Micro Madness

Welcome to Micro Madness 2017! A story a day June 1 – June 22. Competition news will be posted here in April; until then, please enjoy micros in the series from 2015 and 2016.
2016 WINNERS! 
Three stories were selected from the 22 finalists in the series.
FIRST
Heather McQuillan, New Zealand
Prize: Frankie McMillan’s There Are No Horses in Heaven)
SECOND
Ingrid Jendrzejewski, England
Prize: Sherrie Flick’s  Whiskey, Etc.
THIRD
Jude Higgins, England
Prize: Robert Scotellaro’s Bad Motel
The 2016 series is edited by prolific and entertaining US writer of compressed fiction Robert Scotellaro and Flash Frontier‘s Associate Editor and Micro Madness 2015 Mad Hatter Nod Ghosh. Many thanks to flash stalwarts Frankie McMillan, Sherrie Flick and Robert Scotellaro for donating their books as prizes.
Please enjoy all the stories that we shared this month below.

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June 22 
Two milligrams and all is silence by Heather McQuillan, New Zealand
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Sherri L Wright, Spiral Staircase

After a lifetime of swallowing words, her oesophagus is lined with arguments that blister the walls. Things unsaid stick in her craw so that a doctor must push down a tube and lens to see what it is that obstructs her gullet.

The camera reveals a coral channel eroded into corrugations by a habit of ingested clauses, and pearly nodules of secreted nacre, a protection against irritants that have been glossed over.

In the maw, he says, he sees cells inflamed with rage. When he tells her,

The cure, it comes with adverse side effects, she has nothing to say.

Heather McQuillan writes poetry, flash and children’s stories and she tutors young writers. She has a view of the sea and of mountains from her office window and often gets distracted.

~

June 21 
Back on Dry Land by Ingrid Jendrzejewski, England
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Steve Jacobson, Tree of Birds

Drowning is a silent thing, quicker than you expected. There was no flailing, no panicked cries echoing over the ocean: just a quiet, gentle sinking. Maybe it was a cramp, the paramedics tell me. We’re sorry for your loss.

I live in a small town, far away from oceans. We like simple things here: watermelons, corn fields, cows. We don’t like drama. “Where’s your husband,” people ask when I return home alone. Because I love you, I lie.

“Went off with another woman,” I say, shrugging, surrendering my heart to the salty brine.

Ingrid Jendrzejewski likes cryptic crosswords, the game of go, and the python programming language; links to her writing can be found at www.ingridj.com.

~

June 20
Birthday Cakes by Judith Higgins, England 
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Natasha Zeta, Point of Entry

For her birthday, her husband baked four cakes in the shape of letters. At least he tries, she thought.

While he was upstairs, she briefly rearranged the letters to spell ‘vole’. Only last week, she’d encountered a vole on a forest track. They’d gazed at each other for a long moment – the best eye contact she’d made in years.

Later, at the party, everybody said it was a shame to cut into the letters and ruin the word. But nobody refused a slice.

In the end, there was nothing left.

Jude Higgins organises Bath Flash Fiction Award in the UK and loves everything about the short-short form.

~

June 19

Re-Used by Tristan Deeley, Australia
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Gabriel Ward, The Road

The net was old, frayed after years of use. The fishermen left it, abandoned once it had served its purpose. We found it, gave it new life.  We had to cut it to carry it, using rocks and knives to sever it from its hold. It hung between those trees for days. The scarred ropes could not be more perfect. When we parted, I lost track of our hammock, assumed it was gone forever, like a child’s toy. Used twice then tossed.

It’s in your room now.

Tristan Deeley is from Australia but living in Italy; when he’s not writing about love he’s writing about rotten lemons.

~

June 18 
Last Date by Jayne Martin, United States
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W Jack Savage, Son of a Swordsman

The second hand ticks off another moment of my life. Waiting couples eye my table.  I pretend to sip from the empty cup, lick the last bit of foam.

You arrive from her bed flushed, rushed and unapologetic, wearing the sea-green cashmere V-neck I gave you for Christmas.

My finger tightens around the cold, smooth steel nestled in my lap. A real shame about that sweater.

I order another latte.

Nobody wants my table anymore.

