Category Archives: Winners

Digging to Australia

My little brother Danny has decided to dig a tunnel to Australia. He’s out in the yard now, toy spade in hand. ‘You can’t do that,’ I said. ‘It’s too far. Besides, it’s really hot in the middle of the Earth.’ He looks at me. ‘Even hotter than that time we went to Spain and dad got sunburnt and we spent that evening peeling the skin off his back.’ That’s a mistake. I’ve reminded him of something disgusting. He loves disgusting things. ‘I hope that happens to me,’ he says. I shrug and leave him to it. Later I look outside. He’s gone. There’s just a massive hole. As I start to panic, the phone goes. ‘Hello?’ says a voice. ‘I’m calling from Melbourne. I’ve got your lad here. He’s fine, but, strewth, the skin ain’t half peeling off him.’ In the background, I can hear Danny giggling.
by
David Cook
@davidcook100
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to diggingtoaustralia@adhocfiction.com

Days of Yore

Gone are the days when I sat on the stoop talking to neighbours as they passed by - going to work, to school, to the bingo hall, to the park, to the street corner to listen to the soap-box man spout his beliefs of the day. Curtains twitch as mine stays still. We are all behind screens now - watching the stream of cars pass, bumper to bumper on the street where we used to play hopscotch and skip, singing our songs to the world. A world which has passed us by, leaving us unnoticed. We are the ones who shaped progress, who gave it its foundation, who lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters to wars for independence, sovereignty, power. All forgotten now as life surges on in the belief that technology will solve everything, where kindness is being overlooked in the rush to save the world from itself.

Credits

fiction by
Alva Holland
@Alva1206

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

Hair

When I wake up, I can feel a hair in my mouth. It is woven around my tongue, between my teeth. Saliva builds as I try to suck it free, to pinch it between my fingers, but I can’t grasp it. Is it one of mine or one of hers? I wouldn’t be surprised it was my wife’s. Her hair gets everywhere. She always trimmed her split ends while sitting on the edge of the bed. When the treatment shed her hair, she couldn’t face brushing it up and throwing it away. There is such pain in being a woman with no hair. I shaved my head to show my support; it’s not the same, she said. I have it, finally. Wet and stuck to my fingertip. It isn’t hers. I throw the covers off me, searching the sheets for her, but even the hairs are gone.

Credits

fiction by
Santino Prinzi
@tinoprinzi

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

Rebel Mechanic

I could smell engine oil when Darth Vader threw the Emperor down the pit. All my friends' parents bought cars. My Dad bought 'bargains'. 'Bargains' broke down when it rained so I didn't go to the cinema or play football at weekends. I stood over Dad's legs and handed him spanners and sockets. Billy called round to see if I wanted to watch 'Return of the Jedi' but Dad had already put his overalls on and so I went outside to ask if the car was working today. There was a policeman in the lounge when I got home. I still had popcorn flakes on my jumper. There had been a terrible accident. The car had slipped off the jack and dropped down with Dad underneath it. The lightning bolts shooting out from the Emperor's hands made the same noise as a car jack being kicked out.
by
Steve Campbell
@standondog
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to rebelmechanic@adhocfiction.com

The Last Kiss

You said goodbye in the anonymity of Paddington Station. Train announcements echoed off the high roof, flattening your voice with a thousand others. Destinations, track numbers, and your decision were incomprehensible. I should have known you would go back to her. Responsibilities and excuses. Men always go back to your wives. You left your coffee cup on the table, lukewarm dregs in the creases round the base. I studied the place you had last taken a sip, and pressed my lips to the cardboard, tipped it up, drained the cup. This would be our last kiss, moisture enveloping our DNA in the acinar cells of our saliva, embracing in my mouth. I envisioned them sluicing down my oesophagus, swirling through my gut, absorbed through my intestinal wall, flowing through my veins, pumping their way into the tiny embryo that has the shared double helix of us.

