Microcosms 18

All right, ladies and gents, today is Arbor Day! It also happens to be Greenery Day. “What’s Greenery Day?” you ask. “Japanese Greenery Day celebrates the birthday of Japanese Emperor Hirohito. In Japanese culture, Greenery day is a time to commune with nature and to be thankful and appreciative of it’s abundance.” – holidayinsights.com

So, I thought we’d celebrate both holidays this week and use characters and places associated with nature and/or conservation.

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

We spun, and our three elements are character: celebrity, setting: zoo, and genre: comedy. Okay. Let’s see what you do with that. lol

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.

  • conservationist
  • vegetarian
  • zookeeper
  • explorer
  • camper
  • farmer
  • Gaia/Mother Earth
  • Japanese Emperor
  • gardener
  • tree trimmer
  • landscaper
  • climatologist
  • celebrity
  • politician
  • meteorologist
  • animal rights activist
  • animal (your choice)
  • restaurant
  • zoo
  • jungle
  • forest
  • tent
  • palace
  • garden
  • meeting room
  • ship
  • TV show
  • arctic/antarctic
  • desert
  • ocean
  • boat/ship
  • newsroom
  • computer lab
  • horror
  • sci-fi
  • steam punk
  • mystery
  • fantasy
  • romance
  • drama
  • comedy
  • poem


Optional Special Challenge: use one of the following terms – “waldeinsamkeit”, “mångata”, or “komorebi” – somewhere in your story. (More info.)

Judging this week is yours truly, along with one of last week’s winners, CR Smith. 🙂

All submissions should be 100 words in length, give or take 10 words (90 – 110 words). You have until 5 a.m. Saturday, New York time to submit. (This is a deviation from our normal time, due to the delayed posting.)

Winners will receive a copy of the Kindle version of Walden (Illustrated by Clifton Johnson) (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).

a path surrounded by tall trees, with a bridge overhead
Japanese Tea Gardens by Laura Shreck

Microcosms 19
Microcosms 17

48 thoughts on “Microcosms 18

  1. “celebrity, zoo, and comedy. Okay. Let’s see what you do with that.”

    I saw that movie, Kevin James. Ewww wasn’t that a stinker. Extra points this week for not replicating it? Or embrace the parody and run like the wind?

  2. Prime Ape

    The apes part as he walks through the Valley (or, what passed as a valley in this shit-hole of a zoo.) Once, he had a pack of thousands. Now, he had five idiots and a two-way mirror. “They” didn’t think he’d notice the people on the other side. “They” were idiots.

    Ugh, people; smelly, fleshy, people. The humans no longer threw peanuts as tokens of admiration in this new cage-like Valley. It was a weak token, but it was something.

    He sits on his boulder and waits; no tokens, no gifts. Just his youngest descendant coming forward to pick flees out of his hair. At least someone knew their place.

    110 Words
    Zoo, Celebrity, Comedy

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  3. The Next Big Thing
    110 words
    Celebrity, zoo, comedy

    Starpop’s agent assured him the park was “the next big thing” in the zoo world, and cutting the ribbon would put him back on the “map.”

    Starpop hadn’t done a paying gig in months and his label was threatening to drop him.

    “You tricked me,” Starpop said.

    Two burly security guards took him by the arms. Struggling was useless, but he couldn’t give up without a fight.

    “What else could I do?”

    “I topped the charts for ten years!” Starpop said.

    “I know, but you’re old now, and nobody loves you anymore. They want to see you in your natural habitat.”

    Sour Celebrity Menagerie

    Spoiled Rotten, but Not Forgotten!

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  4. Big beasts
    108 words celebrity, zoo, comedy

    ‘You have to be creative in insurance, right.’
    Gene nodded. ‘But why a zoo?’
    Abraham rubbed his beard. ‘Daft to shut them away in a vault when they can make money. We’ve paid out so we subrogate ourselves and we own whatever’s left.’
    Two large eyeless blobs bounced past which Gene dodged. ‘What was that?’
    ‘A Kardashian buttock and Parton breast. They’re inseparable. After the tragedies we only get to keep the insured bits. The rest of the body belongs to the estate.’ Abraham opened a door. ‘Come on. Let’s try the snake pen. Bill Clinton and Donald Trump’s ongoing contest for bragging rights always draws the punters.’

  5. The Menagerie of Lost Dreamers

    “I WANNA SEE ‘UM!”

    “Shush, Clementine. Be a proper lady…”

    “Oh Momma, you promised…”

    “I know I did, sweetie. Mommy always keeps her promise. It’s just…I don’t want you to be disappointed…”

    “Momma, I’ve wanted this…like forever.”

