Amid the flurry of competition and gold medals being given out at the moment, today is the day that we roll out the podium for the 500-word sprint, our version of the modern “pen”tathlon. As a quick recap, these were the criteria for JULY’s Furious Fiction:
- Each story had to take place at some kind of contest.
- Each story had to include a character who forgets something.
- Each story had to include the words PRESS, FLING and GROUND. (Longer variations were accepted as long as original spelling was retained.)
And so the games began, sparking imaginations all around the world and creating a relay of storytelling that ultimately resulted in the entries that burned brightest. From a contest point of view, it was definitely a competitive month. We had sports, elections and hot dog eating. Country fairs, spelling bees, bake offs and horse races. Battles of wits, wills and words. And standing atop the podium, collecting her gold medal and tearing up at her anthem, it’s congrats to Emily Winter for her story, Blink.
You can read Emily’s story below, along with six other shortlisted stories from this month that also made it to the podium – as well as a longlist of entrants that “qualified for the final”. If your name is here, congrats! If not, you can still be proud that you represented your coun– um, your household. And you don’t need to wait years to have another go… the next “games” begin on Friday 6 August. See you there!
JULY 2021 WINNER
BLINK by Emily Winter, QLD
We are sitting opposite each other, cross-legged on the midday pavement.
“Squinting,” I clarify, “not blinking.”
Nancy whacks me on the knee. “Still. That’s not allowed.”
We both know that, as with most things, she will be the one to decide on and enforce the rules. Especially for this, the last game we’ll ever play.
The staring contest has only just begun but already I’m conscious of the weight of my eyeballs, gripped by their sockets. I press the heel of my palm into the ground; feel the gravel texture of my neighbourhood imprint itself in the flesh of my palm. It helps me concentrate on why I need to win.
I’ve known Nancy since before I could squeeze my fingers around the latch of the front gate. We found each other through a ragged hole in the hedge that hazarded the boundary between our houses. That hedge became our doorway, our escape into the world of play. Now we are older; the hedge survives only in my memory, and soon the house I grew up in will meet a similar fate.
“Look at me, Claire. Otherwise it doesn’t count.”
“I am looking.” Her eyes have the lustre of semi-precious stones and it is impossible to stay mad at her for long. I sense my competitiveness waning. This is the last time we have – a few seconds dribbled onto the pavement like lukewarm water, drying fast to nothing. Around us the removalists haul my childhood out onto the street and my parents argue for the sake of pretending to talk to each other. It would be a relief just to blink it away.
We both know our friendship was never built to straddle postcodes, anyway.
Nancy leans towards me, propping her forearms on her calves. “You want to know a secret?”
“Okay.” But I’m wary. She’s always done this, proffered gossip like hoops I’m expected to jump through unscathed.
“I know why you’re moving,” she says now.
“No you don’t.”
A fractional tilt to her head. “Um yeah, I do.”
“How could you know?” Annoyance moistens the corners of my eyes. I frown, because it helps them stay wide open. “Not even I know.”
“Of course you don’t.” Her eyes are shiny with strain and something else, a kind of delight at reeling me in.
As always, I cave. “Okay then. Why?”
“You’re moving,” she says, “because your dad had a fling with my mum.”
I blink. “What?”
Nancy wipes her eyes. “I won.” Then she laughs, rocking back on her ankles, but there is no stomach in it, it’s all throat. If I didn’t know her better I would swear she is crying.
“What? Nancy!” I remember I wanted to win this game, but I don’t remember why. “Nancy?” I ask. “Is it true?”
She keeps on laughing and doesn’t reply.
What we loved:
Month after month, stories are rewarded that feel authentic. And here, this childhood scene does just that – a great example of using the contest prompt as mere scaffolding for the story, allowing ample space for the characters to fully form within. Simplicity is key here, all playing out in one roadside scene. Nancy and Claire’s friendship lies at the core of the story, expertly portrayed in few choice words. Through their mannerisms and interaction with one another, you can immediately believe their intimacy and shared history, the familiarity and acceptance of one another’s strengths and faults, the unique dynamic between the two learnt from years of time together. The dialogue also rings true as it drives the piece along and the narrative voice throughout cleverly portrays a young protagonist on the precipice of childhood and adulthood. Like life, the story isn’t tied together neatly in a bow – a bold choice from the author, reflecting the often unanswered questions and ambiguous experiences of youth, memories that are gone in the blink of an eye.
