Microcosms 56

Welcome, one and all, to Microcosms 56 on Friday, 27-JAN-2017.

27-JAN-1905 saw the birth of Maria von Trapp whose story was told in ‘The Sound of Music’.
How do you solve a problem like Maria? By realising that exactly twenty years later was the birthday of legendary actor Paul Newman – one of only four actors to have been nominated for an Academy Award in five different decades.
He starred in such iconic movies as ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967), ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969), ‘The Sting’ (1973), ‘The Towering Inferno’ (1974), ‘The Verdict’ (1982) and ‘The Color of Money’ (1986).

Geoff

 

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

 

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

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Convict, setting: Chicago, and genre: Romance.


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 AND a title for your entry.


  • Convict
  • Outlaw
  • Grifter
  • Architect
  • Lawyer
  • Pool Hustler
  • Prison Camp
  • Bolivia
  • Chicago
  • Skyscraper
  • Courtroom
  • Road Trip
  • Memoir
  • Romance
  • Crime
  • Science Fiction
  • Horror
  • Comedy

Spin!


Judging this week is Microcosms 55 Runner-up, John Herbert.

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.

Microcosms 57
Microcosms 55
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81 comments for “Microcosms 56

  1. 27 January 2017 at 1:06 am

    Josh Bertetta
    299 Words
    @JBertetta
    Pool Hustler (Shark)/Chicago/Horror
    “Deep Suburban Blues”

    Ever since I watched “Jaws” when I’s a kid I been damn ‘fraid swimming in my pool. It’s a suburban pool, north of Chicago, nothing fancy and it’s just me who usually swims. So I don’t gotta worry about no one else’s germs like in the public pools in the hood and if it’s my pee, then so what?

    Besides, I’ve pissed myself before, sure.

    I’m man enough to admit it.

    I know it’s stupid. Just an irrational fear.

    Always lookin’ over my shoulder. When I swam that is. Well, that’s not exactly true now is it? I’ve really worked hard at being honest, though it ain’t always easy. Really, it’s only when I swim away from it that I look over my shoulder. Glance really.

    Not when I swim towards it. Ya’ know, because then it’s in front of you and when something’s in front of you you don’t have to turn your shoulder.

    Unless you’re chicken shit.

    I ain’t no chicken shit.

    Got’s me stupid irrational fear. That’s all. Ain’t no different from you. And I know you pissed yourself too. Just like me.

    But you wouldn’t call yourself no chicken shit.

    My heart beats a little faster when I swim away from it. Kinda like when I’s a kid when I’d turn off the light downstairs and run like hell up the stairs before the darkness could take a chunk out of me.

    It wouldn’t kill me though, see, ‘cause I was bony back then. “It” being the darkness of course.

    But this? Sure as shit it could kill me.

    Swallow my ass whole.

    Before I jump in the water I call myself Michael Phelps, but the only gold I got’s in my teeth.

    See, you got to be Michael Phelps to out-swim a pool shark.

    5+

    • 27 January 2017 at 2:09 am

      Fun character, Josh. Your story has some sharp teeth.

      1+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 4:08 am

      Super story, Josh! And not just because this is also one of my greatest fears. Great interpretation of the prompt elements.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:10 pm

      Brought back some of my own childhood fears (first family pub had a long corridor – well it seemed long – between bedrooms, used to turn off the switch and run like the clappers to my room – only one switch at one end of that corridor). Love the chatty/confessional tone of this.

      1+

    • Sian Brighal
      27 January 2017 at 6:07 pm

      Great writing. Kind of a raw honesty and harsh bluntness to it.

      1+

  2. 27 January 2017 at 2:01 am

    Night Worms

    It’s been a long, cold night. I’ve never been warm in a Greyhound Bus. There is just something wintry dismal about bus night travel. Day bus, maybe its a little better. But in winter, its six of one and a half a dozen miseries of the other.

    But the good thing is, I’m getting out of the city. I need that. Things were squirming out of control there.

    I’d made a snappy play for this older dolly, invested, Christ, I don’t know, two solid weeks of my time. She was on the verge of asking me to move in, share her little Condo. Cute place, I guess. Cheryl, that was her name, was starting to rebuild after her creep hubby met a girl a whole lot younger and they parted ways. Anesthesiologist, he was, she said. Takes all kinds, I figure.

    I’d picked up a gig in high-end furniture sales. Donnelly’s Fine Furniture. Sales have always been my fallback. Cheryl sashayed in one day and I radared in. She was furnishing the new pad. She didn’t tell me the story of the philandering husband but it was easy to read. Around her eyes, the screechy bravado, maybe. There is always a tell.

