This is my September entry for the Australian Writers’ Centre's Furious Fiction contest. Posting on my blog again so it can live forever. I've always found it hard to get my head around the idea of contests and awards for creative pursuits. So although it would be a lie to say I don't want to win (because who doesn't like to win things?), the honest goal is only ever to write something that I like. And I like this.
For the contest there is a three day window in which to write a 500 word story, in addition to which the following rules must be observed:
- Your story must include EITHER an attic OR a basement.
- Your story must include some kind of insect.
- Your story must include the words EARTH, WIND, FIRE and WATER.
This used to be a nice street, you know? Mowed lawns, picket fences, the whole nine yards. We used to joke it was like that neighbourhood in Edward Scissorhands - so close to perfect it was almost a parody.
But then Jesse moved in. He devastated that street like a gale force wind. Where once there was tranquillity, there was now chaos. In one afternoon my quiet existence was shattered, like the garden gnome his moving truck broke. He was the Godzilla to my peaceful Tokyo.
Over the next six months his terrible music at 3am, daily drum practice and the conversion of his front lawn into what I can only assume is a Thunderdome, shredded my every last nerve. I tried talking to him, hell, the whole neighbourhood did. He just smirked and claimed he had the right to do what he liked. But I’ve always prided myself on doing the right thing, leading by example. So in the spirit of rising above it, of being neighbourly, I decided to bake Jesse a cake.
I closed the door behind me and descended the creaking, wooden staircase to the lower reaches of my house. The bakery itself was pretty nondescript. What do you want me to say? It’s got four walls and a concrete floor. I installed the benches myself though, and the wall mounted terrariums. The hive’s myriad tunnels scratched through the earth like a central nervous system. As beautiful as a painting. The climate control system kept everything watered and the temperature regulated. See, when you’re baking a cake it’s important to use premium ingredients. And I wanted my ingredients to be large and agitated and swarming when I released them into Jesse’s house.
The roaches were first. They bred quickly and in stunning numbers. I am a good baker. I rigged a delivery pipe to connect my basement to his. It was actually quite simple. For one blissful week, the music stopped, the noise abated and my street returned to solitude while the house was fumigated. But as soon as Jesse returned, so too did the clamour of his existence. So the Fire Ants were next, and then the wasps.
But Jesse kept returning. He has so far, I suppose, been the most unkillable pest of all.