RESULTS – Microcosms 24

Before we launch into CR Smith’s results for this week’s contest, I would just like to extend a huge thank you to Sal Page for her thoroughly entertaining posting this week. If anyone else would like to contribute a post, please get in touch, and now over to our judge …

You’ve given me a right headache this week. All the stories submitted were of a very high standard. I think it’s all down to Sal’s fantastic choice of prompts and the fact you’re all such great writers. The extended word count has allowed you to add a little more depth to your stories, I think. I’ve enjoyed reading them all — several times. It was so hard to choose, but, after much thought, this is what I’ve decided upon…

CR Smith

Honorable/Honourable Mentions

Geoff Holme – Fisherman’s Friend

Marvellous idea to have a fisherman who’s not very confident in the water. I think there could be more to this story, I see them sailing off into the sunset together.
Emily Clayton – Steps from the Edge

I thought this tale contained some super descriptions, particularly the likening of his wrinkled skin to an apple left out in the sun; delightful.

Geoff – Spag Bog

I had an idea where this was going, but still laughed at the ending; well paced, good story.

2nd Runner Up

Stella Turner – What’s for Lunch?

Telling part of the story from the spiders POV was a great twist. I liked that the spider was wary of the girl’s reaction to him and unsure if his missing leg would ever grow back.

1st Runner Up

Bill Engleson – The Protector

Love the gripping narrative of this poem.The rhyme scheme reminds me of the movement of waves; nicely done.

Favorite/Favourite Lines

Before we get to our winners, here are my favorite/favourite lines from this week.

He’s motionless, except for his eyes. They’re rolling, dancing, fighting a battle no one else can see. Emily Clayton

Travel the world by iceberg, he said and make friends with sea creatures, while relaxing away from the bustle of city-life. – Leara Morris-Clark

How ironic to survive all those trips in the North Sea, only to succumb to the water in my local pool. – Geoff Holme

Plunging to the depths of our watery grave/Drowning in the choke of a water-logged wave. – Bill Engleson

You have to be mega rich to buy them, but then they are the ultimate floral status symbol. – A.J. Walker

Under the searing heat, the garden that nearly crossed the sea to bring hope to the lost lands quickly melted away and turned to smoke. – Brian Creek

What looked like a giant wasp was flying towards her, but where its stinger should’ve been was a camera lens – Santino Prinzi

The cloudless blue sky after a storm was but an interlude between the next big rain. – Voima Oy

The entire parlour was covered in a carpet of lettuce; shredded, diced and torn – Meg Kovalik

He used a large pan. A very large pan. He said he lent it to you. – Geoff

He’d lost a leg last week in a skirmish and as it was his first loss wasn’t sure if it was true about legs growing back. – Stella Turner

We sent sparks flying as we rubbed shoulders, lighting up the sky – Firdaus Parvez

Carcer continued towards the compost heap, allowed his mind to wander until a distant rumble drew his attention back to the slate battalions advancing overhead. – Steph Ellis

And now, without further ado, I present to you the winners of Microcosms 24.

(insert drumroll here)

Community Pick

Wow, this week we have a three-way tie between A.J. Walker, Voima Oy and Emily Clayton. Congratulations all.

A.J. Walker – A Rose-Tinted Spectacle

WC 300
Florist; iceberg; mystery

Rose Petal is the ultimate poster girl for nominative determinism. Of course she’s famous the world over for her unique floral emporium. You’ll all have seen the photographs, of course. Those bright perfect delicate flowers set against the blue-white ice of the iceberg Rose lives and works on.

It’s a mystery where she gets the flowers. No-one has ever documented any deliveries to the floating florist.

She claims she grows them all herself. Though as she lives and works on the iceberg, which has no soil of its own it is hard to see how.

Some say that off course icebergs are three quarters hidden, and that she has a submarine compartment beneath the waves where she lives and grows her perfect specimens. And it seems a reasonable assumption without anything at the surface or being transported to her.

