Microcosms 49

Hi, guys! Welcome to Microcosms 49. It’s the early hours of Friday here in the UK: the time I habitually start scrabbling around for an idea for a contest.

Nope… can’t think of anything new. So, I’ll have to fall back on Plan B: plagiarism a tribute to the Flash Dogs daily challenge on Twitter – #VSS365.

For those of you who have not yet had the joy of this experience, the idea is to write a very short story (VSS), using the prompt of the day, within the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter. It’s a fun way to stretch one’s fiction muscles; entries range from the sublime to the ones I submit…

I’ve selected from the prompts given in November to provide our usual elements of character and setting. But don’t panic – you still have the normal maximum limit of 300 words.

Geoff

 

(If you have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact me.)

 

Our contest begins with three things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Sheriff, setting: Blockade, and genre: Memoir.


Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspire you. Be sure to include which three elements you’re using.


  • Wizard
  • Predator
  • Cook
  • Sheriff
  • Carpenter
  • Novice
  • Refuge
  • Blockade
  • Caravan
  • Ireland
  • Christmas Party
  • Sidewalk
  • Fairy Tale
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Romance
  • Memoir
  • Very Short Story

Spin!


Judging this week is Microcosms 48 Community Pick AND Judge’s Pick, Alva Holland.

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

(If you are new to Microcosms, check out the full submission guidelines.)

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

 

If you like, you may use this image to inspire you – purely optional.

 

Promotional artwork by Tamara Rogers for one of the two books in Flash Dogs Anthology Volume 2

Promotional artwork by Tamara Rogers for one of the two books in Flash Dogs Anthology Volume 2

Microcosms 50
Microcosms 48
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50 comments for “Microcosms 49

  1. 9 December 2016 at 1:08 am

    A Grey and Famous Town

    Sheriff/Blockade/Memoir
    300 words

    Most will, of course, have heard of my little town and the incidents that followed our infestation. But you may not know how we became the oldest, richest town in Saxony.

    The Burgermeister, von Karsten, sent me, as Sheriff, to clear the first blockade, when we were overrun with vermin. Rats crawled through the streets like fear up a sinner’s spine and the guilds blocked the gates of the town in protest at the Burgermeister’s inaction. No fruits, no market, no trade. The town was dying and, even without the rats, it was a cramped insanitary hovel.

    Herr von Karsten found the piper, some magical fellow from Wittenberg all got up in a ridiculous outfit as these fellows often are. He did the job though; after an hour’s negotiation with the Burgermeister and the guilds, he elbowed his way through the blockade. An hour later, he had no need of elbows when the vermin swarmed behind his pipe.

    You may have heard of the second blockade, when he doubled his original price. This time, von Karsten stood with the guilds at the town gates and the pied fool stood, stamping his foot and demanding his money. Then, as you know, it was the children, slack-jawed and drooling, who broke the blockade from behind, following the piper’s back as they burst through the crowd.

    But few will have heard of the third blockade, when the men of Hamelin blocked my way when the Burgermeister ordered me to pay the piper’s fee. ‘No rats, no children, a quiet house, an attentive wife,’ Josef Henkel, the butcher, beat one fist in another to make his point. ‘Why pay to be rid of this? We can breed again. But who would want to?’

    And so Hamelin grows grey and rich, crimeless and fat.

    6+

  2. 9 December 2016 at 3:14 am

    @Nthito
    Memoir of a Failed Father
    Sheriff/Blockade/Memoir
    300 words

    “Ya’ll gonna go back, aint yer?” Sheriff Mac asked. I clutched Delilah and Josiah near me. No wind blew that night. The stars had winked out of existence and the moon was but an ethereal shadow. The clouds though. The clouds swam scarlet. Humming. Right into our bones.
    “Do yer know what it is, Sheriff?” I asked, our eyes gazing up.
    “Nah-ah. Them federal boys set up blockade up by Westpoint.” He raised a trembling hand towards the dark hill. Its apex sat directly below the rolling mass.
    “Is why I’m telling yer tah go back, Jonathan. Let it clear. T‘morrow er’thing will be back to normal.”
    But it wasn’t.
    Not two hours after we’d left the Sheriff did it begin to rain. Not softly either. It poured. Bashing against the roof and windows like the house was being peppered with large pebbles. Josey. My poor Josey. When he turned eight we had converted the attic into his own room and he’d been there 3 years then. It hit him first. The rain.
    I still remember his screams. Horrid, high-pitched wails that crawled along the walls. We rushed up, Delilah and I, not even realising the dark patches along the ceiling. I was there first. I remember that. Delilah stumbled in after then her screams joined Josey’s. The ceiling had serrated where water poured in, drenching my boy. Where there was once hair now dripped skin and melted clumps of hair. Half his pink, smoking face sagged. He’d raised fingers but the skin had burnt off. I could see the bone.
    Delilah pushed past me to wrap Josey in a blanket and then they were running. Josey never made it far. Delilah… she carried him until she too dribbled away.
    I cowered in the basement. A poltroon. A failure.

