he grabbed hold of the barrier with one hand and tightened his grip on the bouquet with the other. One red rose for each of the eighteen months they had known each other.
The tailored suits were first. They marched out of the frosted doors that opened intermittently, providing a glimpse into the bustle of border guards parading golden retrievers, and passengers desperate to hold onto items undeclared. Glued to their phones, the business class elite were oblivious to the echo of security announcements and the air of anticipation that lined their exit, the sound of trundling suitcases left in their wake. A small child being towed on a blue and pink novelty elephant suitcase behind two weary parents signalled the divide. She wasn’t far away now.
He had constructed her image around her sensual and soothing tones and dreamt of running his pale lanky fingers through the silky jet-black hair that cascaded down her long frame, resting just below her delicate shoulder blades. The urge to laugh in the face of years of awkward speed dating events and the apps that had been banished seventeen months ago was quelled by the fluttering in his stomach.
‘Sheila!’ The primal scream drew his attention to the right. A middle-aged woman ducked and weaved her way against the tide of returnees, sunglasses tumbling from her head to the floor and bouncing along behind her. The two women stood holding each other tight as the stream of luggage carts parted naturally around them. That was the prime position; the mouth of the river where loved ones reunited amongst taxi touts and the airport volunteers in their eggplant-coloured t-shirts. His footsteps fell in line with the heartbeat pumping in his ears, positioning himself for nothing less than a grand gesture.
The crowd slowly melted away and a lone cleaner appeared in its place to deal with the dusting of glitter, the odd streamer and a snotty tissue. ‘When’s the next flight from Honolulu?’ he asked meekly. ‘Honolulu? The old man leaned on his broom, sighed heavily and shook his head. ‘Who knows? but the last flight was way back in 1984 if memory serves me correctly’.
Frozen, in disbelief.
A lone frail woman was the last one. Her tiny frame hunched over the trolley; the wrinkly folds of her neck hidden by the floral inflatable travel cushion. The squeaky wheels stopped at his tan loafers, and she shuffled into his shadow. Her veiny hands pulled him awkwardly into her embrace. ‘Lesley, my favourite grandson, are they for me?’. He slowly detached himself, momentarily lost in her demented state, placing the bouquet in her hands. Petals floated to the floor as if they were crying for what was never to be. He smiled with a slight nod and then they stood there alone, together.
Anyone who has ever stood and waited at an Arrivals Hall will recognise most of the well-described details here – from the ‘welcome home’ signs and excited people running “against the tide” from the mouth of the river of returnees, to the order of appearance (the tailored suits marching out, followed by the weary parents, and so on). Even the small glimpse back to where the customs checks are taking place behind doors is well observed. As for the final realisation, the squeaky wheel gets the bouquet as our protagonist is left holding the old lady – but neither have found who they’re looking for. Relatable, heart-breakable stuff.
FLIGHT CANCELLED by Yelena Crane, USA
Only three years ago flights were grounded and Boeing 737 and 777 had time to get to know each other.
“You’re never home anymore,” 777 said. It was a rare moment both were on the tarmac, their elephantine bellies sagging from passengers, crew, and too many carry-ons. Sagging from time used and needed maintenance.
“I miss you too,” 737 said in defense. Neither could control their fight schedule. Why fight over it?
737 was older. It knew better than to start a romance on the wing but the times had been lonely, the skies so distant, and 777 plied it with stories of the places it had seen and flown over. Now 777 never spoke about where it flew. Said where it went didn’t matter so long as it returned to meet 737.
Already in the loading dock, 777 knew they had little time left. It used to enjoy the march of crew preparing for take off, the feel of heels pinching into its old carpet. Now the march meant another flight, another destination without its companion. All that purposeless traveling back and forth with people who had become crueler since the shutdown. Planes didn’t have the walls of houses, but they shared the same burden of secrets.
“I wish we could fly away together,” 777 said.
They’d never shared the skies, not freely, airplane wing to airplane wing. 777 tried to maneuver its wheels, just enough so it could share the same breath of exhaust as the 737 but not raise any suspicion among the humans.
“Don’t you?” 777 nudged.
