Join the fun. On the fourth Friday of the month join our monthly writing challenge Flash Fiction Friday.
This monthly challenge is open to all NSW Writers. Each month a shortlist will be announced with the winner receiving a mystery prize each month to the value of $50 and entered into the Hall of Fame -see below. To be part of this challenge you must subscribe to our newsletter – Write Now below.
Flash Fiction Friday open at 5 pm on the 4th Friday of the month.
HALL OF FAME
March 2021 Winner
Kate loved the zoo after dark. No noisy tourists. Just her and the animals. Apart from the skunks and foxes who roamed the night, most of them would be deep in slumber by now. Not for the first time, Kate wondered if they dreamed. She checked the lions. They were tucked up tight in their cages, so too the hyenas, but when she reached the elephant enclosure, her heart did a double flip. There were supposed to be three elephants. She could only count two.
‘How goes it Kate? Everything all right?’
Kate jumped at the crackle of the radio and Ed’s voice in her ear. She pictured him leaning back in his chair, feet up on his desk, the smooth contour of his arms.
‘Kate? You okay?’ A wary edge to his voice.
She must stop thinking about his biceps.
‘Yes. No. I…’
She knew his chair would be firmly planted on the floor by now, and he’d be on his feet, ready to run, sensing an animal in trouble.
‘What about Eleanor? What’s happened?’
Kate hesitated not sure how to answer. She took a deep breath. ‘It’s more like, where is Eleanor?’
Ed was there in five minutes staring at the sight of Josie asleep on the ground, Oscar, her calf, curled up beside her. But no Eleanor.
‘How the hell did she get out?’
Kate felt the blood drain from her face. ‘The gate. I taught her to open gates.’
‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t…’ Kate turned away, close to tears.
Ed took her by the shoulders. ‘Hey,’ he said. ‘Look at me. It’s okay. We’ll find her.’
Kate nodded, not trusting herself to speak, aware of the warmth of his touch.
Night casts a different light on the world with sounds both muffled and amplified, the forest canopy merging with the sky. Kate headed south, her torch and the moon chasing shadows down the path so that she couldn’t tell what was real and what was imagined. She thought about Ed heading north. What if they couldn’t find Eleanor? What if she’d escaped?
She heard the elephant before she saw her. A low rumbling sound. ‘I know where she is,’ she said into the radio, and took off at a run
Kate and Ed sat on the rocks and watched Eleanor wallow in the water.
‘Isn’t she beautiful?’ said Kate. She turned toward Ed, a wide smile on her face.
‘Yes, she is,’ he said.
Kate’s mouth turned to a soft oh she realised Ed meant her. Then he was leaning into her.
Eleanor submerged a few more times, then, when she was done, waded from the pool and headed home.
Kate barely spared her a glance. She was intent on some wallowing of her own, wrapped in Ed’s warm biceps. She hoped the elephant remembered to shut the gate.
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March 2021 Shortlist
Leonie Harrison Night Games
Kelli Dragos The Zoo
Robyn Hatherly A Night in the Zoo
“This nightclub is a zoo,” said Rita, reading my mind. “I guess that explains the name” I quipped back. I had heard whispers of strange goings-on here, of party-goers coming in for a Friday night shimmy and reappearing, disorientated, the following Tuesday in the distant town of Port Macquarie.
We fronted the bar and I noticed the barman had an elephant tattoo on his pinky finger. It was the same as Eleanor’s. “Hey mate, where is Eleanor,” I asked? “Never heard of her,” he said in a strangely singsong tone. That’s odd, Eleanor sat in the cubicle next to mine and often regaled me with stories of her weekend job at The Zoo.
I noticed an elderly man who vaguely resembled the Speaker of the House, dancing in a cage above the stage. Zoo was right alright, I thought with a zing of interest. Looking further into the dimness I noticed a flowered path leading further into the club. Strange I hadn’t seen it before, now that I looked again it was obvious.
“C’mon Rita, I’m curious about this place. It looks like a mix of Sergeant Peppers and the Hellfire Club. I want to check it out.” The barman looked at me and passed across two shots that glowed with a pearly luminescence. “They’re our house cocktail “Shut the Gate Mate”. You’ll be needing them,” he said. “On the house.“
We shot the shots and looked at each other. Nothing happened.
