Microcosms 60

Welcome, flash fictioneers, to Microcosms 60. Time to get your flash mojo working and send us a story.

 

*** ALWAYS REMEMBER AND NEVER FORGET ***

Include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry. 

 

Today – 24 February – in 2006 saw the death of US actor, Dennis Weaver. He had a long and varied career, and was best known for his portrayal of Chester in the long-running TV series ‘Gunsmoke’. Other TV shows and movies in which he appeared include:

‘Touch of Evil’ (1958)
‘Kentucky Jones’ (1964-1965)
‘McCloud’ (1970-1977)
‘Duel’ (1971)
‘The Ordeal of Doctor Mudd’ (1980)
 
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: Veterinarian, setting: Washington D.C., and genre: Comedy.


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 inspires you.

 

*** Once again, be sure to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry. ***


  • Marshal’s Sidekick
  • Night Manager
  • Veterinarian
  • Western Detective
  • Motorist
  • Conspirator
  • Dodge City
  • Motel
  • Horse Ranch
  • Big City
  • Remote Road
  • Washington D.C.
  • Horror
  • Romance
  • Memoir
  • Crime
  • Comedy
  • Poetry

Spin!


Judging this week is Microcosms 59 Judge’s Pick, Sian Brighal.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time (EST) to submit.

*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

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Microcosms 61
Microcosms 59

30 comments for “Microcosms 60

  1. 24 February 2017 at 1:12 am

    300 motels
    @billmelaterplea
    Motorist; motel; romantic comedy

    Belle of the Ball and Chain

    She was a striking woman, full-bodied, and by that, I mean, in the very best way possible, impressive. There was a time when a man could rhapsodize on the virtues of women who chanced into one’s orb.

    Or so I’ve been told.

    It was late on a dusty day. Gusts of swirling grit had blown in the air like mini cyclones of soil. I had showered at dawn, washing away the grime of sifted, ground-up night pebbles that layered me like sprinkled birthday cake. Mid-day, I had given my pasty skin a hosing down.
    .
    She drove up just as the sun skidded out of sight.

    A reconditioned Edsel!

    I’m salivating.

    “Hey, my man,” she flashed her pearly, mostly-whites, gleaming inside that rosary of blood-red lips, “You got a room for a desperate woman?”

    Me, I’m thinking, one of us is desperate, toots, and it sure ain’t you. That’s what I’m thinking. What I’m saying is, and it’s like I’ve got marbles in my yap, “Bubble Boo. Mubble Pre.”

    She looks at me in a quizzical manner, a look I am much practiced at receiving. “Huh, sweetie?” she says, stroking my poor cauliflowered ear, a result of a severe beating by Kid Jocular, the Killer Hyena, back in Jersey more years ago than I care to remember.

    I am flavored yogurt in her soft hand.

    Language returns. “Room number two and three,” I articulate, reasonably on point.

    “I just need the one, sweet ear of corn. Make it number two.”

    I flip the register, and she signs in. Belle Bottomly. From Jersey, no less.

    I hand her the room key.

    She tosses me her car keys. “Be a good boy. Drive Ed out of sight, and bring me my bags.”

    Like I said, she was a striking woman.

    I was love-struck.

    4+
    • Alva Holland
      24 February 2017 at 9:48 am

      Super story, Bill, with sultry tones and the sense of anticipation. Love it.

      0
  2. Alva Holland
    24 February 2017 at 2:50 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    299 words
    Veterinarian/Motel/Comedy

    A Helluva Day At The No-Tell Motel

    ‘Help!

    You’re bloody right, it’s a bloody emergency! No! it won’t be a quick visit. I wish!

    There’s a mutt with the mange in Room 2, a moggy with an ear infection in Room 4, a lunatic human who brought a snake into Room 6 and now can’t find it, a hooting owl in Room 8 – his owner wondered why the bloody thing is awake all night – not a lot of prior research there. And in Room 10, a bleedin’ parrot who’s caught a mouse, dragged it back to its cage for dissection and is chanting ‘Polly’s got a Mickey’ ever since.

    And that’s only the even-numbered rooms. Yes! I need the bloody vet, so can you send him pronto please? What? Christ! Her then – believe me I don’t care what sex the vet is. So long as he or she can sort out this menagerie hitting on me my first day here.

