Saturday, 7 May 2022

WRITERS VICTORIA - FLASH FICTION APRIL 2022

 As with the last two years, April marked the Writer’s Victoria daily Flash Fiction Challenge. The purpose is to write a 30 word short story, based on the daily prompt and once again it was good fun with the Twitter writing community being as inventive and supportive as ever. This year, I did not manage a story every day. COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works, which was not fun. But I was also working on a longer short story, two pieces of other writing and my day job at the same time, which meant a few days got missed. On the final day, for the first time since I started doing this in 2020, I flat out could not think of an idea! 

All the daily winners can be found at the Writers Victoria website here:

https://writersvictoria.org.au/flash-fiction-2022/

Collected here, are my entries for this year’s contest. Twenty three tales of spiralling doom, unrelenting morbidity and deviant science. Where lycanthrope dentists run amok, where interstellar capitalism ruins lives (just like real capitalism); where Necromancers forget their instructions and Santa is a litigious bastard.  So prepare yourself, traveller. Open your mind to the strange and the weird. Cross the cosmic threshold and feast on the twisted, corrupted wonders inside…


HINT – 1 April 2022

With hindsight, I ignored the hints: no appointments on a full moon, suspicious allergy to silver, killed all those sheep. I just never thought my dentist could be a werewolf.


PYRITE – 2 April 2022

As instructed, I gripped the lumpen nugget of pyrite, focussed on my energy centres and closed my eyes tight. When I opened them, he’d stolen my tent… and my dog.


GLOW – 3 April 2022

Our interstellar visitors stepped from their glowing spacecraft, and were immediately electrocuted in the light evening drizzle. Apparently, beings of pure light and energy do not react well to water.


FORTUNE – 4 April 2022

Earth soil is worth an absolute fortune on Klebmar. Goddamn space millipedes keep digging it up to sell on Space eBay. All I can do is leave ‘em bad feedback.


IDOL – 5 April 2022

The pentagram was drawn, the candles lit and the sacrificial blood spilled across the transdimensional portal. We were awaiting The Traveller, when we realised… Trevor forgot to bring the idol.


INTERMITTENT – 6 April 2022

Space Slug control need not be unpleasant. My advice? Lean into it. Initially, loss of free thought will be intermittent, but soon enough your mind will go ‘full gastropod’


BRIGHT – 7 April 2022

Earth-17 underwent Planetary Relocation because their Sun was (apparently) “too bright.” They were re-orbited around a gas giant, but immediately complained it was “too stinky.” Rich people are never happy.


MOON – 8 April 2022

“Dry your tears Timmy. Remember, when you look up at that moon tomorrow, even though I’m not here I’ll be doing the same thing… right before I blow it up.”


PERCEIVE – 9 April 2022

“Despite my name, bone fide invisibility is patently impossible. I simply ‘persuade’ your brain you can’t see me. And Marketing just felt ‘The Unperceived Man’ wouldn’t test well.”


TWINKLE – 10 April 2022

Your honour, counsel agrees my client’s eyes ‘twinkle’ delightfully. However, his belly does not shake ‘like a bowl full of jelly’ and we will be seeking damages to that effect.


SEQUIN – 11 April 2022

The Fancy Killer, who terrorised the city for months, was finally apprehended when a single sequin from his bedazzled strangling gloves, was found in the gullet of his final victim


SHIMMER – 12 April 2022

The lake shimmered in the afternoon sun. Family picnics buzzed with spring optimism. Birds sang. Children laughed. Until the bloated, toothless corpse of an unidentified state witness breached the surface.


ALTAR – 13 April 2022

Most other cults spend all their money on expensive altars, forgetting you can’t summon a Goat Lord on an empty stomach. That’s why we always budget well for apocalypse catering.


HORIZON – 14 April 2022

We were stationed near that black hole, which we couldn’t see, because no light escapes. It took us two months to realise the event horizon was in the opposite direction.


SUBDUED – 15 April 2022

He thought Bigfoot was subdued, but he never got the full three count. He surprised him with a double suplex, pinned him and Bigfoot was crowned World Sasquatch Wrestling Champion


OASIS – 16 April 2022

Human brains are succulent. Of the billion minds we have subsumed, they are an oasis. My larva thirst. They will find water here. Humanity’s parched consciousness scattered to the void 


DAPPLE – 17 April 2022

As his face became dappled with the fluorescent buboes of the Martian Plague, there was nothing left to do other than admire the terrifying beauty of a toxic universe. 


