Microcosms 88

Hi all! And welcome to Microcosms 88! Wow, I really can’t believe that…

Today is National Literacy Day in the US, and I wanted to highlight the work of one of my favorite authors of all time, a man who has contributed greatly to English Literacy due to his whimsical rhymes, Dr. Seuss. Unbelievably, it has been nearly 26 years since we lost this amazing author.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was an author, political cartoonist, poet, animator, book publisher, and artist. He worked for national publications and even produced several short films for the US Army during WWII (some of which are definitely considered politically incorrect by today’s standards). Of course, he is best known as a children’s book author. Per Wikipedia, “His work includes several of the most popular children’s books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages by the time of his death.”

His work has been praised for helping young readers learn phonological awareness through rhyme, and many of his stories have progressive moral messages that reflect his liberal Democratic views.

Despite his “moral blind spot” regarding the Japanese, which he overcame after the war, Dr. Seuss remains one of my favorite authors of all time (and just so happens to be the inspiration for my twitter handle @thebatinthehat).

Special Challenge (not required for entry): use one of Dr. Seuss’s books or cartoons for inspiration.

The characters and settings are inspired by both his occupations and his work. In honor of his creative spirit, I’ve include the “Your Choice” option once again.

If you do use/choose the “Your Choice” option, please specify what it is that you’ve chosen.



(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: A Cat, setting: In a House, and genre: Post-Apocalyptic. LOL

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 – character, setting and genre. 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 ***


  • A Cat
  • A “Thing” (hmm)
  • A Talking Fish
  • Environmentalist
  • Pacifist
  • A “Grinch”
  • Animator
  • Cartoonist
  • Author
  • Creature
  • Poet
  • Traveler
  • Businessman
  • Twins
  • Elephant
  • Your Choice!
  • Newsroom
  • WWII
  • Artist Studio
  • Forest
  • Mountain
  • Village
  • A Tiny Planet
  • In a House
  • With a Mouse
  • In a Box
  • With a Fox
  • In a Car
  • In a Tree
  • On a Train
  • In the Dark
  • In the Rain
  • With a Goat
  • On a Boat
  • Your Choice!
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Sci-Fi
  • Crime
  • Steampunk
  • Comedy
  • Poetry
  • Western
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Historical
  • Drama
  • Alternate History


This week’s judge is last week judge’s pick Valita Suzanne.

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 89
Microcosms 87

36 thoughts on “Microcosms 88

  1. Words: 295
    Used: Creature, In the dark, Steampunk

    What the Ether Let Through

    Ether shimmered in the dark alley as the creature appeared and stalked along the cobblestones on all fours. With only dark holes for eyes, it had to rely on its sense of smell and, even now, it sniffed and blew its stinking breath at the slit beneath one of the alley doors. It knew very well where its prey was hiding. The smell of decay hung in the room on the other side of the door. But it was not the decay the slime-slicked creature had come for. It had come for the living person hiding behind the door. It took a deep breath, feeding on the scent of fear and, for a moment, its eyes glowed a sickly green.
    Henry pressed his ear against the wood of the door and listened to the snuffling. As intrepid explorer he had done away with many a predator and tonight would be no different. His eyes drifted over the room. His specimens had cooperated very well and was now catalogued and pinned in place. All but one – the one which emitted the awful stench. That one he would not keep – the photos he’d taken were enough to make anyone insane; that eyeless face, the matted hair covering the body, the all-too-human-hands clenched into fists.
    An insistent scratching started at the door and Henry jumped.
    “Devil take you!” he shouted and headed for the table with the abomination. How could he have known that a simple steam-powered machine could rip a hole in the ether?
    Henry picked up the dead creature, carried it to the hearth and tossed it in. Flames licked at the fur and face even as the door was rent and the parent creature stormed in and ripped at the explorer with razor claws.

  2. The Cat (With No Hat) Inherits the Earth (and licks her bits of course)
    A.J. Walker

    At the end of the days there was Myrtle
    A simple cat not little- fat! with no hat
    of course; she’s a cat!

    In her house, she just licks, purrs, eats and sleeps,
    Licks her bits; does as she pleases (as always)
    – And sharpens her claws.

    Of strange cockroaches they’ll never be seen
    Nor mice, rats, elephants, chiropodists.
    Cats inherit the earth!

    You’ll soon know, if you look in their eyes
    We’re intruders, it’s their world: Believe!
    – Cats know this is true.