“I do.” 737 had dreams before 777. They’d changed since, grew, but those dreams didn’t die. It wanted to fly a mission that would change the world. Maybe it had done so already, and it didn’t know. Carried a child future-hero or an important person for burial in the salt and earth of their home. A plane that could bring skyscrapers to their knees and the world to tears. A plane that could… and it realized it had already done something only one other plane ever could. It had loved.
Everyone on the tarmac and inside the airport heard the announcement. Take off in eighteen minutes.
“Don’t be sad,” 737 said, “even a minute can be an eternity in the air.”
“We’re not in the air.”
737 hadn’t docked yet. By slow incremental millimeters it wheeled closer to 777. They couldn’t show affection the way humans did. Could never make sperm and egg and plane babies. They only had this, a soft scrape of metal hugging steel to steel.
Inside 777, the pilot shouted to the command center, crew tried to usher in calm, passengers jumped out of their seats ignoring the seatbelt signs and pointing out their windows. Outside 777 moved closer to 737.
They estimated the investigation would keep them grounded for months.
What a refreshing way to introduce two unique characters in this setting – a ‘flight of fancy’ in which flights fancy (each other)! It’s immediately clear simply from their names exactly what we’re dealing with here, and who doesn’t love a good old fashioned anthropomorphised story, right? It seems that this long-distance, long-haul relationship has been difficult for both of these air-crossed lovers, as they sag from a lifestyle of ‘too many carry ons”. Desperate to fly away together, eventually they settle for the next best thing – being grounded together. Yes it’s silly (planes don’t have feelings, right?), but with lines like “they shared the same burden of secrets”, it’s good stuff!
SOCIAL MEDIA CIRCUS by Rob Tuckerman, ACT
Nelson, like all elephants, hated flying. The leg room was atrocious, the packet of nuts laughably small, and wisecracks about stowing his trunk in the overhead locker were as predictable as the turbulence. Taking to the sky was an affront to a three-ton pachyderm. That’s what made Dumbo such an absurd film in his mind – no one in the herd would ever fantasise about escaping gravity’s grip.
Today’s flight, though, was unavoidable. Departing on a period of mandatory service as a circus performer was a burden that awaited every male elephant on the day of their eighteenth birthday. A perfectly cruel way to celebrate a milestone – a first taste of root beer over lunch then quickly whisked away to the airport.
“A proud day, son,” his father uttered, his face unyielding as they approached the boarding gate. “There is no nobler service than to entertain.”
His mother’s heavy eyes spoke volumes, carrying the weight of every hushed bedtime conversation she had shared with her son. The war on apathy was real, but they’d never understood why elephants were on the front line of a conflict of man’s creation.
Nelson’s sister was next in line, her trunk swaying anxiously as she took one last long look at her big-top-bound brother. Her right ear jarred against Nelson’s developing tusks as their lumbering bodies came together clumsily in one final embrace.
“Don’t forget me,” whispered Nelson.
“I never will,” she replied. “I’m an elephant.”
Nelson dipped his head and plodded through the bridge.
“I thought oversized luggage had to be checked in,” snickered the man in 3A as Nelson boarded.
Nelson halted in the narrow aisle, glaring at the man, who continued to snicker as he stared at the device in his hand. With a flick of his trunk, Nelson swept the phone from the man’s hands, flinging it into the side of the cabin and cracking it open like an egg in a pan.
“I’m sick of you zombies!” Nelson bellowed. “Always expecting others to pull you out of your brainless existence. Elephants are not here to entertain you! I should not have to parade on a circus stage for peanuts, just to force a temporary smile on your detached faces.”
The man in 3A grunted.
Nelson scanned the cabin, his rage unabated. Blank faces with outstretched arms pointed camera phones from all angles as a steward grabbed him from behind.
“You don’t need carnival sideshows, you idiots – just get your head out of your hands,” Nelson roared as the steward began dragging him from the plane.
“This is the best day ever,” a man in the emergency exit row gleamed. “I’ve got 34 likes already!”
Nelson’s stunned family watched from the departure lounge as the young Elephant tumbled from the plane and into the hands of airport security. Hashtag #DumboJet was trending, and the circus continued.