Jayne Martin’s work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Pure Slush, Midwestern Gothic, Blink Ink, Literary Orphans, Flash Frontier, F(r)ictionSickLit Magazine and Hippocampus. This story was read in the Blink Ink/ Rocky Mountain Revival podcast on April 11. 

  

~

June 17 
Clouds by Jocelyne Gregory, Canada
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D R Jones, Take Flight

Have you ever seen the sky?

I have.

Once upon a time, the ceiling was painted powder blue with white fluffy clouds. My sister and I would lie on our backs on the patched blankets, and try and figure out the cloud shapes among the chipped paint.

Then the ceiling was burned black from the fire, and the clouds that survived were ominous ghosts that watched us as we slept.

The green door opened today, and everyone was afraid to step outside.

Except me.

I wanted to see the sky.

It’s not like the ceiling before the fire.

Jocelyne Gregory is a Canadian residing in British Columbia, currently enrolled with the 2015/2016 post-grad Writer’s Studio program at Simon Fraser University.
  

~

June 16
quadriplegia by Brindi Joy, New Zealand
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Carol Reid, Golden Hour Flower

Sometimes I dream that you walk again. That the paramedics never cut away your favorite leather jacket. In my dreams you walk toward me across campus in polished shoes and with confident steps and I greet you, elated, “Mind over matter!” I say.

“I’m glad you didn’t say, ‘Jesus heals,’” you answer. “Everyone lately’s been saying ‘Jesus heals.’”

Brindi Joy is a writer who recently wrote and produced the short film, The Road Home. This micro was also read on Plains FM Bookenz with Morrin Rout, discussing NFFD and this year’s Canterbury celebration — here.  

~

June 15
What the Dead Want by Meg Pokrass, United States
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Allan Forrest, Expressionism Revisited

There are so many dead people in her life, especially in this house. They float around and exaggerate. They want to see something sexy. That nightgown? they say. They miss eating berries. They are sure that she will be okay. They say wonderful things about what one might do here on earth. They wish they had taken more lovers, had more beach weekends, seen more foreign films. They ask for autographs from the living.

Meg Pokrass lives and writes somewhere between the US and the UK these days; you can find her at megpokrass.com.

~

June 14
Breathe, hold, repeat by Lola Elvy, Tanzania
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Janeen Love, The Gift

Seasalt hanging in the air like the smell of yesterday’s rain. Name etched into wood, you sat with your back by the ocean, face turned skyward to see the stars as they fell, crashing to the corrugated earth. Rocking back and forth like you were hearing music, the upbeat coming with the rising tide, leaving with a steady exhale; hush on skin, sand on shore. Breathe, hold, repeat. Again. A dawn swallowed by the roaring sun. Sometimes we held. Sometimes we whispered. Sometimes we wore red.

Lola Elvy likes the color grey. She’s practicing keeping things short.

~

June 13
Midnight by Eileen Mueller, New Zealand
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Sandra Whyte, Owlmoon

It was a clear midwinter’s morning. You were wrapped in your favourite blankie. I carried you to the police car. Smoothed the hair from your forehead. Kissed your nose.

Dad held me while I held you.

The longest darkest passage. A rush of whispers. The graze of stares. A closed door. Entry forbidden.

The police officer opens it. The coroner greets me.

And claims my darling.

Winner of the 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Award for best youth novel and co-editor of The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, Eileen Mueller writes fiction for children and young adults, and dark adult fiction for adults. She placed first in SpecFic Going Global and first equal in NZSA NorthWrite Collaboration contests in 2013. http://www.eileenmuellerauthor.com

~

June 12
Sweet & Sour by Todd Mercer, United States
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Adam Kluger, Man with Hat

Why’s a baby crying behind the strip mall buffet’s buffet?

A preteen boy strings green beans, fills wontons, rangoons, rolls silverware.

The boss-man shrieks in Cantonese at kitchen staff. He’s all smiles in the dining room – the mortgage needs positive reviews. The parking lot grows daisies through frost-cracks. The ratio of tastes-good-enough to costs-a-pittance isn’t generating customers.

The boss-man’s wizened mother-in-law comes with Jasmine tea, goes with consumed expectations.

The teenage busser (an eventual flight risk) looks outside where fortunes rise and fall while she fills steam trays.

It’s all you can eat. It isn’t quite enough.

