Flash Fiction Contest

Flash Fiction is a complete story told in 750 words or less. Residents of Port Coquitlam of all ages are invited to enter our Flash Fiction Contest hosted by the Terry Fox Library and the City of Port Coquitlam. The winning Flash Fiction story will be featured in the City of Port Coquitlam’s Storywalk Program along the Donald Pathway.

Each story must:

  • Be, or contain, an adventure
  • Be set in Port Coquitlam
  • Include the word “seed
  • Be no more than 750 words (min 180)

Titles are not included in the word count. Entries must be original and not contain any copyrighted materials, including song lyrics etc. Staff of FVRL and the City of Port Coquitlam cannot enter.

Contest Runs: May 4 to June 4, 2020

Grand Prize: $75 gift card to Western Sky Books, sponsored by the PoCo BIA. The winning Flash Fiction story will be featured in the City of Port Coquitlam’s new Storywalk along the Donald Pathway.

Two Runners-up: $50 gift card to Western Sky Books, sponsored by the PoCo BIA.

Winning Story - Grand Prize

The Seed of Happiness

by Jade Wong

“Pff”, as four year old Samuel cracks open another sunflower seed. Giggling as he watches his puppy devour the seeds one by one, he starts to put on his shoes.

His mother had bought an arrangement of seeds from the local grocer, City Avenue, to plant at the community garden. As she grabs the basket of seeds to take to the garden, she feels the lightness of the basket. It is then that she notices the mountain of empty shells in front of her son. In the basket, there remains all the seeds for the carrots, zucchinis and cucumbers but only a small handful of sunflower seeds remain. Shaking her head, she leashes the dog and takes Samuel by the hand. Together, they rush out the door to plant some more seeds and to water their growing vegetables.

Samuel enjoys their daily, post-dinner routine of tending to their garden. As they walk, he proudly holds their basket, hoping to return with yet another full basket of colourful vegetables again. Meanwhile, his mom had hoped that some sunflowers would bring a nice pop of colour to their garden.

As they walk hand in hand in the crisp spring evening through Central Park, a friendly kitty is sitting on the path. Excited by the sight of the cat, Samuel drops the basket and chases the now-terrified cat. As the basket is quickly picked up by Samuel’s mom, a few seeds spill over to the grass below.

At that very moment, a slight breeze picks up and scatters the seeds throughout the park. Their dog is sniffing around when, jackpot! He inhales some of the sunflower seeds and goes back to trying to find his ball.

Meanwhile, the other seeds continue to tumble and roll around in the field, getting tossed around by soccer balls, weathered down by spring showers and surviving the relentless predators that are birds, squirrels and lawnmowers. Eventually, after days of treacherous environmental conditions, the surviving seeds settle on the outer edge of the park.

“BRRRRR” – the seeds are woken with a loud awakening from the sound of a landscaper’s leaf blower gathering the fallen cherry blossom flowers along Rowland Street. The boisterous blower sweeps up the seeds from the comfort of their nest and pushes them further north along Rowland. Crossing Hawthorne, they settle slightly before a construction worker sweeps them further along. Eventually, a sweeper pushes them into the intersection of Kelly and Rowland.

A few weeks pass by and the seeds have remained in one grassy spot, starting to take root on a wet, rainy day when suddenly, they are consumed by Samuel’s dog who had eaten their seedling friends back at Central Park. Inside the cavity of the dog’s mouth, it is dark and gloomy, and almost still smells of sunflowers. Before they even know it, the seeds are deposited on a small soil field leading into Gates Park.

Exhausted from their thrilling journey of being tossed, turned and consumed, the seeds finally lay to rest for the rest of the evening on the heavenly dirt, awaiting for the arrival of a new day for a new adventure.

When the morning comes, the seeds realize that they are in the company of old friends. They are surrounded by tall sunflowers, who had grown while the other seeds were making their way to them. Appreciating the adventurous journey they had been on and finally feeling at home, these seeds grow up to be beautiful sunflowers as a family bringing happiness to visitors of Gates Park.

Winning Story - Runner Up #1

Mango Travels

by Mithila Karnik

Ajji was very nervous on her flight to Port Coquitlam. It had been almost five years since the birth of her granddaughter and she was going to be meeting her for the first time. The virus has finally abated and things were getting back to normal. Most importantly, people and relationships we’re getting back to normal – if that was even possible, thought Ajji skittishly and sighed. Her name wasn’t really Ajji but she has always been called that. Ajji means “grandmom” in Marathi and she had absolutely no problem having that as not only her name but her only identity. Ajji longed to hold her granddaughter in her arms and take in her smell! FaceTime calls could never do justice to show how much she loved her. But she wondered if everything would be as easy-peasy as a video call.