As we pushed our way forward further into the Zoo I noticed I could see the music in colours and patterns. When I thought of a word I began to taste it in my mouth. “Let’s dance” immediately conjured the taste of meringue in my mouth and my eyes widened. Swirls of turquoise, blue and gold engulfed us as Florence and the Machine soared through the club. I looked at Rita and tasted Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Feeling faint, I disappeared.
As the world surfaced again I was conscious of a brusque bearded man in green hospital scrubs. “You’re in the Port Macquarie Base Hospital. You were found in disarray on Town Beach.”
The words “beach” conjured the taste of salted green beans. I could taste the word. A distant radio played and swirls of yellow and green washed through the room.
“We’re testing you for synesthesia. You’re the forty second person to be found in this condition at Towns. All have an Elephant tattoo on their pinky finger and all claim to taste words and see music. The synapses in your brain that control your senses have somehow crossed over and you washed up here.”
The yellow and green swirls began to mix with silver and purple swirls as the song changed. Thinking of the song caused my mouth to taste a crispy potato scallop with plain salt. It was a new world. “Where’s Eleanor” I demanded!
A Night at the Zoo
The trumpeting scream washed like a giant wave across the zoo.
‘What the hell’s going on?’ roared Bruce the lion.
Across the path and into the crocodile swamp his roar echoed waking Beryl the crocodile.
‘Oh no. Poor Geoffrey the elephant. Are you Ok darling?’ Beryl sashayed her hips, purring to Geoffrey.
Wally, the chimpanzee scratched his backside, yawned and lisped ‘He’th lothst Eleanor again. Why dothen’t he look after hith toyth? And you can thtop flirting Beryl. It’s embarrathing.’
‘I saw a kid duck through Geoffrey’s gate into his cage as the zoo was about to close.’ Bruce growled. ‘Pesky kids, always getting in the way. I know how to deal with them!’ He shook his mane and bared his teeth.
Wally cowered against the tree trunk ‘I don’t like it when you do that Bruthe. Do you think the kid took it?’
‘Hey Geoffrey.’ Bruce roared.
‘Where is Eleanor? Have you got her, you nasty piece of fur? You know I can’t sleep without her.’ Geoffrey stamped his right foot which landed squarely on a large watermelon which shattered into a million pieces.
‘Hey, who are you calling a nasty piece of fur? You’re nothing but an enormous dried out old prune.’ Bruce pushed his face against his wire cage, forcing his cheeks through the gaps.
Wally chattered away, jumping up and down ‘Don’t fight. You’ll have the ranger come out and go mad on uth. Beryl, Beryl! Where did you go Beryl? Don’t tell me you’ve dithappeared too. I think we might have a portal opening up and thingth are being taken into thpace never to be theen again.’
‘Portal! Are you crazy you silly baboon?’ Bruce roared.
‘I’m not a baboon, I’m a chimpanthee. You moron.’
‘I’m over here boys.’ Beryl blew her breath seductively out of her nose. ‘Now just stop fighting and think how we are going to settle poor Geoffrey down. Perhaps I could sing to you Geoffrey. Would you like that?’
‘I want my teddy bear! I miss her cute face and ripped ear. I miss her cuddling up to her at night.’ Trumpeted Geoffrey.
‘Don’t you dare start singing Beryl. What if I tell you a story?’ Bruce licked his paw.
‘Yeh, the one about Daniel in the Lionth den. I love the ending to that thory.’ Wally screeched as he jumped from one branch to the other.
‘I don’t want a story, I don’t want singing and you Wally can just shut up. Your screeching is driving me crazy.’ With that, Geoffrey lifted his foot (not the one smothered in watermelon) and was about to smash it onto the ground when he noticed two beady eyes looking up at him. ‘Eleanor!’ He grabbed hold of her in his trunk and brought the very dirty, dishevelled teddy against his cheek. ‘I thought I’d lost you.’
‘I think he’s crying.’ Bruce growled disgusted.
‘Oh, he’s so sweet.’ Beryl cooed.
‘Now leth all get some thleep!’ Wally demanded.