Microcosms 64

Houdini and Jennie, the Vanishing Elephant, January 7, 1918

I’m baaaaack!

Hey, everyone – KM here. Geoff has the week off. He held down the fort on a solo basis long enough, and life is going a little better for me, so I’m ready to be a part of things again. 🙂

Even though he’s tired of me saying so, I’m going to say thanks one more time. (I know how difficult this is to do as a one-person show, and he’s not only done it for a long time, he’s done a stellar job!)

Don’t worry, he’s not going anywhere! We plan to switch off each week. 🙂

Some reminders from last time:

 

*** PLEASE BE AWARE ***

*** New York has changed over to daylight saving (EDT) ***

For instance, for this week, the time difference between New York and the UK will be 4 hours, instead of the usual 5 hours. Please plan your schedule for entries according to your time zone. (Personally, I recommend the World Clock Meeting Planner from Time and Date.)

 

*** ALWAYS REMEMBER AND NEVER FORGET ***

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

 

Not too many people are famous enough where their name becomes a part of the general lexicon, but on this day (24 March) in 1874, the incomparable Harry Houdini was born. This Microcosms is inspired by his life, as well as the people and events he is often associated with.

Although he is mostly known today for his escape acts, he actually had a very interesting life. (Don’t believe me? Check out his Wikipedia page!)

Born in Budapest, he moved to the US with his family when he was four years old and began his, let’s say, unusual career choices at just nine years old, when he made his debut as a trapeze artist.

In late October of 1926, Houdini found himself in constant pain for days. He had a 104 °F (40 °C) fever and was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. He was advised to have immediate surgery but took the stage, instead, in what would be his last performance. Sadly, he died on Halloween. 🙁

 

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

 

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

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Police Officer, setting: Movie Set, and genre: Mystery.

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.

Bonus points if you can incorporate the photo.*



*Not really, but you will have my respect.
 

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


  • Escape Artist
  • Magician
  • Magazine Publisher
  • Runner
  • Trapeze Artist
  • Vaudeville Performer
  • Freemason
  • Police Officer
  • Aviator
  • Actor
  • Psychic/Medium
  • Halloween
  • Someone in a Straightjacket
  • Spiritual Debunker
  • Writer
  • Milk Can (any size)
  • Jail Cell
  • Packing Crate
  • Grave
  • Stage/Theatre
  • Casket/Coffin
  • New York City
  • Europe
  • Movie Set
  • Torture Chamber
  • Australia
  • Tragedy
  • Crime
  • Romance
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Comedy
  • Fantasy
  • Drama
  • Mystery
  • Science Fiction

Spin!


The judge this week will be last week’s winner Stella Turner. 🙂

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

Microcosms 65
Microcosms 63
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13 comments for “Microcosms 64

  1. Alva Holland
    24 March 2017 at 3:21 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    300 words
    Police Officer/Movie Set/Mystery

    Clooney – On Stage

    ‘Places everyone. Quiet please. Act One, Scene One, Take Two.’

    ‘Camera! Lights! Action!’

    ‘Allo, allo and what might you be doing skulking about, young man?’

    ‘Nothing, officer, except lookin’ for me dog.’

    ‘Dog, eh.’ Pull the other one, lad. Now, off with you and don’t let me catch you hanging around here again.’

    ‘But, you don’t understand, officer. This dog’s special. He tames the elephants. Boss’ll have my guts if I don’t have him on stage on time.’

    ‘Tames the elephants? Stage? Have you lost your mind, boy? Now, skedaddle before I pull you in for something.’

    ‘Ok! Where’s the dog? CUT! CUT! Where’s the damn dog?’

    ‘Take a break, everyone. Charlie, you’re in charge of the dog. This is his scene. Where is he?’

    ‘He’s run off, sir. I went looking for him but some police officer told me off.’

    ‘Police Officer? A real one?’

    ‘Yessir, all in proper uniform like, outside the stage door, sir.’

    ‘We’re on set, Charlie. We don’t have real police officers here. You’ve been played. Go find the damn dog. Set is closed – he has to be here somewhere. The elephants are getting antsy. And where’s Marvin?

