Microcosms 77

Welcome, welcome to Microcosms 77 – for a festival of Friday flash fiction fun. So, what’s the story?

For some time, I’ve been trying to take a break from celebrating births / deaths of famous people in my Microcosms contest posts. The best I came up with this week is a commemoration of notable events that occurred on this date, 23-JUN.

  • 1940: Adolf Hitler takes three-hour tour of Paris architecture, his only visit to the city.
  • 1969: IBM announces intention to price software and hardware services separately, creating modern software industry.
  • 1972:President Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman taped talking about using CIA to obstruct FBI’s Watergate investigation.
  • 2012: Ashton Eaton breaks decathlon world record at US Olympic Trials.
  • 2013: Nik Wallenda becomes the first man to successfully walk across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope.
  • 2016: UK votes in referendum to leave European Union



(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: Day Tripper, setting: National Park, and genre: Thriller.

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 ***


  • Day Tripper
  • Software Engineer
  • US President
  • Athlete
  • Extreme Sports Person
  • Brexiteer
  • France
  • Silicon Valley
  • White House
  • Olympic Games
  • National Park
  • Polling Station
  • Crime
  • Horror
  • Fantasy
  • Memoir
  • Thriller
  • Comedy


Judging this week is Microcosms 76 Judge’s Pick AND Community Pick, Sian Brighal.

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 78
Microcosms 76

41 thoughts on “Microcosms 77

    1. Thanks for the hads-up, Bill. (And by that I meant ‘heads-up’!)
      I don’t know where that came from; I’m just glad that I didn’t make the same mistake when researching events on this day in history.
      [ SLEEP! Must… get… sleep… ]

  1. Prompt: US President / White House / Memoir

    Title: For the People
    (299 words)

    I’m the last one; the world lies in ruins. When the riots started the Secret Service put me here in the safe room, and left to find an evacuation route; but that was three days ago and I haven’t heard or seen anyone since. I don’t have the code to open the door. This morning the electricity failed, so I only have a few hours of air left. I assume all is lost outside; otherwise, someone would have come to evacuate me to a safe location. I am recording this last message for posterity, my last legacy I suppose. You’ll want an explanation I suppose. I thought I did the right thing when I closed the borders – national sentiment was against all foreigners – America for Americans was chanted in every town and city. I had to listen to the will of the people. What we didn’t expect was the uprising of a well-organized counter movement celebrating immigrants.

    The clashes started small, easily put down by the police (which I had to arm heavily) but soon they grew into large-scale civil resistance. They claimed we are all immigrants and that the borders had to open. How could I allow that? No. The only thing was to put down this ridiculous notion that we all come from somewhere else, we are American and America is for Americans. At first, the police could settle the marches but when the riots started, I called in the army. The people were also well-armed, well-organized, and fought back. Suicide bombers screamed, ‘for the people’ as they blew up soldiers. ‘For the people’ what a joke. The people are America and America for Americans!

    Wait, is that the door? Who are you?

    A gunshot is heard, and a new voice says ‘for the people’.

    Tape Ends.

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  2. Unearthed To The Ground by Steve Lodge @steveweave71
    297 words. Athlete/Olympic Games/Crime

    A crisp November afternoon. The day after Bonfire Night. Only the charred remains.

    “Sergeant Withers,” said Detective Pepper Titus, getting out of her car at the entrance to the village cricket field in Sparrowditch. “I assume you are up to speed with the situation here. Please update me sympathetically,” She raised a finger. “I had a big lunch that I do not want to see again.”

    Withers nodded. “Victim is one Tony Monotony. Well known around here, boss. Few years ago represented GB at the Olympics in Haemmelvik. Apparently a bit of a runner. Well, anyway, he may have been drugged, he was bound by 2 pieces of rope one tied to each wrist, the other ends tied to the supports at each side of the front of the cricket pavilion. His trousers were removed and thrown on the bonfire.” Withers paused. He was wondering how to express the next part of his report.

    “Careful, Withers? I am so close to puking even at the thought of what you are going to say. If that happens, I may just aim it at your shoes.”