BLINK – 19 April 2022

On your first day as an interstellar zookeeper you must establish dominance. Stare the creatures down. Blink first and you’re liable to get your throat torn out by Space Gerbils


HOPE – 23 April 2022

They said you can’t put a price on hope. But we wrote an algorithm to simulate hope in robots and it sold quite nicely. The price of hope is $99.95


SPARKLE – 25 April 2022

The Fancy Killer got the chair but crime scenes across the city continued to sparkle. His valet continued his work. Turns out, for once, the butler actually did it.


SOFT  – 27 April 2022

He went soft in his later years. Acquiring a conscience. Muttering regrets about making people cry. But we never forgot. He was the most thrilling Evil Hypnotist in the business.


FLASH  – 28 April 2022

Weirdly, I felt the strike first, then I hit the ground, THEN I heard the thunder. Also weird: the smell of your own flash fried skin is kind of chicken-y.


EYE  – 29 April 2022

Interviewer: Mr Cyclops, what would you say is your biggest weakness?

Mr Cyclops: Most people assume it’s having one eye, but actually, I can’t do maths without a calculator.


Missed Days

18 April 2022

WAVER – 20 April 2022

GOLD – 21 April 2022

SCINTILLATE – 22 April 2022

INKLING – 24 April 2022

NEON  – 26 April 2022

GLIMMER – 30 April 2022


EX MACHINA (full article at The Guardian Australia)

Alex Garland’s new movie, Men, is due for release in June and if you’re intrigued by the mysterious
trailer, or you enjoyed either his acclaimed TV series Devs, or the sci-fi horror of Annihilation, then Garland’s directorial debut Ex Machina is well worth investigating. 

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a competition at his workplace to visit the home of the company’s reclusive CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Caleb travels to his vast and remote Norwegian estate and upon arrival discovers the contest was a smokescreen.

Identified as a gifted employee, Caleb has been summoned to work on Nathan’s latest project: an artificial intelligence named Ava (Alicia Vikander). It is Caleb’s job to administer the Turing Test (named after its creator, mathematician Alan Turing), to determine whether Ava has consciousness. If the tester cannot determine if the subject is machine or human, then the test is passed. 

Read the full article at The Guardian Australia:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/may/03/ex-machina-when-you-see-this-sci-fi-thriller-youll-never-stop-thinking-about-it

IMDB: Ex Machina



Wednesday, 20 April 2022

THE WITCH (full article at The Guardian Australia)

Robert Eggers’ new movie, The Northman, arrives in Australian cinemas this week. In order to get prepped for this bloody tale of Viking vengeance, check out his unsettling horror debut The Witch: a folk horror movie that does not rely on gore to terrify the audience, but instead gradually worms its way under your skin to slowly unnerve you. It’s not the plunge from the top of the rollercoaster but a slow drive down a dark, country lane.

Set in 1630, a Puritan settler family are banished from their New England village after a heated religious argument in the colony. Isolated theologically and physically, patriarch William (Ralph Ineson) moves to the edge of a vast, dense forest with his family: wife Katherine (Kate Dickie) and their children Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), twins Mercy and Jonas (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson), and infant Samuel. But nature is unforgiving and the family’s crops fail. Suddenly, while under Thomasin’s care, baby Samuel disappears, stolen by a witch who dwells within the forest.

Read the full article at The Guardian Australia:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/apr/20/the-witch-robert-eggers-folk-horror-debut-worms-its-way-under-your-skin

IMDB: The Witch







Sunday, 17 April 2022

THE BIG SCORE - FURIOUS FICTION - AUSTRALIAN WRITERS' CENTRE - MARCH 2022

This is my March 2022 entry for the Australian Writers’ Centres Furious Fiction contest. It didn’t do anything in the contest, but I don’t really care about that. What’s important is that I found a stupid idea and wrote something I’m really pleased with. 

In addition to the 500 word maximum and a three day window to write it, the rules for March: 

·         Your story must include a character that commits a crime.

·         Your story must include some kind of DOOR being opened.

·         Your story must include the words CHALK, TALK and FORK.


It’s 8pm and I’m parked opposite a warehouse on the bad side of a bad city. It’s a bad environment, squared. The rain is beating out some crazy jazz on my rooftop and I’m washing down antacid tablets with stale coffee. I got a peptic ulcer and a telephoto lens for company.

Name’s Frank Chisel. I got an ex-wife, a shitty mortgage and half-pint of Jack Daniels stashed in my glove box. I got a badge and a gun and the right to use deadly force if I catch you with over 50kgs of Dutch Creams. That’s right, I’m a P.I. - Potato Inspector.

