Microcosms 98

Hi everyone! Welcome to Microcosms 98. 🙂

Today is World Peace Day. Living a peaceful existence is something I feel passionately about, although I understand that others prioritize different things. Regardless, I thought it would be interesting to use characters and settings related to peace – or its antithesis. I did my best to make the prompts vague and not too political. I’ll leave that up to you and your better judgment in regards to whatever stories you write. 🙂

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

KM

 

(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact us.)

 

Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Alien, setting: Armistice, and genre: Choose Your Own Adventure.

Whoa… that is a tall order for 300 words. Feel free to use that spin button, but I challenge you to try it!

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


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 ***



  • World Leader
  • UN Representative
  • Dictator
  • Soldier
  • Weapons Engineer
  • Politician
  • Lobbyist
  • Civil Rights Leader
  • Aries (god of war)
  • Nobel Prize Winner
  • Protester
  • Vegan
  • King/Queen
  • Revolutionary
  • Terrorist
  • Religious Leader
  • Alien
  • Spy/Double Agent
  • Your Choice!
  • WWI
  • WWII
  • WWIII
  • Utopia
  • Dystopia
  • Peace Meeting
  • Armistice
  • Protest
  • Battlefield
  • Homefront
  • War Room
  • Aftermath of War
  • Weapons Lab
  • Spaceship
  • Your Choice!
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Sci-Fi
  • Crime
  • Steampunk
  • Comedy
  • Poetry
  • Western
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Historical
  • Drama
  • Alternate History
  • Fairy Tale
  • Choose Your Own Adventure
  • Your Choice!

Spin!


Judging this week is MC 97’s double dipper, Bill Engleson.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time (EDT) to submit.

*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

Microcosms 99
Microcosms 97
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81 comments for “Microcosms 98

  1. steve lodge
    17 November 2017 at 4:11 am

    By The Lights In The Skies
    by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    300 words

    soldier/homefront/comedy

    Silvermoon Airfield was opened during the war, because of its location. Close to the sea and near a lighthouse on the rocks offshore. Spitfires took off from there, maintenance done there, it was the base of the local Home Guard, covering the towns and villages from Lavender Pike to Blackwatch.

    Threat of attack from the sea by conventional vessels and troop carriers had lessened as the strength of the enemy weakened. Complacency, though, was a word rarely spoken in these parts, and never spelt. There was a new threat, though. The Maunkex, huge sea creatures, possibly an enemy experiment that went horribly wrong. Their movements monitored from the air by Squadron Leader ‘Bimmer’ Bimson and his pal, The Guffler, who at this time were out on a reconnaissance mission.

    Standing by the hangar, two soldiers kept the homefront safe by smoking cigarettes and staring at the afternoon, autumnal sky.

    “So, John. Be honest. Which job is best? This Home Guard stuff or your old mechanics job?”

    “Well, Bill. I rest more in the Home Guard. Hands are clean. If the wife’s ration book is low and she has to cook cardboard or her slipper lining, I can make excuses to be at the Airfield so I don’t hear her say ‘John Coleslaw, just you eat that all up.’” John lights a cigarette.
    “Also, being in the Home Guard, I can’t leave the country, so I don’t have to go to me brother John’s wedding in North Korea.”

    “So, wait, your brother and you are both called John Coleslaw? Different middle names?” Baffled Bill asks.

    John shakes his head. “Me parents couldn’t afford middle names for us.”

    There is a lull. Bill looks to the skies and says “Bimmer and The Guffler’ll be back soon. I bet they have middle names.”

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 1:35 am

      Well done, Steve. Always entertaining. Always funny!

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:20 am

      Fantastic story! Love the little comical insertion: keeping the nation safe by smoking…lol

      0

  2. Alva Holland
    17 November 2017 at 4:45 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    211 words
    Politician/Spaceship/Drama

    Little Grey Cells

    ‘What’s this red button for?’