    If you growl or threaten a pussycat
    They’ll appear carefree. You’re nothing, you see?
    It’s the cats who‘ll inherit the world.

    – and they’ll do a better job… you’ll not see.

    WC 113
    A Cat/ in a House/ post apocalypse

  3. Tiny planet/cartoonist/western
    Word count: 197

    The Draw Off

    “This planet is not big enough for the both of use” shouted Theo.
    “Yes, it is” screamed Jean back.
    “No it is not” said Theo as he slammed his fist against the table.
    “Fine. I challenge you to a duel”
    “What kind of duel?” ask Theo. His eyebrow slightly raised.
    “A drawing duel. We let our pens talk. The one with the best art stays on the planet”
    Theo’s assistant gathered all his pens, brushes and paints. This was going to a challenge he would enjoy winning.
    They sat opposite each other. Their pens poised. The assistant shouted “DRAW”. Jean and Theo scribbled like their lives depended on it. Paint flew, pens sprinted across the table as they created their masterpieces. “Done” shouted Theo with a satisfactory smile. Jean raised his head. His art was almost complete.
    “What is that?” sniggered Theo.
    “It’s an elephant. Have you never seen an elephant?”sneered Jean
    “Yes. Of course, but that looks like a grey mush”
    “Well, show us your masterpiece then.” Said Jean indignantly
    Lifting his masterpiece, Jean’s mouth made an O. He made his way to the spaceship. He could never draw with such clarity as Theo.

  4. Cat/house/post-apocalyptic
    300 words


    From her usual spot between the front seats, the little girl gazed at the passing landscape, absently drawing shapes in the craggy skin on Father’s neck. On either side of the road the broken bones of civilization lay in colorless mounds. She often wondered why the colors left, why the piles weren’t bright like Lego bricks. Perhaps because she was thinking this, her heart thrilled at the orange fur sticking up from the drift. 

    “Stop!” she screeched. Her father slammed on the RV”s breaks and shot the girl into the huge front window. The purslane Mother had been cutting for dinner flew like confetti. 

    “What the hell!” Father gripped the steering wheel. The girl pointed to the almost invisible orange slash. He squinted, his brow furrowed. She could tell he was about to loss his temper, so she darted down the steps and out the hole that had once been a door on their RV, when their RV had been a vacation vehicle and not their home, when homes still stood.

    The girl ran to the drift and extracted the treasure, shaking the radioactive dust from its fur the same way women once shook out clean clothes, back when people bothered cleaning clothes, back…  

    The cat’s matted coat hung off its bones like bolts of loose fabric.  She put her grimy nose next to its pink one, and whispered, “Wake up.” 

    The cat’s eyes remained little tipped dashes. 

    “Wake up I said!” the commanding tone was clearly an emulation of her father’s. She gave a hearty, bone-rattling, flesh-tenderizing shake. Nothing.

    Cradling the cat in her arms, she took slow, shuffling steps, the kind that don’t want to, not toward Mother and Father and the RV, but to the front door, to all was left of the cat’s home. She knocked. 

  5. A Cat, In a House, Post-Apocalyptic
    299 Words
    Last One Standing

    Dogs howl at the moon, that’s what they say. Not that anyone alive would know. There hadn’t been a moon since my grandfather’s grandfather’s time. Dogs howl at each other, I knew, and at people, sensible things to howl at.

    I shivered and wished I had a dog with me. It could keep me warm and safe, be my eyes and ears. My goggles blocked out the grit and filth floating in the air but they also blocked what little light filtered through. Not that there was much to see. This was a suburb, probably. Now it was mostly square holes in the ground, with one or two walls still standing. I was surprised, therefore, to catch sight of something solid in the distance. I headed towards it. No house these days was untouched but I might be able to find something the other scavengers missed.

    The yellow haze made it difficult to tell but the house was remarkably whole, all three of the walls I could see intact, the door closed. I hesitated, but the wind howled and my stomach growled. If someone was going to kill me at least I would be out of my misery.
    The door closed with finality, plunging me into darkness. I waited for something to jump out at me but nothing did. That does not mean the house was still however. Something moved beyond my vision, slithering or, undulating. I fumbled for my lantern. The steady glow comforted me briefly, until I raised the light high and saw what was waiting.

    Luminous green eyes flashed. All around me hundreds upon hundreds of felines bared their teeth and hissed. No wonder the house was untouched. I turned the handle and fled into the wind. Nothing is more dangerous than a thousand territorial cats.

