It’s been a weird year for travel. And so in this month’s Furious Fiction, we thought we’d do our bit for the fiction accommodation industry (you’re welcome) by asking everyone to set their 500-words-or-fewer stories in a hotel. Naturally, that wasn’t the only slice of the criteria cake. Here were this month’s mandatories:
- Each story had to take place at a HOTEL.
- Each story had to include a PHOTOGRAPH.
- And finally, each story had to include the following ‘blue’ inspired words: COLLAR, GLOOMY, POLICE, RHYTHM, SAPPHIRE.
And with that, the revolving door sprang into life as more than 1100 writers from around the globe checked in, emotional baggage in tow. We saw gloomy hotels and roomy hotels; grand staircases and bland suitcases; rainy nights and sapphire-blue skied days. Detectives chased leads (“have you seen this girl?”) and cardboard collars (“do not disturb”) were placed on doors. From noir to nonsense, murder to mirth, and martinis to quarantining, our judges saw a lot during their stay. And as well as finding an obscene number of missing sapphires (and missing girls named Sapphire), they also found a winner.
And so it’s congratulations to Romany Rzechowicz for her story, Lover (below). It was a unanimous judge favourite and AU$500 is on its way to you!
Below, you’ll also find a sapphire-studded selection of notable shortlisted stories, along with a longlist of entrants who were on the same rhythm as the narrative-policing judges this month. And, if your name’s not here this month, try not to check into the gloomy heartbreak hotel – be proud of taking part and pledge to collar that prize next month!
NOVEMBER 2020 WINNER
LOVER by Romany Rzechowicz, ACT
The gloomy early morning light slowly overwhelms the flickering no-vacancy light that has been mocking the thin curtains all night. Like police lights warning you to leave. All night. Since you slipped into our bed. Since I first tasted you mere hours ago.
Maybe you should have heeded the warning of the lights, but now I curl against your warmth, press gently against your skin just one more time. The night has been too short – you came in so late. Loosened your tie, unbuttoned your collar, sat on the edge of the bed as if waiting for an invitation. You looked tired, sitting there in the flickering light, walls oozing the scent of old tobacco and the sleeping exhales of hundreds – probably thousands – of previous sets of anonymous lungs.
Now you’re deep in it with me, our own little world in a tangle of tough, brutally-white sheets. And I want just one more time before the morning takes you away. You rustle and murmur in your sleep and, as you settle again, I give into my desire and press against you more firmly, piercing your skin.
What will your wife think when she sees my little love-bites across your skin?
I saw the photograph on your phone’s lock screen. I see your wedding ring. I know that tonight is just tonight and will end soon.
Your rhythm pulses in my mouth as we linger in this moment before the morning intrudes harder. The rising light dusts the hairs on your arms, highlights the little sapphire trails of veins under your skin between the marks from my feasting.
Your wife lights up as the phone alarm breaks our silence. You slap her on the face twice – and I gloat a little – you’re not ready to leave our love nest yet.
After the third interruption, you finally rouse yourself, and head into the brown-tiled bathroom, strong legs swinging from blue shorts. The brightness of the fluoro above the sink is almost as brutal as the white sheets.
I slip unnoticed beneath the mattress as you raise your hand to rub at the morning’s stubble. And just in time – you finally see my ownership on your delicious skin and, like all those before you, reject my love in an instant.
What we loved:
There is a point during the first read of this story (for it naturally demands at least two) when you feel positively voyeuristic as a reader – as if you’re also tangled up in those same brutally-white sheets. Such is the impressive and expressive detail throughout this microscopic deception of a story. From the opening paragraphs the language flows effortlessly as we quickly learn the deepest desires of the narrator. Each of the creative criterion crawl through the narrative comfortably – no cliches or shoehorning in sight. In fact, the misdirect is so expertly handled that the seemingly steamy interlude in this flickering, tobacco-scented seedy hotel maintains its convincing facade until the final line lands with a surprising and satisfying bite. You’re then itching to go back and enjoy the piece once more, this time with a fresh perspective as it rewards with skin-crawling details (‘You slap her on the face twice’, ‘hundreds – probably thousands’, ‘love nest’). The best flash fiction works on multiple levels and this one is a multi-storey story of delight…
FIVE DAYS by Keshuan Chow, VIC
On the first day, she turns down the bed. She switches off the television, fluffs up the pillows, replaces the tiny toiletries lining the sink.
