Read the first chapter of Vincent Silk’s debut novel.Read More
In the darkness before dawn the village men row out in their boats that are shaped like the half-pods from the criollo tree, and in the heat of the day the women scale, clean and smoke the fish the men bring home . . .
Acker looks into the night sky above the silhouettes of the Rocks. The constellation of the Two Mothers, ringed by their campfires, floats above her like an enormous skeletal kite sailing on a vast and unfelt wind . . .
Read the first ten pages of George Haddad's breakout novella.Read More
The first two chapters of the little bit weird The Bonobo's Dream by Rose Mulready.Read More
An excerpt from India's first anthology of graphic non-fiction with thanks to Yoda Press.Read More
At last, Anna Spargo-Ryan has her book coming out. Here's a peek...Read More
Winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult
Winner of the 2015 Viva La Novella Prize
A sharp-edged semi-futuristic riff about a rebellious teenager’s last week at an industrial orphanage.
I twist my hand at a weird angle to get to the itch on my wrist below the shackle. I mean, they call them ‘the Consequences of movement violations’, but shackles is what they are. When I forget to refer to them as such I get ‘the Consequences of speech violations’, which is pretty much just a gag. No one cares what I call that because everything sounds the same with a mouthful of rubber, doesn’t it?
The bus is ancient and jammed with kids, skinny bums squeezed onto the bench seats. The bus is far noisier than the kids, the whole thing filled with a riot of squeaks and rattles and the odd bang from somewhere inside the engine, while us kids keep our mouths shut and our eyes wide, staring straight ahead. Sweat makes a thin layer between my thighs and the cracked vinyl and my bum aches, pressed into the unpadded bench seat. I bounce hard on my arse bones with every pothole jolt.
No one makes eye contact with me. I’m not the only one shackled . . . sorry, facing Consequences, but I am the only one gagged. Sometimes my mouth just starts going and even though in my head I’m all like, shut up, oh just shut up, I can’t help myself.
We slow and the bus drags itself up to the curb, backfires and dies with a rumble-thud. Everyone kinda cranes their eyes slightly to the left. The Uncle up front glares, on a hawk-eye lookout for any minor infraction of the head-turning variety. They put the thickest, stupidest ones on transport duties, usually as a punishment. They like to make us pay for that. I’ve been enjoying this one’s company for fifteen hours of this broiling hell-trip back to Sydney and when he motions for us to stand and file off, I make sure to catch his arm with one of the strings of drool that have spilled out the sides of my gagged mouth.
‘It’s been a pleasure,’ I say, but it comes out all garbled.
‘No talking,’ he barks, looking like he wishes he could gag me a second time.
We line up on the footpath beside the bus. The sun is going down and everyone’s always tired and grumpy as hell after a transfer, but they’ve got to stick to procedure, don’t they? We all wind out our wrists and ankles as they scan our armband codes and make sure no one’s pissed off or died during the trip. It happens.
I take a moment to look over the facility, though I’m not sure why I bother. Every Verity House is the same — a big grey box straddling an entire city block. It’s like they knock them together off-site and heli them in or something. Maybe they do, I don’t know. Broome or Blacktown, Albury, Cairns or that one they say is on that island down in Tassie, it doesn’t matter. The dining hall is always to the right of the dorms; the watch quarters have those thick, double-brick walls that mean they’re easy to sneak past if the door’s closed; the bathrooms are sweet little Kidcam blind spots where I can read a non-reg book on my tab, have a cry or a quick-and-dirty interlude up against the wall without facing any of the related Consequences. In their hurry to manufacture heartless functionality, they’ve made me a home.
I breathe in, scanning the familiar rise and fall of the walls. I take every tiny victory I can, because eventually they add up.
Small victories are all you get in an Orphancorp.
Read the first chapter of one of the 2015 Viva La Novellas.Read More
After you have been gone long enough for me to start believing them, with their soft-spoken story of shipwreck slipping you into the past tense, I go to see a soothsayer living on Collins Street. She says that you are alive and living on microwave meals in Vegas, and I want to believe her so badly that I buy her last copy of The Big Issue for twice the cover price.