    Maybe I had a tell to. Turned out I was one crafty black sheep who couldn’t pull the wool over this dolly’s eyes. Last night, I dipped into my puny reserves to take her out. We sat there, candlelight flaring, wine flowing, she touched my cheek, said, “it’s been sweet, Charlie, but I have other plans.”

    SHE has other plans.

    I could feel the shaft dig in.

    So, I’ve got those night worms, little squigglers that sit in your gut, tell you its time to hit the road.

    So, I’m on the move again.

    Grifter; Road Trip; Romance
    300 second thoughts
    @billmelaterplea

    6+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 4:12 am

      A little darkness, a little misery, just like the Greyhound bus. Great story, Bill. Lots of soul here. Love it.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:15 pm

      A bit of comeuppance for a player there 🙂

      1+

    • Sian Brighal
      27 January 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Makes for a rather lonely existence. Fantastic read, thank you. And even travelling familiar routes can be so much different during the night.

      1+

  3. Alva Holland
    27 January 2017 at 2:30 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    291 words
    Architect/Skyscraper/Science Fiction

    Renzo’s Crawl Space

    The Anvil Crawler, named after the horizontal lightning discharge natural phenomenon, would carry one hundred and forty employees from the cafeteria on the south-west elevation of Stellar Tower to the north-east elevation conference room in exactly 2.0545 seconds.

    Two hundred and fifty-seven floors from the ground, the swift horizontal movement of people would become as normal as the old-fashioned elevator, in a flush circular climbing motion. Renzo was proud of the name that struck him as he mused over creating a light space between floors 257 and 259.

    Floor 258 wouldn’t exist but dimensional clouds would pass through the space creating forty floating floors above. Now, he just had to work out how the Anvil Crawler would traverse the tract. The possibilities were endless.

    Renzo’s earlier visit to the museum of architecture amused him as he puzzled over the first physical drawing boards with their easel appearance and primitive equipment. Their T-squares and parallelogram apparatus, board rails, weights, protractors and pens. Actual hand-held lead pencils. Renzo shuddered at the thought. He studied old photos of his predecessors standing at these contraptions. How did they ever measure anything correctly? How many errors led to the catastrophic collapses he’d read about in past natural disasters. What chance had they in that early world of human calculation?

    Stellar Tower would be the first of its kind. It would launch Renzo as a pioneer in his field. As he hovered through the virtual space between Floors 257 and 259 he could see his own hologram mirrored and transparent. The supporting structure could be invisible.

    If the structure at Floor 258 could be invisible, then why not the entire tower?

    Stellar Tower, at the junction of Cumulus Eleven and Nebula Twelve. Follow the Anvil Crawler beams.

    11+

    • 27 January 2017 at 2:39 pm

      I love how you brought the past and the future together in a really believable way. Excellent!

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Some great imagery here, I was already floating in that space between floors with the architect. Perfectly believable.

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      27 January 2017 at 6:16 pm

      Another wonderful story. Is that a castle in the clouds?

      0

  4. 27 January 2017 at 4:13 am

    Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    @miladyronel
    218 words
    Architect/ Skyscraper/ Crime
    One Step Closer

    His tie escaped its clip and slapped Michael in the face. The wind was picking up ferocity where he stood on the roof, watching his creation forlornly.

    ‘You can’t stop this.’

    Michael didn’t need to turn his head: he recognised the speaker’s voice. It was the voice that had coerced him to design this monstrosity.

    ‘I’ve wished I could find a way to disappear…’ Michael shook his head. ‘Everything is now so clear.’

    Swallowing, he turned to the crime boss in red. He was one step closer to the truth.

    ‘You never planned to keep the city hostage – you were planning to kill them all from the start. And I helped you by designing this awful tower on top of my beautiful skyscraper.’

    ‘Well, if we destroy one city’s populace, the rest of the world will be willing to pay anything to stay safe.’

    ‘Don’t come any closer,’ Michael held up his hands, still trying to summon the courage to push the detonator that would destroy the dispersion apparatus.

    The crime boss lunged at him. Michael fell over his own feet as he tried to evade the reaching hands. A terrified scream rent the air.

    ‘No! Stephanie!’

    Looking over the edge, he saw his fiancée lying on the sidewalk far below, nothing more than a speck of red.

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Great take on the prompt, Ronel. We shared two of the elements. Nice twist here.

      0

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Like the twist – even if I share the same name as your crime boss. Would never try and destroy the rest of the world – except in my stories 🙂

      0

  5. Nic
    27 January 2017 at 8:21 am

    Scarface’s Babydoll.