She finds a wallet, replete with license, ID, and two sticks of gum.
The photograph looks like her: the same brown eyes, the same full lips, the same sleek black hair pulled back into a bun. She studies the features closely.
She can’t see hands, but if she had to guess, they wouldn’t be rough and calloused. They’d be soft, smooth, and meticulously manicured. Red nail polish, the colour of blood.
On the second day, she hangs up the clothes that lie wrinkled on the floor. She vacuums every square inch of carpet and scrubs down the bath. She clears the debris scattered across the desk, dusts the ornaments, and straightens the paintings hung on the wall.
She picks up a G-string and tosses it into the basket.
Then on second thought, she stuffs it into the front pocket of her apron.
On the third day, she checks the minibar, taking note of which bottles were drained and which remain. She finds there are only two untouched: Hendricks, and Bombay Sapphire. She crosses gin off her mental checklist; the one she refers to when she’s creating her story.
She finds a dress hung in the closet, with fake tan on the collar. She discovers that when tightly rolled up, it fits in her pocket. She uses the hairbrush that was propped by the sink, while staring in a mirror that is now free of grime. She’s fairly certain she can do her hair in precisely the same way.
On the fourth day, she finishes a half-smoked cigarette discarded in the ashtray. There’s a smudge of red lipstick still on the filter. She licks it, tasting the blunt, chemical flavour on the tip of her tongue.
She turns out the lights, knowing the routine; she will be safe in here for at least one more hour. She sits alone in the gloomy room. She inhales, then exhales; a steady rhythm. Each time she breathes in the embers glow, like a tiny sun in a sea of darkness.
On the fifth day, she crumbles a tablet into a half-finished drink. She climbs into the closet, secreting herself amongst cool silk and satin. She holds her breath and waits, one eye plastered against the slats in the door.
She knows she won’t wait long.
Afterwards, she strips off her outfit, and slips into another. She pulls floppy limbs and a rolling head through her own stiff-starched uniform, then uses an unfamiliar cell phone to call the police.
When they arrive, she’s hunched in the easy chair, smoking a cigarette—a whole one this time.
“Can you tell us what happened, Ma’am?” one of them asks. “Did this woman threaten you?”
She takes a drag of the cigarette, inhales, holds it in while it burns her lungs.
“Yes,” she says, before blowing out the smoke.
What we liked:
The brief format of flash fiction can make framing devices stand out if they’re done well, and here, each day gently reveals another layer of this story. Or more to the point, adds another menacing layer to our maid-on-a-mission’s ultimate plan. Foreshadowing is used to excellent effect as the nameless character’s behaviour becomes grimier, more intimate with the guest’s belongings. Appropriately, the narrative voice is equally cool and methodical, creating an unsettling vibe and luring the reader along to the end where the simple dialogue packs a powerful punch.
AT THE HOLIDAY INN by Jillian Morrison, QLD
The pride of the Holiday Inn hotel chain is that every room is identical regardless of where you are in America. The hotel manager stood in the doorway of the trashed Sapphire suite and thought it was now an exception to this rule. The sound of a toilet flushing came from the bathroom and a girl with a tight blonde perm and smudged blue eye shadow stumbled out; she was obviously a leftover from the night before.
“Ah, Hell. You’re not calling the cops are you?” She clutched a signed photograph to her chest and brushed away the white powder that dusted her top lip. The hotel manager thought he should call the police as this girl wasn’t much older than his teenage daughter.
“Just go. And make better choices in the future,” he said with a stern face.
“Screw you, you’re not my dad.” The girl slung her purse over her shoulder and teetered unsteadily in her leopard print mini skirt and stiletto heels. “It’s 1986, gramps, get used to it.” She nearly tripped on the telephone cord on the floor as she stomped out of the room.
The hotel manager carefully stepped around the broken chairs, ceramic lamp shards, and upturned plates of last night’s steak strewn across the carpet. He jumped as the other half of last night’s dinner fell from the chandelier and landed on his shoulder. He wiped the cold glob of mashed potato from his collar as he scolded himself internally. He had been warned about this band, but this was Pittsburgh, not Hollywood, so how did this happen to his hotel?
He pulled the curtains back and stared at the gloomy autumn sky as he tried to regain his composure. He could forgive a few carpet stains; could understand a broken lamp or two; could even ignore the ‘in-room entertainment’; but why the televisions? He looked down at the pool where five TVs lay dead at the bottom as if pickled in formaldehyde.
