Microcosms 28

Bore da all, sadly Wales were knocked out of Euro 2016 in the end causing my husband some disappointment (being of the Cymraeg) but it’s not the end of the world, the team did themselves proud; it was however pretty disastrous for the English which leads me very neatly to the theme of this week’s contest.

Disasters, we all live in fear of them; from the small-scale catastrophe of burning the dinner to the global misery inflicted by nature’s volcanic temper and the never-ending wars of man. Even when life appears to be running smoothly, we always expect something to go wrong sooner or later (or in the case of English football, sooner – much sooner).

So your stories this week are to feature a disaster of some kind but remember it does not have to be all doom and gloom – there’s always a silver lining.

And I can assure you that next week’s post, created by the wonderful Meg Kovalik is a lot more upbeat!



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

We spun, and our three elements are character: student, disaster: dinner, and genre: mystery.

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.


  • Aid worker
  • Mother/Father-in-law
  • Student
  • Actor
  • Politician
  • Location agent
  • Property developer
  • Worker
  • Architect
  • Soldier
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Flood
  • Battlefield
  • Drought
  • Earthquake
  • Stuck in a lift
  • Election result
  • Dinner
  • Plague of …
  • horror
  • adventure
  • sci-fi
  • steam punk
  • mystery
  • fantasy
  • romance
  • drama
  • comedy
  • poem



Judging this week is Geoff Le Pard

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time to submit.


If you like, you may use the following video to inspire you (not required). Gremlins in the works would not allow me to upload a photo this week!

Microcosms 29
Microcosms 27

30 thoughts on “Microcosms 28

  1. Politically Incorrect!

    Politician/ Drought /Comedy


    Young and suave, the looks of a Royal … this is how his political party campaigned for him. He was the poster boy of the new wave of young politicians. The crowd heard his story – how he climbed up the ladder through hard work and dedication towards serving his fellow citizens; how the party stalwarts recognized this forthcoming comrade and how he will lead the party to victory by sheer hard work and worship for their country.

    The crowd was surcharged with emotions generated by this young man’s speech. And suddenly he fell off the stage.

    Rajan came to his senses. The driver braked suddenly and every one sitting in the vehicle were almost thrown out of their comfort. No one was hurt but everyone’s heart was drumming aloud. The senior leader looked out of the window. The village was dry and burning. “Start the car and switch the damn AC. I am here to review the drought situation, not to die in the drought” shouted the paunchy politician. The driver immediately did as ordered. Rajan offered the politician bottled mineral water from the ice box. “Let’s get down from the car and click some pictures here for the news channels.” ordered the politician.

    Rajan immediately got off the car and directed the rest of the entourage to stop for a while. He took the camera and started clicking with the politician in focus. After a couple of poses of worried look and crucial discussion with his colleagues the politician pulled out the water bottle, washed his face with the drinking water and sat comfortably in the car. Rajan hopped on next to the driver and the car sped off. Rajan the assistant closed his eyes and returned to the dream.

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  2. Student/Dinner/Mystery
    WC 300

    Hold On To Your Handbag

    A man I only met yesterday drags me forwards, his fingers squeezing my arm. I briefly wonder if the waiting official has an inkling what’s going on, but remain silent – I value my life too much. Sneaking my first look at my husband-to-be, it’s a complete mystery to me how I ended up in this predicament.
    Feeling flush, due to our recently deposited student loans, we decided to celebrate with a curry. The restaurant was so packed we had to squeeze past tables. Unbeknown to me, the strap of my handbag dropped and lassoed a chair back. As I moved forward it toppled over, straight into the waiter’s path. The food he carried shot upwards, its trajectory watched by all the diners in open-mouthed silence. Weaponised onion bhajis rained down, splattering curry onto crisp white cotton. When I tried to slope off towards the door a tattooed hand grabbed my arm.
    “Not so fast.” A mountain of a man leant over me, granting a glimpse of the holstered gun inside his jacket. He pushed me into the kitchen where I came face to face with a curry-stained shirt.
    “It was an accident,” I pleaded, looking up at the man wearing it.
    He began pacing back and forwards, scratching his bearded chin.
    “You’ll do,” he finally said.
    “Do – for what!?”
    “Tomorrow, you’ll marry my chef.”
    “W – Wh – What?”
    “He’ll sell me the recipe if I find him a wife.”
    “No way,” I said, defiantly.
    “You’ll do as I say,” he said, pulling a knife from the wall; words matching the coldness of the steel he brandished.
    The official’s voice interrupts my thoughts. 
    “ – Anyone present who knows a reason why these persons may not lawfully marry, to declare it now.”
    I pray for intervention, but none arrives.