    I had been traveling for a while. I had met this sweet thing in the bar I was working at while I considered my next move. She had sidled up to me and asked for a vodka on the rocks. Right there I knew she was my girl. She had been playing pool. The local hustler didn’t think much of her until she cleaned the floor with him. That’s when things got interesting. He was having none of it and accused her of hustling. She just said never judge a book by its cover. Packed away her cue and walked out. I jumped the bar and ran to after her. She let me keep chasing. We ended up in Chicago. The haven for bootleggers, grifters and hustlers. She said her pa lived here. She never said he was Scarface, an ex-con. I had heard of him in Brooklyn. He was renowned for taking out the little guy.

    I greeted him and my eyes lasered in on his. He did the same to me. “Baby Doll, who is this?” inquired her father. His scar twitching. “It’s Frank” Her father’s face began to throb. Had I known, I would have left her cute ass in Brooklyn but this was to sweet to let up. “Hey Al, your daughter has a sweet ass and I mean that as a compliment”, smirked Frank. Al slammed the whiskey down and charged towards me. I ducked and he slammed into the wall. I grabbed his daughter’s hand and ran for the stairs. She stopped. I looked at her. She steeled against me. Tears bubbling to the surface. I ran. She wasn’t worth sleeping with the fishes.

    Word Count:
    @InquisiHedgehog
    Convict /Chicago /Memoir

    3+

    • Nic
      27 January 2017 at 8:22 am

      Sorry, forgot to put the word count in: 281

      0

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Sad and a little wicked, Nic. Well done.

      0

    • 27 January 2017 at 2:35 pm

      Love it Nix! Good story line 🙂

      0

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:22 pm

      Think he made the right choice in scarpering. Who would want Capone as their girlfriend’s dad?

      0

  6. Nic
    27 January 2017 at 8:25 am

    I love it.

    0

  7. 27 January 2017 at 8:43 am

    Convict prison camp memoir 299 words

    @geofflepard

    Solitary Confinement Can Still Be Crowded

    Jospeh slumped onto the sofa, watching the flickering TV. He wondered who had turned it on.
    The woman fussed and talked, incoherent babble competing with the shouting TV and its babbling incoherent images.
    He wondered who the woman was. His daughter maybe. Did he have a daughter? It felt like he did. He let the word ‘daughter’ roll around his mouth like a mint. He’d like a mint. Extra strong. Like Uncle Peter used to bring from..
    ‘Your daughter’s dead, Joseph. We went to her funeral last year. You remember? You liked the lilies.’
    ‘Mint.’
    ‘No, dear, lilies. Shall I bring some? Would you like that?’
    He nodded and received a smile in return. He’d really like a mint. ‘Is Peter coming?’
    ‘Who’s Peter, dear?’ The woman went back to whatever she was doing.
    Jospeh tried to remember if Peter had that moustache. He rubbed his top lip, feeling the stubble. It made a nice feeling on his finger. Slowly he rubbed back and forth. The phone rang but Joseph kept rubbing.
    ‘Hello? Yes, Maureen. Yes, my week this week. Your father’s been talking. About your sister and some flowers at her funeral and someone called Peter.’
    Joseph looked at the woman. ‘Is Peter coming?’ He went back to his rubbing.
    ‘Yes, he’s asked again. His uncle? Is he still alive…? No I suppose not; he’d be over 100. Yes, well, it’s good when he has these moments, isn’t it? Like he’s found a way out briefly. Horrid to be trapped so.’
    Maureen made tea. She stopped his rubbing, the lip looking sore. ‘So what was Peter like?’
    Jospeh looked blank.
    ‘This is so cruel. You’ve known so much, so many people and now it’s like you’re a prisoner in your own head.’
    Joseph nodded. ‘Yes, a mint, please.’

    5+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 9:46 am

      Oh, this is so sad and I love the title and it reminds me of so many people I know. Well done, Geoff, for capturing the imprisoned.

      0

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:25 pm

      What a terrible way to end up, a prisoner of yourself. Beautifully written.

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      27 January 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Such a sad story. Great writing.

      0

  8. 27 January 2017 at 10:25 am

    Architect/Prison Camp/Memoir
    Word count: 300

    P.O.W.

    I guess when you think about it, memories can deceive you over time. Sometimes I sit quietly and remember those days. Memories are kept behind closed doors so that no one else can see the horror. It’s strange, but when I remember that time, I see it in black and white, like an old photograph. It must be my mind’s way of protecting me. Of what I wonder? I’ve already lived through it. Maybe the memories are devoid of color because there wasn’t much color to begin with. The sky was grey, the barracks were grey, our uniforms were grey, what little food we got given was grey. I shift uncomfortably in my chair. When it rains, the welt shaped scars on my back throb in anticipation of nothing.

