Microcosms 93

Welcome to the second contest in Year 2, Quarter 4  of Microcosms, AKA round #79.

This week, there’s no slot machine. Once again, I’ve been looking back at the entries received during the last thirteen weeks. I’ve taken one of the favourite / favorite lines chosen by the judge in each of the contests.

Your task is to select one of these lines and incorporate it into your entry:

#80 – The words she spoke came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years.

#81 – I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.

#82 – I began to look over the scene when I noticed something was off with the blood.

#83 – One guest didn’t move, having been dead for almost an hour.

#84 – Old baggage that weighs them down like a block of cement you might tie around the ankles of an old friend you want to see the last of.

#85 – She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written.

#86 – If I wanted bullshit, I would have become a matador.

#87 – It had been a long day and both Gregg and Diane were dead to the world.

#88 – Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face.

#89 – … and in the cupboard, shop-bought honey. This was so much worse than murder.

#90 – A broad vista of prairie opened behind the gate.

#91 – The Inventor’s sly smile vanished faster than the truth at a Liar’s Convention.

#92 – Brian walked over to the cat and slowly crouched down beside it.

 

*** DO NOT USE THE CHOSEN LINE AS THE TITLE OF YOUR ENTRY ***

*** Incorporate it somewhere in the story / poem. ***

 

You may change the chosen line slightly – names, gender, tense, punctuation, etc. – but it must still be recognisable. You may use whichever genre you like this week.

Please tell us the favourite / favorite line you have chosen – no need to specify the genre this time round.

[ If I were judging, I’d give extra marks to entries that used two or more of the prompt lines. Jus’ sayin’… ]

Geoff

 

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


Judging this week is Microcosms 92 Community Pick, M.Levi.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have just 24 hours from 00.00 until 23.59, New York time (EDT) TODAY (Friday) 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 94
Microcosms 92
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107 comments for “Microcosms 93

  1. David Creighton
    13 October 2017 at 12:38 am

    215 words
    #86 – If I wanted bullshit, I would have become a matador.

    Running of the Mouth

    “If I wanted bullshit, I would have become a matador.”

    “That makes no sense,” he said in response, “Matadors fight bulls, they don’t clean up after them.”

    He always thought he was so smart. He always had to contradict me. Today was revenge day.

    “I bet matadors get some shit on them during the fight.”

    He sighed that all too common, annoying, condescending sigh.

    “And,” I continued, “Their rodeo clowns too.”

    “There are no rodeo clowns in bullfighting. Only at rodeos. Hence the name.” Condescension dripped from his voice like a viper’s venom.

    “I bet you all the chocolate in the fridge that I can find a rodeo clown for bullfighters, on the Internet, within the next 10 minutes.”

    “Deal.”

    The next ten minutes was the tricky part. I had to look like I was searching. I had to pretend to grow increasingly frustrated. Then, as the clock ticked down, I threw up my hands in frustration.

    “Fine, you win,” I grumbled.

    He had a shit-eating grin on his face as he wolfed down the chocolate. Little did he realize those fast-acting laxatives were going to kick in within an hour. And what he also didn’t know was I’d hidden all the toilet paper.

    Revenge isn’t always best served cold; sometimes it’s warm and runny.

    6+
    • David Creighton
      13 October 2017 at 12:42 am

      Oops, forgot two things:

      Prompt #86

      Title: Running of the Mouth

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        13 October 2017 at 1:08 am

        Oops, forgot two more things, David: word count, and the fact that ‘shit-eating’ is a compound adjective… ‘fast-acting’ too. ( You’re welcome! 🙂 )
        All sorted now.

        1+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      14 October 2017 at 11:59 am

      Good Story! Funny!

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 4:50 am

      Great read with the ending coming as a nasty (but good) surprise. Revenge can be messy business.

      0
  2. 13 October 2017 at 1:31 am

    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    299 words… and please sing it to whatever country tune comes to mind
    #88 – Our eyes met, and darkness flashed all over her face.

    Whatever You Think It Is, It Ain’t Worth Waiting For

    I was as drunk as a dummy in a magician’s trunk
    I wanted to do some thinking but I was in a funk
    My heart was pumping at a rapid pace
    And our eyes met,
    my heart was sunk
    and I was put in
    a very sad place
    And our eyes met
    and darkness flashed
    all over her face,
    all over her loverly face.

    Whatever you think it is, it ain’t worth waiting for
    If you think it’s love,
    and you think you want a little more,
    You could stand on your head
    Like a monkey on a chain,
    And the blood would rush,
    But you’d still have the pain.

    I was as happy as a child in a free candy store
    I wanted to eat my way through a thousand s’mores
    Oh, my jaw was chomping at a piston’s pace
    And our tummies met,
    my belly ached,
    and I was put in
    a very sad place
    And our eyes met
    and darkness flashed
    all over her face,
    all over her loverly face.

    Whatever you think it is, it ain’t worth waiting for
    If you think it’s love,
    and you think you want a little more,
    You could stand on your head
    Like a monkey on a chain,
    And the blood would rush,
    But you’d still have the pain.

    I was twisted like a pretzel that was always out of shape
    A bloodless vampire who’d lost his cape
    Waiting for the sun to melt him into waste
    And our eyes met,
    and my heart was sunk,
    and I was put in
    a very sad place,
    And our eyes met,
    and darkness flashed
    all over her face,
    all over her loverly face.