    295 words
    Student, dinner, mystery

    A chalk outline had been sketched upon the table exactly as the body had fallen. Earlier that evening Jonathan Malimore, a student at the University, had been poisoned.

    Those who had attended the dinner and were now suspects had all been interviewed by Inspector Clavicle. It was said that Clavicle needed only hours to solve cases that would leave others stumped.

    “I have determined the identity of Jonathan Mailmore’s murderer,” the inspector announced. He turned to Tabitha Fishbottom, who also attended the University.

    “Miss Fishbottom, you were the obvious choice, as your fingerprints were found on the bottle of poison. Jonathan had been having an affair. However, your fingerprints were on the bottle because it was not a bottle of poison. It was a bottle of your perfume relabeled to pin the murder on you.”

    Jennibloom Wimberbroom, the victim’s mother, had not done the deed, though she admitted to being glad it had been done.

    “And that only leaves us with Mr. Baltiview,” continued the inspector.

    Raymore stood to inherit the entire Malimore fortune upon Jonathan’s death. Jonathan’s father had cut Jennibloom out of the will when she left him for Eleanore Wimberbroom.

    “Fine!” said Raymore, throwing up his hands. “I did it! And you want to know why? I didn’t want to kill Jonathan. I loved him.”

    “Indeed. That poison was not intended for Jonathan’s plate. You were trying to poison…” the inspector turned and pointed.

    “Professor Moldywinch?” gasped the others.

    “Me?” gasped Professor Moldywinch.

    “Yes, Professor. Mr. Baltiview was furious that you’d given him a low grade. He needed to remain above average to continue at the University under his scholarship, which is the only way he could afford to stay here,” said the inspector. “Come along, Mr. Baltiview. You are under arrest.”

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  4. @AvLaidlaw
    300 words
    Student, Dinner and Mystery

    An Entirely True And Accurate Account Concerning The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe, Gentleman, And William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon.

    The manservant creaked open the door to the study of the student Faustus. Kit Marlowe strode into the room followed some moments later by William Shakespeare, who had been absent-mindedly composing some rhyming couplets about a certain dark lady.

    “So Faustus vanishes from this locked room.” Marlowe poked his fingers at the plates and wine cups set on the table. “A room with dinner set for two people. Who was Faustus entertaining?”

    “A woman?”

    “Trust you to think of girls first. Notice the olives?”

    “They’re rotten.”

    “Everything’s rotten here, Billy. Now let’s examine the Doctor’s work for more clues.” Marlowe grabbed a parchment from the desk in the corner. He read a few lines. “Translating the Iliad into English. Makes your sonnets look like Virgil.”

    “The young master’s been busy lately,” the servant said. “Locked away all hours, studying by candlelight. And the smells. Like gunpowder.”

    “Of course. So obvious. Even you could solve it, Billy.”

    Shakespeare shrugged. He’d been thinking of rhyming “lady” with “maybe”.

    “Try to keep up. Faustus started translating Homer and fell in love with Helen of Troy.”

    “But she’s dead.”

    “Not a problem.” Marlowe crouched and lifted up a floorboard. He pulled out a leather bound book. “If you have John Dee. Seems Faustus also studied necromancy. See the wax drips on the page about the summoning of devils?”

    “I don’t understand.”

    “I’m exasperated, Billy. Exasperated. It’s simple. Lovesick Faustus calls up a spirit, Mephistopheles by the sulphurous stink, and the devil carries him off to Hell. And Kit Marlowe solves another impossible mystery.”

    “Can I write it up?”

    “No. I’ll take this one. But you can do the next, I promise.”

    A page rapped on the door. “Message from Walsingham,” he said. “A murder, a ghost and deaths aplenty. Fancy a trip to Denmark?”

  5. Tourist Trappings 2010

    “Jack, you’re not going to believe this.”

    “Try me, amigo.”

    “Bloody Iceland’s erupting.”

    “Go wan with you, Freddie. It’s nothing but a big cube of ice. What’s to erupt?”

    “Where have you been, Compadre? The entire Country is sitting on a pack of Volcanoes. Damn things could go off at a moment’s notice. And have. This one, Eyjafjallajökull, is doing the nasty everywhere, making air travel a nightmare.”

