RESULTS – Microcosms 33

Thank you to all who showed us their holiday snapshots in Microcosms 33. An increased number of submissions this week: a PB for quarter 3 of Microcosms – must be the Rio Effect! 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 Bill Engleson for judging MC 33. Here’s what he had to say:

What an incredible week. I barely survived our latest heat wave. Today, some drizzle was predicted but it won’t amount to much. The challenges to my humble and delicate body (weather and garlic cultists) and loose-lips-sinking-ships mind (thinking outside the cardboard box I plan to recycle AND the heady responsibilities associated with rendering fair and impartial microcosmic judgement) began with attending a raw garlic eating party (equivalent to wine tasting, apparently, or so I thought) on Tuesday (to which a number of garlic-immune mosquitoes were also invited, or just showed up the way entitled bugs have a habit of doing) and ended with ferociously hot temperatures mitigated only by sitting in front of a fan for hours at a stretch and wallowing in Olympic magnificence…and intermittent tasty scandals. It was all made bearable and, sadly, worthwhile, by the creation of the Lochte Mess Monster.

I did step outside from time to time, principally to water the veggies and the more perishable plants but I saw that all the water in the world wouldn’t save some of them. A few would never be medaled in my Gardens Podium.

I don’t travel much these days, so this episode of Microcosms was a fabulous substitute. Also a reminder to stay at home if at all possible.

Nevertheless, I do bring some personal experience of bus travel. I spent the summer of my sixteenth year (or was it my seventeenth year?) travelling the breadth of Europe with 300 young Canadians with not quite enough (or, conversely, precisely the right number) of adult chaperons.

But that, as they say, is another story.

So, without further ado (adieu?) ado, let’s take a busman’s holiday trip into the wonders and delights of Microcosms 33. There were a baker’s dozen to choose from and though all were tasty (and a few quite fattening) I had to lower the boom and make choices. That’s just the way it is in the stark world of Judging.

Bill

 

Favourite / Favorite Lines

Steve Lodge – I peed by the side of the bridge for what seemed about eleven minutes (a personal best).

Dana Faletti – “Borgs on top, humans on the bottom!”

A V Laidlaw – What you got there? Sam would ask him. Science, the boy said, viruses and pathogens.

Brian S. Creek – He leans forward and whispers. “You want me to do my trick, don’t you?”

Geoff HolmeYou’re taking lots of socks and sandals

Stephanie Ellis – “No,” said Paula, waving a ticket in front of him. “You can drive up to the Lakes. I’m flying. I’ll meet you there.”

A J Walker – He turned the camera transmitter on and walked around the vehicle, making sure the helmet-cam took in everything.

Stella TurnerOMG Jodie the oldie at the front is singing!

Sal Page – The roots are there, like Mum promised, pale as her skin but cold and damp.

Meg Kovalik – The compulsion to keep traveling west was strong today; the implant set his nerves on fire with an insatiable urge to get to the sea.

Voima Oy – The Star Galacto Motel was pink as the sky at dawn, as pink as the row of lawn flamingos flanking the parking lot as we landed.

Joshua Anthony Bertetta – “Pickings, of course, are slim.” She turned to the little girl, sweat beading along her brow, and smiled. “Unlike you little sweetie…”

Brady Koch – “You’re blessed to not know of life before the Faceless. The war, the strife, the overwhelming weight of it all.”

 

Honourable / Honorable Mentions

A V Laidlaw – The Wheels of the Bus

As a child, I never had a school bus driver. We walked or biked everywhere. Here, in the country, school bus drivers are indispensable. But I live on an Island where children are in short supply. Still, there are enough to warrant a bus. The Wheels of the Bus is a beautiful little parable; one yearns for children to be waiting at the next bus stop. It looks like Eliot White was not part of the solution. Shame, Eliot, and all your dangerous science, viruses and pathogens…but nicely done, A.V.

Brian S. Creek – Little Colin Gardner

While I am still bamboozled by the fact that I don’t know who Colin Gardner became after he grew up, (although I googled him and there is a Colin Gardner, The Bike Magician who might know a trick or two) I am glad that Colin shared his trick with Mr. Mitchell and saved one and all from the Claw. Colin has the potential to become Dick Tracy because the Claw and his gang have a retro feel to them. He conjures Flattop Jones for me, a nemesis of Dick’s back in the day. That was even before my time, I hasten to add.

Now if only Colin could have dispatched Eliot White, (this is an example of microcosmic flash fiction time travel by the way) Sam Jones world might not have disappeared.

 

Runner Up

Steve Lodge – Mindscape

Perhaps why I loved this skit is as selfishly simple as the fact that I live on an Island of 1000 people, give or take, which does not have a Pub.

(Incidentally, Steve, you should start to franchise The Rabbit and The Dermatologist.)

Maybe the heat was a factor.

Of course, maybe it was the series of fine turns of phrase, or just maybe it was some cheesy longing of mine to hop a freighter and see what is on the other side of the Straits of Gorgonzola.

Whatever it was, ‘Mindscape’ grabbed a hold of me and I grimaced and chortled (but mostly grimaced) throughout the whole piece. Some great lines and, really, both runners up belong in a photo finish with the champ.

Stella Turner – Body Parts

I felt so fashionable reading this great tale. I don’t text but the narrator’s interior monologue made me want to take it up:

OMG Jodie; this is so much fun…grim gruesome fun…and I’m the oldie in front belting out a tune. Whaddayathink about that?

