Thank you to everyone who submitted a story to Microcosms 56. We had 16 entries this week.
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 John Herbert for judging MC 56. Here’s what he had to say:
It has been a real honour but a very difficult task to judge such a strong selection. I would recommend the experience to anyone, and it leaves me even more respectful of the talent that resides on this site and the supportive nature of this writing community. It is rare indeed that I spend a weekend spanning work from three continents (at least) in less than 5000 words. Thanks to one and all for their fine efforts.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Josh Bertetta – 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.
Bill Engleson – Things were squirming out of control there.
Alva Holland – As he hovered through the virtual space between Floors 257 and 259 he could see his own hologram mirrored and transparent.
Ronel J. van Vuuren – It was the voice that had coerced him to design this monstrosity.
Nicola Tapson – Her father’s face began to throb.
Geoff Le Pard – He let the word ‘daughter’ roll around his mouth like a mint.
Angelique Pacheco – The sky was grey, the barracks were grey, our uniforms were grey, what little food we got given was grey.
Dana Faletti – With taut skin and rouged lips, my innocence invited guilty men.
Richard Edenfield – Buster Keaton comes over from time to time and we watch movies the boring way on television.
A J Walker – ‘Well, it came as a surprise to me too. To be honest I wasn’t so much released as… kind of escaped.’
Steph Ellis – Red ink on a parchment of cream silk.
Firdaus Parvez – He sat there grinning, his paan-stained teeth exposed.
Sian Brighal – She was stunning and knew it, with bright eyes and a mouth that could have tempted snakes to bite apples.
Geoff Holme – McAndrews nodded, then stood, eyebrows raised, as brother and sister played tonsil hockey.
Richard Edenfield – His shoes are heavy in the Chicago water.
Caleb Echterling – “Nah, you look more like a tulip man.”
Bill Engleson – Night Worms
Some wonderful phrases and sense of idiom and clear image created of the protagonist and his world.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Firdaus Parvez – Magic
Great closure to the piece. Contains the classic enigma and shock of a horror story with strong noir elements, but placing them in an Indian setting refreshed the form.
Angelique Pacheco – P.O.W.
A very close run thing between this and the winner. The use of flashback and a killer final paragraph made this a poignant, well-imagined, tightly-controlled story.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 56.
(insert drumroll here)
Alva Holland – Renzo’s Crawl Space
Architect / Skyscraper / Science Fiction
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.
Dana Faletti – THE GANGSTER’S GIRLFRIEND
This is prose poetry, marked for its control of line and a strong sense of imagery, construction of place and wonderful, poignant balance between the narrative present and the past. The strong rendering of Chicago and the touching end to the romance won through.
Chicago, Crime, Romance
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.”
Congratulations, Dana. As this week’s Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge Microcosms 57. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!