    5+

    • Sian Brighal
      9 December 2016 at 8:06 am

      Oh that was horrific…great read but horrific! Great job.

      1+

    • 10 December 2016 at 9:30 am

      That’s one way to make weather reports unmissable, Nthato!
      I’m not normally affected by horror stories, but that was harrowing, and leaving the MC cowering in the basement was classic. Good job!

      1+

  3. 9 December 2016 at 3:46 am

    Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    @miladyronel
    136 words
    Sheriff/ Blockade/ Memoir
    When Darkness Turns To Light

    In hindsight, we should’ve set up the blockade earlier. By the time we’d started to freak out, it was already too late: the cold had slithered into our town.

    That’s what happened when you think that vampires belong to the realm of the unreal.

    The star fell from my grip. The veins on my hands were standing out like lines on a map; it had started. I shivered. The blue-black sky stretched on forever, as did the darkness in my town.

    It’s too late to fight.

    I pulled my jacket closer and watched my deputies enforce curfew. We’d been running on a nocturnal schedule for so long, I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have the sun on my face.

    And now… Once the sun’s rays streaked more than the dawn sky, it would all end.

    2+

  4. WolfRich93
    9 December 2016 at 6:56 am

    @WolfRich93
    289 words
    Predator / Sidewalk / Memoir
    Title: From Hell…..

    October 14th.

    Night fog drifts aimlessly through empty streets.

    Borne with it, a lone figure glides out from the cover of a dark alley. Tall, slim, mouth framed by trimmed beard and mustache. It glances around, listens to the night, the silence. Eventually it moves on, unseen, along streets barely lit by gas lamp. In one hand the figure carries a Gladstone bag. It is not empty. Within its depths are tools of the trade: sharp, gleaming, surgical. All carefully stored in a leather tool roll. Nestling beside this roll is a glass specimen bottle. The bottle contains surgical spirit – and something else. Freshly harvested from some luckless individual, not quite chance-encountered on the sidewalk, a mile or so ago. The dark figure eventually pauses at an intersection. It is awaiting the arrival of a very specific Handsome Cab.

    No ordinary fare this! More deranged nocturnal predator, stalking the streets with premeditated malice. It is a collector of rarities, a seasoned practitioner of atrocities. A delicious thought enters its mind; Time to up the ante? Raise the local fear factor? A thin, twisted smile crosses the face. Send that fool of a Vigilante a note? Better yet, how about including a memoir of sorts, a ‘gift’? The figure laughs at this. It is not a pleasant sound. A coach arrives, slowly and quietly, drawing no attention. There follow departures.

    October 16th:

    George Lusk, Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, opens the small parcel, carefully. It arrived with the evening mail. Within the parcel he finds half a human kidney, accompanied by a scrawled note: “From Hell. Mr Lusk, Sir, I send you half the kidney I took… the other piece I fried and ate, it was very nice….”

    5+

    • 10 December 2016 at 12:38 am

      Dark and well controlled. A nasty transition at the end of it. Liked the scene break.

      1+

    • 10 December 2016 at 9:46 am

      Very evocative Gothic tale of Victorian London, well told.
      [ It’s a common mistake to believe that the term is ‘Handsome cab’. However, they are named after their inventor, Joseph A. Hansom. 🙂 ]

      1+

      • WolfRich93
        12 December 2016 at 5:31 am

        I might expand this into something larger, curious about who Jack the Ripper really was, appreciate the heads up on Hansom!

