Microcosms 20

Today’s contest is brought to you by Steph Ellis. (Thanks, Steph!)

Sometimes you read a book because you feel you should. These books are often referred to as ‘classics’ and yes, many of them are shining examples of great literature. However, because reading is so subjective, a book may often leave a reader shaking their head and wondering what all the fuss about. But they keep it to themselves. To even mention a dislike of a beloved classic is to bring down cries of ‘heresy’ or paint the reader as some sort of ignoramus. This is unfair. So this week I thought we’d have a bit of fun at the classics’ expense and I give you, instead of a setting, a novel title; for example, Les Miserables could be about a group of grumpy traffic wardens. And if you’ve never read the book, it doesn’t matter at all. All titles were taken from the Everyman Classics.

This week, our contest begins with three things: character, book, and genre.

And NOTE, we have given you 200 words to play with this time.

We spun, and our three elements are character: Gangster, book: Confessions, and genre: Romance.

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.

  • Housewife
  • Politician
  • Gangster
  • Entrepeneur
  • Photographer
  • Real Ale Enthusiast
  • Les Miserables
  • Memoirs of a Nun
  • The Sound and the Fury
  • Brave New World
  • The Prince
  • Confessions
  • horror
  • sci-fi
  • steam punk
  • mystery
  • fantasy
  • romance
  • drama
  • comedy
  • poem


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

All submissions should be 200 words in length, give or take 10 words (190 – 210 words). You have until midnight, New York time to submit.

Winners will receive a copy of the Kindle version of Flashdogs: An Anthology (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). This is The Cider House at Quatt, Shropshire. My childhood home. It does have a relevance to one of the characters!

The Cider House at Quatt, Shropshire. An older, white and brown building.
The Cider House at Quatt by Andy Roberts
Microcosms 21
Microcosms 19

16 thoughts on “Microcosms 20

  1. @WarwickDaisy
    Gangster/ Memoirs of a Nun/ Fantasy
    Things a Hobbit will do to pay for breakfast
    209 Words

    Pip checked his pocket watch again. His appointment was late and he wondered if he was waiting for a no show. Sighing and rubbing his facial stubble, he sucked on his pipe and watched the half-formed smoke rings rise into the air.
    Feeling relieved, he inhaled again. After all, he was just a Hobbit and enjoyed the simple things in life. He hadn’t been enthusiastic about doing an interview with the most notoriously violent dwarf gangster living on this side of the twelfth moon, but his editor from the Madcap Times had insisted. However, this was the sort of interview that paid the most and, as he’d just fathered triplets, there were too many breakfasts to financially support for Pip to run back to his less dangerous job at the Local Valley Times.
    Pip felt a weight land between his shoulder blades.
    Scowling through a bushy orange beard and adorned with tribal patterned face tattoos was his client, Alwen. The dwarf had hands the size of shovels and shoulders double the width of his height.
    “So, you wanna hear about the time I was pretending to be a nun?” grunted the dwarf.
    Pip had to admit, he was now quite intrigued to know how Alwen had pulled that off.

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  2. Confessions of a Mob Au Pair

    “I don’t like this. Not one bit.”

    “Tell us what happened…with Frankie Filippino and Helen Warren.”

    Every time I take a gander at Gyppo Granneli, the last thing I see is a mob flunky. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Gyppo,is a big guy, Mack Truck size, six foot six in his bare feet, though I have never seen his massive tootsies. Nor really ever wanted to. His skin is grooved in folds of bumpy flesh. The thing about Gyppo though is he’s a massive…pussycat.

    “That’s fine, Gyppo. That’s why you’re here. So, what about them?”

    “I been with the family since Frankie was a wee popsicle, that’s when Big Frank hired me on to be Little Frank’s go to guy…”

    “You were his Nanny, Gyppo.”

    “Nobody ever called me that, Agent. Not to my face.”

    So I apologize to Gyppo.

    “Fine,” he says. “Anyway, Big Frank says, the boy’ll always be a target, Gyp. A bullet. A broad. They’ll come after him cuz he’s my blood.”

    “So”, I add, “Big Frank moved his whole kit and caboodle to England?”

    ”Yeah, to Quall. Twenty years now,” he nods. “All to protect the kid.”

    “The girl Gyppo. Why kill her?”