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  6. a cat – in a house – poetry.
    199 words

    A Cat’s Life

    A cat lives in world secret and fun!
    A cat has a job that has to be done!
    A cat has to keep the grass monsters at bay!
    Work that is new every single day.
    During the night when a cat has to rest –
    THEY come out and creep closer with zest

    When a sleepy cat rises in the early dawn.
    And wakes up with a sleepy yawn.
    She discovers with great dismay –
    That the monsters have come out to play.
    All yesterdays work is undone.
    Now today a new game has begun.

    To the beat of an unseen drum –
    She ventures out to see the sum,
    Of the damage that has been wrought.
    All yesterdays battles were for nought.
    Today she must be especially vigilant.
    The enemy is very belligerent.

    Out to the battlefield she commences.
    There is no room for mending fences.
    No peace, no treaties,
    The enemy are not sweeties.
    They must be completely defeated.
    And the dreadful task completed.

    Perhaps she will win today.
    And keep the grass monsters at bay.
    But I have a serious reservation –
    They exist only in her imagination.
    I am quite certain that tomorrow
    A new game will surely follow.

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    1. Lovely…I like how it seems to be some cycle, perpetuated by the cat, so she can wake and hunt and work and play.

  7. Title – Today I Learned
    Themes – Creature/Your Choice!/Poetry
    Word Count – 46

    I admit,
    I knew bombilate.
    So rotund a word,
    For a buzzing sound.
    However, this where I get cleverer!
    I didn’t know about bombulate.
    A word most fitting, for sitting around
    A campfire, beans abound.

    Although I now do wonder,
    If bees Bombulate while they bombilate?

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  8. talking fishy businessman; In a Box; horrorcom
    300 most endearing words

    Hurricane, Schmurricane, Hide Me in My Box of Sugarcane

    The seas they were bubbling
    boiling and rubbling
    groiling and stubbling,
    Swirling in the skies
    were hurling storm pies,
    a thousand miles wide,
    with nowhere to hide.

    Into this mix,
    This apocalicks,
    came a nattering fish
    with a businessman’s bent.

    “I have here a box,
    And tis my great wish
    That wherever the winds rush,
    Wherever they rock.
    My Hurricane Box
    will save your sad tush.”

    He was well-scaled,
    Or so I thought,
    This nattering fish
    With his Hurricane Box.
    Still, buyer beware
    Is a sensible motto
    As I hunkered down
    In my grungy grotto
    That afforded no help
    From the pending hurricane
    But my pockets were empty,
    A common refrain.

    So, I said…
    “It seems like it might
    Be worth a bit of a look,
    Might I jump inside?”
    And he bit the hook.

    “Of course, take a peek,”
    His fishy lips said,
    “You’ll see it’s equipped
    With a compact bed,
    A biffy, a cooker, dried food galore,
    You could survive a day, a week
    Or, heavens knows, forevermore.

    BUT…before you venture in,
    To my brilliantly rendered
    Hurricane Bin,
    I need a deposit, so give me some skin.”

    Well he had me there,
    My pockets were thin,
    Not even a dime, did I have therein.

    “Ah, my entrepreneurial friend,”
    I appealed to his heart,
    “I am temporarily without
    Coin of the realm.
    Take pity on me
    I am quite overwhelmed.”

    He moved not a whit,
    So, I had to dig deep,
    The family plantation
    I could no longer keep.
    “Fine fish, here’ a deed
    To land faraway,
    A fortune in sugarcane
    Is yours from today.”

    He licked his fish lips
    With shylockian glee
    “We have a deal,
    A deal have we.”

    The seas they are bubbling
    boiling and rubbling
    groiling and stubbling,
    but I have my great
    Hurricane Box.

  9. Cat/House/Post-apocalyptic
    Word count: 206

    The Cat and the Mouse…. No Scratch That. The Weevil Extraordinaire.

    The brave cat sat in a house,
    His tail swished left to right.
    Staring serenely at the meadow,
    His eyes gleaming yellow bright.

    The house had no walls,
    And obviously no windows.
    The table had no legs,
    And couldn’t support his toes.

    The house was blown to pieces,
    When a meteor hit earth.
    Nothing but the cat was left,
    Not even the hearth.

    The cat stares out blankly,
    At his world that has now changed.
    A squeak alerts the presence,
    Of a mouse that sounds deranged.

    It peeps at him through its hole,
    And screams obscenities at him.
    The gasses from the asteroid,
    Have filled it full of sin.

