AWC Furious Fiction Entry – November

Furious Fiction November has rolled around again and I must admit, this one was tough. Usually I have my first draft down on a Saturday morning so I can give it a once over on Sunday with fresh eyes before hitting submit. This time around, I was scrabbling to get it done. This month’s critera were;


  • Your story must include YOUR INTERPRETATION of ALL FIVE of the following emojis, in any order:

furious Fiction November emojis

  • Your story’s first word MUST BE AN ANAGRAM of its final word(s). (You cannot simply repeat the same word and the story title is separate.)
  • Your story must include the phrase (completing it yourself):
    THERE WERE 11 ____ IN THE _____. (Can be a whole or part sentence; not in CAPS.)

And here is my entry titled ‘Toxic’

“Listen, if you don’t keep your mouth zipped…” Billy held his finger up and clenched his fist.

It all started a week ago, after I found out there were 11 ingredients in the fertiliser that never made it on the label. I had to know why, but I should have seen it coming.

“Are you sure? Can you run another analysis?” I flicked through the report.

“We completed a follow-up sample which confirmed the results.” Her voice was icy.  “The compounds we found are toxic, I’m obligated to report this.”

“You have my word, we will recall the batch. I’ll look into how this happened.” 

I ended the call and swallowed. Crawley’s Compost was a family business that had become a household name. If the media got hold of this, it would be a trial by fire.

With Billy away on business, I drove to the processing plant to see for myself. I’d met Jeff a few times at the office, and he took me on a tour of the floor.

“So the ingredients, are they all labelled? Do you have a copy of the recipe?”

“Cow shit and chicken offal don’t come with labels. But we keep the fancier things out back.” He led me into the storeroom. “Old Billy keeps the recipe in the archives, figures it keeps us safe from competitors. I’ve been here long enough to remember the measurements.”

The organic matter, maybe that’s how the compounds got in. I snapped pictures of the labels on the drums and my mouth went dry. Some names looked familiar.

“Thanks for the tour.” I shook Jeff’s hand and summoned a smile. 

Darkness fell as I drove to the office. No streetlights lit the back roads, and the moon was a scant sliver. If Billy knew about the extra ingredients, he was liable. And if I kept his secret, I was complicit. When I pulled up, I realised there would be no better opportunity and headed inside.

The archives were kept in the basement. A dumping ground for financial reports and compliance paperwork, all nestled by the hot water service. Boxes marked with sharpies were stacked to the ceiling, the most recent at the front. There was a distinct smell of mould, and I swatted cobwebs from my face as I moved toward the back.

There was one box right in the corner, unmarked, wound with packing tape. I blew the dust off the top and saw a sticker marked confidential. This had to be it, I hefted it to my desk and sliced through the tape.

The reports came from the lab we used to use. The one that charged exorbitant fees. I switched the accounts a few months ago. High risk to pregnant women. Known to cause deformities. Cancer. Liability could be passed on to other suppliers.

“You knew and paid off the labs to keep it quiet.” I glared. “You can’t stop me reporting this. There isn’t enough money in the world to keep me silent.”

Probably not my best work. But I am glad I turned up and got something submitted.

Because that’s the point. Each month the Furious Fiction crew band together to cheer each other on and comisserate over the parameters. For anyone who would like to play along you can sign up to the fan club here. There are no entry fees and it is open to international entries.

If you’d like to see last months entry you can find it here. I had a lot more fun with that one and am hoping for more like it in the December round.

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