    Marvin! Do your arm waving thing! Calm that elephant down! Clooney’s missing. Jesus, we’ll never get this scene done.’

    ‘Clooney! Come on, boy. I’ll lose me job if I don’t bring you back, silly mutt. Clooney!

    ‘Allo, allo. It’s you again. Didn’t I tell you I’d pull you in for loitering.’

    ‘Oh, go stuff yourself. You’re an impostor! Boss says we’ve no real policemen here. I ain’t afraid of you.’

    ‘No real policemen, eh? Well, you’ll soon see what the inside of a real cell looks like.’

    The Mystery of the Disappearing Elephant-Taming Dog’ opens Saturday at The Carlton Theatre. Get your tickets here! $10. Concessions $5.

    4+

  2. Firdaus
    24 March 2017 at 3:43 am

    @firdausp
    (300 words)

    Mr Reeder

    “It was just another night, as always, dark and lonely. And then the murders began…”

    I paused and looked up at him. His lips were drawn into a disapproving line.

    “…the first couple of murders were ‘neat’, put it down to my OCD. I hate making a mess. But then inspiration descended on me and I got more creative and gory. The last victim had his intestines adorning the window like fairy lights,” I stopped when I saw him scowl.

    “I know, I read,” he growled.

    I was strapped to an iron chair with a fire burning under it. It was getting uncomfortably warm. I looked around the dimly lit room, it stank of human waste, blood and piss. There were chains hanging from the ceiling, strange objects with spikes and blades littered the place, and I saw a few cattle prods leaning against the wall.

    “Please unstrap me, Mr Reed,” I pleaded.

    “Reeder,” he corrected.

    “Yes Mr Reeder, please,” I whined, my butt was almost toast.

    “Did you have any help at all,” he asked pacing the room.

    “No, it was just me.”

    “No wonder the sloppiness of it all,” he sounded furious.

    He stood right in front of me, glaring down into my eyes.

    “No sequel,” he stressed.

    “None I swear,” I squealed. I was roasting.

    He unstrapped me and I sprang to my feet rubbing my backside.

    “Have you any idea what you’ve done?”

    I shrugged.

    “Your grammar is atrocious, punctuations everywhere except where they should be,” he flushed, mouth frothing, “plus you wrote it in one night, didn’t bother with an editor AND you self published!”

    Wiping the spit with the cuff of his sleeve he groaned as if in great agony.

    “My book is still selling,” I said smugly, then dashed out of the room.

    Writer/torture-chamber/comedy

    4+

    • 29 March 2017 at 1:57 am

      Sometimes it is tempting to find a way to really imprint the importance of some rules of writing into some people minds… sadly this is impossible as ideas like punctuation just slide right past. 🙂 Great story.

      0

  3. 24 March 2017 at 6:55 am

    Sergeant Sims and the Disappearing Elephant
    Police Officer, movie set, mystery
    300 words @geofflepard

    ‘What we got, Mabel?’
    ‘Not sure sarge. The caller said something about a missing elephant.’
    ‘Joker?’
    ‘Don’t think so. She sounded really upset. Seems they’re filming some sort of Carry on Hannibal up at Hocum Hall.’
    Sergeant Simm sighed. Just what he needed. A bunch of prima donnas, and he’d not had his morning pastry yet. ‘Tell ’em I’ll be ten minutes. Who’d I to ask for?’
    ‘Priscilla Barton-Warbligton.’
    ‘No kidding?’
    *
    Priscilla scanned the banqueting hall. She looked at the understandably sceptical policeman. ‘Honest. I left him here, eating some apples. It was just a minute, no more than five and when I can back he… he was gone.’
    Simm followed her gaze. ‘Bit risky, leaving him alone?’
    ‘Not at all.’ Priscilla felt her face flush. ‘He’s a pet.’
    ‘Well, if he walked out or was taken surely one of the crew would have seen him. There are only two doors and I doubt he’d manage the windows.’
    ‘Elephants don’t have opposable thumbs, Sergeant. He’d not manage the catches.’
    Simm nodded, his feeble humour failing him again.
    Both turned as they heard raised voices. A flustered man dashed in. ‘My Betty! Where is he?’
    Simm looked at Priscilla. ‘Betty?’
    She shrugged. ‘He’s Albanian.’
    The man circled the room.
    Priscilla added. ‘The trainer.’
    Just then a hooting started. The man pressed the panelling. ‘He’s here.’
    Simm frowned. The panel was no more than six foot square. ‘How can an elephant…?’
    Suddenly the man sprung back as the panel pivoted revealing a dark space behind. Out trotted an elephant. A Pygmy.
    Simm left slowly, reluctant to go to the station. He knew how it would go. The crew would avoid eye contact until one of them said, ‘It’s okay Simmy, if you want to talk about the elephant in the room.’

