Microcosms 40

Welcome to Q4 in the first year of Microcosms – pause for a ripple of applause – and round #40.

This week’s contest was inspired by a throw-away line from Steve Lodge when he was judging round #36: “What a story it would make if we put all the fave lines together.”

Modifying that, I’ve taken one of the favourite / favorite lines chosen by the judge in each of the contests in Q3. Your task is to select one of these lines and incorporate it into your entry:

#27 – The mausoleum sat like a brooding old man against the backdrop of a star-studded sky

#28 – You’re either cooking or you’re just heating up.

#29 – Daisy was only nine but had quite a voice on her.

#30 – She was surrounded by large men, with large guns. None of them were smiling.

#31 – It had snowed heavily that day but now the sky was clear and a full moon illuminated the ghostly scene.

#32 – Monsieur Leroy was so perturbed by events at the Hotel Grande that a single hair of his waxed moustache curled out of place.

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

#34 – Next morning his dead body was found holding a book in one hand and his bag in another.

#35 – And that, kids, is how I met your Father!

#36 – Harry would get it from the people on the 4th.

#37 – Returning home is like a poem in the rear-view; things are larger than they appear.

#38 – The moon leered through the French windows, licked at the casket with its silver tongue.

#39 – I guess it takes a while for memory to cross the space between us

You can  change the line slightly – gender, tense, punctuation, etc. – but it must still be recognisable.

[ The slot machine has been given a well-deserved rest this week. 🙂 ]


Judging this week is Microcosms 39 Judge’s Pick, me.

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

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.


If you need a image to inspire you, turn your back on any window in your residence, hold up a hand mirror and look at the reflection… 🙂


Microcosms 41
Microcosms 39

95 thoughts on “Microcosms 40

  1. Alva Holland
    WC: 299

    It’s me, Dad

    I came to talk to Dad tonight. It is one of those nights when his listening ear is the only thing that soothes my soul. When my woes come spilling out like a freshly released spring whose entrance has been blocked by the rocks of life. As I feel the rocks tumbling away, a whooshing breath of freedom replaces them and the words come – splashing intermittently at first, then bubbling up to a surge of released angst as they scramble over each other in a bid to be the first drops in the waterfall of my tale.

    Dad listens. There’s no criticism, no admonishment, no shame, no pity. It’s the thing I love most about him now. I close my eyes and concentrate. I can feel his hand on my shoulder, see the creases of his smile etched into his weather-beaten face, hear the strength of his wisdom, the courage in his heart. It emanates from him and seeps into me. I take a deep breath and let him in.

    The sky clears. The dark clouds scud across the expansive field as if they’re being chased by a monster. They are. Buoyed by Dad’s permeating confidence in my recovery, the strength of my thoughts now chases the darkness away. A sliver of silver moonlight catches the first three letters of his name carved into the black granite. I lift my head. ‘Thanks for listening, Dad. Next week, I’ll bring a friend if you don’t mind. I think you’d have liked him. He listens too.’

    A few metres away, the mausoleum sits like a brooding old man against the backdrop of a star-studded sky. I know Dad’s bones lie here in this field of sunken dreams but his soul lives on in me. I am determined to make him proud.

    1. Beautiful story. I love the wonderful balance you struck between the burst of frantic emotion and the soothing strength, which made me feel a cleansing of sorts. Lovely work.

  2. Steve Lodge
    299 words

    Bunfight At Medicine Creek

    Rehearsals are underway for Seamist Bay Players new production, Bunfight At Medicine Creek. The play revolves round the universal topics of time and memory in search of space, chaos and routine, amid the unlikely setting of a lost silver mine in the American Wild West.

    The first performance coincides with the anniversary of the opening of the new factory here of Circuitbreaker Cheeses, our sponsors, who also organise the annual Wasp Chase through the village.

    Tony Bell is back to direct the play, which he wrote with local chicken stripper, Mary Jane Collett.

    Sylvie Walsh, Nash Moncur, Warren Slaven and Elaine Spector have all graced the Seamist Bay Village Hall stage before and appearing as Sheriff Gunson is Gary Arrogant, who many remember starred opposite the legendary Sir Lawrence Oblivion in the 1965 film “Walk Like A Londoner.” Gary has now retired from professional acting, but must be delighted to be back on the same stage where he used to break wind as a toddler.