    Whatever you think it is, it ain’t worth waiting for
    If you think it’s love,
    You’ll… never… get… any… more.

    6+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      14 October 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Brilliant Bill!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 4:52 am

      Wonderful. The last line was really strong, like a hammerr hitting the last nail. Great song/poem

      1+
  3. steve lodge
    13 October 2017 at 3:31 am

    @steveweave71
    300 words
    # 81 – I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.

    Quicksilver Moon Over Barnstorm

    But oh, you cruel, twisted, unpredictable sea. The cove and the caves of sound and echo greet the waves. Far beyond the lighthouse are galleons returning from far shores, thankful for the beam of light that seems to say

    Take care, sailor, take care,
    For of the hidden rocks you must beware.

    But closer to shore and drenched in ruby glow, the tireless motion of a shipwreck crashing against the rocks. Any treasure this voyage, me lads? On the beach the raiding party awaits gentler seas before attempting to salvage treasure from the wreck. This is a land of opportunity. If this gang gets the treasure, raiders down the coast will curse their luck.

    Here is a land of night creatures, smugglers, ghostly apparitions rising from graveyards and stalking night travellers, some unsteady on their feet, some casting fearful glances over their shoulder, terrified by the creaking noise of the tavern signboard, pushed by unseen winds, welcoming all to “The Haunted Owl In The Rafters”. Hysterical laughter haunts the alleys, “Hello, dearie, five bobs a pop.” Her smile shows several chipped, brown teeth and breath that could slay a dragon.

    Oh run, you must run. Keep away from the shadows, get away from the village, run. Do not stand at the crossroads, staring at the rutted tracks, hoping for inspiration.

    Blunder through the hedgerows, cold mist, dark morn surrendering to fresh dawn. Beyond any winters’ tale, breezes race across fields guarded by haystack armies, preparing to beat back the tides of frost. And yet, truly, I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.

    Church bells ring from shining spires alerting us to the new day. Crazed bird songs seem to ask “Will fortune smile on us this day?” Silence brings her answer.

    8+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      13 October 2017 at 7:09 am

      Quite a departure from your usual offering, Steve. I like it very much; it reminds me of the opening chapters of Moonfleet.

      1+
    • dana m faletti
      13 October 2017 at 9:41 am

      great imagery here!

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      13 October 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Enjoyed your story and several great lines!

      1+
    • Alva Holland
      14 October 2017 at 4:42 am

      Packed with vivid visions, you’re on a roll with your MC stories, Steve. This is one of my favourites. Wonderful!

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      14 October 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Stunning!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 4:58 am

      Wonderful writing. It is very different. The opening lines are beautiful to read, but then there’s the shipwreck. Loved the flowing style and the imagery, and the sense of doom and need or fear of knowing why and what for hanging over it and the desire to escape it. Lovely story, thank you.

      1+
  4. Alva Holland
    13 October 2017 at 7:18 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    300 words
    #87 – It had been a long day and Gregg and Diane were dead to the world.

    Some Things Are Meant To Be

    It had been a long day and both Gregg and Diane were dead to the world.

    It had started quite positively in the circumstances. Neighbours they might be but friends? Not possible. Diane was of good stock, hailing from a well-to-do family on the Northside, whereas Gregg was a scrapper, a fighter, a barterer with street smarts. Oh, he had his good traits but they were scarce.

    Gregg pursued Diane, relentlessly. He ignored her fussy attitude, her hi-falutin’ ways, her snobby nose, her glinting eyes. Did I mention he was also a small fry? He was nothing but persistent though – he followed her when she left the house each morning. She found ways to avoid him but he cut her off. She stayed home some days but Gregg just waited. Can’t stay in there forever, Princess. I’ll be here.

    She emerged, exasperated, head in the air, pink scarf around her neck, its tasselled end billowing in the breeze. Gregg was smitten, once again. He had no sooner edged his way to the gate when he saw him – Harry from across the road, at Diane’s side in a split-second. And in the same split-second Harry had run off with Diane’s scarf. Diane froze. Gregg knew what he had to do. Taking off after Harry, he leapt Mr. Corcoran’s hydrangea-covered wall and sprawled Harry to the ground, ripped the scarf from his clutches and ran back to where Diane remained, scared stiff.

    Gregg looked sheepishly at Diane who returned his gaze with an understanding gulp, whipped the scarf from him, circled him a few times, unnerving the poor chap, and ran off into the park. Gregg spent the rest of the day looking for her.

    That night, Gregg and Diane were found together in Gregg’s kennel. It was meant to be.

    9+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      13 October 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Ah! I love a good sting in the ‘tail’! Good job, Alva. Great to see you back here at Microcosms, as sharp as ever after all this time.
      [ “Heralding from…” though? I’ve tried to find this usage with no success. Did you mean “Hailing from…”? ]

      0
      • Alva Holland
        13 October 2017 at 1:13 pm

        Thank you, Geoff. It’s good to be back. And yes I meant ‘hailing from’ – can you change it for me please? Not so sharp after all! Where the hell was I going with ‘heralding from’ I wonder?

        0
        • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
          13 October 2017 at 4:47 pm

          Amendment made. If it’s any consolation, I spotted that it was wrong straight away, but it took me a long time to remember the correct idiom! 🙁

          1+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      13 October 2017 at 3:40 pm

      Enjoyed your story and characters!

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        14 October 2017 at 6:02 am

        Thanks, JK.

        1+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      14 October 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Alva! Welcome back! Wonderful story as usual. Missed you.