Todd Mercer, winner of the 2016 Dyer-Ives Poetry Prize, the 2016 National Writers Series Prize and the 2015 Grand Rapids Festival for the Arts Flash Fiction Prize, had his digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appear at Right Hand Pointing.

~

June 11
Missing by Nikki Crutchley, New Zealand
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Jess O’Brien, Chair

I hear the whispers as I walk back from town.

Another missing child.

The milk in the plastic bag knocks against my leg. The lolly I’m sucking makes me ill.

Mum’s waiting for me. I can tell from the look on her face that she’s heard. That one wrinkle between her eyes is so deep I’d lose my finger in it if I prodded it.

“Go sit with Nana,” she says.

Sitting in her chair, Nana taps out a staccato beat with her walking stick.

“Another one, Nan.”

“I know.” She nods.

Nikki lives in Cambridge and is in the process of writing her first novel. She also enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.

~

June 10

A Forty-Nine-Year-Old Woman Sends Messages to Her Thirty-Two-Year-Old Lover by Catherine McNamara, Ghana
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Jaypee Belarmino, Solitude

I wait for this love to stop. I wait for the thought of your face and body to mean nothing. I wait to feel droplets for you, not icy waves. I wait to forget your taste, your texture in my mouth, the skin I have savoured. I walk to forget the way you walk, the way you carry yourself, your hesitancy in my eyes, your creeping back, your allegiance to other lives, my smallness, my nothingness, my drama evaporating and bodiless.

Catherine McNamara ran away to Paris at twenty-one to write and ended up in Ghana running a bar.

~

June 9

Broken by Colette Watson, Scotland 

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Marcus Speh, Thief, Berlin

She’s here again this morning. Turns up at the door tear-streaked and half-sober.

“Let me in Ma, please. C’mon. I want to come hame.”

Franny, grey-faced, cracks the door enough to talk.

“Yer faither’s in the hoose. Wheesht! He’ll kill the baistert! You anaw.”

“He’s broke intae ma hoose Ma. He’s robbed ma iPod, ma purse, panned ma windaes in. I’m done wae it Ma. Let me come hame.”

She’s hingin’ in the doorway like a broken doll.

She wis a wee doll anaw. Afore that big shite got the haud of ‘er. Franny’s china doll.

Colette Watson lives in the West of Scotland with her family and writes mainly short fiction and poetry. 

 

~

June 8

Misplaced by Rachel Smith, New Zealand

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Carlos Franco-Ruiz, Spectral Trash

You took your time. Hands delved into pockets. Tissue thin paper spread with dark strands of tobacco. Two yellowed fingers raised to your lips. One a knuckle shorter than the other.

The click of an orange lighter. A slow inhale. The story would begin.

I could not believe. No one would bike home from school by candlelight, travel across the world to kill a man they didn’t know.

You would never tell me of your lost finger. I see the smooth nub falling unnoticed on a distant pebbled beach, fingernail washed clean by the gentle sea.

Rachel Smith’s fiction and poetry, the shorter the better, has been published in takahē, JAAM and Flash Frontier.

 

~

June 7

Lightning by Bronwen Griffiths, England   

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Megan Bowers-Vette, Featherdance

The lime green coat with piping.  She loves the way the coat shines, the contrast of greens, the acid of the lime against the pine-coloured braids.

Grit under her feet mixed with mud. The wind screaming, leaves scattering her face. A puddle. Clouds reflected, dizzy, the silvery light and her face, blurred. Not hard-edged and glass cold, a mirror to talk back like the boys on the street.

Who’s got an ugly mug? Boyfriend didn’t like you, eh?

She touches the scarred skin. Tree roots and lightning, brilliant. In the puddle she is a princess.

Bronwen Griffiths  writes novels and flash fiction, and lives in East Sussex, England.

 

~

June 6

Farewell Spit by Patrick Pink, New Zealand  

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Felicity Cutten, Lake Fish

Benji said whales belong in the ocean and toddled across the sand. Seawater sloshed over the rim of his plastic bucket.

My husband Jack worked one of the tractors. The chains strained in the receding tide.

Fourteen had stranded themselves. No one knew why. Parasites, misguided compasses, empathy to share a suffering.

Benji got upset because one was a baby. He marched back and forth with a child’s Disney belief in happy endings.

We laboured until light.