    Do you want to hear the odd-numbered problems? Mrs. Davis in Room 1 brought her two pet rabbits, not wanting to leave them alone with Dastardly Dick the husband, thinking she had two males but you know the rest. Room 1 is overrun with naked pink bunnies. No, not the sort I’m used to.

    Room 3 terrifies me. Four green eyes are peering through the curtain. I’m googling what animals have green eyes, two or four. No result has calmed me.

    There’s a disgusting smell from Room 5 indicating the possible existence of a skunk but who in their right minds would bring a skunk to a motel? Rhetorical. No need.

    Yellow liquid is seeping out from under the door of Room 7 – yes, yellow liquid and no, I am not checking any further.

    Room 9 is closed for fumigation. Thank the Lord.

    SEND THE VET!’

    7+
    • Profile gravatar of Nic
      Nic
      24 February 2017 at 9:18 am

      I love the descriptions of each of the rooms 🙂 very cool.

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        24 February 2017 at 9:50 am

        Thanks for reading and commenting, Nic.

        0
  3. Profile gravatar of Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    24 February 2017 at 4:21 am

    Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    @miladyronel
    229 words
    Veterinarian/ Big City/ Horror
    Cat Lady

    It’s been years since Mary had moved to the big city to look after strays, making sure they got the medical attention they deserved. She’d given up a lot, though getting the hell away from her cheating husband had been worth it.

    The soft mewling of kittens drew her to the kitchen. The window was open as always, allowing cats to use the fire-escape to come and go as they please. She’d long given up on keeping them in the alley.

    ‘It’s alright, darlings,’ she said as she pulled a tray of ampoules from the fridge. ‘You’ll feel better in a moment.’

    She could feel the cats on the landing outside the window watch her, completely silent. Even those in the alley were waiting.

    Mary quickly injected the kittens. And stepped back as they immediately grew to maturity, glowing with phosphorescence.

    The only white one in the litter opened his mouth and showed her his sharp teeth before licking his lips while watching her.

    ‘Go and feast on the worst of humanity, my pets,’ she said.

    A chorus of meows greeted her words and the newest litter of super-strong and hungry cats jumped out the window. They joined the others on their hunt.

    Mary grinned. The news spoke of a very active serial killer leaving his victims gruesomely dismembered. If they just knew… At least her cats were well-fed.

    1+
  4. 24 February 2017 at 8:02 am

    @Nthito
    300 Words
    Marshal’s Sidekick/Dodge City/Horror

    Frank

    Frank Reynolds, Marshal of Dodge City, died with an arrow to the eye. The same arrow pinned to my pillow where turning my head had brought it to my attention. I immediately rolled off the bed and hauled the rifle from under the bed onto my shoulder with the speed of a viper.
    Nothing stirred.
    Bella was not in bed and it churned my gut like butter. How had I not heard the intruder enter, nor Bella leave? I rose quickly, assessing the wooden shaft lodged within the feathered padding. The arrow was adorned in intricate gold and emerald fletching from our Indian neighbours. I recognized the design like I would Ma’s face. I, Frank’s second-man, was the one who drew the bow after all.
    A screech resounded from the front room. I dashed out to a feverish Isabella standing under the streaming sunlight cascading her shimmering, tilted silhouette. Her frock was in disarray, bonnet clutched to fluttering bosom as she gazed at the floor. Her bare feet stood in a viscous pool of yolk-hued liquid.
    “Bella, what’s going on?”
    “Frank?”
    Her voice gurgled as though under water.
    “Bella? It’s me, William.”
    I stepped closer, avoiding the spillage. Iced pins prickled my chest. I fought the thrum rattling my bones – smoothed the aroused hairs along my nape with trembling hand.
    “William?”
    She began a slow swivel, golden rays refining her locks to dazzling white tresses. The first thing the glare revealed was the braided tongue-like cord, and the dangling pulped egg that was her eye. My gut lurched with the stench wafting from the gaping abyss that was the rest of her cragged, hollowed face.
    “He’s coming, Will.” A greyed tongue languidly dripped yolk rivulets to the floor. The muck broiled, a single eye floating to the surface. Frank.

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Nic
      Nic
      24 February 2017 at 9:21 am

      I love this line “it churned my gut like butter”.

