Microcosms 95

Welcome to Microcosms 95, flashionistas: another feast of Friday flash fiction fun.

REMEMBER: this post is scheduled for release at the usual time of 00.00, Friday, New York (EDT) time. You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EDT) to submit.

*** Let’s try not to have any late entries this week, folks. ***

 

Today – 27 OCT – is ‘Black Cat Appreciation Day’ in the UK.

Black cats have featured in several works of literature:

  • GOBBOLINO: Eponymous character in ‘Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat’ (1942) by Ursula Moray Williams.
  • HODGE: Samuel Johnson’s cat, eulogised in ‘An Elegy on A Friend’s Favourite Cat’ (1771) by Percival Stockdale.
  • JIJI: witch’s familiar in ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ (1985) by Eiko Kadono.
  • OSCAR: Subject of ‘Oscar The Bionic Cat’ (2003) by Kate Allan.
  • PLUTO: Title character in ‘The Black Cat’ (1843), a short story by Edgar Allen Poe.
  • TRIM: Ship’s cat in ‘A Voyage to Terra Australis’ (1814) by Matthew Flinders – first person to circumnavigate Australia.

Geoff

 

(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, location and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Murderer, location: Kitchen, and genre: Horror.


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 ***

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


  • Witch
  • Lexicographer
  • Delivery Operative
  • Orthopaedic Vet
  • Murderer
  • Explorer
  • Kitchen
  • London
  • Port
  • Channel Islands
  • Cellar
  • Sailing Ship
  • Children’s Story
  • Elegy
  • Fantasy
  • Memoir
  • Horror
  • Journal

Spin!

*** DON’T FORGET to tell us your chosen elements AND to give your entry a title ***

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

 

Last week’s Judge’s Pick, M. Levi, has once again kindly agreed to act as judge.

 

Let me reiterate: all submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) 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 next Monday.

Microcosms 96
Microcosms 94
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

74 comments for “Microcosms 95

  1. Profile gravatar of Dave Allen
    27 October 2017 at 12:58 am

    95 words
    Lexicographer; Kitchen; Journal

    The Lexicographer’s Nightmare

    The page stares blankly back, the erroneous thought in my cranium unwilling to vacate.

    The odds against verbal blockage for one of my profession? Astronomical.

    Convened as I am, in the room of culinary masterpiece, I think on why words do not present themselves.

    I can conceive of, ponder on, evaluate and pour my very soul into the language. Yet words refuse my beck and call.

    Finally, a notion makes it’s way from my brain to the page: Journal of Mary Webster, Day 1: Why, oh why did I ever decide to write a dictionary??

    1+
  2. Profile gravatar of Justin J.
    27 October 2017 at 1:00 am

    230 words
    Witch; Port; Fantasy

    Witchy

    She wasn’t a bad witch, not really. Just young…and her spells were just…wonky. With a sigh, she crouched on the port and stared out at the ocean, her black cat familiar – Starlight – next to her. She tried hard to ignore the look he was giving her, but couldn’t.

    “Stop staring at me like that! It wasn’t my fault!”

    A flaming support beam crashed down next to her. She ignored it. “Why do all my spells go horribly wrong…? I just wanted to start the bonfire for them…”

    Starlight’s stare intensified. “I know, Starlight. Grandma is going to be so mad with me. I was supposed to avoid stuff like this…”

    She sighed and stood up straight. “Maybe if I summoned a kraken to put out the fires…?”

    Starlight scratched her leg.

    “Ow! What was that for?”

    A witch-hunter, robes burning, ran past her and dived into the ocean. Starlight was too busy having a glaring contest with her cat to notice.

    “I just want to put the fires out! I know a kraken lives in this area! What’s wrong with summoning it?”

    The cat put a paw to his face. The witch pouted. “Oh, fine, let’s just find a boat and borrow it to get away.” Another look, this one incredulous. “It isn’t stealing if I return it with magic later!”

    END

    5+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      27 October 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Welcome to Microcosms, Justin.
      I suppose witches make a few mistakes while training, although the familiar’s reactions seem to imply this one may be just downright incompetent! 🙂 Nice story.

      [ Talking of the familiar: “… her black cat familiar – Starlight – next to her. ” indicates that Starlight is the cat’s name, which would mean that “Starlight was too busy having a glaring contest with her cat to notice.” needs tweaking. If you leave a reply here with your edits, I can amend your entry. All part of the Microcosms Experience… I’ve already added the missing Character and Location elements; I assume that Witch and Port are correct?]

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Justin J.
        27 October 2017 at 3:59 pm

        Yes, sorry, I should have added those myself but I didn’t realise I had to. I’ll remember it next time. Yes, Little Miss Witch is a bit…clumsy…with her magic, though she has a good heart and good intentions. I could probably turn her and Starlight into the lead characters.

        0
        • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
          27 October 2017 at 5:20 pm

          You still haven’t addressed the problem with “Starlight was too busy having a glaring contest with her cat to notice.” which implies that Starlight is the name of the witch, not the cat! You could give the witch a name at the start of the story then change this problem line to:
          ” was too busy having a glaring contest with her cat to notice.”
          Please let me know and I can make the change.

          0
          • Profile gravatar of Justin J.
            28 October 2017 at 3:18 am

            I know, but…I can’t figure out how to edit my comment. Or should I have just re-posted it? A bit late now, though. Whoops.

            0
          • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
            28 October 2017 at 9:37 am

            NO! Don’t repost stories – it messes up my stats, and also potentially dilutes your votes for the Community Pick award.
            If you – or anyone else – needs an edit, leave a comment under your story with the changes to be made (preferably BEFORE the contest’s closing deadline) and one of the friendly Microcosms administration team will do the honours.

            1+
          • Profile gravatar of Justin J.
            28 October 2017 at 9:50 am

            Oh, okay. I’ll remember that for the future. Or, you know, edit my stories properly before posting them in the future. I was just really eager this time, haha.