Jack took off his cap, mopped his face. Benji slept in my lap beside the still calf that hadn’t moved for an hour.

Chicago-born, Patrick Pink lives and writes in Aotearoa and is a staunch devotee of short fiction.  

~

June 5

Monsoon by Wiebo Grobler, South Africa

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Robin Grotke, Helsinki Sky

The rain came down heavy, pinging off the corrugated roof like hail.

Rivulets of water cascaded down the open sides of the shed, like miniature waterfalls, trapping us inside.

I pulled a ciggie from my bag and offered Sadie one.

“My mom will smell me.”

I produced a wooden clothes peg and grabbed the filter with it.

“Clever,” she said, taking the cig by the peg.

We shared the smoke and then a kiss, she tasted like cola ChapStick.

She laughed as I grabbed her and pulled her through our water prison, splashing through puddles home.

Twice short-listed for the Fish Publishing Prize and recent winner of the Dantes Trials Competition from Horror Scribes, Wiebo Grobler consumes copious amounts of coffee whilst trying to write, edit and read all at the same time.

~

June 4

Enchantress by Mohini Malhotra, Kathmandu/ United States

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DR Jones, 48 yeahs young

My namesake arrived in New York from Delhi several years before I was born. Bought at age two by an American billionaire from a Maharaja for $10,000. She spent her first night in the Bronx, my birthplace. My parents named me Mohini – one who enchants – after her.

I imagine staring at this tigress, her coat an eggshell white, her stripes coal black, her muscles taut, her power wedged in a twelve by twelve foot cage. I see her sapphire blue eyes on me, exhorting me to lift my wings wide and soar high beyond my cage of air.

Mohini Malhotra is from Kathmandu, lives in DC, loves words, promotes women artists and is delighted that her flash stories are being published in Star 80 Review, Blink-Ink, 50 word stories and other cool places.

~

June 3

Monster in the Cave by Shelby Allan, New Zealand 

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Bernard Heise, Glacial Wall

Rumours always hold truth no matter how far-fetched.

It came from the shadows of the flooded cave. The water beautiful, some strange anomaly made it glow blue despite the current situation.

All hopes of escaping ruined by the monster’s eyes.

Already focused on me they glowed blood red. Not the pretty type. They radiated viciousness, showing that this beast would kill cold-blooded.

Sharp teeth and fangs stained with blood filled my vision.

But the claws scared me most. Almost an inch long, razor-sharp with rotting pieces of flesh stuck to them.

What was the chance of survival?
Shelby Allan is 9 years old — the youngest contributor to Micro Madness! — and goes to The School for Young Writers, Christchurch.

~

June 2

Roadkill Delicioso, by Jonathan Cardew, England/ US

After tapas, we took on the main event: 32oz ribeye, asparagus, and goat’s cheese risotto. The steak was hacked into strips, with a scattering of arugula. The asparagus spears were nestled in tufts of fur.

Jan FitzGerald

Jan FitzGerald, Inuit Dreams II (painting)

“Yum,” she said, licking her teeth.

I paused. I pushed my fork into a part that was not prime; it slipped into a giblet or orifice. “What a feast,” I think I said, and she smiled.

“You’ll get used to it,” she said.

We’d dated three or four times; tonight was the night.

She airplaned an eyeball toward my mouth.

I opened wide, deliriously happy.

Jonathan Cardew’s notorious blog is here:  jonathancardew.wordpress.com/.

~

June 1 
Autumn Leaves by Eileen Merriman, New Zealand
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Lesley Marcus, Samba (painting)

He said he’d shave her head for her, when her hair started falling out. It fell in honeyed wisps on her pillow. She said, I’m falling apart. Inside, he was disintegrating too.

Sitting behind her, he ran the razor over her head. Her hair fluttered around them, like autumn leaves. When it was over he held the delicate convexity of her skull between his hands, smooth like glass, and told her how beautiful she was.

When the nurse arrived, their tears were running in paired tributaries down her face, the current so strong she felt its pull from the doorway.

 Eileen Merriman’s flash has previously been published in Flash Frontier, SmokeLong Quarterly, Literary Orphans, Blue Five Notebook and Headland.