Her clients are the mega rich, who have to find her themselves as she floats at the mercy of ocean currents. They arrive in ships and helicopters. Happy to pay the fantastic premiums for Rose’s creations. You have to be mega rich to buy them, but then they are the ultimate floral status symbol.

And so Rose grows rich as well as flowers. If the iceberg was a state the GDP would be limitless as the “Ice Maiden” lives alone. We think. Who knows what or who lies beneath the ice?

Some say Rose Petal is a metaphor, but I can’t recall for what. Some say she’s an alien; the first of an invasion. It would seem the oddest of vanguards though.

Personally I’d like not to learn the truth. The mystery is as beautiful as her iceberg. As perfect as her flowers. Let the mystery float on.

In these hardest of times, just stop and smell the roses.

Voima Oy – South Water Street

260 words

The plumbing business was good in New Providence. Every time it rained, the streets flooded and the drains backed up. It seemed to rain more and more often these days. The cloudless blue sky after a storm was but an interlude between the next big rain.

Now the sky was blue, and the plumbers were busy. Jerry Waterson, the son of Waterson & Son Plumbing Company, had been on calls all morning.

His next call was on South Water Street. This was in the lower part of town, a run-down neighborhood by the docks and warehouses. White vans of rival plumbing companies were parked in front of the gray stone six flats and frame houses. Jerry checked the address again. Yes, it was at the end of the block, an old Victorian house with a sagging front porch. There was ivy climbing the walls and violets growing in the cracks of the sidewalk.

He rang the bell. An old woman in a tattered gray pullover opened the door.

“Well, come in,” she said. “Aren’t you handsome. Mind the cats.”

It was dark and cool inside. A large gray cat regarded him from an armchair. A smaller gray cat rubbed against his legs.

“I’m so glad you could come. Would you like some coffee?”

“No thanks, what seems to be the problem?”

“It’s the bathtub. There’s something in it.”

She hesitated, opened the door. The bathroom was covered with foul-smelling muck, as if a pipe exploded. The bathtub was filled with writhing tentacles.

“It’s hungry,” she said, and closed the door.

Emily Clayton – Steps from the Edge

297 words
weather forecaster, toilet, fantasy

“There’s a world in my toilet bowl. Right there, can’t you see?” Clive’s hazel eyes are large and pleading, as if his sanity, the pride of his life he’s been losing slowly the past three years, will be confirmed if only I can agree.

I humour him. “Yes. Stormy skies, right?”

Clive wiggles his eyebrows at me, a rare lucid moment, as he tugs off his red wool socks. “Don’t be silly. Sunny skies. I’ll be on the six o’clock news tonight; you’ll watch, won’t you?” And there’s the drop again.

I nod obligingly and help him into the shower, settling him gently on the bath bench. His wrinkled skin reminds me of an apple left too long in the sun: brown, haggard, and soft.

He emits a shriek on the drying cycle, high-pitched, like a rabbit caught in a coyote’s locked jaws.

“Clive?” He’s motionless, except for his eyes. They’re rolling, dancing, fighting a battle no one else can see.

Then I see the water.

All around his feet, splashing down, rotating from the toilet like a torrent, the water is black and putrid.

“It’s backed up!” I shriek.

His vision clears, as does the water. I gape at the floor, at my dry socks.

“Amazing,” he says. “You were right about the storm clouds.”

The next day I enter his home. Water everywhere, with the deepest levels near the bathroom. “Clive!” I yell, as I race from room to room. “Where are you?”

Phone in hand, I remember the previous day’s events. I inch to the bathroom, to the toilet, gazing down into the bowl.

I see a world, zoomed in to a tiny town. A thick red sock, matted from rain, lies discarded on the road.

I know the police will never find him.


