Thanks to all of you who celebrated Ruth Rendell’s birthday by submitting a story to Round 59. We had a reasonable 14 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 Nthato Morakabi for judging MC 59. Here’s what he had to say:
Judging Microcosmsfic for the second time doesn’t make the process any easier, let alone when I’ve decided to judge blind. There are some great entries here, and a few clever renditions of well-loved fairy tales. I know it’s difficult to fit it all into 300 words, but well done to all.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – Julie Spittle loved to serve him.
Alva Holland – It was up to her to gather the ashes and prepare the hearth with fresh kindling.
Storm Jarvis – The sun glistened off the walls like thousands of dancing lights.
Ronel J. van Vuuren – …the walls the strange consistency of marshmallows…
John Herbert– Peace lay like a blanket over the land for many years.
Steve Lodge – We are guilty of repeating our mistakes.
Nicola Tapson – She watched the fire flicker and I watched the chestnut highlights in her eyes sparkle.
Geoff Le Pard – Magic was needed for universal health care and keeping yellow-brick roads free of potholes.
Angelique Pacheco – It was easier just to chuck his bones on the chair as she changed the bed then rearrange them again afterwards.
Firdaus Parvez – “I don’t know how the hell your books even sell,” he had shaken his head and stomped off.
Janie – With mere words she built worlds, and tore realities apart.
A J Walker – And the boot face fell to the floor, by the sack of spuds body.
Sian Brighal – For as beautiful as they were, they were soft and fragile creations.
Carin Marais – He’d take those blue depths over the cold light of the moon any day.
Geoff Le Pard – When Trouble Is Baking In Fairyland
I loved this idea of a politician hoping to rebuild the (literally) crumbling palace while keeping the people happy. References to baked goods, and baking clichés topped this “fairy tale” perfectly.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Firdaus Parvez – Plot Twist
I really enjoyed this journey of the author and their protagonist, and the insight into how characters would actually feel during the editing process. Really clever.
Carin Marais – Moonlight for Two
A wonderfully woven tale of Romeo and Juliet revisited. Melancholic. Captivating.
And now, without further ado, we present the winner of Microcosms 59.
(insert drumroll here)
Alva Holland – Pumpkin Season at Government House
Politician; Palace; Fairy Tale
Frances peered around the heavy brocade curtains. Through the misty morning fog, she saw the outline of the official government carriage being prepared for the evening ball at Government House.
Destined for a day – no, a lifetime – of clearing up other people’s messes, Frances turned to the massive fire-grate full of the detritus of bad decisions, greed and over-indulgence. It was up to her to gather the ashes, and prepare the hearth with fresh kindling. Her arms ached, everything ached as she thought of her good-for-nothing stepbrothers upstairs, preening themselves for the ball.
Simon and Leo had it made, she thought as each sweep of the broom raised old soot and dust, memories and vengeance. There was little she could do to prevent it settling through the room. The stepbrothers would be furious. Her miserable life would be made even more so if she didn’t do her job.
Frances set her mind to the task. As she buried herself deeper in dirt, the double doors opened behind her, and the two apparently model men entered the room in a sweep of verbal admonishment.
‘Jesus, Frances, you’ll never have this room ready on time. What’s wrong with you, woman? The dignitaries will be here at 6. You haven’t even started on the mess that is the Justice Department, the Health Service is in turmoil, the budget deficit numbers resemble a poor maths student’s attempt at algebra and the country’s transport system has come to a halt. Get a move on!’
As the two men continued their belligerent tirade, Frances spotted a bright spark in the soot. Digging in, she pulled out a silver wand. Brandishing it, she turned to find two bullfrogs where her stepbrothers had stood.
‘I WILL be leader. I SHALL go to the ball!’ Frances cried.
Sian Brighal – The Mythmaker
Beautiful, vivid descriptions combined with the true essence of a fairy tale: some form of lesson at the end. A well-written piece I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Politician; Palace; Fairy Tale
Not many palaces like this existed, where golden tiles covered the walls and pink marble shimmered on floors, and rainbows pooled as light poured in through painted glass windows arching overhead so that one thought they stood in the bejewelled throat of a waiting bud.
Most of these palaces were long gone…the gold stolen, the marble cracked and the glass shattered; only stories remain of their splendour. For as beautiful as they were, they were soft and fragile creations. It was wise to remember this.
Shy’uan was such a wise man, so when he met travellers on the road, drinking wine and feasting on rich meat, boasting they were close to finding such a place, he bought and poured them better wine and richer meat. He gorged, becoming careless with his wealth, exposing the finery of his clothes, the quality of his silk undershirt, the purses on his waist, swollen with gold and the jewels sewn into his coat.
And when they were drunk, he told them stories of his home, of the proud king he served and the weak army he despaired of and the golden palace that shone as though the sun herself was resting upon the earth, bragging of his city’s bounty and beauty. When they tempted him to tell him where it was, he hiccuped and explained the secret route, for the world was full of clever thieves.
When Shy’uan woke the next morning, the jewels plucked from his coat, the swollen purses cut free and his silk undershirt gone, he smiled. The innkeeper frowned.
‘You’re a foolish gossip, Shy’uan, and you’ve been robbed,’ he sneered.
‘My wealth is a gift,’ the politician answered, ‘To sustain them in their years of fruitless wandering, and my poverty will remind my King of the wisdom in myth.’
Congratulations, Sian. As this week’s Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge Microcosms 60. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!