Microcosms 57

Welcome, one and all, to Microcosms 57.

Here at Microscosms, every week is storytelling week. In the UK, however, we have been celebrating National Storytelling Week which seeks to promote “the oral tradition of storytelling, the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination.”

In a sense, singer-song writers are oral storytellers.

03-FEB-1959 has become known as “The Day The Music Died”, being referenced as such by Don McClean in his song “American Pie”.

It’s the day rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with pilot Roger Peterson.

Waylon Jennings and Dion (DiMucci) did not take a seat on the plane.



(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 TWO things: song title and genre.

We spun, and our two elements are – song title: I’ve Always Been Crazy, and genre: Crime.

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 TWO elements you’re using AND a title for your entry.

  • Crying, Waiting, Hoping
  • Come On, Let’s Go
  • Chantilly Lace
  • I’ve Always Been Crazy
  • The Thunderer
  • If I Only Had A Match
  • Romance
  • Crime
  • Thriller
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Comedy


Judging this week is Microcosms 56 Judge’s Pick, Dana Faletti.

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 58
Microcosms 56

30 thoughts on “Microcosms 57

    1. Well done, Geoff. Would you mind putting in the missing quotation mark at the beginning of the ninth line of my story? Thanks.

  1. Louie Langhorne’s Back in Town so Lock Your Doors, Shutter Your Windows, and Hold Your Nose

    There I go again, passing wind in Delmonico’s Deli. I surprized myself. Clarice was down wind of me, sizing up pork hocks. She’d left me hovering over the cheese section for just a few moments and the urge just came over me.

    Before she’d stepped away, she’d given me the old Happy House for Hopeless Idgets standard lecture. “Louie, behave! This is your last chance. You know it’s your last chance, don’t you? We have to live in this neighbourhood and you need to be presentable.”

    Presentable. They even have a list. They keep it on the friggin’ fridge.

    a. I will not pick my nose.
    b. I will also not pick my butt
    c. I will not pick up anything that isn’t mine
    d. I will not spit on the sidewalk
    e. I will not spit anywhere
    f. I will not fart in public
    g. I will only fart in the john
    h. I will not pick my nose (just in case you forgot)

    So, I thought I was being quiet, fluttering out a little gas bomb, quieter than when I was a kid and I’d stick a playing card in my bike spokes and listen to the flap and flicker.

    I loved that sound.

    I looked over and Clarise was giving me the old Happy House den mother stare.

    She has remarkably good hearing.

    I think I’ve come a long way living at Blissful Cottage. That’s Happy House’s real name, by the way. We court-ordered derelicts prefer Happy House. Heck, I hardly steal anymore. Or look in windows. And I never get caught. That’s like my main rule. Don’t get caught. It’s my religion.

    I’m mostly working on my personal habits.

    I am such a cheeky bastard.

    And sometimes, I just don’t give a fig, you know!

    Song title; I’ve Always Been Crazy
    Genre; crime/memoir
    299 fat flatulent thoughts

  2. Alva Holland
    Chantilly Lace/Crime
    300 words

    Shootin’ with Da

    ‘Tell me what you know about the Big Bopper.’
    ‘The roller-coaster ride at the summer festival park? Not much except it’s scary.’
    ‘Not that Big Bopper, son. The original, the musician who was killed in a plane crash in 1959, along with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the pilot. One of his most famous songs was ‘Chantilly Lace.’
    ‘Jeez, Dad. 1959 was like last century, almost.’
    ‘Have you ever heard the song?’
    ‘Nope, but I know the lace.’
    ‘You know the lace but you don’t know the song?’
    ‘Yea, remember we had to do that project about handmade things and I chose rockets and Teach argued that rockets aren’t handmade and I argued back and Lillian was doing her project on lace, specifically Chantilly lace which she kept harping on wasn’t made in France at all but in Belgium. Chantilly lace, Chantilly lace, she never shut up about it. And the other thing I learned is that it’s almost always black. Do you think that’s why?’
    ‘Why what?’
    ‘Why the lace is black. Because the Big Bopper who sang about it died in a plane crash?’
    ‘I doubt it, son.’
    ‘So why was The Big Bopper singing about handmade black lace?’
    ‘He wasn’t. He was singing about girls, big-eyed girls with pretty faces and pony-tails.’
    ‘No lace connection there then. Weird, huh? Even more weird that the lace was used mainly for mourning. D’ya think the Big Bopper knew that?’
    ‘Big Bopper didn’t get to know lots of things, son – criminal it was, him dying for taking someone else’s place. No justice in that.’
    ‘Bet the other guy was feeling pretty bad too then.’
    ‘Yea, Waylon had to live with that, but, Christ, at least he was alive.’
    ‘Gotta go, Dad. We’re getting better at this, eh?’
    ‘What’s that, son?’

