Thank you to everyone who took the time to invent a better mousetrap in Microcosms 47; in an ideal universe, the world would be making a beaten path to the door of each and every one of you for more fine flash fiction. We had an extremely respectable 19 entries in all – plus a very late entry that arrived well after the others were winging their way through cyberspace to this week’s judge.
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 Bill Engleson for judging MC 47. Here’s what he had to say:
Next weekend, I will attend my first Christmas Craft Fair. As a crafty one, that is. And my craft? Books. My two publications. One novel and one just-published collection of non-fiction, slightly literary, occasionally humorous non-fiction with a smidgen here and there of memoir.
In the little community of Coombs BC, where goats display themselves on at least one roof in seasonable weather, a fellow author, J.P McLean, and I will ply our wares amongst the more traditional Christmas doodads and sweets. But you are not here for that. You are here to hear me (well, see me) render judgement on the murderously inspired…er…renderings…of the crème de la crème of flash fictionistas.
On the few times I have judged before, there has been a sense of loss, of not having travelled into the inner workings of my flash fiction mind and excavating. This is always balanced by the pleasure of stepping back from one creative act and plotting another, the creative, hopefully useful act of choosing favourites.
Recently I was asked to write a review for a new BC Book Review site, The Ormsby Review.
If my submission to Ormsby makes the cut, it may well be due, in part, to exercises such as judging Microcosms flash fiction. Or so I believe.
Way too much about me. Sorry. There were a lot of stunning entries this week. Nineteen! An excellent turnout for this production. Clearly all of you believed you could build a better flash mousetrap. And did.
Here are my takeaways…
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Steve Lodge – “I diligently traced the source with the help of the newly-formed Cheese Police.”
Christina Dalcher – On that grim and sodden Sunday, Jack lay in bed, a boxing glove on each hand, air-sparring and ranting about the smear of puréed food on his tray.
Angelique Pacheco – “Not sure,” he grunts, inspecting a spot on the floor
Alva Holland – Needs to go places to make somethin’ of ‘imself, not end up like his old Paw, livin’ in a place with cats in the hall, strangers passin’ the door every minute and not a moment’s peace.
Christelle Bloem – “Life is too short to waste on hatred and bitterness.
Laura Besley – Guilt comes in many guises and has long made its home in this decrepit place.
Nthato Morakabi – What is u…u…usually a bustling metropolis, pe…ppered by street vendors, pedestrians from all wa…walks of life, and the ever present b….blaring of taxi horns, has become a de…desolate, icy wasteland.”
Nicola Tapson – “No! Next time you two-time a woman you might remember where she lives”.
Rico Lamoureux – He enjoys my stories, and now that he’s at the same age I was when I first took life, I can see in his eyes…
A V Laidlaw – Richard and I often stayed at The Laurels, a boarding house in one of those seaside towns desperately clinging on the greasepaint glamour of their glory days.
Geoff Le Pard – ‘I’ll have your eggs ready soon. Just need to find Mrs. Fishwick’s teeth. Again.’
Angelique Pacheco – Miss Margarita Cansino, soon to be Miss Rita Hayworth, winked at me and kept mum.
Kelly Griffiths – I didn’t understand how skin could get carved out like that: like a lake basin in drought.
Holly Geely – Grandfather’s memoirs were a tidy chronological list of his victims, in gruesome detail.
Steph Ellis – He stepped closer to the edge, felt the wind tug and pull at him with impatience, urging him to spread his wings.
Richard Edenfield – The hush of people backstage getting ready like parents Christmas morning.
Stephen Shirres – Bob must have paid in cash as the giant, yellow machines rolled into town the next day, shaking the dust from the windows.
Firdaus Parvez – A few sycophants had made their way into the room, requesting favours. He was never short of those.
Caleb Echterling – Flapping appendages jettisoned ketchup and mustard.
Angelique Pacheco – The Road to Eternal Love AND The Summer of Change
For introducing me to two new words…that rhyme…Skiv and Spiv.
Thank you, Angelique.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Rico Lamoureux – A Natural Calling
I love stories set in the 1950s, a sense of the tragedy of war, the aimlessness after, the discombobulation. This one gave me the chills… of pleasure, the pleasure of seeing a particularly unpleasant skill-set re-emerging in a theater, unplanned and deadly. Throughout the piece, we are reminded of the happenstance of events. Certainly this is brought home with our narrator’s choice of first victim… a nicely-done dark career choice tale.
Geoff Le Pard – Always Breakfast
I sometimes go to my memory to find those things I am drawn to. Memory is a useful cabinet…for as long as it lasts. This kitchen-sink story is full of sorrow and sacrifice (and false teeth) and not a single insincere step along the way. and, not to dwell on false teeth longer than is seemly, but calling the misplaced choppers “the little terrors” was a fun moment on a dreary weekend.
