Microcosms 8

Welcome back colonists!  It’s been truly wonderful to see you return week-after-week to duel against each other with words as your only weapons – but boy are they powerful.

When people think of artists, they think painters, musicians, sculptors, rarely do they consider the writer – unless you’re a poet (and preferably a dead one).  But writers are artists, they paint pictures with words, the page is their canvas, the pen is their brush, so this week we thought we’d pay homage to some of the greatest paintings in the world and show what could have been if they’d been written in ink.  Feast your eyes on the works of Bruegel, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Ernst, Canaletto and Lautrec.

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

We spun, and our three elements are character: maid, setting: starry night, and genre: poem.

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.

  • Psychic
  • Fugitive
  • Tourist
  • Schoolboy
  • Tattooist
  • Maid
  • The Starry Night
  • The Hunters in the Snow
  • At the Moulin Rouge
  • Europe after the Rain
  • Tahitian Landscape
  • The Grand Canal
  • horror
  • sci-fi
  • steam punk
  • mystery
  • fantasy
  • romance
  • drama
  • comedy
  • poem


Judging this week are last week’s winners, Bill Engleson and Sal Page. 🙂

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 Guns, Gods & Robots: Seven Curious Tales, which has generously been donated by Brady Koch, (currently available in the US, the UK, Australia, and other territories), or a similarly priced book of their choosing; alternatively, winners may elect to have the monetary equivalent donated to World Reader or another literacy-related charity.

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

art palette with brushes and paint
Artist Palette by Johnny Berg
Microcosms 9
Microcosms 7

46 thoughts on “Microcosms 8

  1. @firdausp
    (110 words)


    Fuchsia, for that was her name, (her mother had thought in colours), watched the sun hover on the horizon then rapidly disappear.
    The sky blushed orange. Purple. Black.
    “Why Fuchsia?” She asked a star. Her mother blinked back. The waft of silence was followed by a gentle breeze, blowing hair into her eyes.
    She clutched her apron, a palette of colours. Mustard from the sandwich she’d dropped. A stain of wine blushed at the memory of his look. Smudge of lipstick and faint scent of his cologne, where she’d wiped him off her lips. Her master. Doomed love.
    The cook called out to her from the house…more colours awaited…

    Maid/starry night/romance

  2. psychic/The Grand Canal/mystery
    109 glorious shades

    Title: A Collection of Men

    ‘Flashes of colour – nothing definite.’ Marcia’s long fingers grazed her worried brow; it didn’t help that The Grand Canal, crowded with gliding vaporetti stank even worse than normal.
    ‘Four artists killed in one week – surely something must be coming to you?’ The Inspector said; annoyed that they relied so heavily on psychics.
    ‘In an international murder enquiry all the flags come to me at once,’ Marcia whined. The truth is – Marcia’s malady was a migraine; a flashing rainbow aura, brief but disabling. The migraine faded leaving Marcia with a revelation.
    ‘They all slept with the same woman: Peggy Gugenheim.’ The Inspector winced; Peggy had been dead for over twenty years.

  3. ‘The Problem with a Good Book’

    Starry starry night
    The words are there in black and white
    The maid’s not slept for all the night
    Reading ‘Time: Past, Present and

    But it’s morning now
    She couldn’t really face a cow
    Or the squealing of the sow
    The farmyard’s not at all the place to

    But, she’s a job to do
    After the shower and a poo
    She has to milk a cow or two
    Or else I’m faced with drinking coffee

    Her face is ashen grey
    She needs some sleep now come what may
    I’ll find her lying in the hay
    And there’s no telling what will
    happen then.

    WC: 105

    1. ” The maid’s not slept for all the night
      Reading ‘Time: Past, Present and
      Future’ ”
      Nice advertising, AJ – is your secret identity as a copywriter?
      ( “After the shower and a poo” – not in that order, surely? 🙁 )

  4. Hunters in the Snow
    109 words
    fugitive/Hunters in the Snow/steampunk

    The shouts of men and the barking of dogs carried on the frosty air. He looked down into the valley below. The lake was frozen, a glassy grey-green. The sky of this place was the same color.

    His ship was hidden behind a fallen tree. Unless he could fix the drive, he wasn’t going anywhere. They wouldn’t think to search for him here, on this wintry world of hunters and farmers and villages. And yet, he felt a rush of fear, the heart of a fox beating, red blood on the snow.