    The camp was large with rows of barracks set against a backdrop of barbed wire. I looked at it from every angle. Escaping wasn’t really the problem for a few architects and engineers but staying under the radar was. We kept getting caught and brought back alive as we were the strongest. Also, the regular German foot soldier was simply doing his job. He didn’t much care for killing.

    Eighteen months I sat waiting for deliverance and when it came, it was in the form of an American. We were told to make two lines. I stood in one, my friends in another. The other line was taken away by the Russians. None of them would ever be heard from again.

    Some things remain burned into your DNA, like the smells and sounds of the camp. Sounds of laughter that seemed so out of place in the grey purgatory that we called “home”.

    I gently caress a flower in my hand and bring my mind back into color. Back into now.

    5+

    • Nic
      27 January 2017 at 10:34 am

      Loved the end line. I felt the despair of the architect.

      1+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 10:45 am

      This is just beautiful, Angelique.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Lovely. Particularly that last line.

      1+

    • Sian Brighal
      27 January 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Wonderful. I agree… that last line is awesome.

      1+

  9. 27 January 2017 at 10:27 am

    Dana Faletti
    @danafaletti
    300 words
    Convict, Chicago, Romance

    THE GANGSTER’S GIRLFRIEND

    My lover is a legend.
    My lover is a ghost.
    Infamous yet invisible, he dares to appear.
    He takes my wrinkled hand in his and whispers–
    “Hey, doll, plant one on me.”
    Amidst lights and music and onlookers galore, I oblige him like I never could in life.
    Out in the open, under The Centennial Wheel’s lights, my lips brush his.
    His kiss is all cinnamon and whiskey.
    His kiss is girlhood on the precipice of desire.
    His kiss is the stoppage of time.

    Seventy years ago, I was barely a woman
    With taut skin and rouged lips, my innocence invited guilty men.
    Maybe they hoped to wash away sins in my fountain of youth.
    Their offers never ceased.
    I smiled and served them Templetons in exchange for good wages but nothing else.
    Until the day his black eyes grazed my face, lighting me hotter than the burn of bootlegged whiskey on a pure girl’s tongue.
    He was my one and only.

    Seventy years ago, public rendezvous were perilous.
    And, though danger was like breath for him,
    He’d never dirty my name with his reputation.
    We’d meet in dusky backrooms of speakeasies.
    In the kitchen at Diamond Joe’s after closing time.
    In abandoned alleys littered with bottles and stray bullets and blood.
    We were desperate for each other.
    But the world was desperate for vindication.
    I wanted him – his hands, his mouth, his breath – despite his sins.
    The world wanted justice.

    Eleven years he was caged.
    Eleven years my desire was caged with him.
    His death freed us.

    Now my phantom lover appears to quench my hunger.
    I finger the scar on his cheek and sigh.
    I am old.
    But our passion is beyond time’s bounds.
    “Al, honey,” I murmur, eternal lust coating my voice. “Let’s get out of here.”

    5+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 12:47 pm

      This is my first time reading one of your stories, Dana. Love the way you tell this, eking out the story, the detail, the passage of time.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Loved the way you brought out the narrative here, great sense of time and place.

      1+

    • Sian Brighal
      27 January 2017 at 6:30 pm

      I loved the way you described their innocence, guilt and compulsion for each other.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 7:40 pm

      I have to agree with the comments of everyone else, Dana. This is a beautifully told story.
      [ However, you still haven’t quite got to grips with the required elements. You need to choose a CHARACTER, a SETTING and a GENRE; you have a SETTING and two GENRES. ‘Gangster’ isn’t one of this week’s elements, but you could have ‘Outlaw’ as the CHARACTER, ‘Chicago’ as the ‘SETTING and ‘Romance’ as the GENRE. Are you happy for me to amend your entry with these elements? ]

      1+

      • 27 January 2017 at 7:49 pm

        Hi Geoff! Thanks! I accidentally wrote crime instead of convict, so my elements should say Chicago/Convict/Romance – I think those were the assigned ones (unless I’m looking at another week again lol.) Thanks so much for changing it for me!

        0

        • 27 January 2017 at 8:06 pm

          OK, ‘Convict’ is a better fit for CHARACTER than ‘Outlaw’. Elements amended – in the correct order… 😉

          0

          • 27 January 2017 at 8:08 pm

            Thanks Geoff! I appreciate it.

            0

  10. Richard Edenfield
    27 January 2017 at 11:28 am

    Stealing Buster Keaton
    ___________________

    The best place to steal cars is at a drive-in. I love drive-in theaters. When a war picture is playing like Hacksaw Ridge. All the gunfire distracts, you escort them from the vehicle, and drive off. They actually even try to be quiet so as not to disturb other filmgoers. I did this when I was younger but there are very few drive-ins now, so I travel the country and find one still left over from a bygone era as some movie dinosaur and lay in wait. I have a friend that helps me. His name is Buster Keaton. Just like the comedian. Buster Keaton and I have stolen five cars. Each car we call by the name of the movie that was playing when we stole it like Porsche Sting and Dodge Dart Dory.