    ‘Don’t touch! It’ll separate us from the planet with whom we trade trillions annually, cut off our people from travelling and settling in its many varied cultures, create misery for businesses who rely on exports, destroy our carefully built tourism sector, isolate us in a galaxy of connected planets, create migraine-like headaches for immigration and emigration procedures, cause an exodus of foreign corporations employing hundreds of thousands of our citizens, decrease the diversity of our culture by making people feel foreign in their own homes, increase racism, devalue our reputation as one of the strongest economies in the universe, leave us open to ridicule where once we were admired as leaders of the free world. Don’t touch it!’

    The grey-haired politician sat back in the bucketed seat, trying to understand all the implications, then casually leaned forward and pressed the red button.

    ‘Heck, what’s the worst that can happen? We can make a deal.’

    White dust scattered across the universe as the lights went out in the spaceship’s home country – a spectacular implosion.

    Wanted: One inspirational leader to gather a team to rebuild an inclusive country, with a global vision, from scratch.

    Position is open to international applicants, especially those from the planet EU.

    4+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Loved your story! Fun read, hopefully they find the right leader!

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        18 November 2017 at 1:32 am

        Thanks for reading and commenting, JK. I appreciate it.

        1+

    • 18 November 2017 at 9:58 am

      Enjoyed this analogy, even though I think we sit on opposite sides of the Brexit fence. (The world is our oyster!)

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        18 November 2017 at 10:49 am

        Opposite sides of fences are made to be sat on. The world would be a trifle lopsided if we all plonked down on the same side. Thanks for enjoying my story even when we disagree!

        0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:26 am

      Excellent and spot on. It’s a brilliant story.

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        18 November 2017 at 10:50 am

        Many thanks, Sian.

        0

  3. 17 November 2017 at 5:23 am

    @CarinMarais
    http://www.maraiscarin.com
    Used: Soldier | Aftermath of war | Post-apocalyptic

    And He Wore Green in His Beret

    “You know what tomorrow is, don’t you?” his son asked, looking up at him, his eyes large and brown.
    Aliel sighed and glanced at the rusted metal trunk that held his uniform.
    “How can I forget?” He stood, his chair creaking almost as much as the house did in the wind. The house was old – 30 years. Built before the war, it was one of the few places that was still inhabitable after the war.
    He took his crutches and walked to the doorway. Across the yard stood a row of graves. Some held bodies, like that of his brother. Some only had a roughly hewn tombstone, like that of his mother. Perhaps, he thought, after tomorrow the ghosts of the past will go to rest. He looked down at his calloused hands, pushing away the red-and-black memories that still haunted his dreams.

    Aliel waited on the road that led into the town. The only part of his uniform that he wore was his beret. After all, he had promised his wife that he would never put it on again until his funeral.
    She was standing amidst the crowd with their son, and he tried to spot them as they walked by in the procession; men of nondescript age who was left to use canes and crutches and wooden limbs after the war that changed the face of the planet.
    He stumbled when something landed at his feet – many of the men did. Then he saw what it was – a small, budding branch of one of the trees, its bright green leaves only just unfurled. He bent, picked it up, and stuck it in his beret, the same as he did twenty years ago when he asked his wife to marry him. The day the war ended.

    7+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Beautifully written. I was wondering where you were going with the title and loved the tie in at the end!

      1+

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 1:37 am

      Gorgeous poignancy throughout this, Carin. Lovely writing.

      1+

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:30 am

      Beautifully written story and poignant imagery.

      1+

  4. A.J. Walker
    17 November 2017 at 7:14 am

    A Veil of Snow
    A.J. Walker

    Irina stirred the chocolate into her cappuccino watching the light snow falling like a dusting of dandruff over the town square. She’d been told to be there at noon. That something would happen. She licked the spoon enjoying the sweetness of the chocolate and the popping of froth on her tongue. It had the texture of snow. Proper snow, not this embarrassment outside.

    Steam was rising straight up from vents and stacks around the square taking the opposite direction to the snow dancing and twirling only above the baroque turrets of the hall. It looked surreal to Irina.