    There are some newcomers this year. Of particular interest is the Foresters cricket team captain, Geoff Cumner, who will be playing the ferryman, Blind Kew. Ronnie Whigham, the landlord of The Haunted Poacher plays Roland Dolan, the gambler.

    Lon England, The Strike Lucky Amusement Arcade owner is playing Deputy Newt Spraggon. Lucy Shearer, who works for Ghastly and Turd, the Estate Agents in the village, will be helping with refreshments and also playing Monica Peel, a singer at Medicine Creek’s Golden Horse Saloon.

    Buns will be provided by Toothless Jack Bakeries (Company motto: You’re either cooking or just heating up) and there will be an actual bunfight at the climax of the show that will involve audience participation, much like in the real Wild West.

    Tickets are available at various locations around the village.

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    1. Brilliant! Steve. Love your character names here. Might be requesting permission to use one or two in a future story!

    2. Delightful. Very clever and creative story. Blind Kew as the ferryman..and Toothless bakeries…sweet!

  3. @Nthito
    201 words
    Prompt: #29

    Daisy was only nine but had quite a voice on her. Draped in flowing sun-drenched finery, she stood amongst the draped violet choral ensemble. A luminous flare against a harmonic galaxy. Cadence carried over hallowed congregation in harmonic inflections. Mama watched on. Padded palms slammed to exuberate beats with each jig. Each jive. Each hallelujah cascading between capricious parishioners swaying to the thrumming discordant jamble of church organ and brass instruments serrating eardrums bleeding on to drenched scarlet shoulders bobbing and weaving while saliva slicked jaws gaped upward howling ululations to the deafened heavens.
    Daisy raised her voice above the madness. Skin trembled at the sound. Gooseflesh raptured in smoking tendrils rising like incense.
    Roars resounded.
    Shrieks screeched.
    Bellows blubbered.
    Unholy throngs burst from mortal flesh as Lucy reached the highest pitch.
    Torrential bursts of light swept over her and her choral charge. Gusts from wide spanned wings thrust the demonic presence against wooden pews. The young Cherub. Budding Nephilim. Daisy. Saviour of the St. Peters Church of New Lanchesterfield City, had come to eradicate the evil that had perforated the hallowed grounds.
    Woe unto the fiends.
    Woe unto demons.
    Woe unto those who heard her voice.
    Salvation is at hand.

    1. I agree…the imagery is absolutely stunning! It does carry you along, building up like a storm. Was fascinated with the rapture-like delirium of the parishioners and how visceral you made it. Fantastic piece

  4. @davejamesashton
    109 words
    The Wake

    At the summons, we’d all come. The room was crowded, with seating difficult, due to ancient feuds and simmering rivalry, but out of respect for the old count, we’d all come.

    The moon leered through the French windows, licked at the casket with its silver tongue. Dmitri stood up, and addressed the crowd with his silver tongue.

    No-one was ready for this, it all seemed so sudden. There were contingencies in place, of course, but they didn’t seem such a good idea all of a sudden.

    The lid on the casket creaked open, knocking the bloom from a rose. His centuries of rest over, the old count–our master–arose.

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  5. Favourite line #39
    276 words
    Sian Brighal


    I guess it takes a while for memory to cross the space between us, but I know the instant it hits, smacking the breath out of you. Eyes widen until the white pops into view and I can see the dark irises flicking side to side. Are you looking for a way out? Your breath is haggard. Our history is not a pleasant sight…is it? Swollen knuckles whiten as you grip the chair arm, but it can’t stabilise because you’re now an age away and tossed by the waves I’ve spawned: a piece of flotsam on a wrathful sea.

    I was fifteen when you hit me. You’d had a drink, came round the bend a bit too quick and caught the back of my bike. I wasn’t dead then, though, was I? I was white and red against the black tarmac: dead enough to be…dismissed. So you dumped me in the lake and drove away. But you were wrong. I’d made one hell of a splash. And although the ripples hadn’t been felt back then, with time they’d swollen into these rogue waves.