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        14 October 2017 at 12:26 pm

        Aw! Thank you, Angelique. How lovely!

        0
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:01 am

      Wonderful story. So happy to see you back, Alva.

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        15 October 2017 at 6:15 am

        Many thanks, Sian. Good to be back.

        1+
  5. Elliot P. McGee
    13 October 2017 at 7:40 am

    299 words
    #81 – I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for. (modified)
    #82 – I began to look over the scene when I noticed something was off with the blood. (modified)
    #88 – Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face.

    Last of the Blood Wolves, Hope of the Empire

    The scent of torn earth and blood filled the air. That was normal these days in this barren wasteland.

    The remnants of the Blood Wolves regiment, the finest infantry in this god-damned war, shuffled along, broken. I looked to Centria, black hair shorn close ever since shrapnel tore off half her face. She caught my eyes with hers and I looked away; the black patch covering her ruined eye a shameful reminder of my failure.

    We had been many more than this rag-tag handful of defeated warriors. That was months ago when this war had started and we had known our enemy. They had changed, become something new. The thought of what they did to their dead made my skin crawl.

    It was also before we were cut off from the Empire. Reinforcements would have brought fresh bodies, morale; both were sorely needed. Our last drop ships were torn to shreds in the upper atmosphere, dozens lost and nobody understood how. Soon after communication to our fleet ceased. Three days back we had found a piece of the the capital ship sinking into a bog.

    We are alone. I’ve not spoken to a soldier who can tell me sensibly what we are fighting for any more.

    We crest a rise, a soldier to my left retches at the sight. Below is carnage, a graveyard. Bodies lay strewn as far as the eye can see. I looked over the scene when I noticed something off with the blood.

    Panicked, I turned to Centria. Our eyes met and darkness flashed over her face.

    “Na-Gihn!” I screamed, gun already in my hands. A lone, piercing scream rang out from the wasteland and my blood drained from my body. We are the last of the Blood Wolves, and we have found our grave.

    3+
    • Elliot P. McGee
      13 October 2017 at 7:42 am

      Apologies, I meant to add word count. Word count is 299.

      In addition I would have formatted it with a new line between each paragraph.

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        13 October 2017 at 12:35 pm

        Amendments made, Elliot. Nice to see that you accepted the challenge of using more that one prompt line. Well done.

        1+
        • Elliot P. McGee
          14 October 2017 at 8:40 am

          I saw the challenge and as I read over the prompts it all fell together. =]

          0
    • Alva Holland
      14 October 2017 at 5:32 am

      Three prompt lines cleverly woven into this dark tale. Impressive, Elliot.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:05 am

      Fantastic! Set the scene wonderfully with great imagery, creating a sense of lingering hopelessness and dread, and then the ending which hits hard. Great read!

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      16 October 2017 at 12:25 pm

      I missed this first time round, but looking at the Favourite Lines chosen by the judge in the MC 93 Results post, I saw you had ‘We crest a rise, a soldier to my left wretches at the sight.’
      ‘Wretch’ is a noun – a miserable, unhappy person OR a base, despicable or vile person; the verb meaning to vomit or feel as if you are about to vomit is ‘retch’. Amendment made.

      0
  6. dana m faletti
    13 October 2017 at 9:40 am

    Dana Faletti
    @danafaletti
    300 words
    #85 – She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written.

    Title – Act Two

    When she found the pills in his sock drawer, her shock should have shocked her.
    Liars don’t change, and she knew him to be the grandest of schemers,
    The great performer of scenes he concocted in his head.
    A master at whatever theatrics served his own needs at any given time.
    And this was Act Two.
    She should have seen it coming.

    But she’d become complacent, busy.
    Riding the swells and dips of life, taking care of needy children’s needs –
    Feeding hungry bellies, navigating social dramas she could scarcely follow,
    Pretending everything was okay, then believing it actually was.

    But this morning, the little white devils laughed at her.
    Their almost imperceptible rattle of capsules on plastic.
    Shifting her reality from the mundane of putting away laundry.
    To the stark white truth of broken promises.

    And so, like other times her heart had been stricken,
    She reached for pen and paper and exorcised hurt
    Until all that was left was scar tissue – the insurmountable enemy of love.
    Words and music expelled her affliction.
    She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written.
    She grieved for the perpetrator of her scars, for she knew his time had come and gone.

    Emptying the bottle onto the counter,
    She pulverized the pills with the back of a heavy hairbrush then watched as bits scattered and faded into the colorless tile floor.
    For just one moment, she considered flushing the mass of powder that was left.
    But she knew he would only find more; his need was all powerful, his selfishness too thick.
    So, in a bold move that would save her life, she dumped them into the mug by the bed.
    “Your tea, honey,” she said and shook him from sleep to life.
    If only for a few moments more.

    5+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:09 am

      That was excellent. Loved the lines ‘…needy children’s needs’ and ‘Pretending everything was okay, then believing it actually was.’ And many more. Loved how you described the scene and the ending. Stunning read, thank you.

      0
      • Dana
        15 October 2017 at 6:19 am

        Sean~

        Thanks so much. That one poured out a little too easily It’s dark but I think it could resonate with some. Thanks for your kind words!

        0
  7. 13 October 2017 at 10:56 am

    Title – The Last Party Fran Will Ever Throw
    Prompts – One guest didn’t move, having been dead for almost an hour.
    Word Count – 295
    Twitter – @nancymbeach

    Fran raised her glass, “Welcome to our 5th annual block party. I’m glad you could all make it.”