            0
          • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
            28 October 2017 at 10:21 am

            Proofreading BEFORE submission will get you a gold star from me!

            1+
          • Profile gravatar of Justin J.
            28 October 2017 at 10:35 am

            I swear that I usually proofread. I just…get…really….excited about writing. Childishly so.

            1+
    • Eloise
      28 October 2017 at 3:15 am

      What a lovely story

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Justin J.
        28 October 2017 at 3:17 am

        Thank you. It was literally off the top of my head based on what I got from spinning the choices. I find I’m weirdly good at writing awkward characters with good hearts.

        1+
  3. 27 October 2017 at 1:04 am

    Murderer; Cellar; Memoir
    300 screams in the night
    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca

    Death Awaits All the Children of Daisyville

    We’d moved to Canaan Corners that summer. It was a quiet town. Five thousand people. Just enough to revive the Canaan Gazette and make a living.

    “It’s time for me to go home,” Jessie had said. “We can’t raise Ethan and Sarah in the city. I can’t. If someone doesn’t shoot them, they’ll die some other way.”

    The city frightened her. More than was natural. But every second day, a shooting. And every day in between, an opioid death.

    My rational arguments had sputtered to a halt.

    Jessie’s mom, Lillian, still lived in Canaan Corners. And her brother, Matthew. He was the town mortician. Business was always brisk.

    I’d made my peace with Jessie’s planning.

    We’d settled in. A large house on the edge of town.

    The paper did well. The kids adjusted. I guess we grew moss.

    We got a cat. Devil. As black as a jawbreaker. Did that cat like to wander!

    As Halloween approached, we got an invitation. The Daisyville Dance.

    “What the heck is Daisyville?” I asked Jessie.

    “I don’t think we should go,” she said.

    Matthew had dropped in. “Sis, its tradition.”

    It was like they were speaking code.

    Jessie just sat there, shaking her head.

    “What?” I asked.

    “Before Canaan Corners existed,” Matthew, said, “there was another town. A Road House. A few homes. Daisyville. 1894. Walter Daisy, grandson of the founder, killed half the village. Most of them were children. Piled their bodies in the cellar of the Daisyville Inn…burned it, the bodies, the whole village to the ground.”

    “That’s awful.” It was a terrible story.

    “I agree,” said Matthew.

    “And that’s where you go for Halloween?” I asked.

    “It’s the only way to keep them quiet.”

    “Quiet? Who?”

    “The dead children of Daisyville. They scream. It’s only the music that quiets them.”

    4+
  4. Claudia Fisher
    27 October 2017 at 2:20 am

    @purpleheartcom
    259 words
    Murderer; Kitchen; Horror

    Eggs

    ‘Does she want another one?’

    There were three more resting in the saucepan of cold water, each egg subtly but uniquely varied in hue and marking, telling a tragic story of unfulfilled reproduction.

    ‘I don’t think so, two are plenty for a little girl with lots of drawing to get on with. Is that right, Emmie?’ Sian spoke with a genuine warmth and concern. A warmth and concern which Rachel would later replay, over and over.

    Emmie, head bent in concentration as she coloured in the grassy bit, had briefly looked up, a smile of consent flickering across her young face. The two women resumed their chatting, the child forgotten.

    ‘So, you are okay then?’

    ‘Oh yes, we are fine, just fine. Please don’t worry.’

    As Rachel would tell the police later, she almost believed her. So almost. She wanted to believe her so badly. What could go wrong with this happy scene? A mother cooking eggs for her little girl, a little girl so busy with her drawings.

    ‘Okay, good. I’ll pop by tomorrow on my way into town. Let me know if you have trouble in the night.’ Rachel stood up and put her hand on Sian’s shoulder.

    ‘Call me anytime. Remember your phone is working now. There wasn’t anything up with it. You have my number. Why don’t you have the eggs?’

    Sian said nothing but nodded. The door shut. The silence in the room filled with the ever-increasing sound of the kitchen clock tick tick ticking and the little girl’s pencil furiously scratching the paper.

    6+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      29 October 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Welcome to Microcosms, Claudia!
      I’m not entirely sure how far your submission qualifies as ‘Horror’ as such, but it subtly builds up the atmosphere of tension and foreboding in such a mundane domestic setting, and leaves the reader wanting to know more – one of the attributes of a good story. So hats off to you for that!

      0
      • Claudia Fisher
        30 October 2017 at 4:54 am

        Thanks Geoff,
        In my mind it certainly is horror – because I know what happens next! Sometimes less it a lot more. The blood and the gore is all the more grim because we know what happened before and because we know that it can’t be stopped… hindsight is always only of limited use!
        Claudia

        0
  5. Alva Holland
    27 October 2017 at 5:05 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    300 words
    Witch; Kitchen; Children’s Story

    Well now, Hades

    Once upon a time, there lived in a cottage hidden in the Black Forest, a woman and her two mute children. Everyone but the two children knew the woman was a witch. Her water supply was from a well, guarded by a black cat named Hades. If the cat left the well, the water in the kitchen tap turned green and remained so until the cat returned.

    Day and night, Hades watched from the well, envious of the two children who were warm inside the kitchen while the well was hellishly cold and miserable. Cats, particularly black cats, deserve better. From his vantage point atop the well, Hades could see into the cottage next door, Panther curled up against a chocolate lab, both asleep in front of a roaring fire. And Panther wasn’t even black. The unfairness of it all.

    Hades left the well, turning the kitchen water green. The two children drank from the tap until their eyes glowed like emeralds, their bodies evaporating into apparitions. They rose and floated through the walls, across the garden, into the cottage next door, eventually settling on the rug next to Panther.