~

 The following are the 2015 Micro Madness stories, selected by Eileen Merriman and Nod Ghosh.
DR Jones

DR Jones, Corrugated Iron Lung, from April’s issue of Flash Frontier

June 22: ‘Blue’ by Jane Percival

Blue walks to school barefoot. On the way he stands in fresh cowpats to thaw his toes. A rich brown colour, they steam invitingly along the edge of the road. Outside school he cleans his feet on the frosty grass.

This morning he’d arisen early and put boot black in his hair to hide the red, admiring the effect in the cracked bathroom mirror. Mum had thrashed him and put his head under the cold tap, scrubbing until his ears rang.

Beside the school gate, Joe Reed waits.

‘Filthy Blue,’ he hisses.

Jane Percival lives on the Kaipara Harbour, north of Auckland, New Zealand. She has always enjoyed writing and has recently taken time out of full-time paid employment to pursue this activity. Lately she has been focusing on speculative fiction.

 ~

June 21: ‘Kinny Chicken’ by Elizabeth (Betsy) Kernohan

Kinny Chicken, unceremoniously exhumed, was still very dead.

I patted her feathers, admiring the colours, blurred through tears. I thought of the mornings I’d shivered in the shed with cooing birds feeding warm mash from a steaming bowl sharing the spoon, ‘one for you – one for me’.

There were three chooks and two daily eggs.

“They take it in turns” I said in defence of Kinny.

Angry and irrational, I accused mother of making good her threat when we found Kinny dead. We’d dug a hole and patted down the earth and that’s when I heard the squawk.

Elizabeth Kernohan is an educator, photographer and actor. She enjoys the challenge of flash fiction and haiku, and there’s a play in the wings waiting to make its way onto the page.

 ~

June 20: ‘Blind Tasting’ by Heather McQuillan

Like sinking into a hot bath, she says trying to explain the sunset to a man who has already closed his eyes.

The man says nothing until the morning sun creeps warmth across his hands.

Then he asks, what’s the colour of the sky today?

It’s the blue of oranges, sharp and fresh and washing your mouth free of sleep.

The man turns with his lips ready for hers, and what is the colour of a kiss?

Strawberry, she says.

More like oysters and sex, he laughs.

They aren’t colours. She slaps him away.

They ought to be, he says.

 

Heather McQuillan writes poetry, flash and children’s stories and she tutors young writers. She has a view of the sea and of mountains from her office window and often gets distracted.

 ~

June 19: ‘Birdland’ by Jeremy Lake

Mother of pearl 60’s Premier Jazz. Sounded like Brubeck, smelt like cigars. That drum kit was hazy and open… Airily it made the drummer. It cut me and I bled, spattering my life over tom and snare, it was an animal. A striking snake on amphetamines, harder than a diamond-studded dildo, skins would break, eardrums shatter.

Mother -of pearl- was a foodie. No love lost for musicians. The farewell missive on the fridge door was reduced to a word, choose! He’d grown too fat to dance on eggshells. In the end, it went for a song.

Jeremy Lake dabbles in mixed media and operates from Rongotai, Wellington.When he’s not cursing the local noisy planes, he does his best to not curse at his children.

 ~

June 18: ‘A LIFE FOR A LIFE’ by Emma Vere-Jones

 

The storm arrived in the early hours of Friday morning, unearthing trees and street signs and unwanted memories. Evelyn lay awake and tried to picture the cat.

There had been a storm that day too.

‘The rain was torrential,’ she told the policeman, without mentioning the argument. ‘I swerved to avoid a cat.’

Later, friends brought hot dinners and sympathy. She heard them muttering in the kitchen.

‘Accidentally killing your husband! Imagine!…

‘He was a tyrant, but still… you’d never forgive yourself…’

How wrong they were, Evelyn thought.

Even so, she often wondered if she ever really saw that cat.

Emma is a freelance journalist. She enjoys creative writing because it allows her to write fiction without working for a tabloid. Her first children’s book will be published in August

 ~

June 17: ‘The deal’ by Marcel Currin

 

“Here’s the deal,” said the Sheep. She seemed bigger today, staring down through shaded glasses. She pushed a slip of paper across the table: one sentence hammered out in Goudy Old Style.

I said, “Really? There’s no other option?”

Her grin was thick with yellowing teeth. “We could always return to the periodic shaving and docking of your entire species. It’s your call.”

I picked up the pen. “Can’t believe I’m bargaining with a sheep,” I said.

