April Flash Fiction challenge – Writers Victoria

Every April Fool’s Day just before 8 a.m., there’s a bunch of us in and out of the Twitterverse waiting for that keyword from Writers Victoria – the one that kicks off the #WVFlashFic21 30-word challenge. The #WVFlashFic challenge runs all month and comprises of 30-words over 30 days, with a new one released at 8 a.m. each day. You have until midnight of that day to then email your entry in, or join the lively #WVFlashFic Twitter community and post on your feed. This year’s theme was ‘Unfold’. A winner is chosen from each day’s hundreds of entries, and from the 30 winners an overall competition winner is selected as well. Daily winners receive a postcard with writerly words of wisdom and the overall winner wins a Writers Victoria writing course.
The competition attracts entrants from all over the world and is now in its third year. I’ve only participated in the last two years and have enjoyed both times immensely. Personally, I’ve made some great writing mates plus I’ve loved reading other competitors’ words. There’s great comradery, encouragement and support – beginner or experienced writer. There are many writers I was unaware of that are now on my watch list to see what they’ll be writing next.
I’ve also won a daily competition each of the last two years, and this year I had a special mention as well. A real honour as there are such wonderful entries every day. I’m constantly in awe of the different tapestries writers weave when all given the same single word.
Last year’s winning entries can be found here, and this year’s winning entries are here. My list of entries from from last year’s competition are here, and this year’s are below. There are some days where I’ve written a few entries – it was a great procrastination! I also started a serial post – quite by accident – so you’ll see a small saga of about six entries with the characters Johnny and Mavis towards the end.
I’m absolutely hooked on this competition and can’t wait – already – until it starts next April. Thanks again to Writers Victoria and the vibrant community that participate in this month-long event.

