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Hanging out the washing on a windy day

Posted by Fiona Ross on February 2, 2013 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (35)

10-minute class exercise.

He shouldn’t have tried it on me, he really shouldn’t have. Anyone who comes into my house uninvited is asking for it. This creep climbed in through the bedroom window and I didn’t care if he wanted my body or the contents of my purse; I clocked him with the alabaster lamp base and he went out like the light beneath the shade.

    I didn’t mean to kill the sod, but once done there was not much I could do about it. I shoved him in the hall cupboard until I could decide what to do with him. Three days later I still hadn’t decided and he was beginning to stink. I had to get rid of that smell – it was getting into the linen. On Mondays I do the washing and as I hung it out I had a brilliant idea: I’d hang him out too. A nice windy day like this would air him out and I could keep him hidden for a bit longer; no one would notice him between the sheets.

    It’s not easy to hang a body on the line, even with the help of a stepladder, but I managed it. A push here and a shove there and I had the stiff almost doubled over, even if the rigor mortis had him see-sawing precariously. A few pegs would help but he was too thick for mine so I fastened his clothes instead – four on each sleeve and a few more wherever I could find a spot.

    Good. All done. But I really had to find a good home for him, one that wouldn’t mind if he stank. I had to do it fast, too, because the washing was almost dry. I looked around the yard. Ah, there was a good spot. I’d plant him near the fence where the new bed was going. I’d plant flowers on top – they like a bit of blood and bone – and he’d be coming up roses. Nice perfume on roses.

© Anne Cost. 12.12.2012

Class assignment - progressive story

Posted by Fiona Ross on February 2, 2013 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)


In this exercise, each student was given the opening two lines to a scene in a sci-fi spoof and were asked to complete the scene. The opening lines appear in orange.


Captain Notbright sat bolt upright in his swivel seat at the helm of the Starship Indefatigable and stared into the hepsogloidial mirror. ‘No, it can’t be!,’ he announced to nobody in particular.He was stretched out looking at the seven reflections in his usual, nonchalant way. The whole point was, he did not need to watch where he was going and could thus steer the starship with his large, filthy feet on the thruster. In the mirror, he spied a very large, very shiny black spider on his big toe. It sported a splash of bright red on its back.‘This must be a stowaway from Earth,’ he whispered through clenched teeth, ‘where the deadliest scariest creatures reside’.The spider obviously liked the captain’s feet - felt quite home there…

   Admiral Netherbottom pulled his frisbarlanga from his leg-sheath and confronted the being. Its breath was the first thing he noticed.The vapour was blue and shimmered in the zeogohitorich atmosphere. He stepped backwards quickly. He knew that if the vapour, which was now moving towards in him an amoebalike mass, had a chance to envelop him, he would be transformed into a whoopenbanger.The admiral pointed his frisbarlanga at the vapour. The weapon started to hum. At first the resonance was deep and the volume low. It slowly increased in intensity until the hum reached such a high pitch and was so loud, he thought he was losing his mind. He fell to the floor, reaching frantically for the holstered frisbarlanga.

First officer Neanderlath ran down the vorsimilator, sliding as she fought to gain traction. She’d definitely put on the wrong shoes this morning.The tread of her space runners filled with the slippery foam spewing from the Gagglethrong’s slime-launcher, but she proceeded with caution and managed to wrangle her Parliderp from her holster, whie maintaining her balance. The Parliderp let out the high-pitched screeching noise it was invented for and within seconds the Gagglethrong began its hasty retreat; the ears all over its gargantuan body popping and releasing a slime all of their own, accompanied by a feral smell.

Second mate Xylander could not believe that his constant companion, Eveready, had vanished before his eyes. He looked through the scope of his tangelloptera to see whether it had something to do with the blue slime now filling the corridor.He heard a shout. No, it was a strangled cry of pain. His wife, Zootopia, was on the floor and the blue slime was already starting to cover her body.‘Help me,’ she gasped, waving her one remaining tentacle in the air. Xylander rushed forward but the blue slime blocked his way. He tentatively put his six toes on the slime, but he withdrew quickly; the slime already stuck fast. His toes were glued to it he reefed violently and three toes detached from his leg and her was free. He stared at the toes, laying there like three fat sausages on a barbecue. No matter, the toes would re-grow. But how could he reach Zootopia? She yelled out again – then was silent…the blue slime had killed her.