Judge’s Pick

Firdaus Parvez – Language of Flowers

All the stories are excellent so I had to sleep on it before coming to a decision. This story, however, kept replaying in my head, much like an ear worm.The personification of the weather has sown the seeds for some great lines; a lovely story, beautifully written.
297 words
Florist/rain cloud/fantasy

I had heard rumours, the wind had blown it in from a town. It is said that the florist of that town understands the language of flowers. She can hear and talk to them. I don’t usually believe in rumours but this bit got me interested. So as I jostled alongside my brothers towards the town, I was excited. Droplets of anticipation bobbed in my belly as I growled along.
The wind carried us rapidly towards the town. We sent sparks flying as we rubbed shoulders, lighting up the sky. The sound we made was thunderous.
I looked around for the florist’s shop, because that’s where I wanted to drop. The town was dotted with quaint cottages, some modern buildings and a Main Street. Nothing extraordinary about it, just like any other town we had drenched, flooded or destroyed. Today we just carried enough for a light morning shower. I spotted the florist shop on the Main Street and positioned myself over it.
As we blotted out the sun, an ominous shadow crept over the town. I felt the nudge from my brothers, a signal to fall. And so we did, in a light drizzle.
I splattered on the windowpanes of the shop and slowly slid to the ground. I caught sight of a grey haired old woman, arranging a bunch of daisies near the window.
She flung open the window and took in a deep breath. The heady scent of petrichor wafted in.
“Ah! Isn’t that lovely,” she exclaimed to the daisies.
“What is that horrible rumbling noise?” they squeaked.
“Oh that is just some rain clouds playing around, don’t you worry,” she comforted them.
I smiled as I got absorbed into the ground. The rumours were true, I should always believe the wise old wind.

Additionally, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!

RESULTS - Microcosms 25
RESULTS - Microcosms 23

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15 comments for “Welcome to Microcosms!

  1. zwoodle
    26 December 2015 at 4:15 pm

    We’re going to do a soft launch on 1 January. We’ll be e-mailing everyone shortly. Stay tuned!

  2. 12 September 2019 at 5:20 pm

    What’s happened to all the stories from last week’s competition?

    • KM Zafari
      12 September 2019 at 6:31 pm

      They’re all still in the system but not displaying on the front end. Part of the glitch I’m trying to resolve. :/

  3. 13 September 2019 at 6:37 am

    Who is Stoner, please?

  4. 13 September 2019 at 11:20 am

    Ghost; Haunted House; Comedy
    298 words

    The Gang, Fifty Years On

    “Hey guys, it’s our anniversary. It’s fifty years since we got together and solved our first case.”

    “That’s right. Why don’t we do something to celebrate? We could stay the night in the old, haunted house.”

    “I’m not really sure. None of us are as young as we used to be, we’re all in our late sixties now.”

    “Yeah, and I’m not sure that I want to stay up past my bedtime.”

    “Oh, go on, it’ll be a bit of fun. It’s not as though any of us get much of that anymore.”

    “It just won’t be the same without the dog.”

    “You’re right about missing the dog. I even miss that annoying little one that accompanied us on some of our later adventures.”

    “OK, it’s a date then. We just need someone to drive us out there before it gets dark.”

    “I’ll organise some supplies. Some drinks, a snack, spare walking sticks, and a flashlight for each of us.”

    “I’m not sure that I see the point. We never managed to find any real ghosts or monsters, never in our entire career. It was always a scam of some sort, and always one carried out by ordinary, everyday losers dressed up in costume.”

    The overnight stay was uneventful until just before dawn when they heard someone moving about downstairs. Silently they crept down the stairs only to find a fat balding man dressed up in a sheet going, “Woo… woo…” As it was obvious something untoward was going on, they phoned for the police. When they arrived a few minutes later the police arrested the would-be ghost. As he was taken away the last thing the gang heard him say was, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those pesky pensioners!”