The stories

Jack folds, mindful not to crease. Their wedding day is stitched in the shirt’s seams. Tears spill, anger returns. Jack hides the shirt, and the murder weapon. Happy anniversary, Lover.
Stepping up to the crease, the taunts begin:
“Girls can’t play.”
“Go home.”
Her resolve, firm.
The bowler, focused.
Smash! It’s a six!
The crowd cheer, forgetting.
But she remembers.
Memories surround me, bloom like fiery suns. Bright, brilliant, mesmerising. But they’re illusions; you are gone. My axis shifts. Grief develops falling stars; and scorching needles pierce my broken heart.
Isha blusters in, a storm on legs, and starts to rain.
I wipe wet six-year-old eyes.
‘It’s segmentation,’ she says.
My heart fills, and frosts.
‘Segregation,” I say, cold, numb.
We’re in groups by colour, black, yellow, white, brown. We huddle, uncertain.
Why do you divide us? I ask.
The alien blinks one eye and licks fat lips. ‘Taste different.’
It sprouted when we met and we nourished it with love. Then fed it bitterness and hate. Gnarled and twisted, it grew, like us. But when we part, it blossoms.
I had all of these wonderful feelings explode in my chest, bloom, blossom, then dissipate and be replaced by anguish as I tried to summon a decent thirty words.
‘I’ve done lots with these hands,’ you say, holding mine. ‘Walked with you. Carried you.’ Her smile illuminates the world.
I can’t respond. Floating on the memory, I fade away.
Illuminated by candlelight, I recite the spell. I’m summoning true love, together, forever.
Flashes of blood-red, sparks of midnight-black. Smoke swirls and the smell—
‘Wrong page,’ says the demon.
Barbwire memories, sharp and piercing. You’ve chosen a younger model, left me crumpled, discarded.
Your catchphrase: ‘Use the pain!’
The pin slides effortlessly into your effigy. I feel better.
You-shaped tuxedos, beards with your trim. Anxious bodies fill the pews. Your best man looks away. My bouquet slips and I crumple, a tangle of ivory silk, abandoned and forlorn.
After reading all the printed rubbish during the Melbourne lockdown last year – most of it opinion rather than fact-based news – there’s no way I’m going to renew my newspaper subscription.
-RENEW- flashed luminescent on my wrist-com all week.
This new policy – pay to breath the air? No way.
When -DECOMMISSION COMMENCING- appeared, I realised my protest had been ineffective.
Our coffee machine dies just after we renew the subscription for more coffee. Our new model is podless. Free pods anyone?
#truestory 🤪
Today’s #WVFlashFic21 Inspired a 200-word story. Back to the drawing board. Now I need to be open to a new idea @Writers_Vic 😁
The box is metallic, intricately etched. A beauty! Excited, I lift the lid. It’s empty. There’s an inscription—
Your repeated warning echoes: ‘Read the instructions first, John.’
The portal opens.
I’m free, at last. I say goodbye, call you an arsehole.
Your eyes pop open. ‘Ah-ha!’
My heart stops. Thought I’d escape, now I’ll join you.
Mean old bastard.
Melancholy jazz thrummed softly in the breeze, your eyes, pools of liquid light, captured suns rising and setting, daiquiris, precious moments—
‘Dinner,’ you yell.
The illusion pops.
‘Yes, dear. Coming.’
I’m writing more of these #WVFlashFic21 30-word stories than I should be. But all these ideas pop into my head and they just have to go somewhere, right @Writers_Vic ?
The grown-up suit’s too tight, shucking it off, I try on other outfits:
Post-teen – sassy.
Pre-pubescent – studious.
Toddler – toddling
What about a dip in dementia?
Elaborate plans to avoid life.
“The bruises aren’t ‘probe marks’. And, pod-people? Enough elaborate excuses! You’ve been at the pub! Skiving o—” Beryl is beamed aboard mid-sermon.
“See?” says John, heading to the pub.
I wake disorientated and blind, claustrophobic. I need to get OUT! Bandages swathe me. Why? The sunlight answers immediately. Mummies are meant to stay indoors. I unravel and become dust.
Black and magenta blooms, tender to touch. Our love costs too much. I say no, but—
Life blurs: screams, sirens…
Red blossoms on white linen.
Sanctuary has arrived. I unravel.
“Watch, While I manifest a white rabbit…”
The assistant whispers, ‘pull… you say ‘pull’.”
He discards the hat and waves the wand.
An assistant-sized white rabbit blinks.
“Manifest,” he says.
“I’ve finished!” John says, proffering the manifesto. “It’s called: Master your own Destiny.”
“That’s lovely, dear,” says his mum, folding his washing. “Have you time now to clean your room?”
I traverse the forest, lost, alone,
silently despairing.
And in the clearing, a frightening sight,
Monsterish and it’s … staring.
I run, although not fast enough—
Then it’s gnawing, scrunching … tearing.
When Joe lost consciousness, we thought he was dead. Another overdose. But he survived, came out somehow brighter. But our hearts are wrenched regardless, and from us it took away.
‘Don’t hog the popcorn, Gav,’ said Jim.
No answer.
Suddenly, a clump of blood-soaked popped kernels burst through Gav’s chest. ‘Don’t eat that!’ it said, and ate Jim’s hand.
Locked up, screws tellin’ me when to eat, almost when to piss. Mum’s words: ‘When you gonna learn?’ keep me cold company.
Lotsa roads, Mum. I pick up my book.
The invitro clinic offered an experimental enhancement. We selected, empathy. But mistakes were made:
1. They’d used alien DNA;
2. a typo: ‘telepathy’.
Johnny explores our minds. We are slaves.
Mavis’s parents pressured for a gender reveal party, but Johnny said no. They’d agreed gender didn’t matter, but with Johnny’s alien DNA, there were probably other things to worry about.
I slice your skin, reveal tender, juicy flesh.
The aroma! Pungent, metallic.
I bite.
A rush of pleasure and heat!
An acquired taste, I know…