She chortled. “Baa-gaining, that’s a good one. I may just take that too.”

Marcel Currin is a Tauranga poet and columnist. Ministry of ideas, his book of flash fiction, lives on the Amazon Kindle Store.

 ~

June 16: ‘At a loose end’ by Elizabeth Brooke-Carr

 

Sadie’s fence was the talk of the neighbourhood. Even strangers stopped to admire her handiwork. She had knitted the intricate Shetland lace design herself, on specially adapted curtain poles using strong black twine, the kind used to make fishing nets. Not that Sadie was a fisherwoman. Oh, no. The garden was her baby. Wrapped in its lace shawl she nurtured it tenderly with kindness and compost. She was at the beach gathering seaweed for mulch, the day that Hannibal, the terrier from next door, found a loose thread and began unravelling the axiom that good fences make good neighbours.

Elizabeth Brooke-Carr lives and writes from her hillside eyrie in Dunedin. The contours of city, hills, shoreline and horizon enlarge her vision, and the life in them feeds her imagination.

 ~

June 15: ‘Gone Fishing’ by Steve Charters

 

On the day you told us the facts of life you took us fishing. We’d never been before.

Driving carefully, you said sperm vagina penis.

You’d told us bedtime stories once, but this was different.

I sat in the back seat staring out at letterboxes, sheep and dust-caked daisies, my brother’s frightened eyes watching me in the rear-view mirror.

At the wharf, escaping the car, he slammed the door crushing my finger. I held it out to you – flat, blue and quivering – biting back my tears.

You wrapped your hanky round it and made me choose:

Fish? Or hospital?’

Steve Charters lives in Auckland. His work appears online at Flash Frontier. He enjoys the constraints of short-form writing and the challenge of implying a complete world in a few words.

 ~

June 14: ‘The importance of spare keys, in case of emergency’ by Fiona Lincoln

 

The lines company said my favourite tree was endangering their wires, and branches would have to go. So I hugged the tree, and sealed the embrace by handcuffing my wrists together on the far side. When the contractor arrived, I conspicuously swallowed the key. It lodged halfway. Pain hacked through my sternum, my chest, down one arm. “You look awful, mate,” said the contractor, before calling 111.

The paramedic’s bolt-cutters proved inadequate. She considered her options. She said to the contractor, “how quickly can you get this tree down?” The contractor laughed, the bitch, as she ran for her chainsaw.

Fiona Lincoln lives in Lower Hutt and works in Wellington as a law drafter. She has previously had a 50-word story published.

 ~

June 13: ‘What if’ by Jenni Komarovsky

If only I had died. That time that I had rheumatic fever when I was 35. Instead, I wheezed through to become a has-been. Vienna no longer adores me, it pities me.

This room is dark and cold, the bed unmade, my clothes and body smell. My wife and children have gone, my money and talent long spent. My fingers are too stiff to coax music from the out of tune fortepiano.

They only want him now. A new, exciting pianist, fiery-tempered and hungry for fame. He is well fed.

I laugh when I hear that he is going deaf.

Jenni Komarovsky. Greenie, knitter, gardener, blogger. Her day job as a structured computer systems specialist requires her to escape into creativity when possible and break into song at inappropriate moments.

 ~

June 12: ‘Falling Up Love’ by Frank Greenall

Yucheng’s free hand loops her scarf once more around her neck, a slight buffer to the bone-chilling southerly off Cook Strait.

Now saying to her arm-hugging companion, Wind very cold… I in very cold, also.

Garrick, gently correcting. I am very cold also… I am very cold, Yucheng.

Yes, she says … We both very very am cold.

Garrick leaves it at that. Talking means jettisoning bits of core warmth.

What place we now, Yucheng asks.

Garrick: In Oriental Parade.

Yucheng: Special place Asian people to walk?

Garrick: Very special.

Yucheng: That good. Special place walking down, falling up love.

Frank Greenall has worked as freelance writer, political cartoonist and artist, and recently in Adult Literacy. He won the 2014 Far North Poetry prize. Currently living in Whanganui.

~

June 11: ‘The Advice’ by Hilary Boyd

Today the doctor told me I am dying. His voice was as cold as the wind that hit me when I entered his damned clinic. As I was leaving, I turned back. He was stooped over his computer, tapping away as if I had ceased to matter.

