RESULTS – Microcosms 74

Thanks to everyone who entered Microcosms 74 this week. We had 15 awesome entries this week, and the community engagement was fantastic! I love it. Keep it up!

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.

Thanks again to Michael Emerson for this week’s prompt.

And many thanks to Bill Bibo for judging MC 74. Here’s what Bill had to say:

First, let me say judging this week was extremely more difficult and thus more time consuming than I had anticipated. Everyone put in some great creative effort and the entries were all over the place in style and content.
I was disappointed that only one person used the original prompts, but then the rules do allow you to “spin again”. To me the challenge is coming up with something given constraints you might not like. It stretches the writer.
In my humble attempt in this my first judging effort I tried to be as completely objective as you can in a subjective contest. I created a quick point system (1-10) based on four elements: did the story meet the stated constraints, creativity, grammar, and in the most subjective way, how did I like it. Also being new to this group I don’t know if you included constructive criticism but decided to include some anyway. You can delete it if you want to.

Bill

 

I thought it was great that Bill was willing to offer feedback on everyone’s piece, so of course I wanted to share it. That being said, the format is slightly tweaked from the usual this week, with winners and selectees having their feedback appear with everyone else’s. 🙂

KM

 

 Favourite / Favorite Lines – and Feedback!

Jeff Messick – Mondays

Clever mix of pulp, noir, and myth but I felt it jumped between those too much for a flash piece.
A great set up that made me anxious to know more. Who are his superiors? Why are they watching movies?
Best line: Damn you, father. Why can’t you just ask to see your grand daughter?
(Here the twist is revealed that he is a demigod, too)

John Herbert – Amazon Prime

Was the author anxious to see “Wonder Woman”? My wife and I are as well.
Overall the setting was vividly described and easily imagined by the reader, though I felt some the vocabulary was slightly extravagant. I had to look up “benison” which I don’t mind in a longer piece, but in a flash piece takes away from the stories momentum.
A very nice, non traditional use of the Roc.
A few minor spelling and pronunciation errors.
Best line: the paragraph length “Among the crenellations and the towers, statuesque women had, of old, stood, clutching spears and shields, eyeing the horizon, past the gentle sweep of Thermodon’s meander, checking for the clouds of dust that betokened hoofprints and advancing enemies, or crowded at the gates, crouched to sweep forth in waves of conquest.

Carin Marais – Exploration Z-1925

The dialogue telling most of the story was very nice. It left the reader to fill in the scene with the few details provided.
Unfortunately simply naming the vehicle CA-melot didn’t work for me. I was expecting more when I read the constraints used.
Best line: “Another creak. A sound like a furnace igniting.” It sets up a wonderful sense of inevitable dread.

Storm Jarvis – Home

Lovely sentiment of loneliness and confinement. I have always felt sorry for the Jinn as commonly depicted. Confined to a lamp or some other container only to be released to serve a master. Never any time for themselves.
I don’t think you need the portions telling us it is excerpt 76 and when it ends. It takes away from the emotional flow of the poem. Perhaps if that had been a subtitle?
Best line: “So turn to me to dust and take me home, For the wind will carry me where I want to roam”

Bill Engleson – Up the Greek Without a Riddle

I do love me a good pun and this story is a cornucopia of fun.
I wanted to know more about the team. Who/what are they? Are they all sphinxes?
While Arcadia is a constraint, Thebes is the setting and Arcadia is a throw away line.
Negative for me, and it is only a personal preference, is the dropping of the F-Bomb. I try to never say or use it.
Best line: “Thick as Thebes.” made me laugh out loud.

Angelique Pacheco – Son of the nihontō

The opening line really grabbed my interest immediately. The grandfather’s tale was great but the transfer to present time was so abrupt I missed it the first couple of times I read the story.
What is the nihonto? A sword? It was unclear.
Best line: “When I saw the sword, a shimmer danced down the blade.”

Angelique Pacheco – Qilin

A very nice descriptive haiku.
Unfortunately when 15 words are in play against 300, it loses in getting the reader to fall into the story.
[has a week of haiku only been tried before?]
Best line: I will cheat and say the entire poem. “His form is that of dragon, Some say of giraffe, Protection and luck he brings.”

No, it hasn’t! If the Microcosms crowd is up for it, maybe we could give it a go, sometime! – KM

Stephen John Lodge – Unicorns of Speed

Wonderful imagery here, humorous and questioning.
I really liked the idea of being able to get a unicorn at a pet store.
Best line: “And wouldn’t take back my unicorn, Sid, Because he said it was used and soiled”. This contrast the legendary beauty of the animal. This guy does not know how to care for a unicorn.