He strode to the front desk where the band’s manager was leaning over trying to look down the receptionist’s shirt.
“And the damages come to a total of, well…” The receptionist slid the paper under his nose nervously and closed her blouse tighter against his lewd gaze.
The band manager smiled down at the paper and tapped his American Express platinum card against the counter rhythmically before handing the card over. “I know the boys got a bit carried away this time, but do you know what it feels like to wake up in a different city every morning in an identical room?”
“Well, you can tell me what it feels like to throw a television through a window.” The hotel manager scowled and crossed his arms pointedly.
The band’s manager stroked his chin philosophically, “You know. There are some things a man needs to experience for himself.” He counted out $500 and handed it directly to the hotel manager, “Here, toss a telly. On us.”
What we liked:
Lightening the mood somewhat as it pulls back the curtains on an '80s band’s hotel stay aftermath, this tale of life on the road isn’t afraid to dial the clichés up to 11, complete with groupie, nose candy and not one but FIVE televisions in the swimming pool below. This story might have naughty band members who fling expensive items from hotel windows – but its strength comes from its simple, contained idea. There’s no messing about or wasted pacing. The defined characters all earn their place, well-crafted dialogue painting a clear personality on each one and the narrative pace is driven along nicely with a cheeky undertone. Most importantly, it sticks the landing with a fun ‘stick-it’ to the poor long-suffering manager – who is yet another reminder (that’s three in a row) that hotels are populated with plenty of protagonists who are not paying guests.
UNTITLED by Hayley Young, ACT
The light filters through at odd, gloomy angles in this city. It’s familiar enough now, the perpetual overcast canvas, mirroring my apathy for these work trips. At least they always put me up in palatial accommodation, although this suite boasts a broken tap, dripping an irritating little rhythm. Even in the best hotel rooms, something is always broken. It’s as predictable as the shitty black-and-white photograph they stick on the wall to remind you which particular concrete jungle is paying you overtime in exchange for your soul.
Time to get up, my bladder is about to explode, and that dripping is boring a hole in my head.
That’s right, I can’t.
At the angle I’m trapped at I can see grey light reflecting off concrete, aforementioned shitty photograph, and my wrist. I think I can flick the latter enough to activate my smartwatch. Six hours since I last checked, I must have lost consciousness again.
I think it was an earthquake, but it could have been an attack, we live in turbulent times after all. What I know is that the bed lurched oddly, and by some miracle I wasn’t crushed by the angle at which the ceiling met the floor. I’m no architect, but I understand I am currently balanced in a giant, unstable Jenga tower. I’m not sure if it’s shock, concussion, or my hangover keeping me surprisingly calm.
This hangover, Christ, you’d think my body could prioritise its battles. I can’t feel my legs at all, but it’s this damn headache gnawing at my sanity. On an ordinary morning, I’d say it was worth it. Maria finally took the inevitable trip back to the hotel room with me. We’ve been teasing the boundary between friendship and desire just long enough that the whole evening danced perfectly between relaxed and salacious.
I can’t remember if she left sometime during the night, and can’t turn over to check if she stayed. I don’t want to know anyway. I am Schrodinger, and I don’t want to look in the box. I might close my eyes again, just for a while.
I’ve surrendered the argument with my bladder. I don’t even feel guilt at the undignified relief, I’m hardly the first white-collar man to piss himself in a hotel bed. The police sirens have been constant. Every now and then I think I see their sapphire lights flicker through the swirling eddies of dust, but I know it’s in my head.
I think I’ve figured out the secret to my serenity. I’d like to call it acceptance, but I don’t have the grace for that, so I’ll call it resignation. There was never anything I could do about this, I’m on the eighteenth floor. I can hear concrete grating, and I’m not sure if it’s help arriving, or the building shifting to finally crush me.
Maybe the pain in my head isn’t just down to a hangover, after all.
I might close my eyes again, just for a while.