    1. Great story, Alva. You’ve done a lot of research, I see.
      [ Switches to proofreading mode:
      (1) I spotted a missing quotation mark at the end of the line beginning ‘No lace connection…’
      (2) ‘Chantilly lace, Chantilly Lace, she never shut-up about it. ‘ Chantilly Lace as the title of a song should have both words capitalised. My dictionary has an entry for ‘Chantilly lace’ [lace (first) made in Chantilly] You have hedged your bets in this sentence by having one ‘lace’ and one ‘Lace’. Is it OK if I amend all occurrences – apart from said song title – to ‘Chantilly lace’?
      (3) Penultimate sentence: ‘What’s what son?’ Did you mean to say ‘What’s that, son?’]

      1. Haha! You’re probably right. Too much going on with me today. Didn’t have time to wait and double-check my story. Thanks for picking up the pieces.

      2. Proofreading spot-on, Geoff. Many thanks.
        Not so much research as memories of conversations with my mother many moons ago when we all wore mantillas to Mass. Granny used to make them and if she was given Chantilly lace, it was as if she’d been given gold. We got the origin of the lace from family storytelling. Funny the things we remember when prompted! Memories come in useful when writing stories.

      3. That’s wonderful to hear about your oral heritage at the tail (tale?) end of National Storytelling Week.
        Thanks for sharing that with us, Alva.

  3. Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    239 words
    If Only I Had a Match/ Romance
    Under an Immortal Moon

    Light glinted off the broken glass littering the veld. In the distance a pair of plovers were screeching at passers-by.

    It was the perfect setting for a romantic picnic.

    Joan sat down on the checkered blanket and sighed contentedly. She couldn’t wait for Mark to arrive. In a long line of blind-dates, he’s the only one who had agreed to a moonlight picnic.

    Hopefully her long search was over. Hopefully Mark was her match.

    ‘Chilly, isn’t it?’

    Joan smiled as Mark sat down.

    ‘I’m glad you made it.’

    ‘I almost didn’t. Between the plovers attacking from above, the dry grass tangling in my laces and the glass making everything slippery, things nearly got ugly.’

    ‘You’re here now, that’s all that matters.’

    ‘Yeah. Tell me again why we couldn’t have had this picnic in a more traditional setting – like the botanical gardens, for example?’

    ‘That’s so pedestrian. No. Here we have the music of the night…’ she smiled dreamily.

    ‘You know, Joan, that I love you, but –’

    Her head snapped up. ‘What?’

    ‘I love how you like to pretend that we haven’t known each other for the last millennium, it keeps things interesting. But between the drought, people being more aware of our kind and that weird smell in the air, I just can’t play along tonight.’

    ‘Seriously! You promised! Oh, everything’s up in flames…’

    ‘If I had a match, I’d show you flames,’ Mark muttered as Joan cried.

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  4. @Nthito
    I’ve Always Been Crazy/Crime
    300 Words


    “It’s getting worse, Father.”
    Francois knelt within the narrow confines of the confessional. Sweat trickled down his temples, but his clasped hands shivered uncontrollably.
    “The Lord knows our struggles. He sees all and knows all. He will never give you more than you can handle.” The voice replied from beyond the wooden grating separating confessor from absolution.
    “I understand that, Father, but… I literally felt as though my hands were wrapped around her neck and… and I was squeezing. Squeezing. Squeezing! Her neck…” Francois’s whole body began to shiver. Sweat continued to trail down into his collar, while a hollowness suffused his chest and clutched at his heart.
    “It was merely a dream, my child. Perhaps manifestations of impure thoughts you harbour towards her or her sinful occupation?”
    “I don’t even know her.”
    “And yet you recall her with clarity? The Lord said, if you hate your brother in your heart then you have similarly committed murder. Do you hate her?”
    “No, Father! I… may have seen her once? Maybe?”
    “Are you certain my child? You are safe in the house of the Lord.”
    “I…” Francois searched his memories and could recall nothing concrete. A flash of someone, but it was hazy. Fragmented. “Perhaps I’ve always been crazy, Father.”
    “Ephesians tells us our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the forces of darkness.” A sombre silence filled the air. “Pray ten Hail Mary’s. Tonight, I will visit again for special communion.”
    The priest’s door clicked open and suddenly a familiar scent filled Francois’ nose. He looked out the glass portal of the confessional and watched the priest slip a tattered blouse into his vestments. A familiar blouse. He shook his head and turned back to prayer, the suspicion overshadowed by his guilt. He soon forgot about the blouse.