The airplane touched down on the PoCo runway. It felt like within minutes, Ajji was out of the aircraft and picking up her luggage at the conveyor belt. Her luggage was priceless – she had come with a carton of the juiciest, most beautiful Alphonso mangoes for her daughter and grandchild. When her daughter was a kid, eating mangoes in the summer was their favourite pastime, an opportunity to bond. The simplicity of this pastime transcended adolescence and teenage rebellion and kept mother and daughter close. Who could suck through the tender and juicy mango all the way to its seed first? Their mango eating competitions were legendary. Ajji hoped to replicate the bond with her granddaughter.

With these fuzzy thoughts in her head, Ajji maintained a silent lookout for her bags and the precious box. Imagine her surprise when she saw a man bend down to quickly pick up what she knew was her treasure box of mangoes. She ran over to him as he was lifting the box onto his trolley and stood in front of him and said, “Excuse me, I am sure you are mistaken but this is my box!” The man looked at her strangely and responded, “I am sure YOU are mistaken because this is MY box.”

Their argument escalated quickly and before Ajji could get any of the ground staff to help her, the man started running for the exit. Ajji scowled and hitched up her sari to the side and prepared to give chase. She may look old and weathered but she was as spritely as a gazelle. She took off after the man and saw that he had managed to stow the box in the boot of his car and was in the front seat revving the engine. Ajji jumped and landed in front of the car and whipped out a light saber from her handbag. The man gave an irritated shout and got out of the car, his own light saber in tow!

Within minutes, word spread in PoCo about the epic battle taking place at the airport and crowds gathered around the warring, sparring duo. For every attack the man posed, Ajji had a strong and unexpected counter attack. It wasn’t long before the man, winded and exhausted, held up his hands to signal defeat. The crowds around them groaned – they wanted the fight to go on longer – this was the most important excitement the residents of Port Coquitlam had seen in a while. Even the mayor had come out to watch!

Ajji landed the final blow and the man cowered in defeat. “Hand over the box,” Ajji demanded. The man almost crawled over this car and with the last vestiges of his strength lifted the box and hefted it over to Ajji.

“Ajji, Ajji, I can’t believe you can fight the way you did!!” An excited shriek from the crowd brought Ajji’s attention to a little girl running towards her with her hands outstretched. She fell into Ajji’s arms and kissed Ajji’s cheeks. “You are my superhero, Ajji! Nobody’s grandmom can battle the way you did! I loved every second of it!”

Ajji could feel tears running down her face as she caressed her granddaughter’s hair and whispered, “The mangoes have already done their job!”

Winning Story - Runner Up #2

The Package

by Kirk McDougall

An explosion shattered the apartment door. As smoke billowed in, Angie secured the package, ran out onto the balcony, six floors above ground, and jumped. As she flew over the railing, her hand shot out and grabbed the rope, ever at the ready. Once the line was taut, it swung her back toward the building into the apartment below. Feet first, she burst through the door, spraying glass throughout the room. It was vacant, a stroke of luck.

Angie popped her head out the hallway door and heard footsteps in the stairwell to the left. It forced her to go right, toward the elevator. To confuse her pursuers and buy precious seconds, she pressed the down button and continued to the stairwell. They would expect her to go down, so she went up. At the top, she burst through the door and ran across the roof. A twenty-foot gap between buildings loomed in front of her. She jumped and landed with only her toes touching the ledge. Twirling her arms kept her balance.

“On the roof,” yelled one of the agents.

A shot rang out. It was easier to explain a private investigator who had fallen off a roof than one with bullet holes in her, so they had aimed at the ledge. It shattered, and Angie fell. She grabbed at each of the balconies as she plummeted. Her hands connected a few times. It slowed her momentum enough that she could stop by grabbing the second-floor railing, but it slammed her into the side of the balcony. The glass held, but the jolt sent a flash of pain through her shoulder. She jumped to the ground, rolled, and came up running. Her shoulder throbbed.

Angie rounded the apartment building corner as bullet spray shattered the wood. With a smile, she climbed into her armored SUV. Once inside, tires screeched as she sped down Village Drive, skidded onto Sherling, and turned onto Lougheed.

Two trucks chased her. By the time Angie approached the overpass, the red truck had pulled up on her left side. A gun stuck out the passenger window. Angie hit the brakes. The blue pickup was only a few feet behind the SUV and rammed her reinforced bumper. The red overshot and had to go on to the Lougheed Connector. She cranked the wheel to the right, ignored the Wrong Way signs, and bounded over concrete barriers through the fast-food parking lot.

