Microcosms 69

Hi, y’all! Welcome to Microcosms 69. What intriguing delights do we have to get your flash fiction fingers flying this week?

I was beginning to think that I was overdoing the birthday thing as a basis for the contest post, until I discovered that this day, 28 April, in 1948, saw the birth of Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, one of the UK’s best-loved and most prolific authors.

He is widely known for his Discworld series for which he wrote a staggering 41 novels. He was the UK’s best selling author of the 1990s, and, according to the Wikipedia Discworld Portal, still holds the record for the most shoplifted books!

Some of my favourite Discworld novels are:

 

  • The Colour of Magic (1983)
  • The Light Fantastic (1986)
  • Maskerade (1995)
  • Jingo! (1997)
  • Carpe Jugulum (1998)
  • Going Postal (2004)

 

Sadly, Terry was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and died on 12 March 2015, aged 66.

Large black fedora hats off to you, Sir Terry!

Geoff

 

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

 

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

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Postman/Mailman , setting: Castle, and genre: Romance.


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.

*** HEY! Remember to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry ***


*** NO FAN-FICTION, PLEASE, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS ***



  • Tourist
  • Wizard
  • Janitor
  • Police Commander
  • Vampire
  • Postman/Mailman
  • Pub/Bar
  • Forest
  • Opera House
  • Submarine
  • Castle
  • Post Office
  • Crime
  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Comedy
  • Memoir
  • Horror

Spin!


Judging this week is Microcosms 68 Judge’s Pick, Caleb Echterling.

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.

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Microcosms 70
Microcosms 68

91 comments for “Microcosms 69

  1. Profile gravatar of Vibha Lohani
    28 April 2017 at 5:54 am

    Police Commander/ Forest/ Horror/ 294 words

    @vibhalohani3

    Justice Done – Undone

    Beads of sweat set on Joe’s forehead. Summer was still far but the weight of the gunny bag was taking a toll on him. Three years he had done this work but today seemed more tiring. He stopped to drink. He carefully placed the gunny bag against the tree and pulled out the sipper tied to his waist.

    It tasted sour. Nevertheless, he took a sip more. There was a stink yet he didn’t spit it out. He fixed the sipper back into his belt, wiped his mouth with his sleeves and turned to pick the gunny bag standing against the tree.

    “Ah! This seems lighter now.” he said to himself. It was getting dark.

    “Good Work, Joe.” the voice said.

    “Who … who is talking?” asked Joe, looking around.

    No one replied.

    “I must be hallucinating.” he thought.

    Joe continued to walk. He finally reached the graveyard in the centre of the forest. The grave he had dug a week back looked as good as new. Nine other graves beneath the trees decorated the area. All his hard work together. This was the final one. He put the bag down and lit a cigarette. He remembered each one of them – his team.

    He was their Police Commander. The kingpin in all the crimes they committed as a police squad. He was their redemption too. He had killed each one of them over a period of two years after his retirement. Today the last one will be buried.

    He emptied his sipper bottoms-up and jumped inside the grave. He pulled the gunny bag over him. The entire dirt he had collected while digging his grave fell over him covering every inch of his body.

    They all stood in attention as their commander joined them.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:18 am

      An excellent approach to a gritty end, Vibha. The sense of foreboding was well-maintained throughout.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 6:56 pm

      Great read. I like the softly-building suspense leading one way and then the last line which changes it all.

      1+
  2. Ewan Smith
    28 April 2017 at 8:32 am

    @ewanandsmith
    300 words
    Postie / Castle / Romance

    The Message

    “I’ll write to you.”
    That was the last thing he said at the hideous meeting they’d had. So every day was another day that the letter might arrive. She would wait in the kitchen, engaging herself in some meaningless chore, watching for the postie to come up the path. And every day became another day that the letter didn’t arrive.
    Weeks had passed. Today she had been so certain. It was her birthday; he would surely write for her birthday. When she heard the clack of the letter-box, she rushed to the front door and fell to her knees, scrabbling through the mail. Advertising leaflets, so colourful, so sure of a world in which happiness could be bought with a scatter of coins. But no letter.
    A rush of grief overwhelmed her. Her head sank to the floor, lurching sobs racking her chest. It was some time before she recognised the knocking on the door.
    It was the postie. “Up you get, love,” he said gently, helping her to her feet. He sat her down at the kitchen table and made her a coffee. She took a sip and grimaced.
    “That’s horrible,” she whispered.
    He laughed out loud at that but then hesitated. “I did a bad thing,” he said uncertainly. “Therre was a card for you; I didn’t deliver it.”
    “Show me.”
    “I don’t think…”
    “Show me!”
    It was a scribble. Her address, 29 Castle Drive, and a few sentences of such vileness.
    “No one should receive a message like that,” the postie said quietly. He stretched over and took her hand. “There are other kinds of people in the world.”
    It was as if a flickering light – like the newly lit flame on a birthday candle, perhaps – had appeared out of nowhere in the darkness crushing her soul.