What we liked:
The first two paragraphs pass seemingly uneventfully here – risky in flash fiction, but with enough well-worded intrigue to warrant further inspection. We are immediately rewarded as the claustrophobic reality – a true concrete jungle – comes sharply into focus. What had seemed like a fly-on-the-wall slice of salesman life is now a floor-on-the-wall disaster aftermath, with our pinned protagonist’s oddly relatable reflections juxtaposed against this disaster backdrop. The matter-of-factness adds to the confronting dark realism at play here – elevating the narrative beyond simple inner dialogue as we too find ourselves trapped and afraid to check if Maria is there. The choice to weave in such small details that hint at this backstory, allow the reader to care – and to feel just as helpless that all hope may be lost. (Serves us right for having ‘gloomy’ as one of the criteria words!)
TO WALK IN DREAMS by Gabriella Page, WA
‘Good evening and welcome to the—wait, Anabelle Cleets?’
The receptionist loosened her collar and slumped back in her chair.
‘Seriously? That’s the best you can do? I mean, you could be flying around on a goddamn winged giraffe right now, and instead you’re booking into a three-star hotel in Northbridge—alone.’ She shook her head in disbelief. ‘This is a lucid dream… you know that, right?’
‘And that means you can do anything you want?’
‘I’m aware of that.’
‘Then… why are you here?’
Anabelle tucked her hands into her pockets and tried not to look offended.
‘Aren’t you supposed to ask for my ID or something?’ she said. Then, noting the sapphire-studded tip jar on the counter, she added, ‘And my credit card?’
‘You want to pay?’
‘Isn’t that what usually happens when you book a room?’
The receptionist studied her a second, lips puckered to one side. ‘Fine. Hand them over. But just so we’re clear, this goes against our usual policy.’
Anabelle gave a curt nod. Only then did she realise her mistake. She didn’t have valid identification on her person, and the last time she saw her credit card it had been sunning itself on her kitchen windowsill. Unless…
‘Here,’ she said, pulling a thick plastic card and a small photograph out of her pocket. Her face flushed hot when she recognised the photo she had willed into existence—it was the one she had slipped into Marty’s wallet ten years before. ‘I hope that will do.’
‘If it’ll do for you, it’ll more than suffice for us. Come on—I’ll show you where you’ll be staying.’
Anabelle followed the receptionist across the lobby and down a hallway speckled with vintage art prints. The steady rhythm of their footsteps was already lulling her to sleep, which was more than that Sounds of the Forest CD had ever done.
‘You’re in Room 16, just down the end of the hall,’ the receptionist chirruped as they walked. ‘It’s a little gloomy, but the fridge is fully stocked and the memory foam pillows aren’t half bad. Anything else you need? Scotch? That guy from Lord of the Rings? Because we could get him for you—’
‘Your loss.’ She unlocked the door and waved Anabelle into the room. ‘It’s all yours—knock yourself out.’
Anabelle collapsed face first onto the bed the moment the door clicked shut. She could barely hear the squeal of the police sirens beyond her window now, and even the traffic in her head seemed to be slowing. For a moment, the world was at peace.
What we liked:
Aaaand we’re back to comedy, with an enjoyable and ethereal twist on the story prompts. This piece stands out for its irreverent one-liners and metaphysical approach. In fact, it’s a great example of taking a standard set of story prompts and warping them to create a clever concept – a hotel nestled away in your subconscious with all the amenities you need to nod off. We never learn how all this “lucid dreaming” works and we’re just fine with that (unnecessary exposition is the enemy of good flash fiction!). Instead, we meet Annabelle, who can seemingly dream up anything she wants in this virtual utopia… but has chosen a good night’s sleep. Wickedly relatable and who doesn’t love a well-delivered “guy from Lord of the Rings” upsell?
UNTITLED by Julie Richards, VIC
NYE 2016, Happiness Inn (pets welcome!)
Each year, they come as a family to the Happiness Inn to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. In pristine white trainers and logoed track pants he strolls poolside, loving the skitter and splash of his children in the water – ‘watch me, Daddy!’ Wife on his arm, she shines like a jewel. The black dog leashed, in a neat trot at a distance. ‘Say cheese!’ he yells to his children and snaps a photo on the latest smartphone. He doesn’t see the Tall Man in the pool, but the Tall Man is in the shot. He edits the Tall Man out.
Dinner. Clink of glasses, waves of laughter. Wife resplendent in sapphire taffeta, wedding-gift pearls about her neck. He moves away, pulls out the phone and lines up a shot, but the Tall Man is in the frame. The Tall Man chatting to his wife, her face glowing in a spreading smile. He feels something twist deep and sharp within his heart.
NYE 2017, Happiness Inn (pets welcome!)