      0
    • Alva Holland
      24 February 2017 at 9:45 am

      Oooh, this is horribly grim, Nthato! Well done. Great story.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      25 February 2017 at 7:44 am

      Gruesome stuff, Nthato. I had to read it between the fingers of the hand covering my eyes… 🙁

      0
  5. Profile gravatar of Stephen Shirres
    24 February 2017 at 8:13 am

    Little Black Book
    @The_Red_Fleece
    A 265 word crime tale about a Night Manager in the Sleep Easy Motel

    The Sleep Easy Motel comes alive at night. During the day, it’s patrolled by cleaners and their products. At night, under my watchful eye, it’s home to the troublemakers and the lovers, the drinkers and the late night partiers. All recorded in my little black book. Most of the names are fake. Politicians are always the most fun to watch coming up with their chosen name for the night. As if anyone in my position wouldn’t know who the Chancellor of the Exchequer is! Whoever they are, I make sure their real names go beside their chosen fakery. I’ve got to pay for my pension somehow.

    His hello is a quiet cough, a small man who would disappear into a crowd in an empty room. My office is too small to lose anyone in sadly. I close my little black book before asking, “How can I help you, sir?”
    “I’m looking for my wife.”
    “What is her name? I’ll place a call to her room.” I lift the phone to show willing I don’t feel.
    He coughs again. “I don’t know.”
    “You don’t know your wife’s name?” I make sure my eyebrow reaches peak arch. All a part of the game.
    “I don’t know what name she used to check in.” He steals a glance at my little black book.
    “Then I can’t help you, sir. I’m afraid the only person who may look in here is me.”
    The man gives another of his most annoying quiet coughs. The gunshot is no louder. “Good, because The Chancellor requires her privacy as much as anyone else.”

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      24 February 2017 at 10:46 am

      This builds deftly to a merciless end for the Night Manager. Nasty stuff, Stephen!

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      25 February 2017 at 8:17 am

      Atmospheric noir tale of a sleazy motel and its low-life night manager.
      “…a small man who would disappear into a crowd in an empty room.” would definitely be my favourite line, if I were judging. 😀
      [ I sorted out a few typos for you, so your ‘title’ changed to “…265 word…”. ]

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of Stephen Shirres
        25 February 2017 at 8:27 am

        Thanks Geoff. Clearly typing too quickly as I was trying to submit during my lunch break. A great theme this week by the way!

        0
  6. Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
    24 February 2017 at 8:17 am

    Deliverance

    300 words
    Veterinarian, Horse Ranch, Horror
    @el_Stevie

    Cold metal hit stone. An anxious whicker, then silence. Margaret walked between the stables. She didn’t mind the nightshift, preferring the muffled dark, the sense of calm, of tranquility. Somewhere, an owl hooted and, as she raised her eyes, a silvery ghost flew across the velvet sky.

    Margaret walked on.

    The call had said the mare was in the end block, a distance now seeming further than it did in the light. The green mile, she thought, suddenly nervous, noticing how the horses became more restless the nearer she got to her goal. And it was no longer just metal on stone. Hooves kicked at wood, splintered timber; wild eyes and rabid mouths hung over rotting gates, the concrete beneath her turned to mud. Margaret looked behind her, saw only a void.

    Another whicker at the end of the darkness.

    Despite her terror, the sound of animal pain drew her on until she stood before an open stable; inside, a shape her eyes registered as a horse, but her brain denied the classification. Grotesque and swollen, something writhed beneath the animal’s skin.

    “Deliver us,” murmured a voice in the darkness. “Deliver me.”

    Margaret backed away only for the horse to turn its pitiful eyes on her, its suffering forcing her forward once more. Reluctantly, she probed the birth canal, grasped skin and bone, pulled the creature from its nightmare womb. From nowhere, skeletal hands reached out and ripped the amniotic sac from the newborn. Sick with horror, she watched it struggle to its feet, grow, become fully-formed. Then dark-shadowed Death mounted its pale horse and rode out into the world.

    But Margaret didn’t see them go. A dormant blood clot lurking inside suddenly shifted, claimed her with a stroke. Death had been kind, delivering she who had delivered the End.

    4+
    • Alva Holland
      24 February 2017 at 10:47 am

      You know me and horror, Steph! This didn’t disappoint. Skin crawling, shivers building. I turned away from the end but it was inevitable I would read it and weep! Wonderful!

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      25 February 2017 at 8:53 am

      Wonderful pacing, Steph, as Margaret’s professional empathy continues to override the flight response.
      And I learned a new word: whicker.