    5+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:19 am

      A postie with empathy! I love this, Ewan. The sense of relationship between the two, even if one-sided, is so well crafted. Great story.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:01 pm

      I like how you described her waiting and longing. The ending was wonderfully sweet.

      1+
  3. 28 April 2017 at 9:37 am

    postman/castle/romance
    297 words
    @GriffithsKL

    Washed Away

    “At it again?” Ella asked, standing over the hunched form of her husband. Darrin’s once-white robe was covered with a dusting of sand and browned on the butt. Ella handed him a steaming cup of coffee. A sand-encrusted hand trembled but received it gratefully. A ring of untanned skin was all that remained of his marriage. Half submerged in a foamy moat and gouging out fistfuls of muck, his other hand was invisible.

    “I think I got it right this time,” Darrin muttered.

    “How long?” Ella asked, her sweet voice hollow and feathery against the boisterous surf.

    “Since two.”

    “Why?”

    “I wanted to finish before the tide came up. Recognize it?”

    “Our honeymoon, Barcaldine Castle. But you got the top wrong. There weren’t any battlements on Barcaldine.”

    “I added those… to keep you safe.” Darrin continued to scrape and mold the sand. The hands that played Brahms flawlessly, that delivered love letters, bills, and junk mail. The sure hands smoothed and teased the castle domes as if they were lace-decked breasts or a fragile neck. He drew his fingertips along the parapets as if they were her lips. One last time.

    As the structure neared completion, Darrin’s eyes became glassy, but not a drop would fall. Plenty of salt water all around.

    The Ella hallucination faded as the sun edged over the horizon. At his feet lay the coffee cup full of brown water and sand. No wonder the coffee was bad.

    Waves, inexorable and implacable, crept closer and closer. Darrin took the wedding rings out of his pocket: his thick one and her diamond-studded strand he’d discreetly removed before they shut the coffin. He clutched them to his chest. His other hand rooted around his robe pocket until he felt the smooth barrel, the finger hole.

    9+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:21 am

      Brilliant title for this and wonderful vivid imagery. Super story, Kelly.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Beautiful. Loved your descriptions. Such a bittersweet story.

      0
    • 30 April 2017 at 9:38 am

      Do I sense a Community Pick in the making? This is fantastic. Perfect title, too.

      0
  4. Stephen John Lodge
    28 April 2017 at 11:39 am

    Tired Of Travelling In The Dark
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    299 words
    Postman/Castle/Romance

    Hugh Janus, the village postman, was driving his mail van, quite innocently, towards The Castle pub outside the village, down narrow lanes. Suddenly his black and white cat leaped onto his lap from the passenger seat and clawed Hugh’s crown jewels, easily done through the uniform shorts village postmen had to wear. The van swerved off the road, straight into a tree. Hugh’s head hit the windscreen.

    He felt fuzzy and his genitals throbbed painfully. He knew his duty. The van was going nowhere. He’d have to walk to deliver that letter.
    The Castle looked nearer across the fields so he headed that way. The pub was called The Boil On The World’s Arse, but the brewery had allowed Eileen Stones to change the name and carry on running it after her hubby had run off to No Mules Creek with the barmaid, Lucy Lightfoot.

    Eileen called it The Castle as it was near the abandoned Gruffyd Castle. She ran it with her son, Gareth, who she hadn’t seen since he’d started dating a sheep. Eileen was a fine looking woman, who had many times walked through Hugh’s dreams, so, injured or not, Hugh was not going to miss an opportunity to see her.

    “Oh you poor dear man, whatever happened?” Eileen oozed sympathy so Hugh told her all (except which body part the cat had clawed).
    “Right,” she herded him upstairs. The pub was not open yet and the sky was getting dark outside. “Go on get in the bathroom, get undressed and take your clothes off. Run a bath and I’ll join you in a minute.”

    Waahay, thought Hugh. I’ve written off the mail van, banged my head, got clawed in the treasure zone but this could turn out to be the best day of my life.

    5+
    • 28 April 2017 at 2:32 pm

      I enjoyed the humorous voice in this piece.

      0
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:23 am

      You’ve done it again, Steve. Made me laugh out loud while reading. Love the innuendo, the build-up and the wonderful ending. Class flash.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:06 pm

      Excellent! Fast flowing and full of energy. All ends well…

      0
  5. 28 April 2017 at 12:19 pm

    mailman/castle/romance
    299 words
    @CVDalcher

    How I Learned to Play Chess Like Spassky

    I heard her squeals before I opened the door. She was at it again, delighting in pleasures I couldn’t provide. With the goddamned mailman. His plastic pith helmet and satchel of undelivered Valu-Pak coupons mocked me from the coat hooks in our foyer.

    “Don’t move,” he said. “Not until I do.”

    “I’ve never done anything like this before.” Lynn was almost purring. “Are you sure it’s legal?”

    Little in this world is as instantly emasculating as coming home to find your wife getting it on with a civil servant.

    “I’m sure. Now,” he said, “your turn. Do it all at once.”

    Lynn wanted to know if she should use two hands. Our cheery neighborhood postal worker said it was entirely up to her. Smooth.

    I hid my cuckolded self in the shadows and listened for what would come next.

