Writing Challenge 1 & 2 by Tom Neil

Creative writing has always been a passion of mine, but even more so since I started this site I’ve had other priorities and so I’ve not been able to do as much as I’ve liked. So I recently decided to challenge myself by taking up a flash fiction writing challenge. You can check out my two attempts below.

The first piece, is hopefully comedic, and is structured around an object that was selected for me at random, in this case a bottle of Prosecco. I hope you enjoy it.

Champagne Supernova, Prosecco Nightmares

Janet hung limply from her chair, the chatter of party-goers easing her jangled nerves. Her boyfriend…sorry her ex had been here earlier. She had thought that he was going to propose, after all this place wasn’t exactly cheap. But no…he had taken her here to break-up with her. He hadn’t wanted her to make a scene and he had hoped that being here in public, and more importantly surrounded by all these high class people would stop her. He was wrong. She had screamed, she had shouted and for good measure she had yelled. He had tried talking her down, and left when it was clear that he wasn’t helping. He had even managed to smooth things over with the restaurant by leaving his credit card.

So she ordered a drink, and then another, and then another until all of a sudden two more hours had passed…or was it three. She had thoroughly drowned her sorrows, or at least dampened them a little. She was reflecting on what was supposed to be the happiest night of her life, or at least one of them anyway when she decided she didn’t want to be sad anymore.She signaled the waiter and asked for a bottle of champagne. She figured that she shouldn’t mope around anymore. Why not celebrate her new found singledom instead?

The waiter returned shortly with a bottle, chilled on ice. He popped it open dramatically and that’s when she saw the label, it read ‘Prosecco’. She immediately went nuclear. After a piss poor night, she couldn’t even get proper bubbly. Turns out her ex had not only broken her heart but also put a spending limit and so they hadn’t been able to bring her champagne, instead she was stuck with ‘Prosecco’. She screamed and threw herself at the waiter. The cops were called and she spent a night in the cells.

– The End –

The second writing challenge, was also created via a randomly generated series of elements. I had a lot of fun writing this one. I hope you like it.

Item: Old Kettle
Prompt: I didn’t realise it was going to end in Murder…
Genre: Black Comedy
POV: Third Person (omniscient narrator)
When does the story take place: 2020 (set during lockdown)
Where does the story take place: Glasgow (student flat belonging to the the main character and their partner)
Characters: Gregory Martin (Main character) and unnamed partner

Oh Rats!!!

I didn’t realise it was going to end in murder, getting a pet, he thought. It all felt so innocent when she had brought home a pet for him but to be honest it had made him anxious as well.

Gregory was anxious. He had been anxious for months now. To be honest he’d been anxious since shortly after the doctor had slapped him on his back end and he’d breathed his first breath. But things had taken a sharp turn towards the extreme during lockdown, months without any significant human contact besides his partner had worn him down. Every single trip to the shop, even popping out for a morning constitutional, had become minefields. So he simply didn’t. He ordered out. Paced relentlessly up and down on the carpet until he’d worn it away. And just stayed locked inside, growing increasingly unstable because of the long stretches of silence. You can only watch so many shows on Netflix, check your messages on WhatsApp, and he was sick and tired of Tik Tok (no wonder Trump was banning it, he thought).

His partner, god bless her, had decided she couldn’t watch him suffer anymore and so had decided to get him a pet. A fluffy ginger and black Guinea Pig, it was cute but it was smelly and to be honest he probably would have been happier with something low maintenance like a fish, or a pet rock or something. He felt uncomfortable with being responsible for anything and their eyes were so expressive. So he fed it whatever the internet told him he was supposed to eat it, and he let it go wandering about his flat.

His girlfriend worked a lot, he was at uni, he was studying english lit, she ran her own business. She was beautiful. His face was mostly covered by a big beard, a pair of thick glasses and an overhang of messy, thick hair. Honestly he didn’t know how he’d attracted her in the first place and now he was constantly worried that she’d leave him. So despite the fact he would rather not be stuck with the furry little rodent that had nibbled through two ethernet cables and also chewed up his award for creative writing.

She was coming home soon, and he wanted things to be perfect. He spent the past four days while she was away on business cleaning the flat, and then unfortunately getting it messy again because he also struggled to keep things clean. Seriously, what did she see in him, he thought. He had just about got things squared away. He was preparing to make tea in his old fashioned silver kettle. When out of the corner of his eye he saw movement. A quick flash, and he didn’t think Guinea Pig, he thought rat, and slammed the kettle down on it without hesitation. He felt a grim sort of satisfaction, that bled quickly into worrying about what she’d say, after all if he kept the place clean then their wouldn’t be any rats, and then that worry boiled into palpable terror as he finally lifted the kettle and saw the remains of not a rat, but his poor little Guinea Pig. He’d called him Simon, after Simon Amstell, the English comedian who he felt embodied a similar rodent-like charm.

There was nothing to laugh about now though, he was struck by the abject horror of the moment, his poor wee pet dashed against the kitchen counter, and as if on cue he heard keys turning in the lock. She was home. He looked between the remains and his kettle. The murder weapon.

He grabbed the body of Simon and stuffed it into the half filled kettle, and flung it onto the hob, she came in and heard him busying himself in the kitchen. He wondered how she saw him. He felt like he was sweating bullets. He went out to kiss her, trying to remain calm. Never exactly his strong suit.

She smiled at him and returned his kiss, a little chastely he imagined. She spoke

“Hi Love, could you put the kettle on I could murder a cuppa”

He looked at her for a moment, and felt his tension all boil up inside him, and he started to giggle. He was still giggling when she went from smiling at her weird boyfriend, to a little worried and right up until she went into the kitchen, saw the blood soaked cloth and checked the kettle and screamed.

– The End –

First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/

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