Fatima Okhuosami – Jinns and Men

An interesting chosen format, more of a screen or stage play. I pictured it on the stage with all the characters running and bumping into one another as they ran about yelling “Help”
Comedy is tough and very subjective. I found this humorous but was hoping for a bit more in the dialogue.
Best line: “Your charge has done no evil in three months. Your credit is low.” Evil as a currency is great.

Alva Holland – Defence of the Kappa Kingdom

Beautiful. A sense of evil dread wrapped in a rhythmic language which only heightens the foreboding.
Best line: Difficult, but since I have to. “To end your life in a drowning trance Of flailing arms and gulping air Refilling my plate of moistness fair”

L. Meadow – Kitsune (Japanese name for the Jiuwei Hu)

A very atmospheric piece. Longing, desire, possession, all the elements for a tragic love story.
Though the language is wonderful and quite poetic, it didn’t read like a poem to me. Perhaps that is my ignorance with the format (one I will never try) showing.
Best line: “The pale glimmer of moonlight on her arms turned the drops that fell from her lips into shards of diamond.”

Eloise – Scarlet the Dragon

I loved the idea of a water dragon and a friendly one at that, with all the children playing around it. But if she was swimming int eh moat and everyone knew her, why didn’t eh soldiers? Though I like the scene where she is recognized? “Scarlet?”
Best line: “She loved to play in puddles and swim backstroke through the moat.” Gives a view into her peaceful and playful spirit.

Michael Emerson – Fame and Fortune

I loved the word play between the two main characters, Griffon and Gryphon, and even griffin. A mythical creature is always one to be reckoned with. But I felt the story tied up the ending a little too quickly.
Best line: “This griffin was smarter than it looked.” Danger, danger, Will Robinson!

Steph Ellis – Ghosts

A wintery tale much needed as I read this outside on the hottest day of the year, so far.
Great imagery of a ghostly frigid realm. The cold and snow can play tricks on a person.
Best line: “The storm had dropped and the horse led them on. It left no mark on the snow. And they left no footprints.”

Stella Turner – Planning a Journey

A truly horrific tale that subtly shows a woman longing for more in an unfulfilled relationship and finding an interesting way out.
I wish there had been a few more hints at the beginning that the creature was a unicorn and not a rhino or some singularly horned demon.
Best line: : “I wondered if it would have been more sensible to wrap it around its mouth and not my arm.” It shows the relationship the two creatures established.

 

Whew!
That was exhausting. Everyone should be very proud. The time constraint, along with everything else we have to do on a daily basis, to produce a story in one day is quite demanding. Having accomplished this, you are a better writer. And besides, challenge is quite fun.
And so… The envelope please….
Bill

Honourable / Honorable Mentions

Stephen John Lodge – Unicorns of Speed

Michael Emerson – Fame and Fortune

Steph Ellis – Ghosts

Bill Engleson – Up the Greek Without a Riddle
 

 

Runners-up

L. Meadow – Kitsune (Japanese name for the Jiuwei Hu)

Stella Turner – Planning a Journey

And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 74.

 

(insert drumroll here)

 

 

Community Picks

We have a tie again this week! -KM

Storm Jarvis – Home
108 words
Jinn / Mt. Fuji / Poem

The Diary of Jinn found at the bottom of Mt. Fuji.

Entry 76 – excerpt begins… “Home

The tides can take me, I no longer will be confined,
a life in the darkness to which I was assigned.
Wash me clean, oh ocean of the Earth,
let me feel the glory of your mirth.

Release the binds that continue to confine me.
Remove this darkness that tries to define me.
Too long I have wept in these shadowed halls,
let me respond to your bewitching calls.

So turn to me to dust and take me home,
For the wind will carry me where I want to roam.” excerpt ends.
 

Steph Ellis – Ghosts
108 words
Pegasus / Thule / Horror

“Land!”

Weary eyes followed the boy’s directions. A mass of white slowly loomed into focus, stark against the ink of night. The crew shrugged their shoulders and turned away. It was just another iceberg.

Only the Captain paid any attention. He had not quite given up. Slowly the ship drifted towards the frozen mound, the temperature dropping so that by the time they reached the hostile shoreline frost dusted his men, transformed them into ghosts.

“Thule, Captain.”

The mysterious island of the northern wastes. “Prepare to go ashore,” he ordered.

“But Captain, the stories …”

He looked sadly at his men, his ghosts. “We have no choice. No food, little water. Here—we might have a chance.” Then he looked back at the ocean, the never-ending emptiness and they saw it with him.