    “Look, there’s no easy way to say this. He had a giant firework, a rocket shoved up his backside. The perpetrators lit the fuse and presumably retired to a safe distance to watch.” Withers stopped.

    “And…?” Pepper virtually shouted.

    “See for yourself.” He moved to one side so Pepper could see the mess, then added, “It exploded.”

    “Oh, dear God.” She muttered and headed for the edge of the field, hand over her mouth, one shoe left stuck in the soft grass.

    This was the eighth murder in as many weeks in the village.

    When she returned, she snorted at Withers. “This village and its residents are really beginning to piss me off.”

  3. National Park, Day Tripper, Thriller

    @geofflepard 298 words

    History Repeats

    “Hey, Bud. Can you get this one?” Jimmy headed for the men’s room.
    The car was a classic, Gran Torino. The driver wound down his window. “What gives, fella?”
    Bud tugged at the sweat patches on his shirt. “Park’s on lockdown. Some crazy at the visitor centre.”
    The driver had a sharp smile. Bud thought ‘matinee idol’ and shook his head. Mabel would have liked him. “You need to turn round.”
    The driver seemed in no hurry. “Like ’74?”
    Bud frowned, glancing at Jimmy. Young ‘un always teased him if he mentioned the siege of ’74.
    “I heard one of you Rangers was the hero that day.”
    “Him. Bud. Took a bullet, though not a hero. Shut in the john, wetting himself. Ran out, covered in blood. Thought he was dying, and clattered the perp by accident.”
    “Ancient history.” Bud adjusted his glasses. “Bit young to remember that, ain’t you?”
    “You not heard the news? Guy who did it, he got out. You guys think he’s back to finish it off?”
    “It?” Bud wished he’d just leave.
    “I heard he had a grudge, you know?” The driver pulled off a glove. The back of his hand was covered in a tattoo. Bud wondered why it was familiar.
    “Yeah, so he claimed. He was just a nutter.”
    There was a movement behind the driver’s mirror shades, like he blinked or something.
    “He thought there never should have been a park here, on sacred land,” he said, and turned to look into the park. “Probably.”
    Bud was suddenly conscious everywhere was quiet. Jimmy had disappeared, too. The driver’s hand covered Bud’s. A gun pointed up at Bud from the driver’s lap.
    “My daddy never forgot you, Bud. What you did. Time I introduced you properly, and we finished what he started.”

  4. City of Lights

    299 words

    Day Tripper/France/Crime

    I watched a crowd of pompiers running loops of the Tuileries, the late spring sun warming my old bones so I almost deluded myself that I might join them. Instead, I sat back on my bench, watched the elegant young couples, sprung from their offices, eating lunch at the cafés, and relived my former rendezvous.

    Toly, my contact from the old days, met me here. I kept dead letter boxes at the Orangerie for him to fill, had whispered conversations in metro cars as we trundled north, melting into the smells and crowds of the Gare du Nord when we parted.

    I had been warned to stay away since Toly’s capture, the ghosts of the city pursuing me long after I’d been reassigned. Among the plump faces in the Washington crowds I surveilled throughout my forties, a glimpse of Slavic cheekbones was enough to transport me back here, where I had stalked the narrow Parisian streets. But all of that, I had imagined, was behind me.

    Then Matthews called, shattering the tranquility of a Torquay retirement. ‘One last job,’ he’d murmured, ‘a day out, you might say, old boy, another roll of the dice.’

    And so, I left the Tuileries, past the crowd queuing by the ghastly new pyramid at the Louvre, through the arcades by the Palais Royale, to the tiny bistro, Le Matelot, where I was told the diplomat dined alone. Splendid place, it transpired. Such a shame to leave my tarte tatin, perhaps my last in the City of Lights. But a call came, as I knew it would, and my mark was summoned to the bar to answer it. I slid a pill into his coffee and left.

    I heard the sirens shrieking from a block away as I ambled to the station at dusk.

  5. Prompts: Day Tripper, National Park, Thriller
    Word Count: 3

    Title: Why I (a closet serial killer) Hike in the Grand Canyon

    No guard rails.


