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Freefall writing – a quick and unexpected story

August 5, 2010

Photo by House of Sims

Here’s a story I wrote using the Freefall method.  I had the title ‘Storm’ and just started writing.  I was in a funny mood.  Less than half an hour later, this – more or less – was on my computer screen.  (I have very slightly edited it to take out utter nonsense.)  What it shows is how quickly you can come up with something using Freefall and how unexpected it can be.  I don’t think you can achieve this sort of thing by planning.  It has to fall out of your imagination organically.


The washing panicked on the line in the wind.  The clouds threatened and spat.  The gum tree in the front yard shook its shaggy head, in denial about the coming storm.  Down in the main street, a sandwich board fell on its face.  Had it, kaput.  The shop keeper hurried outside and, looking at the sky, decided to shut up for the day.  Let the customers buy their cheap Chinese tee shirts from the shop next door this afternoon.  An ambulance sounded in the distance, as if to prove that the sick are more sensitive to nature than others.

On the oval, the footballers, brave men one and all, ignored the chill creeping in from the far hills and played on.  Visions of sliding around in mud came to the captain of the home side.  The health of the turf on the oval made this an unlikely prospect, even in the worst weather, to the captain’s secret chagrin.

‘Aw geez, we’re going to get wet,’ the full forward muttered as they jogged on for the third quarter.

‘Don’t be a pussy,’ the captain said.

‘But I’m already on antibiotics from the last cold,’ the full forward said.

The captain rolled his eyes in exasperation.  Didn’t any of these blokes have any guts?  He looked them over: the half-back sitting to pull up his socks – as if that would keep him dry, his ruckman frowning doubtfully at the horizon where clouds welled, the others, equally distracted.  Trouble was they did have guts, and you could see their guts.  They had pot bellies and skinny legs, every man of them.  Footballers indeed.  Fucking unfit wimps.  It was a winter sport, wasn’t it?  What was a little rain?

At that moment, a loud crack came from a place where the gazebo had stood at the side of the oval.  The captain stared in horror.

The place where the gazebo had stood!

Now there was just a smoking pile of grey mush and twisted metal.

‘What the fuck was that?’ the full forward said.

Lightning forked above them, stabbing down as if to spear tasty morsels for a giant’s palate.  The players ran, and the rain fell like bullets.  I think I should have been a soldier, the captain thought as he raced for the shelter of the cars.

It occurred to him that his bag with the car keys had been in the gazebo, and that RACV [roadside assistance] would be busy for hours, as they always strangely were in bad weather, so he’d have to get a lift home with the full forward, and he didn’t want to catch the full forward’s cold.  His next thought was that the full forward’s bag had also been in the gazebo, so they’d both have to tram it.  All this before it occurred to him that it really was amazing and wonderful that he was looking at a house-sized lump of metal that had been, until two minutes ago, a gazebo.

‘The main thing is no one was hurt,’ the ump said, placatingly.

‘You sure?’ asked the out-of-breath ruckman.  ‘Thought I saw a woman and a kid in here.’  He swivelled to yell at the other players limping up.  ‘Anyone of yous bring your missus?’

No one answered for a few seconds.  A couple of guys stood with their hands on their knees, heads down, obviously struggling to breathe.  Another walked around clutching his heart with a stricken look.  At last someone coughed, ‘Don’t think so, guv.’

Yeah, who’d be so shameless as to put a spectator through the sight of this bunch of losers on the football field, thought the captain.  Pussies and losers, every last man of them.  Men indeed.

The full forward said, ‘Oh fuck it.  My smokes were in my bag, which was in the gazebo.’

‘Not to worry,’ the half-back said.  ‘Have one of mine.’  He winched a packet of Peter Jacksons from the tight pocket at the back of his shorts.  Then he reached into the equally tight pocket stretched across his other buttock.  The shorts had clearly been bought at the beginning of the season when the man had been intending to use his gym membership.  The captain groaned quietly to himself.

‘I’m really concerned about the possibility that there are – were – people in there,’ the ump said.  ‘Come on, fellas.  Someone help me look for, well, pram wheels or something.’

See these posts for more of Freefall: Writing Workshops That Work and Dostoevsky v Putin

Photographer: House of Sims

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010 8:16 am

    That’s really cool. I’ve never heard of the Freefall method before. I may have to try it sometime.

    Just a quick reminder that you’ll have to write your blog carnival post on Thursday. I’m just making sure everyone remembers.

  2. August 18, 2010 5:05 am

    Thanks, Chris. And thanks for the reminder too.

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