    “Oh,” she sighed. “I feel so…powerful.”

    “You executed it beautifully, Lynn.”

    Lynn giggled.

    Bastard.

    On three previous occasions, I had slipped back out the door without a sound—confrontation was never my bag. This time, I worked up a lather of righteous wrath, fists balling themselves into weapons as I burst into the living room. The two of them sat, nose to nose, unaware of my presence. A thin veil of sweat covered Lynn’s brow, trickled down her cheek, fell onto the chessboard between them. I coughed, remembering that weird sex scene in the old McQueen movie.

    Lynn looked at me, apology and indignation in her eyes. “You never want to play, darling.”

    That afternoon, after kicking out the mailman, his plastic pith helmet, and his stack of Valu-Paks, I set up the board and fixed us drinks. Lynn planted a kiss on me that took us back to our honeymoon, and showed me how to castle.

    5+
    • 28 April 2017 at 6:40 pm

      Ha! I began to suspect but it was still great fun. 🙂

      1+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:25 am

      The ultimate game-playing story, teased out beautifully. Top marks, Christina. Want to choose a favourite line but I’ll leave that to the judge!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Fantastic! I loved how it built up a certain way of thinking. Great use of dialogue.

      1+
      • 30 April 2017 at 9:42 am

        Thank you, ladies! I’ve been a little absent from the game for the past few months. It’s good to be back, though — I love writing from these prompts!

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      30 April 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Great story and fab ending! 🙂

      0
  6. Profile gravatar of Nic
    Nic
    28 April 2017 at 1:24 pm

    241 words
    Police Commander; Castle; Crime

    The Eighth Dwarf and the Feast

    “Sgt. Grunt! What have we got here?”
    “Looks like a crime of passion, sir.”
    “A crime of passion, you say? How do you deduce that?”
    “Well, her blood-red lipstick was smeared all over her face by an overzealous lover …or lovers. We are still trying to deduce how many people were involved, sir,” said the Sergeant, as he pointed to the multiple footprints that spread out from the body like petals.
    “Hmm… that does look puzzling. Were there any witnesses?”
    “Yes, sir.” Sergeant Grunt pointed to a small man quivering in the corner. He looked liked he desperately needed to pee.
    “Who are you?” barked Commander Snort.
    “I… I am Antsy.”
    “Antsy? So, Antsy, what happened here?”
    “It was my brothers.”
    “Your brothers?”
    “Yeah, they lure the girls into our castle with gorgeous red apples. Those silly women couldn’t resist the juiciness. But this one was different; she was more radiant then the ones before. So the boys wanted to bring her to our father. But it turns out our father doesn’t fancy the maidens that much. So they ravished her, and left her for dead.”
    “And you?”
    “I prefer vegetables. She is a bit of a giant and too chewy.”
    “But why did you stay? You know we are going to have to take you down to the station for further questioning.”
    “It’s ok. I have grown tired of the human stench. The cleaning up after the boys after they have eaten their fill.”

    5+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:27 am

      It might have started out as crime but it ended with horror, Nic. Nicely done!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      30 April 2017 at 9:47 am

      How did I miss this?! ‘Footprints… like petals’ that’s a lovely image and jarringly beautiful against the rest of the story. Love how the horror just keeps building and building.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      30 April 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Nice one Nix! Love it 😉

      1+
  7. Profile gravatar of Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    28 April 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    @miladyronel
    239 words
    Vampire/ Forest/ Horror
    Forest of Nightmares

    It was like a memory of a dream. Yet the wood splinters burning in my arm promised that this was real.

    Arrows flashed past and embedded in the trees around me – near misses meant to kill. Another projectile whooshed close by, only my legs giving in under me saving me from certain death.

    Blood. The scent of lots of blood not my own filled the forest.

    I got back up, forcing my unresponsive legs to do my bidding. I could hear the hunters not far behind me. My night vision isn’t what it once was, but I could see sparks somewhere ahead: sparks marking the end of a life.

    Bile rose in my throat as I saw what the hunters had done. Not even I, creature of the night, would ever do something so atrocious. Flailing on the ground, blood spurting from all the arrow wounds, a unicorn turned red in the moonlight as its life drained out of it.

    It looked me in the eye, begging for help. I bent down, revealing my teeth, and ripped out the unicorn’s throat.

    Blood, filled with anguish and nightmares, dripped from my mouth as I waited for the hunters. I hadn’t tasted the blood of anything but rats for the last couple of centuries. Tonight I’ll regain my powers as a vampire. No longer will I hide in the shadows.

    The screams of the hunters lulled me to sleep at daybreak…

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:29 am

      Oh no! A dying unicorn. How did I ever get to the end of the story? Gory stuff, Ronel.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Humans worse than vampires and vampires offering mercy. Great story with a wonderful gory vengeance at the end.