        2+

        • Geoff Holme
          12 December 2016 at 6:54 am

          No problem. I’m a pedant – it’s my job!
          (Good luck with the Ripper research – there must be hundreds of theories, and lots more stories and books! ;-))

          0

  5. Sian Brighal
    9 December 2016 at 8:00 am

    Sian Brighal
    @sian_ink
    300 words

    Wizard/refuge/fairytale

    One More Carpet Ride

    Much of her flight was a mystery. She recalled leaving, her bloody handprint on the door handle a farewell note; somewhere she must have staunched her bloody nose. But how she got here, to the old bus station, she couldn’t say. Sitting on one of those flip-down seats, she hugged herself against the chill and stared at her feet. She’d run out in her slippers: one lost now.

    But she was out.

    Why here? As a kid, keeping away from home, the buses had been magic carpets. Some of the drivers would let her sneak on and go visit places far beyond her dungeon. Her entourage would change with each stop, but her quest would go on… to conquer distant lands, spy out enemy castles or find some lost gem in some dark ruin. Sometimes, she’d just sleep… like a beauty hoping time would take her pains and ogres away. She’d almost got far enough away to never go back, but her ogres had spies and soldiers to haul her back.

    And he would be here, her refuge, her wizard, casting his healing spells and wiping away tears. And when she’d had enough, told him of her nightmares and wished with all her might… he’d magicked her ogres away and she’d learnt the joy in a hug and what love was. But then she’d pricked her arm on a spinning lie of a needle and slept a hundred years.

    She needed him now, but he’d been old then. He’d be dead now… or in some home. The chill bit harder, but she couldn’t go back…but the buses had stopped and the magic dead.

    ‘Are you ready to come with me now?’

    The voice jolted her. It couldn’t be! ‘You haven’t aged!’

    He smiled and held out a hand. ‘I told you: I’m a wizard.’

    2+

  6. 9 December 2016 at 9:11 am

    Carpenter/Christmas Party/Very Short Story
    Characters used: 138

    X’mas Joke

    A carpenter walks into a lavish Christmas party. They pretend to celebrate his birthday, but make no mention of him. When will they learn?

    3+

    • 9 December 2016 at 11:37 am

      Excellent, Angelique! Such a great take on the prompt – especially the VSS genre.

      2+

      • 9 December 2016 at 12:22 pm

        Thanks Geoff! I didn’t even know this type of genre existed. Love trying out new things. Not as easy as it looks though 😉

        1+

  7. 9 December 2016 at 9:13 am

    Cook/ Caravan/ Crime
    Word count: 300

    Cooking Death

    He always sits outside his caravan, surveying the land before him. From where he sits, he can smell the soil, a rich, almost sweet smell that is distinct in nature. He farms his own food. He never had much use for building a house. The caravan was fine. Being a cook, he was more interested in the land and its produce.

    He spruced himself up today. He is wearing his good suit, a new hanky just sticking out of his breast pocket. His shoes are shined and he has combed his hair fashionably. He is looking forward to a visit from his lady fair. He has prepared the menu, put out the garden furniture and spread a red and white checkered tablecloth over the table. An artificial rose sits in a vase on the table that he got from the greasy spoon café where he has worked for the last thirty years. At the last moment, he strung up some Christmas lights for “ambiance”. She will be so impressed by his efforts. He sits and waits and remembers.

    She walked in one rainy morning and he fell for her instantly. Well-dressed and confident, she smelled of Magnolias. She wasn’t the kind of lady to frequent a greasy spoon joint. She asked for coffee and smiled when he brought it to her in an old teacup he had found in the back of the store. She sat talking to him for hours wanting to know everything about him. He may have exaggerated a tiny bit, making himself out to be far richer than he was. He was sure she wasn’t a gold digger.

    The yellow lights flicker, revealing the gash in his head, as the smells of blood and soil mingle, fighting another scent on the breeze. That of Magnolia perfume.

    2+

  8. 9 December 2016 at 9:52 am

    Wizard, refuge, memoir
    300 words
    @geofflepard

    And What Did You Do in the War?

