Thank you to everyone who submitted a story to Microcosms 54. We had 17 entries this week – although one seemed to be a response to contest 48…
[ Apologies for introducing a genre – ‘Aga Saga’ – that may be familar only to UK entrants, and perhaps not all of them! ]
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 Caleb Echterling for judging MC 54. Here’s what he had to say:
Excellent, excellent stories this week. I enjoyed reading them all and seeing everyone’s creative takes. So many poignant/funny/gripping stories. You’re all lucky that I don’t own a dartboard, or that would have substituted for actual judging.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Nicola Tapson – I liked the animals phrases sequence – “According to his docket, he was a chicken thief, but the only chick he stole was Mrs Green … smelled a rat … cried wolf.”
Nthato Morakabi – Like an inverted rose, the scarlet dress flared around her hips, silk crawling up to the high-collar styled with intricate golden gears.
Ronel J. van Vuuren – Or perhaps sing. Though the last usually got me chased from the village by young mothers.
Geoff Le Pard – She enveloped the boy in her tears and hopes before bundling him in the car.
Angelique Pacheco – The entire town was deserted. And had been for a hundred years.
Dana Faletti – I am an eraser, deleting all evidence of suffering from the narrative, negating lives.
A V Laidlaw – Who are we kidding? I couldn’t bake lemon-drizzle anything.
Bill Engleson – Clog up his hearteries, so to speak. Get him to thinking that his natural inclination to squash a rattlesnake is somehow wrong.
Christina Dalcher – I won’t take Perpetua out of her Fudgepack estate and slap her in Dagenham.
Angelique Pacheco – …slumped into a crouching position, like an angel who lost its wings. I picked up my paintbrush again and painted a masterpiece.
John Herbert – They wrote lyrics, purloined their sons’ trainers, spurned pearls for gold chains, learned to drop beats and spit ill rhymes of Surrey life.
Steph Ellis – She was right. His songs of love and betrayal had all been about her.
A J Walker – Dallas admitted defeat. Still, he had the last laugh when he made the Top Ten with the “Victoria Sponge Cake Blues”.
Steve Lodge – I discovered from my fellow villagers that oral hygiene had not yet been invented.
Firdaus Parvez – Spectacular, she thought, yes she could do that, finish him off in style.
Stephen Shirres – The door closes, a discussion of whispers before he does what he is told.
Laura Besley – his German tongue finding its way around the softer Flemish words
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
A V Laidlaw – England’s Dreaming
John Herbert – The Difficult Second Album of Judith de Warren
Steve Lodge – My Dyslexia Has Reached A New Owl
I’m not sure I followed everything that was going on in this piece, but it was so delightfully absurd that I didn’t care. Wonderful names and no doubt plenty of jokes that I missed.
Laura Besley – Home From Home
It’s not often that the genre is a surprise twist at the end, but it is here. A gritty western turned romance. I love it!
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 54.
(insert drumroll here)
Very few votes cast this week but the winner is…
Nicola Tapson – CLUEDO LOVER
Prisoner / Meeting House / Crime
BANG. BANG. “Finally, now our little secret is safe and sound,” snarled Mrs Green, as she wiped the barrel and slid the gun into the pocket of her voluminous skirt. There on the floor lay Jack Randall. He was due to be released. He had spent two years in prison for a crime he had never committed. According to his docket, he was a chicken thief, but the only chick he stole was Mrs Green. Mr Green was starting to sniff a rat and Mrs Green’s conscious was catching up with her, so she did what any poor country lady knew how to do and cried wolf. Unfortunately for Randall, he was charged with stealing and sentenced to two years in prison. But Mrs Green could not forget about the fire that Randall ignited in her belly and she would write him letters every week apologizing for her behaviour and begging for him to come back to her. When Randall did not reply, Mrs Green got more desperate. She heard he was being brought to the meeting house for his release. She snuck in to visit him. When he spat at her and told her that her number was up, she had a plan. She extinguished the flame for good. She had paid the guard a healthy sum for his silence. She had burnt all the letters, but Randall was shrewd.
The officers went through the scene. As they took off Randall’s shoe, a note fell out. The officer opened it carefully. “It was Mrs Green with a gun”.
Geoff Le Pard – A Mother’s Requiem 1999-2017
I would have thought that two parallel narratives in a 300 word story would equal one jumbled mess. Oh how wrong I was. Each snippet moved the plot forward like an intricate chess stratagem, parceling out little crumbs for the reader to follow. Very well done.
Songwriter / Village / Saga
Ariana pushed the child at the smuggler: ‘Take him, please.’
She held out the rings. He turned them, sniffing before a single nod. She enveloped the boy in her tears and hopes before bundling him in the car. She sang as the hot wind blew dust in her eyes.
‘I need to go, mum. I just do.’
Ruth hugged herself, her tears falling freely on the marble counter. She nodded her understanding.
George picked up his rucksack. He hated hurting his adoptive parents but he had to find his roots.
‘Is it safe? Kosovo?’
George shrugged. ‘I’ll call.’ He picked up his guitar and left.
They found the hidden guns. Ariana sat in the schoolyard, knowing the end would be soon. She wondered if her boy was safe, somewhere north, somewhere cold. Please make her cold and keep him warm.
Sweat beaded his face. He’d never experienced 40 degrees. Bring back Birmingham, he muttered wryly.
‘Here.’ The official, Elira, was pregnant. ‘We found your family. A village in the mountains. Teachers. Muslim.’ She stopped, ‘You okay?’
‘Sure.’ George’s tears joined the river of sweat.
‘There was a mass grave.’
The bodies were treated with contempt. No records kept. They would never be found, never remembered. No comfort, knowing they’d be mourned. The final indignity.
Elira waited as he collected the remains. ‘What will you do?’
He didn’t know. Him born Muslim, adopted Jew. He thought of Elira’s child; soon she would hold her baby, something taken from his mother.
‘She wrote songs, your mother. Maybe you can play them?’
He scanned the scores. The language escaped him but the music held his heart lightly in its grip. ‘I’ll take her to the mountains, let her sing with the wind.’
Congratulations, Geoff. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge Microcosms 55. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!