Governor Patterson got elected on a ‘tough on crime’ platform. Every archaic law gets enforced, everywhere. Excessive potato possession began in WA, but blighted the whole country.  Agricultural Syndicates ruin lives and strangle cities.  I’m flying solo tonight. My partner, Jenkins, is in the hospital. Took a bullet busting up an illegal Farmer’s Market. Three days off his retirement. That poor bastard.

Warehouse roller door slides up with a noise barely audible over the downpour. Dark blue hatchback idles down the driveway. Lotta trunk space. chalk it up to experience, but that’s an immediate red flag. A kid exits the car – he’s a skinny beatnik with a mangy beard - and I spot all the evidence I need to stop and search. In the corner, almost hidden by the door… a fuckin’ wheelbarrow.

I hit the gas and put my sled between the kid and the road. Roller door snaps shut. He’s got nowhere to go. Kid’s cocky and thinks my XL waistband means I’m all lard, but a couple of friendly one-twos dissuades him of that notion. Kid flops to the ground and surrenders his keys and I pop the trunk. A hatchback full of illicit tubers. I grab my fork, cut a piece and taste. It’s good shit.

“This is uncut Australian Pontiac. Know what that means?”

Kid looks up from the floor. Cracked ribs starting to hurt. Cracked pride hurting him more, he says nothing.

“Means, you’re growing ‘em. Not importing ‘em. You’re looking at a big stretch. Sing it now, or forever hold your peace.”

Gotta hand it to him, kid’s still got fire in his eyes. He invites me to do something biblical with my mother and my fists politely decline. Kid spits a mouthful of teeth onto the pavement. He ain’t talking.

I slam the hatchback – equal parts frustration and intimidation tactic - when something falls from the underside. A small, green cylindrical object rolls slowly across the floor and comes to rest perfectly between the two of us. I look at the seemingly innocuous vegetable and then back at the kid… the fire in his eyes has just gone out. A wry smile grips the corner of my mouth. I pop another antacid and grab my radio.

“It’s Chisel – get me the Chief. This case just blew wide open. You better get the Zucchini Squad down here, right now.”


 

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

GOOD TIME (full article at The Guardian Australia)

With Robert Pattinson’s Batman currently impressing on the big screen, what better reason to look back at the role which The Batman director Matt Reeves credits as the catalyst for his casting. The Safdie brothers’ 2017 film Good Time is a tense, nervy, caffeine jolt of a crime thriller, which sees Pattinson in top form as a small-time crook, trying to save his brother over the course of 24 agonising hours.

Connie Nikas (Pattinson) and his developmentally disabled brother Nick (co-director, Benny Safdie) rob a bank in New York but bungle the getaway. Nick is arrested while Connie manages to flee the scene. In a darkly amusing piece of irony, Connie attempts to bail his brother using the very same robbery proceeds they just stole. It’s not enough to spring Nick, so Connie scrambles to find $10,000 in a single night, as events spiral rapidly out of his control.

Read the full article at The Guardian Australia:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/apr/06/youll-have-a-bad-time-watching-good-time-but-youll-never-feel-so-alive

IMDB: Good Time

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

BULL (full review at Screen Realm)

Bull (Neil Maskell) is a top enforcer in a criminal gang. A brutal and merciless thug on the streets, yet a caring and doting father at home. His boss, Norm (David Hayman), also happens to be his father-in-law. So when Bull’s relationship with his wife turns sour, both his livelihood and well-being are put at risk. A dispute over custody of Bull’s son turns nasty and he is attacked and left for dead. Ten years later, Bull returns home to exact bloody vengeance on those who betrayed him.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

https://www.screenrealm.com/bull-movie-review-neil-maskell/

IMDB: Bull



Monday, 28 March 2022

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (full review at Screen Realm)

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as Daniels, follow up their previous feature - the strange and bittersweet oddity Swiss Army Man – with the strange and bittersweet oddity Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) runs a laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) but they are on the brink of divorce. She is rushed off her feet planning a party for father Gong Gong (James Hong) and preparing for an audit at the tax office. On the way to the meeting with the auditor, Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn is approached by Waymond from another dimension, known as Alpha Waymond. 

He reveals the Alpha Dimension possesses technology enabling them access to all other dimensions, and all other possible versions of oneself. This technology, known as Verse Jumping, allows the jumper to absorb the skills and knowledge of their alternate dimension counterpart. Unfortunately, there is an evil Verse Jumper called Jobu Tupaki who is intent on destroying the multiverse and Evelyn is the only one who can stop it. 

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

https://www.screenrealm.com/everything-everywhere-all-at-once-movie-review/

IMDB: Everything Everywhere All At Once