RESULTS – Microcosms 73

Thanks to all of you who were able to enter Round 73 – you lucky people! I wish I had been able to…  And a warm welcome to first-timer, M. Irene Hill. We had an reasonable total of 18 entries this week.

Please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.

Don’t forget that Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for anyone – not just fellow entrants – to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a Community Pick.

Remember, you can reply with a comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.

Many thanks to Damhnait Monaghan for judging MC 73. Here’s what she had to say:

I loved the prompt Geoff suggested for this contest as I use this technique in my own writing, although I delete the sentence once I’ve used it. And it was fun to see lines from books I’ve read (Foreign Fruit, Slaughterhouse Five, and The Picture of Dorian Grey) in the chosen prompts.

It was hard to whittle down the list with so many worthy entries. I don’t tend to read much horror or sci fi but found myself enjoying those entries as much as the others. I might have to broaden my reading list going forward!

Damhnait

 

Favourite/Favorite Lines

Michael Emerson – It was a bit unfair: it wasn’t even like any of the buttons were labelled.
Storm Jarvis – A feeling of pain crept over him…
Kelly Griffiths – When silence was the reply, Hazel’s guts unspooled.
Eloise – My hands tinged crimson.
Eloise – I was the Pied Piper of Lost Souls.
Alva Holland – The guard’s badge reflects my wrinkles in a station of mirrors where my unlived life resides in the shininess of the tearoom siding, the guard’s shoes, his blazer buttons.
Jeff Messick – Alabaster skin, as if carved from snow, framed by hair the color of deepest regions of space.
CR Smith – It was stuck to a square of card and if you did not know better you would think it was nothing of consequence.
Steve Lodge – He had ginger hair, breath that smelled of broccoli and a knee that clicked loudly.
Bill Engleson – “I don’t think the horseshoe’s there anymore.”
Angelique Pacheco – She believed she was in the presence of pure evil disguised as half-witted parents.
Dave James Ashton – In my experience, rubes ain’t usually this flush with cash.
Anne Chowdhury  – I am you. Soulless, and here to take you back to purgatory. Devil’s waiting.
Richard Edenfield – It moved slowly down his skin like a finger hesitant on a trigger.
Bill Bibo – Not one for prayers, he found one buried deep within his memory. He offered it up to anyone or anything that might be listening.
Sian Brighal – From the rabid, frothing sea rose a beast beyond cogent description. In his dream, obscured by fear and disbelief, he witnessed whipping tentacles, the width of a man’s height, fill the dark sky and beat against the waves, and at their junction, the fleeting glance of a jagged beak emerging from a puckered mouth.
M Irene Hill – I shook off the cobwebs of sleep
John Herbert – Our vans crouch low in the long grass, hidden.

 

Special Mention – for a title that made me swoon

Sian Brighal – Hope and Death Lie in the Stars

 

Second Runner-up

Angelique Pacheco – Lucky Feet

I liked the twists in this story. Initially child abuse is hinted at, but all is not as it seems. The idea of a couple of rabbits wreaking revenge on the boy is brilliant as is the suggestion that rabbits use human feet as lucky charms.

 

First Runner-up

Steve Lodge – Born on the Misty Coasts

This story proved the old adage that “love is blind”. I enjoyed the gentle humour between this loved up couple, which suggested they were a good match. The word play (Paige Turner, abundance, a bun dance, etc) was also fun. It’s not always easy to do humour but this writer managed it well.

 

And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 73.

 

(insert drumroll here)

 

Community Pick

Eloise – Pied Piper of Lost Souls

The Devil Wears Prada (Lauren Weisberger) / Romance
185 words

I smiled and nodded. This was not the beginning of a beautiful love story. It was the start of a nightmare. Yes, of course it started with wining and dining, but it ended with tears each time. Tears which I stored and kept in a cupboard. I had labeled them with a photo of when they were happy to do my bidding. Each one had a sad story about how they were misunderstood. That is all you needed to do to get their trust was to understand. A sympathetic ear. Then looking at you with puppy dog eyes you could lead them anywhere – even to their demise. They would follow you even when you chased them away. I was the Pied Piper of Lost Souls.

Well, that was until last week. She was glamorous. Her hair cascaded down her back. Her eyes were the color of luxurious chocolate. She was dynamite. A sharp tongue and an even sharper mind. She saw my tricks before they came. I was caught. She would never become a bottle in my cupboard but a warrior bride in my heart.