    One day Buster Keaton was trying to start a jeep when the driver attacked him and threw him in the backseat. I was on crowd control watching out and it happened so fast there was nothing I could do. The violence corresponded to the action on-screen so no one even flinched. That was Lethal Weapon Buick. It drove off with Buster Keaton in the backseat. Finally, they dumped Buster on the side of the road by the theater.

    I don’t steal cars anymore. Buster Keaton comes over from time to time and we watch movies the boring way on television. You can’t feel the wind in your hair or see a girl making out in the window next to you. This is the future. Where everyone is safe. He gets popcorn from the microwave and we watch The General. It is his favorite. I have it on DVD and he has tried to take it from me several times. Just for old times sake.
    _______________________

    Outlaw/Road Trip/Comedy
    (300 words)

    7+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 12:04 pm

      A fabulous trip down memory lane, Richard. Classy character names too! Love it.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:11 pm

      The General is a great film but may offer a word on the excellent Disney effort The Great Locomotive Chase with Fess Parker. Thanks for the memories , Richard, and, also, the fun story. So, out of curiosity, how many in the Flash community will admit to sneaking into Drive-Ins in the trunk? I certainly won’t.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Naming the cars after films, a nice touch.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 8:26 pm

      I love the details: that folks having their wheels purloined don’t wish to disturb other patrons and that Buster Keaton tries to nick the DVD of ‘The General’ for old time’s sake. 😀
      Great job, Richard.

      1+

  11. A.J. Walker
    27 January 2017 at 11:58 am

    An Unexpected Pizza

    The low sun cast precise shadows from the blinds in the restaurant window; Gemma’s eyes highlighted like the Mask of Zorro. David shivered, her eyes are what he missed most and the sun was in tune with him.

    He gently squeezed her hand. ‘Seems like it’s been forever,’ she said.

    ‘Been kinda out of circulation, my love. Killing me.’

    She pulled her hand away and picked up the pizza menu. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you were getting released? I’d have met you. Sorted a meal at home, a party or whatever.’

    David coughed into a fist. ‘Well, it came as a surprise to me too. To be honest I wasn’t so much released as… kind of escaped.’

    Gemma dropped the menu, and her mouth dropped open like a sink hole. “What the hell?’

    ‘It’s a long story. The opportunity just fell into my lap. Then I couldn’t not see you and get myself a proper Chicago pizza, could I?’ He shrugged. ‘I’ll hand myself in later. You’ll have to bash me on my head or something and I’ll claim I was bopped on the head by someone involved in the escape. I’ll say I’ve amnesia.’

    ‘Shit, David. We’ve got, what… a few hours and we’ve come for pizza. Shouldn’t we be making better use of your time?’ She smiled cheekily.

    David shook his head. ‘We had our first date here, remember? I’ve relived it every night. And I want to do it again now. Then we can go back to yours.’

    ‘You’re so romantic. Pizza, a bottle of wine and a bit of lovin’…’

    David beckoned over the waitress. ‘A bottle of your finest house rioja and two Neapolitans.’

    Gemma took his hand. ‘Our usual.’

    ‘I’ve had it every night, my love.’

    ‘But without the benefits!’

    ‘Or the calories.’

    ____
    WC:300
    @zevonesque
    convict/ Chicago/ romance

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Love the dialogue here, AJ. Great story.

      1+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Ah, but will she be able to bring herself to hit him?

      1+

    • 28 January 2017 at 9:31 am

      They finished their meal with two Neapolitans… Mario and Violetta – nice people!
      Sweet tale, AJ.
      [ Ordering a bottle from a wine region of Spain, though… Mamma Mia! ]

      1+

  12. 27 January 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Hearts and Flowers

    113 words
    Elements: Outlaw, Chicago, Romance

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Today Tommy Gun wrote a love letter. The Chicago Typewriter printed it. Red ink on a parchment of cream silk. Bullets of hunger and desire fired in a frenzy of yearning.

    Tommy sent flowers, a silver spray blossoming on receipt into that blush of recognition. The keys of the Typewriter recorded the assignation with its own stream of passion, a hot-headed frenzy, steel ribbon shredded in the heat of the moment becoming the confetti celebrating their union.

    Today Tommy wrote a poem and the Typewriter recited it. A Valentine sonnet, delivered with scarlet roses. Star-crossed ardour scored in iambic pentameter.