      0
  8. Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
    28 April 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Wizard/Forest/Comedy
    Word Count: 296

    Trees and Turmoil

    I am Vextrix, a terrible wizard. I was offered a place at the “Bumbershoots to Wands Academy” to begin learning the basics of magic and all other such nonsense. On my first day there I set the headmaster’s cat alight, he in turn caused the curtains to catch alight and burn in the great dining hall and sent everyone coughing and gasping into the snow outside. Mrs. Rouge, the cook, turned a similar shade when set off running after me. I had ruined her soufflé with all the commotion.

    After great discussion it was decided that I was best used as far as possible away from the castle, as a flower picker. These would be used in potions and lotions by the students in the school. Mr. Herby Lefleur was not entirely sure about this.

    Armed with the “Big Book of Flowers for Dummy Wizards”, I set off into the Fark Wood, so named by our previous headmaster who was a huge fan of the actual word. I collected Silver Flower from the Treasure Garden, Bright Weed in the Sunny Corner, Bone Ivy from the grave yard. The Tangled Tongue was rather rude and I got quite muddy chasing the Spider Parsnip. I was about to leave when I realized that someone was watching me. I whipped my head around. I couldn’t believe it! The trees were alive! Yes, I know that trees are alive, but not like this. A Hate Privet glared at me while the Screaming Hemlock did just that. A Stinking Medlar tried to settle near a Flying Willow but she flew off in disgust. This all made the Fearful Aspen shake with fright. I whispered the only word I could, as the Spider Parsnip climbed out of my basket and ran off….”Fark!”

    6+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:32 am

      A splendid use of fantasy within comedy, Angelique. Love all the forest plant names. Love the chaotic commotion at the beginning. Well done!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:13 pm

      That was brilliant! I loved your plant names and the whole premise!

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
        30 April 2017 at 1:02 pm

        Thanks Alva and Sian. I really enjoyed writing this even though it’s not my normal style 🙂 I think there may even be a book in this one 🙂 x

        1+
        • Alva Holland
          30 April 2017 at 1:56 pm

          Go for it! Jumping outside of our comfort zone reveals wonderful surprises sometimes.

          1+
  9. Alva Holland
    28 April 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    300 words
    Tourist/Pub/Crime

    The Night TP Comes To Town

    Nobody in our village has ever seen a fedora. So, when yer man comes in at our busiest time it’s safe to say everyone knows we have a visitor. We don’t get many tourists in our neck of the woods, our little hostelry being off the beaten track, invisible from the main road, a place known only to the locals.

    The stranger stands out. Tall and thin, wearing a black leather jacket over a black polo, skinny red tie. Horn-rimmed glasses sit on a bony nose above a white beard and moustache. Nobody has a clue who he is. The investigations would begin soon.

    ‘Give the man a pint there, Joe,’ says a voice, hoarse from years of smoking and drinking. Our visitor glances about and realises he’s being watched.

    ‘A pint so, Joe. Thanks to my friend in the corner.’

    ‘Aren’t we all friends here,’ cries Tadhg, gesturing to the stranger to sit on the only vacant chair, at his table in the corner. The stranger sat down.

    ‘Won’t you want to be takin’ off the hat now, man?’ says Tadgh.

    ‘I’ll keep it on if you don’t mind,’ says the stranger.

    ‘Mind? Why would I mind? It’s a free country. Unless you’re hiding something under there, you can wear what ya like here in Joe’s place.’
    ‘Much obliged,’ says the stranger. Tadgh winks at Joe, indicating a long night ahead.

    ‘So, what takes you to the centre of the universe then, man? And what do we call you? We like to get to know people, welcome them, like.’

    ‘Name’s TP,’ says the stranger, slowly sipping his bitter pint. ‘I’m a writer and I’m about to kill you all, metaphorically speaking of course.’

    Tadgh splutters into his pint. Not knowing what metaphorically means, he begins to feel rather afraid.

    11+
    • 28 April 2017 at 6:45 pm

      Your descriptions are divine, but that last line is wonderful!

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        29 April 2017 at 1:33 am

        Many thanks, Kelly.

        0
    • Laura Besley
      29 April 2017 at 7:40 am

      Love the off the beaten track world you’ve created here with the colourful characters to go in it.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Aww…wonderful story. I always picture him with his hat.

      0
    • 30 April 2017 at 9:47 am

      Excellent, Alva! Great descriptions and a fun twist. I see you had a story in you, after all, eh?

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      30 April 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Love the ending! And the descriptions – wow! 😉 x

      0
  10. Sian Brighal
    28 April 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Sian Brighal
    @sian_ink
    298 words

    Start of a Beautiful Relationship

    Their kiss had been divine; so much better than her current crush’s feeble fumblings. Shame he’d turned out to be a vampire. She should have guessed: big castle, only sign of habitation for miles, and the décor had dropped some hints. But the clichés had seemingly clouded her senses…or seduced her, maybe.

    It didn’t really matter. After that kiss, she’d put up with isolation, dated furnishings and the occasional nip to the neck. But William had had to go and spoil it, and it hadn’t surprised her that his attempt to stake their host’s heart had missed the spot…he hadn’t shown any skill with anatomy with her.

    So, now she was running down the stairs to the front door—no doubt barred against escape—with an outraged vampire on their heels. If she were honest, her escape attempt was a bit half-hearted.