    Her watch said twelve and she turned towards the town hall. The cold had left the town almost dead and the square deserted; Irina was the only customer who’d braved the weather.

    A man walked through an arch on the far side of the square, heading steadily towards the frozen fountain.

    She hadn’t seen a man unaccompanied outdoors for years – he wasn’t even wearing a veil! The last time had been because the men had escaped a burning building. The government had lashed them all for their ‘flagrant disregard to the boundaries of decency.’ Irina had felt a little uncomfortable about that judgement, but then again making exceptions was the thin end of a wedge.

    This one man was the protest. She hadn’t expected this. She took a photo then made to jot some notes. There was no-one to see this protest but her and the barista.

    He clambered into the fountain. Stood on the ice. Then unbelievably he took off his clothes – it was 20 below!

    Mad as a box of frogs – whatever a frog was. She tore out the page from her notebook. No-one would run this story.

    They dumped his body into a bin behind the cafe.

    _______
    WC: 300
    Protestor/ Dystopia/ Alternate History

    5+

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 1:39 am

      Loving the build-up here, AJ. Nicely done.

      1+

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:36 am

      Fantastically dark. Really like the gentle start, as though something romantic could possibly happen, then the rapid shift in expectation to alternate dispassionate world.

      1+

  5. Mark Sadler
    17 November 2017 at 9:26 am

    A share in the spoils

    by Mark Sadler

    @backward7

    Elements: Alien / Armistice / Choose Your Own Adventure

    Word Count: 298

    The formal talks regarding the transition of the armistice occurred within an area of fallow space; a buffer zone artificially inserted between the trembling membranes of two close-orbiting universes. It was a disjointed discussion. Venmarr and his counterpart, who was also Venmarr, were unable to inhabit the same reality without one cancelling the other out. Each would enter and submit a brief statement before hurriedly returning to his own dimension. I always imagine them conversing together.

    “Preparations are being made to begin peace talks. You must honour the agreement and make your declarations of war,” said one.

    “It is a tragedy,” said the other. “We have come so far. Our social and technological progress has slowed, but that can be taken as a sign of contentment.”

    “You will awaken soon enough, once the fires of war have been lit. Nothing re-kindles the spark of invention like an imminent threat.”

    “But to see everything we have built, burned and brought to ruin.”

    “We must share the peace.”

    There followed a pause that lasted for one standard day.

    “There are shades of grey.”

    “In other realities. Our dimensions have always been directly opposing. Bloodshed will never end in our realm while a state of absolute tranquillity persists in your own. May I remind you that it was we who once enjoyed perpetual peace. We sought out your war-torn reality and offered to shoulder your burden for a while, at great cost to ourselves.”

    “Then there is no choice expect between the two extremes?”

    “You could choose to forcibly export your impending state of total war into one of the grey band realities. Exchange places.”

    Venmarr would ponder guiltily upon this third option.

    A few days later the first missiles were launched.

    2+

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 1:41 am

      The story lives up to its great title! Well done, Mark.

      0

      • Mark Sadler
        18 November 2017 at 3:24 am

        I struggled to work-in the choose your own adventure cue. I know what it means, I was raised on Fighting Fantasy game books, but I didn’t want to break the flow of the story, so I put the choice in the last line. The reader decides where the missiles were directed.

        1+

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:42 am

      Excellent story. Loved the premise and the last line.

      0

  6. 17 November 2017 at 10:29 am

    White Poppies

    Aliens/ Armistice/ Choose Your Own Adventure

    300 Words

    He tapped the vial again. A tendril twitched, and the crown pulsed with an apathy that cried “Easy bruv, what’s the deal?”

    “It doesn’t do much.”

    “In that case Dan, it’s gone to the right owner.” Jamal laughed.

    “Mine’s all separated. How come yours is in one piece?”

    “It’s a colonial organism. Bit like a Portuguese Man-of-War.”

    “Whatever. And why’s yours white and mine’s red?”

    “It feeds off you Dan. White’s a calm colour.”