    Funny, but I thought if I ever found out who you were, it would be about revenge. Yet I see you—struggling for breath, crippled by a life that is too empty of love and too full of alcohol—and I can’t summon anger. In a way, I’ve already punished you. I didn’t die, you see. I was found and pulled free, but you drowned that night and every night since.

  6. Funny thing happened the other day
    A.J. Walker

    “Here’s something funny. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon, shortly after lunch. Now what did I have? Doesn’t matter for the story, but I think it was a BLT and a packet of cheese and onion.

    Anyhoo, I was minding my own business, walking down the road and what did I see? A goose. A goose walking down the street like it was the most normal thing in the world. It walked straight past the chippy on the High Street and turned left, no right, down Hangar Lane. Well there’s nothing much down there, is there? So what could it be doing? So I decided to follow.

    So there I was, minding my own business following a goose through town. It sounds a bit weird doesn’t it, when you just say it like that?

    It seemed to know where it was going. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I don’t suppose that a goose wouldn’t necessarily not know where she was going.

    She? Yes, I’m pretty sure it was a she. Something to do with her gait.

    So guess what? It walked straight past the hardware shop, past the newsagent and the dodgy kebab place and stopped in front of number 46.

    I mean, why 46? For some reason I thought she was heading for the newsagent, don’t ask me why.

    Anyway, then it gets a bit odd. The door opens and out tumbles a whole gang. They all had guns. That’s what it’s like down Hangar Lane, isn’t it? So there she was, the goose, surrounded by large men, all with large guns and none of them were smiling.

    Like I say, it was a bit odd. Anyway, I got away at this point. No idea what happened next. Like to think she went home.”


    WC 300
    Prompt #30

  7. @InquisiHedgehog
    Prompt #39
    Words: 287

    “I guess it takes a while for the memory to cross the space between us” said Jill.
    “What are you talking about? WHO ARE YOU?” screamed Jack. Jill reached out her hand to hold Jack’s but he snapped it back under the blanket. “Don’t touch me”. Jill looked lost. He had forgotten her. They had taken the memory and wiped it clean. She tried to transmit it again but there was block, like Jack had built a steel wall around the memory and nobody could get in. “Jack, your name is Jack, right?” Jill asked tentatively. “Yes” barked Jack “you still haven’t told me who you are?”
    “I’m your sister”
    “My sister? And why are you here?”
    “To look after you.”
    “Look after me? I don’t need to be looked after. I am a captain in the South African police. I can look after myself. Thank you very much” and he rolled over and stared at the wall. “This is going to be harder then I thought” mused Jill. “Fine, I will leave you” and she sauntered out of the room.

    A few hours later, a nurse walked in. “Good evening, captain” she cooed. “Did you have a good day?”
    “Nope, but you have improved it somewhat”.
    “Oh, you charmer. Well, let me just give you this injection so you can sleep well tonight”.
    “That would be great”. The nurse slowly injected the serum into the drip. As it coursed through his veins an image of Jill flashed before his eyes and slowly all the memories came back. His mind started to race through the images and then it went blank. He fought to stay awake but his body felt like lead and he couldn’t remember anymore.

    1. Wonderful! Memory loss is an awful thing to face, and this story is harsher for the thought that they’re being stolen. Your story raises so many wonderful questions and theories. Thank you 🙂

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  8. Baking Baby (phrase: You’re either cooking or just heating up)
    286 words
    ‘So,’ Martine squinted at the small print, ‘pour contents in the pan and turn on the heat.’ She tipped out the wobbly gloop and added three strands of her hair and a splash of her husband’s essence from a jar on the windowsill.
    ‘What’s that Mum?’ Gordon peered over her shoulder.
    ‘Hmm? Oh, I thought it was time you had a sibling. So I grabbed a cyborg-sister boil-in-a-bag on the way home.’
    Gordon pulled a face. ‘A sister? Geez, why a girl?’
    Martine studied the instructions and adjusted the nob. ‘You know you need a balanced familial experience. Your father’s had his wisdom boosted and I’ve had new empathy implants so we thought this was a good time… Oh sheesh, damn.’
    The gloop had begun to bubble over. Gordon grabbed the handle as Martine swivelled the dial but not before a portion splashed the hob. A face appeared in a bubble and a breathy voice intoned, ‘That’s my cute dimples gone. I’ll now have your stupid chin.’
    Martine bent to the level of the face. ‘Sorry.’
    The fridge opened and handed Gordon an egg and tuna sandwich. ‘In Domestic Conception they said you need to concentrate for the best results.’
    Martine turned down the flame and the face began to shrink. ‘I’ll do this later.’
    ‘Oh great,’ the face hissed. ‘make your mind up. Are you cooking me now or heating me up later?’
    Martine and Gordon exchanged a look. ‘Maybe you’re right. Maybe we should go for another boy.’
    Gordon tapped his cup which refilled with apple juice. ‘Mrs Goldberg says reheating causes lumpy personalities.’
    The pan shook. ‘That is so not fair.’
    ‘Oh do shut it,’ said Gordon as he put on the lid.