    The party started off like any other party. In a few months, the evening would have faded in everyone’s mind if it had not been for Bob.

    As dusk was turning to dark, Fran sat by the edge of the pool sipping her margarita and watching the lights sparkle on the water. She congratulated herself on a job well done. She loved to throw parties, especially this one because she could show off her newly remodeled kitchen.

    “Is this seat taken?” Betty sat carefully on the folding chair. Her sensible shoes and stocking firmly in place. No chance she would be dipping her toes in the water tonight. “Great party, Fran. Thanks for inviting Bob and me.”

    “Are you guys having a good time?”

    “I certainly am. You know Bob though. He hasn’t moved off the couch all night. After 52 years of marriage, I do love Bob, but he can be so set in his ways. I tease him that I am going start dusting him when I dust the furniture because he’s always sitting in the same spot.”

    “Well, let’s add some spunk to Bob’s life. I’ll get a game of cornhole going. He won’t be able to resist that!”

    After twenty minutes of shooing everyone to the empty lot, Fran looked around for Bob wondering what was taking him so long.

    “I’ll go drag his derriere off the couch before he becomes a permanent fixture,” Betty said.

    Moments later a blood-curdling scream came from the house. As if in slow motion everyone ran in unison to find Betty stunned and pointed to Bob. Bob didn’t move, having been dead for almost an hour.

    6+
    • Eloise
      13 October 2017 at 11:58 am

      Great story. I liked the way the tension built.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      13 October 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Poor Bob and Fran! Nicely written!

      1+
    • Alva Holland
      14 October 2017 at 5:13 am

      Splendid story! If someone threatened to dust me I think I would die on a sofa too! Well done, Nancy.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      14 October 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Good Story!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:13 am

      Fantastic story. Lovely writing to set the scene for the killer last line.

      1+
  8. Eloise
    13 October 2017 at 11:56 am

    “What is this?” I enquired.
    “Honey for my honeybee” charmed Cynthia. She knew this would rile me.
    “But we have a whole farm of honey. Why did you buy this one?”
    “For a bit of a variety,” smirked Cynthia.
    “Why do you need variety?”
    Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face.
    “Because variety is the spice of life. And I think our life needs a bit of spice.”
    “You saying I am not spicy enough for you?”
    “When did this turn on a personal attack on you?”
    “When you told me my honey wasn’t good enough.”
    “That’s not what I said. I just said I wanted variety.”
    “Well, if you like Spanish, then go to Spain and marry the matador who ran out on’
    “If I wanted bullshit, I would have married a matador”
    “Fine.” As I turned, she grabbed my hand and pulled me into a passion-laced kiss. This is why I lost sense. These kisses which started off as a small spark and flamed into passion before I could reach for a jug of water. She was the only one I loved beside Matilde, the queen bee.

    5+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      13 October 2017 at 4:37 pm

      Fun read!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:14 am

      Lovely story. Think it’s a great skill to write dialogue only stories.

      1+
      • Eloise
        15 October 2017 at 2:10 pm

        Thank you Sian 🙂

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      15 October 2017 at 2:02 pm

      Good story Nix!

      1+
  9. Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
    13 October 2017 at 12:05 pm

    @GeoffHolme
    300 words
    #80 – The words she spoke came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years.
    #81 – I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.
    #85 – She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written.
    #86 – If I wanted bullshit, I would have become a matador.
    #87 – It had been a long day and both Gregg and Diane were dead to the world.
    #88 – Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face.
    #89 – … and in the cupboard, shop-bought honey. This was so much worse than murder.
    #91 – The Inventor’s sly smile vanished faster than the truth at a Liar’s Convention.
    #92 – Brian walked over to the cat and slowly crouched down beside it.

    [ Just-for-fun entry ]

    Refuge

    It had been a long day, and both Tommy and Deedee were dead to the world on the Studebaker’s backseat as Bren pulled up on the sun-baked dirt road outside the rundown clapboard house. She opened the driver’s door and stretched to relieve the tension after so many miles on the road.

    *

    “I’m an inventor,” Pete had told her when they’d first met. She’d eventually discovered the only things he invented were excuses to avoid work.

    She’d raised a weary eyebrow when he’d come home after just three hours in his latest job.

    “If I’d wanted bullshit, I would have become a matador… or a maître d,” he’d scowled.

    “How about enlisting?”

    “Shoot! I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.”

    The Inventor’s sly smile vanished faster than the truth at a Liar’s Convention when she’d announced she was leaving…

    *

    …leaving the kids in the car, she walked up the overgrown path, stopping when she saw the stone under the acacia.

    Bren walked over to the cat’s grave and slowly crouched down beside it. Queenie had loved to rest there in the shade, far away from the bustle of the beehives.

    The only supplies in the kitchen were an out-of-date can of beans… and in the cupboard, store-bought honey. This would have been so much worse than murder to her Mom at one time.

    She uncovered the piano in the lounge. Seeing the familiar music, she picked out the melody. The words she sang came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years.

    # “Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face.” #

    She’d never understood that line back then; darkness flashing? She understood now though, and she grieved for the girl for whom the song had been written.

    4+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      13 October 2017 at 4:40 pm

      Enjoyed this, thank you for sharing! Wonderful job incorporating all the lines

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        13 October 2017 at 5:31 pm

        Thanks, JK. I enjoyed writing this one. I usually write everything I need to say in a story, then find I’m way over the 300 limit and have to edit drastically, at the expense of something I had believed was crucial. With this story I was only a few words over, so some deft rewording did the trick.

        [ I ruled myself out of the judging process because, as I am hosting the contest, it would seem that I had an unfair advantage over everyone else. As it happened, however, although I knew how the contest would be structured, I didn’t start to collate all the favourite lines from the last thirteen weeks until a couple of hours before the contest was due to post, so I only decided on the final cut a few minutes before the deadline. ]

        2+
        • Profile gravatar of JK
          JK
          13 October 2017 at 9:42 pm

          Seems like you put it together with ease and flowed nicely. I guess it is better to have a lot to say or write rather than not enough!

          0
    • Alva Holland
      14 October 2017 at 6:30 am

      Nice one, Geoff! Making the rest of us who only chose one line feeling slightly inferior. 😉

      2+
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        14 October 2017 at 11:46 am

        Hey, I’m a Microcosms administrator – it’s my job! 😉

        Thanks for the compliment, Alva.

        0
        • Alva Holland
          14 October 2017 at 12:40 pm

          And did I mention I cannot write? ‘Making… feeling’ should be ‘making the rest of us feel slightly inferior.’ Clearly rusty.

          0
          • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
            15 October 2017 at 1:58 am

            Didn’t spot that one… MUST… GET… SLEEP…

            1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:18 am

      Excellent. The lines merge together wonderfully, seamlessly. The story is richly detailed and poignant. Elegant.

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        16 October 2017 at 1:02 pm

        Oh, Sian! I’m blushing with embarrassment at your glowing response. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      15 October 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Good idea using more than one prompt! Enjoyed this!

      0
  10. 13 October 2017 at 1:12 pm

    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    300 words that will shake your world
    #91 – The inventor’s sly smile vanished faster than the truth at a liar’s convention.
    #92 – Brian walked over to the cat and slowly crouched down beside it.

    CAT-A-TONIC

    The place: T.O., Toronto, the Good. The time: Autumn, 1969. I’d rented a room in a two-bedroom, second-floor hovel off Bloor. My roomie was Brian Dixson. “Rent’s cheap,” he said, “and I work nights.”

    That suited me. I slept nights. And I wasn’t much for working. I’d saved some money from up North and was looking for…I don’t know…something.

    First morning there, our schedules overlapped. Brian rolled in about 9:00 am, just as I was giving some thought to arising. Sleep had been intermittent. I had no real bed. Just a leaky air mattress.

    I travelled light back then.

    Anyway, I limped out into the kitchen just as Brian was pouring a yellow liquid into a small dish.

    “Magic potion?” I queried.

    He gave me a look like he was thinking of locking me in the Tower of London.

    “Who are you?” he asked, and I reminded him that we now cohabited.

    “Right…!”

    He then opened the fire escape window off the kitchen. A huge orange tabby jumped in and landed on the linoleum. Brian walked over to the cat and slowly crouched down beside it. He placed the dish with the liquid on the floor. The cat immediately started slurping.

    “Whoa,” I said, “Pussy sure loves that stuff.”

    “Who you calling Pussy, Dickweed?” a voice said.

    It wasn’t Brian’s.

    “Huh?” I mused, inarticulately.

    “Clam up, Cuddles,” Brian snapped.

    “Easy, Bri Guy,” the voice said. “You’re the one who wanted a roommate. I guess the cat’s outta the…”

    “Huh?” I repeated.

    “Yeah, roomie,“ Brian slyly smiled. “Pretty f…ing amazing, eh? My invention.”

    “THE CAT TALKS?”

    “Yeah, Dickweed, I talk.”

    The inventor’s sly smile vanished faster than the truth at a liar’s convention.

    “The world can’t know,” stated Brian. “Someday. Not now.”
    …………………………

    Today…on Microcosms 93…I dare to tell the World.

    5+
    • David Creighton
      13 October 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Just a note: I lived in Toronto from 2006 until a month ago 🙂

      0
    • 13 October 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Oops, #91 The inventors sly smile vanished faster than the truth at a liar’s convention.
      and #92 Brian walked over to the cat and slowly crouched down beside it.

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        13 October 2017 at 4:43 pm

        Prompts added, Bill. You were also a little hit and miss with the apostrophe key and the comma before person addressed. In addition: ‘cohabitation’ is a noun; ‘cohabitate’ ISN’T a verb! ‘cohabited’ is the verb you require.
        Far out story, man! You really have lived an amazing life – for someone habitating in Canadia! 😉

        2+
        • 14 October 2017 at 5:14 pm

          I have always had more than my share of bad habits to say nothing of my reprehensibly awful cohabits. Thanks, Geoff.

          0
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:22 am

      Great story. Reading it, it strikes me that you get so much informtaion and ‘story’ into your flashfictions.

      1+
      • 15 October 2017 at 12:50 pm

        Many thanks, Sian. One trick in writing flash, I find, is giving these tiny tales heft. I am not often a writer of things apocalyptic so that demands that what I write has a sweep, a fullness. Occasional, a richness. Even when I fail, its so pleasurable.

