Every week the Faber Academy runs a little QuickFic competition where they give writers a prompt in the form of a picture, a piece of music, a line, a wikki entry and you write a story around that theme or inspiration of no more that 250 words. This week’s competition information is here . Hey I didn’t win – I never do! But I quite liked my story this week, so thought id share with you.
Below me 13,000 gallons of water swell to form our battlefield. It’s -5 and I feel every voodoo pin prick of cold, biting at my toes, my fingers, the tops of my ears. I’m ready. I look down, focusing on the glass surface, the red start light distorted by an inch of patterned swirling cuts in the ice. Four years compartmentalised into 1,500 metres, four laps.
Times, numbers, technique, form, function, measures, distances, cloud milkily from view. We brace, I see the dragon’s pugilistic breath of each of my comrades churn the air. Absently I touch three fingers to the embroidered flag at my shoulder, to my lips, a silent prayer, to my wrist, where my father’s watch counts the final few moments.
A fleeting spark of despair as I allow myself to dwell too long on the familiar form of the blades next to me. A memory takes me away, my son’s forehead against mine, a gentle warmth, a shared intimate smile of identification.
I distinguish one word from the rapturous pandemonium, the flashbulbs whirring into charge, the boys on their school trip unwrapping gluey saccharine toffees, my wife’s nervous cough of anticipation, ‘breathe’.
The trigger, its takes longer than usual to react, for my muscles to obey the command, we round the final corner, I touch my fingertips to the bitter ground, and push on to exhaust my remaining strength.
2:17.6 minutes, gold,