    Hades was incandescent. Now next door had children and pets and all Hades had was a wicked witch. He crept into the kitchen via the unlocked back door. The witch was missing. The water in the tap was clear. Hades looked out of the window. There was a black cat atop the well. Hades crept past the mirror and caterwauled at his reflection – the witch woman staring back at him. He raised a paw. The woman raised a hand. He turned his head. The woman turned hers.

    Hades was confused, but he was inside, warm, and no children to pull his tail.

    The witch woman watched from atop the well.

    5+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      29 October 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Love the old ‘switcheroo’ in this tale, Alva.
      ‘Chocolate lab’ sounds like Willy Wonka’s research department: there’s a job I’d take a pay cut to have!

      [ In the first sentence, we’re told that the witch’s cottage is ‘hidden in the Black Forest’. Then we hear not only that ‘Everyone … knew the woman was a witch’ , but also that the cat guarding the well can see ‘the cottage next door’… This must be some definition of hidden hitherto unknown to me. 😉 ]

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        29 October 2017 at 2:46 pm

        Ah you picked that up nicely, Geoff. One of the disadvantages of not having days to leave the story and revisit to edit. When I wrote about the next door cottage I said to myself to go back to change the hidden bit! But I never went back. Of course, there could be two cottages hidden in the forest but let’s not go there.

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      29 October 2017 at 2:21 pm

      A Black Forest tom cat called Hades
      Had a ‘night on the tiles’ with Mercedes,
      A pox-riddled queen.
      Now his water’s turned green…
      Which is why he’s avoiding the “Lay-deez”.

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        29 October 2017 at 2:47 pm

        🙂 🙂 😉

        0
  6. Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
    27 October 2017 at 7:06 am

    @el_Stevie
    264 words
    Murderer; Kitchen; Horror

    Five Minutes

    The click of the kettle roused Laura from her daydream. She poured the boiling water over the teabag and left it. Five minutes to infuse, it said. Five minutes. What to do in that time? She looked around. Work surfaces were spotless, the table a bit of a mess, and the floor … well, that could do with a good mopping over. Her stomach grumbled. Physical activity always gave her an appetite and as a housewife, she had always worked hard, pulled her weight. That was something all her husbands would’ve agreed on … if they’d ever met. She took a biscuit from the tin, placed it on the saucer by the gently steeping tea. Her best china to celebrate her perfect moment. It had become almost a ritual.

    Then she caught sight of the floor again and her irritation rose.

    Why did Michael have to be so messy? Four minutes. She grabbed a broom, swept his leavings into a pile and bagged them. Another one for the incinerator. Three minutes. The mop made light work of the sticky residue, turned the tiles from crimson back to sparkling white. Laura worked quickly, efficient as always. She was nothing if not a practised hand at this. Three minutes. Two minutes. Time’s up.

    With a sigh of relief, she sat down and pulled her cup towards her, inhaled its gentle lemony scent. Slowly the tension receded and she picked up the biscuit. Snapped it in half with a satisfying crack, just like … her eyes drifted to the bulging bin bag. She removed her wedding ring.

    8+
    • Alva Holland
      27 October 2017 at 10:53 am

      Grim! ‘The mop made light work of the sticky residue, turned the tiles from crimson back to sparkling white.’ Love it! Not a horror fan at all but Steph keeps me interested, bit by sticky bit.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
      28 October 2017 at 3:34 pm

      oops, sorry Geoff. Should be ‘that could do with a good mopping over’. Word count will go up by one. Thanks.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
      28 October 2017 at 3:45 pm

      and another Geoff! Should be ‘bin bag’ at the end, not ‘big bag’.

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        29 October 2017 at 10:52 am

        Both changes made, Steph. (Not like you; you’re usually a whizz at proofreading. Shakes working you too hard, is he?)
        I’m wondering if this is too subtle to qualify as horror, but I really loved the litotes. [ that’s the posh term used in rhetoric for ‘understatement’, folks. 😉 ] And the misdirection: ‘Why did Michael have to be so messy?
        By the end, it became obvious that she did more than pull her own weight!
        [ I wonder if all her husbands had been redheads, and she celebrated their departure with a ginger nut… SNAP! ]

        1+
        • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
          29 October 2017 at 2:40 pm

          Thanks Geoff. It has been a tough half-term, not like a holiday at all really 🙁 and you’re right, I’ve been slogging away over at Infernal Clock. Got my own back at Shakes though through cyber-nagging to write 🙂 Back to work tomorrow for a rest … and then NaNoWriMo starts …

          Actually really enjoyed writing this one – did think about using gingersnaps!

          0
          • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
            29 October 2017 at 3:36 pm

            Glad you did goad Shakes, Steph – it’s great to have his entry this week.
            November starts on Wednesday; is this the best week to pull off a top-notch story when you’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo? Maya has emailed the results back to me already. I haven’t looked at them yet, but given the number of community votes you’ve gleaned, you might possibly be called on to act as judge next weekend!
            As for gingersnaps… Nah, too cheesy; that’s the sort of thing I’d come up with!
            [ Hope you haven’t forgotten “comma before person addressed” – ‘Thanks, Geoff’ – in your Infernal Clock editing. 😉 ]

            1+
  7. 27 October 2017 at 8:15 am

    @GriffithsKL
    299 words
    Murderer; Kitchen; Horror

    The Scheme

    Jack remembered the moment he began to hate his wife. The night the parakeet died and she insisted – during a new episode of Dr Who – HE go to the store and drop $47 on carbon monoxide detectors.

    He hated her when she cried about dumb things like Facebook.

    Then their was the night she clogged the toilet. Again, during Dr Who.

    “How the hell…?” Jack asked. Apparently, while giving herself one of her ineffective ‘PPA baths’, she managed to drop her washcloth in a flushing toilet.

    Over the course of two years, Jack painstakingly set the stage. “What’s that?” He’d lurch up in bed, jostling her and doing his best scared-as-hell impression.

    His wife would stir.

    “I think I heard someone trying to break in.” Then she’d be awake. Shaken, terrified.