    1. “…and the Ernest Hemingway Award goes to…”

      Nice idea, Damhnait, but I’m not sure that putting all the background info, necessary for the story to work, into the title would have squared with Hemingway – or whoever wrote the ‘baby shoes’ classic. Plus, ‘guardrails’ is a valid alternative spelling, so you could have reduced your word count by 33%! 😉

      It reminds me of my entry to Rebekah Postupak’s sadly-missed Flash! Friday – round 3-40. Rebekah had begun to ring the changes with the word limit; for this round, she intended it to be ‘maximum 300 words’, but instead she specified the required word count was ‘0-300’. I seized on the opportunity implied by that lower limit, and my entry was:

      Theme: Transformation
      Setting: Humble village, castle
      Word Count: 0

      The Emperor’s New Clothes or A Tale of Such Refined Subtlety and Wit That Only a Moron Would Not Recognise the Unspoken Transformation in Character of a Lowly Young Man from a Humble Village to the Ruler of a Vast Empire, Estranged from the People He Rules in the Lonely Isolation of His Castle

      1. Luckily Papa isn’t around to criticize my technique.

        And Geoff, a zero word count is very impressive. Way to make that title work!

      2. Thanks! I was just having fun with the notion that a zero word count would be acceptable.
        Needless to say, I didn’t win – but I did get a Special Mention… for brevity. 🙂

  6. Showdown by Jeff Messick
    276 words
    Day Tripper, National Park, Thriller

    My partner was late.
    The sinking sun was just starting to touch the mountains of Yosemite, signaling the end of another day, and the life of an international spy.
    The barrel of the gun was unremarkable, just the same as any other weapon I’d had pointed at me in my career. The man holding it though, was unique.
    Reynaldo Corsicana was just like me, though he sold his services to the highest bidder. I wondered what the bid was on my death. He didn’t need the gun, as puny as it looked in his massive hand. At 6’6”, he looked as if he could crush boulders. I knew from his dossier that his ability with firearms nearly matched my own.
    I shifted, trying to ease the pain in my leg; the bullet he’d put there was stinging. My running shoes were covered in my blood, as was my hand that was desperately clamped over my wound. My options were dwindling from none, to worse, if that was even possible.
    Where the hell was my partner? I remembered the other gunshot, while running through the thick trees. Had Reynaldo taken my partner down already? My mind worked furiously, but no option seemed workable.
    If I could get into my backpack… but secured on my back, that wasn’t going to happen.
    “Goodbye, Gordon.”
    “Wait!” I cried, raising my other hand, defensively.
    The gunshot pounded through the clearing, and Reynaldo crumpled in front of me. My wife stood behind him, her arm wrapped tightly with the sleeve ripped from her top.
    “Hey, darling, did you want ketchup or mustard on your hamburger?” she asked.
    She wasn’t late after all.

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    1. The barrel of the gun was unremarkable, just the same as any other weapon I’d had pointed at me in my career. The man holding it though, was unique.

      Liked those lines in particular.

  7. Character: Extremes sports person
    Setting: National Park
    Genre: Crime
    Word count: 220

    Running with Rhino

    They found him. Gored on the side. He had a red shirt on.

    “Who is this?” asked Colonel Visagie.

    “Some parkour athlete,” said Constable Van Wyk.

    “What is a parkour athlete? Is it another name for poacher?”

    “No, Colonel. It’s those guys who jump from building to building.”

    “What? Ag anyway, I don’t have time for this. What was he doing in the park?”

    “He was trying to see if he could outrun a rhino?”

    “What? Is he mad?”

    “Well, we will never know, Colonel, because he is dead, and his camera was trampled.”

    “Where is the rhino?”

    “The game rangers have swept the area before we got here and they said it had left.”

    “OK. Call the coroner.”

    Van Wyk strode back towards the police van. The bush rustled. He stopped. The bush rustled again. He struggled to jog a five km, never mind outrun a rhino. What did that game ranger tell him? His mind was blank. The bushes rustled again. He looked for the tallest tree but there were only saplings; the bushfire had taken the big trees. He edged towards the van. Out of the bush emerged a baby rhino. Van Wyk sighed, but then a new thought crossed his mind: where was the mom? All he heard was the pounding of hooves. He would need the coroner next.