    1. Surreal imagery, kinda like Malice In Wonderland, by way of the Hallucinogenic Cafe (just off Junction 6). Make a great animated ‘Twilight Zone’ kinda thing.

    292 words

    “Why are you doing this?”

    “You’re either cooking or you’re just heating up,” said the Chef. “And I do not believe in ‘heating up.’ Dinner is always prepared from scratch in this household, with proper time and care, especially when it comes to the seasoning.”

    “I don’t want to know why you’re adding spices! I want to know why you’re cooking me!”

    The Chef regarded her guest with distaste. “There’s no need to shriek. You young people have no manners.”

    “You crazy f–”

    The Chef stuffed a potato in her guest’s mouth.”

    “You need to stop crying, dear. The recipe only calls for a pinch of salt,” said the Chef.

    She turned up the water until the potato popped out of the guest’s mouth with her scream. The Chef licked her lips.

    The door to the kitchen burst open to reveal a young woman holding a holy cross. The Chef rolled her eyes; for some reason all the would-be heroes who discovered her thought she would be afraid of religion.

    “I know what you really are, monster! Let Sophia go!” shouted the intruder.

    “Help me, Marianna!” cried the guest.

    “Bah. You young people are so rude,” said the Chef. She dropped her guise of a sweet old lady and revealed the true form of her gelatinous self. She slurped up the intruder’s cross with her oozing tongue.

    It was her last mistake.

    “I came prepared,” said the intruder. “That numb feeling on your tongue? It’s going to spread.”

    The Chef couldn’t move. The intruder untied the guest and together they tipped the pot of hot water onto the Chef’s body.

    “I guess you’re just heating up after all,” said the guest.

    “So rude,” said the Chef, and she died.


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  10. Chances
    Alex Brightsmith
    300 words

    She was surrounded.
    That was bad. As an unlicensed trader Cherren’s liberty depended on always – always – having somewhere to run. Usually she had a partner to help her in that, but he was dead, and she had to live. The first day without him had been intoxicating, her senses on fire, but she knew she should have quit as soon as she had enough put by. Too late now. It was the fifth day and finally, fatally, she had slipped.

    She was surrounded by large men.
    That was less bad. Large men could be clumsy, and her stock was light. There was a chance she could slip between them and be lost in the crowd, but it was a chance she didn’t like to take. Large men could be deceptive. Harl had been a large man, and had moved like a dancer. That was a memory that didn’t help.

    She was surrounded by large men, with large guns.
    And that put the tin lid on any plans for flight. They were the Consul’s men, and wouldn’t be shy of shooting into the crowd; their guns only stunned, and any innocent bystander they caught would wake up to handsome compensation. What Cherren would wake up to was as unhelpful a thought as the memory of Harl at her side.

    She was surrounded by large men, with large guns. None of them were smiling.
    At last, a sliver of hope. There were squads who would have shown delight to have her at their mercy, and squads on a bounty promise who would have been quietly pleased. This squad was only bored, and for bored men a little entertainment paid large.

    Cherren smiled a smile like the sun rising on Sal-Sattaran and said
    “Hey boys. I have just the thing for you …”

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  11. Just Heating Up

    Priscilla dashed in, grabbing a trolley. She kept her head down. Shopping was hard now her career was taking off. A shrill voice made her jump.
    ‘It is. It’s her. I told you.’
    Did they think being on television made you deaf? Priscilla glanced over. A mother and daughter. She pasted a smile on her face. They were fans. They paid her wages. She had to respond.
    ‘You’re her aren’t you?’
    ‘Afraid so.’
    ‘We never miss your show.’
    ‘Yeah, we love you.’
    ‘Mum, we should get some kale if Priscilla is.’
    Priscilla smiled ‘Very good for you. Fibre. Vitamin C.’
    She patted the bag of kale in her trolley, hoping they wouldn’t spot the Chocolate Fudge Cake beneath.
    ‘Isn’t she good?’
    ‘So healthy.’
    ‘All from scratch.’
    Priscilla felt sure they were thinking she couldn’t eat healthy all the time. They had magazines in their trolley, the sort that featured paparazzi photos of Priscilla on the beach or in the gym. She lived in fear of being found out. She cringed, remembering the man who spotted her Chicken Jalfrezi with Pilau Rice for one. He glared scornfully, muttering ‘Oh Priscilla! You’re either cooking or you’re just heating up.’
    ‘Excuse me. Fish counter next. Lobster tonight. A romantic meal for my hubby and I.’
    Priscilla laughed to herself as she pushed her trolley away. She sounded like TV Priscilla, the one with the husband.
    It was extremely trying being a celebrity chef. She used to enjoy shopping. It was the price you paid for being ‘the hottest chef in town’, as her agent called her. She couldn’t wait to get home, knowing about the Go On Treat Yourself Macaroni Cheese with Smoky Bacon Bits under the three-for-two bags of tangerines. Some nights, you needed something she could just shove in the oven.

    300 words

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    1. ” Go On Treat Yourself Macaroni Cheese with Smoky Bacon Bits under the three-for-two bags of tangerines ” Epic! love that concept of a pro-Chef hungering for a feast like that.

    2. I love: ‘She sounded like TV Priscilla, the one with the husband.’ That line says so much. What a great character you’ve created. I’d love to read more about her. So much development of character in such a short space. Expertly handled.

      1. Thanks, Marie! Have to confess (don’t tell will you? 😉 ) Priscilla is the ‘reluctant celebrity chef’ main character of my novel-in-progress so its extra good to hear this. She’s featured in a previous story here & in one I wrote six years ago. Hope no one thinks this is cheating but AJ’s line leant itself to this part of Priscilla’s story so I wrote it!

      1. Thanks Sian. We have a ‘celebrity’ by marriage in our family, whose shopping trolley often gets scrutinised by ‘fans’. She’s not a chef but she’s fat & they’re probably looking to see whether she’s dieting or treating herself!

  12. @WolfRich93
    264 words
    Prompt #27

    The mausoleum sat like a brooding old man against the backdrop of a star-studded sky. Difference being, no starlight reflected in those eyes…windows…whatever. For a while I studied the place, looking for a reverse egress. The doorway had some ancient inscription carved into it: ‘v.i.t.r.i.o.l.’ – a double meaning and no mistake. Huge doors of iron secured the entrance. If ever a place had ‘Keep The **** Out’ written all over it, even metaphorically, this was it. Jeez! Even the architecture looked threatening.

    An old poem drifted into my recollection. Archaic prose about delivering a message to the UnSeen, possibly dead, occupants of a long-forsaken place. Did I have a message to deliver? If so, were ‘They’ in there…listening? Or worse still, waiting? (Who the hell are ‘They’ anyways?) Not that I had a message. I was merely lost. Requiring shelter or re-direction. Somewhere along the Road Less Travelled. And by starlight at that.

    So I paused for a while, on the Threshold of Uneasiness. Considered who could demand such a mausoleum anyway? Given the implied cost and all, it was doubtless a tomb for a Some-One. Rather than your average Never-Was. Whoever reposed here sure had a taste in macabre facades. The place looked like it was built to keep Bad Things in, never mind casual grave robbers out.

    A sudden chill drifted in, not all of it externalised. Shadows began to lengthen, fill in the less dark voids. I glanced up. There, far above the roof-line, something caught my eye. Something as inexplicable as it was terrifying.

    The stars were going out.

    1. It started of almost lighthearted, laughing at its own horror-film induced unease, but at the end, I found the whole thing very menacing. I felt similar the other day when my youngest came in crying about a moth in her room, and I stifled a laugh–how big could it be…yeah?!–but when I saw it… Yep!

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  13. Angel Fall

    294 words
    Prompt #27


    Stone carved into weeping angels crawled out of the ground, a creeping host snaking its way towards the tomb of their Creator, Richard Bruer. Centuries had passed since the master mason had overseen their birth, passing on the craft and its secrets to his own descendants ensuring every generation went to its eternal rest watched over by a flock of granite guardians.

    Faithfully they had stood vigil as the centuries wore on, heavenly protection against the chaos of history – at least until the new Gods arrived and people began to worship the deities of Science, Cynicism and Self. Now the angels were ignored, their tears dismissed as nothing more than the condensation of cold night or worse, were vandalised by lagered desecrators and tagged by drug-stoked trespassers. No longer respected, no longer revered, they had had enough. It was time to return to the Master.

    Beneath the moon and beyond the deathly yew they crawled to where the mausoleum sat like a brooding old man against the backdrop of a star-studded sky. The foremost of their rank, an archangel, stepped forward, hammered the heavy oak door with the rock of his hand. There was no answer. Others stepped forward, adding to his summons, causing the tomb to tremble beneath their weight. Still no answer.

    More crawled forwards, a building of pressure that nothing could resist as wave after wave of rock demanded admittance. Beneath their feet, filigree fissures spun away towards the town turning the ground on which its inhabitants walked to sand. Beneath their hands, the walls of the mausoleum cracked and began to disappear, their attack proving too much for the old building.

    And then the doors gave way and the angels fell into the void, taking their stone hearts with them.

  14. @stellakateT
    186 words
    all the prompts

    The mausoleum sat like a brooding old man against the backdrop of a star-studded sky. It had snowed heavily that day but now the sky was clear and a full moon illuminated the ghostly scene. The moon leered through the French windows, licked at the casket with its silver tongue. Monsieur Leroy was so perturbed by events at the Hotel Grande that a single hair of his waxed moustache curled out of place. He leans forward and whispers. “You want me to do my trick, don’t you?” Next morning his dead body was found holding a book in one hand and his bag in another. Harry would get it from the people on the 4th.

    Returning home is like a poem in the rear-view; things are larger than they appear. Daisy was only nine but had quite a voice on her. She was surrounded by large men, with large guns. None of them were smiling. And that, kids, is how I met your Father! You’re either cooking or you’re just heating up. I guess it takes a while for memory to cross the space between us.

    1. I guess someone had to do it. Special Mention prediction? You’ve definitely got them in the right order. Such skill. I’m a bit worried about my Daisy. Hope those men are protecting her not attacking her. She IS our future Prime Minister.

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  15. @WarwickDaisy
    Word Count – 300
    Prompt – #30
    ‘Luca Brasi’

    Gabi knew that things were about to get heated. She was surrounded by large men, with large guns and none of them were smiling. But, she’d been expecting it after she’d watched the supplies dwindle over the last hour.
    The men had attended the hotel for their conference the previous year and all hell had broken out when the ice machine had broken – leaving the mobster wannabes with bourbon that was warm and ‘rockless’. Despite the hoo-ha caused by the middle-aged men grumbling, tweeting and Facebooking about how less authentic their experience was when they couldn’t clink their glasses at each other menacingly, they had still returned.
    The man who called himself ‘Luca Brasi’ placed his imitation Smith and Wesson down by the bar hatch and rolled his sleeves as far up his chunky forearms as he could.
    “You’re out?” he asked.
    “Yes. I’m afraid we didn’t anticipate that the cheese nibbles would be such a hit. I’m sorry but there is nowhere else to get them at this time,” explained Gabi.
    “Then you leave us no choice.”
    Luca Brasi, A.K.A Nigel Jones, turned to speak to the rest of the mob who stood by with imitation machine guns shoved in their belts whilst they rattled their fully iced whisky glasses and prepared to do battle with their phones.
    “Somebody document this failure on Trip Advisor,” he instructed.
    Gabi took a deep breath and turned towards the fridge. She didn’t like the sort of people who attended the God Father Conference. They just weren’t reasonable and they didn’t seem to be as much fun as the hotel manager had suggested they would be.
    Seconds later she turned back to the bar and found they had cleared off to smoke, having left her a small, plastic, headless horse on a napkin.

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    1. This is funny, Daisy. (Welcome back!) Clever use of the prompt line. Like the way you twisted it. The characters of these rather pathetic men are well observed. The reality of the story is revealed gradually and the last line made me smile.

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  16. The Last Word

    What if you were the last of your kind? Not an apocalypse. Everyone else fine. Just your kind gone. And you’re the last of them.
    They don’t explain how this has come about. But maybe they think they have.
    They don’t listen either. They don’t hear you say, ‘but we were happy being here.’
    So it takes a while for memory to cross the space. And your memory isn’t as good as theirs, you don’t remember the eloquent arguments you made yesterday, so you’re saying them over and over. But they  dismiss your repetition and prevent you from making a point that does deserve to be heard again and again. But they can do that.
    What would you say if your life was nearing its end and there were to be no more like you? Would you feel the burden of that? Would you feel that your words should be bowed by the weight of those gone before? Rounded, pregnant words of an entire people distilled through you.
    What words could those be?
    Would they write these down? Record them? For the first time; your words important to them.

    What could you say, if you were the last?

    (230 words) @elaine173marie

    1. Stunning piece without a wasted word. The sort that needs repeat readings in order to unpick. Great use of second person narrator drawing the reader in with questions. I particularly like the repetition of the rather sinister ‘they’ (who ARE ‘they’, something I always wonder …) and the completeness of returning to the question that it starts with, a kind of ‘Nothing is solved but I’ve made you think, haven’t I?’

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      1. Thank you so much, Sal. After another rejection this week on my already red hot submittable page, that’s made me feel a whole lot better! So glad you liked it. Thank you for the detailed comment. Much appreciated.

    2. Inspiring piece. I’m torn between this sense of huge responsibility of using words and an aching empty feeling at the idea of the words just drifting away. Like trying to shout in a vacuum.

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  17.  Tohu-Bohu

    Monsieur Leroy was so perturbed by events at the Hotel Grande that a single hair of his waxed moustache curled out-of-place. He quickly adjusted one of his white gloves like a cloud reaching out on a spotless sky. The hotel was erected in 1786 during the first rush of plague that the city had known. It was furnished with, rumour would state, stolen goods from a castle west of the mountains. But the bar was its claim to fame. Here the likes of Greta Garbo and Cary Grant would down expensive champagne housed in fine Compagnie des Cristalleries de Saint Louis crystal. Monsieur Leroy returned his moustache to its original state as he mounted the gold emblazoned elevator to the 6th floor. As the door opened a naked woman stood with a large diamond necklace strapped around her neck. Monsieur Leroy handed the woman a towel he procured for the occasion and escorted her to her room. His moustache moved like a spider down the hall with every step on the oriental carpet. When the door shut he readjusted his left glove. Checked his bow tie. And went to the bar. There he met a beautiful heiress who had thick red hair that was perfectly in place. They spoke as he broke a long-standing rule not to drink during working hours. Soon they were invested and enjoying philosophically charged banter. Then it happened. A strand of red hair fell from the rest of the flock onto her forehead. She froze in mid-sentence. Monsieur Leroy casually lifted the single strand of his moustache so it was once again out of place. This moment of perfect inexactitude was reflected in a large ornate mirror that was 100 millionth of an inch off center. Mrs. Worthington smiled and the mirror smiled, as well.

    Prompt 32
    (300 words)

    1. Fantastic use of this excellent prompt line, as you go on to match it, echo it and use it to expand the character. The second line immediately following it matches it; bodes well, I thought. I like the ‘spider down the hall’ simile and that ending – ‘The moment of perfect inexactitude’ is great.

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  18. Line # 33
    299 words

    Sally Scott’s Stories of Working men and Women-Butch Halliday-Personal Care Attendant

    “Thanks for consenting to the interview, Mr. Halliday.”

    “Butch please, Sally. Happy to do it. ‘Sides, I’m on the clock. That’s what the boss says.”

