Microcosms 5

Welcome, everyone! Microcosms 5 is here! 😀

First of all, I’m so thankful for and proud of everyone who has contributed thus far. You’re making it a joy to run this contest. It’s worth all the work and the time commitment that goes into it.

And we’ll just go ahead and use that as a not-so-subtle segue into this week’s topic, which – in honor of the Flash Dogs’ upcoming anthology release – once again focuses on time.

What an enigmatic master (or mistress) time is, both cruel and seductive. No?

This week, I wanted to focus on the past, so I’ve chosen several characters and places we often associate with the past or history, especially ones that we tend to romanticize – for better or for worse. (Does the story have to take place in the past? Not necessarily.)

As usual, our contest will begin with three things: character, setting, and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are character: time traveler, setting: medieval Europe, and genre: mystery. Ooh…

Feel free to write a story using those or spin a new set of your own. Be sure to include which three elements you’re using.

  • archaeologist
  • knight
  • king/queen
  • plague doctor
  • professor
  • pharaoh
  • time traveler
  • gladiator
  • samurai
  • Aztec warrior
  • watchmaker
  • scientist
  • explorer
  • blacksmith
  • cowboy
  • caveman/woman
  • slave
  • witch (or “witch”)
  • “ancient alien”
  • farmer/peasant
  • adolescent
  • miner
  • an elephant
  • philosopher
  • inventor
  • astronomer
  • medieval Europe
  • castle
  • Egypt
  • Mayan temple
  • college
  • laboratory
  • ancient Rome
  • ancient Japan
  • workshop
  • colonial Africa
  • Antarctica
  • the Old West
  • Salem Witch Trials
  • ancient China
  • Australian Outback
  • ancient Greece
  • horror
  • sci-fi
  • steam punk
  • mystery
  • fantasy
  • romance
  • drama
  • comedy
  • poem


Judging this week are two of last week’s winners, Steph Ellis and Daisy Warwick. 🙂

All submissions should be 100 words in length, give or take 10 words (90 – 110 words). You have until midnight, New York time to submit.

Winners will receive a copy of the Kindle version of US (currently available for pre-order in the US, the UK, Australia, and other territories and being released on 8 February 2016) or a similarly priced book of their choosing; alternatively, winners may elect to have the monetary equivalent donated to World Reader, the Book Bus, or another literacy-related charity.

If you like, you may incorporate the following photo prompt (not required).

Cyan-colored city scene, at a dutch angle, shortly after it rained
Night Time by Alexandru Armin Rosu

Microcosms 6
Microcosms 4

29 thoughts on “Microcosms 5

  1. Doc Grimly Rides Into Deadwood

    Doc rode in on a mournful old horse,
    Sweating, wheezing, a sickly spent force.

    He dismounted his steed, took in the sight,
    a cheerless shackle of shadows of night.

    “Where is the sun?” Doc asked of the sky.
    “We all need its warmth or else we just die.”

    Out of the darkness, Pete Lund whispered, “O,
    You’re too late, Doc. The Plague’s laid us low.”

    Bodies were strewn throughout Slick’s Saloon,
    And the few still with breath wept at the moon.

    “I tried to get here as quick as I could.
    I’m old and my nag ain’t faring so good.
    And there’s no sun; this whole town is done.”

    Plague Doctor/Old West/Poem
    110 bodies and counting

  2. @KreskaFiction
    philosopher /Egypt /steam punk
    110 cartouches

    Title: I am King Anarchist

    ‘I saw powerful men shouting, and this…’ the King’s philosopher reported, bowing in deference.
    The Pharaoh; curious about future fashion, peered closely at the boy’s spiky hairstyle.
    ‘What is punk?’ The Pharaoh asked, making the philosopher tremble.
    ‘Punk – err – it means great – and – and – mighty,’ the philosopher mumbled, the image of Sid Vicious clear in his mind.
    ‘How did you make it stand up?’
    ‘Steam and ox gland.’
    The Pharaoh attempted to push his hair in a different direction, smiling awkwardly.
    ‘The Sex Pistols were also great rulers – this I saw.’
    ‘Steam punk – yes – make it so.’

    This is why all Egyptian artwork depicts the Pharaoh wearing a tall hat.

  3. In Mayan Splendor
    108 words
    archeologist/Mayan temple/comedy

    Dr. Marvin Maxwell and his assistant Jane Perkins trekked through the jungles of the Yucatan. They came at last to an ancient Mayan temple, almost hidden among the vines and trees.

    ‘We found it, Jane,” Dr. Maxwell exclaimed. “And outside of the odd snake or two, I’d say it wasn’t as dangerous as they said it would be.”