  5. Geoff
    13 September 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Stoner, haunted house, drama
    295 words
    ‘Hi Pete. How’s it trucking?’’
    Pete blinked, hoping his neighbour was another bad trip.
    ‘Garden’s looking great. Not many weeds. Ho!’
    Pete sucked in air, disorientated by the lack of smoke. I need to cut back oxygen. ‘Hi Greg. You after a packet?’
    ‘I was just wondering how you get them so… leafy?’
    Pete licked the paper. ‘You planning your own? Take some seeds, man.’ He sealed another joint, willing him to go.
    ‘I don’t think so. What’s the secret?’
    Pete looked at the soil at his feet. ‘Peace and love, man.’
    ‘Seriously. We grew cannabis at college but that was inside in Cheltenham. You manage outdoors, in Scotland in January…’
    ‘I rely on my relatives.’ He kicked the dirt, exposing the head of a femur. ‘That’s Auntie Jane. The plants love her.’
    Greg’s eyes widened. ‘That’s your aunt?’
    ‘Think so. Hang on.’ Pete put down the Rizzla packet and bent to the bone. ‘Yeah? You sure? Right ho.’ He looked up. ‘Uncle Portius. They look the same at that age, don’t they?’
    Greg rubbed his eyes. ‘I must be passive smoking your product. Did you just talk to a bone?’
    Pete laughed. ‘Course not. Bone’s don’t talk…’
    ‘They’re ghosts. I you like I can do you some Mexican spicy and my second cousin’s torso as a starter kit…’
    Greg backed away. ‘Maybe later.’
    Pete started another joint and covered the bone. He’d need another dozen for the school run. ‘Thanks Ponti, I’ll get you that pint of Ruddles later.’ He looked down the rows of fecund and fullsome plants to a slightly saggy group by the hedge. ‘And I’ll pick up some dubonnet and lemon for Granny Emmaline. Wouldn’t do to let her crop get peaky, what with festival season nearly upon us.’

  6. 13 September 2019 at 10:25 pm
    300 words
    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy

    That’s Some Spooky Shit, Man–Sailing the Silvery Seas with Long Joint Spliffer

    Man, I had more wobbles than a bobblehead.


    Bubblehead for sure.

    Or Stubble head?

    Like man, that cat had a gnarly beard. Facial hair all wiry and dense. I could feel it, man. Spikes shooting out of his face like fireworks.

    Bazooka hookahs, man!

    Reefer creepers!

    Maybe it was the Maui-Zowie? Or the BC Bud? Or, get this, the Alberta Muerta?

    Made that up, man. Killer weed, though.

    Whatever it was, it was some magic shit. Maui Cowie poop, eh.

    Hah! I don’t know what that is.

    Anyway, I’d been up all night zinging in the shower, tingling in the tower, baying at the full moon, a giant silver dollar beauty, when I got the urge man to go down to the waterfront, watch the river flow.

    You ever done that, man? The river! Love the river. Like its dark, man, and late. The taverns have all closed. Streets littered with the soulful. Sky’s storm ready. Clouds gathering like jumbled sheets on a bed that’s never been made. Guess you know where that metaphor comes from. Anyways, you can feel it. Something’s gonna burst. So, I go down to the river and I see it through the thick fog. Like its out of the movies, man, full masted, skull and crossbones flapping in the night wind, and that ain’t no Errol Flynn standing at the helm. Not on your booty. Its someone eerie as hell, with some yo ho hoing and a bottle of bong…and I’m thinking, Bong? James Bong?

    There I am, staring at this vessel, double o sevening away, and this dude starts walking the plank and says, “Sorry Mate, no gambling tonight. The Jolly Better’s closed tight. City ordinance.”

    “Bummer, man” I bleat, “and me with the munchies and a pocket full of pieces of eight.”

  7. Angelique Pacheco
    14 September 2019 at 4:56 am

    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy
    135 words

    Green Boo-ty

    I saw through the haze
    A ghost ship’s hallways
    Twisting and turning
    The maze was daunting

    A ghostly dancer beckoned
    “Get naked,” she reckoned
    My mind said, “Okay!”
    My body said, “Let’s play!”
    The scene was rearranged
    And the actors were exchanged.

    The captain wore coat tails
    He clung onto the rails
    He shouted for pirates
    And called us bandits
    Zombies took me to the ledge
    To walk the plank to the edge.

