• Your story must take place in a LIBRARY or BOOKSTORE (you can choose which)
  • Your story must include AT LEAST SIX of the following 20 wordseach taken from the openings of the previous 20 Furious Fiction winning stories:
    • BROKEN
    • MUSIC
    • AROUND
    • SMELT
    • GRUBBY
    • GAME
    • COFFEE
    • BEIGE
    • HANDS
    • TWELVE
    • COWBOY
    • CUPID
    • TRAIN

You can do this. Easy.

You’ve still got…

The giant wall mounted clock face stared at me ominously, hands moving in a slow, unrelenting march. Taunting me. 

1 hour and 12 minutes.

I swallowed and tried not to think about the precious seconds ticking away. Not for the first time, I allowed myself the brief fantasy of imagining a life where I was an organised, responsible, productive member of society. 

Why are you like this? No. No time for that. 

I looked around at my fellow comrades, brothers in arms locked in their own private battle against time. The library was packed, considering the hour. A sad collection of procrastinators on their last hurrah. I watched a guy down the hall pace in tight circles, muttering furiously to himself, his hands tightly clenched in fists. The girl nearest to me had turned her computer off and was resting her head on her hands, weeping softly.

“Hey, excuse me,” I said gently, tapping her shoulder. She looked up through swollen, blotchy eyes. 

“Shh, please.” Her wailing increased to a high pitched whine.

Never mind. Focus. 

I rubbed my hands together determinedly. 

Let’s go.

After several futile attempts at rewriting a sentence until it was vaguely coherent, I realised the letters on the screen had bled into one big, grey mass of nonsense. I blinked a few times, my eyes square shaped.

This isn’t getting anywhere. You need caffeine.

I reached under the desk and blindly fumbled for my backpack. After managing to open the zip, I rummaged through a mess of loose pencils, painkillers, deodorant, and a tangle of earbuds, my fingers finally closing on my trusty thermos. Taking a swig of cold, bitter coffee, I went back to work. 

Work. Worky work. Work, jerk. Jerky. Man, I was hungry. I couldn’t remember the last time I ate. My fingers slapped ineffectually at the keys as I considered the best kind of cuisine to fill the gaping void in my stomach. Pizza? Sushi? Oh man, I could go fried chicken. 

Write. Shut up and write. You can operate without food. Finish your essay.

How much did I really want this degree, anyway? I mean, how bad would it be if I decided, here and now, to do something else? Anything else? Better to find that out earlier, than waste all this energy, right?

I tried to ask the girl next to me this burning question, but she’d fallen asleep. I caught a glimpse of my grubby reflection in her blank screen. Yeesh. I’m sure I smelt like roadkill, too. Surely no essay is worth my personal hygiene?  

You have no one to blame for your situation but yourself. Get back to work. 

I forced my head to look at my paper and, rereading my words, realised with a sinking feeling that it was, in fact, a steaming pile of shit. After scrolling aimlessly for a few seconds, I changed the font from size 12 to size 11. Welp, time for another break.