    “Give me that again…”


    “How do you know that? A word like that could make a pretzel out of a virgins tongue.”

    “You remember Asta?”

    “The Thin Man’s mutt, right?”

    “No. Asta, tall, blonde, the Icelandic exchange student I was dating last year…I gave her a call.”

    “You are a resourceful hustler, my friend. Okay, back to business. Why do I care if some iceberg is blowing itself up?”

    “It ain’t a berg, buddy. That’s Greenland. Iceland, by comparison, is almost tropical.”

    “Same question? What’s in it for us?”

    “Adventure Tourism. Once the dust settles…literally…I predict that a raft, a friggin’ flotilla of lookie loos are going to be hightailing it to Iceland to see Volcanoes.”

    “Okay, I’ll give you that. Where do we fit in?”

    “Iceland’s economy tanked a couple of years ago. Crooked bankers everywhere. Troubles galore. BUT…”

    “But what…?”

    They‘ve got Whales. And very dangerous Volcanoes. It’s a big fat tourism market waiting to be pumped. So, we go there, initially as volunteer aid workers, to help all the farmers and sheepherders and smelly old fishermen relocate and get back on their feet. All the while, we’re looking for our eco-tourism niche.”

    “I don’t know, Freddy. It sounds hair brained…”

    “Think Lava Rush…not Gold Rush but Lava Rush. Iceland will be our California in ’49. Whadayasay?”

    “You buy the mukluks…”

    “Deal, Pardner. Let’s pack.”

    296 opportunities knocking
    Aid worker, volcanic eruption; comedy

    1. Hello MandyA card is beautiful,so delicate and lovely yetSuperbly painted Tilda stampso subtly and wonderfullyI'm in love thy workForgive mistakes but I write poorly in English

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  6. It Never Rains but it Snows

    How could this have happened?

    Angela paced the floor of the waiting room wringing her hands, dreading the arrival of her mentor’s PA.

    No seriously, how could this have happened?!

    The door burst open and Xandra stormed into the room.

    “You!” she bellowed, jabbing her finger with intent. “How could this have happened?”

    “I swear I don’t know, Xandra,” she protested weakly.

    “You have poisoned our beloved Maestro, I just know it! I told him he shouldn’t accept your invitation!”

    It had been a risky move, she knew. The renowned artiste Maestro Neve was notoriously sensitive to the slightest over-stimulation: it’s what made him such a creative soul.

    Still… she had flourished so much under his tutelage over the last few months, and cooking for people was always her way of thanking them. It only seemed natural to invite him to dinner.

    “Honestly, I was so careful,” Angela insisted. “The meal was gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, seed-free, fruit-free, amine-free, salicylate-free, low-FODMAP. Hell, I even bleached my entire kitchen – and boiled his plate and cutlery!”

    Xandra’s eyes narrowed. “What exactly DID you feed him?” she asked in a steely voice.

    “It was simply chicken, potatoes, carrot, and boiled rice with a side of lettuce and bean sprou- what?”

    Xandra’s face had gone quite pale. “Boiled rice?” she whispered.

    “Y-yes?” Angela stammered.

    “And how – exactly – did you prepare the chicken?”

    Angela swallowed nervously. “Well, I poached it in the purest spring water, a-and I steamed the vegetables over the pa-”

    Xandra cut Angela off abruptly. “Idiot!” she hissed, pulling out her phone and stalking towards the door. Angela looked on, gob-smacked.

    Xandra glared back at her as she left the room.

    “The Maestro is allergic to water!”


    286 words

    Student; Dinner; Mystery

    [Note: as someone who is sensitive enough to both gluten and dairy that it’s best for me to avoid them altogether, this piece is very lovingly tongue-in-cheek!]

  7. A Tale of Three Witches

    291 words
    Elements: politician, plague of …, comedy


    “When shall we three meet again?”

    “Georgina,” said Michaela. “You promised no theatrics. As far as the world is concerned, we are a new government …”

    “Here,” said Olivia, passing a shot glass to Michaela. “Potion time. It’ll keep us in these bodies for just a bit longer. Probably the first and last time we’ll ever be regarded as Cuties.”

    A crack of lightning made them all jump, prompting each to swiftly down the burning liquid, determined not to let anyone see who they really were. At least not until it was time for tea.

    “Now what?” asked Michaela.