STONE COUNTY SCIENCE FAIR by Rachel Wells, USA
The 73rd Inaugural Stone County Science Fair. Only five more hours. I could’ve been home enjoying the warm spring day, but no, I listened to my colleagues. Stupid peer-pressure. It’ll look good on your yearly evaluations, they said. Ugh. Now I’m stuck in a freezing gymnasium that reeks of sweat, listening to kids blabber about their idiotic projects. If I see another potato battery, I’m going to scream and fling the stupid spud to the ground. Who’s next on the list?
STUDENT 13: Do caterpillars prefer a specific color?
You’ve got to be kidding. I haven't even seen the project and I already know I’m going to take ten points off.
“Hello, sir. For my project I wanted to find out if certain colors attract caterpillars. I put several caterpillars in a box with different plants, waited, then counted how many were on each flower.”
“All the colors have the same number?”
“Yes, sir. Each caterpillar went to one flower.”
“Did you repeat the experiment? See if the numbers change?”
“No. I ran out of time.” The boy shifted in his oversized suit.
Wait, all you did was put bugs in a box. That’s it. I’m embarrassed for you. Did anyone actually do any science here?
STUDENT 14: Which bag keeps your apples fresher?
Wait, haven’t I seen this before? No, I don’t have his sheet yet. God, this day is dragging. I’m losing track of where I am. Let’s get this kid over with.
“What was your hypothesis?”
The boy shrugs.
“How did you come up with your methods?”
The boy mumbles.
“Which bag won out?”
The boy slightly lifts his arm, mumbling again.
Where the hell is that coffee station?
STUDENT 15: Using food to charge your phone.
That’s it. I’m leaving. No, you can't. You have to finish. It's this or volunteering at the nature preserve, and they don't have air conditioning.
STUDENT 16: Real-time monitoring of lead contamination in the East Stanley Watershed.
There is no way a 10-year-old came up with that idea.
“Where did you get the monitoring equipment?”
“My dad. He works at AquaCore.”
Yep, there it is. Your daddy is an environmental engineer. He handed you the project. I’m not giving you credit. Entitled brat.
“Hey watch it,” yells a girl.
Did caterpillar kid just knock over that girl's project? These kids are so rude.
Everyone ignores the girl as she frantically looks over an electrical box. For Christ’s sake, is no one going to help her. No one? Fine, I’ll do it.
“Do you need help?”
“He broke my machine,” cries the girl.
“What’s this thing, anyway?”
“I’m studying productivity. I made a machine to loop time.”
“Sure, kid. Let's see if we can fix your toy.”
“It's not a toy,” yells the girl.
Whatever, let me see if I can fix it so you stop crying. Snap
The 74th Inaugural Stone County Science Fair. Only five more hours.
What we liked:
We had a lot of county/country fair entries this month, but instead of cakes or giant pumpkins, this one gives us science projects – the nemesis of many a student (and teacher) throughout time. This story nicely sets up a scornful inner monologue against a lineup of kids, allowing the narrative to unfold with each exhibit and its young owner, and the merciless commentary of the judge. In fact, the structure benefits the skit-like nature of the storytelling but also cements the teacher’s confirmation bias that all youngsters are useless (even undeserving of a name) as they observe each student’s antics one by one. It works to create a cynical and somewhat unlikeable hero, so that the final scientific achievement serves a particularly satisfying result…
FIGHT ‘TIL THE END by Danielle Barker, NSW
Death stands in the open doorway, neither in the room nor out. Charlie doesn’t blame it, his hospital room isn’t particularly inviting – bland pastel colours, the persistent smell of disinfectant and the incessant irritating beep of the machines. Charlie didn’t know Death could be indecisive but takes its hesitancy to enter his room as a good sign.
“Aren’t you coming in?” Charlie asks.
“Not just yet, kid.” Death replies. Death has no face, no clues to its feelings yet, something is amiss. Charlie can’t put his finger on it, but Death certainly seems to lack its usual swagger.
Of course, this isn’t Charlie’s first fling with Death. Twice before they’ve played this game. Whilst Charlie had been the clear winner in their previous contests, he knows that the problem with Death is – it always wins in the end. But, as with his earlier victories, Charlie doesn’t feel it yet. Despite his grey, sallow skin; despite his fuzz-covered hairless frame; despite an ache so ingrained in every fibre of his body and a feeling of nausea so comfortable he’s forgotten what normal feels like, he doesn’t feel it; this isn’t his time.