In washed-out track pants and slightly down-at-heel shoes he paces beside the pool, fighting the grind of the world, the drag of recession and hearing the thud of fallen expectation. His children stand like statues beside their suitcases. A car draws up and he hands his children to the woman who shines like a jewel, while the Tall Man swings their suitcases into the boot as he whistles. The black dog leashed, weaves between his legs and snarls. He curses it and pushes it away. He offers his children the photo of them taken in the pool a year ago, but she intercepts it, crumpling it back into his hand.
NYE 2018, Happiness Inn (pets welcome!)
He stands before the pool, world-worn and wearing stubble and stains. Odd shoelaces peer out from under the grimy frayed hem of faded track pants. The black dog has slipped its collar and is off the leash. It charges from behind. He turns, he kneels, holds out the leash but the black dog knocks him down and then hurtles into the trees. His phone skates across the concrete. He retrieves it, gently brushing the dirt from the faces of his children who smile at him from behind its cracked screen.
NYE 2019, Happiness Inn (pets welcome!)
He doesn’t come – and he never will. On a gloomy day that dawned heavy as stone and to the rhythm of rain, a groundsman found him lying face-down amid the debris of a half-eaten life, with a stench of decay that said nobody knew. No note. Just a creased photograph pressed to his chest like he’d tried to stop a wound bleeding.
And the police, like everyone else, said that they never saw the black dog.
What we liked:
This was a tough read, for all the right reasons. Once more we see deft use of a time framing structure, here jumping our narrative across four consecutive (new) years at the Happiness Inn – where “pets are welcome” (a clever detail). It’s a compelling way to chronicle the deterioration of this man, his family and his not-so-best-friend on the leash. Adding extra weight to the piece are the strong verbs and metaphors – inviting you to dig past the story’s surface into its deeper, uncomfortable layers, where the black dog of depression proves ultimately too strong to control. Powerful stuff.
(If you’d like to talk to someone, Life Line offers support 24 hours a day here in Australia. Call 13 11 14.)
LAST SHOUT by Michael Tippett, NSW
I’m halfway through Mum’s eulogy when the heckling starts.
A woman laughs. She’s snorting, scoffing whenever I mention one of Mum’s finer virtues.
There’s forty of us packed tight in the function room of the Cricketers Arms. I say ‘function room’ but it’s more a gloomy space at the back of the hotel, hot as hell and filled with the ghost-stink of a thousand spilt beers. For all its flaws—and for all of Mum’s—she’d been a regular here for years.
I tug at my shirt collar, free the heat trapped beneath. I’m sweating, mumbling, looking at the photo of Mum next to her urn. Despite the heckling, I manage to get through my speech. The crowd mingles. Meg, my wife, kisses me on the cheek. I’m patted on the back by cousins I’d forgotten about.
I grab a beer, slip out into the tiny garden for a breather.
Of course, she’s there.
Sipping her middie and sucking on a cigarette with expert rhythm.
I join her at the bench. “What kind of a person heckles their own funeral?”
“C’mon, mate,” she says in her smoke-stained voice, “it was a bunch of crap and you know it.”
“I was trying to be respectful.”
“Yeah, well, you made me sound like bloody Mother Teresa.” She looks at me, those brilliant sapphire eyes set deep in her careworn face. “No one who knows me will buy that shit.”
I shrug, gulp my beer.
Playful squeals drown out a distant police siren. Children dash about the park behind the hotel, giggling and chasing one another.
Mum smiles. “You were like that once. Full of beans. There was no stopping you.”
“Is that right?” I’m exhausted just watching them.
“You know, I was hoping before I went that you and Meg would pop one out. I was a shit mum, Glen, we all know that. I wanted to make up for it by being a great nan.”
A heat hits my face. The glow from half a beer and a lifetime of resentment. “What makes you think I’d let you anywhere near our kid?”
She winces, nods. “S’pose I deserve that. I made all the mistakes my oldies did. The same bloody ones I hated their guts for. But I learnt a lot in that last year, mate. Rottin’ away in that hospital. Sometimes the scab hurts more than the cut. You gotta let it ache, mate…otherwise it’ll never heal.” She stubs her cigarette, places a hand on mine. “I love you, Glen. I’m sorry it took being dead to say it.”
My eyes burn and I clench my jaw. I’m about to speak when I realise she’s no longer there.
“Hey,” Meg smiles from the doorway. “Will you be joining us?”