    The cortège pulled up at the church. Flowers spelled out SIMMO. White poppies, a few hundred at least. A woman and two girls stepped out of a car and a group of people broke away from the assembled mass to greet them with embraces and tears.

    “Lucky Dad bought me this suit. Third time I’ve worn it this year.”

    Lucky? Jamal shook his head. “Well, let’s hope it’s the last.”

    He stared at his vial. It used to remind him of the lava lamp in his Gran’s front room. As he held it, the tendrils would break away, floating slowly, upwards and down, changing from red to yellow, through green, violet and black. It would make him sad to see it looking so listless. He felt responsible for it. Eventually he noticed that if he felt calm, the tendrils would unite to form one organism, which would pulse gently; contentedly. That would make him calmer. The calmer he felt, the less the colours would change. Before long it had turned white, and stayed that way.

    At the end of the service, they waited at the entrance.

    “Hey Jamal. When we gonna see you again? You’ve been a stranger bruv.”

    ” Zayn. Hi. Err, I don’t know.”

    He pondered.

    “Hey, Zayn. Yeah, we should all meet up soon. Definitely. Here, let me show you something.”

    1+

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 1:44 am

      Clever use of analogy here. Vials, lava lamps, twitching tendrils. A mystery story – well told, Richard.

      1+

      • Richard Stokoe
        18 November 2017 at 9:05 am

        Thanks Alva. I really enjoyed your story. Very topical. If only they hadn’t pushed that red button…

        1+

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:48 am

      Fascinating story, lovely decriptions. Really like the connection between the vials and characters.

      1+

  7. 17 November 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Talks
    Alien/Armistice/Choose Your own Adventure
    269 words
    Jeff Messick

    Thousands of ships, enough to shade the planet from the sun, drifted effortlessly in orbit. On board the largest of these, The Mikbaht and the humans sat at the table.

    The papers before the humans were signed and finalized, and each of the dignitaries sat quietly, observing the other side with growing trepidation.

    “Upon signing this, the humans agree to remain outside of our space?” The Mikbaht ambassador asked, his modulated voice still carrying a hint of disbelief.

    Ambassador Huntington nodded. “Yes, and the Mikbaht will remain out of Terran space and there will be no harassment of merchant traffic in either system.”

    The Mikbaht ambassador turned to Huntington. “And you will accompany us to our homeworld to fulfill what station?”

    Huntington fought to urge to set his shoulders. “Liason from your world, to ours. Just to verify that the treaty is observed and enforced to both our people’s satisfaction.”

    A sound a staccato buzzing emanated from the translator, something Huntington think of laughter. “Strictly unnecessary, we assure you.”

    The Ambassador of Earth slipped his hands in his pockets and shook his head while looking at the ground. “Perhaps, but the governments of both our planets have decided to stop fighting each other. We’ve decided to avoid each other. If we cannot be friends, then our governments have decided we shall, at least, no longer be enemies.”

    The Mikbaht ambassador paused, considering. “I look forward to discussing this further, back home.”

    Huntington took his hand off the photon gun in his pocket and offered a Mikbaht salute to the ambassador with that hand. “It shall be an interesting conversation.”

    4+

    • 17 November 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Great story! I love the last line–he took his hand off the photon gun. 🙂

      0

      • 17 November 2017 at 2:50 pm

        Thanks. I have no clue how to do the “Choose Your Own Adventure”
        I hope that ending covered it. 🙂

        0

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 2:20 am

      This is great! Love that last line, Jeff.
      Have a look at the line, ‘A sound a staccato buzzing emanated from the translator, something Huntington think of laughter. ‘ Not sure if you need an amendment by admin before it goes to judging? If it’s annoying for me to point this out, tell me.

      0

      • Jeff Messick
        20 November 2017 at 8:48 am

        Probably should have been “A sound, like a staccato buzzing…”

        0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:53 am

      Brilliant story…loved the build up to the line about the gun, which added an unseen tension to what had just been read.

