Flash Fiction Competition Runners-Up

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There were 2 runners-up in the Book Title Generator/Flash Fiction Competition which were very close.  Then there were a further 3, which were again very close to the ones which were close to the one that won. Got that? But anyway, in the interests of not trying to be all things to all men, I’m forced to limit myself to only putting 2 runners-up on the blog, which makes me sad for the other 3, but happy for these 2, which are being published today and tomorrow, in no particular order, ranking pari passu and equal in all respects.

Would you like me to shut up now? Yes? Grand so.

The following entry, by Nigel Quinlan, was a joy to read.
Well. Because:

  1. An instant 12,859 points were awarded to Nigel for working a bus trip to Limerick into a literary fiction piece wittily portraying the disintegration of modern man. (Nigel couldn’t have known this, but I live in perpetual anxiety of being run over by a Limerick bus. Not Cork, nor any mode of transportation to Galway; Limerick. He thus touched on my own formidable and internal crisis, and made me think, for some reason, of Carl Jung.)
  2. He had positively the worst book title to work with I have seen; and that’s saying something, because I made up the bloody Book Title Generators.
  3. He made us laugh in the first line with “imaginary sky”. That was quick.

Unfortunately, there just weren’t enough points in the end to beat Katie Purcell’s Joycean delight. But it came damn near. Watch out for more great stuff from Nigel, by the way. While stalking him on the internet, I discovered he’s going to be publishing a book in Spring 2015.

Man at bus stop... or not

The Solipsistic Plight In Murroe


Nigel Quinlan

Turgid dawn flows sluggish from the horizon as the non-existent sun swims through the imaginary sky. There are no birds orchestrating an ebullient chorus from figment trees and illusory bushes, while phantom cows roll their lowing complaints against the faraway mind-conjured hills.
‘I can’t bloody do this,’ I mutter to no-one. ‘It’s ten to seven in the morning and I’m already running out of synonyms for imaginary.’
‘Ahh, aye,’ says no-one, standing beside me at the bus stop with her shopping bag in one hand and last week’s Vogue rolled up in the other. I wonder where she got a copy of Vogue in flippin’ Murroe, of all places, and then remember I haven’t used adjectives that would qualify her, the bag and the Vogue as made-up. I groan.
‘What is it?’ says a man who I can’t describe because he might as well be invisible. ‘What’s he moanin’ about now?’
‘He’s gone all solipsistic,’ says no-one.
‘Is he now, begob?’ says invisible guy who isn’t there.
I glance at my non-corporeal watch. Wait, does the watch exist if it’s part of me? No, it’s not part of me, it’s on me. Which means it’s separate from me, and its existence implies the existence of watch-makers and watch-sellers and Mammys who buy watches for son’s birthdays, so, it can’t exist. Feck. I like the watch. Five to seven. Not that time has any actual meaning, but the notional bus, operating on the arbitrary and airily constructed time-table, should be pretending to be here in five minutes. Non-minutes.
‘Aye,’ says no-one. ‘He’s become so narcissistically self-obsessed he’s convinced himself that the entire universe outside his head isn’t real.’
‘The entire universe?’ Says invisible. ‘Surely solipsism means you only believe in the existence of the universe within your immediate perceptual awareness? So that they can no longer be real once they are outside your sensory range?’
‘Really?’ I say. ‘I thought it is was, you know, you’re the only real thing in existence and everything else is a trick.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ says no-one.
‘Well,’ says invisible giving his nose a thoughtful rub. ‘It presents differently in different cases, but you’ve got to at least accept the prima facie reality of your immediate surroundings, otherwise you’d be non-functional.’
‘Right,’ says no-one waving her Vogue. ‘The solipsism comes in because you’re convinced that you are generating reality, creating it by perceiving it, destroying it when you look away.’
‘Really?’ I say. They both nod, encouragingly.
‘Oh thank God,’ I say. ‘That was getting exhausting.’
‘Thank You, you mean’ says no-one, and we all have a good old laugh until I conjure up the bus to collect us and carry us into Limerick, which my subconscious is busy constructing out of nothing as we travel on the shaky, smelly, rattling coach.
‘You think you’d have dreamt up a more comfortable ride,’ invisible from the seat behind me, and I shrug disdainfully. I don’t like to to be questioned by my figments.
‘Oh-oh’ says no-one, sitting beside invisible. ‘I think you’ve gone and left your bag back at the stop.’
I look around, and sure enough, I have.
‘Oh well,’ she says. ‘It’s gone now. Vanished into the inky black of nothingness, the conceptual void where people and objects hang in limbo until you summon them forth once more.’
My shoulders slump. I’d left my money in the bag. I watch the conductor move down the aisle to collect the fares.
‘Feck,’ I say. Only one thing for it. I squeeze my eyes shut. The bus, the passengers and the conductor all cease to exist and, ignoring the residual sounds of no-one and invisible paying my fare for me, I travel the rest of the way to Limerick in the inky void of nothing.


Thank you Nigel, for making us laugh about thinking.

  8 comments for “Flash Fiction Competition Runners-Up

  1. May 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Nigel, have you thought of turning this into a novel? Seriously, I could read this protagonist’s and his/her imaginary adventure all day XD.


    • May 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Imagine what it’d be like, turning that into a novel, imagining an unimaginable number of different ways of saying imaginary every day… If there isn’t a literary prize in that, at least there’s always the asylum :0


  2. May 9, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Congratulations, Nigel, brilliant stuff. I’m in awe! You made a proper silk purse out of a right sow’s ear of a title. I got off lightly with Dominant Glassworks, methinks. 🙂


    • May 9, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Well, not entirely. This whole competition might not have turned out exactly as I planned – there were some GREAT titles out there, which could have testified to the fun-ness and greatness, whichever, of the book title generators, but funnily enough, the folks who did best were the ones who got the titles most liable to get me slapped!


      • May 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm

        Interesting…hmmmm…I dunno. Maybe it proves writers just love a challenge?


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