POLICE CATEGORY WINNER

World’s End by Nikki Crutchley
It sounds like the world has come to a growling, rumbling end. Like a storm has erupted from the ground. It looks like the world has come to an end. Up on the foothills I watch as the ground splits in two and buildings down below in the city collapse as if made of paper.
And then silence apart from hundreds of car alarms screaming in unison.
The police.
I need to feel safe. Like there is someone left on this earth.
I reach for my cell phone. A tree cracks and falls next to me, late in coming to the party.
I dial 111, but I am greeted with silence.

POLICE CATEGORY RUNNERS UP

The Hardest Fall by Blair Polly
The speed is all you imagined it would be. You’re flying — back arched, arms and legs spread, hurtling towards the earth at terminal velocity. The town below looks like a model. After identifying the landing zone near the aerodrome, you pick out your house two blocks to the west.
I thought you said you were going to your sister’s today? And why is Jimmy’s car outside?
Despite falling at 195 kph, your heart drops further when you see two naked bodies entwined by the pool. You jettison your parachute, and pull out your cell phone.
“What is the nature of your emergency?”
“Murder, 102 Main Street!” you scream, arrowing towards them.

Late Night Interview by Kim Stainton
You can’t help but look. A stockinged leg invites a gaze. Her voice has more honey than it should given the hard face and comatose eyes. You watch her lips. She’s all teeth and angles. She says he’s been a dick. He hit the window cos who the fuck knows why. You watch the cop flinch when she swears. A young, soft, upper middle-class scion who will never let go of those values, no matter how many tattoos cover his arms. You pass the ambulance, guessing the boyfriend is bleeding in there. You think: she had nice legs. The face wouldn’t win a prize, but those legs could hold their own.

EDITOR’S PICK

Empathy by Charlotte Chadwick
The client is still on the line when my hands start shaking uncontrollably.
We are very close, I repeat.
No response, just the sound of sobbing. It takes a long time to get to these rural areas.
I can almost see her lying on the cupboard floor, lit by the blue of her phone, listening.
I sit on my hands and vow to stop drinking coffee. My face is hot. My heart is pounding.
I ask the client to breathe with me. She does — in, out.
I pause, wiggle one headphone away from my head and lean forward.
Something drips onto the keyboard, warm and clear. These are not my tears.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Samson by Alex Reece Abbott
Juliet counts the rain-tears running down the glass cheeks of her bedroom window.
Holding Samson close, she murmurs.
No answer.
She knows what he’s thinking.
Brad breaks in again. High, brandishing a hunting knife, threats like his
t-shirt, worn thin.
Once, she called the cops. They reached her boohai cottage too late.
Damage done.
Brad? Done a runner.
Finally Samson speaks. Now.
She fires a lightning-white arc. Electrodes deliver two minutes and
thirty-nine seconds of continuous, barbed justice to Brad’s chest.
Her cheating, junkie ex falls, writhing, then still. Silent.
Juliet kisses Samson, polymer mingling with sweat-salt.
The rain has stopped.
The macrocarpa magpie roosts quiet. The dark driveway is still.

Who Comes First? by Mary-anne Scott
“My pager’s beeped.”
“No! Not today.” Anika turned to face him, the toddler’s fat ankles caught in her left hand. “Pass the wipes?” The room was airless, her body too heavy for kneeling, and the baby inside her kicked in protest. “Can’t someone else?”
“I’ve checked; they need negotiators.”
“Please, not you. The baby’s low — I’m scared it’ll be today.”
“I have to; they need me.”
She finished the nappy change and stood her son on his feet. “What is it?”
“A guy threatening to harm his child.” Her husband juggled his keys. “Could your Mum help?”
“Yes.” Anika touched his arm. “My family’s here, you go and help. Be safe.”