    William was tugging vainly on the door when the vampire caught up, and whimpering, he stopped and curled up in a despairing heap.

    “Do you have any idea how many shirts I’ve gone through in recent decades?!” the vampire snarled, reaching down and plucking up a limp William. “And they’re not cheap.” And while giving the hapless human a shake, he added, “It galls me that since double-glazing, streetlamps and low-flying aircraft, I have to sit and wait for silly tourists like you to take the wrong turning off the Autobahn to get a decent meal and some…pleasing distraction.”

    “I’m sorry!” William wailed, but she was lost in thought…and the sight of his lips pulled back over perfect white—if sharp—teeth.

    “Let us stay,” she begged breathlessly.

    His wonderfully dark eyes landed on her and she tried not to melt. “You’re just lunch.”

    And while she melted, she replied, “But he’s also a tourist tour operator…and I’m a seamstress.”

    6+
    • Sian Brighal
      28 April 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Oh no! I forget the genres. Vampire / Castle / Comedy. Sorry.

      0
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:35 am

      Wonderful! Give your vicious attacker a reason to keep you alive. Splendid stuff, Sian.

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        29 April 2017 at 7:18 pm

        Thanks….but don’t think she really minded, and he gets the better deal. Darning is a rare skill.

        1+
    • 30 April 2017 at 9:49 am

      I will read pretty much anything with a vampire in it, but this one is terrific. Love the ending!

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        30 April 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Thank you 🙂

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      30 April 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Lovely Sian! 🙂

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        30 April 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Thank you 🙂

        0
  11. Frank Key
    28 April 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Words: 300
    “The Postman Knows”
    Postman, Castle, Romance
    @frankdaad

    He hears her whispers as she calls out for him.

    The postman listens. He always listens. From near or far. The postman listens.

    Her father, the duke (or some such nonsense rank), forbids her to leave the family castle perched high on a rock above Edinburgh.

    *But daddy duke does permit her to use the post*

    The postman reads. He always reads. When the addressee is Sheila, Scarlett, Susannah, or Shane, he’s aware the letter is his. To open. Or burn. Or throw into the sea.

    *Or clasp near to his heart to read later, the letter*

    “My dearest postman,
    Blah blah bah derp blah blah bah derp blah blah bah derp Which one of these ten bands blah blah bah derp blah blah bah derp Which famous writer are you blah blah bah derp.
    I ❤️you more than you ❤️ me.
    Your one true love,
    Sally of Edinburgh Rock”

    The postman feels. He always feels. Don’t judge the quality of the contents by the wrapper.

    He whispers into the cold, rainy Scottish night. Raindrops clasp onto his silent words and rain-ports them from Murrayfield all the way to the crack in the highest window of the castle. Puddle forms on the floor. She kneels close to listen.

    “My dearest Sally of blah blah bah derp blah blah bah derp Radiohead blah blah bah derp blah blah bah derp Joan Collins blah blah bah derp Gaiman and Pratchett blah blah bah derp blah blah bah derp.
    All my to you, too.
    Your Postman”

    A group of tourists mingling on the sidewalk outside the National Gallery swear to their guide they see unidentified flying letters swirling out a window high on the castle.

    Lady Guide shrugs. Whispers. Scotland. Anything is possible. Smiles.

    The Postman knows. He always knows. Laughs.

    Sally. Giggles.

    ~~~

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 1:49 am

      So clever, Frank! So many clues and hints to the crux of the tale. Love your all-knowing, always listening postie! Great story.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Got such a great mythical quality to it, and a great homage. Love the messages in raindrops.

      0
  12. 28 April 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Tourist / Pub / Horror

    @carolrosalind

    WC 300

    New to The Area

    Setting aside a couple of days to explore the area, I followed the footpath leading to the village church. I’d seen the spire when I arrived. Finding the doors locked I circled the flint building, crunching through piles of wind-blown leaves, reading a few headstones as I passed. There was no sign of life.

    Eventually I wandered over to the pub. A fire was roaring in the grate. That’s when I realised how cold my hands were. October can be strange month. A Christmas tree leaned precariously against one corner accompanied by a string of fairy lights hanging haphazardly above the bar. I wondered how long they’d been up.

    My only drinking companion sat in the corner; face obscured by clouds of smoke rising from his pipe. He was obviously a law unto himself. His cough and nod drew the barmaid’s attention. The beer was good and the food palatable. But I felt uneasy. The barmaid kept peering at me strangely and I could feel the man in the corner sizing me up.

    Glancing away, my eyes landed on the old photographs covering the wall. I leaned closer, trying to place the locations and did a double take. I was in one of them. The beer must have been stronger than I thought! The photograph looked as if it had just been taken. I moved onto the next one. There I was again!

    Only this time I wasn’t alone. A shadowy figure stood behind my left shoulder. I continued with trepidation along the line. Each image revealed my increasingly contorted face. In the final photograph I appeared to be in complete agony. Shaking, I rose and backed away, straight into my drinking companion. He was taller than me. When I looked up at his face he didn’t have one.