A V Laidlaw – His Cary Grant Was Perfect
This beauty had echoes of Hitchcock’s Stage Fright, a film long remembered. The first line sets the stage, offers the smell, the spell of the theatre…“Richard and I often stayed at The Laurels, a boarding house in one of those seaside towns desperately clinging on the greasepaint glamour of their glory days.”… instantly transporting the reader – this one at any rate. The twist of death took me unawares, but death is sometimes the price of a fast, loose life. The piece had a rich theatrical sheen to it. Much enjoyed.
Steve Lodge – In Search of Octavius
Where to begin. This memoir is a delicious hoot, at once a full-bodied red wine and a healthy platter of cheese. The rhyme is tasty, the humour, lip-smacking, the dollops of names used at once new and ever so familiar. This old goat enjoyed every nibble.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 47.
(insert drumroll here)
Rico Lamoureux – A Natural Calling
Word Count: 300
Grandson / West End / Memoir
I arrived in London two days before Thanksgiving 1952, not feeling sentimental about my American holiday, as nine had passed since the last one I had partaken in back home. The first absence had been the only hard one, a fifteen-year-old fighting Nazis for his country, my six foot frame allowing early enlistment.
But upon taking that first life I knew I had made the right decision in following my gut, that primitive instinct to kill or be killed making me feel more alive than ever before. And so for those last two years of the war I felt the rush of life by taking it from others.
But then all of a sudden it stopped, my country giving me a pat on the back and expecting me to just turn it off.
For the next seven years I was lost, roaming the European continent before arriving in London, my decision to go down one street and not another leading me to The Ambassadors Theatre, a dazzling young lady persuading me to buy a ticket to the opening night of The Mousetrap.
As I watched the murder mystery unfold, the answers to my own dilemma began to unravel, realizing, as the characters gathered in the guesthouse to piece together the clues, what had to be done.
That night I became what the world calls a serial killer, what I call a natural calling. Starting with the dazzling young beauty outside, I strangled, I slashed, taking the last breaths of countless as I deeply inhaled each one.
Every now and then my great grandson comes by. He enjoys my stories, and now that he’s at the same age I was when I first took life, I can see in his eyes…
He’s gonna be like his ol’ grandpa.
Nthato Morakabi – Broadcast
On my little island, two local psychics, one who is bravely waiting it out while the other apparently has decided that discretion is the better part of valor, have predicted disaster in the form of an earthquake, on or around December 13th. While not getting too worked up about it, I have been giving more than my usual thought to end of the world scenarios. Broadcast takes you right there, where many of us go to validate the weather…on-the-spot reporting, increasing concern, panic fused with caution and then the sense that it is all over; the world as we know it has ended. This flash piece snuck up on me, needed a few readings, each more careful than the one before, until I knew it would be the prize winner this week, a story in amazing company. Judging should never be this hard.
Newscaster / Snowdrift / Romance
“Good e…e…evening South Africa. I am T…Thandiswa Nkomo, and th…th…this is Live News. It has…s…s been q…q…quite an eventful year, h…h…ere in the u…usually sunny southern hemisphere, with po…po…political debacles, br…broadcast agency fiascoes, water cr…crises, and presidential skirmishes…s…s. However, if y…y…y…you look be…hind me, at the cas…cascading snow that has c…c…completely encompassed most of the Johannesburg CBD, you…you will realise that this weather ph…ph…phenomenon overshadows a…anything that 2016 has brought.”
“T…t…traffic has come to a co…complete standstill and drivers ha…have evacuated their vehicles in the f…f…fear of being trapped under the biggest s…snowstorm to ever hit Joburg. What is u…u…usually a bustling metropolis, pe…ppered by street vendors, pedestrians from all wa…walks of life, and the ever present b….blaring of taxi horns, has become a de…desolate, icy wasteland.”
“I c…can’t do… this.”
“Ahem. Evening folks, you watching at home along with us here at the Live News studios, are witnessing a brave young lady and an exceptional camera crew, who are trapped at the corner of Marshall and Mooi Street. Thandiswa Nkomo is…
“Is she back? Can she – she will? Okay.”
“We return to Thandiswa and crew…”
“We do not know how long this snowstorm will continue for. Emergency services are unable to get through the piles of snow that have blocked every road into and out of Joburg. We’ve managed to get some heating but I can tell from the crew that it won’t last long. This may be… our final broadcast.”
“My name is Thandiswa Nkomo. Twenty four years old. My crew consists of Pieter Kroukamp, camera man and Ian Markus, technician. It has been a great honour to serve you as part of Live News.”
“To our families and loved ones…”
“To Lesedi Musi, my fiancee…”
*End of broadcast.
Congratulations, Nthato. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!