    “Yes, sir,” Jane agreed. She pulled out a book from her backpack. “According to the descriptions in Jonathan A. Campbell’s ‘Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Guatemala, the Yucatán, and Belize,’ there are quite a few venomous snakes, here.”

    “But no anacondas. Inside a snake would be too dark to read.”


  4. Sawdust
    Lizzie was clueless about the momentousness of the occasion as she arrived for her interview. The sign said ‘Philosopher’s Carpentry’. She left the rainy streets for the calm workshop and the man introduced himself as Tom. Intoxicating wood smells. Piles of the raw material as well as a rocking-horse and bookcase. Polished tree-slices with quotations carved into them.
    ‘Our speciality.’
    He grinned and pointed one out to Lizzie. She tore her gaze from Tom, who had sawdust in his curly hair and a lovely smile, and read ‘ ‘The beginning is the most important part of the work.’ Plato.’
    Picking sawdust from his hair, Tom asked when she could start.

    Philosopher – Workshop – Romance
    110 Words

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  5. One Certainty

    110 words
    Elements: gladiator – Australian Outback – horror

    As the roar of the crowd crescendoed Maximus rolled into ball, tensed for the weight of the wild beast, the crunch of its teeth on his skull. No impact, but a blinding white light which made the walls of the arena recede beyond the horizon. How was he was still alive?

    The only sound was the creaking of his armour as it heated. The stink of animal breath on his face made him freeze. A flick of a tongue. A slither on the blood-red sand. He would have preferred the tiger’s jaws to this slow torture under the burning sun, awaiting the fatal bite. And no-one to hear his cries.

    1. This is the correct version of the story without stupid typos – same word length….SORRY…

      As the roar of the crowd crescendoed Maximus rolled into a ball, tensed for the weight of the wild beast, the crunch of its teeth on his skull. No impact, but a blinding white light which made the walls of the arena recede beyond the horizon. How was he still alive?

      The only sound was the creaking of his armour as it heated. The stink of animal breath on his face made him freeze. A flick of a tongue. A slither on the blood-red sand. He would have preferred the tiger’s jaws to this slow torture under the burning sun, awaiting the fatal bite. And no-one to hear his cries.


  6. Who

    She often thought about hands.
    The movements of her own, the way the nanotech did most of the work for her.

    Hands are meant for creating.

    She dove through the folds of time, called by an idea, a dream, a question.
    She longed to see the hands as they bent and grasped, creating, delivering.

    There had been rumors about the manuscript.
    The strangeness of the illustrations, the question of the gender of the artist.

    She arrived on unfamiliar stone floors, data screen showing 890.
    She hears a whisper and scratch, and through a crack watches delicate fingers bring forth the face of a monster with the stroke of a brush.

    110 words
    time traveler, medieval Europe, mystery

  7. Reality
    107 words
    Elements: time traveler, medieval Europe, mystery

    The collection of electronic parts and colourful wires aren’t an art project. The machine beep-boops and I see civilizations spinning past..

    The streets are filled with agonized screams. There’s a river of…Oh, my God, I forgot about chamber pots. The smell is so strong! How can anyone live like this?

    And the rats…

    Where is everyone? Where exactly am I?

    I wander into shadows. Dark shadows. They’re filled with bodies. Bodies covered with black boils.


    I should have chosen my date more carefully. I’ve escaped my reality, sure, but this isn’t what I had in mind. I could go home, but they won’t want me now.

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  8. When the Cold Speaks

    This pagan ice killed those women, not me.

    You don’t believe? Well, it doesn’t matter what you believe, city law.

    When the night is months long, the ice likes to whisper in the dark. We know not to listen but those women heard it. The ice sung for them. Their thin summer dresses danced in the snow as they walked in the cold night. They would take our sleeping children and drag them out to freeze. They ate their still beating hearts, red snow dripping from their mouths. They had to die.

    You judge but you’ve never seen a thing like that, city law. You judge but you don’t know.

    110 words
    Elements: witch, Antarctica, horror

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    1. Witches in Antartica – who knew? Original horror tale, chilling even beyond the winter cold.
      [ Punctuation note: ‘still-beating’ is a compound adjective, so needs a hyphen. 🙂 ]

  9. Once and Future King?

    “So if you’re Arthur, this bearded dude must be Merlin”

    “Merlin? Yes. Dude?”

    “Have you done the sword thing yet? Course you have, there’s a crown on your head. Been to the lake?”


    “Where’s Galahad?”


    “Oh he’s cool, you can trust him. Watch out for his old man though.”


    “Galahad, Lancelot’s boy. He’s a good guy. He gets the Grail. Lancelot’s a bit of a …… well you know.”

    “Lancelot’s my most devoted ally.”