Durian, I adore you!
Even though you called the style an ‘origami lotus’ because of the ‘symmetrical line’ and ‘simple beauty’, when you finished my ‘transformation’, the haircut was only a bob with bangs.
Olivia consulted the origami fortune teller: Was Brad cheating? Flap 8 said yes, flap 9 said you can count on friends. Reading it out, Sandy flinched. She had her answer.
When Johnny’s alien family made contact, they demanded he initiate a hostile Earth takeover. But Johnny , a Fine Arts major not a warlord, said he’d prefer to practice origami.
While Johnny’s meditation class attempted to expand consciousness, Johnny reached into their minds and reshaped their ideas of enlightenment. After all, the new intergalactic regime would need willing soldiers.
‘I don’t quite get it…’
‘Can you expand on that?’
‘Would you like my opinion?’
‘Are you listening?’
‘Did I ask you?
#Mansplaining. Questions you never need to ask.
I stretch, expand, test the temperature. Chilly autumn slaps me awake, and I remember that you’ve gone. I withdraw to my cocoon. Tomorrow. I’ll face the day tomorrow.
I called our online relationship dysfunctional. YOU called it fine. I said, how? We can’t meet, start a family. YOU said virtual: E-merge electronically, order online.
I said, no.
When the purple spots emerged on Johnny’s skin, Mavis was concerned. Not about illness, but if the spots were permanent. Each day Johnny’s alien DNA was getting harder to ignore.
Your fingers unfurl and reveal an iridescent silver spiral. Our daughter would have called it treasure. But… Salt-tinged tears sting, wind rushes empty spaces. You return the shell to sea.
When Johnny’s purple spots turned into splotches, he slept downstairs. Mavis, suspicious, spied on him in the shower. There were tentacles on his back! Horrified, she watched them unfurl.
Mavis woke to a moonlight-filled room, the roller door closing shut and a letter from Johnny. He’d gone home. Mavis looked at the stars wondering where home really was.
‘Take a letter, Maria…’
Did he think I was a ’50s secretary?
‘Heard of voice-to-text?’ I asked.
Now he writes his own letters to his wife
about a new life.
‘Where to now?’ Mavis asks.
The tentacles writhe and wriggle. Johnny’s fully purple now. ‘Home?’
We look skywards. Mavis unwraps X435R2D2 in the pram.
Oh no. More purple spots.
You unwrapped me with joy, delight,
calling me a special, gleaming treasure!
But like all special things
Novelty fades.
Now I’m used and abandoned,
and in the op shop window.
A shower screen collapse, a slip on the bathroom floor. Aimed for the towel, pulled the curtains down instead. In a road-facing bathroom, the peak-hour pedestrians viewed quite a display.
Mavis agreed to leave – with Johnny’s telepathic persuasion. Waiting in the desert, she’d come to. The outback sky displayed a myriad of falling stars. Mavis hoped they are exploding spaceships.
Mavis escaped Johnny’s mind control and sat at the cafe in disbelief, staring at her hands. He’d said sorry, he hadn’t known it was contagious. Purple spots. She felt betrayed.
He thought he was betraying confidence, telling everyone of her past. But he didn’t realise that this secret shame was her greatest strength. He’d given her a wonderful gift. Freedom.
You don’t wake up and you’re a writer:
It’s up late, up early.
Submit, submit…
then reject, reject, REJECT!
Down, up.
Rinse, repeat.
Eventually, acceptance.
Submit, reject, become.
Small purple buds sprouted amidst the splotches on Mavis’s back. X435R2D2 cried in the crib. Johnny waited outside. She opened the door. What would they become? Would love be enough?
Mavis discovered she loved Johnny after all. The purple wasn’t so bad, was it?
‘Wait for us!’ she sent her thoughts.
With the spots had come telepathy. It was awesome.
Bella discovered an extra hour in her day. Why? Had the Earth stopped spinning? A temporal abnormality? Daylight savings? Wondering, she used it up and it wasn’t extra anymore.
Space and time unfold. The wormhole ends in a burst of stardust. Three moons circle an orange planet, X435R2D2 smiles in awe.
‘Home,’ Johnny says.
Mavis finally feels it too.
I open the laptop. 404 not found! Argghh! Clrl-Alt-Delete? Fail! A writers’ retreat with no laptop? A pen-and-paper weekend? Restart. RESTART! It starts. Knots of tension unfold and I begin.

The End