    4+

  4. 24 March 2017 at 7:20 am

    I dare you

    Frances sat at the grave. Her tears drenching the stone. She had lost her beloved because of a silly phrase. “I dare you”. That is all she had to say to get him to go on adventures with her. Hiking up the Appalachians. Swimming in the Dead Sea. But she forgot that she was not the only one to dare him. His enemy had done it too. Had dared him to fly the trickiest flip in the book. Though he had done it once or twice he had never blindfolded. But those three little words led to his demise and her broken heart. She watched as the plane pummelled to the ground leaving a black line through the grass. By the time she saw him, he was just dust.

    Now she lay by his grave watching the bird and the duck dance through the clouds. Wondering what to do next. Wondering if dying would be easier. Slipping the bottle out of her bag, the sun glinted off it and she looked up. There amongst the clouds was a trail. The words, “I dare you”. She slipped it back and walked away. She wasn’t one to be dared.

    Aviator/Grave/Romance
    Word Count: 211
    @InquisiHedgehog

    6+

  5. 24 March 2017 at 11:50 am

    @TwiAddictAnne
    300 words
    Psychic/Medium/Jail Cell/Fantasy

    Spirit of Me

    I wake up slowly. From my knotted muscles, I guess that I must’ve slept for a long time.

    Carefully, I open my eyes and then close them again. For a moment, I wish for going back to sleep so I could see my mother … and not be in this jail cell.

    “Look who’s woken up! Good morning, sleeping beauty!” I look up to find the leery face of an overweight policeman pressed against the bars of my cell.

    “Don’t do that, please,” I say, knowing that his attitude will only anger her.

    “Don’t do that please,” he mimics me. I feel the white-hot rage starting to burn inside me. “Are you gonna glare me to death?” He bursts into laughter at his own joke.

    I try to hold her off as I request him again, “Please just go.”

    “And what would you do if I don’t? This is my jail, you bitch!”

    That profanity is what makes the threads of my control snap. I feel my eyes burn as the spirit takes hold of me and growls at him. “You dare call me that?” I don’t recognize my own voice even as the words escape my mouth.

    He looks taken aback by the sudden change. “What’s wrong with you?” His voice shakes.

    “Apologize or I’ll suck out your soul.”

    He takes a few steps away, stumbling over his own feet. “You’re a freak!” He runs away from me.

    The moment he’s out of my sight, the spirit lets go of me. My legs shake from exhaustion and I drop to my knees. Hiding my face in my hands, I sob. “Please leave me,” I beg to her.

    I feel her laugh from within me. “You are a medium. You were born to bring me back,” a voice resonates in me. “There’s no escape for you … ever.”

    5+

  6. 24 March 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Magician/New York City/ Mystery

    Word count: 300

    Abra-Kandula

    Erik was a strange fellow. Born and raised Jewish, it was assumed he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Rabbi. Erik was fascinated by another realm in the spirit world, that of magic. Rabbits being pulled out of hats, sawing a woman in half and disappearing acts were only some of the things he wanted to do. He practiced day and night until he was certain he could make a go of it on stage. He didn’t anticipate that on the scale of performers, magicians were paid even less than stage actors. He needed a plan. Toby, his best friend growing up, had a job with a circus that was going to perform in New York City. He would beg to do his act for free and hopefully make a name for himself.

    New York City – Night at the circus

    Toby brought out Kandula, a huge, African Elephant for her performance. She strutted and posed and stood on her hind legs while snot-faced kids squealed with glee. Toby announced Erik and he made his way to the center. A few twitters ran through the crowd. Short and squat, his cape looked more like a dress and his top hat was rather baggy. But what a presence he commanded. Spell-bound, the audience watched as Erik muttered magic words and created smoke and flashes. When it was over, Kandula was nowhere to be found. The audience went wild. Erik was a star.