    8+
    • 28 April 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Love how you controlled the flow of revelation. Creepy.

      1+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:13 am

      Super build-up from normal to horror, Carol. Love it.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Oh, creepy! Wonderful!

      1+
    • 30 April 2017 at 9:54 am

      Creepy, indeed! And excellent slow burn.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      30 April 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Excellent! 🙂

      1+
  13. Profile gravatar of Michael Emerson
    28 April 2017 at 4:09 pm

    (title) The Crime Spree
    (author) Michael Emerson
    (word count) 291
    (prompts) Tourist+Forest+Crime

    The crime was horrific, dastardly and the product of a clearly devious mind. Officer Mayflower stood under the ever inquisitive Officer Oak’s broad leaves. The Department had launched an “open opportunities” project last year, Oak was the latest of the new recruits hitting the streets… or well the forest at least. The Department wasn’t quite ready to unleash them into the wilds of city life yet.

    “You said you saw the culprits Officer Oak?” Leaves trembled in excited outrage,

    “Yes! They were Tourists Officer Mayflower, Tourists!” Officer Oak managed to put the same amount of anguished shock into the word “tourist” that you normally only hear when talking to a fan of a fantasy series that has been butchered into a T.V show.

    “Well Officer Oak… the question now would be why?” There was a surreptitious rustle from above,

    “Wouldn’t it be “who?” Officer Mayflower?”

    “No Oak… if we find out why, we can stop them before they hit again. This crime is not the first of its kind.” They took a moment to observe the crime scene. The fact that several officers had already gotten lost while trying to document the scene went to show the true depths of the twisted mind that had made it. It was after all only knee height.

    “Would it help to know they wore Hawaiian shirts Officer Mayflower?”

    “They all wear Hawaiian shirts Officer Oak, otherwise we would’t know they were tourists.” Once again they stood and stared at the scene as four confused and aimless Sergeants’ tried to rescue the two Officers already trapped.

    “I think we may have met a “Master Criminal…” Officer Oak offered.

    Mayflower nodded, “This may be the crime of the year Oak. Crime of the year…”

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:14 am

      Fabulous use of the forest element, Michael. Great story!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Great! I have an idea that the master criminal could also be wearing spectacles and has mobile luggage, maybe?

      0
  14. Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
    28 April 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Time

    Elements: vampire, pub, horror
    296 words

    @el_Stevie

    “Last orders, Gentlemen!”

    Sol frowned. The pub’s sign had said open 24 hours. He looked at the landlord who was busy dealing with a sudden flood of customers at the bar. Every man seemed to be after a pint from the same barrel. Glass after glass was filled until eventually the queue and the barrel were finished. A towel was put over the tap.

    “Time!”

    The men took their drinks and moved into a huddle at the side of the room, looked at Sol with expressions of relief.

    “Another one?” asked the landlord, refilling his glass. “On the house.”

    “But you just called time,” said Sol.

    “Eh? Oh that. Just a little joke with my regulars.” The man laughed.

    Bloody country pubs. Strange habits. Disgusting beer. Yet he drank it down. Smiled his thanks. He would not leave … yet, he had family business to think over, to attend to. And still the locals kept their distance, watched him carefully. As specimens of humanity they left a lot to be desired. They did not see what was in front of them.

    “Are they waiting for something?” he asked.

    “It’s a little game we play. Whoever misses out on the last pint at last orders is mine. I don’t have to hunt and they don’t have to run. Win, win.” The landlord grinned, finally showed his fangs.

    “And dishonour our name, cousin,” said Sol. “We hunt, we do not play games.” Shocked realisation crept over the landlord’s face as Sol dropped his own fangs. “I’ve been sent to restore the family honour,” continued Sol. “And now it’s my turn to call time.”

    The family business was sorted in seconds. Then Sol advanced on the men. “Gentlemen,” he said. “Regretfully there will be no more last orders …”

    8+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:17 am

      The horror element will never go unused while you’re participating, Steph! You’re a master. Love this grim take on the pub’s normal activities.

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
        29 April 2017 at 5:21 pm

        Thank you, Alva. I do start off each week trying different spin genres but it always ends badly!

        0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Nice twist!

      1+
    • 30 April 2017 at 10:21 am

      Thank you! I’m getting my vampire fix this morning! Brill story, Steph.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      30 April 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Wow Steph! Great story! 🙂

      0
  15. 28 April 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Postman/Mailman; Castle; Romance
    300 words
    @geofflepard