    “I thought…”

    “And Little Frank?”

    Gyppo starts wailing. “He musta loved her…”

    210 moments of abject failure
    Gangster, Confessions, Romance.

  3. American Dream
    203 words

    “I started from nothing,” Uncle Vito said. “You kids have no idea. I sold newspapers, right off the truck. We formed a gang, Eddie and Stan the Man, and me. We could get our hands on anything, and nobody asked where we got it. Gucci shoes, Louis Vuitton bags, Armani anything. We were entrepreneurs. It’s the American way.”

    Stan the Man nodded at the memory of those days. “Our talents came to the attention of Leo Rossi, he was our mentor, you might say. This will all be yours some day, he told us.”

    Ice cream dripped in the summer sun at the family picnic. We were sitting in the shade of the garden. Uncle Vito’s fiancé, Rosemary, was smiling by the pool. If anybody questioned what a pretty young girl was doing with an old guy like Uncle Vito, they kept it to themselves. But we all knew it wasn’t just the money, there was a family connection. Her dad had worked for Uncle Vito. There had been an accident. We saw him comforting her at the funeral, his arm around her, whispering.

    “Oh yes, Uncle Vito continued. “look at us, now. The beauty of capitalism. I’m living the American dream.”

  4. Getting Serious
    A.J. Walker

    Barney was cubic; all straight lines and right angles. With his brick-dust hair and freckles he looked like he was hewn from Old Red Sandstone.

    Then there was Elena. Half his height and constructed with curves – all in the right places. Even her auburn hair was wavy.

    You wouldn’t put them together, but you didn’t need to; fates’ had.

    ‘A pint of that reclaimed acid you call scrumpy,’ said Barney, to Paul. ‘And a Lambrini.’

    ’‘Who’s the scrumpy for?’ said Paul.

    Barney laughed. It sounded like boulders grating.

    ‘The Lambrini is for the lady.’

    Paul had seen them together four times now. A long-term relationship for Barney.

    Barney chinked his pint carefully against the slender wine glass.

    ‘To the next month!’ he said, furtively looking around.

    ‘Cheers! Everything okay?’

    ‘Erm, well… I think now we’re kinda serious I need to confess something.’

    ‘Okay. Go on.’

    ‘Well, I’m not a doorman. I’m really a barista.’

    Elena placed her glass down.

    ‘A barrister, really?’

    ‘Yes, I make coffee all day.’

    ‘Ah! A barista.’ said Elena, lengthening the “aaa” to fade.

    ‘Thank fuck for that, Barn. I’ve got a confession. I’m not a PA. I’m a fixer with the Banucci’s.’

    With all their cards on the table they became even happier.

    WC 210

  5. Contingency Plan
    WC 210

    I stopped at Sacred Heart again on my way to Ma’s for dinner. I felt the need to confess more often lately.

    I kinda had a thing for Ma’s hairdresser, Lorraine. She was sweet as pie and could be feisty as a wet cat. She made me think all domestically, ya know, like settling down and such. Currently, my job wasn’t good for that kinda future.

    Father O’Malley knew me since I was a kid. I felt his condescension heavy in the confessional. “Father, forgive me for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession.”

    It seemed a conflict of interest to tell my sins to a priest whose brother was the mob boss that happened to be my employer, but he said he is bound to no man, only to God.

    Once you’re in “The Family,” there’s few ways out that don’t involve a funeral. So, he likes to remind me that I shoulda made better choices in my youth, and doing the right thing is a hard path.

    Since getting out required a funeral, I was glad O’Malley wasn’t bound to any man as I confessed my latest sin. I felt kinda guilty telling him that his brother was now swimming with the fishes.

    Leara Morris-Clark

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    1. Please replace the 5th paragraph with the following:

      Once you’re in “The Family,” there’s few ways out that don’t involve a funeral. So, he liked to remind me that I shoulda made better choices in my youth, and doing the right thing was a hard path.

      Word count stays the same.

      Thank you!