Entertainingly realised, this alternate world sees elephants proudly running away to join the circus once they reach the right age. “There’s no nobler service than to entertain,” announces Nelson’s dad – and if that’s true, this is a very noble story indeed. From the debunking of Dumbo’s premise to the viral scene onboard the plane (“on a circus stage for peanuts”), it’s a jumbo-sized hilarious ride, yet underpinned by a more sombre sentiment – “carrying the weight of every hushed bedtime conversation”. Our favourite line however, belongs to the sister after Nelson pleads not to forget him: “I never will. I’m an elephant.”
LAST FLIGHT by Danielle Hrapoonov, Canada
Eighteen minutes till the end of the shift. David looked up at the conveyor belt and yawned. Night shifts always felt longer; fewer flights departed, and less luggage needed to be loaded onto airplanes. One more flight to go… He could almost smell the bacon and eggs Jen would make for him at home.
Suddenly, the monitor lit up: Barvo Airlines, Rome, 85 bags expected. David frowned; he had been working in the luggage department for ten years and knew all the airlines. Maybe he missed the update during yesterday's team meeting because it was 7 AM, and yes, he was daydreaming about the bacon. At least, it looked like a smaller flight, probably half-empty. Rome… He had always wanted to go there; becoming a gladiator was his ultimate childhood dream. David sighed. “Maybe next year…”
The conveyor belt woke up, twitched, and hundreds of wheels began rolling. David looked around, hoping to see Marcus, who was supposed to be working with him.
“Marcus!” he yelled. “Come over, buddy. The last flight is here.”
David lined up the carts to load the bags. Four would be enough, but why should he do all the work?!
The first luggage appeared on top of the belt. It was bright red and looked like a massive piece of salmon. Sometimes, David imagined that he was working in a sushi restaurant and the bags were different dishes running on a conveyor belt. He and Jen went to that kind of Japanese restaurant once. What was the name of that place? Something sushi… It was a bit expensive, but they had so much fun. They were still dating then; everything was new and exciting. David watched the salmon luggage slowly making its way towards him. He quickly picked it up and placed it on the cart.
The next suitcase was small and green. “Wasabi”. When David picked it up, he noticed a cute grey luggage tag shaped like an elephant. Its belly had all the personal details, and the trunk was attached to the handle. David liked to read luggage tags; he felt like a pilot, getting to know the passengers.
David read, “Stacey Ronald.” He froze. No way… He checked the address; it was her! His high school sweetheart, his first everything… So, she moved back with her parents after the divorce. Why was she going to Rome? Why did she pack so light?! Did she have an Italian boyfriend?!! Was she moving there?!!!
The wave of all sorts of forgotten emotions crashed into David like a tsunami. He raised the green luggage and pressed it against his chest. No, he was not going to let her go this time. He closed his eyes and held Stacey so tight…
“David, what's going on, buddy?”
David opened his eyes. Marcus was staring at him, bumfuzzled.
David slowly put the green suitcase on the salmon luggage and looked at the monitor.
He was done.
Another great behind-the-scenes story here, this time focusing on those workers we love to hate – baggage handlers! It’s the end of a long shift and David is dreaming of bacon and eggs, but what he gets instead is salmon and wasabi. The sushi train restaurant comparison is fun (we also like how he never remembers the name of the restaurant, a realistic moment of presque vu!). Daydreaming soon turns to long lost sweethearts and well, it’s all downhill from there. No wonder so many bags go missing!
END GAME by Heather Maywald, SA
The platform leads to the yawning blackness beyond and to the gates of hell as far as I’m concerned.
While I wait for the number eighteen to Kings Cross, I fiddle nervously with my top hat and wonder how I should address the elephant in the room when I meet with my fellow investors. They have prospered while I, by chance, have been languishing in jail.
How different it was when we first came to London. We all had money in our pockets, hope in our hearts and rose-coloured glasses. My plan was to acquire some cheap properties in unfashionable streets, improve them and then on-sell them to reinvest in more lucrative areas. Others wisely sought real estate in more prestigious locations.
Colin Thimble bucked the trend and decided that investing in utilities was the way to go. He did very well out of the Electric Company and the Waterworks while Tom Boot bought Fenchurch Street Station and three houses in Park Lane. When Tom added an upmarket hotel in Mayfair to his portfolio it seemed that his goose had indeed laid the golden egg.