    When I came down
    We were back in Cape Town
    I found myself at the pool
    Standing starkers like a fool

    The mystical dancer
    Was a Trans performer
    Security was cuffing me
    No zombies could I see.

    Don’t ever take the green stuff
    It can be quite rough
    Make sure you buy local
    Not pirated forms of diabolical.

  8. 14 September 2019 at 6:19 am

    stoner/ghost ship/comedy
    WC: 365

    One More Sausage

    Fred was hungry. It was his semi-permanent state. Always eating; yet as thin as a rake that had been split in two–his acquaintances assumed he was looking after some tape worms. His best buddy, Havant, had just as voracious an appetite. Being a dog it was expected.
    Their holiday to France wasn’t going well. The language was unfamiliar and the food was not as good as anticipated. It was four days before Fred discovered that they were in Hamburg. And, whilst it was just two letters shy of his favourite word, it wasn’t in France.

    Things began to look up when they went for a couple of currywurst after a big breakfast. They got chatting to a groovy guy by the wurst-stand about all things sausage related ,which had got them a) excited and b) hungry again. Being at the wurst-stand that had been easy to deal with. There was always room for one more sausage.

    They shared a funny cigarette with Groovyman, which made them giggle. He said he’d never seen a dog smoke before. Fred said it happened regularly, usually when he’d spilt cooking oil on Havant.

    Groovyman enquired why he was called Havant. Fred explained that it was short for Havant A. which left him none the wiser. He then told them about the sausage barge, where the price for a four hour trip includes an ‘All That You Can Eat’ buffet. They weren’t going to miss this opportunity, so they heading down to the docks with big loping strides and stupid grins.

    At the docks everything was a bit blurry. Clearly they were in danger of fainting from hunger. So they got onboard the SS Hamburger with expectant bellies and an aim to make the buffet their home. Havant A. realised something was amiss when their boat passed through a series of locks without the gates opening. The lack of taste to the buffet wasn’t an issue, but the lack of substance was. When the captain turned up minus his head even Fred thought something was amiss.

    Then they smelled the Sausage Cruise pass in the other direction. It was a good job Havant could swim and Fred could float.

  9. Diego Piselli
    14 September 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Stoner, Ghost Ship, Comedy
    282 words
    The rumor had spread with lightning speed, fuelled by media coverage.
    A mahogany barge, loaded with Lebanese weed was floating somewhere in Amsterdam canals, unattended
    Smokers in coffee shops hotly debated the matter. Abe swore he saw it moored near Singel canal; Alwine claimed to be certain that the ship was far in the harbor; Rastafarian waiters fabled about an Iranian merchant, owner of the barge tugged along his princely yacht, vanished with a Circassian beauty.
    Eventually, on a warm summer Saturday night, the Quest had its beginning.
    Hordes of stoners, old hippies and weirdos of all kinds gathered in Dam square and started scouring all the canals, walking on the banks, boating or paddling in muddy waters: braver and youngsters went so far as to swim in the smelly current.
    The Quest was unsuccessful, but Saturday phantom barge hunting became a fixed meeting. If interest decreased, the press reported a new sighting and people got back to the endless hunting. Hunters set up groups and association named by famous weed smokers of the past. Each group had a leader, a hymn, a flag.
    And every Saturday evening Mr. Janssen, managing editor of “Amsterdam Today”, savored happily the silence of his flat in Central Amsterdam, a little nest in a medieval alley crowded with coffee shops. No more yelling, no more stoners’ noise. No more frantic strolling of excited people along the cobblestone street.
    All the smokers had gone away, searching for the barge.
    His little article full of question marks and drop hints about a mysterious barge had proved useful, and he could eventually savor domestic pleasures in peace. “Marijuana enthusiasts are like children,” he said to himself “they believe anything”.