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  6. Le(s) Miserable(s)

    195 words

    Elements: politician, Les Miserables, poem


    It was just a moment of pure madness
    Getting my name on that voting slip
    And now I find the late night sittings
    Are enough to drive a man to drink

    And don’t get me started on the speeches
    Never heard such utter tosh
    The relic spouting on the floor
    Is from the land that time forgot

    The benches, they are bloody hard
    Play havoc for a man with piles
    No longer regular, my daily motion
    Has become another bleedin’ trial

    Point of order, Mr Speaker
    Our Honourable Friend has a darker side
    A slave to the whip, I’ve seen the pics
    Not a pretty sight, I think you’ll find

    Oh God, now you’ve called a cutie
    I recognise her … oh … oh yes
    Took offense at some piffling comment
    Slapped me hard when I ‘brushed’ her dress

    It’s gin o’clock and still we’re sitting
    My tie is tight and my throat is dry
    The weekend has already started
    And now’s the time to do or die

    The Speaker’s called me, I’ll make it brief
    Rise swiftly to my benumbed feet
    Plead ill-health, demand my freedom
    Hope not to see you all next week.

  7. Foreign Goods
    209 words

    They always look at me funny when they finally open their door. Not too many folks are wearing bowler hats on this planet anymore, I guess. They seem to get a little kick out of the mustache though. There’s a fad going, young girls drawing elaborate staches over their makeup.

    “You trying to sell me something,” this one gentleman says. He still has his threshold forcefield on.

    I flash my sweetest smile. “That depends, what are you trying to buy?”

    “You have some foreign goods, Allie?”

    I just blink a couple times at the slur: “alley” and “alien” with a touch of bad upper-lip timing. “Foreign to you, sure. Allow me.”

    My suitcase opens at the phrase. Voice activation is considered very suave on this planet this week.

    “Statues, eh? Haven’t seen those in ages,” says the gentleman. He shuts down his forcefield to run his thumb down the third-century Earth stone. Three of the statues depict a man in various shades of eaten by a fish, and the other one is a shepherd boy carrying a sheep.

    My smile deepens. “They are lovely, aren’t they? But I’m not selling the statues.”

    The gentleman looks at me funny again, as they are known to do.

    “I’m selling the scripture.”

  8. StellaKateT
    210 words
    Politician / Memoirs of a Nun / Comedy

    Politics v Godliness

    When her letter arrived he was surprised she hadn’t written ‘confidential’ all over it. His private secretary and aide had both read it, twice, before he had. It was a simple note saying she was having her memoirs published by a top house and hoped he didn’t mind she had fleetingly mentioned him in Chapters 5, 8 and 15 and he figured heavily in the epilogue. It took a few days before he realised that Sister Augustine from the Convent of Lesser Saints was Aggie Smith, the girl with legs up to her armpits, cascading red hair, the greenest eyes this side of the Irish Sea and an amazing penchant for tomfoolery.

    He begged to see a copy before publication but Sister Augustine said that would be inappropriate she had mentioned God in Chapters 1, 4, 7 and 16 and He hadn’t requested to read it.

    Breathing a sigh of relief he was the new Prime Minister. No hint of scandal or whiff of corruption had reached the tabloids.

    Sipping a huge glass of the finest red wine Aggie smiled. He’d always been easy to dupe, the large cheque safely deposited. Why would he think she could ever write a book when a note to the milkman was beyond her!

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  9. Starting Over

    “Da, it’s a whole new world! A new opportunity, we’d be mad not to take it!”

    His father continued down the field, though the placid beast required minimal supervision.

    “We ain’t going, and that’s final, Lenny. What’s the point? Sharecropping in one place is much the same as another. Besides, we ain’t leaving your Mam.”

    Lenny stopped, and let out a silent scream. Taking a breath, he tried to make his father see reason. “Da, she’s been dead these past seven rotations! This brave new world will be better, you’ll see. Gravity’s a third weaker there, so work’ll be easier.”

    His father sneered. “Mark my words, work never gets any easier, lad.”

    “But we don’t have to just be farmers, Da. If we sell everything we own, and buy simple supplies, we can be traders. Set up something like old man Moran’s and make credits hand over fist!”

    Turning the six legged beast around to go back down the field, the father spat. Lenny’s shoulder’s slumped, he thought the conversation was over.

    “You reckon we’d have a chance without slogging through bloody mud and filth all day? All right, young ‘un, all right. You’re all I’ve left, if’n I don’t want to lose you I best be coming too.”

    Entrepreneur/Brave New World/Science Fiction
    209 words

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