  8. Day tripper/ National Park/ Thriller

    Word count: 289


    The African sun beat down on them. A breeze blew gently through the acacia thorns and gave the animals some respite from the summer temperatures. The Kruger National Park was full of visitors today. From young, sticky-fingered toddlers to grumpy, old grandpas. Even the illegals were making a run for the border from Mozambique.

    They sat dead still. Any movement would give them away. What an unbelievable sight. The kids had never seen one up close before. He was a wiry specimen. He had a compact body with powerful hind legs. A shaggy black mane covered his head. He moved stealthily, his muscles taut. Every now and then he stopped and looked at the ground intently. He would look all around him then take a few more steps. He was obviously tracking something. They stayed on him waiting to see what he would do. To see a hunt in the wild would be a fantastic experience. One of the kids stepped on a stick and the noise startled him. He looked up and his eyes widened in terror.

    They leapt from where they had been watching like tourists, their hind legs pumping hard to close the distance. Cecil, the alpha male of the group, was the first to reach the target, burying his sharp teeth into the soft flesh of his victim’s neck. It was over in a matter of seconds. The large caliber rifle he had been carrying never fired a shot. It dropped where he did.

    The lion dragged the body of the poacher to the underbrush the kids and his wife following closely. They would feast tonight. Cecil the lion gave a low growl, “This one’s head will look great on the tree at our camp!”

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  9. US President; National park; Comedy of twit terrors
    300 hallucinations


    1:47 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // @mylittleflotus Miss you, Melania. You used to bring me warm milk. Crooked Hillary’s to blame.

    1:53 a.m.
    “Hey, Goofus. Your Flotus is right next to you now. You don’t need to tweet me. I’ll heat up the milk.”

    1:53:01 a.m.
    “Oh! Oops!”

    2:00 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Can’t sleep. Melania just brought me some warm milk. Such a great gal. Glad she’s finally here.

    2:00:10 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Note to myself: Got to remember that my kumquat is at the While House now.

    2:00:15 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Am I a numbnuts or what?! Oops. Delete. Oops! Too late!

    2:01 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // What is the big deal? Someone’s taping me. Of course, someone is. Stands to reason. I’m me. ME!

    2:03 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // We will BUILD THE WALL! But what if we build a border barrier of GOLF COURSES?

    2:05 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Can you believe it?: Some National Parks already have Golf Courses. Yosemite, for Uncle Sam’s sake. Yosemite!

    2:07 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // So, back to GOLF COURSES. Fitness. They promote fitness. And Business. 4000 miles of them.

    2:10 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Then there is the Canadian Border. Is it too damn cold to play golf in Canada?

    2:11 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Oh, well, one wall at a time. How many Golf Courses would make a Border? I’ll google that.

    2:13 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Scottish Borders. I knew that. So much to know. And squeeze in my very full brain.

    2:15 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Here’s the kicker. One long walled Golf Course National Park. Paid for by the Mexicans.

    2:17 a.m.
    Donald J Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump // Take that, Franklin D. Roosevelt. New Deal, my fat fanny. I’ll give Americans the greatest deal ever.

    1. Wondered were your entry was, Bill! All those addresses to type in – introducing a full stop after the ‘J’ occasionally. Then it got stuck in approval…

      I’ve bracketted the @ signs to get round the problem, and made a few other tweaks. Let me know if anything needs changing.

      1. The trouble, Bill, was it was a little *too* ‘real-appearing’! The actual problem was that ‘Trump[@]unrealDonJ.Trump’ was being interpreted as an *email* address, and a mailto: hypertext link was being created; the blog software wasn’t sure if this was a kosher comment or spam, so it was classed as ‘unapproved’.

        Your original submission seemed to be ‘@ my little flotus’ or something like that; can’t quite remember now, but certainly the ‘@’ was separate from the rest, so I assumed that it was a typo, and I capitalised ‘my’ and ‘flotus’ as I thought ‘My little Flotus’ was a salutation… That’s fixed now.