Credits

fiction
&
artwork
by

Louise Mangos
louisemangos.com
@LouiseMangos

©
creator

Time Honoured

Marion half stood at the sound of the engine. She placed the cup back on the saucer and hovered, ever-hopeful, at the curtain. Another delivery for number 4. But the driver had just missed Mrs In and Out. Seizing her chance, Marion shakily gripped her stick and shuffled, determined, to the frosty porch, a martyrs face prepared. She knew she would keep the little parcel til Saturday at least. Weekend hours are the longest. She might knock after Sunday lunch, be unexpectedly invited in for a coffee. There was Kendal Mint Cake in the larder. Imagine their delight if she produced that too! Waiting for the kettle once more, steam wrinkled the pristine calendar. Surely Paul will come for his birthday next month. Maybe hold on to that cake. School run soon. She should stand at her gate and warn the rushing mums of that ice. They were always rushing.

Credits

fiction by
Jen Hall
@jmiceling

image by
SB Borgersen
sueborgersen.com

©
creators

The Writing Process

Draft 1: Steve bought a cup of coffee. Draft 2: Steve bought an extra-tall, triple-shot, non-fat latte. Draft 7: Steve bought a grande latte from the pretty girl behind the counter. Draft 11: Steve bought a latte from the smiling waitress who reminded him of his mother. Draft 24: Steven Blake purchased a foamy latte from the waitress who looked uncannily like his mother. Draft 46: Steven Palmer-Blake pulled out his gold credit card and paid the pretty waitress for his triple-shot, extra-tall, non-fat, extra-foam, mocha-latte with extra sprinkles, all the while thinking how much the waitress looked like his recently deceased mother. Final draft: Steve bought a cup of coffee.
by
Scarlett Sauvage
@ScarlettSauvage
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to writingprocess@adhocfiction.com

Striking Time

Every night she would hear his key in the lock exactly as the pips went for the six o'clock news. He was as reliable as the bell chiming the hour. Tonight, something was different. The hour came and went. The hands on the clock slid round to quarter past. When he arrived, he was flushed and merry. "Didn't notice the time," he said, kissing her stiff cheek and spinning her chair in the direction of the kitchen. She thought she caught a whiff of perfume. "Big Ben's getting a facelift, did you know?" She stared mutely at him. He smiled, holding the cup to her lips."About time someone looked after the old chap. It'll give him a new lease of life." He whistled as he raised a spoonful of slop to her mouth. "I might be late again tomorrow night, love. OK?"
by
Roz Levens
@RozLevens
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to strikingtime@adhocfiction.com

Black Ice

Do you know if you spread too much baby oil on the body your skin becomes a slippery slide? If you place your feet on a wooden floor, that floor then becomes like black ice. And as you slip and slide like a novice ice skater without the skates, you try desperately to hang on to something sturdy, something that will keep you upright. But your hands, your slippery hands slide off the bedside table, and the door handle rejects you, and now you’re flapping around wildly like a bird just learning to fly, or a chicken who has just lost its head. And as you call out to me for help, I reassure you that I will get a towel. But what I’m really doing is removing myself, so that when I call for the ambulance I can tell them with complete sincerity, I did not see you fall.

Credits

fiction by
Kereen Getten
@kereengetten

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

One Morning in May

'A cup of tea would be nice.' he said as he looked behind her to the wardrobe which held their lives in clothes and their dead dreams in a box wrapped in a blanket and tied with a sash. Among the shoes and boots which had walked the fields and paced the corridors of sleeplessness for the twenty years it took to raise the sons who wanted a sister whose curl of golden hair occupied the dead dream box. A day of a million tears shed over tea and whiskey in stained mugs and cloudy glasses because no-one noticed the unimportant things that became unseen in a house where, before, a stained cup was a mortal sin, but now the sin was the loss, the theft, the emptiness, the memories. She brought his tea, placed it against his lips and they both sighed as their eyes drifted towards the wardrobe.
by
Alva Holland
@Alva1206
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to onemorninginmay@adhocfiction.com

#Notmydream

We sleep through the alarm. Curled like torpid dormice, our body heat cocoons us in blissful ignorance. Together we fly, soaring high in shared dreams: fantasy worlds where tolerance, understanding and kindness are the trending hashtags. The day is on hold. The screaming headlines are still muted until clicked and set free.