It was as bleak as expected, ice and barren rock, but they found an easy path leading them inland. Soon snow started to fall, obscured their vision. The group huddled together as the flurry became a blizzard.

“Did you see it?”

The Captain turned.

“A horse,” said the man, pointing. “I saw a horse!”

The Captain looked in the same direction. Could see a shape that might be a horse, might not. Might be false hope.

“A horse, Captain!” Others were pointing now and they could all clearly see the creature, whiter than anything they had ever seen before. “It must come from somewhere.”

Hope sparked dead eyes. Until the horse stretched out impossible wings.

“Pegasus,” said the crew, voices awed.

“We can never follow him,” said one sailor. “He belongs to the spirit world.”

But the Captain smiled. That was no longer a problem. The storm had dropped and the horse led them on. It left no mark on the snow. And they left no footprints.
 

Judge’s Pick

Winner, there can only be one, I guess… -Bill

Alva Holland – Defence of the Kappa Kingdom
156 words
Kappa / Arcadia / Poem

Defence of the Kappa Kingdom

Approach at your peril
This body of water – mine
For you know not the power
Hidden beneath the vine
Of tangled roots and watery shrines
To which you bow with trepidation – fear.

Presenting me with the deadly chance
To end your life in a drowning trance
Of flailing arms and gulping air
Refilling my plate of moistness fair.

The kappa rules this Arcadia found
By straying into its wilderness alone
And finding strength in the vast unknown
I claim the humans that bow and moan.

Drown you will in my shrine of death
No intruder will live while I draw a breath
In this deep dark pool where troubles abound
You fight until you hear the sound

Of my wrenched arm now useless and weak
A fragility exposed
You see a sliver of light.
Down your head goes
You think you can fight.

The kappa’s power is all-consuming
Concede, you weakling
There’s no escape from drowning.

 

Congratulations, Alva! Please let us know if you’d like to judge the next go round!

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RESULTS - Microcosms 75
RESULTS - Microcosms 73

9 comments for “RESULTS – Microcosms 74

  1. Irene
    5 June 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Congratulations to the winners!

    0
  2. 6 June 2017 at 12:11 am

    A fun writing exercise.

    0
  3. Profile gravatar of Michael Emerson
    6 June 2017 at 12:34 am

    Congratulations!

    0
  4. Alva Holland
    6 June 2017 at 1:06 am

    Thank you so much, judge Bill. I am blown away by this win. You certainly raised the bar with your judging comments on each story. Fantastic constructive criticism here. The prompts challenged everyone to produce excellent pieces. I really enjoyed this week’s stories. Thanks again, everyone.

    1+
  5. Eloise
    6 June 2017 at 1:42 am

    Well done to the winners and thank you for the constructive criticism

    0
  6. Profile gravatar of Jeff Messick
    6 June 2017 at 9:03 am

    Congratulations to the winners. Great contest this week and an unexpected, yet thoroughly absorbed constructive criticism.

    0
  7. Profile gravatar of Bill Bibo
    6 June 2017 at 10:03 pm

    I’ve been writing a long time, but only getting passable recently. After this weekend I have new respect for judging a competition. To put it bluntly, it was very hard. Having completed those personality trait tests too many times for various work projects, I always come up as a Circle or Dove or whatever the current fad is. I just want everyone to get along. But my next door neighbor Lenore, a 92-year-old poet and author with 2 books of short stories published by Ohio University Press, countless poems, and who is presently working on her memoir, told me, “Do it. It will be good for you.” So I did. And it was.

    Everyone who entered should be extremely proud. The stories were wonderful. You took tough constraints, topic and especially time, and managed to fit in your normal day writing a complete story. Good work. Only having recently discovered this group I’m impressed. I enjoyed every single one of them.

    I was nervous about the constructive criticism, but then I figured I always want to know what works and especially what doesn’t. It helps me next time. I hoped you did too. We’re all here to be better writers. I hope I helped you in some small way. I know you helped me.

    Thank you for the opportunity. And thanks for reading me.

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      7 June 2017 at 4:53 am

      Great job, Bill and I am not just saying that because you awarded my story Judge’s Pick. You went far beyond the call of duty as a judge here and I just hope that this is not a permanent bar by which all future judges will be judged! I am doing the honours next weekend. It’s a scary challenge but worth it for the change in perspective – writer to judge. I am always so impressed by the quality of the stories submitted to Microcosms and I hope the community will continue to grow.

      1+
  8. Profile gravatar of Meadow337
    9 June 2017 at 12:27 am

    Congrats to all the winners!

    It was lovely to see (and read) a range of styles this week over so many entries.

    0

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