    “Yeah, about that. Don’t trust him with your old lady. Is that her? Damn! She. Is. Fine!”

    “Who are you?”

    “You’ll find out in Avalon. And about 1000 years or so”


    Time Traveller/Medieval Europe/Mystery
    109 Words

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  10. @stellakateT
    110 words
    Cowboy, Salem Witch trials, Sci-fi

    Holiday of a Lifetime.

    His spurs jangled against the wooden back of the dock, hat in hand, good to show some reverence even if this court looked liked a fancy dress party. They’d pulled at his leather chaps and marvelled at the fringes saying he’d convened with the Devil and crossed themselves vigorously. Had they never seen a Texan cowboy before? Where was he Massachusetts?

    When he wouldn’t enter a plea they sentenced him to a peine forte et dure. Luckily he wasn’t going to find out what that was. Stan reset the dials and he caught a bullet at The Battle of the Alamo. Stan wasn’t the best operator at Time Travel Inc.

  11. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 95 Words
    Time Traveler, Medieval Europe, Mystery

    Time tilts your internal axis.

    If you find yourself, like me, splashing through the entrails of some medieval city in western Europe,
    Studying the awestruck faces of fascinated peasants who eye your sleek Northern Face windbreaker,

    If you, like me, are sucked against your will across parallels and universes and star strands
    To arrive, breathless, before a one-eyed Knight who demands that you return him to his time,

    You might believe, perhaps, that your internal axis
    Is in desperate need of repair,

    And you might, possibly, enter a pub to buy yourself a stiff drink.

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  12. Prophetic Words of a Stranger
    A.J. Walker

    Thomas had chosen the King Henry to volunteer on; his first trip. When he approached the quayside he was halted by a tall man who Thomas thought he recognised from The Pewter Pot.

    “Don’t not take this boat Thomas.”

    Thomas pulled away.

    “How do you know my name stranger? said Thomas. “I’m getting on!”

    The man pleaded fruitlessly for many minutes, before leaving – apparently with a heavy heart. People recalled his strange hooded attire, the clock on his wrist and the book in his hand which had magic light of its own and the shine of volcanic glass.

    When the Henry sank that day Thomas died along with all hands.

    WC 110 words
    Original Spin of course! er – middle ages, time traveller, mystery

  13. Genealogy

    Great Aunt Mildred had the best stories. She was always the main character. As kids we’d sit enthralled by her medieval tales.

    As adults we’d roll our eyes. The old bat was clearly a few drawbridges short of a castle.

    Turns out she wasn’t crazy.

    One moment I was in my apartment, the next I was in a field. The first thing I heard was the thunder of hooves. The soldiers surrounded me and one hopped down from his steed. I don’t understand a word of whatever language he’s spitting at me, but I can translate the sword pointed in my direction.

    He stares at me intently before uttering, “Mildred?”

    110 words
    middle ages, time traveller, mystery

  14. Love Letter to Herself

    In frustration the scribe thumbed through the manuscript again, hoping inspiration would strike. He had studied the parchment for months, but unable to translate even the smallest fragment.

    Theodotus stabbed his quill into the inkwell repeatedly. Sighing, his crabbed writing crawled over his own piece of vellum.
    “Yt be moft vexing that nary a word nor phrafe canst be gleaned from yon treatise… surely it be an account penned by an angel.”

    Jade knew no-one would ever crack the code she used to write the Voynich manuscript, so she couldn’t resist leaving it for her future past self to puzzle over. A small concession to keep her from being blue.

    110 words

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  15. — 17th Century Boy —

    So unfair
    Arresting Mama
    Leaving me to fix my room
    Evening falls and there’s no supper
    Mama gone spells doom and gloom

    Which craft it is
    I could not say
    That Mama stands accused of knowing
    Cups and plates are stacking up and
    Have I said my shirt needs sewing?

    They say the
    Reverend Parris girls
    Incline and twist with pricks and pins
    Although Ma’s sure they’re
    Little liars
    Silly girls with fiendish grins

    Mama’s in the county jail
    Aloof, demure and hoping they’ll
    Sort out the stupid legal hitches
    So she’ll come home to wash my britches

    adolescent / Salem witch trials / poem
    104 words

  16. Separation Acrosss Eras

    The capsule was warm to the touch. It was Edna’s first indication of a larger problem. Someone with access to the laboratory had recently used her machine. The vials of bubonic plague inoculations she’d taken great pains to secure from a myriad of underground channels were also missing from the attache she’d intended to take on her one way trip back to Europe. Stepping into the small time machine she found the note her ex-husband and engineering partner had left her:

    If you want your alimony, come back to 1473 and get it from me.

    95 words
    time traveler/mystery/medieval Europe

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