    “I’m calling the police.” And she would. Or he would. Every time the story was different. Someone at the back door. A kid in a Scream mask outside the window.

    The night he cut her, they were watching Halloween, and Jack got thirsty to see her blood. “I’m thirsty,” he said, and she thought he wanted another beer. She opened the fridge, unaware he followed.

    Jack ached to know what her flesh would look like when it peeled away from her shoulder bone. The kids were notoriously light sleepers, so he had to render her speechless if he was to have any time with her. He sliced open her throat first, from behind. The beer can rolled away.

    Her eyes, how they stared as he pushed the blade through the muscles and bones of her neck. In the end he had to twist, like a stubborn tree branch. Tendons were merciless, but Jack didn’t give up.

    Later, he called the police. “I think somebody killed my wife,” he said.

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      28 October 2017 at 10:09 am

      During Dr Who?!? Extenuating circumstances, I reckon. And slitting her throat to avoid disturbing the kids? How considerate.
      Gruesome story, Kelly.

      0
      • 28 October 2017 at 10:12 am

        Any other show and he might have let her live. 😉

        0
  8. Profile gravatar of Jeff Messick
    27 October 2017 at 10:42 am

    188 words
    Murderer; Kitchen; Horror

    Domestic Terror

    I lay on the kitchen floor, seeing shadows creep across the wall.
    My phone is out of reach, so no one to call.
    Fingers and neck, slick with blood
    At least it’s a trickle now, versus the flood.
    He looks down at me, without malice or scorn.
    He has murdered me, my neck is torn.
    Did he have intent, should I ask him why?
    Must you sit over me and watch me die?
    Damn you, murderer, for doing this to me.
    By ending my life, yours too, is done, can’t you see?
    So very hard to keep open, my eyes.
    Every breath, shuddering sighs.
    What did I do to you? What offense did I give?
    What would you wish from me, so that you let me live?
    Possessed you are, for now I know.
    Your claws dripping blood, your eyes holding a demonic glow.
    Once my companion and friend, were you.
    Soon, I will be dead, and soon after, you too.
    Possessed or not, the end’s the same.
    You’re feral now, no longer tame.
    You’ve killed me now, I’ll soon be cold.
    You stupid cat, without a soul.

    4+
    • Alva Holland
      27 October 2017 at 10:49 am

      Loving this title and everything about this poem. Well done, Jeff.

      1+
  9. Profile gravatar of David Shakes
    27 October 2017 at 10:48 am

    300 words
    Witch; Cellar; Horror

    CONFINED

    They put up with Andy because their mums said they had to. He was weird, and they’d avoided him like the plague until the welcoming committee took gifts to his house, meeting his equally strange mother.

    “Imagine being in your thirties and still dressing like a goth!” one mum observed. “And the house! So dank! Her son needs fresh air!”
    Their fate was sealed- Andy began hanging around them like an unpleasant smell.

    “Borrow those clothes from your mum, Andy?” Jay spoke, but they all laughed. Why did Andy turn up each day? All he got was abuse. The black sweater was too big, its sleeves all but covering his fingers.
    “Take it off,” commanded Selena, “It’s, like, 22 degrees!”
    The group began to shove Andy between themselves, stretching and pulling until they finally got the sweater off him.
    “Shit!” cried Jay, “Who did that to you?”
    There were gouges in the flesh of Andy’s forearms, like sharp claws had dug deep.
    “The witch in my cellar.” Andy replied, nonchalantly.
    “Bullshit!” Selena shouted, “Show us.”

    The staircase creaked as they descended, adding authenticity to the spooky house vibe. The cellar was small; Jay, Selena and the others almost filled it. Andy hung back on the stairs.

    Slumped in the corner, dressed in her usual goth outfit, lay Andy’s mum. She didn’t look up -couldn’t- not since Andy slit her throat. The bloodied knife he’d used still lay nearby.

    “You saw what she did,” Andy sobbed. “I couldn’t take it anymore!”
    He ran up the stairs, tears and snot spilling onto the wooden treads. Slamming the door behind him, he turned the key in the heavy lock.

    “You won’t tell anyone…will you?” asked Andy through the thick door, but to Jay it sounded more like a statement than a question.

    6+
    • Alva Holland
      27 October 2017 at 3:22 pm

      Horrible! All of it! I loved it.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      28 October 2017 at 9:51 am

      Aha! So cyber-bullying does work – it compelled you to submit a story to Microcosms at last. 😉
      I agree with Alva – it was an absolutely horrendous story.
      (Well done, mate.)

      0
  10. Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
    27 October 2017 at 11:47 am

    Murderer/Kitchen/ Horror – NOT!
    Words: 218
    Murder Moused Foul

    They both stared at the body on the floor. Still warm, the blood pooled beneath it, as the entrails leaked out slowly. No one had seen anything. The doors were still locked and the windows shut. Could it have been an inside job? She started pulling open drawers and cupboards, frantically looking for something to help get rid of the body. She ran out of the kitchen and he could hear the murmured whisperings from the next room. He sat up straighter. This was his kill. He was proud of it. How dare they judge him? He thought he was doing them a favour. He tried to take his mind off the scent of the liquid rust he so loved, but he had made the decision to present it to them. He couldn’t back out now. The kitchen door opened and the man of the house stepped in. He smiled.

    “What a good cat you are!” he said as he rubbed the cat on the head. The dead mouse lay at his feet. The man grabbed the mouse by the tail and dropped into the bin. The woman walked in. She looked relieved. She gently patted the cat and gave him a catnip treat. “At least they appreciate my gift,” he thought as he began to purr loudly.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      27 October 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Love the way your stories flow, Angelique.

