Will you join us voting for some of our Ad Hoc Fiction published authors in the Saboteur Awards 2020? And we'd love votes for our other projects too. We are so happy that Saboteur secured Arts Council Funding for another year. It is such a brilliant thing they do. And there's nothing like a nomination for cheering up authors and organisers. And cheering up these days is definitely required.
Voting for the first round to find the short list is open now and finishes on April 6th.
If you have read and loved some of our books listed below or attended and enjoyed the Flash Fiction Festival last year in Bristol,here are some options for you:
Best Short Story Collection: K.M. Elkes', sparkling and acclaimed collection of flash fiction, All That Is Between Us. Published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June, 2020
Best Literary Festival: Vote for our Flash Fiction Festival UK, 2019, which took place in Bristol in June 2019. It was such wonderful occasion with around 120 enthusiasts, (some pictured below) of flash fiction coming from all over the world to write and learn more about flash fiction as well as meeting friends, making new ones and having fun. It is the only festival of its kind totally dedicated to flash fiction. And possibly the only literary festival that has karaoke in the evenings!
Best Novella: We published six amazing novellas-in-flash this year, winners and highly commended from the 2019 Bath Flash Fiction novella-in-flash Award. For this UK based Award, we are asking you to support one of our UK based authors. Either Birds With Horse Hearts by Eleanor Walsh who is based in Cornwall or Homing by Johanna Robinson, from the North of England. Both published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June, 2019.
Most Innovative Publisher We would love it if you voted for Ad Hoc Fiction,our small press that focuses on publishing short short fiction. In 2019 our tiny,tiny team (basically one person doing all the layup and design) published 12 new books: 6 novellas-in-flash; two single author collections; two anthologies of flash fiction and one of short fiction; and one 'small novel in small forms. Ad Hoc Fiction also found time in 2019 to continue publishing a weekly ebook from their micro competition. Truly flying the flag for flash fiction!
Best anthology: We think Bath Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 4,With One Eye On The Cows is a cracker. 135 excellent and varied micro fictions from world-wide authors, published by Ad Hoc Fiction in November, 2019.
Eight spare bullets
by Sharon Telfer
The front windows refuse to shut. The house droops, as after a stroke.
They drink in the kitchen. Under the slanting floor, they catch the trickle of thaw.
Everything here is the northernmost. Town, church, store, pub. The last.
She replays her field recording, bowhead whales, all booming fuzz and feedback.
“Harmonics!” Erik applauds. “That’s freeform jazz.”
The last blues festival.
He softens in her mouth. It’s okay, she whispers, though it’s not. She’ll be gone six weeks.
From the boat, she had watched an iceberg tumble, head over heels, like a clumsy toddler. Not playing, but dying.
Erik kisses her, has to go. Husky safari, tomorrow’s fresh batch of tourists.
He kisses his dogs too. Erik loves his dogs.
Everything slides. The wooden stilts sink beneath the houses. A landslip buries the play park. The ground heaves the dead from their graves, sends coffins tobogganing down the road.
She wakes. Remembers. Not a dream. Last summer.
Her breath freezes in her nostrils.
Reindeer antlers heap by the roadside. They gleam in her torchlight, like bleached coral.
Time loses its way in the permanent dark. The once-white mountain looms black. Deep below, one million seeds – a world’s worth – lie buried. They called it the doomsday vault, fast as a dragon’s hoard. Nine years after opening, meltwater has already flooded in.
Beware of polar bears.
A mother and cubs wandered down this street, past the last post office, the last chocolaterie.
If you leave town, you must take a gun and eight spare bullets.
The plane spins her back into sunrise.
She thumbs up a clip. Erik dancing with his dogs, a circling, shuffling waltz.
At the northernmost, there are more polar bears than people. If you meet a bear, pull back quietly.
Sharon Telfer won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in June 2016 with her story, ‘Terra Incognita’, and was commended in the February 2019 round. She has also won the Reflex Flash Fiction Prize (June 2018). Her stories were selected for the 2019 ‘BIFFY50’ and Best Microfiction 2019. She lives near York and was the New Writing North/Word Factory Northern Short Story Apprentice in 2018. She is an editor at FlashBack Fiction. She tweets @sharontelfer.
The Dissolution Of Peter McCaffrey
by Simon Cowdroy
Heat-ravaged rivets explode off the corrugated iron roof of our milking shed like corks from shaken champagne bottles.
A long drought wind scalds in from the north and the thermometer leaves 50 behind as pitiless gusts scour every nook of the farm. No easy pickings to be found; all that could be taken is long gone.
Dad wasn’t a man you made a promise to lightly, his plea for me to stay burdened with the heft of eight generations. I crane my neck, spot his cross, remember the soil being so unyielding we used up all our dynamite. Not enough time or faith left over for funerals, so his pension cheque still ghosts in.
I lost Annie to the highway a week back. No goodbyes, only the midnight creak of our front door, the bloom of liberated fuel as her car engine fired.
Well rid of her two-faced grace, the lies that fell from those blue eyes as acid rain, but I can’t seem to shake that afternoon before she left. The brutal whisper of, ‘Pete, we’re in this together’, as my tired, fractured head folded into her shoulder.