There sits a clever man,

a wise man.

And here stand I,

a dying one.

“If you were me, what would you do?“ It was a stupid question but I was not myself.

His fingers stopped, poised just above the keyboard. “Put your affairs in order.“ He didn’t look up from the screen.

Hilary Boyd lives in rural Auckland. She likes to write, drink coffee with her neighbours and daydream.

 ~

June 10: ‘Stranger Danger’ by Kate Mahony

My sister dubs me home from school on her bicycle. She offers me a

forbidden treat, a gobstopper to share. I suck it quickly, so it will change colour.

The road dips. My jaw freezes around the lolly.  I thump Laura. The bike falls; I’m crying.

A car pulls up.

The man who approaches is a stranger. I can’t breathe.

He grabs my elbow; says he’ll drive us to the hospital.

I panic. Cough. The lolly lands at my feet.

Back home, someone’s seen us and already phoned our mother.

We don’t tell her about the gobstopper. Just the stranger.

Wellington writer Kate Mahony’s story The Journey received an “Honorary Mention” in the 2015 Fish Publishing Short Story Competition. Her story, Regrets, was long-listed for the 2015 Fish Flash Fiction Competition.

 ~

June 9: ‘The elephant is gone, ladies and gentlemen, the elephant is gone!’ by Frankie McMillan

Hannah waits her turn, she lies in a wooden vessel the panels brightly painted

with fleur-de-lis. She ponders the fate of the animals: the disappearing rabbit

the disappearing donkey, the disappearing elephant. Her magician father strikes

the saw, a steel cross cut with a mallet until a keening wail is heard. A gentleman holds

her feet protruding from the end of the box. Her toes are snipped from the white silk

stockings to prove that she is flesh. The saw blade whirrs. Hannah shivers.

‘Extinction’ is a word that creeps closer.

Frankie McMillan is short in stature, walks fast and talks fast. She used to be a fire-breather in the Catz Pyjamas comedy show. She believes these qualities are of benefit when writing flash fiction.

 ~

June 8: ‘Advice’ by S J Mannion

On my wedding day as I dressed my hair, my hands shook. And my mother said with a crooked mouth, ‘You’ll be allright – just keep your legs open and your mouth shut.’

She laughed as I winced and went on to flounce down the aisle, despising her bitterness, her bile. But five years later and three kids on, my husband left and gone, I think on her black words and know them for some sour kind of wisdom.

 

S J Mannion: Middle aged, married-with-three, doing domesticity. When I can I write, when I can’t I read.

 ~

June 7: ‘COFFIN FOR SALE’ by Deryn Pittar 

 

COFFIN FOR SALE

by owner

adult size

decorated with hand-carved floral motifs

Hand-turned rimu handles

Sale price: $400.00

Reason for sale: Misdiagnosis

Deryn Pittar’s bio:I live in Papamoa. I write Sci.Fi (Romance and Serious stuff), Young Adult, short fiction and poetry. I am published (hard copy and e-books) in these genre.

 ~

June 6: ‘one k. from the shops’ by Ila Selwyn

I walk down the road, arms dragged down with books and shopping. See a child’s sweatshirt sprawling soggily at the side of the road.

Walk up the road. The sweatshirt’s now spread-eagled on a bush.

Walk down the road. It’s still here. A few steps further find boy’s black gym shorts in the gutter. Leave them lying there. Want the story to continue.

Walk up the road. Black shorts have staggered onto the verge.

Walk down the road. See shorts, sweatshirt still patiently waiting. Look for socks, shoes, half hope to find a body.

Ila Selwyn completed her MCW in 2014 at The University of Auckland, writing a play with poetry. On her 4th draft. Hopes to get it work-shopped and then on stage.

 ~

June 5: ‘The Bride’ by Chang Shih Yen

Someone was knocking on the door.

“I’ll be out in twenty minutes,” the bride said. The bride stood alone inside the room where she was supposed to be getting dressed. With the make-up and her hair twisted up, she barely recognised the person looking out at her from the mirror. She inspected the long white dress that she was meant to be putting on. It was a voluminous dress that reminded her of a meringue with its layers of lace and chiffon.

The bride hoped everyone would forgive her, as she slipped off her stilettos and climbed out the window.