    Toby smiled as he whispered softly, “You can make her appear again.”

    Erik looked at Toby rather wide-eyed. “I can’t,” he said. “I haven’t figured out how to yet.”

    As for Kandula, she never disappeared. She was made tiny and now scurries around happily like a beetle. Erik never did learn how to make her appear again.

    3+

  7. steve lodge
    24 March 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Fun
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    300 words
    Vaudeville performer/New York City/ Memoir

    Back in them days in NYC, we had this vaudeville comedy act. Thelma, Tony and Mickey. It was good, but though Mickey loved Thelma, it turned out she had the hots for me. One night on stage it all came out in this mostly improv gag. Mickey quit, heartbroken. I married Thelma (see chapter 4).

    TONY: Hello, Madam. Did you sleep well? No back pain? No cramp or farting?

    THELMA: No, look, this is a department store, right? So let me browse the store. (to MICKEY): Keep this twat away from me.

    MICKEY: Yes, my deliciousness.

    TONY: How dare you talk to Madam like that.

    THELMA: What are you talking about, cretin? This is my fiancé, Jack.

    TONY: This cannot be. And my name is not Jack.

    THELMA: His..his name is Jack. What is wrong with you?

    TONY: Madam? Engaged to a baboon? Noooo.

    MICKEY: Heyyy, you saying I’m slow, fat and ugly?

    TONY: Are you reading your resume? (to THELMA) But surely, darling, remember we danced a sensuous tango in the elevator only 2 days ago?

    THELMA: You are interestingly deranged.

    TONY: I knew it. Let me arouse you more with talk of whitewashed skies, purple plants and swaths of green grass, snow-capped mountains. Let’s go to my cabin in the woods and spend the winter stranded miles from anywhere with only our love to keep us from frostbite.

    MICKEY: Hey, what about me?

    THELMA: Are you still here? Go away, Jack. (to TONY) Oh, grip me till I’m gasping for your burning kisses on my superb shoulders. Let’s swim in a freezing creek, teasing otters. I want to feel your lips all over my body. Oh, yes, yes.

    MICKEY: I could use a coffee.

    TONY: You’ve ruined the scene now.

    THELMA: I was in full flow then. Moron.

    3+

  8. 24 March 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Police Officer; Movie set; crime
    300 fantasticHollywood secrets
    @billmelaterplea

    From Underground Hollywood: The Stories Nobody Talks About: Tarzan Escapades

    Tantor: Don’t know what more I can tell you, Mack. It was the last thing I ever expected to see. There I was, lumbering off to the Elephants graveyard. You know, standard Tarzan bull tweed.

    Mack Mouse, Mouse Dick: Tell me about it again, Tantor. I been around the animal kingdom for a while now and I thought I’d seen it all. I mean, I get a few stand-in gigs for the Mickster or Mighty Big Ego Rodent or being chased by some moronic cat actor. If it wasn’t for the small change I pick up investigating animal oddities, I wouldn’t have a pot to cheese in. So, what about the crazy monkey?

    Tantor: Chimp. Nobody gets that right.

    Mack: Okay. My bad. Chimp. What did you see over at the graveyard set?

    Tantor: It was weird. You know that Cheeta…?

    Mack: The monkey?

    Tantor: Chimp.

    Mack: (Wapping his little mouse head) I don’t know what the heck’s the matter with me today? CHIMP.

    Tantor: His real name is Jiggs.

    Mack: Does it matter?

    Tantor: To Jiggs it does. Anyways, he owns the role but the hairy schmucks become more of a dilettante than ever.

    Mack: I hate that. Gives all of us a bad name. Again…tell me again. Maybe this time it’ll sink in.

    Tantor: Jiggs don’t go anywhere without that Collie, Sparky or Spunky. Whatever. Freakin’ mutt has to hold his paw or he won’t act.

    Mack: And the directors tolerate this?

    Tantor: And more, if what I saw was…what I saw.

    Mack: Which was?