Judge’s Pick

Bill Bibo – Even in Darkness Truth Can Be Cruel

This one blew me away: the enigmatic title, phrases like “under a damaged moon”, and the dawning realisation that the danger isn’t outside the room but within. At first you think he’s protecting his daughter from someone or something outside the room, but you realise with horror that the danger is within the room. He cuts himself, the daughter’s voice changes, restraints are mentioned, and she can smell the blood. “He stood and faced his daughter.” It all pivots on that sentence. I’m still thinking about the two people in this room, wondering what will happen.

Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut) / Horror
201 words

He went into his daughter’s room.

Lit by a damaged moon, he could see her breathing was even, soft, untroubled. She was safe, for now.

He slid the desk, blocking the door, and pulled the curtains shut, careful not to step into the light, filling the room with a comforting darkness. He slipped to the floor, his back tight against the corner. The bread knife he had taken from the kitchen slipped from his sweating grasp and fell to the floor. Patting the carpet, he found it quickly though his hand closed on the wrong end. The cut went deep.

“Shit.”

He quickly tore a strip from his shirt to slow the bleeding. He could hear his wife running up the stairs.

“Daddy?” said a child’s voice from the bed.

“Hush, go back to sleep. Everything’s fine,” he said.

She sat up pulling hard against the restraints, sniffing the air.

“Daddy?” she asked again, her voice now low, hungry, more of a growl than a question.

His eyes filling with tears, he stood and faced his daughter. Not one for prayers, he found one buried deep within his memory. He offered it up to anyone or anything that might be listening.

 

Congratulations, Bill Bibo. As this week’s Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge Microcosms 74, let us know whether or not you are interested ASAP!

RESULTS - Microcosms 74
RESULTS - Microcosms 72
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14 comments for “RESULTS – Microcosms 73

  1. 29 May 2017 at 8:05 am

    Congrats to the winners, but as a non-entrant this week I’d like to make an observation. Week after week depressing, horror, shock type fiction ‘wins’. Nothing light-hearted, soft, tender, romantic is ever considered. Perhaps this is because it’s ‘easier’ to write shock in a few words than anything else, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the only option. May I suggest that both writers and judges stretch their horizons.

    1+

    • 1 June 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks for creating a fine discussion. I enjoyed the forum and will add a couple of points to Geoff’s reply.

      0

  2. 29 May 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Dear LM.

    I feel compelled to respond to the points you made.

    You first submitted an entry to Microcosms 65, a comedy tale that was awarded an Honourable Mention; your only other entry to date was to Microcosms 72 – a tale that may have been light-hearted, but did involve the gods unleashing Death upon mankind.

    I’m not sure how long you had been following Microcosms before round 65, but I’ve had a look back at the stats for 2017. Of the 21 contests this year, 9 have been won by light-hearted entries; 5 of them – practically a quarter – had a genre of COMEDY, out of all the genres on offer. We have a host of regular contributors – AJ Walker, Bill Engleson, Caleb Echterling, Geoff Le Pard, etc. – whose staple, but not exclusive, output is comedy or light-hearted.

    Your assertion that it may be ‘easier’ to write shock in a few words than anything else is rather derogatory to the high standard of work submitted week in , week out by ALL our entrants which is attested to by the judge’s preamble in Results posts since the inception of Microcosms.

    As for judging, if we had a single person selecting the winning entry each week there might be some basis for your suggestion that that person should ‘stretch their horizons’. As it is, in 2017, we had 11 different judges in the 13 contests held during the first quarter, and 7 different judges in the 8 contests held so far in the second quarter; only two people have acted as judges in both quarters. I don’t see how your dictating to 16 different people this year alone which sort of stories they should judge best can be reasonable.

    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion about the stories these 16 judges chose as their pick of the week, but to put quotation marks around the word wins at the end of your second sentence seems rather arrogant. If you consider that a greater number of ‘light-hearted, soft, tender, romantic’ entries should be winning, perhaps you ought to be submitting more than two such entries in 9 weeks.

    I look forward to future entries to Microcosms from you with interest.

    [ All opinions purely my own ]

    8+

    • 1 June 2017 at 12:17 pm

      I submit my flash to a number of flash fiction sites. Many others do as well. Each site has a slightly different twist, challenging writers to accommodate and explore their creative chops.
      Microcosms is one of the most demanding because of the long list of participants, the breadth of the prompt, and time allotted.
      As Geoff mentioned, I generally seek humour and lightheartedness but feel capable of dredging up my darker roots…the ones I had when I had hair.
      Anyways , a stimulating discussion and well worth the price of admission.
      Cheers.

