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Winners: Laura Sheridan - Disaster Averted

Some Flash Fiction addresses big issues, and some pieces are very serious - and often those are some of the best. However, it doesn't mean that funny, light hearted stories can't be great too! And that's just what we have here - an entertaining, light-hearted and self-deprecating story of British reservedness and humour.

Flash Fiction 1000 - Shortlist

Disaster Averted

Laura Sheridan

Traffic clogged the road like a clot in an artery, vehicles skew-whiff all over the place. Pedestrian gaggles of geese stood, faces tilted, towards the heavens. Silence hung over the town centre.

Jasper stepped out through the automatic doors and paused. What on earth was going on? He became aware of a strong metallic odour. Valentini bag in hand, he looked up at the boiling clouds.

The object descending from the sky was rust-coloured and many-tentacled. Its hugeness drew gasps from the onlookers and caused the more timid amongst them to cower behind benches or to back into shop doorways.

This is most peculiar, he thought. He’d spent the morning trailing round, looking for the perfect waistcoat to wear for the Winsters’ party and having had to settle for second best, was feeling a tad miffed. He’d eaten a peppery omelette for lunch which was now repeating on him, and to cap it all, Ralph had told him that his new spectacles made him look like an underfed owl.

So it was with a sour taste in his mouth, in more ways than one, that he watched the strange object emerge from the bubbling cumulus. It looked more or less like a rusty octopus, with uneven, stubby appendages. It had no eyes - at least, none that he could see - and a jagged hole through the middle of its body.

What in heaven’s name was it?

That was the question on everyone’s lips. The French optician who, on Tuesday, had rather unhelpfully recommended these ridiculous glasses, staggered past, babbling out his horror and Jasper made out the word merde. Yes indeed, it was very likely merde for all of them if this thing, whatever it was, managed to land.

He had to stop it, somehow.

His fingers fumbling, he undid his gentleman’s black umbrella and flapped it several times at the thing hovering above. ‘Be off with you,’ he yelled. ‘Shoo.’

The crowd, until now, mesmerised by the apparition, were prompted into action. Despite the warm weather, most had brought their umbrellas – after all, one never knows. These were all now hastily unravelled and shaken at the offending intruder.

The fearsome oddity in the sky began to show some reaction. It blanched, turning two shades paler than its original burnt-orange colour.

Encouraged by this apparent success, the crowd’s remonstrations gained in strength. More flapping and shouting ensued. Hundreds and hundreds of angry umbrellas.

Bulges formed along the creature’s torso. It turned ivory in colour and looked decidedly sickly. Guessing what might next occur, Jasper stopped shaking his umbrella and held it over his head. Just in time too, for the explosion occurred a fraction of a second later and drenched the crowd in foul-smelling custard. Jasper escaped the worst of it, but even so, his shoes were spattered.

Good job I wasn’t wearing my Prada loafers he thought, as he slipped quietly into McHenry’s Tea Shoppe for a most welcome Earl Grey.

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