My friend the Iron Lady, so named because her name is Meg Thatcher, bought up most of Fleet Street and reportedly made a killing. Rumour has it that she was bugging the royals but the jury’s still out on that. Nevertheless, she was the only one who came to visit me in jail. She offered to slip me her get out of jail free card, reached through the bars to hold me close and promptly got her arm stuck. It took two prison officers and a cake of soap to set her free.
While the others thrived, it seemed that the dice seldom rolled my way. I was honoured to be elected inaugural Chairman of the Board until I realised that I had to pay each of the others fifty quid for the privilege. Then came the taxes, the repair bills, doctor, and hospital fees. Twice I won second prize in a beauty contest, which goes to prove that there is no gender bias here. Unfortunately, the prize was only a tenner.
I was down to my last hundred when I had to reimburse Mary Cannon fifty quid for the opera ticket. As I’d already been sent directly to jail, I gave my ticket to the warden. If I thought it would curry his favour, I was wrong.
Mostly, I dread meeting with Barry. We dubbed him “The Battleship” because he always came out with all guns blazing. Nowadays he owns half the board and is also the banker. Perish the thought that I land on any of his properties. He’s not known for his philanthropy.
Finally, the penny drops. If I don’t pass go and collect my two hundred quid, it’s game over.
The train screeches to a stop. I climb aboard, set my topper to a jaunty angle and prepare to meet my fate.
Scrabble would have been easier.
When we set the creative challenge each month, it really IS a challenge – to think outside the box and write something original. In this case however, it was all about thinking inside the (board game) box! The opening seems innocent enough, with a top-hat and talk of Kings Cross and jail. Then we start meeting the friends – thimble, boot, iron… waaait a minute. By the time we reach Fleet Street (and a cute ‘News of the World’ scandal reference), the game is afoot – unravelling with quickening pace as we delight in the way the squares are brought to life. ‘Second prize at the beauty contest’ seals the deal and when we finally pass GO, we’ve had a great time. The final line is like a mic-drop for this cleverly observed story that of all those received this month, had the monopoly on this particular idea.
WAITING ROOM by Susan Hobson, QLD
It’s funny how much of your life is spent waiting. Big things. Waiting to be allowed to join in with the adults. Waiting for him to call you back. Waiting for the nine months to be up. Waiting to hear if you’ve got the job. Waiting to hear if you’ve lost the job. Waiting for the verdict from the doctor. Little things. Waiting for your egg to boil, waiting for your turn at parent-teacher night, waiting for the prescription at the pharmacy. Shine a big light on anyone’s life, and the shadows it casts are all made out of waiting.
Fitting then, to be in a railway waiting room now. It’s a nice room. Clean, pale, minimalist even. It’s filled with a grey light – dawn can’t be far off, there’s a slight coloured edge to the window frames. Can’t see out, nothing to see. I’m pretty sure my eyes are closed, anyway.
I can feel Eric’s hand holding mine. So steady, so dependable. Dear Eric. Eighteen years and not a day too many. Every Friday evening a glass of wine. Every Sunday morning breakfast in bed – Sunday papers spread out on the duvet. His fingers speaking to me. Don’t go.
The train will be here soon. I can feel the rail vibrating in my bones, hear the compressed air parting before its engine like a wheezy breath. The light is growing, pulling at me, it’s nearly time.
Karen reaches over and tries to hold me. It’s difficult, the slightest touch feels like being trampled by an elephant, but I love her for it. I can feel dew on my face. You can’t stop the dew. It happens every day and yet it always seems special. Why is that? Part of life, I suppose, and the thing about waiting is that it is part of life too, both everyday and special, so special. I hear her, even though she’s silent. I hear the goodbye in her touch, in the softness of Eric’s fingers. Oh, goodbye, my dears, goodbye.
There’s a blaze of light. The train is here. It’s time to go.
We loved the concept of ‘waiting’ here – especially the many ways it is outlined in the all-important opening paragraph. And our story appears to take place in that most charisma-less (rizz-less?) of locations – the train station waiting room. There is no dialogue, just a quiet reflection of people and places. And as the train seems to draw ever-closer, you realise that this waiting room may in fact be something more existential. A final place to say one’s goodbyes… before the blaze of light. Beautifully ethereal and enigmatic storytelling.