    ‘Type?’
    ‘Ob.’ I detected a sneer, I was sure of it. We Obs, or object wizards, have always been treated like riff-raff. Bods had a somewhat higher reputation; then there were the elite, the Minds and the ten Omni. Goddesses all and I hated them.
    ‘Wand.’ The concierge held out a bony hand. I knew they’d take it; even so, it hurt like hell.
    ‘Potions, spells, incantations extant?’
    Not a shred of empathy. They’d won, we wizards were in hiding, or had given up, herded into these ‘refuges’.
    I shook my head and, as if to prove it, opened my cloak. It was only when she saw how translucent I’d become that she softened. ‘Why don’t you sit in the sun? Firm up a bit. I’ll get nurse to check you over.’
    I’d like to say I felt grateful but by then I’d been patronised from both sides by Norms and Elite. Just because I could only cast on objects, my own kind thought me feeble. Cannon fodder. I was lucky; I’d learnt a mindblock early on; they couldn’t manipulate me like the other Obs. I’d seen too many friends fade for no reason.
    ‘What’s wrong with you?’ The nurse made me start. She was a Bod and yet she had her wand. As she saw me looking she said, ‘It’s allowed when you recant.’ While I absorbed a restorative, she talked. I was lucky. They had plans for me. Obs and Bods were joining with Norms to restore the balance, overcome the Omni and the remaining Minds. If I joined they’d train me to become part of a new Elite.
    The sun began to set through the window. A refuge or a prison? My choice. Why couldn’t I simply fade to dust like so many of my friends?

    2+

  9. A.J. Walker
    9 December 2016 at 11:05 am

    Whoops, I Did it Again
    A.J. Walker

    Day 32 of the blockade and the town’s population are in danger of losing it. The Committee have assured the town folk that we could survive on our supplies here for three months. This is all very well but sustenance is but one thing.

    Without electricity we cannot counter this aural assault by those bastards outside.

    Fighting in the streets seems a constant now. Family members afraid to go home for fear of what may befall them. I’m the sheriff but I can do nothing: it’s nearly everyone.

    Day 33: I’ve hit a new low. I thought I could take anything. My ear plugs are a snug fit and cut out almost all sound, but some seeps through; “Oops I Did it a fuckin’ ‘gain!” what cruelty! Twenty four hours blasted into the town by those vast speakers. I pity the people without earplugs. Four men threw themselves off buildings, their broken faces all showed their blessed relief.

    I try to sing other songs, but the words and tunes falter in the face of “Oops I Did It…”. FFS I actually started dancing to it in the middle of the town hall meeting. My authority’s gone. It is surely killing us.

    Day 35 I could not even write yesterday for the song they played. My God, Celine Dion would have been preferable, even the bloody “Birdie Song”.

    Today it’s another doozy “Kisses for me, save all your kisses for me…”; twenty four hours could not stretch out longer. I am a blubbering wreck.

    Day 40: my last. There’s barely a soul left. Some have escaped to the enemy. I’ve contemplated it. But I cannot join them.

    Bang on midnight the volume ratcheted to 11 and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”.

    It’s a nice view from the church tower.

    ‘I’m a Barbie Girl…’

    _____
    WC: 300 this time
    @zevonesque
    Sheriff/ Blockade/ Memoir

    (note I messed up first entry by putting on my Angry Hourglass game head on. 360 words?!)

    4+

    • 9 December 2016 at 12:39 pm

      AJ’s original entry, with an invalid word count of 360, has been deleted.

      1+

    • Geoff Holme
      10 December 2016 at 10:21 am

      That had me chuckling, AJ! I’m not sure how Joe Dolce’s ’Shaddap You Face’ missed the playlist though…

      0

      • A.J. Walker
        11 December 2016 at 5:16 pm

        That may have been Week 34’s song. I cannot say.

        0

  10. 9 December 2016 at 12:13 pm

    A Bit of a Chinwag Last Saturday Morning at Delmar Dipple’s 24 hour Fine Eats and Bakery

    “Fill ‘er up, Del. I almost need to take my caffeine intravenously… after last night.”

    “You were surely dancing up a storm, Harley. Least ways, until I had to head home. How long the party last?”

    “I packed’ er in at midnight. I know my limit, even if I forget sometimes. Hell of a wedding bash. Rosie was in top form.”

    “You know I remember that day so well.”

    “What…oh, the day Rosie rolled into Pickleton.”

    “Yeah, you could tell right off that she had some big-time troubles. Woman like that, kind of flashy and the type who musta gotten blinded by big city lights…when they go to ground, finally wake up and make their break, well, they got a beaten down look that’s heartbreaking.”

    “You…you got a lot of experience in that regard, Del.”

    “You joke, my friend, but you’d be surprized what you witness in the food racket.”

    “Yup, I probably would.”