      0
    • Eloise
      28 October 2017 at 3:22 am

      Excellent 🙂 I didn’t even suspect it was the cat 🙂

      0
  11. Profile gravatar of Liz Elliott
    27 October 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Prompts: Witch, Kitchen, Memoir
    Words: 300
    Twitter: @lizzynim

    My Familiar

    I was in the kitchen when my Pa gave me the news. I remember saying, “Oh, OK,” very brightly, as if he’d just told me that my favourite TV show was on.

    One crisp, clear October day when I was eight, my family drove to a local farm. In the yard was a frenetic furball of jet-black kittens, all for sale. I picked one up and it wriggled away, but then I noticed one purring contentedly in the arms of my Pa.

    She soon settled in with us, and liked to curl up on my bed at night. My Ma, referring to my fascination with witchcraft and magic spells, jokingly commented that I ‘now had my familiar’. But I had more than that; I had a best friend.

    When I was eleven, My Pa’s work took our family to America for two years. While we were away, our neighbours agreed to look after her, but only on one condition: she would be their cat.

    When we returned to England, we still kept the cat-flap open. I was often woken in the night by her jumping onto my bed, purring like an idling motorbike in my ear.

    One Christmas, I came home from University and she wasn’t there to greet me. I wasn’t too concerned at first. But then my Pa found me in the kitchen.

    She had kidney disease, he explained, and would have been suffering. But the neighbours hadn’t given me the chance to say goodbye.

    As I drifted off to sleep that night, my bed gave a light bounce, then I felt soft fur against my cheek. Was it just a dream? I was studying science, but had never quite shaken my belief in magic, my open mind. Perhaps my familiar, my friend, would always be with me.

    5+
    • Alva Holland
      27 October 2017 at 3:19 pm

      I love this story! There’s a familiarity about it, a seamless flow of events and the ultimate end – reunited. Great stuff, Liz.

      0
  12. steve lodge
    27 October 2017 at 1:26 pm

    @steveweave71
    299 words
    Explorer; Sailing Ship; Memoir

    THE MERCHANT OF TENNIS

    Stormy Tales (Part Two) – The Merchant Of Tennis
    (An Excerpt From The Memoirs Of Captain Willie Rough, Explorer)

    The ship cruised slowly, almost silently, out of the cove. It was past midnight. There were few lights in the Shoreline Tavern and in the cabins of a couple of boats.

    Cicadas clacked as the “Frisky Rhino” sailed off and was soon away from the inlet and heading for open water, with me at the helm. Beside me, a man even more famous than I, Mr Roger Fedora himself, in search of the only trophy that had eluded him in his illustrious career that had spanned every continent the world had ever known, plus Saturn: The Ring Pull Open Singles Tournament. The voyage would take us to Manahanalassee.

    Now, as age was getting the better of him (body spasms, twisted fingernails and some relocated eyebrows), he felt the only way to ever take this final trophy was to assassinate in cold custard, the holder of the trophy, the legendary Poolie Bond aka ‘Rabbit Without A Cause’.

    Later that day, Roger was to play Mr Bond in the Final in Manahanalassee, but Roger felt sure he’d be beaten again, particularly as Poolie was sleeping with the organiser/umpire Gladys Newballs. Fedora was leaving nothing to chance this time. With Poolie at the morgue, Roger would win by default. The final trophy would be his. Mwaaahaha!

    I needn’t tell you, dear reader, I wasn’t keen on this whole sordid epic, but Roger was quite insistent and even paid me in advance. But someone must have informed the police because, as Roger tried to settle his twisted fingernails onto the trigger, his vantage point was stormed by an elite police force and he was rushed to the nearest available salad bar for rehab.

    3+
    • Alva Holland
      27 October 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Don’t know how you come up with these laugh-out-loud stories week after week, Steve.
      It’s a real talent. Loved this!

      1+
      • steve lodge
        27 October 2017 at 10:07 pm

        Thank you sooooooo much, Alva.

        0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        28 October 2017 at 9:17 am

        It’s easy, Alva, if he doesn’t take his medication… 😉

        ‘Mr Roger Fedora’: If you want to get ahead, get a…

        Well played, young man. Another one for the anthology.

        1+
  13. 27 October 2017 at 2:40 pm

    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    296 pussy cats
    Murderer; Cellar; Horror

    The Dark, Dark Woods

    Whatever it was, it scratched my spine,
    A wail, a yowl, a devilish whine.
    I found myself alone in the woods,
    Daylight waning, trees with hoods,

    Hovering above in the darkening sky
    Like a menacing gang of killer eyes,
    Glowing with death aimed straight at me,
    My heart ramped up, “it’s only a tree,”

    But the sounds stilled wailed, my heart
    Still pumped, and that little part
    That wanted life, saw blood around the bend
    And I knew I had reached my mortal end.

    I stopped, stood quiet, the silence stilled
    My fear of death, of being killed,
    But that fading light in the October sky,
    Again, night wailed an evil cry,

    And off the trail, a hint of a sound,
    A crush of bramble, a crash of ground,
    Night noises amplified and that
    Fed the fear of the giant cat,

    A story, decades in the telling,
    Each year the myth expanding, swelling,
    a jaguar kept in a cellar dark,
    Fed chickens and children, a stark

    Rendition of a colonial Colonel’s greed,
    A throwback, a sinister military need,
    To control and cruelly dominate,
    And to hell with love that became raw hate.

    One night in a twist of terrible time,
    It clawed the Colonel, an ironic crime,
    And escaped into this very wood,
    Seeking further taste of human food.

    The sounds persisted, my poor mind raced,
    Was it truly my demise I faced?
    And then, when fear again froze my feet,
    A light appeared from a nearby street,

    A beacon of hope to my shattered soul,
    Safety at hand, a reachable goal.
    I hurried my pace, as fast as I could,
    To escape the night, this horrible wood.

    And just at that moment, with fear at my back,
    The creature plucked me with a fatal attack.