    Today Tommy found love. But tomorrow – ever inconstant – he’ll seek another.

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 3:44 pm

      A romance from Steph! I’m floored. You’re good at this, Steph. Multi-genre writing from now on.

      1+

    • 28 January 2017 at 8:18 am

      I really shouldn’t read Microcosms entries in the small hours of the morning, when my brain is mush from finishing a so-so submission.
      Having re-read this after a sleep, Steph, I can appreciate all the imagery, subtle and not so subtle – I missed ‘Tommy Gun’ until just now!
      Like Alva said, it seems that your comfort zone extends beyond just straightforward horror. More, please!

      1+

      • 28 January 2017 at 8:29 am

        On reading it again, I realised that I had to look up ‘Chicago Typewriter’… Clever stuff, Steph!
        [ “Star-crossed livers“! 🙂 ]

        1+

  13. Firdaus Parvez
    27 January 2017 at 3:06 pm

    @firdausp
    (300words)

    Magic

    Rain was coming down hard. I bumped along in my little car, trying to avoid potholes, not missing many. Every few kilometres I’d come upon a little town or village, mostly deserted. Traffic was sparse and no vehicle had overtaken me in a while. It was nearing dusk, and I thought I might be lost.
    That’s when I saw him on the roadside. He had a large plastic sheet over his head. I stopped beside him to ask for directions. He was headed the same way and so, against my better judgement, I offered him a lift.
    He wasn’t very chatty, offered me a paan, which I declined, so he stuffed it into his cheek. For a while we drove in silence with only the sound of his chomping.
    “So what do you do?” I broke the silence.
    “Cards and magic tricks.”
    “Gambling?”
    He smiled shaking his head.
    He looked to be in his early thirties.
    “I had to retire though, it’s been eighty years.”
    I chuckled, “Eighty years! That would make you—”
    “150 years old.”
    “Ha!” I glanced at him, he was dead serious.
    It then dawned on me, perhaps my passenger was mentally unstable and dangerous too. The latter thought sent a chill down my spine.
    “My favourite trick was the disappearance act,” he whispered and was gone.
    One minute he was there and the next not.
    Slamming the brakes, I thought maybe the passenger door had opened and he had fallen out. I got out of the car and looked around. There was no sign of him. Wet and scared I got into my car and drove like a mad man.
    There was a chuckle from the backseat. I looked into the rear-view mirror. He sat there grinning, his paan-stained teeth exposed.

    Grifter/Road trip/Horror

    5+

    • 27 January 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Oh, that bit when she gets back in the car and he’s behind her – great stuff!

      1+

      • Firdaus Parvez
        27 January 2017 at 10:02 pm

        Thank you. Horror isn’t my genre and you’re so good at it. I’m glad you liked it.

        0

    • Alva Holland
      27 January 2017 at 3:46 pm

      The stuff that nightmares are made of. At least, the ones that don’t involve sharks in swimming pools. Great story, Firdaus.

      1+

      • Firdaus Parvez
        27 January 2017 at 10:03 pm

        Thank you so much

        0

    • Sian Brighal
      27 January 2017 at 6:42 pm

      Chilling!

      1+

      • Firdaus Parvez
        27 January 2017 at 10:04 pm

        Thank you. I’m glad you think so

        0

  14. Sian Brighal
    27 January 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Sian Brighal
    @sian_ink
    293 words
    Pool hustler/Road Trip/Memoir

    Road Trip Diversion

    It was ’67 and looking for work had pulled me halfway across state, through bloated, busy towns aspiring to be cities and cities collapsing down into black holes. For the last ten months, a few days’ worth of work here, few weeks there, had fuelled the great hunt for something more suitable. It was like eating hand to mouth, but enough to get me closer to that ideal.

    But then, every now and again, towns like Redrock rose up.

    Small towns like this were goldmines. The locals were caught up in the heady giddiness of catching up with their bigger cousins, eager to impress newcomers: like a young kid showing off. And there was always a bar and pool.

    I’d hoped to clean up and clear out that night: be halfway to another thousand miles closer to a decent living.

    The bar was typically dark and smoky with tables grouped in tight formation around a space for dancing and a long bar ran down one side, haunted by men and their troubles. But there she was! The green baize under patterned glass lamps like a green pasture in a ray of divine light to a man walking across a desert….and upon it grazed lambs.

    I knew the routine, played my part…all was sweet pickings, but then she came and picked up a cue. She was stunning and knew it, with bright eyes and a mouth that could have tempted snakes to bite apples. Maggie. Nineteen and more wisdom than most of the old men sitting in their cocoons of light and solitary misery at the bar. And she knew my play.

    She asked for a game…no money…just a night. How could I lose?!