    “Look, no matter who they are, people got to eat. My sign is always flashing, letting them know Delmar’s is as safe as home and they can get their bellies filled here.”

    “And get their ear talked off as well.”

    “Maybe. Maybe that’s what most folks want. A friendly ear.”

    “As long as that ear don’t end up in your corn chowder, Del.”

    “Don’t you be starting that rumour again, Harley. I’m not above suing for ear slander.”

    “Won’t say another word. Pour me some more java. And a doughnut…”

    “Done. Anyways, it was Rosie’s good luck that Stan was in the café that night. Our noble Sheriff took her under his wing, offered her the sanctuary of Pickleton…no small gesture…and voila, made an honest woman out of her.”

    “I think she was always honest, Del. She just needed a reboot…Pickleton style.”

    “Right you are, Harley.”

    Sheriff; refuge; romance
    300 down home words
    @billmelaterplea

    5+

    • 9 December 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Favourite line ever : “As long as that ear don’t end up in your corn chowder, Del.” 😀

      1+

      • 9 December 2016 at 8:35 pm

        Thanks, Angelique. I will of course understand is a more favourite line comes along.

        1+

        • 9 December 2016 at 10:23 pm

          I meant to say that I will of course understand if a more favourite line comes along.

          1+

    • Geoff Holme
      10 December 2016 at 10:34 am

      Classic, Bill! You certainly have an ear for vernacular dialogue… unless you lost it in Del’s corn chowder. But no, I forgot, that rumour was just ‘ear say’. 😀

      1+

  11. 9 December 2016 at 12:55 pm

    @ InquisiHedgehog
    Carpenter / Blockade / Crime
    Word Count: 100

    “What have we got here, Sergeant Max?” asked his colleague.
    “A murder.”
    “Who?”
    “The carpenter. He seemed to have been in a scuffle with a small boy.”
    “A small boy? How do you know?”
    “Well, here is a wooden stick. It is about a meter long. I am not sure what lies he told.”
    “Where is he?”
    “In the corner. He says he doesn’t know how it happened. But he is covered in blood.”
    “It seems like that is another lie. Look how his nose is growing.”
    “Shall we blockade the workshop?”
    “Yes. This is going to be long inquisition.”

    3+

  12. 9 December 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Caravan Cooking Chaos

    Some bright spark suggested a caravan party. The actors hired for the family were all massive, the dog a Great Dane. Casting had obviously not been told the caravan’s dimensions.
    It was me and Saskia in there to start with, but already it seemed crowded. The director was overseeing events from a propped-open window. I put the chicken in and stepped outside. The dog leapt at me, meaty breath in my face. I obviously smelt irresistibly drumsticky.
    I was jammed in that caravan with cameraman and soundman while Saskia nipped to and fro with ingredients.
    Make-up arrived for lippy touch-up and cleavage-powdering. Dave. Nice man.
    Got the cake in. Began the mayonnaise. The oil bottle slipped. Smashed. Saskia appeared with wads of toilet paper to mop up.
    The trio sidestep-danced around each other, like those weather-house folk. In. Out. In. Out.
    The soundman returned because my microphone had slipped down my top. Tim. Nice man.
    Hot. Between takes I fanned myself with a Tupperware lid, wondering if I was beginning an early menopause. I suggested everyone stopped breathing but got blank looks.
    Joke?
    The cake cooled. The dog leapt through the window and sunk its teeth in. Its owner was in the toilet, possibly wondering where the paper was.
    Tim grabbed the cake, and it bit him on the nose. The dog, not the cake.
    Dave and Saskia bundled the dog out, all three becoming wedged in the doorway.
    I salvaged the cake with extra icing in the bite mark. Offered to do the same for Tim, but he declined.
    The family squeezed into the caravan and scoffed the food. They acted scoffing the cake too, except the boy who, allergic to dog hair in the quiche, was rushed to A&E.
    But, apart from all that, filming went really well.