  5. I’ve always been crazy // memoir // 290 words
    I Am The Beast

    We’re moving from Dressing Room to Stage.

    Compare asks: “What kinda music d’ya play?”

    ‘Doc’ looks at him and retorts “Bleedin’ Loud!”

    So up the steps we go. Above the din I hear the compare introducing us:
    “Ladeez’n’Gennel-Men, they’re called FOAD… and they play ‘bleedin’ loud!”

    (Obviously a man with no sense of irony….)

    So we count in…”1 – 2 – er – 7..!”
    And launch into a 90 minute sonic onslaught that’ll make your ears bleed.
    (It’ll also give your girlfriend an Overwhelming Urge to head backstage the moment we finish….)

    Then rip into our Blistering Opener: ‘I Am The Beast’.
    (“You can call me with a whisper, call me with a thought. To smash your dreams & sweet desires, bring your dreams to nought. Around a bend at ninety, I’ll be a diesel slick, Or the bomb you think defused, that now begins to tick! I’m hanging ‘round a train wreck or someone’s bad car smash. I’ll guide you down on a foggy night, and laugh at your plane crash. Because – I – Am – The – Beast….”)

    They like that one.
    (Dunno why. It’s a bleak tale, underpinned by a dubious sense of humour and a hint of madness. Whatever. I’ve always been crazy, even before this Deranged Carnival set out on the road.)

    Later, backstage.

    The dressing room is filling up with groupies, other people’s girlfriends, fans, dealers, even a couple of Vampires come in out of the rain. Guess we hit a positive note here and no mistake. Reporter approaches, asks me about the plane crash reference in ‘I Am The Beast’.

    “Reference to Lynryd Skynrd?”
    “Nah, Big Bopper…”
    “Ah, forgot about him.”
    “Well, now ya got an aide-memoir, think of Beast, think of Big Bopper.”

  6. The life of a Thunderer

    It started when I was a baby. I would do it and everybody would go “Ah cute, look he is smiling” and then grimace when the smell hit them. When I hit my teen years, it wasn’t so cute anymore. Instead I had been banished to the back of the classroom. I sat at the desk closest to the window so when one did accidental rip no-one could smell it. I tried everything to stop it but to avail. So, I decided to embrace it. My friends knew when they heard the rumble in my tummy to give way because else they would need a gas mask. I even entered a talent show. Though I think the smell put the judges off. In the end I thought this talent was of no use until one day. We had been warned that there was bobcat in the forest but we paid no heed to the warning. We wandered through the forest when we stumbled across its den. We knew we were in dangerous territory when we heard the soft mew of her babies. As we turned to walk away. The cat jumped in front of us. Its ears flat against its head and hissing. Luckily, I had snuck in a bean dinner the night before. My friends heard the rumble and covered their noses. I turned around as the cat started to pounce and it hung in mid-air. When it landed, it scurried away. We scurried in the opposite direction. From that day on I was known as the Thunderer.

    Word Count: 266
    The Thunderer/Comedy

  7. I’ve always been crazy / Crime
    Word Count: 293

    Birth of a Psycho

    She giggles as she holds up the binoculars to her eyes. He looks frantic. A crowd surrounds him, some people patting his back. The police have arrived. Some of them are interviewing passersby. The park is crowded today. They are sure going to have their hands full with this one. His shoulders are slumped and his brows are creased with worry. She wants to tell him not to frown. He’ll get wrinkles.

    It would all have been okay if he had just loved me. I wish he had taken the time and energy to make our relationship work. But no, he had become distant then he had moved out. He even took the dog. My dog! Then he came to me and said he wanted time to himself. “It’s not you,” he said, but his eyes showed fear. Soon after that I saw him cavorting around town with Emily, the new love of his life.

    “Coward!” I hiss, as I continue gazing through the lens. From here, I can see he’s pointing to the empty leash while gesticulating wildly with his hands. “He’s going to hit someone with that thing.” I laugh. I was always going to take my dog, Belle, back. I knew his routine and I knew he would be in the park today. The rest was easier than I ever imagined. Distract. Take. Disappear. Easy peasy. I may have gone a touch overboard though.

    A whimper erupts from the back seat of the car. I look at Belle on the seat next to me and rub her head gently. I turn towards the back seat where Emily lies bound and gagged, tears streaking across her face. I look at her and say, I’ve always been crazy.” Then I laugh maniacally.