Charlie presses the heels of his emaciated hands to his sunken eyes, conjuring the usual image he brings to mind at times like these when he doesn’t have the physical energy to fight. He sees his family, bowed heads, everything black save for a singular vibrantly coloured flower they are tossing into an even blacker hole in the ground. Their colour swallowed by the darkness. He will not let his cancer swallow them all.
“If you’re not coming in, leave.” Charlie says to his opponent.
“Not that simple, kid.”
“Seems simple to me,” Charlie says, “we’ve been here before. We both know how it ends.” Charlie gulps quickly regretting the finality of that last word. Then he realises what is wrong. “Anyway, haven’t you forgotten something?” Charlie asks staring at Death’s empty hands. Death freezes and the world seems to stand totally still for a moment. “Can’t cut me down without it can you?” Charlie smiles, hoping he is right.
“First time for everything, kid.” Death tries to be nonchalant, but Charlie senses the essence of panic and knows Death is powerless, without his scythe Death cannot fulfil his purpose. Charlie isn’t sure if this lapse in uniform is by chance or on purpose, but a win is a win, especially in matters of life or death. Death recognises his loss and turns to leave, “Kid, you have been a worthy adversary,” he concedes from over his cloaked shoulder, “but I’ll be back, as you well know, and next time the win will be mine.”
Charlie doesn’t doubt it but, feeling a warmth rise through him and his heart beating strong and steady in his withered chest, pushing the blood through his shrivelled veins, he knows that it will be a long time before he sees Death again.
What we liked:
Unlike many of the contests we encountered this month, Charlie’s is truly life-and-death, and a great opening pulls us into what is ultimately a heartwarming story of recovery. The personification of death is restrained, nonchalant almost, and aptly described from a child’s point of view. There are touches of humour and intrigue but the story chooses to steer away from farce and instead focuses on Charlie’s single yet painful battle with an unfair illness – as descriptions of dark, grim and weak circumstances flow throughout the piece to crystallise as warm, hopeful and strong. Death standing confused in the doorway conjures up “John Travolta meme” vibes – a strangely serene yet powerful metaphor as it teeters on the threshold.
UNTITLED by Nancy Stevenson, UK
When Bert died suddenly in a freak gardening accident, Dorothy was inconsolable. Their large secluded garden had been a shared passion, common ground for two very different people. It was their place to be together, to make plans and nurture seedlings. In the garden they would play, fling snails over the hedge giggling conspiratorially and then sit chatting and drinking tea. The garden was not the same without Bert and that summer she put down her spade and retired back into the house.
She needed to be busy and started to knit. Baby booties, bonnets and cardigans, in pale pastels and soft wools. All were donated to the local hospital. The nurses were thankful, but supply exceeded demand and as the pile of knitted goods accumulated the matron asked her to stop. Dorothy diversified into cardigans, scarves and hats, and soon the whole village was kitted out.
As her knitting gained momentum, she moved onto competitions and trialled her own designs. Time to experiment, challenge knitting traditions and to explore the potential of wool as an artform. Her nativity scene won first place in the Wivenhoe Womens' Institute knitting competition. Her beach scene, complete with beach huts, small figures playing on the sand and a frothing stormy sea secured a win at the regional finals. And now here she was at the Nationals.
They provided a table for her display. She asked if she could have a chair and after some discussion it was agreed that a chair was within the rules. As Dorothy finalised her display, she realised that she had forgotten the knitted snails which were still in a bag in the boot of the car. She hurried out to retrieve them.
When she returned, the hall was buzzing with excited chatter. Crowds milled around and the press photographer ordered people out of the way. Giggles and smirks …
“Well look at that!”
“Well, there’s a thing!”
Mrs Hebblethwaite, the head judge looked flustered and perplexed. She ushered Dorothy over to an ante-room.
“We need to talk about your work.”
“Yes it is my Bert. Large as life”.
“Your Bert does not appear to be wearing clothes.”
“No, he’d never wear clothes in the garden…”
“He has a penis!”
“Yes, he had a penis…about that size and shape.”
Silence… exchanged glances…. and then a response.
“We, at the Women’s Institute, cannot allow you to display a knitted penis. It is pornographic! We would like you to take him away immediately!”
As Dorothy crossed the hall everyone looked in her direction, someone shouted “Well-done! Can you knit me one?” Then applause.