      0
  7. Profile gravatar of Nic
    Nic
    24 February 2017 at 9:56 am

    Word Count: 253
    @InquisiHedgehog
    Night Manager/Dodge city/Romance

    Less Heart, More Guile

    I walked into the bar.
    I knew this was were he was. I had heard it through his brother who couldn’t keep word even if his life depended on it. He had moved away after the storm. Only he had left a storm within me which couldn’t be tempered, though I had tried.
    I walked to the counter. I looked at the barman. His muscles rippled under his shirt and his red hair was tied up into a well-kept ponytail. He danced to the music being played by the band. As he turned around, his face paled.
    “Can I get you anything, miss?” he said, as though he didn’t recognize the blonde who had broken him. I played him at his own game.
    “Yeah, I am looking for Mr Hastings.”
    “Speaking. What can I do for you?”
    “Fred?” With that one word his eyes narrowed, and he looked behind me.
    “He is not with me,” I whispered.
    “Why did you come here? I told you that it meant nothing,” he hissed, as he continued to wipe the glasses.
    “I needed to see you. I needed to know,” I whispered.
    “What? That you crushed me? That you broke the last part of my failing heart?” he spat as he marched out from behind the counter. He grabbed my arm, and pulled me towards the door. “Now, leave. This is no place for the likes of you. People here have heart.”
    And he shoved me out the door.

    5+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      25 February 2017 at 5:56 am

      This is an intriguing piece, Nic, that leaves the reader wanting to know more. Great start to a longer story, perhaps?

      [ You really do need to think about writing in paragraphs! 😉 It makes it so much easier to read!
      In addition:
      1) The convention is to have direct speech from different characters in separate paragraphs in order to make it clear to the reader who is saying what.
      2) “…I told you that it meant nothing.” He hissed as he continued to wipe the glasses. If you have a full stop / period at the end of direct speech followed by something else, that’s TWO separate sentences – reinforced here by the capital letter in He hissed… That means Fred said something, THEN started hissing! I’m pretty sure that you meant to convey that Fred said something in a hissing voice. In that case, the convention is to end the direct speech with a comma, and follow it with a lower case letter: “…I told you that it meant nothing,” he hissed… .
      I took the liberty of restructuring your entry along these lines. If, in doing so, I have accidentally changed what you meant to say, please leave a reply and I’ll make an amendment.
      Just to clarify, all this is no reflection on the quality of your writing, rather an attempt to make it easier for the reader to understand what you are trying to convey. 😀 ]

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of Nic
        Nic
        26 February 2017 at 2:22 pm

        Dear Geoff, Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate it.

        0
  8. steve lodge
    24 February 2017 at 10:00 am

    Monkey And Donkey Don’t Rhyme
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71

    Veterinarian/Remote Road/Memoir
    300 words

    I was a lot younger then than I am now. I was working for these old geezers, Lightfoot and Legova, Veterinarians, in the small town of Dodge Bullets, which would later become a suburb of the City. Some historian could likely pinpoint the year in question, should anyone give a flying fart. I know this is a memoir, but my memory for dates is shocking.

    Back then, I had a drink problem; sometimes I operated on four donkeys at once, although, we only ever got paid for one.

    This particular morning, Linzi, the receptionist, says to me, “You look awful. I keep telling you, Doc, you need a Holliday.” Then she snorts like a pig after a truffle. “Go on,” she says, “Mimic his cough and spitting into the handkerchief. Makes me pee my pants.” There’s the snort again. “Oh, Doc, this message was nailed to the door this morning. The writing’s crap. ‘Send Doc to Sheeptastic Ranch, problem with donkeys’. Signed ‘Lew Stools’.”

    Got my bag for the trip and I was off. Hi Ho, Mabel, cos that’s the name of my trusty steed.

    Scorching day and halfway down this track in the middle of the back of beyond, Mabel takes an arrow, probably a Single Finger Tribe warrior. I try to jump free but my right leg is trapped under her. So, as the sun beats down, I’m thinking, ‘Tosser, this is the end. Remote road. No rescue out here. Still, let me reach the medicinal whisky in my bag, deaden the pain’. I must’ve fainted.

    “Doc, hey, Doc. Been looking for you.” Opening my eyes, there’s Lew Stools and two of his ranch hands, Slim and Slimmer.

    Through parched lips, I say, “On way to help with your donkey problem…”

    “Donkey? You’re delirious, Doc. Not donkey. Monkey.”

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      24 February 2017 at 11:03 am

      Another inventive ‘I’ve no idea what’s going to happen next’ story from you, Steve! Splendid stuff.