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  8. 182 words
    I’ve Always Been Crazy / Crime

    Ghost Burglar

    It was McKinley’s night off, and she’d planned on giving them hell for calling her in – but after seeing the spectacle in the interrogation room, she forgot her anger.
    “Who is he?” she asked.
    Bentley passed her a cup of coffee and a file.
    “His name’s Roger Martens,” said Bentley. “We caught him in the vault down on Third. Looks like he’s behind the robberies.”
    “This is the Ghost Burglar?” McKinley said in disbelief.
    They’d been chasing this bank robber for months. He came and went from bank vaults like a ghost, and he’d stolen millions of dollars without leaving so much as a clue. Bentley and Markus had made catching the thief their pet project.
    “As far as we can tell, that’s him. One of our traps finally paid off. He struck just where we expected.”
    “Bentley… He’s wearing underwear on his head,” McKinley said. “He’s almost naked otherwise.”
    “Yeah. That’s why we called you, boss. You’re the interrogation expert. We can’t get him to make sense.”
    “It’s going to be a long night,” McKinley said. She wished she’d stayed in bed.

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      1. Was it the Buddy HOLLY connection that coaxed you out of retirement, Holly? Nice to have you back. 😀
        This was an intriguing story: a bank robber like God – moving in mysterious ways. I was looking forward to the epiphany at the end, but it was not to be. What a tease!
        [ Additional info added as requested. ]

  9. I’ve Always Been Crazy, Crime
    @geofflepard 297 words
    After The Singularity
    ‘Another scrambled human, boss.’ Sub Investigator Karma 29 didn’t look up.
    Chief Investigator Zen 10 pursed his lips. ‘Who did it? Sentient or Human?’
    ‘Sentient. No DNA. Fourth this week. Has to be a Cracked.’
    Zen sat and flicked on his screen. ‘Why though? It’s just cruel, draining the intellect. Better off killing them.’
    Karma spun round. ‘Profiling says the Perp needs supplies.’
    ‘Supplies? For what?’
    ‘Seriously hush-hush. Seems this passion for intuition has led to a new process.’
    Zen nodded. Humans were sub-optimal in every regard save intuition. However hard the Sentient engineers worked they’d yet to better Human intuition. ‘Give me the short version.’
    ‘Basically, you drain the brain, distil it, refine out the intellect and then the intuition can be harvested.’
    Zen laughed sourly. ‘Science fiction, surely.’
    Karma shrugged. ‘Some sick Sentient thinks otherwise. Representative Jones is waiting for you.’
    ‘Great. He pissed?’
    ‘You might say that. Makes a change for him to have a reason to complain, eh?’
    ‘Thanks.’ Zen headed for the meeting room. Since the Settlement, there had been few of the frictions between Humans and Sentients that led to so much bloodshed. Controlling the Human population had to happen but it hadn’t been popular with both sides.
    ‘Horace, good to see you.’
    ‘You too, Zen. What’s happening?’
    ‘We’re sure it’s a Sentient. Probably overridden his passivity coding.’
    ‘We don’t…’
    ‘I heard it’s another attempt to download intuition.’
    Zen stared at the Human. How come he already knew? ‘Horace…’
    ‘Yeah, okay, you can’t say. But he has to be crazy, right? A Cracked?’
    ‘A bloody clever one. A psychotic Sentient is a scary thought.’
    ‘I’ll try and keep it quiet but many more scrambled people and you’ll have another riot.’
    ‘I fear that might just be what our fellow wants.’

  10. @fictionaljenn
    I’ve always been crazy/crime
    296 words

    His touch burns

    A husk was in place of the woman he’d just been talking to. Smoke curled up from it. The smell of burnt flesh forced its way up his nostrils. He realized, as he brought his hands up, that it was his flesh. The veins on his palms glowed orange and sizzled, smoke wafting from his pores, though he felt no pain.

    He looked up and, just outside the streetlight that shone down like a search light on him, a woman stood. Eyes wide and mouth open, an awful scream coming from it. Until he realized those screams were sirens.

    He bolted, past the woman who did scream this time, and tore down the muddier park path, trees either side him. He felt as if shadows followed him, chased him.

    He jerked to a stop when a figure stepped into his way. He tumbled to the ground, rocks tore skin from his cheek.

    He looked up just as a flash exploded through the forest. He covered his eyes, but it was still several seconds before they adjusted. Someone screamed, there was a the roar of fire.

    He reached out and clasped the woman’s hand. Her alluring smile turned into a look of agony, as orange shone from her mouth, like birthing the sun.

    He gasped, blinking away the spots in his eyes. A twig snapped and shoddy trainers came into view.

    “Well, you did a good number on her back there.”