Dorothy smiled as she approached Bert, who was sitting with a tea-towel draped across his lap. “Come on love” she whispered as she gently lifted him, balanced him over one shoulder and carried him back out to the car.
What we liked:
This quirky yarn (see what we did there?) first sets the reader up for a cosy story about doting Dorothy distracting herself with a new knitting habit – a new beginning after such a big loss. And as the best (flash) fiction does, it then uses the element of surprise to complete the… ahem, package. We appreciated the misdirect, along with the hints in the lead up to the conservative nature of the competition, and to the big reveal – perfectly portraying Dorothy’s commitment to capturing a lifelike garden scene, and perhaps a new business venture. (Although it did elicit a few knitted brows when thinking back on what could have been the original “freak gardening accident”!)
RACE DAY by Tanya Edlington, VIC
“Yeah! I’m ready. It’s what I’ve been training for.”
“Yeah, well, so I have I!”
“Yeah? Well as long as one of us makes it! Anyway, I’m Barry.”
“Yeah. Bruce. G’day.”
“I’ve heard that sometimes there are barriers and no one gets through.”
“Is that true?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that too.”
“I’m Shane, by the way. It can be brutal. Got a strategy?”
“Press as far forward in the pack. Arrive first and fling myself onto the egg. I mean, what other strategy could there be?”
“What about if there’s chemical warfare? Sounds brutal!”
“I’ve heard whispers about that, but how would anyone know? No one ever comes back.”
“Well what do you think really happens?”
“Oy, you lot! Listen up!” It’s Barry. “We could get the call to fulfil our duty any minute now. No point speculating and spreading rumours, right? We’ve got one job – get to the egg. Only one of us has to make it. The rest, well it’s a bit like the peloton in cycling. We’re all contributing to the team effort. One of us gets there and that’s success for all of us! Got it?!”
An alarm sounds.
“Looks like we’re on!”
“GOT IT! Good luck fellas. Get ready.”
“Could be a while yet. We’ve had a few false starts lately…”
The alarm accelerates.
Millions of competitors jostle for a spot. Rumours have been circulating. Some say if you’re not at the front when the gate opens you’ve got no hope. Others say it’s better to be towards the back because those at the front will be swept out of the way. With so many in the race, it’s hard to be strategic.
There’s an announcement: “Ready Batch 49735A. Departure in T minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”
The gate opens with a whoosh. The race is on. There are whoops as the big loop of the slide is cleared and they are expelled into a cavity and pulled upwards.
“Watch out…coming through.”
“You right mate?”
“Hit my head. Ow.”
In the chaos of millions of competitors striving, Brett is disoriented as others swim past, over the top, push him out of the way.
“Brett! Get up mate! You’ve gotta keep going! Brett!”
He’s confused. He just wants everything to stop.
Heads shake. “Sorry mate. Can’t stop!”
“Get up or go home!”
Brett is lost. He can’t remember his name or what he’s supposed to be doing.
He decides to turn back.
“Wrong way mate!”
“Out of the way!”
He curls into a ball and waits for a lull.
He starts to cry, says to no one, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s happening.”
Suddenly he’s caught on a tide going in the opposite direction.
He hears a victorious roar from the crowd above as he hits the ground below.
He hears his dying thought: “We made it! Isn’t that something?”
What we liked:
Remember what we said about life-and-death contests? When an author is clearly enjoying themselves, it doesn’t take much for the judges to also get swept up in the ride… and in this case it really is a race for dear life. We enjoyed the fever pitch atmosphere waiting for the siren, the speculation and conflicting strategies from the participants, the tone humorously mimicking a group of eager sportsmen. The story utilises unattributed dialogue to its full advantage to conjure a sense of the chaos and an excitable, nameless crowd, along with some great one liners (’We’ve had a few false starts lately…’). A great lesson that no matter where you finish (poor Brett), there still can be a happy ending…
WHAT SHE DOES ON SUNDAYS by Kath Scott, QLD
Marlene pokes the nose of the old, maroon Magna into the underground car park. She takes a ticket from the machine and pushes her greasy sunglasses onto her head. She’s ready.
Sunday mornings at Sunnyside Shopping Centre are her favourite. There are always a bunch of pretentious losers looking for a car park and hardly any free spaces. She looks around, making note of her competition. One silver Range Rover. One yellow Jeep. A black four-wheel-drive BMW. The BMW glides past and Marlene eases the clutch out and follows it.