    “You’re only six, my darling. When you get to be my age, you will understand that they’re not all that important…”

    “I’ll never be as old as you are, Mommy.”

    “Of course you will, Clemmie. But you’ll always be my little girl.”

    “I WANNA SEE ‘UM.”

    “And here we are. Can you read the sign?”

    “The Donald Trump Greatest Ever Celebrity Petting Zoo.”

    “Excellent! Remember Clemmie, don’t get too close. They sometimes bite!”

    110 really exciting, one of a kind moments
    character: celebrity, setting: zoo, and genre: comedy

  6. Nice take, Ashley.

    (You might want to change ‘flees’ to ‘fleas’ in the penultimate sentence though.)

    1. A slight distraction from more serious renderings


      A flea may bite
      but not in flight;
      so flee the sight
      when fleas alight.

      When writers fleece
      The reader’s peace
      of mind, then cease
      your reading feast.

      When writers tell
      their tales well,
      they do not dwell
      on slight misspells.

      An edit flea
      might bite their knee:
      their muse might flee
      their poetry.

      1. A nice piece of whimsy, Bill, on the flee v flea dichotomy! I found myself favouriting it, even though it isn’t meant to meet this week’s criteria.

        (But in the third stanza, ‘their tales well,’ does not follow the strict four syllable metre. Why not ‘stories’ for ‘tales’?)

      2. I suppose, with my ever so slightly diminished hearing, (a bi-product of singing too loudly in the shower,) I hear tay-els. Stories would work a tad better, I agree.

  7. Reclamation

    107 words
    Elements: conservationist, restaurant, horror
    Special challenge: komorebi


    Flynn nursed his morning coffee, enjoying the komorebi as it danced across his face. The view from the restaurant balcony was breathtaking. Today he could rest, celebrate the business venture that would draw tourists and not poachers. Land once polluted by hazardous toxins had been returned to nature.

    He idly scratched at his arm, flicked something small and white from his skin. It wriggled briefly on the floor and then squirmed back towards him. Irritated, Flynn ground it into a pulp with his heel and walked away. He did not see the maggot flesh reform, inflate, into a heaving mass and crawl blindly, determinedly in his footsteps.

    1. Wow! An idyllic early morning scene, with dappled light through foliage, transformed into a dark and menacing mutant maggot dénouement! I found the theme from Jaws echoing in my head at the end. Great stuff, Steph.

  8. Emily Clayton
    farmer/tv show/mystery
    108 words

    Francine’s Wrath

    The documentary was a bad idea, but Betsy didn’t think her dairy farm would be raided by authorities on the second day of taping. “Top dog alert” swept through the camera crew, until it reached Betsy as she clamped the last milking cup onto Francine, her favourite Holstein.

    Camera crew three alleged they heard a kerfuffle, and a scream.

    Betsy was led away in handcuffs on suspicion of second-degree murder. She claimed it was Francine, in response to Agent Nabi’s inappropriately placed hand—Hey, top dog! Mind your hot dog!—but the authorities wouldn’t budge.

    She still cited Francine’s influence as the cruiser slammed into the nearest tree.

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  9. Featured Exhibits

    It was bad enough Marla had to sneak chicken nuggets at the school cafeteria, now she had to look at the elephant with no trunk. The other exhibits at the zoo were as depressing: the fox looked like it’d crawled from under a running lawnmower, the lions had three eyes between them and someone had flipped the alligators on their backs.

    “Isn’t this beautiful?” Dad asked.

    “Sure,” Marla sulked, looking at what had become of her college fund.

    “At least smile for the cameras.”

    She refused. He’d replaced every zoo animals he’d liberated with taxidermies from bankrupt museums; an obsession to become the leading vegan activist on the talk show circuit.

    110 words

  10. Johnny Appalling
    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    100 words, Celebrity/TV Show/Sci-Fi

    Tonight on Criminals At Large: Johnny Appalling.

    Carduus sanguinem hunts by surprise, launching neurotoxic needles with astonishing accuracy when it detects ground tremors made by animals, or people, moving nearby. Carcasses often surround the thistles and decompose into fertilizer.

    The blood thistles first appeared in the summer of 2027, reported in sixteen American states simultaneously. Seventy Americans have lost their lives to date.

    John Aperlo is the molecular geneticist who gene spliced the species in 2025. His exact methods are unknown, but authorities believe he backpacked across the country in 2026, planting thousands of seeds of this invasive predatory plant.

  11. Epicurean
    WC 110

    I arrived at the zoo, incognito, and followed signs to the aviary. The staff escorted me into the enclosure for the Arbor Day event. A conservation group organized it to raise awareness about humanity’s impact on Earth.