    A blacksmith’s apprentice, that’s what I’ll be, he thought. He headed down the path to the village.

  5. Title -The Maid’s Secret
    maid/starry night/poem
    110 words

    Monseiur Van Gogh will never know
    If I dare add a dash of gold, a flick of butter yellow, to his canvas.

    I’ll dust the shades and fluff the sheets as well.
    I’ll make the floor shine bright as my master’s Starry Night.
    But oh, what sets my soul alight is the secret of his brush between my fingertips,
    Cakes of paint that give birth to such a story.

    Hills rolling toward Heaven.
    Brilliant spirals, each singing unique arias on a backdrop of indigo.
    A quiet village, asleep, unaware of any change to their cut of sky.
    My servant fingers sweep and twist and dare to add a watchful moon.

  6. Don’t Come a Courting

    Maid I be, but not for thee.
    I yearn to travel; watch the miles unravel.
    There’s more to see than mere embroidery.
    Bred to be meek, but it’s adventure I seek.
    The silk road and warriors in woad
    Faraway isles and dragon’s smiles.
    Starry nights and tavern fights.
    No wish to stay, I must away.
    For the Barbary coast, or hunting ghosts.
    I’m no trophy wife, I want a life.
    Inca gold, not the sheepfold.
    Your proposal is sweet, but I spit at your feet.
    Aegyptian tombs interest me more than your bedroom.
    I sail at dawn. For me, don’t mourn.

    Maid/Starry Night/Poem
    101 words

    Report user
  7. Predictable Coda
    David Shakes
    100 words
    Psychic / Europe After the Rain / Horror

    God paints many futures – gouache smeared possibilities constantly smash into her reality without welcome or warning.
    Nobody comes to hear readings now and who can blame them? Futures are colliding – none end well. Tomorrow is smeared across the canvas of this Earth like a cancerous growth.
    War is coming – total war; final war – a multi-layered armageddon painted in rotting organics and radioactive waste.
    She wants no part in it.
    As noose tightens and tongue lolls the beam unexpectedly gives way.
    She lands, winded.
    The pustulent future is still there but she’s maniacally laughing.
    She didn’t see that coming.

    Report user
  8. Another Man’s Treasure

    She has mastered seeing everything
    and turning it into nothing
    She has taught her head not rise
    above what her busy hands are doing
    All that is not hers, never hers
    A flash of color
    startling and new
    at the lip of one of their trashcans
    She reaches out to touch it,
    hears her mother’s voice
    calling her a rat
    But she picks it up anyway
    A postcard, glossy and vivid
    a sky she has only dreamed of
    a place beyond this too real world
    They think this garbage?
    She pockets it
    and joyful
    And then takes out the trash.

    102 words
    maid/starry night/poem

  9. The dance

    She spies a kaleidoscope of pinpricks in the sky
    The very colours her mistress wears this night
    In the sparkling bodice of a dress for dancing

    Opening the casement window in her tiny room
    She gazes wide-eyed on those mysterious lights
    And gasps to see them dart across the wide firmament

    Whole worlds burn out as she watches
    Below, in the house, she knows the dancers whirl on
    Oblivious to lives beyond their own

    The girl’s eventual dreams, star-driven,
    Are of another house in another world
    Where mistress and maid are turned about, the dance amended.

    maid/starry night/poem
    96 words

  10. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 110
    Tourist / The Grand Canal / Mystery

    Life Imitates Art

    “Don’t, Luke. Now… isn’t a good time.”

    Catriona hadn’t wanted to since… This trip was meant to help. He rolled over, dressed angrily.

    Outside, an old, white-sticked lady accosted Luke. “…Pericolo, signore!”

    “Non parlo italiano.” Pulling away, a story he’d once read began to surface.

    Watching moonlit gondolas, he glimpsed a blood-red blur: the small, hooded figure ran, someone pursuing. Memories stirred. Luke followed down an alley.

    Snatching her hood, he saw a girl, the age Charlotte would have been. She lunged, but he easily disarmed her.

    “Fermo!”: a cry behind him.

    Luke turned, the blade glinting. A police Beretta thundered.

    Pain stole Luke’s breath as he hit the floor.