AMBULANCE CATEGORY WINNER

Predate by George Fenwick
There was no time. There were no seconds. Only force, air, tarmac. Pain, light, dark.
I am upside down. I am falling. I am spinning. I am inert.
I am sick. A hand on my shoulder. A voice. Voices. I gather fragments.
“Call an ambulance.”
“Where’s the car?”
“What’s your name?”
“Harry.” And that’s me, and it’s all I can muster before I turn and I hurl.
And the pain is a thousand knives in my abdomen.
And there are sirens.
But who will tell him?
Thumb-swiper, validator. Nice one. Six connections. Four interests.
Who will tell him? The café on the corner, that’s where.
Arms, stretcher, elevation. Slam, shut, black.

AMBULANCE CATEGORY RUNNERS UP

The End by Sue Copsey
The paramedic can’t see him standing behind her in the ambulance.
Each time she leans forward to check my pulse he swims into view, smiling that dopey smile, his head tilted to one side.
“There there, love. It’s not so bad, death. You’ve had a good innings and the children don’t need you any more. We’ll be together again soon. Think of that!”
Two years free of him. Is that all I’m to have? And will the last emotion I feel in this life be irritation, and not the peace that I crave?
The paramedic catches my eye, sees the horror there, assumes I fear death, fear the nothingness.
If only.

Full and Free by Jackie Francis
It was quick, unexpected, and painful. Jim writhed as ambulance staff worked to examine him.
“I suspect your appendix is infected. You will need further tests at the hospital.”
Expletive laden groans escaped as they eased the stretcher through the hallway.
The siren faded, leaving a compelling quietness. This was not the time for indecision.
“Wake up girls, we have places to be.”
I paid for petrol with cash I found in his wallet. With the car now full, the prospect of free choice was intoxicating.
“Are we going home, mummy?”
“No we aren’t. See up there, we’re going to follow that star. Anyone know a good song about stars?”

EDITOR’S PICK

Home Alone by Jeff Taylor
“111-What’s your emergency? Police, fire or ambulance?”
“Amblince. Please hurry.”
“What’s your name, love?”
“Sophie, I’m six. Mummy’s head’s all blooded and she won’t wake up. This is Mummy’s phone.”
“Is anyone with you Sophie?”
“No. Daddy’s in ‘stralia now. Mummy’s room’s all messy too. Wake up Mummy!”
“Where do you live Sophie?”
“Thirty Totara Street Howick.”
“Good, Sophie. Someone will come soon. Do you know the siren noise?”
“Yes.”
“Well, listen and tell me when you hear one outside.”
“We’re at Auntie’s place. Auntie’s away.”
What! Do you know auntie’s address?”
“No… Oh, yay! Amblince man’s here. I can hear him coming up the stairs. Bye.”
“No Sophie! Sophie? Sophie!”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

When Dreams Come True by Sarah Nutbrown
Name: Maddy
Age: 6
My dreams: Wen I grow up, I went to be a supperhero. I will wer a supperhero costum with blue and yellow strips and I will help peepl wen they need me. Evryboddy will now how to call me for help and wen they call I will go to them in my speshal supperhero car. It will go really fast and have supperhero powers to help peepl. If sumone gets in trubble and herts themself I will go ther really fast and make shore that they get to hospital wer the doctor can make them better. I will be called Suppermaddy.
Name: Maddy
Age: 26
Occupation: Paramedic

What Doesn’t Kill You… by Cathy Walmsley
He’s gone, they’ve taken him away, weaving through Taranaki Street the siren’s fading.
Today it’s Stan at the wheel and that cheerful lass that gets his cannula straight in.
The chemo’s ravaged his young body but he’s chatting her up like it’s a night club.
Can see the flashing lights as they round the Basin Reserve. Hold my breath as they run a red light… they’re through.
Closing the front door on his mouldy flat to a life long gone, tennis trophies, a push bike, remnants from when he was intact.
By now the drip will be pumping as they fly up Adelaide Road… and we get ready for another round.


FIRE CATEGORY WINNER

Stuck! by Mags Ross
Thunder crashed above. Lightning lit up the sky. The rain battered down. Trees bending in the howling wind.
And she was stuck up there. My rescue kitten and already one of our family. A wee grey ball of fluff who had made her way into our house, and our hearts. Meowing and hissing. Windswept and weary. Holding on. I had tried so hard to get her, but the ladder was too short and then the branches were too slippery. Trying the chair and the ladder together was asking for trouble, but I tried it nonetheless! Her every howl tugged at my heart strings. It was no use.
Finally, I called 111.

FIRE CATEGORY RUNNERS UP

Starter Fire by Lyndelle McCabe Gibara
It was Frank’s first fire and he was exhilarated. After training and waiting nearly three months to see some action, he’d finally hit the jackpot. This fire was huge all right!
Back at the station, over a cuppa, there was a debrief by the fire investigator.
“Clearly,” he said, “this is no accident. By the looks and smell of it, I’d say without a doubt this is a deliberate fire started with gasoline.”
It was late when it was time to go home. Frank saw fellow fire-fighter Dave heading out to his car.
“Dave,” he said, “can you give me a lift? I appear to have run out of gas”.

Fire Starter by Mary Little
**Call received 9:43pm, Thursday 19 May 2016**
Dispatch Operator: 111 emergency. Fire, ambulance, or police?
Caller (muffled): I’m the trouble starter.
DO: I can’t hear—
Caller: Punking instigator.
DO: Ma’am, please don’t swear. Do you need fire, ambulance, or police?
Caller: I’m the fear addicted. Danger illustrated.
DO: You need an ambulance?
Caller: I’m a firestarter. Twisted firestarter.
DO: Ambulance or fire? Is someone injured?
Caller: You’re the firestarter, twisted firestarter.
DO: Hey! You don’t know me.
Caller: I’m the bitch you hated. Filth infatuated.
DO: Janine?
Caller: Yeah, I’m the pain you tasted, fell intoxicated.
DO: I’m hanging up, Janine. I told you not to call me at work.

EDITOR’S PICK

Smoke and Dust by Jacqueline MacDonald
A sudden, shuddering jolt. Searing heat. An echoing boom. Concrete columns cleaving and crumbling to dust. Steel reinforcements twisting and screeching. Beams bending and buckling. Splitting, rupturing floor tiles. The heave, the rumble, and the sickening drop. Crackling oak and splintering beech. Sheering metal and snapping cables. Shattering glass, raining biting shards.
Howls of shock and wails of fear. Skin pierced, punctured, and lacerated. Gashed flesh. Severed and perforated limbs. Bodies torn and pounded. Crushed. Smashed. Scorched.
All cloaked in a billowing, expanding veil of smoke and dust. Choking. Suffocating. Then resting. And, for the merest moment, a stunned, empty silence before sirens in the distance begin to wail, increasingly loudly.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Layers by Vivienne Bailey
Pile upon pile. Blue jeans, denim-hard and crunchy. A red sweater, unravelling. Trackies, black-fleeced.
Add silver trainers, white-laced.
White business shirt, pristine-creased. Fanta-orange tie. A Warehouse T-shirt, ginger fur sprinkled.
Work overalls, darkest of grey, two pairs of dress trousers, one nut-brown, the other, creamy-fudge.
Arms and legs, intermingled. Like her and Ethan, once upon a time.
Higher and higher it grows. A tower of sad love, discarded dreams.
Ellen flicks the lighter close, sees fingers of red circle his jeans, slowly lick the sweater, rush to the T-shirt.
She waits. Now a furnace of lost innocence, out of control. She draws the phone from her pocket, dials 111.
“Fire, please.”

7 a.m. by Tiff Stewart
7 a.m., January 1st, 2016.
Calm: “Are the neighbours still on holiday?”
Sleepy: “Ugh… what time is it… ugh. Yup, yup they are. Why?”
Calm: “I think their house is on fire. I’m heading over.” (Door slamming, footsteps thudding).
Sleepy-no-longer: “Uh. What? On fire fire? Uh… I’ll call, I’ll call…”
(Shoes, jersey, where the fuck’s the phone. Bugger that’s the 4 year old awake. Oh and now the baby. Quickly, shake awake the 10 year old…)
Wide-awake-now-panicking: “The neighbour’s house is on fire. Stay here. Look after the little kids. But it’s fine, don’t worry. Don’t panic”.
(Run down front steps, panicking. Smoke drifting across the sleepy valley. Dialling, running, panicking.)