Credits

fiction by
Tracy Fells
@theliterarypig

image by
Anastasya Shepherd
scarletline.com/ashepherd

©
creators

Blaško

“Here in Moklište, every story is like the cosmos, with ever-smaller systems fitting neatly into one another – a galaxy, a planet, a continent, a country, a province, a town, the present, the past, the grandpast, the great-grandpast and so on, until we get to the myths, which are each based on their own stories, passed down from generation to generation.” His voice fills the library like the creaking of a waterwheel, churning in the stream of his thoughts. He pauses. In the candlelight, the suits of armour, petrified by dust and web, hold their breath. Only when the pilgrim looks up from his hands, sleeping on a bed of shavings in his lap, beside his penknife and the whittled stake, does Blaško continue. “You can never tell the whole story, which is why it is always best to begin at the end. The present. Where we are now.”
by
Richard de Nooy
@RicharddeNooy
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to blasko@adhocfiction.com

The Sac That Was Our Living Room Ceiling

The flat upstairs. It's their escaped water, low slung in the sac that was our living room ceiling. Icy cold drops sweat along the pregnant plaster, grow plump, fall down - we had to move the couch. The floorboards are dotted with filling bowls. Some day (or night) soon, the whole lot's going to finally burst. My family nag me to call the landlord but I hate confrontation. I say I'll call him tomorrow, after the weekend, after Christmas. I know they're losing respect for me over this. I hate that I'm supposed to be the one to deal with problems. This isn't our country. I don't like to make waves. Meanwhile, the sagging over our heads undulates and sways with its own incomprehensible tides.

Credits

fiction by
Nick Black
@fuzzynick

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

Bar

Dumped. On the edge of Leeds, just a stone’s-throw-away from dead-end-alley which she teeters down in her six-inch heels and fake furs ‘bloody useless’ against brutish winds. She’s feeling out-of-sorts. The doorman dressed in his best, draws back from the devilish cold as our blue lady enters and sheds off her skins into the closet. She rouges her lips then click-clacks across marble to sit high at the bar and fiddle fingers around rings, till the man unhangs a polished glass on display and swills in a G&T to slide over. Another double, he positions by her elbow and jerks his thumb at a smoking silhouette in a hat. She keeps her bright eyes away from rebel’s corner, but quaffs a hand under her hair, swivels her twizzler to excite bubbles to fizz in her gin and wonders where a warm taxi might take her as she sips her pick-me-up.
by
Ruth Tamiatto
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to bar@adhocfiction.com

Different Strokes

The dried meat hung next to her. Speckles of brown and red pricked its surface. Had she been vegetarian, before this? She needed to get out of the room. Shiny floors stared up at her, daring her to try. On her plate sat three tired tomatoes. She rolled them around as if that might prompt her disobedient tongue to curl into the right shape for words. Red-circle-no. Close enough. She hated the things. A girl in starched white leant over her. ‘In we pop, Alison’. One tomato was spooned into a space on her face. She tried to chew. In the bed opposite, a man as old as her father smiled with one side of his mouth. She glanced back at the meat to her right with its five familiar fingers. I’m only half here. ‘Yes, lovely tomatoes,’ said the girl as she stroked away a trickle of escaping saliva.
by
Stephanie Hutton
@tiredpsych
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to differentstrokes@adhocfiction.com