    “Sir Jeremy Warlock said we had to wait until the clock struck three and then whatever words we spoke at that time would come true. We’ll be the come-back kids. Ready?”

    “All ready,” said Michaela, preparing to speak as the big hand of the Downing Street clock moved steadily towards its goal. First strike. Soon she would be back where she … he belonged.

    But she didn’t get to speak as Georgina interrupted with a sudden screech. “Diseased nature oftentimes breaks forth in strange eruptions. A plague, a plague on both your houses …”

    A low buzzing sound drew their eyes to the windows of Michaela’s office. They could see across to Parliament where a huge brown cloud hung ominously above it; something that seemed to have been dredged up from the bowels of the earth. And it was shifting restlessly as if preparing itself to …

    “Oh dear,” said Michaela, swiftly closing the window. “That’s going to cause a bit of a stink.”

    “Not really,” said Jeremy, entering the room. “People won’t notice any difference. I know it’s not quite what you planned but it’s still one hell of a revenge.”

  8. The Actor and the Bellboy
    Word Count = 286
    Actor, Lift, Steam-punk

    “Confidence my dear boy, confidence.” The words of my mentor. My face in the opulent mirror does not contain a single letter of the word. I am my voice, the greatest the London stage has ever heard. You have not heard Hamlet until you have heard my performance.
    “Indeed sir.” The bellboy, the impudent quisby, arches his eyebrow like London Bridge. He is American, of course he does not respect his betters. I take out my pocket watch, in need of the polish I can’t afford. That will soon change. This audition will open up the ghastly American world of motion pictures, beneath me. Silent dance shows accompanied by a prattling piano. I can travel to New York in under a day yet we can not record the greatest voice of our age.
    The puff, puff, puff of the lift’s steam engine strains before the lift stops.
    “We’ve stopped sir.”
    “I can bloody see that.” My pocket watch ticks into the future. “Do something about it?”
    He speaks into a brass cylinder, its sister pulled to his ear. Tick, tick tick, seconds become minutes. “It’ll be a while sir.”
    Tick, tick, tick.
    “How long?”
    “Don’t know sir.”
    I want to punch the boy but a gentleman never resorts to violence, not even towards an American. All I can do is stand and watch the minutes tick by. I slouch to the floor after thirty, I am late. The great gamble has failed. All I have left is in this lift, the bag beside me, clothes I wear. This savage and his infernal machine has cost me everything.
    “Indeed sir,” he says with a hint of a smile.

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  9. Eton Mess
    A.J. Walker

    Time was in its both fast and slow mode for Stefan.

    Then the buzzer made him start. Linzi was there already.

    It was all getting a bit frantic. He wondered if he should start breathing into a paper bag. Was it a panic attack? The buzzer went again. Shit, Linzi!

    Fifty minutes later, as she smiled across the table, all his worries had melted away. The meal had been a success; though he’d never cook for a first date again.

    He passed her strawberries and cream.

    ‘Sorry, it’s just this. Was supposed to be Eton Mess but the eggs disappeared.’

    ‘You were going to make meringue?’

    Stefan wasn’t sure if she sounded impressed or dubious.

    ‘Gotta be home-made. Like the curry. You’re either cooking or you’re just heating up.’

    Linzi laughed. ‘Guess so. I’m impressed – apart from forgetting the eggs.’

    ‘Hey, I didn’t. There were twelve eggs in the fridge this morning. Now they’re all gone. And Mez doesn’t cook. Not even a boiled egg.’

    ‘It’s a mystery.’

    ‘Sure is.’ Stefan said, topping up her sauvignon blanc.

    The flat’s door flung open and a breathless Mez fell through the room onto the sofa. ‘Have you seen it?’

    The TV sprang into life as Mez turned on the news channel.

    ‘Man, I made the news. Right on the noggin; Bullseye!’

    Mez flung over a bag to Stefan. ‘Replacement eggs, Stef’. Had to borrow yours when I saw that prat was opening the Near East Studies department.’

    The TV reporter tried hard to look serious as he intoned that the new Foreign Secretary had been lucky not to have been seriously hurt by a barrage of medium free-range eggs. The MP’s hair apparently looked a mess all afternoon, but seasoned observers couldn’t say whether it looked any worse than usual.

    WC 300

      1. Au contraire, I’d say there was a definite political spin to this one! 😉
        Great topical piece, AJ, with a cracking punning title.