        You had two spaces after the fake twitter address to separate it from the ‘tweet’, but the software converts all multiple spaces / blank lines to a single space / blank line. (Take note, everyone who tries to indent paragraphs with multiple spaces!) I’ve just amended the two blank spaces to ‘ // ‘ in order to give a clear gap, whilst maintaining the ‘techy transcript’ look. I hope that’s OK.

        With all this tweaking going on, I didn’t get a chance to read your entry for what it is: an inventive and hilarious set of ‘Trumped’ up tweets! Great job. (We’ll miss DJT after the impeachment…) 😀

      2. Aarrrgh! Just remembered another potential typo that I wasn’t sure was intentional.

        In the 2:00:10 a.m. tweet, you have ‘While House’. Should that be ‘White House’?

        [ Also, ‘warm milk’?!? I thought DJT’s early morning tweets were fuelled by ‘covfefe’. 😉 ]

  10. Day Tripper/National Park/Thriller…sort of
    Words: 297

    Enemy Aliens

    Spirals of barbed wire, rusted cooking pots, tin cans. Cobblestones and rotting fence posts. Privy dugouts. A leaning wooden cross. Ghosts of hundreds of Ukrainian, Austrian and German immigrants. All that remains of Castle Mountain Internment Camp, deep in the shadowy woods of Banff National Park. Former lodgings of enemy aliens during World War 1.

    Pine trees still echo groans of inmates who were forced into hard labor: clearing forests, building roads and infrastructure for the grand designs of Canada’s rich and powerful. Inmates were starved, beaten, exposed to treacherous conditions of climate and wildlife.

    Was the striking beauty of the sawtooth mountains, glacier fields and alpine meadows lost on the inmates? Did they awaken in their tents each morning grateful to breathe deeply of the clean mountain air? Grateful to be in Canada?

    My great-grandfather, Ivan, is among those spirits still shackled here. His only crime was to immigrate to Canada from the oppressive Ukraine in search of a better life for his family. Canada’s once-welcoming arms became his armed escort to prison camp.

    After all, Ivan was a Ukrainian farmer who dressed in weird clothes and smelled like garlic. He was arrested during Mass for suspicion of conspiracy, leaving my Baba Luba to raise four children and harvest the crops on her own.

    Garlic may have saved Ivan from the rampant spread of tuberculosis or pneumonia in camp, but it did not protect him from the brutality of the xenophobic guards, who claimed Ivan hung himself. Emancipated inmates later said otherwise.

    Every summer we pass through Castle Mountain on our way to Lake Louise, stop to visit this haunted place where Ivan spent his last days, where he made the ultimate sacrifice to give his family a better life.

    We endure, and we are grateful.

  11. AJ Aguilar-Van Der Merwe

    Day Tripper | France | Memoir

    (299 words)

    It was fate. I knew it was possible for a brief moment to change the course of one’s life. I just didn’t think that Paris would change me that way. It’s meant to be the most romantic city in the world. Wonderful memories to cherish forever were created in France. That was the plan.

    I arranged a trip to Paris for our first wedding anniversary. I was going to surprise my husband. I thought it was ideal as we had both been working hard. I also had a meeting in Paris with clients on Thursday. I was taking Friday off and we would then spend the weekend in Bordeaux. I was sure he would welcome the break from his writing. Bordeaux could prove inspirational, too. I simply wanted to drink wine and relax. I had not anticipated a possible scheduling complication. He had said he was meeting his agent in London and wouldn’t be able to travel with me but he promised to follow. We would just meet in Bordeaux. It was still workable.

    I had time to kill before my flight to Bordeaux so I decided to head out to Champs-Élysées. I had been eyeing a Louis Vuitton bag and it was my perfect opportunity to spoil myself. I had not been feeling too great about myself. I suspected that my feeling of inadequacy was rearing its ugly head. I had long realized that a successful career and confidence did not sufficiently compensate for the fact that I just didn’t feel good enough.

    In hindsight, I wished it hadn’t been a perfect opportunity to kill time and spoil myself. I wouldn’t have bumped into my husband and his mistress and accidentally pushed him in front of an incoming tourist bus.

    A new life was only beginning for me.

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