    But she hustled me good. One night became twenty years.

    4+

    • 27 January 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Oh, nicely played, Sian. You hustled me into thinking this was going in a predictable direction, then you sunk the black ball with that last line. Good stuff!

      1+

      • Sian Brighal
        28 January 2017 at 5:12 am

        Thank you, Geoff

        0

    • Firdaus Parvez
      28 January 2017 at 1:59 am

      Wow! Nicely told. Some great lines and the twist at the end just superb.

      1+

      • Sian Brighal
        28 January 2017 at 5:13 am

        Thank you…glad you liked it!

        1+

    • Alva Holland
      28 January 2017 at 2:30 am

      Oh, I love this! From the first enveloping line to the last punch. Wonderfully done, Sian.

      1+

      • Sian Brighal
        28 January 2017 at 5:14 am

        Thanks, Alva. Happy you enjoyed it

        0

  15. 27 January 2017 at 6:39 pm

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDog
    300 words
    Convict / Skyscraper / Comedy

    Slipping the Surly Bonds of Earth

    Edison Jamal lay on the ER bed, rolling in agony. Not literally rolling: his right wrist being cuffed to the rail restricted his movements.

    “Quit bellyachin’, Jamal,” said McAndrews, the Correctional Officer who’d escorted the convict from Cook County Jail.

    “Where my Momma!” Edison wailed.

    “You a grown man or a child? You gotta visitor due directly.”

    #

    The girl was no more than twelve.

    “DeeDee! What you doin’ here, sis?”

    “Momma too sick to come.”

    McAndrews scanned the girl with a metal detector. The device beeped near her face; DeeDee grinned, revealing metal orthodontic braces. McAndrews nodded, then stood, eyebrows raised, as brother and sister played tonsil hockey.

    “Jeez! Pretty close family, huh?”

    #

    “Need me a bathroom break,” McAndrews said after DeeDee left. Edison retrieved the metal lock pick his sister had transferred from her mouth to his, and got to work.

    #

    The convict headed quickly to the emergency stairwell. On the top floor, he found what DeeDee had left. He changed into the black jumpsuit, put on the backpack. Opening the door to the roof, he ran to the rear edge. He attached a static line from the backpack to the guard rail, then jumped…

    The parachute opened and inflated, and Edison whooped with joy as he began his descent to freedom. Chicago, however, is rightly called The Windy City; a sudden squall blew the escapee against the side of the building, shattering his knee, and the violent deceleration as the chute snagged on illuminated signage caused his shoulder to dislocated. He cried out in real agony, as he swung in front of the window where McAndrew looked out, bulging eyes and slack jaw betraying his astonishment.

    “You gonna bust a leg, pop a shoulder,” Edison told himself philosophically, “a hospital’s gotta be the best place to do it.”

    2+

  16. Richard Edenfield
    27 January 2017 at 7:21 pm

    All That is Left
    ____________

    The perfect lawn sparkling with a soft green undercurrent of fluorescent lights that flutter on and off punctuating a hushed silence as a hunter aims down a smooth barrel toward a perfectly round night. He pulls the trigger and a quick pulse of blue from the tip explodes as the projectile launches across the table. A loud crack and then the prey falls into a pre-dug grave neatly tucked into a corner of the property. It travels down a chute to join the others. He moves to careening applause. He walks around and grabs the triangle and makes a pyramid out of a rainbow as if angels of ancient Egypt playing with laser crayons on palette of deftly arranged heaven. He removes the triangle and walks to the other end. He travels with the confidence of a cloud in armour. He grabs the chalk and spins his cue. It starts to rain outside. And the rainbow disappears into drains all around. The slow dripping. Like birds chirping in winter. Then it stops. Money is exchanged. Coats are found. And the evening launches a million pieces of sensation that wrap around his frame like a perfect shot that causes his soul to fall into the eyes of another. Streetlights lean a dark parade. His shoes are heavy in the Chicago water. He arrives home and pours a drink. He sits by a window with pen in hand. Several candles are bowing to a table. Their light ticks like a drunk clock. Being alone has become his living. Cutting everything out to remember himself. To be himself. All that is left: a television flashing noise against a peeling sky. The pen levels on paper and he starts to run the table with neat lines bringing him home to a place he once knew.

    (300)
    Pool Hustler/Chicago/Memoir

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      28 January 2017 at 2:31 am

      Brilliant! ‘Cutting everything out to remember himself’ just one of many memorable lines here. Great job, Richard.

      1+

    • Sian Brighal
      28 January 2017 at 5:25 am

      I really loved the description of pool. A rainbow draining down gutters. There was no colour when alone, but the ink and paper seemed more home than around the table.