But, back to the factory; there’s work to be done. What work exactly is somewhat unclear, at least to me? No matter what I think it might be, a part of my brain shies away from the answer. Given the gruesome quality of many flash fiction bits and pieces, Body Parts seems to fit right in though, channeling Soylent Green with its own flesh fiction twist. Lovely, even by my finicky pescetarian standards.

 

And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 33.

 

(insert drumroll here)

 

Community Pick

Geoff Holme – Saga Holiday (2016)

266 words
Road Tripper / Double-Decker Bus / Parody
[ Parody of theme song to Cliff Richard film ‘Summer Holiday’ (1963) ]

You are going on a… SAGA HOLIDAY
They’re de-signed for people… just like you.
It’s your first time on a… SAGA HOLIDAY.
You’ll have so much to do-oo-oo:
Whist and bingo… Woo-hoo!

You’re trav’ling on a bus through Norfolk
With wrinklies who use wa-alking sticks.
You quali-ify… since you we-ere born…
In nineteen sixty si-ix.

Geriatrics love a… SAGA HOLIDAY,
Doing everything the… others do:
Up at half six on your… SAGA HOLIDAY;
Breakfast, stroll and lunch will see you through
To a nap at two.

You’re too old now for Club 18-30
And all that foreign sun, sex and sea:
The food’s gre-easy… and they ca-an’t make…
A decent cup of te-ea.

No all-night raves on a… SAGA HOLIDAY;
These are thi-ings tha-at… you outgrew.
It’s a slow pace on a… SAGA HOLIDAY –
Can’t go rushing round like you used to:
You may nee-eed the loo.

You’re taking lots of socks and sandals,
You’ve ditched your killer stiletto heels.
Your roller-er skates… have been re-e-placed…
By a walking-frame on whee-eels.

It is full-board on your… SAGA HOLIDAY
But if you pop out for a… vindaloo,
Don’t forget you’re on a… SAGA HOLIDAY;
Take your de-entures out with you
In case you nee-eed to chew.

They lay on lots of entertainment:
You’ve booked up for a sightseeing trip.
Let’s hope tha-at you… can keep up with…
Your new replacement hi-ip.

My worst nightmare is a… SAGA HOLIDAY.
When I have to be put… out to grass.
You can kee-eep your… SAGA HOLIDAY.
I’ll be off through a Swiss moun-tain pass
To Dignitas…
To Dignitas…
To Dignitas.

 

Judge’s Pick

Sal Page – Roots

As one who frequently plunks his rump onto the handiest couch and rivets his gaze on whatever is radiating out from the Tube, well, this tale while so incredibly uncomfortable and threatening to read, spoke to me as no story or person ever has…except my wife, on a regular basis. I was there, sitting right beside Pammy (hopefully that doesn’t sound too inappropriately peculiar) snacking away, watching the Olympics, totally immersed in world sport and righteous inactivity, munching to the beat of my own drummer.

What a strong young woman she is; unmoved by the athletic perspirations of her parents.

And oooh, what effective parents Pammy has!

This story needs to be shared with the parents of the world. Especially those out riding their bikes and leaving their little Pammies and Hammies at home vegetating.

As one who frequently plunks his rump onto the handiest couch and rivets his gaze on whatever is radiating out from the Tube, well, this tale while so incredibly uncomfortable and threatening to read, spoke to me as no story or person ever has…except my wife, on a regular basis. I was there, sitting right beside Pammy (hopefully that doesn’t sound too inappropriately peculiar) snacking away, watching the Olympics, totally immersed in world sport and righteous inactivity, munching to the beat of my own drummer.

What a strong young woman she is; unmoved by the athletic perspirations of her parents.

And oooh, what effective parents Pammy has!

This story needs to be shared with the parents of the world. Especially those out riding their bikes and leaving their little Pammies and Hammies at home vegetating.

300 Words
Teenager / Olympic Games / Horror

‘Sure you don’t want to come? Get some fresh air?’
Pamela glances up at Mum & shakes her head. She thinks about what’s under the cushion at her elbow.
‘Dad’s got your bike ready, Pammy.’
‘Nah, wanna watch this.’
‘You’ll grow roots into that sofa.’
Dad, in cycle helmet, peers round the door. ‘We’re having crab salad again, Pam-Pam. Remember?’
He makes a double-snappy gesture with thumbs and forefingers. Pamela wishes they’d just go. There was a triathlon this afternoon. Rowing. Taekwondo.
‘Bye then!’
Pamela turns the sound down to hear them head off, bells pinging. She yanks the crisps and doughnut six-pack from beneath the cushion. The triathlon’s starting. She tears open the crisps. Who needs the outdoors? Sunshine, wasps, embarrassing parents, the chance of seeing horrible kids from school. She’s left them behind, no idea where she’s going next. She extracts the first doughnut. For now, the Olympics is all she cares about.

She wakes, stiff and confused. The last thing she remembers was the athletes jumping on their bikes. Now it’s the medal ceremony.
Pamela tries to get up. There’s a ripping sound beneath her, accompanied by a searing pain. She falls back, panting. She peers around, terrified, but curious. The roots are there, like Mum promised, pale as her skin but cold and damp. She dares to touch them. They’re real, disappearing deep into the sofa. She reaches down and pulls out a twenty pence coin. How long did she sleep for? An hour? A week? A month? Where are her parents? Maybe they had an accident. She pictures them side-by-side in hospital, blood dripping from beneath their helmets.
Sunlight blazes through the window. Her roots itch. She’s wet herself. She pulls the last doughnut out and sinks her teeth into it, as the Taekwondo begins.

 

Congratulations, Sal. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!

RESULTS - Microcosms 34
RESULTS - Microcosms 32

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