    Providing The Ultimate Service

    ‘A new van?’ Marge walked round her son, Herbie’s shiny new vehicle. It was very red and full of fancy equipment.
    ‘Management have been pushing for this, ever since they won the contract for exclusive rights to all deliveries. The kit’s part of it.’ Herbie couldn’t hide his pride.
    Marge sounded nervous. ‘Are they training you to use this?’
    ‘Muuuum. Perlease. It’s just buttons and stuff.’
    ‘What are you delivering then?’
    *
    Herbie eased the van slowly up the track towards the Castle. To some it was just a three-bedroomed semi with castellations, but Herbie thought it impressive. And this was his first ‘new’ delivery; a good place to start.
    Dranta Parsons waddled to the door, regretting for the umpteenth time her lack of help. She held her distended tummy in her right hand as she opened the door.
    Herbie smiled at her bump. ‘Delivery for you.’ He wheeled forward a trolley box with a plastic cover and a series pipes and cables attached to it.
    Dranta squinted at the trolley. ‘What’s that? It looks like… an incubator.’
    Herbie glanced at his handheld device. ‘That’s right, madam. I’ll bring the rest in shortly.’
    He met her astonished stare. ‘But I don’t need that yet. I’m not due.’
    Herbie’s gaze didn’t waver. ‘I think that’ll change in… five… four…’
    As Herbie said ‘one’, she gripped her sides. ‘Geez,’ she hissed. ‘How did you know?’
    ‘These days we have to be precise about when we make our deliveries, madam. You can’t just say between 9 and 5!”
    *
    Herbie mopped Dranta’s brow. She was beautiful.
    Dranta studied Herbie’s comfortable hands. He was the first man who she had ever trusted, ever felt comfortable with. ‘You’re quite something, Herbie. Do you deliver everything?’
    ‘Yes, madam!”
    ‘How about delivering me from this life next?’

    5+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:19 am

      The ultimate delivery! Splendid stuff, Geoff. Love the loose romance thread.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:37 pm

      If only it could be that well timed! Great story…lovely ending.

      0
  16. Profile gravatar of Fatima
    28 April 2017 at 5:00 pm

    300 words for My Lady Anne

    @fatimat91
    Postman; Castle; Romance
    300 words

    “Where do lovers go when they die?”

    “To la ville de l’amour, beyond the big blue clouds in the sky.”

    “And what did Lady Charlotte give her lover on her wedding day?”

    “A strand of her hair to be kept as a mark of their love forever.”

    Behind the banks of the River Pye was a garden hidden by trees and a dreadfully steep hill. Here, the lovers sat; the daughter of a Duke and a lowly Robin, oblivious to the rain drops which fell thump thump down the canopy of leaves, and the whoosh of flowing water. They sat true to their fortnightly ritual; legs outstretched and toes intertwined, content to recite the lines as old as their love story. Their deep stares were desperate to still time but their love too pure, to transverse this union of toes.

    “Please stay,” said the lad, touching her fingers without realizing his transgression.

    “We see again in two weeks,” she whispered.

    “That would be four days to my lady’s wedding.” He knelt at her feet holding on to the hemline of her gown.

    “Will you not come with me? I swear by my life’s blood to take care of you. Please my lady, my love, my life.”

    The tears hung on her eyelids and stung her.

    “It cannot be.”

    The lady got on all fours for the climb back up when her lover, hands over a young face drowning in grief, spoke.

    “If you marry him, I’ll kill myself. With my sword, I’ll do the deed.”

    “And your name will be shamed for life. Mine too for, I shall swallow Lys once I hear the news.”

    “Come to my wedding, or my funeral, if we speak true. I shall make you a present, not like the Lady Charlotte’s but, quite everlasting.”

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Fatima
      28 April 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Sorry it’s postman/castle/romance

      0
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:22 am

      All in the name of love, whatever the outcome. The ‘union of toes’ got me! Thanks, Fatima.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:39 pm

      Very romantic. I agree… the touching of toes was a wonderful image. Powerful ending.

      0
  17. A.J. Walker
    28 April 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Love Delivery Required Post Haste
    A.J. Walker

    Postman Matt was known to everyone as Mincewind. That was his name after all and Postman Matt was too silly – it’s not like you call everyone by the job first (according to Butcher Bill). Anyway, Postman Matt – sorry, Mincewind – had a route that took in miles of north west Leekistan, covering the coast between Llandudyep and Connoway (pronounced Con-No-Way) He knew the route like the back of his hand; although he currently wasn’t sure that the mole by the third finger on his right hand had always been there. The point is, he knew the land, the route, the people; and everyone knew Mincewind too and, although he delivered bills, invoices and mountains of offers from the local shops – like Pete’s Meats and Ken’s Lucky Fried Something (NEVER ask) – they loved him too.

    And whilst his heart skipped a beat whenever he saw Julie Cobs come to the door with her enormous enthusiasm, and doubly so when Mrs O’Miomi smiled at him with those two perfect teeth, these were but mere distractions even in the Spring rutting season. He had eyes for only one woman, the second lady of Connoway Castle, Miss Pronounce.

    His heart skipped three beats when he saw her, or even thought of her. And he found his trousers needed readjusting if thoughts of her came within 20 feet of him. Arthur, the castle’s tiny pooch, ‘who wouldn’t bite anyone’ once bit Mincewind in the trouser area, thinking he was carrying a bone. He wasn’t. Well not for long.

    Still each day he came to Connoway Castle with feelings of joy (understandably mixed with Arthur-based apprehension), hoping this would be the day that Miss Pronounce would finally notice him. Maybe talk to him (and at least tell Mincewind how to say her name).