    The cat covers his ears,
    As he eats the swearing mouse.
    He cannot bear to hear,
    The screams of the dying louse.

    He will die fat and full,
    Having rid the world of evil.
    This is all a load of bull,
    I’m a surviving weevil.

    They’ll never hear about the cat,
    That sat in a house that was no longer.
    Of the brave cat that rid the world,
    Of a swearing mouse because of hunger.

    The world has ended for you, not for me,
    I can tell any story I choose,
    To my future family tree.

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  10. Title – The Rapture
    Prompts – cat/house/post apocalyptic
    Word Count – 298
    Twitter – @nancymbeach

    I just want my life back the way it was three days ago. I ruled the house. Thing 1 and Thing 2 cared for my every whim. Scratch my ear, fed me when I meow, my wish was their command. Now I cower in the corner, licking my wounds.

    Last Monday started like every other Monday. I jumped out of bed and bounded up the stairs to lick Thing 1 and Thing 2’s faces so they would wake up. So much I do for them that they don’t even appreciate. But, ah, I digress. Back downstairs and sat in a shoe on the landing, waiting for them to leave for work. I must have dozed off for when I awoke; I was still in the shoe. Irritated that Thing 1 must have left without her shoes, I began to wander through the house.

    Sniffing, I recognized a pile of clothes on the third stair as Thing 1’s. By the side of the bed, I found Thing 2’s clothes in the same odd pile, as if her body had been lifted right out of them. Tired from the search, I stretched out for a nap. I woke to the rattling of the front door. The scent shot terror through my body. If ever there was a human to be feared, this dark haired girl was. She shouldn’t be here! Thing 1 and Thing 2 would be furious!

    Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face. I backed away remembering the kick in my ribs that had sent me flying the last time she was in my house. I stifled a meow. I can’t even tell you what happened next. It’s too…too… Oh, where are Thing 1 and 2? I just want my life back.

  11. Pulling Strings

    299 words
    Elements: cat, village, horror


    Its fur was matted, crusted in dried blood, its eyes filmed white and unseeing. Occasionally it would appear to dance as the wind gusted through the branches, spinning the strings from which it hung like a demented marionette. Jennifer gazed at the creature and smiled. She had not put it there but she hated cats and anyone who could do such a thing was alright by her.

    “I see you are enjoying my show.”

    Marcus appeared in front of her. She blushed.

    “I shouldn’t,” she said, “but that particular beast destroyed my garden.”

    “Not any more.”

    The relief was great. Her garden was her pride and joy—as was her collection of preserves in the cellar. “Why did you hang him there?” she asked.

    “So that you would see him. It’s my gift to you.”

    After all this time he had noticed her!

    “I know you’re not a flowers and chocolates kind of woman.”

    Her smile broadened. He was a kindred spirit. A keeper. Just as she was giving up hope.

    “I remember you complaining about the animal,” he said.

    She nodded. The cat’s owners had merely shrugged.

    “Prayers are powerful things, Jennifer,” said Marcus. “I hope I’ve answered them … and I’ve stopped the Wrights getting approval for their extension. Pulled a few strings you could say. I think you’ll like the results.”

    He led her further into the woods. She heard a heavy creaking in the clearing ahead, looked up. She couldn’t believe what she saw. The Wrights hung from ropes corded through pierced limbs, dancing a tormented waltz as the wind urged them on.

    “You did this for me,” she whispered, stunned that anyone could have done anything like this—for her! He was definitely a keeper. And she had just enough jars in her cellar.

  12. Sian Brighal
    179 Words
    Environmentalist / in the rain / poetry

    Wipe Out

    I know why he grins
    Despite wet stockings
    Sitting there all smug
    As it rains on his mug

    He’s waiting for me
    To suddenly agree
    That what’s done by men
    Has changed the season

    But sodden underwear
    And water everywhere
    Won’t get me to say
    As we float away

    That this climate change
    Is not deranged
    But reasonable clues
    Of how we abuse

    It’s all balderdash
    Not a whitewash
    And fending off sharks
    By Marks and Sparks

    Is just happenstance
    Not a consequence
    Flawed policy gaps
    Didn‘t melt the ice caps

    And as we scull past the palace
    He describes the madness
    Of Trooping the Colour
    Needing scuba gear

    And I do realise
    That fish with three eyes
    And crabs that glow green
    Aren’t normally seen

    And maybe those trees
    And the buzzing bees
    Should have been spared
    And we should have cared

    ‘Cause the blooms are dead
    And the birds all fled
    And nowt without fins
    Or otherwise swims

    Can get past the fact
    We just failed to act
    So she’s wiping her face
    Of the human race.

