Flash fiction* – Taskforce Z


They come in the night.

They always do.

You wake, blinking against glare. Sunlight shouts off the white plastic shroud which encases your neighbours’ house.

You stand at the window, your fingers splayed on the glass like a gecko’s translucent pads. Your gaze traces the line of the temporary fencing to the front barrier, where a pale blue banner is attached to the metal mesh.

You can’t read it from your window, but you know what it says. You have seen dozens like it, scattered across the suburbs. The government insignia is white, and so are the words – Viral Response Taskforce.

First the plastic. Then the droning whine of the generator as it pumps in the decontaminants. Later, the demolition team will scrape the site bare, leaving a gap in the street like a missing tooth.

There’s no sign of the neighbours.

There never is.


*Another Tiny Treasure I wrote for Noted Festival. This one won’t have the same resonance away from Canberra, which currently has lots of houses like this – although it’s the Asbestos Response Taskforce at work, removing the houses which were insulated by “Mr Fluffy”. Creepiest name ever…

Flash fiction* – Autumn Witch


She preferred maple leaves of fiery orange and yellow, or heart’s blood red. Sometimes, she found a perfect bruised purple leaf, veined with red-gold arteries.

She placed them all on her wide, white windowsills, for the sun to dry. Their memories of moisture evaporated, and they became brittle and bitter. As they baked, she seasoned them with regret.

No more dancing in the fresh breezes of Spring. No more whispering through Summer’s lazy heat. They crinkled, arthritic and crabbed, as she crooned to them of lost vitality, and stolen joy.

By the time the trees were bare, she had an army of clawed furies, which her winds could send to do her bidding. Their desiccated hearts yearned to scratch at tender flesh, and spill the hot blood which might, she promised them, be as sweet as the sap they remembered.


*Last week I mentioned writing some flash fiction for a Tiny Treasures event at Noted Festival. I thought I’d share my pre-prepared tiny stories here, rather than have them whirled away and lost, like fallen leaves…

Fiction makes heroes of us all.

heroesA couple of weeks ago I went to an evening event for adults at the National Museum. It was the latest in their Night at the Museum series, and this one had a Heroes and Villains theme.
scarWe were encouraged to dress up, make masks, shoot Nerf bullets at the ninja balloon targets, and ‘fly’ against the green screen, as well as learn a bunch of stuff about historical heroes and villains, forensics, and much more.  I had a whole packet of fun.

Mmm – see my fake scar!

The next weekend, I was hanging out with the lovely CSFG peeps, at the Noted writing festival. We were making bespoke flash fiction for anyone who wandered up and wanted it, or passers-by could grab one of the pre-prepared stories. I had a great time, escaping off into tiny little stories, and so did everyone else.


Thoughts on escapism have been fermenting in my brain ever since. They keep rising to the surface, executing Kraken-esque rolls, only to sink back into the abyssal depths. What keeps throwing me off, is all the memes on the theme of ‘to hell with this adulting gig’ which flit across my social media awareness.

I don’t want to talk about unicorn frappes, and fidget spinners, and the trend for immature behaviours in adults. I don’t want to discuss man-child tantrums from people in the public eye. I don’t even want to consider how sitting in the dirt making mud pies is arguably more fun than doing the dishes. Those aren’t my preferred method of escape from the trials, tribulations, slings and arrows of day-to-day life.

I like fiction.

Made-up story worlds are my access-all-areas pass for fun.

Now, that can spill over into real life with a little villainous cosplay.

But, I’m happiest reading or writing fiction. And, if I could judge from the delight on people’s faces, as they received stories written just for them, I’m not alone in that.

Of course I’m not alone in that.

Even better, reading isn’t just harmless fun – it’s good for me. It makes me smarter, gives me better problem-solving and lateral thinking skills, and helps me develop empathy. My reading is practically a public service.

It’s so good in fact, that it kind of makes me a superhero.

Which doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun, and play the villain.