Joe at the Co-Op rings. The water tankers aren’t coming. He chews my ear about it being the start of Australia’s climate change but sure feels to me like we’re already at the end of everything.
Three hundred cattle are all that remain and I’ve enough feed to get half through next week. The cull is almost a familiar dance now. I never remember grabbing my gun; never forget to keep a bullet in the chamber after it’s done.
I’m not a brave man, and if soft bovine eyes ever boiled over in accusation it would unbind me. Turns out, their gratitude is what keeps me awake.
by Christina Dalcher
And she rides.
She prances the beast sideways, backwards, up, down, feet in the air, falling, balancing, tumbling, perfect circles carved on the red dirt of Spain. Ten years, twelve years, fourteen. Fly a thousand miles from home. Fly south, jump left, skip right. One, two, three. Uno, dos, tres. Één, twee, drie.
And they watch.
Pay your thirty euros; see the Andalusian horses dance. Piaffe, pirouette, travers. Impossible, unnatural gymnastics. Watch the braids in their manes and the flowers in their tails. Watch the girl, ten years, twelve years, fourteen. Watch her fly one last time.
And he bucks.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him dance. Because a beast is a beast, mare or stallion, Arabian or Andalusian. To its ears, Ravel and Offenbach and Sousa make noise, not music. Once a day, twice on Thursday, thunderclap roars of olé-bravo-jolly good show. So tired. Weary of spurs and bits and reins and weight.
And she breaks.
She breaks in the middle and at the ends, bones flattening, nerves singing. She breaks sideways and backwards, young flesh sinking into old earth. She dreams a dream of gold, silver, bronze. She wakes.
And they gasp.
Pobrecita-poor dear-die arme-shame-tragedia-so young. Dangerous beast-willful-cattivo-too green. Mobiles ping as news travels. This is Thursday. Next show at three o’clock.
And she mends.
At the sea, she sits, legs bound in plaster, braids in her hair. She sees the wild ponies lope and trot and gallop. Sees their manes free of flowers, sees their legs naked of wraps. Riderless, they fly to the rhythm of wind and waves, When they come to nuzzle her wounds, she wonders, Who is the trainer, and who is the trainee?
[No Audible Dialogue]
by Remi Skytterstad
The commotion and clamour of the airport is deafening. We are turned to lip-readers by the pack of people and their cacophonic humming composed and orchestrated by a medley of goodbyes / stay safes / I love yous.
Like a ray of sunshine through a patchy carpet of clouds, is our attention drawn to a child / boy / son. The crowd of the airport manoeuvring around him—a crop circle of bodies—in unobtrusive / comfortable / safe distances.
The child is fighting tears. His bottom-lip quivers, and it’s apparent he’s trying to be brave / strong / a big boy.
He is embraced by a man / soldier / father. Together they ripple like a wave when he breathes in his son’s hair, to treasure / remember / survive. And for a moment time slows inside their circle. The crowds bend past them like light around a black hole—a time lapse of bodies, around their sculpturesque scene. The quivering lips—now still—are stretched from cheek to cheek, in a frozen, soundless cry, revealing gritted milky teeth.
Like this we watch them, as the crowds pour and murmur around them, like a river around an islet.
A woman breaks their event horizon, and the boy and the man come alive again.
The son is nodding to the movement of the father’s lips. He straightens his back and wipes away the tears that forced themselves through—his skin darkened in their wake. He moves his mouth in whys / do you have tos / please don’ts.
When the man / soldier stands, he leaves—like the shed skin of a snake—the father around the neck of the son. A translucent outline of a man, only hinting at who used to hold the boy.
The boy is embraced by a woman / mother / widow.
by Claire Powell
The man steps out of his car. Tomasz remains where he is, both hands on the wheel, as though still moving.
It’s black outside, but they’ve stopped on the high street, beneath a yellow lamp. There’s a McDonald’s on the corner, brightly lit, open.
Moments earlier, while pulling out, something had caught Tomasz’s eye: a gift shop filled with teddy bears and glossy heart-shaped balloons. It seemed surreal at first, but now he realises, of course: Valentine’s Day.
The man bends down, picks up his wing mirror.
Tomasz remembers the card Lena once made him. A photo of them in bed, their faces close, pretending to sleep. Stupid really – he’d taken it himself. Had held his arm up high, touched his thumb to the button, closed his eyes before it flashed. To the man of my dreams, she’d written inside. Had he given one to her?
The man opens his boot, removes some kind of tool. Get out, he’s shouting. At least, that’s what Tomasz assumes he’s shouting. He can’t actually hear since – somehow – the radio volume has increased. ‘Lady in Red’ plays out loud.
Tomasz’s hands remain on the steering wheel. How strange. To be thinking of Lena in a moment like this. How surreal. He pictures her inthe crimson bridesmaid dress she wore for her sister’s wedding. She hated that dress, said it made her look like a heavy period.
The man pulls at the handle of Tomasz’s door.
A heavy period! Tomasz was disgusted at the time. He didn’t disagree or tell her she looked good.
The man bangs Tomasz’s window. First with his fist, then with the tool.
He didn’t tell her she looked good, though now he sees she was beautiful.
Glass shatters into Tomasz’s lap. How strange it looks. Surreal. Almost like confetti.