Chang Shih Yen is a writer from Malaysia. Shih Yen lives in Dunedin.

 ~

June 4: ‘the wind’s talking’ by Keith Nunes 

the wind’s talking

the late spring wind is driving her madly into the gorge wall. we moved out here from the sprawling city last spring but this year the wind is profoundly aggravating her. last night she shaved her lush head of hair off and fed it to the donkey. I counted the blades in the drawer today; I count them regularly. she won’t eat, won’t wash and won’t look me in the eye. there she is, standing on the car roof, naked but for gumboots, asking god for a plane to fly her back to the sprawling city.

Keith Nunes is a former Kiwi newspaper sub-editor who now writes for the sheer joy of it. He’s had short stories published in NZ (including Takahe and Flash Frontier) and increasingly in the UK (Prole) and US. He lives south of Tauranga with an assortment of nutters.

 ~

June 3: ‘Rose-Tinted World on Winter-Licked Sheets’ by Patrick Pink 

You took me to bed in your attic apartment after our seventeenth time seeing Rocky Horror and Brad and Janet in corsets and fishnets still writhed from loss and decadence in the exiting exhaust of a debauched spaceship in my head.  A late January flurry shone like spun gold around the corner streetlamp.  We stood naked in its champagne glow and watched the snow bury cars in angel-white as the radiator ticked erratically.

‘Are we damned?’  I leaned into your lengthy love.

You hummed Don’t Dream It, Be It softly in my hair and laced fingers over my time-warped heart.

Aucklander Patrick Pink finds inspiration in flash fiction and short stories. He knows he’ll never make a living but then again it’s all about finding the perfect word, isn’t it?

 ~

June 2: ‘Flight’ by Jane Swan 

Amber’s laugh strung across the sky like a shimmering banner. “Those tiny sheep!”

The air was fresh, cooler than I’d expected.

My bride tucked a wisp of hair behind her ear.

“Sailors sometimes grow beards,” I said. “To feel the wind in their whiskers.”

“Huh?”

“To tell the wind direction.”

Amber’s laughter pealed again. “Except the women.”

I squeezed her hand. “You reckon?”

Suddenly the basket lurched and rose into a thermal.

Seagulls swooped through the shrinking shadow of the balloon. Moments later the wind seized it sweeping us out to sea.

Amber should have learnt to swim.

Jane Swan lives in Waikouaiti, just north of Dunedin. Jane shifted to Waikouaiti from Oamaru in the summer and is enjoying the inspiration of the beach and friendly community. Jane writes short fiction and is working on a novel.

 ~
June 1: ‘At Barrett Reef’ by Sally Houtman 

Decades later he returns, stands on the ledge overlooking the reef. Though he feels the rhythm of the broken surf, its tune remains inaudible, out of reach. He draws back his arm and releases a stone. He knows these rocks, this dark, still tomb. Knows the sea will take whatever it is given.

Later at the hotel his wife is distracted, searching for her keys. He takes the tea she has poured in a chipped china cup. “I do love you,” he says, but knows his words are slim salvation. Because every moment is the moment before something dies.

Originally from the United States, Sally Houtman makes her home in the Eastern Suburbs of Wellington. She has been writing fiction for the past 7 years. She is probably writing something now.

 ~

Mad Hatters
Selections for this series were made by the Micro Madness team of Mad Hatters, Eileen Merriman and Nod Ghosh, who read all submissions with no knowledge of writer names. The selections were made based on quality and variety of writing styles, and the assortment was vast!

IMG_1125Eileen Merriman writes flash fiction, short stories and novels. Her work has previously been published in The Sunday Star Times, Takahe, Headland and Flash Frontier, and is forthcoming at Blue Five Notebook. Last year she was awarded second runner-up in the Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition.

*

Mad hatter profile IMG_0406Nod Ghosh graduated from the Hagley Writers’ Institute in Christchurch. Short stories or poems have appeared in Takahe, Penduline, Christchurch Press, TheGayUK and Flash Frontier. Nod is working on her second novel as part of the NZSA mentorship scheme.

3 thoughts on “Micro Madness

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the stories. Truly brightened up an otherwise dull day – but now the sun is shining.

  2. Pingback: National Flash Fiction Day 2016 – Ingrid Jendrzejewski

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