She lights a cigarette, flinging the match out the window. Trevor has refused to come with her again. She has a sickness, he says and he won’t be a part of it. She glances at the empty passenger seat and her purse laying on it. The sight comforts her. ‘I like you better than Trevor, anyway,’ she thinks. She pictures her husband at home in his ugly slippers and half-open dressing gown and her lips curl.
Fifteen minutes pass and not a single car has left the car park. Marlene scratches her neck. Her wrinkled hands grip the torn steering wheel. Petrol fumes sting her eyeballs. The concrete maze feels hot and claustrophobic and her heartbeat thumps in her temples.
But then a man with a shopping bag enters the car park.
Marlene turns off the radio. She narrows her eyes and lights another cigarette.
Where are you off to?
She watches the man head towards a white Audi. She presses gently on the accelerator and follows him toward his car, the bald tyres of the Magna rolling softly over the ground. Suddenly, she comes nose to nose with the BMW. It has appeared as if from nowhere, its indicator lights flashing. Marlene has forgotten to indicate but she doesn't care. She stretches her neck out of her window. ‘That’s my park, you sneaky bitch!’
The red tail lights of the Audi glow and the BMW revs its engine. Marlene inches forward in the purring Magna. The Audi reverses and then speeds off leaving the empty space behind. Marlene yanks the steering wheel and pushes her right foot hard into the floor. The tyres squeal on the smooth concrete. The BMW roars in the same direction, its grill knitted in fury.
Marlene keeps her gaze straight ahead as the front quarter panel of the Magna rams into the concrete column beside the park. The BMW jerks to a stop. Marlene pumps her right foot up and down, willing the Magna on. The car crawls forward millimetre by millimetre ripping its paint against the pillar, smoke billowing from beneath its rear tyres. It finally makes the turn, lurching to rest neatly in the yellow lines.
Marlene throws her head back laughing and slams her fist on the dash in triumph.
And Trevor thinks I’m sick. It’s just a little bit of sport.
What we liked:
Ah yes, the hunting grounds of the carpark – a battle so territorial that you can almost hear the breathless commentary from David Attenborough as he narrates every movement. This story successfully taps into these relatable “contests” that take place on line-painted tarmacs around the globe every day. We are introduced to Marlene and her maroon Magna, a lone wolf prowling the searing plains of Sunnyside, not for food but for sport. With some deft descriptions (greasy sunglasses, wrinkled hands, neck scratching) we know enough to not be surprised as she tosses spent matches and curses with ease. Vehicles become wildlife (a grill knitted in fury) and the kill is complete. How sick and twisted is Marlene? Well, that’s left as half-open as Trevor’s dressing gown. Clever use of the criteria. Sublime suburban storytelling.
KERRY by Simon Shergold, UK
There was no escaping the monotonous thump of the footsteps. Stride after stride, lap after lap, the metronome played in Kerry’s head, blotting out everything. The crowd, the lactic acid coursing through her legs and the pressure in her mind, demanding perfection and victory. The breath of her rivals kept a different beat – ragged, desperate, discordant. Kerry contained her gasps, silent like an animal on the hunt, and mentally erased those who couldn’t live with the pace. Eyes fixed on the next yard of copper hued rubber, over and over again.
Kerry’s other great talent was an ability to take herself away from the pain of running, ironically back to more pain that she used as fuel. She could churn out 70 second laps without a timer, whilst in her head reflecting on all the people she was proving wrong. The children at school who teased her, mocking her difficulty with numbers and letters. The teachers who rolled their eyes and lacked patience. Her family; silent, cold and distant. No encouragement about anything, least of all running. Too entrenched in their own sadness and anger to take notice of Kerry’s talent. She played these memories on a loop, a movie to the thumping soundtrack that distracted her from the burning in her lungs.
It would soon be time to ‘press the gas’, a phrase she invented in high school. No matter how far in front, how easy the victory, Kerry always expended everything she had on the last lap, flinging herself across the line to beat the demons on her shoulder, both real and imagined. People told her to take it easy, conserve energy, run smart. Kerry knew that wasn’t the point. Every race was a way to get rid of the bile inside her. That could only come from total exhaustion, expelling every part of herself across every part of the track. Over and over again.
As she crossed the line once more, she glanced left to the spot her coach stood. Looking for the nod he always gave her, the tacit permission to kick. She knew the spot would be empty but she looked anyway – a man-shaped void left by the cancer that ate away at him in front of her eyes. She snapped back to the yard in front and kicked, the thump of the soundtrack ebbing away in her slipstream.