  11. Dreaming

    94 words
    Elements: maid, starry night, poem


    Worn fingers trace the stars
    On glass misted by whispers
    Of wishes and wonder
    Leaving the long day behind
    A trail of grey hours
    Now buried beneath velvet
    And dusted with glitter

    Her tired eyes brighten
    As they regard the heavens
    Claiming them as her own
    A private exhibition
    To do with as she will
    Until another day breaks
    Takes her prisoner again

    Defiantly, she frees her mind
    Turns monochrome reality
    Into a palette of fantasy
    And brushes the night
    With brazen strokes
    To create a celestial canvas
    On which she paints her dreams

    1. “…glass misted by whispers
      Of wishes and wonder”
      (She should have used “Finish” dishwasher tablets… 😉 )
      But seriously, Steph – voluptuous lines, in a great piece.

      1. Haven’t the foggiest, I did wonder when it suddenly appeared. Think it’s because I’ve got admin status so I was able to draft up a post. Probably to do with the settings. Trouble is I don’t want to root around in the bowels of this engine (being a wordpress newbie) in case I do untold damage! Perhaps it’s one for Kristen.

  12. Starlight’s Reprieve

    She cleans;
    yet in the light of the passing day,
    dust particles still dance,
    in spite of her efforts.
    She cleans;
    the infallible remains of dead skin and soil,
    twirl around her,
    (her only company).
    She cleans;
    until the light fades from the sky
    the dust is silent, unseen
    and she is alone.
    She cleans;
    until it happens:
    the flickering light of a single star
    then another, and another, and another.
    She cleans;
    mopping, sweeping, scrubbing, polishing,
    but she cannot clean the stars above,
    and for this she is grateful.

    90 Words
    Starry Night/Maid/Poem

  13. @stellakateT
    Psychic /The Starry night /Horror.
    110 words

    Come Dine with Me

    He sings as he stirs the cheese sauce, yodels whilst he roasts the aubergines, smiles as he crushes the walnuts. Preparation better than a four star Michelin chef, my favourite dishes waiting to be spooned into my mouth. I will clench my teeth, try to force my hands out of these cuffs and overturn the dining chair I am chained to. I will try to calm my thoughts and pray to hear the sirens coming to save me but I know at midnight under the stars I once thought romantic he’ll kill and eat the gourmet dish, me. I’ve seen this in my nightmares. Grandma always said I was psychic.

  14. Emily Clayton
    109 words
    tattooist, hunters in the snow, horror

    Tattooist En Plein Air

    Flesh is Leah’s canvas, although she practises designs on the recently deceased. Those already gelatinizing are just billowing cushions destined to spill their contents.

    It is true plein air work, but she makes deals with the undertaker to avoid much of the later decay.

    She glances up from within her outdoor work shed, watching hunters traipse down the snow-packed road. The leader carries a gingered crimson bundle. She must hurry, for she’s inking his departed son.

    He spots the clothing bundle, his son’s tattered jacket.

    With a roar he’s upon her, inking her neck beyond the dermis, down deeper where vessels bleed scarlet into the pulsating black walnut ink.

  15. Scrub

    I polish and shine till it sparkles,
    This vase that’s worth more than my car.
    My fingers all ache and my limbs are dead tired,
    But my mind is alive in the stars.

    They say that there’s nobody out there,
    That we are alone in this void.
    As I scrub round the rim of the toilet,
    It’s so hard to be glad I’m employed.

    I pray for the day of invasion,
    When the creatures are finally free.
    They will crush our defences and rule us,
    And my boss will become just like me.

    93 Words
    Starry Night/Maid/Poem

  16. Midnight on the Boulevard de Clichy

    The bitter redolence of anise and herbs cloys and nauseates, lingering disagreeably on the palate like a penniless relation. The tourist sets the glass of “Bohemian wonder” aside, dismissing another exaggerated experience.

    That evening, he slips in behind her, the cygnet he’s selected. She is a celebrated provincial artist’s model, an unattended swan with an exquisitely elongated neck. Beneath the great dark cloak, his fingers caress his dearest. Stroking the keen edge of his anticipation, he appreciates its firm chilly linearity emerging from its case.

    Tonight, Paris’ flawless pen entertains his distinctive painting style. The traveler’s discovered the only piquant diversion offered in this fin de siècle washout city.

    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    109 words
    Tourist/At the Moulin Rouge/Horror

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