I think about the clod of earth I dropped on your empty coffin and the feeling of dirt under my fingernails. I think about my glass bracelet flinging the sunlight across the dirt piled on each side of your grave. I think of the strangeness of Father, we commend our brother Domenic . . . And I think about Vegas and heaven and hell and wonder if some wires got crossed somewhere between the overhead tram lines, the skyscape of fluorescent-lit offices, and a life bundled into a shopping trolley.
You liked Vegas and work kept you going back, a two of hearts taped to your suitcase to help you identify it on the luggage carousel. You liked microwave meals, too. You marvelled at how far we’d evolved and joked about saving the packaging for when the revolution came and plastic would be rarer than diamonds.
Melbourne’s dressed in her own favourite grey. The buildings rise from the rain-blackened streets and office workers slip by leaving pieces of conversation in the air:
‘–said I’d have it to him by Friday and he said Juliana wants it the day after tomorrow, and you know what happened last time–’
‘I thought Paris, but only if the wedding’s in April. But Mum has–’
‘Did you see her hair? Hello, 1987!’
Collins Street’s no place for homelessness or even for standing still.
The soothsayer turns to rummage in her trolley, even though I tell her to keep the change, and though I don’t want to be rude I walk away after a few moments of her incantation: ‘It’s in here somewhere. I know it.’
The café with the good muffins is just around the corner, and I go in and order the pear and almond one before I remember I am alone and can have the raspberry – white chocolate every time now. Silver lining.
I flip open The Big Issue and its centrefold urges me to write to one of the asylum seekers detained at Woomera. For a moment I consider this; I scan the list of names and will one to jump out – my asylum seeker, tracing characters with a stick in the red desert sand: Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.
Then the soothsayer is banging on the window of the coffee shop. I go out with half a muffin in one hand, the magazine folded open in the other.
‘The pear ones are no good,’ she says, and she takes the muffin from me and eats it. ‘I forgot to tell you: you must leave, for the child’s sake – Vegas, that’s over – find a life for the two of you.’
There is no child, as you know. And any plans I’d had for combing Vegas casinos with a photo of you printed a hundred times deflate rapidly as I watch the muffin disappear. Even though I’d told myself this soothsaying thing was all a joke, I feel disappointment rise in my chest. ‘Vegas is over,’ I repeat stupidly.
‘Yes,’ she says, and she looks at me intensely. She points to the page of asylum seekers in the magazine. ‘For him, you hold the key.’
I look where she’s pointing. ‘I don’t–’
‘It’s a new millennium. It’s time to move on.’ And, as if taking her own advice, she begins pushing her trolley up the hill, her head low. People in suits dodge out of her way and I feel sorry; and, being tired of self-pity, I hope it is for her.
I follow and then overtake her, stand in her path and stop the trolley with my hands.
‘You again,’ she says.
‘I don’t think it’s over,’ I say. ‘Not for me, anyway.’
‘Women rarely do,’ she says, ‘but it is, I assure you.’
‘He’s not in Vegas,’ I say, ‘and there is no child.’
‘He is probably where you left him; men don’t move very far on their own steam.’
‘They say he was on a boat to Italy that never arrived.’
‘Italy? It could be Italy. I was always bad at geography. The microwave meals are for sure. Men aren’t good with cooking.’ She reaches down to adjust her sagging stockings. ‘But there is a child,’ she shakes her head, as if trying to get rid of static in the signal, ‘or there was one.’
And, of course, she is right about that. For a moment, when she reaches out to touch my shoulder, it feels like she has known me for a long time.
Winner of the 2015 Viva La Novella Prize
‘Dazzling, intelligent and heart-rending. I have long been a fan of Collins, and this is why.’ – Toni Jordan
One of Seizure's favourite emerging writers just released her first book through Pan Macmillan. Here's an extract to give you a taste.Read More
Eloise wakes before me. She walks to the front door and into the yard. I hear the lid of the mailbox open and shut. Outside, the day is bright, a tram is passing on the main road and, sitting on an electrical wire above the house, a magpie is singing.Read More
A taste bite of one of our spectacular new novellas.Read More
In our house many people died, but all of Việt Nam bleeds ghosts from the wars. When I was growing up I would see other ghosts, like Americans, and would practise my English with them. Sometimes they would be wary, other times not. I have gradually learnt not to be afraid of strangers.Read More
At Seizure, we really admired his Vogel's award winning first novel, The Roving Party, and so are delighted to present an extract from Rohan Wilson's new novel, To Name Those Lost.Read More