      1+

    • 29 January 2017 at 7:35 am

      This is beautiful and haunting. I love “the rainbow disappears into drains all around.” So much imagery here, and so many emotions evoked. Dark and lovely.

      1+

  17. 27 January 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Caleb Echterling
    @CalebEchterling
    300 words
    Architect/Skyscraper/Romance

    ISO Tall, Strong, Sturdy Type

    “There’s no name on these flowers. How do I know who gets them?” the lobby guard asked.

    “My job was delivering them to the Chrysler Building. The rest is your problem,” said the florist. “Might I suggest keeping them yourself?”

    “Do I look like the kind of guy who wants a dozen roses on his desk?”

    The florist’s eyes danced over the blue uniform covering a belly-bulge and a crew cut nestled inside a black trucker’s hat. “Nah, you look more like a tulip man.”

    The lobby guard’s groans harmonized with the squeak of chair legs on tile. “Leave ’em on the desk. I’ll deal with it later.” He took wide, waddling steps as he hitched his pants over Mount Midsection. The old woman whispering to the lobby walls gave no acknowledgement of his presence. Her fingertips traced circles over the black and white checkered marble. Hushed compliments fluttered from her lips. The guard cleared his throat.

    “I’m sorry if I’m causing trouble,” the woman said. “My name’s Leslie, and I’m the architect who did the drawings for this building. Not many women designed skyscrapers back then, you know. Now that I’m retired, I’m visiting my old projects. Like rekindling an old flame. Hope you don’t mind me coming here.”

    The lobby guard popped the brim of his hat with an index finger. “Not at all, ma’am. Stop by as often as you like.”

    For the next three Wednesdays, Leslie walked into the lobby minutes ahead of a dozen roses with no name. On the fourth Wednesday, tenants of 405 Lexington Avenue arrived to a gaping hole in the ground.

    In Central Park, Leslie and the Chrysler Building traded licks on a ice cream cone. Their hands intertwined. “I’m glad we got back together after all these years,” she said.

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      28 January 2017 at 2:34 am

      Wonderful build-up here, Caleb. I think every security man in the world has a story worth telling!

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      28 January 2017 at 5:20 am

      More like a tulip man….lol. Lovely ending. Keep thinking that someone needs to throw one of the rose bouquets

      0

    • 28 January 2017 at 7:41 am

      The logical side of my brain wanted to ask how Leslie and the Chrysler Building got to Central Park, but then I realised the answer was obvious: Yellow Cab.
      Wonderful description of the lobby guard: ‘He took wide, waddling steps as he hitched his pants over Mount Midsection.’ (definitely a tulip man!) [ The only thing missing was the apostrophe in his “trucker’s cap”, but I sorted that out for you. 😉 ]
      Great piece of romantic whimsy, Caleb!
      (I once had a heated debate with one of my Twitter pals about ‘Leslie’ being the masculine form of the name, and that it should be ‘Lesley’ for a female: he bombarded me with a host of female celebs called Leslie, so I won’t bring that up…)

      0

  18. 29 January 2017 at 10:50 am

    I hope I;ve done this correctly and my entry is acceptable.

    I spun and my three elements are:
    LAWYER, SKYSCRAPER, ROMANCE

    High Flyer

    Divorce was such a messy business.
    Luckily in this case there were no children, but he saw it ending in bitterness and expense.
    He rubbed his hands in glee.
    Just how he liked them.

    These were the kind of cases that had made him rich.
    Cases where, thanks to his exorbitant fees, he’d been able to set himself up in executive offices overlooking the city, some seventy five storeys above the minions going about their daily business below.

    Mr and Mrs Getz were due to arrive at ten thirty.
    He had the file in front of him, and it appeared to be a simple case of adultery.
    MR was twenty years her senior and loaded, but MRS wanted the High Life and with it younger men. She had come unstuck as one of her Toy Stallions just happened to be related to a friend of her husband and had bragged about the Rich Bitch he’d been servicing in the car wash.
    He chuckled.
    Oh yes, he could have some fun with this one, and make a fortune out of it.
    Hell, maybe he’d have his own building in a few years.

    ‘Mr Getz has arrived for his ten thirty appointment, Sir,’ his assistant told him on the intercom.
    ‘Please show them in, Audrey,’
    Adjusting his tie, he stood as a distinguished man in his early fifties breezed into the room.
    He was alone.

    Without offering his hand, he threw an envelope on the table and said
    ‘I regret my wife won’t be able to join you for your weekly romantic rendezvous Mr Allen. My personal lawyers will be in touch as she has named you as Co-Respondent in our divorce.’

    Shakily sitting down, this could ruin him, as he’d had no idea his mistress was married.

    (296 words)

    0

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