  10. J Bertetta
    298 Words

    Down to the Wire

    T-minus 15 minutes and counting. That’s what remained for perennial Rotten Tomato award-winning actor Rick Masterson. It was one of those surreal moments—you know the kind where you put yourself into a situation you know you have no business being in. Like being in a B-movie.
    And Rick Masterson had been in far too many of those.
    You know, the kind where you can see the wires attached to the space-ships.
    But Rick Masterson had a job to do.
    He’d leapt to the phone when it rang, but it wasn’t his agent as he’d hoped.
    It was, as a matter of fact, the president of the United States.
    Rick played it smooth. “Yes, Mr. President. What can I do you for?”
    “Rick! We need you again. America needs you again. The WORLD needs you again.”
    Rick lit a cigarette and blew the smoke into the receiver. Just another day in the life of Rick Masterson. He rolled his eyes and wondered what it could be this time.
    “Rick! Are you hearing me?”
    “Yeah, Mr. El Presidenté.”
    “Well? Can you do it? I’m telling you—. Ri— t’s a fu—ing m-ss o—r h—.”
    “What? You’re breaking up.”
    “Tu—on — te-evis—n.”
    Rick did as the commander-in-chief told him, at least what he could piece together.
    And there was Ilene Newsready, the sexiest reporter on television. Believe you me, Rick, good ol’ Rick Masterson, knew all about Ilene Newsready. “As you can see,” she said as green laser beams from outer space exploded in the distance. She pressed her hand against her ear. “I’m getting a report right now. The president has called Rick Masterson.” She looked relieved and seemed to be staring straight at him.
    Rick had less than a minute to save the world.

    1. Your brinkmanship in avoiding the disaster of missing the deadline seems to have led to a few typos. Would you like me to make these amendments?:

      Like being in a B-movie.
      Just another day in the life of Rick Masterson.
      “Well? Can you do it?…

      1. Hi Geoff, Thanks for the willingness to do so. I definitely didn’t have the time to edit. Could you maybe add a title? I’m thinking “Down to the Wire” would be appropriate. And as to your previous comment, glad to be here. Now that the book I’ve been working on for the past 15 months is done, looking forward to getting back into the flash groove and I definitely like the format you have going on here.

      2. Amendments made, word count adjusted and title added – arida modo pumice expolitum, as Catullus put it.
        (15 months working on a book? What are you after… A PhD? Oh, hang on…)
        Wonderful news that you are now free to devote your considerable talents to higher things, like flash fiction. We need more regulars here.

      3. Yeah, 15 long months working on a book. Non-fiction this time around–a biography primarily–so lots of research, interviewing, etc. Quite the weight on my shoulders is was. Ironically, it’s about, in large part anabolic steroids. 😉

  11. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 291
    Actor / Stuck in a lift / Comedy

    Disaster, Dahling!

    “OMG! The elevator car has stopped!”
    “No shit, Sherlock.”
    “We’re trapped! What do we do? WHAT DO WE DO?!”
    “Try pressing the emergency call button.”
    “I have been! There’s no response… it must be broken. I used my cell phone to post on Facebook that I’m stuck in an elevator. Twenty-three of my friends have ‘liked’ my status… Hey! we can climb through the hatch in the roof of the lift car!”
    “You’re an actor, aren’t you?”
    “Yes, but now is really not a good time for me to give you an autograph…”
    “Get over yourself, willya? I didn’t recognise you.”
    “Then how…”
    “First of all, you’re being a real drama queen…”
    “Well, in the circumstances…”
    “Second of all, hatches in elevator cars are only in movies. If they existed in real life, they’d be for an engineer to come in; they’d be locked from the outside to stop Nervous Nellies like you putting themselves in more danger. The safest place for us to be is right where we are until help arrives.”
    “But… I’m having… a p-p-panic attack!”
    “OK, we need something to distract you, take your mind off your predicament. How’s about we play ‘Two Truths and a Lie’?”
    “What’s that?”
    “We take turns to say three things about ourselves — two that are true and one that isn’t. Then the other person guesses which one is the lie… No that’s no good. You’re an actor – everything you say about yourself is going to be a fib! Why don’t you tell me where you were going?”
    “I was going to see my therapist… about my p-p-panic attacks!”
    “Wh-where were you going?”
    “I was headed for the 34th floor… to deal with an emergency. I’m… I’m an elevator engineer.”

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