  13. Sally Armstrong
    299 words
    A ‘Thing ‘ (hmmm) / With a fox / Memoir

    Cabin Fever

    I’ll never forget the night she left, although the details have changed over time. What the argument was about and who was right I can’t be sure of and there are some parts I just can’t replay in my mind. Sure, she hadn’t wanted to move to the outskirts, a tiny cabin surrounded by woodland, but I’d persuaded her, said it would be good for us, told her I’d be a better man. She’d agreed after many heated discussions and we’d had moments of real happiness here. I’d changed, felt content, but she became restless, missed the city and longed for the things I’d stolen her from. She’d fled in such a rage that night, her head was bleeding, I was angry and by the time I left to look for her it was too dark. I called and searched alone for hours, there was no trace of her. What I saw at the edge of the forest haunts me still, a fox stretched out underneath a tree, silent, as if basking in the moonlight, not stirred by my presence or the light from my torch. I saw something else though too, a flicker of red, a cloak maybe. I saw it dart between the trees more than once, just a glimpse of movement as though I was looking from the corner of my eye, but I was staring full on I know I was. I’d called for her then louder than before ‘Ebony, Ebony’ over and over. The sound I heard I wan’t to say was leaves rustling in the trees, though it wasn’t, it was a chattering, like the chattering of teeth echoing throughout the forest.
    Somehow I got back to the cabin, the search is now over, but I’ve never stopped waiting for her return…I have to wait.

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  14. Title: Where Was the Baked Beens?
    Name: John Murphy
    Words: 275
    Prompts: Cat/In a House/Post-Apocalyptic

    Lurching across the living room florr on its tentacles, the cat ruubed its head on the man’s legbone for a stroke. The man patted the creachure’s head lovingli, before staring back out the window at the sepia landscape.
    “I love you humen,” the cat said.
    The man noddded and grunted something uninteligible. His lips had been melted shut long ago.
    The cat, flopping along like a cube rollingg up a hil, made its way along to the kitchen. Hundreds and hundreds of cans lined the shelf. Where was the baked beens where was the baked beens where was the baked beens? The cat finali found it, after much consternashion, nexted to the canned pomegranate and horseradish. Tentacles made it hard to open cans; the cat had never quite grasped how a can opener worked; dinner was always a strugle. Over the years, the best method was to drive a nail into one end of the can with another can and then wait for the contents to slurp out. Some foods were easier to get to than others. Juices and syrups were ajoy. Hardened jellies were apain, and the cat had long since used them as ammo on deer-fish hunts.
    The cat went back out into the living room and replaced the man’s apple juice drip with a cranberry one. He suddenli wondered how long the man was to live (the man was quight the burden, especiali in these past two sun-years). The cat hated himself for the thought and began to cry and covered his eyes with his suction cups. But eventuali he collected himself and jumped into the man’s lap and tried to purr.

  15. Mr. Mittens batted at the face of his human. The human had wasted all day lying on the ground, a job that was reserved for Mr. Mittens.
    Mr. Mittens had wondered why the loud, sounds had killed the human and left holes in the wall. Now, after the better part of a day with the sounds of distant explosions echoing through the neighborhood, Mr. Mittens realized the human was dead. At the end of the day, this was more of an inconvenience to him than anything else. After all, Mr. Mittens needed the human to give him food. After all, he had no thumbs of his own to open containers.
    At this point, Mr. Mittens almost felt a little bad that he never learned the name of his human. Then, he remembered why he was there. The human forgot to feed him. So, tired of waiting, Mr. Mittens bit into his human’s cheek. It was softer than the hard, dry kibbles the human tended to give him, but not nearly as sweet as tuna. Still, he was hungry, so he used the opportunity to his advantage. After about fifteen minutes, about half of the face had been gnawed away. Mr. Mittens licked his paws, enjoying his long-awaited meal. Then, he hopped off the carcass and padded back to his cat bed, taking care not to step in the sticky red liquid that surrounded the body. At first, he had tried drinking it, but it tasted bad, so he didn’t bother.
    This same process continued for some time. Mr. Mittens would wake up, go to the body, eat as much as he could, and then return to his nap. One day, a stray explosion knocked out a section of the wall, and Mr. Mittens left his house, never to look back.

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