    4+
    • Alva Holland
      27 October 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Bill, you never cease to amaze. Is flash poetry a thing? If so, this excels at it.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      27 October 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Now you’re just showboating, Bill! To make things fair for the rest of us, we may have to ask you to work on your submissions with one arm tied behind your back… 😉

      [ Should the fourth stanza begin “I stopped, stood quiet, the silence stilled…’? ]

      0
      • 27 October 2017 at 6:28 pm

        Yes, correctamundo, Geoff. “the silence stilled.” Thanks. s for showboating…hmmm. It may be a time zone thing. The missive arrives at 9:00 pm my time Thursday. I start to work on the bit and sometimes finish it before hitting the sack. Next morning, another idea pops in my head. And to avoid other pressing demands, I look for escape. It’s a sad story . Regards…

        2+
        • 27 October 2017 at 7:15 pm

          Meant to say, “as for showboating” Also, I clearly, I think, was channeling Val Lewton’s “Cat People.”

          0
  14. 27 October 2017 at 3:48 pm

    @geofflepard
    297 words
    Orthopaedic Vet; Port; Memoir

    From Nose Job To No Job

    Tristram Pentacost put down his pen. Finished. He could retire now. Not that he wanted to, not with his reputation trashed. He’d tried his best to save the world from the horrors of its reality, yet the naysayers and nincompoops called him Doctor Frankenstein. The bloody press.

    Tristram looked around his small office and beyond to the operating theatre. He could smell the salt, hear the clang of cranes as cargoes were unloaded and crates inspected; behind it the hubbub of a normal day in the customs shed. Not that any of his days were normal. He’d spent a career maintaining the fiction that the world was normal, that fantasy had no basis in reality; ensuring that no one had their myths confirmed by the release of some fantastical beast.

    He should be a hero. When he’d started, this place was little more than a slaughter house; now, what with modern sensitives he’d developed his unique skills and at the last count he’d dehorned 1291 unicorns, unwinged 57 griffins and performed 17 chimera adaptions. He felt especially proud of the chimeras; devilishly tricky, separating the little buggers into their constituent parts.

    He’d have continued but for the ego of that obese paedo-philanthropic pogonophile. He should have insisted, the first time he came through customs, but the fools in admin believed him when he said he was invisible. It wasn’t as if the operation would have been difficult; a simple nose job. But they were seduced by his twinkly eyes, the old fraud.

    But then he gets caught, blabs about what goes on here and before you can say ‘magical beasties’ the Mail Online are doing an exposé. Sheer dumb luck and all for the sake of a red-nosed reindeer. It was enough to make you vegan.

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      28 October 2017 at 8:44 am

      “…that obese paedo-philanthropic pogonophile”! HO! HO! HO!
      Nice work, Geoff.

      0
  15. Eloise
    27 October 2017 at 4:15 pm

    271 words
    Explorer; Kitchen; Children’s Story

    Stone Soup

    The pot glistened as the afternoon light broke through the window. Craig had pushed a chair against the stove and was teetering on his toes as he stirred the pot. His grin spread from ear to ear.

    He had sought out the best rocks to make his special soup. He had wandered through the garden but there he had only found boring grey stones covered in ground. He had then wandered into his mom’s room. The sparkle of red, green and gold had caught his eye and he put them in his backpack. These were the rocks an explorer needed to make an extra special stone soup.

    He then went to the kitchen and slowly dropped each stone gently into the pot. Next he searched the fridge. He put beetroot to match the rubies, and spinach for the emeralds, and butternut for the gold, and a little pinch of salt for taste. His mom wandered into the kitchen.

    “What are you doing Craig?” she asked curiously.

    Craig whipped around. His foot missed the edge of the chair, but his mom caught him. “I am making you a surprise dinner.”

    “A surprise dinner?”

    “Yes.”

    Craig’s mom looked into the pot. Slowly she stirred the pot. As the vegetables moved, she saw a object glint at the bottom of the pot. She gently lifted the spoon. Craig’s mom’s eyes stretched.

    “What are you making for dinner, Craig?”

    “Stone soup, but I decide to use precious jewels instead of stones to make it extra special for you, mom.”

    Craig’s mom grinned. Her jewelry had never tasted better.

    3+
  16. Matthieu Cartron
    27 October 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Killer Recipe
    Elements: Murderer, kitchen, horror
    Word Count: 298

    Killer recipes, he had told her. Those were the ones that could breathe life into a restaurant—even one like Noario’s.

    The couple had struggled together, a lifetime’s worth of misfortune. A foreclosed house, a miscarriage. Bussing earned him little, but he refused to quit—he had said he would become a chef, turn Noario’s around. Maybe even become the owner.

    One day the man came home to their paint-peeled flat, dropped his coat on the ground, and cried. When she’d asked him what had happened, a great sob of joy had sputtered from his cracked lips, piercing the paper-thin walls. He had been offered the position of a chef, white apron, gloves and all.

    His adept cooking caught the attention of the owner—Mr. Noario—and the man’s own experiments soon found their way onto the menu. Then a few more. Sagging profits perked, and customer ratings shot up like the salaries.

    The man and the woman could now move out. Maybe try for another child.

    And then, a year after the man’s promotion, Mr. Noario died, and to the surprise and displeasure of some of the other chefs, the man was left the restaurant. He would become rich, his past life a gentle fragment of a life he wanted to forget, to move on from.

    And so the man left her.

    They were never married, and the house was in his name. She had nothing, and was no more than a rat in the once unkempt, failing Noario’s.

    That’s why she sneaked in through the unlocked back door one night. As silent as the anger within her. She worked fast—placing lethal drops on the fresh ingredients meant for the following day.

    And then she left—maybe to find a new life. Perhaps to end it.

    3+
  17. A.J. Walker
    27 October 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Snack Attack in the Black
    A.J. Walker

    Blacker than the nighttime, the cat insinuated himself down the stairs, its eyes flashing just once from a streetlight on the fifth step from the bottom. A noise came from the kitchen, but the cat ignored it, only ever reacting to the sound of a can-opener or the bath running. But the noise was neither of these; it was the sound of falling – or to be more precise – landing.