I look at her and the tears flow. “Yeah.” I make for the door, stop to kiss her on the cheek, and step inside.
What we liked:
Hotels can of course also mean a pub here in Australia, and this final shortlisted story decided that the Cricketers Arms were plenty long enough to welcome us all to this funeral with a difference. Featuring an apt title and great opening line to engage the reader, this small story delivers just the right amount of authentic splashes of people and place – with a setting so inherently Australian that it pulses throughout like a heartbeat; its strong narrative voice as refreshing as a cold beer in a pub garden. The finely crafted back-and-forth dialogue is also a joy to read – effortless and easy to visualise playing out on screen. And ultimately, mum manages to offer her “I-see-dead-people” son a fitting sense of spiritual closure.
And with that closure, that’s the end of this month’s selection.
If you’re on this list, you’re one of 3% of stories that turned the judges' head this month. (And if you’re not on this list, there were a LOT that got oh-so-close, so don’t despair.) You’re on the right track… roll on the next challenge! (And in the meantime, check out our 40% off sale – on right now.)
THIS MONTH’S LONGLISTED (in no particular order):
- THE EXCURSION by Cherie Mitchell, New Zealand
- THE RECRUITMENT by Eliza Bruggy, ACT
- THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH MR THOMPSON by Lily Joy, QLD
- NO STRANGER TO MURDER by Katie O'Neil, United Kingdom
- UNTITLED by Kate Neale, VIC
- CHECKING OUT. by Justin Bone, VIC
- UNTITLED by Stephen Hickman, VIC
- SOON, I WILL HAVE TO LEAVE by Dreena Collins, Jersey
- SEPTEMBER HOUSE HOTEL by Gael Bell, United Kingdom
- BEULAH HOTEL by Saffy Ossa, SA
- FIRST DAY ON THE JOB by Elisabeth Bridson, VIC
- HOTEL QUARANTINE by Nikki J, VIC
- THE SAPPHIRE HOTEL by Mila Jane, NSW
- JANICES DAY by Pam Hamon, QLD
- THE HEAVEN HOTEL by John Hannan, QLD
- DAISY by S Z Fletcher, VIC
- THE PUB TEST by Pam Makin, SA
- CHEAP TRICK by Gina Dawson, SA
- UNTITLED by Mandy Mercuri, VIC
- UNTITLED by Allan Lloyd, SA
- THE ANNIVERSARY by Carly Mitchell, VIC
- ADRIFT by Catriona Fraser, United Kingdom
- BLUE NOIR by Éloïse Choquette, Canada
- LONELY THERE? by Brian Boon, NSW
- THE SAPPHIRE HOTEL by Jessica Anscombe, NSW
- UNTITLED by James Inglis, VIC
- UNTITLED by Janet Russell, VIC
- DIFFICULT DECISIONS by Jenny Baker, VIC
- UNTITLED by Jessica Southern-Reid, NSW
- CINDERELLA'S HONEYMOON by Amelia Lewis, NSW
- FRAUGHT FLOORS by Yasmine Killeen, ACT
- ROOFTOP MUSINGS by Charlotte Greene, TAS
- UNTITLED by Simon Chan, NSW
- ROMANTIC RENDEZVOUS by Kaitlyn Dunstall, WA
- CRESCENDO by Gabe, NSW
- TIME LAPSE by Prithvi Bhaskar, India
- WORTH THE WAIT by Louise Newton-Keogh, VIC
- CHRISTMAS EVE AT THE PARADISE HOTEL by Dana A. Swanston, VIC
- A VIGNETTE FROM THE SAPPHIRE ROOM by Z.Daian, Bangladesh
- FINDING THE RIGHT ROOM by Tyn Shenton, United Kingdom
- UNTITLED by Stephanie Cantrill, VIC
- TREASURE by Ruth Davies, QLD
- UNTITLED by R.K.D. Jones, NSW
- SEA VIEW by Josephine Queen, USA
- STRANGERS by Duane Fogarty, ACT
- THE MAGIC BLUE OF THE SAPPHIRE HOTEL by Kristin Neubauer, USA
- LEAVING 2020 by Bernard Cohen, NSW
- HOTEL DE MORT by Emma Louise Gill, WA
- PETALS LOST by Bailey Green, VIC
- INTERROGATION by Olivia Farag, NSW
- THE KISS by Bianca Millroy, QLD