Bound in Smoke

Blackened branches, white with ash at the ends, dumped on the patio when we were done prodding. Embers gagging on the lack of oxygen after hours of burning in our makeshift back garden barbecue: an oversized tin can so charred we could only remember it was once for olives. Flaky ash lying on the window sill and the seats we had made on stacked breeze blocks and an empty blue plastic milk bottle crate. Debris so integral to our garden life we'd forgotten any urge we had, on moving in, to buy real outdoor furniture. Leaning in against the back door in the light from the kitchen, my spiral bound notepad, biro tucked through the wire. “Alright?” His eyes were blazing clear. The things we had written. Words and thoughts scorched and bound in the smoke. “Yeah. You?” “Yeah.” We meant it, no need to say more.
by
Claire T Allen
@lipbalmy
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to boundinsmoke@adhocfiction.com

New Math

Negotiating the cafeteria was what Square Root dreaded most about her first day at Weirdly Q. Showoff Performing Arts School. A clattering symphony of equations and functions buffeted her ears. With fours and nines piled on her lunch tray, she searched for an empty seat. Square Root set down her tray at the logarithms’ table. “Oh please,” a log sighed. “This table is for high end computations. You need to sit with the babies at the fractions table.” At the fractions table, everyone had Spongebob lunchboxes. And the chairs were too small. Not for her. All the forces at the Newtonian mechanics table wore velocity letter jackets. They grunted and glared when Square Root passed. A dotted i waved her over. “What are you guys? Apple products?” Square Root asked. “Nah. We’re imaginary numbers. The jocks and the cool kids won’t hang out with us, either.”
by
Caleb Echterling
@CalebEchterling
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to newmath@adhocfiction.com

8 by 3

He remembers so many wars he can count them on both hands and feet. His face is a map of worries, drawn deeper by nicotine. His skin’s as pale as tracing paper, blending into the walls. Grandad says he feels old as time. The afternoon after his 90th birthday he gets a shovel from the shed. He walks bent double to the rosebushes, a clockwork toy slowing down. With an aerosol can he sprays white lines on the lawn. The wind whips his silver hair across his face like a shroud but he doesn’t stop. He works like a 20 year old, the spade gliding through the frosty earth like water. Inch by inch he removes the soil, the darkness leaving a perfect void. Soon there is no more time. Now when I hang out the washing the smell of tobacco lingers among the roses.
by
Christina Taylor
@Chrissie72
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to 8by3@adhocfiction.com

Not All Points of Sail Are Equal

If you were a schooner, you would outrun the swiftest, you with your mad eyes locked on elusive prizes, trying to shoot the bar before it shoots you. Steering and trimming and trimming and steering, leaving the safety of broad reaches, risking side-swipes from the heavy boom. You would careen as you drew closer to the wind, pushing for the horizon, a-tilt, blinded by spray, moderation foreign to your one-man armada. If you were a schooner, you would forget the simple lessons of Newtonian mechanics: all with or all against the gale’s force is never as safe as a steady beam reach. Closer and closer you would haul your craft until you were, at last, in irons. If you were a schooner, you would end locked in a standstill, pointing toward an edge where dreams and fate coalesce, with no hope of further motion.

Credits

fiction by
Christina Dalcher
@CVDalcher

image by
kerry rawlinson
kerryrawlinson.tumblr

©
creators

The Definition of Us

Cast. verb direct one’s eyes at someone (see Object of Desire, specifically, You) Caste. noun class of people with exclusive privileges (see Social Status; Father’s Business Partner) Cast. verb shape a substance by pouring it into a mold (see Arranged Marriage, Heterosexuality) Castigate. verb punish (see Name-Calling; Compliance by Force) Cast. verb shed skin in the process of maturation (see Personal Growth; Me) Castaway. noun person rejected from society (see Disownment; Choices) Cast. verb let down an anchor (see Stand My Ground) Castle. noun large building fortified against assault (see Walls I Can Build; Strength) Cast. noun actors in a play (see You and Me; Two-Woman Show)
by
Christina Dalcher
@CVDalcher
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

1. Read the details here
2. Send your art to thedefinitionofus@adhocfiction.com