    Inside the kitchen, Archie looked at old Mrs Thumbot prostrate on the floor, blood pooling around her head from the fall, and across her waist where he’d plunged the knife in. It wasn’t his plan; the old dear had just carried on walking towards him when she disturbed him. As he looked at the body, he heard the plastic clink of the hearing aid falling onto the tiles. Clearly she was a bit mutton, and maybe it wasn’t turned on; but that meant it was her fault, not his.

    Anyway, she lived alone; he knew that much. Now he had as much time to go through the house as he wanted, to look for anything small and valuable. Something he could sell down the pub; jewellery, watches, anything pocketable and jingly – and cash. He was hungry and in the kitchen; and with time being no longer of the essence, a sandwich seemed a good idea. Archie noticed the coffee machine splutter. He may as well relax with a butty AND a coffee. The wall clock pointed to 9pm. Normally, he’d watch Gogglebox with a sandwich, so why not watch it now?

    He walked over towards the fridge to see if there was some cheese or ham, or better still both. That’s when he tripped over the invisible cat and fell awkwardly onto the already bloody knife. The coffee spluttered again.

    —-
    WC: 300
    Murderer; Kitchen; Horror (and a Black Cat)

    4+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      27 October 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Good to have you back, AJ. This is only your second entry in 13 weeks – even Liverpool’s defense have a better record than that!
      But what a cracking comeback. Loved it!
      [ …though why Mrs Thumbot needs a streetlight on the fifth step from the bottom of the stair… 😉 ]

      0
      • A.J. Walker
        27 October 2017 at 7:13 pm

        Cheers, though referencing the red men’s defence – or lack thereof – is a tad below the belt.

        3+
        • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
          28 October 2017 at 7:42 am

          Ha! I was about to point out that the PC term is ‘Native Americans’, until I realised what you meant. (It’s been a long night…)

          0
  18. Profile gravatar of Dave Allen
    27 October 2017 at 5:01 pm

    283 words
    Murderer; London; Fantasy

    The Truth of Whitechapel

    It was the bloodiest crime scene ever seen in London, but not the first seen in Whitechapel. Called to Osborne Street, the constabulary was met with the body of a man torn limb from limb. It looked as if a wild animal had been let loose on the streets of London, were it not for the note accompanying the cadaver.

    “Since you were unable to protect those without the means to protect themselves, we have taken care of the Whitechapel Murderer for you. Sincerely, The Elysium Circle.”

    The Elysium Circle had not only provided the body, but also the accompanying evidence that this was the Whitechapel Murderer, the one responsible for the five confirmed slayings that started on the very spot where he was discovered.

    Now faced with a dilemma of supernatural proportions, the constabulary initiated a cover-up of the facts. It couldn’t be known that a coven of witches did the job that the constabulary could not, so various unsolved murders similar to the ones committed by the Whitechapel Murderer became a part of his legacy.
    *
    “Is that all you have to say in your defence?” came the question.

    “Yes,” was the response.

    “Because the constabulary failed to reveal the truth, the Elysium Circle places a curse of the case of the Whitechapel Murderer. It will remain unsolved for all time. None shall be credited with the discovery of the truth in this case, and it will haunt the descendants of those involved in the cover-up for all eternity.” came the judgment of the coven.
    *
    “And to this day, we of the Elysium Circle maintain the curse of Jack the Ripper, never allowing an answer to be found.”

    4+
  19. Profile gravatar of Erica Burke
    27 October 2017 at 7:20 pm

    285 words
    Murderer; Kitchen; Horror

    NEW MERCY
    The wine-drinking killer…….

    Mercy Morgan looked at the silver gun rattling in her hands and began to feel confused.

    She was the mayor of Manchester and a loved leader, but while watching the news flash on her TV screen she saw herself as a selfish, cold-hearted, wine-drinking killer with pretty lips and brown eyes. Her friends saw her as an inspiring, loyal leader. “But why am I holding a gun and this blood-soaked wine glass?”
    Mercy rushed to the bathroom sink to splash her face with water in hopes to clear her thoughts.
    She was not prepared for what she saw as she looked at the reflection in the mirror, or rather who. It was the arrogant, cold-blooded, murderer Mercy that was on the news.
    “Awwh, goodness, what have I done?” she cried.
    “I am here because I want a resolution.”
    She slammed her fist against the mirror with heavy force after hearing the voice in her head. Glass shattered to the floor.
    Mercy looked back, even more stressed and again fidgeting with the cursed gun. She threw it as she realized that she was now a different Mercy; a new Mercy. Still hearing the news reporter, she grabbed the remote and threw it, turning off the TV.
    Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. She bolted up and rushed to the kitchen of her house.
    “Crap,” pondered Mercy.
    Mercy was amazed at herself; she had moved as quickly as lightning and gathered all the weapons she had stored in a large steel chest. She then picked up her glass of wine and listened to the jazz music playing softly from upstairs. She began to feel truly disturbed by how she had committed such a vicious crime.

    2+
  20. Profile gravatar of Nancy Beach
    27 October 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Twitter – @nancymbeach
    300 words
    Murderer; Kitchen; Horror

    School’s Dismissed

    Showers creep me out. I glance behind me as I step into the steaming hot water. I wish they had caught the kids who tried to break into our house repeatedly this past year. Assuring myself I’m safe doesn’t help.

    As I open the bathroom door, Midnight jumps out and scares me half to death. Stupid black cat. He walks away, only his green eyes visible in the dark.

    I flick on the light and text Ray. “I’m finished with the parent-teacher conferences early. Meet me at The Brewery at 7:30″. I hear the sliding glass door open downstairs. Ray must be home. “Hi, honey. I’ll be right down.”

    A quick stop-off in Tommy’s room to kiss him. He looks up and smiles, and I wonder if I will ever see the day he speaks.

