Complaint 81.7

A story breakdown for a completely fictional story called, “Why is everything so fucking difficult?”
by James C. Holland


  1. NOT ME.

Protagonist’s goal:

  1. He is struggling against all odds to CLAIM £60 FROM THE GOVERNMENT for expenses incurred whilst working from home during a global pandemic.


  2. THE LOCATION OF THE A PASSPORT, the number on which is needed to fill in the application.
  3. THE PROTAGONIST’S OWN HAIR which falls in front of his eyes, blinding him whilst looking in an infrequently-used drawer for the passport.
  4. AN INFREQUENTLY-USED DRAWER which is difficult to open and turns out to be full of old letters and birthday cards, one of which gives our protagonist a cut causing him to say “Ow!” and suck his finger. 
  5. A BLOODIED AND WET FINGER which will not activate the fingerprint scanner on his phone.
  6. A PHONE which, after the passport has been found needs to receive a code from the government website to prove that our protagonist is really our protagonist and his phone really is his phone but, once opened with a code, shows itself to be on 1% battery and dies before the code can be read.
  7. A PHONE CHARGER which is in another room or, at least, our protagonist thought it was but it has been borrowed by another younger member of his family.
  8. THE YOUNGER MEMBER OF THE FAMILY who isn’t sure where the charger is and doesn’t seem to care as their phone is clearly fully charged lighting their unconcerned face with the glow of YouTube videos or TikTok dances or whatever it is that the younger member of the family concerns themselves with.
  9. THE PLUG SOCKET BY THE TELEVISION, and more importantly the PlayStation, where our hero suspects the younger member of the family would spend their time whilst charging their phone and is, indeed, where the charger is plugged in, but is itself old and infirm and not the plug socket it used to be and thus appears unable to let go of the charger preventing our noble hero moving it to the room where he is attempting to fill in a form on his computer and fulfil his epic quest.
  10. A COMPLETE LOSS OF REASON by which our gallant adventurer decides to place both feet against the wall, grab the charger with both hands and wrench it from its resting place thinking himself like King Arthur pulling the sword from the stone but probably looking more like Wile E. Coyote as, when the thing comes free, he propels himself backward from the wall, flies through the air, phone charger cord arcing balletically in his wake, and knocks himself out cold on the side table.

Aides / Spiritual guides / Mentors / Helpers:

  1. In a shocking twist, one of the antagonists turns out to be a helper who is able to use their phone, not only for TikTok dances, but to call an ambulance.


  1. I’m not sure if it’s a tragedy or a comedy, to be honest.

James C. Holland is based in the UK and has recently concluded his series of alien invasion gardening columns for Bear Creek Gazette. He has also been published in Spare Parts Lit and The Story Nook. Previously he worked with artist, Chris Hagan on a story for Brighton: The Graphic Novel by QueenSpark books. He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival in “Choose Your Own Edventure,” an interactive storytelling show and “Shoegazing,” a stand-up show about shoes. He has long covid which is exhausting but has given him time to discover the joys of flash fiction. Find him on Twitter and the web.

Image by Mariann Szőke from Pixabay.

2 thoughts on “Complaint 81.7

  1. Pingback: New Flash Published and the Invention of “Literary Slapstick” – James C Holland

  2. Pingback: A parcel, 100 rejections and my writing year in review – James C Holland

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