      1+

  3. Alva Holland
    29 May 2017 at 1:23 pm

    The reason I like Microcosms Fiction so much as a competition is precisely because of the diverse nature of the stories each week and the range of genres which always gives us a healthy mix of comedy, romance, memoir, horror, sci-fi, etc.

    I have entered the competition 33 times and have won a few (I can’t remember how many) but my stories are usually in the comedy/romance/memoir genre. The Community Pick aspect gives readers a chance to choose their favourite where that week’s judge might choose something completely different. This is what makes the competition work so well.

    I think the criticism here is unreasonable. Absolutely, everyone is entitled to their opinion but this particular assessment seems harsh at the very least for a competition which goes out of its way to include all genres, judges are always generous with a spread of commendations across all genres and where everyone seems to enjoy participating.

    5+

  4. 29 May 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I knew when I posted someone was going to come out with stats to prove how wrong I was, but it is my IMPRESSION that there is a preponderance of preference for the darker writing. I don’t want to argue about this, it was a suggestion.

    0

  5. Sian Brighal
    29 May 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Congratulations to Bill Bibo! Fantastic read, covering what lengths Dad’s go to for their kids…surprising sense of deep love and potential sacrifice in it. Powerful image!

    Well done, Eloise for your win; lovely imagery throughout and wonderful premise: uplifting tale of one’s eyes being opened by a great strong character in the impending bride. If it’s not a happy ending, then they’re still in for some interesting times!

    Steve, another wonderfully whimsical tale full of beautiful, easy-flowing humour, so congratulations on your first runner-up! I always look forward to your stories.

    Angelique, I’m a sucker for chilly horror and hidden, twisty plots that leap out at the end; your story was all these and more. The whole bunny revenge was a nice touch. Congratulations on runner-up!

    Damhnait…sorry…hope you regained consciousness okay! Thank you for judging and for the wonderful special mention…was a lovely surprise. Finding titles is, for me, the hardest and most agonising thing.

    Again…great stories from everyone. Thank you.

    4+

  6. 29 May 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Firstly, congratulations to this week’s winners; great stories all round.

    Secondly, I would like to address the comments made by Meadow337

    I take issue with the assumption that only ‘horror, shock type fiction wins’. This is simply not true as Geoff has pointed out. Many humorous, light-hearted stories have won. Indeed, it was only a few weeks ago I judged the entries and picked a humorous piece as winner.

    Judging is extremely difficult, much harder than writing the story in the first place. The standard is high, and at the end of the day only one person can win. Of course it will always come down to the judge’s preferences — how else can we choose? And it is inevitable that a story read by one person may have been placed differently by another.

    However, you are missing the point of the site. Microcosms is a place for writers to meet, a place to receive a little bit of feedback, somewhere to hone your skills. If you are lucky enough to win treat it as a bonus. It should never be your only reason for entering.

    Microcosms is a community. Everyone has the option to vote for the Community Pick — there are no restrictions. We celebrate the winner’s success, whoever they may be, whatever genre they have written in. Then we start again the following week.

    By suggesting judges and writers should ‘stretch their horizons’ — not to mention putting the word win in quotation marks — is disparaging to both parties. You may not rate a story but unless you are judging it is not your decision.

    A wide range of genres are submitted to the site, they all have an equal chance. If you wish to see more ‘light-hearted, soft, tender, romantic pieces’ write some.

    8+

  7. Irene
    29 May 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you for the warm welcome and those who take time to read and give feedback. I knew I was out of my league here with such a talented group of regular contributors, but I enjoyed the challenge of writing my story in the forty-five five minutes that I had left before the bell rang. As they say, no guts, no glory.

    Congratulations to all the winners and mentions! Very inspiring writing.

    7+

    • Alva Holland
      30 May 2017 at 1:14 am

      Adding my welcome here, Irene. Hope you’ll become a regular.

      1+

      • Irene
        30 May 2017 at 7:32 am

        Thank you very much Alva!

        0

  8. 30 May 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Personally I like dark, shock, horror tales but I also appreciate well written tales of other genres. Long live diversity! It’s all subjective Meadow337 and most times the winner for me isn’t the Community pick nor the Judge’s pick. Love the feedback and if I’m lucky enough to get a mention then that’s a bonus. To be fair I expect my tale to win every time with my awful grammar and punctuation 😉 Good to hear your point of view Meadow337

    2+

  9. 30 May 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I don’t really think that the comments are justified, not least on the basis that they make the assumption that ‘darker things’ are easier to write. I don’t think that this is true. At least, it’s not easy to write about them well, just as it’s easy to write bad romance or lighthearted pieces. It’s all about the quality of the writing and the execution of the prompt whichever perspective we might take on it.

