Excuse me, humanity, please pay attention. I have an urgent message for you.

“What? Not in the middle of my reality TV show!”

I’m sorry. I’ll be brief. But first, a little background. My message concerns the fate of a pale blue dot in the inky expanse of the universe, a Petri dish containing all the humanity, flora, and fauna that have ever existed upon it. Beyond this dot’s fragile borders is vast nothingness.

“Nothingness? Sounds like it’s got nothing to do with me!”

This is the opening for my short story, You Have Been Warned, shared on the Tall And True writers’ website.

Please note: the Story Insight below contains spoilers.

Story Insight

I wrote You Have Been Warned for the Not Quite Write Prize, run by the Not Quite Write Podcast, in April 2024. Their brief for the competition was:

  1. Your story must feature the word DATE. This word must be used in full, with no spaces or interrupting punctuation. However, it may be included within a longer word provided the original spelling is retained, e.g. dated or mandate.
  2. Your story must feature the action of “picking a winner.” You don’t need to use this exact wording, and you can feature the action prominently or simply as an aside. The action may occur before the beginning or after it ends as long as it’s referenced somewhere within your story.
  3. Your story must break the rule “always use said”. You can interpret this anti-prompt in whatever creative way you see fit.

Different Stories, Same Father

Writers have 60 hours to craft a 500-word story from midday Friday of the Not Quite Write Prize weekend to midnight Sunday. Having brainstormed an idea on Friday, I set out on Saturday morning to write a story titled “What If?”. I wrote a solid opening paragraph and developed the story, ticking off the brief and writing 250-300 words by early Saturday afternoon.

But then I realised the story wouldn’t work. It was too much “raw” autofiction, based on a tragic event I experienced earlier in the month. So, I parked that story and started on You Have Been Warned, drawing from an idea I used in another short story about climate change I wrote for a Furious Fiction challenge in 2022, Once Upon A Time.

The two stories are different, but reading them side-by-side, you can tell they have the same “father”.

Share Your Writing on TallAndTrue.com

Revised Version

The You Have Been Warned I’ve shared on Tall And True is a revised version of the one I wrote and submitted in April.

As I explained in a 2020 blog post about the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Furious Fiction, short-deadline competitions like Furious Fiction and the Not Quite Write Prize don’t allow writers time to reflect on their writing. So, as I’ve done with all my Furious Fictions, I edited and tweaked You Have Been Warned before sharing it while respecting the brief and 500-word limit.

I hope you enjoy reading the story … and its message—please let me know!

© 2024 Robert Fairhead

Thanks to StockSnap for sharing the TV image and Sinousxl for the Milky Way on Pixabay.

N.B. You might like to read a post about my January 2024 entry (also tweaked!) for the Not Quite Write Prize, Different Journeys.

This post was proofread by Grammarly
About RobertFairhead.com

About RobertFairhead.com

Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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