Price to Pay

made the longlist of highly commended entries with my first ever short story. There were competition entries from around the world: Australia, the UK, USA, India, the Netherlands , Canada. I was also the only successful one from Tasmania.

The competition is called Furious Fiction, by the Australian Writers’ Centre. You write 500 words in under 55 hours. And you have to follow random criteria, which change each time. This time they were:

Each story had to begin with a 12-word sentence.

Each story had to include the sale of a second-hand item.

Each story had to include at least five (5) different words that end in the letters –ICE.

Congratulations to the winning entry, the shortlisted ones and the other longlist entries. Here is a link to the winning entry.

And here is my story…


‘Let’s sell the sword on Marketplace so the police can’t find it.’ Ronan Right nodded to himself.

‘What?’ His brother, Gary, rolled his eyes and shook his head.

‘If we stick a fair price on it, it won’t look suspicious,’ said Ronan.

Gary’s stomach cramped. ‘You want to sell a murder weapon online?’

‘What I want, Gary, is to dispose of incriminating evidence in a way that no one will think twice about,’ said Ronan, his upturned hands underlining the obviousness of his plan.

‘What you gonna say in the ad?’ asked Gary, a nervy man with a raspy voice. ‘Fatally sharp sword. One careless owner. Some blood stains. No timewasters.’


‘It’s not funny though, is it. I’ll have nothing to do with it. It’s bonkers.’

‘You’ll have everything to do with it,’ insisted Ronan. ‘You’re already an accomplice to murder. You’re hardly going to do more time because you misrepresented a second-hand item on Facebook.’

Ronan mimed typing, adding with a whine, ‘The ad said original 19th Irish Guards sword, but it was a dirty 20th replica recently used in the slaying of an abusive husband. One star.’

The sun pierced through an interstice between the half-drawn curtains, kissing the vicious cold silver of the blade on the blood red rug.

Gary pulled a piece of dark Dutch licorice from his pocket and sucked its metallic saltiness.

‘You might regret it,’ said Gary.

‘Regret what?’ asked Ronan, rubbing his bloody hand through his short red hair.

‘Selling it. It’s a nice sword.’

Ronan edged the blade with the tip of a frayed Blundstone. The hilt hit the lifeless leg on the rug. ‘I just used the sword to dice up this grub who abused Janice.’

‘I did notice that,’ said Gary. ‘He made a racket.’

‘So yeah nah, I don’t need to hang on to it, like a holy chalice.’

‘I get it,’ said Gary. ‘Janice was my sister too. This prick controlled and abused her for 15 years. She took her life because of him. And now we’ve taken his. It’s justice.’

A pause.

‘How much shall we sell it for?’ asked Ronan.

‘300 bucks?’ Gary yanked the dead man’s body aside and took photos of the sword without the corpse in shot. He had the ad online in five minutes.

The brothers sat in silence. The scent of their sweat hovered.

‘We still have to get his body to Hellfire Bluff and chuck it off the precipice,’ muttered Ronan, pressing his fingers into his forehead.

Fifteen minutes later Gary’s inbox pinged: Hello, is this still available?


Where are you?

Gary typed the address.

Can I come over now?


We’re on our way.

Soon a car slowed and stopped outside. The engine cut. The sound of car doors slamming. Boots striding. A creak on the balustrade out front. A pause. A knock. Loud. Another knock.

Gary peeked through the curtains, groaned and farted.

A voice pierced the front door: ‘Police.’

Leigh Arnold, December 2022