        0
  11. Profile gravatar of JK
    JK
    13 October 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Title – The Gate

    Prompt – #90 – A broad vista of prairie opened behind the gate
    Word Count – 224

    Born into adversity
    Bullied mentally and physically
    Called every name in the book
    Pushed, pulled, and tortured behind closed doors and open ones

    Never given the opportunities others had
    Always a shadow growing up, never in the spotlight unless being degraded
    No one to hide behind or to take some of the impact
    Father worked most hours
    Mother occupied with the care of others

    Finding a voice and a backbone seemed like the impossible
    Each day a new test of mental and physical stamina
    Then one day a savior was brought to you
    The first one you ever encountered

    Strong, smart, and someone that showed you things could be different
    A foreign concept for 15 years of what was thought of as normal
    The dark shadow that loomed every day and minute started to lift
    Finding a voice and a backbone was possible
    That feeling of suppression and depression decreased

    Doors weren’t opening, but you learned how to push them open for yourself and others
    That shy and fearful person now had an identity and a purpose
    You looked in the mirror and saw and felt it, so did others

    From that point forward your future had ups and downs
    It didn’t matter, because now you had faith, freedom, and learned how to overcome barriers
    A broad vista of prairie opened behind the gate

    5+
  12. Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
    13 October 2017 at 2:48 pm

    #89 – … and in the cupboard, shop-bought honey. This was so much worse than murder. / Crime

    Word count: 295

    To Bee Slaves or Not

    It’s my job to scout. I am in charge of finding a suitable home for my tribe. I was poking around the countryside one afternoon when I came upon a house. To one side, a cone-shaped living area stood against the backdrop of mountains covered with wild blossoms of every imaginable color. Every fibre of my being buzzed as I was sure I’d found the perfect place. I went closer to inspect the building and two others came out. They whispered to one another and stopped when they saw me. They looked around afraid, and came closer.

    “What are you doing here? “one asked nervously.

    “I’ve come to see about our group joining your hive.” I replied.

    “No!” yelled the other one.

    I flew backwards, confused. “But, why not? You guys have a perfect location.”

    The first one dropped his voice to an almost silent hum. “Strange things happen in this place. We work day-in and day-out collecting nectar to make honey, and somehow, when we wake up in the morning it’s gone! Many bees in our hive have worked themselves to death. We are half the number we were when we started.”

    I felt afraid for my fellow bees, but before I could assure them of my help in the form of scouting abilities, I saw a great wall of smoke approaching. We flew off in different directions. I became disorientated and couldn’t find the others. Instead, I found myself closer to the house the humans inhabit. I flew in through the window and started looking around. It was a large kitchen and the pantry door was open. I flew closer to have a look. In the cupboard there were rows of bottled honey. This was so much worse than murder. It was slavery.

    5+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      13 October 2017 at 4:28 pm

      Love this! Great perspective and writing. Nicely done!

      1+
    • 13 October 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Nicely done, Angelique. It bee cool…

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      14 October 2017 at 11:57 am

      Bee-oot-iful (Sorry… couldn’t stop myself) job, Angelique. Clever perspective on the prompt.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:29 am

      Brilliant read and great use of the prompt.

      1+
  13. Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
    13 October 2017 at 3:39 pm

    @el_Stevie
    285 words
    #85 She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written

    The Butterfly Collector

    The key turned and slowly the dancer pirouetted, boxed in she was a prisoner of time and place.

    “She’s beautiful,” said the watcher, gazing at the figurine as it spun to the haunting melody. She knew the song, the words had haunted her since childhood and now she mouthed them in time to the gentle melody.

    “I’m glad you like her,” said her companion. “You remind me of her.”

    “You talk as if she was real,” said the girl, smiling at the rather grand gentleman who had taken such an interest in her. He was famous for his songs which were sung in music hall and opera alike. He held the key to her future, she was sure of it.

    ***

    Only when the clockwork finally wound down could the dancer see her audience. This girl was young, an angel; just like she had been once, like she still was even though more than a century had passed. The Devil liked angels. He liked to trap them, hear their wings beating against the prisons he built them—his butterfly collection. He had bated her, promised her a stage that would be hers forever if she would dance for him, sing for him, and so she had. Too late had she realised her danger as invisible chains formed from his words as they wove their spell. Too late did she try to resist their iron. Too late did she understand her flesh and blood had turned to ivory, made her the figurine which now entranced her audience. She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written—such a long time ago now—and for the girl who watched, another butterfly about to be caught.

    7+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      13 October 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Nice story and beautifully written.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:32 am

      Wonderfully chilling story with beautiful images. Loved the idea of listening to the sound of their wings beating against the prison walls.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
      15 October 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Chilling! Love it!

      0
  14. Jeff Messick
    13 October 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.
    Pre-Deployment Briefing
    Jeff Messick
    291 Words

    The general looked out over the assembled troops, feeling a swelling pride deep within him. They were the finest he’d ever trained. Quick of thought, restrained in action, and deeply compassionate. The last part was an additive of some specialized training he himself did not agree with.

    The faces looking up at him were passive, relaxed. They were ready.

    “Deployment will begin shortly!” He barked shortly into the microphone.

    Almost as one, the assembled host nodded. They knew what they were in for.

    “Are there any questions?” He asked, expecting no response.

    One hand reached upward.

    The general was surprised. “Yes, recruit?”

    “What are we fighting for?”

    The general paused, wondering briefly if the specialized training was the source of the odd question. He’d not met a single soldier that could not tell him what they were fighting for.

    “What’s your name, recruit?”

    The recruit stood. “THX-1411QX, sir.”

    The general thoughtfully scratched his chin. “You’re fighting for the right of people to live in freedom.”

