September 2019 – Furious Fiction Submission

Hey everyone,

Furious Fiction rolled around again at the start of this month, and I wrote something for it. My wife’s comment, at 11pm on Sunday night, when I needed to submit the piece, was: “Richard, you are a good writer, but this isn’t good writing.”

I would tend to agree, but I will leave it for you to decide.

This month, we needed to meet the following requirements:

  • Each story had to include the name of at least ONE element from the periodic table.
  • Each story’s first and last words had to begin with S.
  • Each story had to contain the words TRAFFIC, JOWLS and HIDDEN.
  • And finally, each story had to include something that BUZZES.




Neon Lights

“Sentimentality,” she said, “that’s the reason I did it. I wanted him to remember.”

“Remember what?”

“I wanted him to remember what it was like to really fear,” she paused, “I didn’t expect him to die.”

Alessia sat across from me in an orange jumpsuit. She looked both twenty-five and fifty-five all at once: beautiful blonde hair, made frizzy by the humidity of a crowded holding cell; day-old make-up that once covered and now accentuated the bags under her eyes; her streamline jaw tensing and releasing over and over as she replayed the events of the last twenty-four hours.

Even though the lower half of her body was hidden from me, a faint tapping suggested that she was nervously shaking her leg. I watched her face carefully as her jowls tightened and sagged.

“Why are you telling me this now?”

Alessia’s leg stopped tapping. Her face settled.

The silence was punctuated only by the buzzing of the neon lights, suspended perilously from chains that were bolted to the roof.

I smirked involuntarily.

It all created a nice bit of symmetry. Above, the noble gas was trapped in its tube, its electrons excited by a current, lighting up the room. And just below it the noble woman, dressed as brightly as the light, in chains and bolted to the floor.

Neither had chosen to be here, and the only way either would leave was broken.

“Why not?” she said, “What do I have to lose?”

* * * * *

It’s not like Alessia had never seen a dead body. As a good Catholic girl, she’d been dragged to open casket funerals, and she’d only vomited once. She’d never understood why they’d made such a fuss about her Nonno’s suit when he was going into the ground soon. Anyway, she’d said to her mother, I bet he’d find it funny.

There was a difference, however, between seeing a dead body, and causing one.

Years later and just yesterday, while Alessia’s mother cradled her in her arms for the last time, she’d said that “the police will understand. After all, you were defending yourself.”

“No Ma, I wasn’t.”

“Then what happened?” her mother’s voice caught as she asked.

“I remembered his eyes.”

* * * * *

Traffic roared across the bridge overhead and Jacob repeated himself, thinking Alessia hadn’t heard.

She had, but it bought her a second.

“You owe me, Al,” the affected sweetness in his voice making the situation even more threatening.

“I don’t owe—“ she trailed off and looked down the path home, blocked off by his arm. Her heart was in an adrenaline-fueled frenzy.

“Oh, shut up,” he pressed himself closer to her, “you don’t need to—Ah!”

The taste of iron filled her mouth as she unclamped her jaw, and even though the pounding of his feet behind her had died away well before she reached her house, a part of her had stayed there, under that bridge, and it hadn’t survived.

September 2018 – Furious Fiction Submission

Yet another entry to Furious Fiction.

This one was fun to write, as I had the chance to play with the action genre in a really short space. Having said that, it was a pretty challenging task to create something original and not predicable given the parameters for this month:

  • Your entire story must take place in an AIRPORT.
  • Your story must include the word SPRING somewhere. (Plural is also okay.)
  • Your story must include the phrase: IT WAS EMPTY – it can be anywhere, in dialogue, as part of a sentence, or as a sentence on its own.

You will notice names popping up across stories from time to time. I just like them, and tend to stick to the same names unless I have a particular reason to change it. It’s just one less thing to think about.

After reading the story, most people who I have shown have mentioned that they are more aware of the existence of their tongue than they used to be.

You’ll understand when you get there.



Deal Breaker

“A metal suitcase?”

“No, a metal briefcase.”

“A metal briefcase,” the attendant paused, “nothing springs to mind I’m afraid. What kind of metal?”

“How would I know?”

There was an awkward silence.

“What was inside?”

“That’s none of your business, mate,” Zahraa said, and took a moment to take in her surroundings. White fluorescent lights shone off the polished tiles. People walked grittily around, trying to fumble their way out without losing anything or anyone. It was a standard domestic airport, and a quiet one even by domestic standards. And she was told that she’d be able to get through without hindrance.

Nevertheless, here was Zahraa arguing with a baggage attendant.

“Sorry ma’am, but I’ve got to get going,” the lanky attendant, ‘Grace :-)’ according to her name-tag, said as she gestured towards the customer service kiosk to the right of the two carousels and pointed to the older man behind the counter, “but maybe Mal can help you out.”

He did, and only moments after she’d described her baggage did she have it safely back in her possession.

She took a breath and made her way towards the exit.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


“Where’s the money?”

The voice was a stereotype – deep, growling, and positioned much too close to Zahraa’s left ear. It was unbelievable that the owner of such a voice could have sneaked up on her so soon after entering the terminal lobby, but he had.

She shook the case, answering the man’s question.

Hadn’t it been heavier on the way over? she thought to herself.

“Turn left, and open the suitcase-“


“Open it on the counter there.”

A moment later Zahraa carefully placed the briefcase where the man had indicated. She punched in the code and clicked the latches open.

It was empty.

Zahraa ducked under the man’s hand as it came down to grab her shoulder and spun around behind him, swiftly kicking his right knee forward to bring his chin down hard on the countertop. Usually you would hear the teeth smash together with an impact like this, but this time the big guy’s tongue got in the way, cushioning the two sets of teeth as they came down on each other.

The man let out a dazed groan, and Zahraa brought the heels of her hands down hard on each of his temples.

He crumpled to the floor.

Zahraa looked around. No one had noticed. All the people that could have seen still had their heads safely buried in their phones.

It didn’t take long for her to find a hidden holster on the left side of his torso, and it took her even less time to unburden him of its contents. She tested the pistol’s weight in her hand.

Domestic security is great.

Zahraa put the pistol in the briefcase, clicked it shut, pulled her hood over her head, and walked quickly towards the terminal doors.

“Well,” she said to herself, “what now?”