    @SalnPage
    #FlashDog
    300 words
    Cook – Caravan – Comedy

    4+

    • 9 December 2016 at 1:01 pm

      Just clocked the optional image. Already had a dog in it. Accidental genius! 😉

      0

      • 10 December 2016 at 8:53 am

        I don’t know what sort of dog it is, Sal, but I’m pretty sure ‘Accidental genius’ isn’t the Latin name for it. 🙂

        0

        • 10 December 2016 at 2:12 pm

          See the second sentence … its a Great Dane! Latin name ‘Canis lupus familiaris’. I’M the accidental genius. 🙂

          0

        • Geoff Holme
          10 December 2016 at 4:20 pm

          OK…
          (1) I was replying to your comment about the optional photo prompt. That was the dog I was referring to.
          (2) I know you were referring to yourself as ‘Accidental genius’ I was employing a pretend misunderstanding for comedic effect… 😉

          0

    • 9 December 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Really enjoyed this one Sal 🙂 I was laughing out loud picturing this scene and you gave me a new word. “Drumsticky.” Love it 🙂

      1+

      • 9 December 2016 at 4:36 pm

        Thanks Angelique. Was wondering if it WAS funny. Yeah, drumsticky was a new one on me too.

        1+

    • 10 December 2016 at 9:11 am

      I thought you wouldn’t be able to resist ‘Cook’ as a character element, Sal. I seem to recall you have visited the realm of the celebrity TV chef before, but it was well worth giving us another episode.
      And don’t worry – it is funny! ‘Dave. Nice man… Tim. Nice man.’ is a hoot, and I’d love to have ‘cleavage-powdering’ on my CV! 😀

      0

      • 10 December 2016 at 2:18 pm

        She’s the MC in my in-progress novel, Priscilla Parker Reluctant Celebrity Chef. Two birds with one stone. (Is this cheating?) Thanks for saying it IS funny. That’s the plan. The ‘nice man’ parts were really long-winded and made better by having to cut from 360. I do the same thing as AJ did most weeks but realise before posting.

        0

  13. 9 December 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Ominous Skies

    elements: predator, refuge, very short story
    23 words, 133 characters

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Ominous skies growled. The cave, dark and dank, seemed the ideal refuge—until I went inside and discovered the real storm for myself.

    2+

  14. Carlos
    9 December 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Bronco

    The dark asphalt glimmered in the flashing lights of my Bronco. It was an outdated model but I didn’t need or care for the new Chargers. They are ugly things that only entitled teens drive. Besides, the Bronco was more suited to handle the thick snow and makeshift roads of the small country town.

    I was handling the DUI checkpoint, a pretty pointless task considering the deputies liked to have drinks with friends after work. They always told their buddies what roads to avoid, and in turn, the buddies told everyone else. For all intents and purposes the road I was on was shut down. I had set up a blockade that, thankfully, no one was stupid enough to try and run. So for most of the night I sat in my rig and waited for dawn.

    It was just shy of two o’clock when I saw the headlight. As it approached, I saw it was a beat up hunk-of-junk with a headlight out. It wasn’t going fast, so I didn’t bother with the loudspeaker. I figured it would stop.

    It did just that, but 20 yards from my checkpoint. I took the safety off my gun and slowly approached the vehicle. When I was close enough to see inside, I noticed the car was empty. That’s when I heard the Bronco’s engine roar. I watched it speed away.

    We never found the Bronco. Rather than drive a Charger, I retired. No one does DUI checkpoints anymore, so I spend my time at the bar. When someone’s had too much, I take their keys. Everyone knows better than to argue with me. So if you ask me—no, I don’t think that person belongs in jail. The only crime they should be charged with is not taking my rig sooner.

    300 words
    Sheriff, Blockade, Memoire
    @goldzco21
    #Flashdog

    1+

  15. Voima Oy
    9 December 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Somewhere on the Silk Road
    @voimaoy
    70 words
    sheriff/caravan/very short story

    The mountains are full of bandits. I have seen them, shadowy riders, waiting on the ridge. It is my job to see these things. I guard this caravan, carrying spices and beads and bright colored silks to the city of Byzantium and the Mediterranean Sea. The sky has turned the color of snow. I hear the cries of hawks in the wind. We are a long way from the waves.

    2+

  16. 9 December 2016 at 9:43 pm

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDog
    300 words
    Novice / Caravan / Memoir

    [ All 30 daily #VSS365 prompts from November incorporated ]

    A Writer’s Life For Me

    Every author must start somewhere.

    I’d written derivative fantasy shorts featuring an hermaphrodite WIZARD – write what you know! – which received a susurration of APPLAUSE, but as a SFF novelist, I was a NOVICE.

    One ‘Black Friday’, I left my apartment to be met by a SIDEWALK tsunami. Movement was MURDER: footwork as NIFTY as MERCURY would be powerless against this swarm. I had a vision of HYBRID human/insect creatures which led to the best-selling HIVEMIND series, movie adaptations, merchandising…

    I hit the big time, appearing on chat shows and attending A-list soirées; every guest was an ICON in his/her chosen field. I embraced the celebrity lifestyle – fast cars, fast women, booze, drugs; I needed sedatives to get to sleep. Things spun out of control like a runaway JUGGERNAUT. My life had gone into FREEFALL with no discernible SAFETY NET.

    Outside my loft conversion was a constant BLOCKADE of paparazzi. I’d sneak out, disguised, and wander aimlessly, seeking normality. I found it in a low-life DEGENERATE that EVOLUTION had side-stepped.

    He was a PREDATOR, oozing menace; a cold-blooded Western SHERIFF signalling to the CARPENTER how many coffins to build. The baseball bat came from nowhere. I hit the ground, helpless as a KITTEN in a BLIZZARD.

    Recovery revealed the ADVENT of GRAPHOPHOBIA – fear of writing. A couldn’t even scribble a reply to my sister’s invite to her CHRISTMAS PARTY.

    I sought REFUGE in a CARAVAN in a remote corner of IRELAND. I’d COOK simple but nutritious meals, and walk for miles along the cliffs. I’d sit gazing out to sea, frequently witnessing a huge eddy roiling the waters; in sleep, I’d visualise ATLANTIS, waking to record my dreamscape on a dictaphone.

    Gradually, I began writing again.

    I’m content here. For the past year, I haven’t taken a single TRANQUILIZER.

    2+

    • Voima Oy
      9 December 2016 at 10:08 pm

      This is brilliant! Bravo!

      0

      • 9 December 2016 at 10:24 pm

        Thanks, Voima. Glad you enjoyed it.

        0

    • 10 December 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Ha! Well Done.

      0

      • Geoff Holme
        10 December 2016 at 3:53 pm

        Thanks, Sal.
        (Two positive responses? Whatever happened to ”Don’t encourage him – he’ll only do it again.”?)

        0

  17. 9 December 2016 at 10:29 pm

    @CalebEchterling
    299 words
    Novice/Blockade/Comedy

    Everyone Loves White Bread

    An otter wearing a cat costume hopped on Kaitlyn’s paddleboat. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” the otter said, “but I have to ask you to submit to a search. No contraband allowed on the island.”

    Kaitlyn’s legs stopped pumping. The boat bobbed in the three acre pond, halfway between the dock and Duck Island. “The ranger searched me for drugs, alcohol, fireworks, feral cats, and Amway products at the park entrance. I’m clean.”

    “That’s all well and good, but us otters have our own definition of contraband. The ducks on Duck Island have been getting entirely too much white bread. We want in on the action.”

    “What if I say no?”

    The otter swished its tail. “Not sure about that. I’m a novice at the whole blockade thing. Maybe I splash water on your shoes? Or tickle you into submission?”

    Kaitlyn shook her head. “A blockade will never work with those terrible ideas. You need something serious. Like ruining my credit rating. Or swapping my kitchen counters with the floor from a bus station bathroom.”

    The otter’s claws tapped a teletype transmission as it danced a jig in the empty seat next to Kaitlyn. “This is the kind of strategic thinking we need on the otter war council. What would it take to get you on our side?”

    “Sure, why not? Do I get to wear a nifty uniform like you?”

    “The cat gear is to throw off the park staff. The war council all wear polyester bell bottoms. It’s a well known fact that 1970s fashion throws fear into a duck’s heart.”

    “I can do a skinny tie. How do ducks feel about 80s fashion?”

    “Eighties’ fashion? Traitor!” The otter tickled Kaitlyn’s feet. She smacked it into the water with a loaf of sourdough.

    “Geez. I’ll just eat this myself.”

    2+

  18. 9 December 2016 at 11:58 pm

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDog
    26 words (each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet)
    Predator / Sidewalk / Very Short Story

    Speed Dating at a US Sidewalk Cafe

    “I’m Zara.”
    “Hi! Quaid.”
    “You kinda remind me of Xander…”
    “Erm…”
    “From ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’?”
    “Good?”
    “Awesome!!… Drink up. *We’re leaving… NOW!*
    “Jeepers!… Check, please!”

    4+

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