    “Sir, we are machines. Why do we fight?”

    “Well, son.” He said out of habit. “People with the freedom to live their life, are free to build, design, and invent. Those people created you. Those people are hard at work inventing ways to keep you safer and repair you faster.”

    “We serve the people?”

    The general nodded. “That you do, son. As do I.”

    “When we deploy, sir, where will you be?”

    The general pulled himself up to his full height. “At the forefront. You may be machines, but you will fight for the people. I will serve the people by being your leader.”

    The assembled host stood. “Yes sir!”

    1+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:35 am

      Interesting…rationalising an idea by explaining it to machines. Great read.

      0
      • Jeff Messick
        16 October 2017 at 8:56 am

        Thanks!

        0
  15. Profile gravatar of Liz Elliott
    13 October 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Lines:
    #87 – It had been a long day and both Gregg and Diane were dead to the world.
    #84 – Old baggage that weighs them down like a block of cement you might tie around the ankles of an old friend you want to see the last of.
    #88 – Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face.
    #80 – The words she spoke came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years.
    #81 – I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they are fighting for.
    #90 – A broad vista of prairie opened behind the gate.
    Words: 300
    Twitter: @lizzynim

    Roadside Café

    It had been a long day, and both Gregg and Diane were dead to the world. They sat, weary-eyed, in the busy café, as the waitress approached their table.

    “Sorry for the wait, some people got old baggage that weighs them down like a block of cement tied around their ankles, or an old friend they want to see; the last of their time is precious, of course. So, what can I get you?”

    Diane looked at the waitress, confused.

    “Coffee, please,” Gregg said.

    “Is that all?” the waitress seemed surprised.

    Diane turned to Gregg. “Gregg, where were we… before we came here?”

    Gregg frowned. “Well, we were…. we were…”

    Diane closed her eyes, trying to recall. There had been people running… running from what? The people were carrying sticks… no, not sticks… guns… then there had been an explosion, she had fallen… she had gotten to her feet, looked round for Gregg. Their eyes had met, and darkness had flashed over his face. Then… nothing.

    “The war…” She whispered, and opened her eyes to see Gregg’s stricken face. “What were we fighting for?”

    “It’s all right,” the waitress said. “I’ve not met a single soldier who can tell me sensibly what they were fighting for.”

    Diane felt a tear slide down her cheek. The words she spoke came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years. “They lock people up because they see the world differently to others. But people who send other people to die for them, they get to walk free.”

    Gregg placed his hand over hers.

    Diane gazed out the window, noticing the view for the first time. There was a path leading to a gate. A broad vista of prairie opened behind the gate.

    “Well, whenever you’re ready,” the waitress said.

    4+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:37 am

      Excellent. This had that Twilight Zone quality to it.

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Liz Elliott
        15 October 2017 at 7:00 am

        Thanks Sian! I found this week’s prompt theme particularly challenging, but it was fun to try to write a story with as many of the lines as I possibly could.

        0
    • 15 October 2017 at 1:43 pm

      Really a fine integration of the sentences. And that final journey which is always so much more manageable if you can stop off at a small restaurant, a death café if you will, and, at least, order a cup of coffee.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      16 October 2017 at 5:25 pm

      Great story and awesome able to add in all those prompts!

      0
  16. Richard Edenfield
    13 October 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Very Simple Pasta
    _______________

    She ate very simple pasta. I would watch her eat next to an old candle in the kitchen. The candle looked very elderly in the afternoon sun, appeared as if its flame would barely be able to stand on it’s own and wrap itself around the wick and dance like eating a bowl of very simple pasta. It had once twirled like a ballerina in its own spotlight on an old wooden stage cracked and stained with flowers as it wore a plain red dress without a hint of wrinkles. Now, like me, it watches very simple pasta. With a recipe that could only be heard by dogs.

    Each night water boiled conversation down until it was ready to be served. Small talk and chitchat about the weather and our favorite movies. Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face; shadows and light touched our skin like lovers dreaming of better days. The plate I bought her at a fair years ago was chipped but the colors were still bright. The pasta collapsed on its surface.

    Suddenly there was scratching at the door. A soft whimpering. It grew louder. She casually stood up and went to the door. I heard screaming and then nothing. I sat down and finished her very simple pasta. It was very good. It reminded me of simpler times when I was satisfied with less. Before the rain. Before time stood still. Before ambition amputated my heart. Soon I could feel something rubbing up against my leg. I reached down and stroked her hair. She licked my hand and then bit down hard as a warmth of red flowed like tears and hardened on the table the way memories sometimes do.
    ______________________________________________
    286 words
    #88 (Our eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face.)

    4+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:42 am

      I’m not smart enough to understand this completely, but it inspired a lot, and I thought it was beautiful.

      1+
      • 15 October 2017 at 1:46 pm

        And I’ve read it three times and am barely the wiser. Nevertheless, I am often confused so that’s a given and really, Friday is my pasta night usually so this was like a double helping…loved this…

        1+
  17. NC
    13 October 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Propriety
    _________

    Silver spoons whirl steam off gilt-rimmed teacups. You used to savor the rosy scent. Now it cloys the back of your throat.

    Conversations lisp, just this side of a whisper. You’ve yet to get the hang of the prim softness. Speech like a dove-colored duvet wrapped around a flaying knife.

    Each guest occupies her place with breezy certainty. For them, there’s no question of deserving that place, whether in your home or on this planet. One guest—the wrong guest—doesn’t move, having been dead for almost an hour.