PACKED by Simon Taylor, VIC
Hiding inside a suitcase isn’t as uncomfortable as you might think. At first it feels like an awkward hug, but once you’re all zipped up there’s a womb-like comfort to it. Fill in the gaps with socks and shirts and you’re basically in amniotic fluid.
You’ll want to have your back to the spine of the bag. That’s important. They’ll most likely lay you down that way. It’s not guaranteed though — you could have to endure the journey facing down, with your nose squashed back into your face. There may be bruising, but hey, being a stowaway comes with cosmetic risks. The other advantage of the spine-to-spine method is that if you’re ever worried about not getting enough oxygen, you can always press your mouth to the zip elements and suck in some of the outside air. It’s probably just psychosomatic but if it prevents you from panicking then it’s worth the little metal imprints it leaves on your lips.
The train is meant to depart for Paris at 07:18 but we haven’t left St. Pancras yet. The pins and needles are working their way up my calf now, so I’m desperate to adjust the angle of my foot. I can hear the grunting of train personnel still loading other luggage so I hold out. I'm sure it would get their attention if they see an elephant-grey suitcase wobbling on its own.
The next thing I recommend is not to drink a few hours before the trip. If a conductor notices a puddle on the floor, they might start investigating. I don’t recommend food too close to travel either. Whatever you do eat beforehand, be sure it’s nothing that makes you gassy. Beans are a no. Eggs are out. Spicy food? Forget it. Luggage-self-smuggling is precarious enough without the threat of broiling yourself in a Dutch oven.
The train is starting to take off now and the rocking motion is making my nose rub against the suitcase fabric. I’d scratch it but my hands are firmly curled around my knees and my clothes have locked me in place like a teapot in styrofoam packaging. I attempt to relieve the tingle by brushing my nose against the zipper but this just makes me sneeze. I'm now left with a spittle glaze over my eyes that I’ll have to endure for the next three hours. Fantastic.
Oh and my last piece of advice — this isn’t luggage smuggling specific, but potentially related— if you’re ever travelling internationally, to try not to lose your passport so close to when you have to be back home for your wedding day.
There is something just inherently READABLE about someone contorted inside a suitcase, totally of their own making. From the opening sentence, it’s clear to say we are intrigued – and the prose does not disappoint! Reading as part travel diary, part instruction manual, it’s ridiculous and riotous all at once – and it’s clear the author has (worryingly) given this an awful lot of thought. The important lesson – don’t lose your passport!
THE SHOW MUST GO ON by K E Fleming, NSW
Moving a circus was an absolute circus.
The strongman had broken eighteen suitcases in the last hour, the tightrope walkers couldn’t keep in line and the elephant handler had forgotten their travel treats. The clown cars had been overpacked, there wasn’t enough room for the contortionists and the jugglers kept fumbling the luggage. The lion tamer had finally gotten the big cats to settle; it was just everyone else that couldn’t be herded.
The Fantastical Company Circus – currently strewn all about Abbonathie Train Station – had set up shop on the outskirts of town two generations back to huge and welcoming fanfare. The city folk had flocked out in droves, fleeing their grey concrete cocoon for the brilliant dream of circus.
Acrobats and jugglers. Horse trainers and fire throwers. A gambolling galumph of clowns and jugglers, lions and bears. A highwire strung so tight you could hear it thrummmmmm. And at the centre of it all; the Ring Master. Bedecked in the toppest of top hats, wrapped in purple velvet, holding the show in the palm of his hand.
(Her grandfather, who would step in the 1000-watt fiery ring of the spotlight with the smallest of winks – a glimmer of a glimpse – for the little girl not-quite-hidden behind the canvas drop)
Natalia’s father had inherited the top hat and the Fantastical Company. He had followed in his father’s footsteps exactly, not a step further, while around the Big Top the outskirts became the suburbs and then the bad part of town. The city grew and the circus remained a technicolour dream, not a step further.
Natalia’s father had taken off the purple waistcoat in favour of a grey suit. He now walked through the egg shell white corridors of an insurance firm and by all accounts was deliriously complacent to be middle management.
