Thank you to all who made 12th August even more glorious in Microcosms 32. A smaller number of submissions this week; maybe the Olympics are a distraction, but submitting an entry late or even submitting an entry to the wrong contest certainly didn’t help. Please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
Please don’t forget that Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for anyone, not just fellow entrants, to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a Community Pick.
Remember, you can reply with a comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.
Many thanks to Geoff Le Pard for judging MC 32. Here’s what he had to say:
This week, we started with a series of famous demises, and that macabre tone continued with the fantastical stories laced with horror and humour. The dialogue was particularly crisp and believable, always a pleasure to read. I especially enjoyed the imagination shown by the writers, and the ghoulish delight that came through a fair few stories and had me much amused as I pondered who should win. Not at all easy, believe me.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Steve Lodge – No invading army had ever got past the vampire lime trees.
Bill Engleson (difficult this) – ‘So gimme the skinny, Frankie. What’s got your nuts in a tailspin?’
Voima Oy – She had come with them, trading her talents for a ride to this city.
Holly Geely – ‘I can’t believe I’m walking around on solid ground up in space.’
A V Laidlaw – Monsieur Leroy was so perturbed by events at the Hotel Grande that a single hair of his waxed moustache curled out of place.
A J Walker – A flush woman in need of peace-of-mind: his bread and butter.
Leara Morris-Clark – He had invented something that not only allowed colour night vision but otherworldly vision as well.
Meg Kovalik (Late Entry)- The troll shuddered with the sound of granite boulders. ‘Katrice’, he rasped in a voice forged from granite. The door didn’t so much burst open as burst to pieces.
Steve Lodge – Don’t Crenellate the Vampire Lime Trees
From the surreal castle and its bizarre owner to the porridge championships this bizarre story lives up to the fantasy tag. I’m not sure I’ll enjoy that oaty repast ever again in quite the same way. As for the idea of a much fancied England team being humiliated by part timers – well, that is fantastical.
Holly Geely – Jensen’s Grandest Hotel
Jensen is a capitalist’s dream, smarmy exploitation personified. Don’t let into politics, please! This character’s awfulness is delightfully exploited as a sort of James Dyson on dodgy steroids.
Leara Morris-Clark – Imagination Leads to Invention or Vica Versa
A well-constructed tale of the ultimate horror for anyone creative: to have your work destroyed. More horrific than a 200-year-old Gryphon.
Meg Kovalik – The Exchange
Sadly, out of time: the combination of a troll, a battle-Elf and an inventor feels like a great pub joke opening. And some of the individual lines were among the best of the week.
Honourable / Honorable Mention
A V Laidlaw – The Automatic Hotel
Neat! I love the twist that I never saw until three quarters through. The best bit is how it feels like a proper story, rolling over a time period as the mechanicals take over. And the gentle pacing, the politesse of the characters and the ripples of steam-punkery make this a delight in microcosm.
Voima Oy – White Sails
This saga is in a few words and yet tells of a life fully-lived yet with hope wrapped in a dream. The unnamed heroine is both melancholic – selling the only talent she has – and yet so determined. You want her to succeed, you want to know how things go for her – will she get what she desires? Nicely done.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 32.
(insert drumroll here)
A J Walker – Communication: Breakdown
Zorba the conman with his steam IPAD is a lovely creation – a proper charlatan. Lady Wattmore is an ideal target save for her ghostly husband. The comeuppance is perfectly weighted.
Inventor / Grand Hotel / Fantasy
The door of Room 301 of the Grand Hotel, Mayfair was ajar. Accrington’s Harry Bunion knocked gently and walked into the expensive suite. It was early afternoon, but he found it difficult to see with the heavy curtains closed. A single candle flickered on a table and as his eyes adjusted he saw Lady Wattmore sat at the table. She gestured for him to be seated: Lady Cecilia Wattmore; rich, beautiful, universally adored. Respected. Also universally pitied since the untimely demise of Lord Roger.
Harry fumbled through his pockets before finding and presenting his card with a flourish to Lady Wattmore.
– SPIRITUAL COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST –
FROM TRANSYLVANIA (VIA THE SUB-CONTINENT)
“Mr Zorba, pleased to finally meet you.”
“And me you, Lady Wattmore. I’m sure I can assist you.”
He placed his Gladstone bag on the table and ceremonially brought out his new invention; the ‘Intra-dimensional Phone And Decoder’. It was the first time he’d put his IPAD in front of a customer. He hoped the dials and switches would comfort anyone that it must do something significant.
“So, Lady Wattmore, can I assume it is Lord Roger that you wish to speak with? What questions do you wish me to ask?”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mr Zorba. I have no questions for him. You must please simply request him to leave me alone. Roger has not given me a moment’s peace since his accident.”
This was an unfortunate turn. Harry had hoped to draw out any number of visits to ask – and answer – inane questions. A flush woman in need of peace of mind; his bread and butter. How could he make money out of a delusional woman already hearing dead people?
Roger floated into the room drinking a whisky sour. Harry fainted.
Bill Engleson – Condogenics
Ok, I’ll nail on my colours here: I love good dialogue and this is fabulous. So many good lines. Charley and Frankie’s insouciance is perfectly set up by their early exchanges. Then we learn about the job at the haunted house and know it won’t go well. It’s like chocolate to the ears, this interchange. And as a nutty addition we have ‘It gave me the DTs..’ Delirium Tremens? No the Donald Trumps Crazy talk…’ Beautifully done.
Inventor / Grand Hotel / Comedy
“Set ‘em up, Charley. I’m gonna close down the joint with you.”
“Comin’ up Frankie. You look like you’ve seen a…”
“Yeah, a friggin’ ghost. I coulda handled a ghost….this was somethin’ else. Weird. Capital W Weird…”
“So, gimme the skinny, Frankie. What’s got your nuts in a tailspin?”
“So I’m walkin’ over by the old train station…you know that pain in the neck of the woods, right?”
“Yup…Rubblesville. What possessed you?”
“Scroungin’…lookin’ for work, somethin’…”
There’s a “Super Wanted” sign in the window of that old dowager…used to be called the Hotel Metropole…ring your cranium?”
“Yeah…hoity toity birdies used to frequent that mousealeum…”
“Good one, Charley. So I goes in and it’s like a graveyard at night. Spooky creepy! Candlelight flickering all over the place. So I give the old haunted house yodel…anybody here? I say, expecting…don’t know what I was expecting. Anyways, this old geezer in white overalls creaks out from a side door and says “Velcome!” With a V no less. I say something dull like, You need a Super? And he whoops it up and says…EXCELLENT. LET ME INSTRUCT YOU IN YOUR DUTIES.”
“He introduces himself, Professor Wonkywidget or something…he’s got this Albert Einstein vibe goin’ on. He then shows me the whole rigmarole. Charley. He’s goin’ to renovate the old girl back to its glory and…”
“You’d think. But no. “Cryo-friggin-genics. The rich are just dying to come back and he plans on turning the Olde Metropole into a massive storage unit for dead people who have every intention of coming back. I tell ya. It gave me the D.T.’s…”
“The Delirium Tremens?”
“Nah…the Donald Trumps. Crazy talk…”
“So you didn’t take the job?”
“Of course I took it. Good money. At least until the Zombies arrive. Then I’ll chuck ‘er.”
Congratulations, Bill. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!