    You wonder when the others will notice. Gwendolyn, the nonagenarian, has (had) a tendency to nod off. Politesse demands we do not embarrass the elderly.

    The target guest still holds her regal place. Victoria. Even after ten years, she fits your house better than you do—and knows it. She drops a comment over the sliver of crust still attached to the hors d’oeuvres, how it’s a pity you didn’t realize that finger sandwiches properly served should be unmarred.

    The prissy sips of tea around the room veil delicate smiles of derision.

    White triangle sandwiches. Pearly as Victoria’s teeth flashing behind pink-peach lipstick, the same shade she wore to welcome you to the neighborhood. To declare how lucky you are to have created your own success rather than be burdened with the expectations associated with old money. To suggest your daughter might fare better in a less prestigious preschool. Her frosty gaze ever gainsaying the warm-colored lips.

    Lips that by all rights should be stiffening across a rictus grin.

    Instead, your lone ally, too old to put up with peach-lipped pretensions, sags into herself, pearls sinking into the deepening folds of her neck. The guilty tea glistens on her chin.

    So why do you feel more chagrin over the sandwiches?

    299 words
    #83 One guest didn’t move…

    2+
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:44 am

      That was brilliant.

      0
    • 15 October 2017 at 1:48 pm

      A beautiful capsule of creative language…mesmerizing…

      0
  18. Sian Brighal
    13 October 2017 at 11:06 pm

    Sian Brighal
    300 words

    #92 – Brian walked over to the cat and slowly crouched down beside it

    Playdate

    There was something off with the child. He knew it. She’d eventually tired of being stuck in the middle of their mutual dislike and kicked him out. Some may think his habit of lurking near the house, round the school gates and at the park smacked of stalking, but it wasn’t. He was after some sign, some proof that the little angel was a monster: dangerous.

    When nothing happened, he’d go back to his flat and a bottle where doubts drowned in amber doses of renewed fortitude. There was something about that kid, each sip would say. The way he looks at you. And you can‘t have forgotten that he placed those toys at the top of the stairs?! Or that he’d made people believe the bruises could be more than just accidents. Worse than lying…that sense of covering up. The police had warned him to stay away; that there would be consequences, but he was careful.

    Tonight had freaked him out, though. He’d got in position and looked up at the kid’s window; the brat was standing there, silhouetted in the frame. It was like he knew he was there. His heart beat in time with his feet as he ran back to his flat.

    He knew something was off when he got inside and slipped on something in the hallway. In the gloom it looked black and sticky, like oil. Deeper in, there was a darker shape, bundled up and sickeningly familiar. Brian walked over to the cat and slowly crouched down beside it. It was her cat, the one he’d threatened to gut after drinking too much…or what was left of it. He imagined the guts would be in her house, in his bedroom…like some terrible threat. He sobbed. He’d made it so easy for the brat.

    5+
    • Profile gravatar of Liz Elliott
      15 October 2017 at 7:09 am

      Great build up of suspense, all the way to the very chilling ending.

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        15 October 2017 at 12:18 pm

        Thank you 🙂

        0
    • Eloise
      15 October 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Very creepy 🙂 I liked it.

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        15 October 2017 at 7:58 pm

        Thank you 🙂 glad you liked it

        0
  19. Profile gravatar of Paula Nutt
    13 October 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Words: 299
    Lines: [Their] eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face. / The words she spoke came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years. / [She sat fondling it …] grieving for the girl for whom the songs had been written.

    the Pick

    She looked up as her new client entered the conference room. Their eyes met, and darkness flashed over her face. He nodded to her as he sat.

    “Hello, Destiny.”

    She stared. “I’m Danielle now. And you’re not Gregorio Chance. What game are you playing, Carlos?”

    “I’ve got a few hits, and I need an agent. And you’re an agent.” He smiled, “So?”

    “Well, Carlos. This music you’re writing and performing as Gregorio Chance — it’s over-processed, soulless, commercial-grade crap. Even if you weren’t a hack, I would never represent you.”

    “Hey, I know it’s no “Love Under the Streetlights,” but then nothing ever could equal that song, right? My first hit. You were my inspiration, my motivation, my muse.” He paused. “My love.”

    “I think we’re finished here. I’ll have the receptionist show you out,” she said as she gathered her files and strode toward the door.

    “Destiny, remember how – ”

    She whirled around. “Remember? Remember? I do nothing but remember. Remember your fingers caressing the guitar strings like they were my body, mesmerizing passersby with a voice that rang like the chords of a magnificent pipe organ. Your original folk songs took people to places they didn’t know existed. I did things I don’t want to remember to earn money for food, strings, and picks. Then, one day, you were gone. Without a word.” The words she spoke came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years.

    She walked out the door, down the hall, and into her office. Dropping into her desk chair, she put her head in her hands. Then she opened her top drawer and pulled a worn, purple guitar pick from a small cinnabar box. She sat fondling it, grieving for the girl for whom the songs had been written.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      14 October 2017 at 2:40 am

      Oh I love this! ‘mesmerizing passersby with a voice that rang like the chords of a magnificent pipe organ’ – gorgeous, Paula.

      0
    • 14 October 2017 at 2:38 pm

      lovingly painful…strong moments tempered by a remarkably quiet ending. Exquisite!

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      15 October 2017 at 5:48 am

      Wonderfully poignant. Great writing and excellent story.

      0

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