    _______
    WC:300
    Postman/ Castle/ Romance
    @zevonesque

    5+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:29 am

      A 40-minute delight, AJ. (If you follow AJ on Twitter you will know what I mean.)
      Excellent. Miss Pronounce, Matt Mincewind. Do character names get any better? You and Steve Lodge should write a sit-com.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Grinning…that was brill! The style reminded me of Mr Pratchett. Great read.

      0
  18. Profile gravatar of Stephen Shirres
    28 April 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Ernie the Absent Minded Postman
    by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)
    A romantic tale of 278 words about a postman’s visit to a castle.

    Ernie the Postman always had a rest before the final stop on his round: the castle on top of the large hill. From the bottom the castle seemed to touch the sun. However, neither the height nor the steepness put Ernie off. Hope powered him up the steep sides. The hope he could finally meet the lady who lived in the tallest tower directly above the main door. Every day, as he walked up the hill, he could see her waving at him, her beautiful auburn hair flowing down her back. Yet every day, he was disappointed. He got to the door, pulled the bell rope, and the posh, stiff butler answered the door.
    Today would be different, Ernie told himself. Today she would answer. His rest over, he started up the hill. As always the sky shone around the castle ramparts. As always she waved from the balcony of her tower. Half way up the path became steeper but Ernie kept his pace. Soon the castle hid the sun completely bringing shade to the mid morning.
    At the main door Ernie was faced with the two thick ropes. One, almost black, operated the castle door bell. Ernie wasn’t sure what the other auburn brown one did. He’d never needed to use it. He looked up, but didn’t see her looking down. Maybe she was waiting by the door, waiting for him to ring the pull. He pulled the door rope, and hoped. The door opened to disappointment. The stiff butler stood as always, his hand out for the castle’s post. His only words were a short sharp “Good day, sir.”
    Tomorrow would be different, Ernie told himself.

    4+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:31 am

      Hope! The mainstay of the romantic. Love it, Stephen. Particularly liked that he didn’t get what he wanted in the end when I felt he would. Hope prevails.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Oh no! If only he pulled the other one! Love the sense of undying hope.

      0
  19. Laura Besley
    28 April 2017 at 11:33 pm

    @laurabesley
    299 words
    Postman – castle – romance

    The End of the Path

    I trudged up the gravel path, each stone slick with light frost, my post bag heavy with the last delivery before Christmas. The outline of the castle appeared, winter fog masking its downfall. There was one light on downstairs, and my pace quickened, knowing that Maggie was awake.
    The door flew open before I’d knocked. ‘Oh, it’s you,’ she said.
    ‘Good morning to you, too,’ I said.
    ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, stepping aside to let me in. ‘It’s just the boiler’s broken down again. I thought you’d be the repairman.’
    ‘At six o’clock in the morning? Unlikely.’
    ‘Coffee?’
    I put my bag on the large kitchen table. ‘Yes, please.’
    Most mornings I sat with Maggie in her kitchen, sipping coffee, chatting, until I had to continue with my round. It was my favourite part of the day.
    ‘I think I might sell in the new year,’ she said. ‘I’ve just had enough of this place.’
    ‘Sell? And move away?’
    ‘Yes. You know I never wanted to keep this place, but my stupid brother buggered off to America, and I’ve been stuck with it ever since.’ She got up, taking our coffee cups with her and put them in the kitchen sink.
    I scraped back my chair and turned to face her. ‘But where would you go?’
    ‘It just eats money. Money I don’t have. Even after that lump sum I got from ITV last year, I just can’t make ends meet.’
    ‘You’ve lived here all your life.’
    ‘Change. That’s what we need, Bill. Change.’
    We? Did she mean together?
    The doorbell rang and she skipped to the front door. ‘That’ll be the repairman,’ she said. ‘Thank goodness.’
    I followed her to the front door. ‘Merry Christmas, Maggie.’
    ‘Oh, Merry Christmas, Bill.’
    And I walked back down the gravel path.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      29 April 2017 at 2:34 am

      The thing I loved about Postman being one of the elements this week is the many different ways people interpreted it. Yours is wonderful, Laura. Great story.

      0
      • Laura Besley
        29 April 2017 at 7:30 am

        Thank you, Alva. I wasn’t sure whether a ‘romance’ had to have a happy ending or not. Now that I’m home after work, I can have a look at the others.

        0
        • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
          29 April 2017 at 9:05 am

          Great story, Laura. Did I miss that ITV series? 🙂
          [ Yet another tale of unrequited love! I seem to be in a distinct minority here in thinking that A having romantic feelings towards B, when B doesn’t reciprocate – or maybe barely knows that B exists – does not constitute a romance. It doesn’t have to end happily, but there ought to be some mutual feelings between A and B, surely? Perhaps it’s just as well that I’m not this week’s judge! ]

          1+
          • Laura Besley
            29 April 2017 at 8:53 pm

            Good job! 😉 Can see what you’re saying though. Will apply to future stories!

            0
    • Sian Brighal
      29 April 2017 at 7:52 pm

      Wonderful snippet of an almost romance. Great read! Like how the dialogue conveyed and carried the story, dropping hints and dashing hopes.

      0

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