    The itchy wig was necessary. My favorite diva-shades helped disguise large almond-shaped eyes, and the “Keep the planet clean, it’s not Uranus!” t-shirt was sure to avert suspicion.

    A lecture about responsibility to the planet and its animal inhabitants preceded a meditative time to commune with nature, during which I snacked on Parakeets and stuffed a Macaw in my knapsack.

    Being a celebrity on my planet afforded me exotic experiences, including cosmic delicacies.

    Leara Morris-Clark

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    1. Where can I buy a “Keep the planet clean, it’s not Uranus!” t-shirt? 🙂

      The ending had me thinking of the Monty Python “Albatross! Gannet on a stick!” sketch.

      Well done!

  12. @WarwickDaisy
    Zookeeper/ Meeting room/ Fantasy
    105 Words
    Minutes of meeting 77: Negotiations between the Carpenter’s Guild and the National Tree Party

    “Mr Beech, I assure you, our carpenters won’t hurt the seedlings one bit,” said Larry Swanson, tapping his pen on the large oak conference table.
    “I want a better deal than two seedlings for every trunk,” said Mr Birch.
    “That’s quite reasonable I assure you. For every life taken you receive an extra in return,” said Larry.
    “Oh no! I don’t think so. Willows can out-live humans, so two for one is not enough,” said Mr Willow.
    “Agreed,” chorused Mr Birch, Mr Elm and Mr Oak.
    “Three for one,” sighed Larry.
    “Four,” said Mr Birch, holding out his bark-covered hand for confirmation.
    “Deal,” muttered Larry.

    Report user
  13. Forbidden Love
    107 words
    animal rights activist/jungle/romance

    There was a lady who married a tiger. She was an animal rights activist named Julie Daniels-Midland, and she was shooting a documentary on the tigers of Sumatra when they met. He was called Felix by the people at the animal sanctuary, but his tiger name was Silent Razor because of his razor-sharp claws.

    It was forbidden love at first sight.

    Their daughter was named Gloria. Both human and feline, where was her place in this world? She took the tiger name of Light through Leaves and vanished in the jungles of Sumatra.

    How wild are the hearts of tigers! How mysterious the minds of men!

  14. 2nd Try!

    Zookeeper/ Meeting Room/ Fantasy
    110 Words
    Going Up In the World

    Archie Hemming approached the meeting room cautiously. His hands tingled with excitement and his face felt hot as he led Tyrion, his pet lion, behind him.
    Today was the big day. At least he hoped it was the big day that the head zookeeper would give him his own office. He’d written all of his reports on time, despite being hassled by chimps throwing poo at his desk. He could have sat closer to the reptiles, but they were too quiet.
    Ten minutes later and Archie had been given a tree-house office in the giraffe enclosure. It wasn’t exactly as he’d hoped, but he supposed they might be better company.

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      1. Thanks Geoff! Imagine sitting down to get some writing done and finding a black tongue snaking over your shoulder to get at your cuppa, or snacking on your desk plant. =)

  15. @firdausp
    (110 words)
    Make believe

    The large screen displayed multiple small windows, one for every cage in the zoo. He sat there with a smug smile on his face.
    He watched the faces of people on other screens as they stood in awe and some in delight outside the various cages.
    It had been a difficult job sneaking out all the animals to the forest. The chimpanzees just wouldn’t stop chattering. He hated using the tranquilizer.
    Now he watched the holograms of the animals he’d created with pride. No one could guess.
    He pressed a button and the Bengal Tiger roared. The crowd gasped.
    That is when he noticed that its stripes were all wrong.

    Zookeeper/Computer lab/ fantasy

      1. Thankyou Geoff. I think I wouldn’t either unless they were horizontal. 🙂

  16. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 110
    Conservationist / Zoo / Romance
    Special Challenge accepted: all three – hidden!

    Rara Avis

    “Sally! Come in.”

    “Happy birthday, Ed. Oh… you’re packing.”

    “Yeah. I’m… leaving the zoo. Finally got another conservation job. Don’t want to end up just a footnote: OSWALD, E. in Sam Keithley’s ‘Ornithological Crises’.”

    “Where are you going?”

    “New Zealand. Two endangered forest birds, same genus – one North Island, the other South. The latter is recently data deficient.”


    “They haven’t been spotted for a while; possibly extinct.”

    “What are they called?”

    “Kōkako: more birds are needed to take them off the critical list.”

    “Looks like this is a farewell present: one of your favourite Japanese comic books.”

    Manga? Ta!”

    “I’ll… miss you.”

    “Hey, don’t cry, Sally… Come with me!”

      1. Thank you, Voima. I wish you could vote for it over and over too! (Perhaps marks out of 10 could be a suggestion for Kristen 🙂 )

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