Angie’s SUV shot out onto the Lougheed Connector heading south. The red truck had turned off of the highway and was going north. She skidded into a right turn, and back onto Lougheed. The blue pickup was still trying to get the engine started. The red was going the wrong way. Angie had gained a few seconds, but by the time she turned left onto Shaughnessy, the red truck had found her. He was right on her tail as they sped under Kingsway. She skidded around the corner onto Wilson. With her foot to the floor, she still couldn’t shake the guy. He pulled up beside her. The passenger pointed his gun out the window as they approached the Rec Centre.

Angie cranked the wheel hard to the right. It took her up the path and past the library. The SUV burst through the Rec Centre doors, sending glass shards throughout the foyer. A sharp left and then a right made her vehicle skid to a stop. She jumped out and leaped into the elevator. Safe inside, she pulled up the covert phone app that controlled the elevator’s unique functions. It took her to the secret floor below the ice arena, where she entered an organization known only as The Agency.

Angie strode into the director’s office, a grin on her face. She threw a package onto his desk and said, “Here’s your parcel.”

“Still intact. Unlike our foyer,” said the director.

“Why’s it so important?” Angie ignored the man’s sarcasm.

“It’s a new seed with a yield that’s far better than anything else. We can grow a tremendous amount of food in a small area. The country that owns this seed can feed a spaceship crew on a voyage to Mars or anywhere.”

“A good payday then?” said Angie.

The director shook his head. “By the time I take off money for damages, you’ll have just enough to buy a cheeseburger.”

Angie shrugged.  “Better than last time.”

Winning Story - Teen

A Journey Through Life

by Gabriel Fulton

One day after school my mother my phoned me and bluntly said, “You need to get home right now!”

“What had I done to get in trouble now?” I muttered to myself. Running home wasn’t a problem because I lived in a very small city. PoCo was a little city in BC that was full of trails and wild life. Usually, I would take a leisurely walk home with my friends, but as many teenagers know, when you’re in trouble, get home as quick as possible.

Once I got there, my mother looked at me and practically flung the door open and not so gracefully pushed me in. It was not like her to be so rough on anyone. She was a very short person with blonde hair that went to her mid-back and she had deep brown eyes that had the ferocity of a tiger. Normally, she was all cupcakes and muffins, but today was not that day.

As I got into the living room, my dad waltzed over to me and stated, “Your great grandfather has just passed away from a heart attack.”

I looked at him with confusion and anger and grumpily replied, “You brought me home for this!” Seriously, I didn’t understand any of them. I didn’t care anything for my great granddaddy because he would always tell me of how much I had to be thankful for in life. He always used to tell me, well rather lecture me, about his life when he was my age, and how it wasn’t so easy to get were you wanted to be.

My dad saw the anger through my eyes and said through tears, “Amanda, you will come to the funeral and act like you care. Do I make myself clear?” His words were like icicles hitting my skin, but I grumbled “I can try.” Frustrated, I stormed to my room and played on my phone for the rest of the night.

After the boring funeral, everybody went home except us. Surprise, surprise, my parents wanted to pay their last respects. My dad handed me a bouquet of flowers and said with a stern look in his eye, “pay your respects and meet us in the car.”

I was a little confused of what I had to do with the bouquet, but I nodded anyways. The last thing I needed today was to be lectured about respectfulness. As I was walking over to his grave, I noticed a man standing beside it.

“Hello,” I said.

He turned his head and gave a soft smile. I didn’t recognize him from the funeral, but he could have been there because I wasn’t really paying attention anyway. He was a tall man with a masculine jaw that reminded strangely me of my dad’s. He wore a black suit with army medals attached to it.

A little nervous, I walked over to him; suddenly I didn’t see any other gravestone but my great granddad. The man’s skin now glowed like gold and he disintegrated into a golden dust that was taken softly by the nearby blowing wind.

OK, I was definitely scared now. I ran back to the car, only it wasn’t there. “They left me here,” I whined.

I looked up and saw a bunch of old cars that looked like they came from the 1930’s. Where was I? I ran over to what looked like a farmer, who was holding a bucket of seeds, and asked, “What year is it?”

He looked me up and down visibly confused as to my clothing and said, “1939.”

Panicking, I ran home. At least this looked the same as always. My legs could barely hold me up as I walked up the front step towards the door. I soon realized that my mom and dad wouldn’t be in there, but my great granddad would be. This house had belonged to our family since the beginning of time and according to my math, he would be the same age as me: 18.

Just before I knocked on the door, the man from the cemetery appeared next to me. I practically jumped out of my skin.

“Who are you?” I whispered. The man looked at me and said with amusement in his brown eyes, “Don’t you recognize me? I’m your great granddad. This is where I grew up.”

He gave me a devilish look and continued. “You will be stuck here until you learn your lesson. Good luck.” And with that he was gone.

Contact

Robi Smith
Arts & Culture Coordinator
Tel 604.927.8443
Email smithr@portcoquitlam.ca