    “No, no, I’ve been taking my meds. Th-this hasn’t happened in three years! I don’t wanna be crazy again! Can’t go back there!”
    The man crouched down and he finally saw that he had three eyes. He smiled, revealing pointed teeth, “Gonna be honest being crazy helps a lot.”

  11. Wind the Bobbin up

    285 words
    Elements: Chantilly Lace/Horror


    New silk was needed. Francois made his way down to the warehouse where huge spools of thread rested on endless racks. But these were not what he wanted. The lace he was about to create needed Chantilly’s finest silk. Further down the aisles he walked, the cold of the ancient stone walls kissing his cheek, a bold courtesan reclaiming her lover. Sounds of industry caught his ear. He smiled. His remorseless apprentices had not let him down and were preparing a new batch of material. Francois slipped round the last rack and through a low archway. Candles gently lit the chamber whilst one of his apprentices hummed an old lullaby; a song from Francois’ childhood, bathing him with nostalgic warmth. He relaxed.

    The two young men glanced at him only briefly before returning to their task. One was filing and shaping the bobbins on which the thread was to be woven. Francois had discovered ivory rather than wooden bobbins were easier to work with … but only the finest bone could be used. The Prince de Condé had provided handsomely in this instance, offering both bone and silk. Francois continued to watch the humming worker engrossed in paring and unravelling the silk from its source. Skilled hands slid into the newly-opened cavity, pulling out glistening tubes to be teased and stretched across the wire lattice on a nearby wall. There they would be left to darken as the air cured them into blackness before being wound onto new spools and placed on the warehouse racks. A generous aristocrat, thought Francois as he slipped the Prince’s velvet coat around his own shoulders, the man had even fed the pigs. The aristocracy had some uses after all.

  12. Iona Winter
    291 words
    I’ve Always Been Crazy/Memoir


    It was my turn to call her.

    ‘Mum?’ I yelled from the back steps. ‘Mum?’

    I heard sniffing underneath the porch. ‘Mum?’

    I crouched low and wiggled the baseboards. The cat screeched out with its fluffed up tail, past my allergic nose and into the night. It wasn’t her.

    ‘Mum, come on now it’s getting late.’

    To be honest, by this stage I was over playing the game where Mum disappeared from the dinner table and one of us went to find her. We did wonder if she’d gone mad.

    ‘Maybe we need to get her checked out?’ my sister suggested.

    But every Sunday night we’d still get together, Mum and us three kids. It was a family ritual. We’d talk about our respective jobs, partners, and the goings on in the world.

    Mum (it was only Mum because there’d been a succession of Dad’s but none who stayed) often commented about her thoughts on world politics. It’s fair to say we didn’t always agree. Her views were a little out there.

    Somehow it was easier to let things slide as we aged, more able to laugh at one another’s ‘wee foibles’ as Mum called them, and engage in robust debates over dinner.

    Nobody got hurt. We all left Mum’s place feeling replete. Each of us loved without question.

    But during those last couple of months Mum had a habit of leaving halfway through. She’d slip out from her place at the table, and not return.

    Then one of us would say, ‘Back soon.’

    I know now that she wanted us to find her, because she was beginning to feel lost.

    That night she was under the pear tree looking up.

    ‘I’ve always been crazy,’ she said, ‘you just didn’t notice.’

  13. With Tears As Full As Guitar Picks Playing My Dreams

    The sound slipping through the air on a water slide of rain falling outside the window countless needles dropping on the ground as the moon spins fragmented melodies and stars listen with diamond-tinted ears.

    My old record player is in my deaf sister’s room. She has been deaf since birth, and this will be the first music she will hear after the implant of the electrical device. I have spent a good portion of my life trying to describe music to my younger sister. Being an aspiring writer, I would explain sound to her with my prose. The entirety of a summer down at the Westport beach trying to illustrate the pulse of Buddy Holly. Tears would play her cheek with perfect notes as I struggled to fuse my poetry with an angle of sunlight that would illuminate the sound of “Not Fade Away.” She would half smile in an effort to be polite as waves brushed sunlight from a retreating shore.

    She walks into the room and sees the record player and laughs. She sat on the bed as I grabbed a record. Christ, I must have written a library trying to describe ‘Everyday’ to her. I touched the disc to the turntable. The stars tipped the windowsill with careful light as the song begun. I hoped it would sound familiar. I waited for her expression. A smile slowly started to form on her face the way I imagine a great poem is born in the heart.

    “It sounds like he is playing my dreams,” she said with an eager moment in her eyes that searched the air as if his voice was coming from some tucked away heaven. We stayed up all night listening. And I could have sworn I heard angels taking notes over our shoulders.
    (299 words)
    Crying, Waiting, Hoping / Memoir

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