That same purple waistcoat – designed for wider shoulders and narrower everything else – sat uncomfortably on Natalia. It strained at her chest and hips, strained at her patience, strained on the edges of belief.
Natalia drew in a great lungful of air despite the colourful chaos and awkward hug of her purple ill-fitting family heirloom. It was time to get this show on the road.
The toppest of top hats was easy to weep off her head. The star-spangled cape – a little too large and long since spangle-less – resettled on resettled shoulders into a new and mysterious shape. The waistcoat – made for someone else entirely – lost a few buttons in Natalia’s inhale and suddenly found itself just the right amount of rakish.
Her father had followed in her grandfather’s footsteps, without making any of his own. The approaching shrill of a train whistle made the new Ringmaster grin. She was going a lot further than the limits of plodding footsteps.
A circus, after all, should never walk when it can alight.
Opening lines are important. They catch our attention and set the scene. This story has a great one – and it paves the way for a procession of chaos. Broken suitcases, overpacked clown cars (ha!), claustrophobic contortionists (see previous story!), fumbling jugglers and herding big cats – it’s a recipe for silliness. But surprisingly, what unfolds is a more touching world through the eyes of a small girl – one that has failed to move with the times (“her father had followed in her grandfather’s footsteps, without making any of his own” – nice!). But moving it now is – under new management, with an equally sublime final line to bookend the story. It’s also an apt way to end this month’s (and this year’s) story selection… because the show(case) WILL go on – in 2024!
THIS MONTH’S ‘LONGLIST’
Each month, we like to include an extra LONGLIST of stories that stood out from the hundreds and were highly considered for the showcase. Remember, all creativity is subjective, but if your name is here, well done! And to ALL who submitted stories, we hope to see you ALL next year!
THIS MONTH’S LONGLIST (in no particular order):
- NOW BOARDING: THE GREAT ESCAPE by Madelyn Grace, NSW
- LILY by Miku Nakamura, NSW
- UNTITLED by Y.R. Liu, Canada
- THE LAST HURRAH by Alastair Pickering, QLD
- W by Lisa Angerame, USA
- KASEY’S DREAM by Ben Coppin, UK
- OOH by Averil Robertson, VIC
- ELEPHANTS AND EGGSHELLS by Denise Boyd, VIC
- UNTITLED by Cath Rushbrooke, VIC
- PEAK HOUR by Kat Element, NSW
- A TRANSIENT SPACE by Sussan Khadem, VIC
- UNTITLED by Sarah Swarbrick, NSW
- FELIX by Heidi Couvee, ACT
- HUMPTY DUMPTY: THE TRUE STORY by Tracey Zielinski, QLD
- HEART’S RATIONALE by Aaron Sanchez, VIC
- TICKET TO HAPPINESS by Harsh Mathur, VIC
- LOST by Philippa Freegard, WA
- OBLIVION by Tanya Allen, SA
- TERMINAL by Diane Lee, SA
- THE LOCKHART BOYS by Rachael Crane, NSW
- MISTAKEN IDENTITY by Dilrukshi Mendis, VIC
- A BETTER MAN by Holly Brandon, USA
- SILENT RUNWAYS by Kate Gurney, VIC
- BEWARE THE BEAGLE BUM by Rhyll Vallis, TAS
- FRIEND ANXIETY IS DUMBO by Elle Harper, QLD
- 10 SECONDS, DIE DOING by Golibe Ezenekwe, USA
- SEVEN CHRISTMASES by Nicole Kelly, VIC
- END OF THE LINE by Pat Saunders, WA
- CRUSHED by Cat Melville, VIC
- KLEPTOMANIA by Karen Uttien, WA
- INTERSECTIONS OF FATE: THE SILENT STORIES WE CARRY by Jessica Marshall, NSW
- ELE’S ESCAPE by Melanie Hawkes, WA
- UNCLE EDGAR by Katrina Brown, QLD
- RUNWAY RENDEZVOUS by Emma Tinning, VIC
- A NEW AWARENESS by Simon Bruce, VIC
- EYE SPY by Sarah Edmunds, WA
- YOU’LL NEVER GUESS by Helen Renwick, WA