Thank you to all who crossed over with a story for Microcosms 42. A goodly number of entries – you can be guest host again, Alva!
Please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
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 Meg Kovalik for judging MC 42. Here’s what she had to say:
Thanks to Alva’s wonderful prompt, the standard of entries – all 17 of them! – was amazing this week. I certainly had more than a few “I’m not worthy” moments while judging these stories, but as a Microcosms winner I accept that with great power comes great responsibility: the fact that my “responsibility” involved kicking back with a wine and delving into some inspired storytelling on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon is a burden I hope to bear with grace and dignity. I’m just looking forward to getting Suspiria’s goth classic Allegedly, Dancefloor Tragedy out of my head now this prompt is done…
(Who am I kidding? It’s basically my theme song.)
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – You’ve probably never heard of me. Doug Duck. Not Douglas Duck. Certainly not Donald. Just plain Doug Duck. An everyday duck; heck, you can’t get more ordinary than me.
Alva Holland – Grass as green as cucumber and masses of colourful blooms make it a magnet for a host of seasonal butterflies.
Louise Mangos – The wind hums a melancholic dissonance through the suspension cables.
Angelique Pacheco – Sticky toddler fingers pulling at skirts, shrieking at their mothers as they are passionately ignored, the place is anything but romantic now.
Steve Lodge – “Please tell me in your own words, in your own time and in your own clothes, just what is going on.”
Geoff Le Pard – The river gave her one final rapturous acclaim, and she was gone.
Sal Page – Even though I pushed that horrible wedding cake over and wrecked it – you’ve seen the outtakes – and made the cheese-and-pies one into a picnic, I used to adore sweeties.
Marie McKay – She slipped her hand from her mum’s; ballet pumps making no sound as she pirouetted her way across the bridge.
Richard Edenfield – To feel history playing in the steel that surrounds me, a capturing of energy frozen in some structured dance of time.
Holly Geely – Nick’Ben realized he should have crossed that bridge when he came to it.
Sian Brighal – …Be aware we cannot be held responsible for personal epiphanies, canonisations or the bringing of the end times.
Steph Ellis – Falling dusk wrapped itself around the man of God, a velvet shroud gladly accepted.
Hanna Persaud – Memories rub against her skin. Her cloak of feathers is hot now that the city is burning.
Stella Turner – Not that I believe in God, but I’m always open to concepts.
CR Smith – As the bridge disappeared they fell into the water and Joe had to agree with her, he was rubbish at maths.
Alex Brightsmith – …the euphoria of 2 am fading into a raw buzz of adrenaline, caffeine and too little sleep.
AJ Walker – It’s acknowledged as a crazy state of affairs, but the people live with it. You have your bridge; you’re born with it.
Bill Engleson – Doug Duck’s First Press Conference
I love “Certainly not Donald.” He’s a good duck. The best duck. I’ve never met him, but these people they tell me that he’s gonna be huge. They tell me this. And I believe them.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Richard Edenfield – O Sleepless as the River Under Thee
I’m not normally a fan of a wall of text like this but the stream-of-consciousness flow worked so well here. I swooned along with the story and felt the interconnectedness of it all. There was a real sense of being present in a perfect moment in time, just experiencing the pulse of life as it is.
Steph Ellis – Waiting
The anguish of the Vicar is palpable as he struggles with a crisis of faith. The scene is set so vividly from the “velvet shroud” of dusk, through the wailing sirens and screaming drunks, to the glowering visage of St Paul’s. Powerfully evocative writing.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 42.
(insert drumroll here)
Community Pick AND Judge’s Pick
Louise Mangos – SUSPENSION
Astronaut / Golden Gate Bridge / Tragedy
Three steps in, and she wishes she hadn’t come. Through the thin metal grating of the sidewalk, white horses chase each other into San Francisco Bay two hundred feet below. She swallows, and stares ahead, eyes focused on the yacht masts swaying in the Sausalito Marina.
The vertigo returns when a youth leans from a passing car and yells ‘Jump! Jump!’ It takes all her courage to continue sliding one foot in front of the other. The wind hums a melancholic dissonance through the suspension cables. The stalks of the California poppies in her hand are crushed in her fearsome grip. The petals tear like bloody silk. She promised his mother she would come.
When she reaches the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, she dares to look down. Her tears are stolen away by the chiding wind. She releases the flowers, and clutches the rail with both hands, for fear of being swept away with them. For a moment they hover together, bound by the dampness of her palm. They are carried horizontally towards Alcatraz, suspended like an astronaut between the conflicting gravitational pull of two planets. And in a moment they are gone, scattered like frightened birds over the vastness of the bay.
She wonders if he had regrets on the way down. Four seconds they said. Enough time to change his mind. But there was nobody here to heal his tortured thoughts, or pull him back. Sadness turns to anger that he could not share his torment with her. The poppy redness in her mind gives her the strength to continue. Instead of turning back to the city, she proceeds across the bridge. When she gets to the other side, she continues north, walking off her despondency. Bridging the chasm to a new life.
This story grabbed me from the outset and held me right through to the end. It’s a perfect gem of flash fiction, encapsulating enough of a snippet of a full story to allow the reader to infer the rest. The character prompt (astronaut) was incorporated so beautifully in metaphor and the final line – “Bridging the chasm to a new life” – captured the spirit of the prompt beautifully. Poetic. Tragic. Perfect.
Congratulations, Louise. As the Community Pick AND Judge’s Pick, you are definitely invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!