Lately, she’d allowed the crowd into this final lap. Their screams rolling down from the stands, a landslide of acceptance and safety. Kerry kicked again, her legs arcing to the bend of the track, moving so fast that her eyes were now fixed 5 yards in front. The line approached, was beneath her, then gone and she hurled herself to the ground. Heart pounding in her ears, she looked at the sky then closed her eyes. And heard the gentle clanging of the bell.
What we liked:
And so we come to the final event of our story showcase – and it’s an athletic one. Performing as both an intricate character portrait and a fast-paced scene, this story elegantly captures the fire within a competitor and the cathartic quality of exercise. As she circles the track again and again, we get glimpses into Kerry’s past – piercing into the story and illuminating her purpose, while also holding back on unnecessary exposition. The sensory language and descriptions capture the action effectively, immersing you smack-bang in the middle of the scene and particularly complementing the simple and powerful premise. And in a month where we asked your characters to forget something, the final reveal is both a ‘gentle clanging’ reminder of her miscalculation, and the perfect way to (b)ring this month’s selection to a close.
Congrats to the following stories who “made the final” this month – you may not have taken home a medal, but it shows that all your training is definitely paying off.
THIS MONTH’S LONGLISTED (in no particular order):
- EAT YOUR HEART OUT, HOLLYWOOD by Christina Collins, United Kingdom
- THE BEAUTY PAGEANT by Julie Abelsohn, Canada
- HER DAD HAD TAUGHT HER. by Courtney Louise, WA
- UNTITLED by Ylva Ve, Sweden
- THE BIG REVEAL by Bob Thompson, United Kingdom
- BATTLE by Nathan Taylor, QLD
- THE WORLD WIDE WEB by Daniel McCoy, NSW
- THE CRACK by Lisa Allan, New Zealand
- WHOSE PARTY IS THIS? by Anna Bhantana, New Zealand
- THE MESH CONGRESS by Garth Jones, QLD
- OLD-FOLKS GAME by Frances Turner, New Zealand
- THE CAUTIONARY TALE by Berenice Allen, QLD
- ROLL UP by Rachel Shaw, VIC
- MUSICAL AMNESIA by Janelle McIntosh-Wheeler, NSW
- UNTITLED. by Emily Scott, SA
- TUG OF WAR by Sue Brown, NSW
- PETUNIA MADNESS by Cate Dunn, NSW
- THEY'LL MAKE A SHOW ABOUT ANYTHING by Matthew Dewar, WA
- FORESIGHT by Dennis Callegari, VIC
- TRUE COLOURS by David Astika, Canada
- ROSE by Jane Curnow, NT
- ENCRYPTED by W Warnford, QLD
- DUMB LUCK by Jaric Sarmiento, United States
- THREE'S COMPANY by Jo Withers, SA
- HOPELESSLY DE-VOTED by Edward Bicioc, NSW
- UNTITLED by B. T. Van Cooten, QLD
- 10 TIMES I WON AND 1 TIME I DIDN’T by Gail Bird, NSW
- HAPPY ANNIVERSARY by Victoria Veldhuizen, VIC
- OF LOCHS AND MONSTERS by Susan Manwaring, WA
- SERIAL KILLERS GET THE BEST CHICKS by Sadrian Brown, VIC
- RETURN TO SENDER by Andrew Harrison, NSW
- FIRST TO BLINK by Madeleine Pelletier, Canada
- A TRIUMPH FOR TWO by Quemej Merales, Philippines
- IN THE SLIPSTREAM by Joyce Carter, NSW
- PRIME CUTS by T.D Thomas, WA
- THE TASTE OF BLOOD by Sukanya Singh, India
- FOOLS by Cathryn Lewin, QLD
- FREEDOM by _Tintedtales, India
- BATH TIME by Shahana Ramanathan, NSW
- HOW EASILY WE FORGET by Cyra Wilde, Malaysia
- BUTTERFLY by Kate Goodheart, United States
- BURNT by Chloe Stephens, VIC
- LITTLE SELF by Christy Bastin, VIC
- LEST WE FORGET by Olivia Farag, NSW
- RAT RACE by Neve Worthy, WA
- R-E-S-E-N-T-M-E-N-T by Diende, Philippines
- NOT SO LUCKY by M Blight, SA
- UNTITLED by Tim Meisinger, VIC