    The hair raises on the back of my neck instinctively as I come down the stairs. In the kitchen, I see the screen door is cut from top to bottom. Anger floods me. I command, in my best teacher’s voice, “Come over here this instant! I have had enough of you threatening my family and me.”

    A masked man turns around, and I stare into his shining green eyes. I never noticed the knife. In an instant, I feel the hot blade in my back. Unwilled by me, my body crumples to the ground. The blade comes down again. And again. O God, please don’t let Tommy come downstairs. I look pleadingly at my assailant. Those eyes. I recognize those eyes. I try and focus…

    “911. What is your emergency?”
    “I think someone murdered my wife. You idiots! Someone has been breaking into my house for months. This is your fault.”
    Glancing in the mirror, Ray’s green eyes shine back at him.

    2+
    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      28 October 2017 at 8:14 am

      Chilling story, Nancy.
      [ I’m wondering if your title should be School’s Dismissed – let me know if you need an edit. ]

      0
  21. Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
    27 October 2017 at 10:05 pm

    @GeoffHolme
    300 words
    Delivery Operative; Kitchen; Journal
    [ ‘Just 4 Fun’ Entry ]

    Special Delivery

    Friday, 27-OCT-2017

    I’m thinking again how aptly-named my pedigree Persian is.
    I had just returned from another gruelling shift at the Italian ristorante, still wearing the black shirt and trousers required of everyone waiting on table there. All I wanted to do was to strip to my boxers, and flop on the sofa with a glass of Valpolicella. But “The Lady” sat in the kitchen giving me the look she reserved for occasions when her evening meal has been severely delayed.
    “OK, princess,” I sighed, opening a can of premium feline fodder, and spooning it onto her bone china saucer. “Here you go.”
    She took a sniff, gazed at the bowl of water by its side, then fixed me with a supercilious stare.
    The vet had said it wasn’t a good idea to give her milk, but she knows better. Just like Naboo in The Mighty Boosh, saying “I’m gonna have to turn my back on you”, she revolved through 180 degrees and faced the wall.
    “Fine! You win,” I scowled, taking the milk from the fridge; but the rank smell proved it was off. A glance at my watch told me I had a few minutes before the convenience store down the street closed. I rushed out without my jacket, and got there just in time.
    Back at the house, I realised my keys were in my jacket. AARGH!!
    Fortunately, the bedroom window was open. Milk carton grasped between my teeth. I shinned up the drainpipe, grazing my knuckles, scuffing my shoes, ripping my shirt clambering through the window and gashing my head on the dressing table.

    Down in the kitchen again, I poured the liquid, and placed it on the board. The little minx finally deigned to eat.

    And all because “The Lady” loves milk on her tray.

    2+
  22. Caleb Echterling
    27 October 2017 at 11:33 pm

    @CalebEchterling
    300 words
    Lexicographer; Kitchen; Journal

    End with a Zephyr, Not with a Bang

    July 23: Another rejection letter to add to the pile. Apparently my opening is trite and overused. I throw myself into another round of revision.

    July 25: Work on my book is proving too taxing, so I have begun a major kitchen renovation, to wit: alphabetizing the spices.

    July 26: Both projects are hopelessly mired in creative quagmires. Does cumin come before coriander? Perhaps I was never meant to be a writer, or to have a neat spice rack. Must finish one project before beginning a new one.

    July 27: The liquor cabinet would be more functional if, appended to each bottle, was an example of its use in a drink. I have thrown myself into this task with great gusto, and can think of nothing else.

    July 28: The postman delivers a gut-punch to my self-esteem, disguised as a letter rejecting my book for its thin plot.

    August 12: The liquor cabinet project, in a sense, is completed. I drank the entire contents, and threw the empty bottles at the neighbor’s cat.

    August 28: At last! A breakthrough in my book – a plot twist ending involving a zephyr. The manuscript is en route to a reputable publishing house. I will try to keep my hopes in check, but this feels like a winner.

    September 1: My nerves are a jangle of startled chickens, so the kitchen must suffer another renovation. This time, I’m alphabetizing the appliances.

    September 2: Have a long row with the plumber when I explain the sink must go on the other side of the refrigerator. Blows are exchanged.

    September 10: Joy! My book has been accepted, with the provision that I agree to some minor edits.

    September 11: Those idiots want me to introduce the zephyr in the first chapter! Don’t they realize it’s a dictionary?

    5+
    • Caleb Echterling
      27 October 2017 at 11:41 pm

      Change the title to:
      End with a Zephyr, Not with a Bang

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        28 October 2017 at 7:04 am

        Oh, Caleb… You can take extended leave from Microcosms more often, if you come back with a cracker like this! I genuinely laughed out load more than once. Bravissimo!

        ‘Alphabetizing the spices’ reminded me of a time long ago, before Mrs H. and I were hitched. We were conducting a long-distance romance, with her in London and me in the frozen wastes of Lancashire. I had made the journey to London one weekend; it was Sunday, and I had to return…
        As we embraced, Ms A. – as she was then – said wistfully, “Where does the time go?”
        With rapier-like wit, I retorted “Next to the tarragon, I think.” (We had to make our own entertainment in them days…)

        [ I enjoyed your story so much that I decided not to leave a snippy comment about you omitting ‘please’ from your request for an amendment… 😉 ]

        0
        • Caleb Echterling
          29 October 2017 at 11:17 pm

          Thank you for the kind words, Geoff, and I apologize for letting my politeness slip. Thanks for everything you do to keep Microcosms humming like a well-oiled machine.

          0
    • 28 October 2017 at 12:24 am

      Quite enjoyed this. And it appears to me that it did end with a bang.

      0
    • Eloise
      28 October 2017 at 3:20 am

      What a lovely journal 🙂 My favourite phrase was ” My nerves are a jangle of startled chickens”

      0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar