Thank you to everyone who beat the clock to submit a story to Microcosms 50. We had 12 entries this week – other priorities, maybe?
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.
MICROCOSMS EXPRESS : Advance Passenger Announcement
Change to normal service during the holiday period
In order to give the hard-working staff (Bob Cratchit and myself) at Microcosms Inc. a Christmas break, there will be no contest post in week 51 and 52. Instead, to avoid withdrawal symptoms from going ‘cold turkey’, there will be a simple photo prompt to fire your fervent imaginations in a ‘just-for-fun’ challenge, should the festive entertainments begin to cloy.
Many thanks to Caleb Echterling for judging MC 50. Here’s what he had to say:
Top notch entries this week, everyone. Even after the fifth read-through, the stories all held up well. Great work. I discovered that picking the winners out of this bunch was way harder than writing my own story.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
John Hebert – But small signs gave them away: sandals in November; incongruous sandwich fillings; taking holidays in Rhyl.
Angelique Pacheco – We chatted about nothing and everything
Alva Holland – The brown envelope would suffer the same unopened,back-of-the-fire fate as the ten previous similar envelopes
Steve Lodge – packs of wild dogs carried us in sledges across the plains
Ronel J. van Vuuren – a soft boom like the birth of a black hole
Bill Engleson – I smile. I like smiling.
Geoff Le Pard – There was only one downside to this newly-found fame; in the moment he touched the orb, he died.
Stella Turner – He wished his mother was here to see his father’s face when the police came to get him.
Steph Ellis – each depositing our share of Ugandan blood in the form of the purest diamonds.
Stephen Shirres – my frustration focuses on something much more important. “My name isn’t Dave.”
Firdaus Parvez – I still dream about the wheat fields.
Geoff Holme – The general read the document one final time.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Ronel J. van Vuuren – Gone
A sci-fi thriller with a great premise. I think there’s a longer story in here.
Steph Ellis – Karma
A deliciously ambiguous story. I read it six times, and I’m still not sure if the protagonist killed the other squad members. From the title, I’m guessing probably so, but I like the uncertainty.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 50.
(insert drumroll here)
Alva Holland – Double Loop
Tax Inspector / Swiss Bank / Memoir
Counting as if I were still learning to do so, I got to Box 352, tenth from the bottom, Row L, just like the note said. I glanced at the key sweating in my hand. It had arrived two days earlier, crudely taped to a torn-off scrap of cheap blue notepaper, roughly stuffed into a pre-used envelope too small for its purpose and dropped onto my linoleum floor along with a brown windowed envelope from the Government. The brown envelope would suffer the same unopened, back-of-the-fire fate as the ten previous similar envelopes.
But this one – my address typed on the outside, no return address on the back. Just a slip of paper with a phone number in Geneva and two numbers – the first – 352, the second – an airline reservation number.
The next day, I was on a flight to Geneva and the day after that, standing outside Box No. 352.
Turning the key in the front of the box, I pulled out the inner compartment. It was heavy. I wrestled it over to the nearby cubicle and slid back the lid.
Cash! Green-backs, black-backs, multi-coloured-backs. All currencies, millions of it, tightly packed in bundles. Heartbeat stopped. Started again with a jolt. Stopped. Repeated. I closed the lid, pushed the box back into its compartment, locked it, left the Bank and went to the nearest bar where the young bartender poured me a double shot, neat, on a nod.
‘Looks like you might need it,’ he said, smiling.
‘Cheers,’ I said as I swallowed.
My mind flew back to the day of Uncle Giles’ funeral. He had requested his epitaph to read:
‘Here lies Giles Somerset – Tax Inspector. They named a loophole after me. The Somerset Clause 352.’
Firdaus Parvez – The City
I love the imagery in this piece, particularly the contrast between the village memories and the city present. It has a stream of consciousness feel to it, which I wouldn’t have thought would work in a 300 word piece, but it works here. Overall, a lovely story.
Street Beggar / New Delhi / Memoir
I still dream about the wheat fields. The feel of the stalks hitting my face as I ran blindly trying to outrun my cousins. The ears of wheat higher than my head. Bare feet sinking into the soft earth and sometimes animal waste; the stink nauseating yet not strong enough to prevent this insane game. Cooling off at the tube well, trying to swim against the flow. Climbing guava trees and biting into rock hard raw guavas. The bitter sour taste I can still feel on my tongue. That was the village then and better days.
The city is enormous and our makeshift hut too small for the five of us. I prefer sleeping out in the open usually on the roadside huddled against the wall under the large billboard with glossy pictures of pizza. I’ve never had one nor will ever. It’s hard to get rice and daal or a chapati or even a cup of chai. I fall asleep almost immediately, my head resting on the dirty cloth I use to clean windscreens of cars that stop at the red lights during the day. Most of the cars just drive away not even rolling down their windows if I tap on them to beg for a measly coin. Some shoo me away, but if I’m lucky I get a few coins which I hide in a hole in the wall. You don’t want the older boys to know about the money.
I once found a pair of shoes in the trash. They had holes in them but fit me. I wore them out. Now the winter months will be harsh on my calloused feet. The concrete sidewalk will be like ice just like the cold wall I huddle against at night with the stench of urine and human suffering.
Congratulations, Firdaus. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the first round of Microcosms in 2017. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!