    “Good. So, we’re doing a series on working people, on the jobs they do, what various jobs are actually like, what people love about their job and what they don’t. You were telling me about Harry. Could you elaborate?”

    “Roger, Wilco, Sally. Just so we’re clear…Harry’s not his real name.”

    “Clear as plastic, Butch. Fire away.”

    “Okeydokey. Harry’s a sweetie usually. A really nice old guy. Compliant, ready with a smile, witty…at least as witty as a guy who can’t remember how many fingers he has can be. I’ve been his attendant for the last five years. Well, his…and fifteen others. There’s a sameness to each shift. Not a lot changes for these poor folks. Or for their family members. The lucky ones get lots of visitors. You’d think that those would be the best times but, well, even those who are not firing on all cylinders get upset.”

    “But not Harry?”

    “No. Nothing seems to wind him up. For someone who has no visitors, who lives only inside his head, he is a remarkably happy guy.”

    “You said most of the time that’s okay. But once in a while…”

    “Once in a while he like to do his trick. His one trick. After doing it so often, there is no surprise. We all know it’s coming when he leans forward and whispers. ‘You want me to do my trick, don’t you?’ Even if we say, ‘No, Harry’, he goes ahead. ‘Here it comes’, he says, and unbuckles his pants, sluffs his suspenders off his shoulders and drops his drawers.”

    “So what happens, then?”

    “We pull up his pants and say, “Good trick, Harry.”

  19. Things are larger than they appear
    295 words

    The sign still flashed time and temperature, but the name of the bank on Main Street had changed. Nina Crane remembered the lobby, hushed voices of grown-ups talking about the weather and loans. She was the grown-up, now, a big city lawyer. Many things had changed.

    That’s the way it is, she thought. Returning home is like a poem in the rear view; things are larger than they appear.

    Nina had left that small town at the first opportunity. A college scholarship had been like winning the lottery. “You?!” her father said. “Well, good luck to you.” She had never looked back.

    It was the phone call from her mother that made Nina come home, again. Her father had been killed in a freak motorcycle accident. Struck by lightning, her mother said. What were the odds?

    How frail and old her mother looked, so shocked by this loss. She seemed unable to understand the insurance implications. “He left you plenty of money, Mom. At least he thought of that.”

    “Your father thought the world of you, Nina, he just didn’t know how to say it.”

    He was always jealous of the boys Mom, she wanted to say. But it was too late for that, now.

    There were some things her mother asked Nina to retrieve from the bank. She went down the stairs to the safety-deposit boxes. In the small drawer containing the mortgage to the house and her parents’ marriage license were letters they had written to each other during the Vietnam War.

    There was a box, too, with a man’s big biker ring. He had wanted Nina to have it.

    “It doesn’t fit, Dad. I’m sorry.” She drove past the cemetery where the high school kids still held each other in the dark.

  20. @firdausp
    (300 words)


    Dusk swoops down rather quickly during Autumn. Before I know it, it’s pitch dark. The mausoleum sits like a brooding old man against the backdrop of a star-studded sky. I sit on the stone bench near my husband’s grave. Every evening I take a walk and usually come here to just sit and think.
    Memories come in like waves. Sometimes you wish you’d done things differently like taken that trip, or not taken that job.One thought especially pricks my conscience from time to time. Little Daisy.
    Daisy was only nine but had quite a voice on her and she was an incessant liar. Two years my junior in school, she wanted to hang around older kids. She’d follow my friends and I everywhere. We teased and bullied her but she wouldn’t go away.
    One day she came up to me, telling me tales about her father beating her. I don’t know why she chose me. I knew about her lying ways, so I didn’t take it seriously. We managed to shake her off after a while. Sometimes I’d see her in the corridors. She’d have that pleading look every time she saw me and I’d just ignore. One day we heard she died, I don’t remember how.We felt a little sad and regretted treating her badly.
    Now as I sit here, I look at her grave a little down the line. For a moment I think I see a shadow bent over it. Then it turns its head and the moonlight catches the eyes. The same expression like always.
    “Daisy,” I gasp, but there’s no one there. My old eyes are playing tricks I assume. I take a flower from my husband’s grave. Placing it on the little girl’s grave I send her a prayer.
    I hope she finds peace.

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