      0
  9. Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
    24 February 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Word count: 299
    Night manager/Motel/Crime

    Mama’s Boy

    The night manager at the motel was an awfully good sort of fellow. His mother had always boasted about just how fine her little boy was. He always had a clean face, his shoes were shined bright and his hair was carefully combed flat in a side path. He always said please and thank you and was never rude or loud in public. He always smiled politely when greeted and always looked a person in the eye when spoken to.

    Yet you just couldn’t like him. There was something “off” about the way he carried himself. You got shivers down your spine and you would know he was somewhere about, lurking. An urban legend, he became. Mothers with young children would skirt down the back lane, away from the motel on their way to the park. Young ladies would stare straight ahead of them as they passed the dilapidated structure.

    For years his mother had owned the motel on Small Lane. He became the night manager after his mother had broken her leg one day last summer. She was carrying towels, when her foot caught the lip of a step and down she went. It was strange that she had refused visitors ever since she got back from the hospital. Eventually, her friends got miffed and spent many an hour gossiping on their favorite corner without her, and about her instead.

    Hal walked up the stairs holding the breakfast tray carefully, trying not to spill the tea. He went into his mother’s room, treading softly so as not to wake her. She could be quite cranky in the mornings. He opened the curtains, and light burst into the room, catching dust particles. The vacant eye sockets neither blinked nor stared back, and the tea was left to get cold.

    3+
  10. 24 February 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Veterinarian, Washington D.C., Comedy
    @geofflepard
    298 words

    The Grand Old Menagerie

    The security guard picked up his clipboard. ‘Name?’
    ‘Vera Copula.’
    The guard looked nonplussed. ‘You the vet?’
    ‘I’m the President’s Gift Vet.’
    ‘You’re a gift?’
    ‘As I understand it, several foreign leaders have gifted the POTUS a pet. I’m here to check them over.’
    ‘Hey, that explains the sheep the Brits sent.’ He indicated a shaggy white-haired beast wandering around aimlessly while making incomprehensible noises.
    Vera followed where he pointed. ‘Oh no, I think that’s part of their trade delegation. According to the list, the Brits sent a rat called Nigel.’
    ‘I’ve seen him. Seems confused most of the time.’
    ‘Yeah I heard.’
    ‘What else?’
    ‘Well the Canadian guy, Trudeau, he’s sent a small furry beaver to keep the Big Man amused – seems the make great lap pets. The notes say it’s a Trudeau family speciality.’
    ‘Cool.’
    ‘And President Putin provided a hybridised bat, called Vlad. Has a very specific liquid diet and avoids daylight.’
    ‘Anyone send a cat?’
    ‘Yes. Several little pussies. The Europeans clubbed together and sent one called Merkel. Not your average lap cat, though. Steel claws and just no sense of humour.’
    That’s really great, isn’t it? Any exotics?’
    ‘The Mexicans sent a box of whistling cockroaches but they escaped and no one knows where they are. And then there’s the Israeli gift. It’s a new one on me.’
    ‘What is it?’
    ‘Well that’s just it. Here, see for yourself.’ She held up a picture.
    ‘Weird. Looks like a big cat, kinda like a lion.’
    ‘But the head could be a goat.’
    ‘And the tail’s definitely a snake. Must be a mistake. I suppose you’ll send it back?’
    ‘Apparently, the Boss loves it. He feels they’ve really found something to represent all he stands for.’
    ‘So what do they call it then?’
    ‘A chimera.’

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      25 February 2017 at 8:02 am

      Sharp, brilliant piece, Geoff. Hats off to you.

      0
  11. Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
    24 February 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Kingdom

    88 words
    Elements: night manager, remote road, poetry

    @el_Stevie

    Neon colours my life
    Fluorescent lights
    Signing my presence
    Across the night
    On this nowhere road

    Occasional gold dazzles briefly
    Beams picking out
    Empty tables
    Empty rooms
    Before zooming away

    Behind me, the jukebox stirs
    Plays the blues
    A desolate soundtrack
    Drowning out the silence
    Of my isolation

    I stand at the door
    Surveying my kingdom
    A cool breeze riffling my hair
    As I measure the miles of nothing
    In either direction

    Me and the landscape
    Fit together perfectly
    Deserted and desolate
    We revel
    In our solitary selves

    5+
    • Alva Holland
      25 February 2017 at 8:00 am

      It’s almost as if you wrote this as a balm for the horror above! Gorgeous, Steph.

      0

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