    Tantor: Very unprofessional behaviour. Even for a Chimp. Interspecies Sexual Congress.

    Mack: Wheee, ding dong, Tantor. This is far too political for me. I’m outta here.

    Tantor: Somethings got to be done, Mack.

    Mack: Give it to Winchell. He loves this smarmy stuff.

    3+

  9. 24 March 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Caleb Echterling
    @CalebEchterling
    299 words
    Aviator/Coffin/Comedy

    Sufferin’ Suffragette

    A cloudy day in northern France. The drumbeat of artillery rattled the Royal Glaswegian Fishmonger Fusiliers Air Squadron briefing tent. The pilots slumped on benches and smoked a cigarette with each hand. No one moved when the commanding officer walks in.

    “Aren’t you ladies going to salute?”

    “Not until you get us planes as good as the men fly. These fourth-hand Sopwiths are flying coffins.”

    “Yeah, when they fly,” another pilot said. “Those things are rust and wood chips held together with glue. And would it kill you to assign us some mechanics?”

    “Tut, tut,” the commanding officer said. He lit three cigarettes and pulled a long drag off all three. “The range of your planes is perfectly suited to your mission, namely retrieving cricket balls that the officers have whacked into no-man’s-land.”

    A pilot stubbed out two cigarettes and lit two more. “We want to fly real missions, not your suicide crap-work.”

    “Don’t worry your precious heads. The War Office has a plan to solve your little problem. Here to tell us about it is my old chum, Major General Fussypants, who, thanks to your brave sacrifice, will join me on the pitch after this meeting to bowl a few wrong’uns like he did when we were at Eaton.”

    The Major General strode into the tent smoking five cigarettes. An ostrich plume wagged from his pith helmet. “Ladies, the War Office has developed a plane to fit the specific needs of the female body and flying style. As you can see, it’s thinner and more angular than our other planes. A three dimensional rectangle, if you will.”

    “It’s a coffin with wings.”

    “Yes, well, we had a surplus, and this was cheaper than designing a real plane.” He clapped his hands. “Now then, who here can keep wicket?”

    4+

    • 25 March 2017 at 11:08 am

      Cracking title, and spiffing yarn, Caleb, old chap.
      [ But that cricket ball to the back of your noggin must have addled your brain: it’s ‘Eton’, not ‘Eaton’, dear boy! 🙂 ]

      0

      • 25 March 2017 at 6:45 pm

        Aw crap. I googled it and everything. A blow to the head must have knocked out my short term memory.

        1+

  10. 24 March 2017 at 11:58 pm

    City of Angels
    300 words
    Police Officer, Movie Set, Mystery
    KM Zafari (not eligible for contest – admin)
    @thebatinthehat

    She had all the makings of the next Marilyn Monroe – a classic beauty with modern sensibilities. She was a rising starlet, on the verge of superstardom.

    He’d met her once before, when she was younger. He remembered how light her malnourished, little body had been when he picked her up off the kitchen floor, covered in her mother’s blood and still shrinking from her father, even as they led him off in cuffs.

    She’d somehow transcended her past and now seemed poised to take over Tinseltown, but a three-story fall on set had changed all of that.

    They found a note in her dressing room.

    News had not yet broken, but headlines would soon scream FALLING STARLET and other, equally distasteful copy. Her death would surely send shock waves across the nation.

    “Tough break, kid,” he says, stroking her long, bleached hair.

    Then again, Hollywood was known to chew you up and spit you out. And no one knew that better than her costar, Melinda Divine, who’d been the industry’s flavor of the month ten years ago. Recently, she’d been relegated to bit parts, playing the mother of grown children long before her time.

    “Sorry for troubling you,” he says with a warm smile. “I’m a huge fan.”

    “Poor thing,” she says.

    “Is there anyone you can think of who might have been jealous of her career?”

    “Of course, Darling,” she says with a small laugh. “This is Los Angeles. You might have to interview half of the actresses in town.”

    “No,” he says. “Just one.” He tips his cap and thanks her for the personalized autograph. “I’m sure the handwriting analysis will be enough for a warrant.”

    She takes a thoughtful drag from her cigarette. “I did her a favor, you know,” she says. “Now she’ll be young forever.”

    5+

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