    I’ve seen all sorts of stories win here and, more important than the winning, I’ve seen some brilliant and consistent writing from a group of writers I have come to slowly know and respect for the variety of their talents. I write as someone who never has won, in the clear recognition that each judge has their tastes and I can see the merit in each of the winners. I’ve never felt hard done by and, more importantly, if you don’t win, it’s a great motivation to try again. There are some great writers here, many of them published elsewhere too.

    This wonderful community, is, moreover, run, I assume, for nothing other than the love of it and the chance to support a community of writers, giving us all a chance to stretch ourselves by writing in new genres and to think quickly about submissions. As a new writer, I’ve been staggered by the generosity and mutual support of this community.

    As someone who has had the great privilege of judging this contest, moreover, I seem to remember awarding the ‘win’ to a romantic piece and I can remember plenty of other brilliant lighthearted, romantic and tender pieces winning or placing highly.

    I’d like to thank Geoff and the whole Microcosms community for keeping this small corner of the web so positive and for brightening up my Fridays – I feel positive and tender to the lot of you, including you, Meadow337. To cod the great Mohandas K Gandhi, be the Microcosmer (and, yes, it’s now a word) you want to see in the world and blow the judge’s socks off with some tender, romantic, lighthearted wonderfulness next week.

    5+

  10. 30 May 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Having written the selected story which seems to have touched off this discussion, I feel obligated to toss my own thoughts into the ring. So sit back and get comfortable.
    I only found this community a few weeks ago and have only entered twice. Actually three times but I phoned in my entry the week before last so I won’t count it. I didn’t put much thought into and rushed it and it shows. I shouldn’t have put it out there, but I was new here and on my first try was the Community Pick. I didn’t want everyone to think I was one and done. So I rushed something and put it out there. I knew I could do better but hit “send” anyway. Lesson learned for me. Still every chance at writing is a learning tool, or should be if you want to get better.
    I don’t usually write horror. I usually write with a very comedic overtone, but I’m willing to try anything. I have two stories coming out from Splickety Publishing. One is the legend of how Arthur got Excalibur told through the point of view of a very soggy Lady of Lake and the other is about Chuck, the ugliest unicorn. I’m all over the place. My latest story out in the wild looking for a home is a baseball themed romance. Go figure, I hate baseball. My wife loved it, but she likes the Hallmark Channel. You have to give them credit. It’s amazing how they can do so many movies with the same plot line. I digress.
    Occasionally I slip and something really creepy comes out, like this story. When I found my opening sentence I had no idea where this story was going. That’s not something that usually happens to me. I plan the hell out of things, so much that I’m known to miss a deadline or too because I still planning.
    I don’t write horror because it’s easy. I dare anyone to say that to Stephen King face to face. I write it sometimes because it’s fun. Oddly enough horror can be very liberating.
    But too many authors and screenwriters have that same opinion. It’s easy. That’s why there is so much bad horror writing out there, really bad stuff. It’s easy to shock someone by vividly describing someone getting disemboweled. It’s difficult to plant that seed and let it grow in the reader’s or viewer’s mind, let that thought fester into something truly horrific without ever showing them every little detail. What the reader can imagine is a lot scary than anything I can put on the printed page.
    The same goes for any genre. Don’t do it because you think it’s easy. If you do it for that reason you might have a good story but it will never be the best story you could write.
    This discussion line has been great. I love it. Conflicting ideas and reasoning to back it up. To quote David Tennant’s Doctor Who “Brilliant!” Let’s keep doing this. Discussion is good for the soul. If we all had the same viewpoint this would be an extremely boring world and we’d all be writing for the Hallmark Channel.
    Why did I start writing for Microcosms? Fame and fortune, baby. I’ve only just realized that I must have blurred over the part where it stated there was no fortune here. And as for fame, that’s even fleeting. As the Judge’s Pick my reign of literary victory is extremely short lived. As I take my victory lap I realized my crown will be handed over to a new winner next weekend. AND to make matters worse, I have to pick my successor.
    Will it be horror? I don’t know. I don’t know what the constraints will be. It could be. It could be a romance <>. Or even a sonnet about cowboys on the moon. We’ll see. Whatever it is, I’ll make the choice and no one has to agree with me, many probably won’t. I do know that whatever wins, it won’t be written because it was easy. Someone will have put a lot of effort and thought into it. It will be written how the story wants to be told.
    Writing isn’t easy, but it sure is fun.
    Okay, down off my soapbox. I return control of your evening to you. Use it wisely, or don’t. Just have some fun.

    9+

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