Scientist, Ian Stein, studied the creature with his optoflagellic eyepiece. With scalpel poised, he waited until its body stopped writhing. Although he was a scientist, at times like this Ian felt a lot more compassionate than a normal scientist. Jonah, one of the starship crew, had been out in space outside the ship cleaning it of sky barnacles when the creature floated past. Without thinking about pollution, contamination or the cruelty of bagging the creature, he had spiked it with his scratching rake and taken it inside with him. The creature was only about the size of a cat, but certainly not cat shaped. Indeed, as it continued to writhe, Ian was amazed to observe that it assumed the shape and characteristics of whoever, and indeed whatever, was watching it. It began turning into an optoflagellic eyepiece, just like the one he was using. He made a sudden decision…no incision with the scalpel. This creature would become the starship’s ever-changing, ever-intriguing pet.

The kirvoidodonic diantywat was of no use at all to Doctor Speck. After all, these creatures evidently liked goono beams. They were being devoured and were providing energy and much-needed fuel for the diantywat. Their form continued to change as each glowing goono beam struck its mark. What was intended to destroy and give Doctor Speck his freedom, was doing the opposite. He was fuelling an expanding and even more difficult to control problem.

The surprise attack came as a complete surprise to Lieutenant Halfwit. After all, he wasn’t the brightest spark on the Starship’s flightdeck. He turned off the krypantisulator, just in case.The bright green screen faded to a tiny dot, then fatoxymoron appeared on the screen, above the screen and above the krypantisulator. ‘Shit, shit, shit,’ she screamed. ‘Who let the dogs out?’ ‘I did,’ muttered Minpinminx, hiding behind the blue robot with the flat battery. ‘But I didn’t think they would attack the fusebox.’ ‘Well now we’re in freefall, without a blockaddafallus, you idiot! Shoot the dogs, zap them with the lazerblaster and take them to the cook. At least we might as well eat well. Barkus goulash sounds good to me if we can make it to the spacepod.’ The starship began spiraling down in freefall, gaining speed, heating up. Minpinminx chased the dogs with the lazer, shooting holes in walls, wiring, equipment and crewmembers, but missing the dogs. Finally, with a brilliant explosion, the spaceship was gone, leaving only acrid smoke and a black hole in the universe and an echoing ‘Who let the dogs out?’

However, in a parallel universe, Second Officer Sexapud was busy studying the retyllopterai on her handplate when the door burst open. The doorway was filled with a particularly unpleasant-looking creature. Did it wink at her? She wasn’t sure. She wasn’t sure what she saw…and she wasn’t sure what she felt. Something tingled deep down in her flora-tick-ular region. It was a sort of tingle like the sensation she’d got last week when she’d accidently touched her handplate on a hot sypherator and had levitated into the air. This was not as stirring, but it was growing in intensity. The ugly creature seemed to focus its hairy oculararities directly into her hormonaphones and linger there in a menacing, yet mellow way. Sexapud swallowed hard. It winked again. It definitely winked! The tingle was turning into a torrential, thundering thosmoesum; her flora-tick-ula hadn’t felt so energized in many eons. She felt fantastic. She winked back.

Vice-captain Secondman aimed his zytoblassinger at Captain Notbright’s head. ‘I’m sorry sir, but I think the creature has morphed me and forced me to do this,’ he said. Now, Nathaniel Notbright had no intentions of allowing Cecil Secondman to reduce his brain to astrospaghetti. Quick thinking was required. He immediately activated his zytoblassinger scramble shield. Secondman squeezed the trigger. The zytostream leapt in the air, did a one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn and headed towards his own brain. But he had anticipated this and ducked. At that very moment, Priscilla Positron arrived on the flight deck and seeing Cecil duck, she leapt. The zytostream hit the wall behind her, ricocheted across the room and buried itself in Notbright’s chest.

Ensign Zardot shuddered as he flicked the switch on the offtaamantifry. He knew he was quite safe while if was off, but nobody had ever seen what it could do when it was on. He also knew nobody would hear him scream. Somebody had to do something and he was the only one the Bazdacs hadn’t seen. The commander had explained to him that the switch must only be turned to the ON position in an emergency. If being boarded by Bazdacs wasn’t one, Zardot didn’t know what would be. The hum began softy and then the entire ship trembled. He clutched the steel railing as his ears ached when the sound increased to a high-pitched scream. His mouth was as dry as desert air; his skin crawled. It’s going to blow, he thought but, what the hell – it couldn’t be worse than being tortured by Bazdacs...Suddenly, all noise and vibration stopped. It’s a bummer, he though. Now what? He was forced to do what he dreaded – approach the bridge. He crept forward and eased open the connecting door. Nothing. He peeped inside. The Bazdacs were lying immobile on the floor while the crew looked on in stunned silence.

Captain Notbright was completely stumped. This had never happened on board the Starship before. He suspected he would have to resort to using the sarfrajial okanopter.


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