  10. 14 September 2019 at 7:44 pm

    stoner/ghost ship/comedy
    Word Count – 260

    Clang! Clang! Clang!
    The sound reminded Midshipman Smythe of the death march if it was played badly by a toddler on kitchen pans. What was scarier was the lack of bodily panic symptoms. His heart hadn’t tried to explode. His stomach hadn’t emptied like a freshly flushed toilet. Nothing was doing nothing in fact. Peter, the welcome guy, had warned him about this but it took some getting use to.
    “Is that her Midshipman?” His Captain pointed at the blue haired girl hitting the ships pipes.
    “Yes Sir.”
    “Madam.” The captain pulled herself to the full height of her tall frame. “How did you get on board?”
    “I don’t know man.” She didn’t look at the captain. Instead she gazed off to the left, as if following an excitable fly.
    “Madam, I am very much not a man.”
    She blinked three times, each time she forced her eyes as wide as she could. “You are so pale…wo-man. Did I get that right? Wo-man.”
    She giggled to herself.
    The Captain did not see the funny side. “Madam! How did you get on board this ship?”
    “Space cakes.” Her hand becomes a rocket which follows the same trajectory as her imagined fly. She takes the same level of interest.
    The Captain groans. “Midshipman?”
    “Yes Captain.” He clips his heels together, disappointed at the lack of noise. Another thing he has to get use to.
    “Go find the Chaplin. Tell him to prepare for a bio-exorcism. I won’t have a breather on my ghost ship.”

  11. 14 September 2019 at 10:09 pm

    150 Words
    Unmasked Villain; Spooky Location; Drama


    Flames flickered in the oppressive darkness, solitary among thousands. A tall woman strode around them, her high-necked red dress flowing dangerously close to the light. Watching her, bathed in the shadows, were hundreds of people, their breathing heavy in the air of anticipation.

    She spun to face them, her eyes flashing as they reflected the flames. Her voice thundered through the deadened space. Disdain blanketed the group, suffocating even the bravest of her followers.

    Weakness was unacceptable, this they knew, but they had still managed to disappoint her. All fell to their knees, bowing their heads to the shame brought on by her piercing glare.

    She reached down to grab one of the candles, holding it in such a way that her face was cast in a ghostly light. Swiftly, her fingers were enveloped in the burning wax. Everyone else hissed, shocked, yet impressed by her stoicism.

    Flames smoldered still.

  12. Lindsey P
    16 September 2019 at 9:48 am

    I guess mine didn’t get saved…oh well.

    • Lindsey Pittenger
      16 September 2019 at 9:51 am

      298 Words

      Bookworm; Mine; Mystery

      The Case of the Canned Canaries

      As they ventured further down the dimly lit tunnel, Miranda pulled her book closer to her face, squinting to make out the words, comparing them to her surroundings. Everything seemed to be just as she’d expected. The construction of the mine shaft seemed stable and matched the text, which eased her growing sense of claustrophobia, but there was something that still just didn’t seem right. She hadn’t noticed that she’d slowed to a stop until the man behind her nearly knocked her over.

      “Oomf—sorry about that. Need to watch where I’m going a bit more,” he said with a sheepish grin.

      “I’m fine,” she said, clutching the book to herself and waving him away. Ignoring the dismissal, he pointed at her treasured cargo.

      “So what are you reading down here that’s so important to gum up the traffic?” he asked jovially, lowering his pickaxe from his shoulder.

      “Oh, this?” She held up the book. “It’s just an old book about mines. I figured I’d bring it along for some good-natured analysis. This mine seems similar to the one in the book, but the thing that’s been concerning me the most is the canaries.”

      “Canaries?” he asked, confused, briefly glancing around the shaft as though he’d missed something.

      “There aren’t any,” she said matter-of-factly, reopening her book, “Here, they use canaries as a warning system for noxious gases to keep people from dying, but this whole time we’ve been here, I haven’t seen a single one.” The look on her face fell as he burst into laughter.

      “I’m sorry,” he said, pointing to a box on the wall. “I think this sensor is that canary you’re looking for. Don’t worry, we are monitoring the safety of the air down here. At any rate, hope you’re enjoying your tour!”


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