      0

  8. 17 November 2017 at 2:22 pm

    The Only Thing We Have to Fear
    300 words
    Alien / Armistice / Choose Your Own Adventure
    @thebatinthehat

    Sitting across from one of them now, he felt the 15-year-old scars on his flesh burn anew and his heart ache with loss once again.

    Can they be trusted?

    He stared into its face, searching its eyes for truth.

    It blinked its sideways lids and extended a writhing appendage.

    1-He pulled out a gun and took aim.
    2-He reached forward to shake limbs. The creature’s tentacles enveloped his hand.

     
    1-Quills immediately shot from the creature’s body.

    He plucked one from his neck. The poison oozing from its tip hissed as it touched his blood. Then, everything went black.

    He awoke to burning veins and a throbbing head. Light pierced the darkness of the empty room as the door opened. I’m on one of their ships. An alien soldier slithered in.

    3-He attacked the soldier, then ran down the hallway.
    4-He watched it slowly approach.

     
    3-Alarms began to blare. Lights flashed. A hum reverberated through the ship. He made it to a window in time to see their laser discharge. Earth crackled, swelling with fire. In an instant, billions of voices were silenced. I knew they couldn’t be trusted.

    From there on out, only one thing occupied his mind – revenge.

     
    4-It knelt beside him and offered water, which cooled his body. When its tentacle brushed his skin, he felt calm. They communicate by touch… It’s not here to hurt me. They just want to talk. Maybe I was wrong.

     
    2-The moment its skin touched his, his mind was transported. He was seeing and feeling unfamiliar things. Memories. These are memories.

    Like him, it’d had a child. Happiness. Joy.

    Then, unknown invaders. Chaos. Terror.

    A human soldier shoots the infant. Its tiny body goes limp. Anguish. Anger.

    Why did you attack us?

    He opened his eyes to newfound tears. “I didn’t know.”

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 2:22 am

      Creepy and mysterious and very well put together! Well done. I think you mean ‘once again’ in the first line.

      1+

      • 18 November 2017 at 3:50 am

        Thanks! And you are totally right about that! I’ll fix it. 🙂

        0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 10:57 am

      Interesting format to a fascinating story with a harsh and poignant ending. Fantastic read.

      1+

  9. 17 November 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Nicolette Stephens
    @Rhapsody2312
    Alien|Armistice|Choose Your Own Adventure
    300 Words

    Things We Should Have Said.

    They arrived in the thousands, ships hovering in the sky as you all watched. The threat the human race always feared. They sought one thing. Peace. You were the only one who knew, or at least, you suspected as they ignored the gathered military despite their aimed weapons. Then you discovered that your father, as General, was responsible for the decision that could change everything. You decided to talk to him over dinner. But what to say?

    “Dad… I don’t think the aliens want to hurt us.” | “Dad, you can’t set the military on the aliens!”

    Your father pulled his usual ‘here we go again face’ but at a glance from your mother, he waved for you to continue.

    “Think about it. You’ve had weapons pointed at them since they arrived, but all they’ve done is hang there. Not even a counter threat. Have you tried to communicate with them?” | “That’s all you people ever do! Scared of a cockroach, you squash it! Someone says something your ego doesn’t like, you punch them! Violence never solved anything!”

    Your dad seemed to ponder this for a while. You waited impatiently for him to say something. Eventually, he spoke. “You may be right. Why don’t you come to the base with me tomorrow and we’ll see what happens?” You couldn’t believe it.

    The next day, you left the house early with your father. There was silence as he drove, before he abruptly pulled over. You looked over, surprised to see him crying. Oh hell! Now what?

    “Uh… Dad? Are you okay?” | “Dad? What’s going on?”

    He looked at you and smiled. “I wish I’d been brave enough to speak to your grandfather the way you spoke to me about my choices. I’m proud of you. I’ll do my best to broker peace.”

    3+

    • 17 November 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Beautiful story. Well done.

      0

    • Alva Holland
      18 November 2017 at 2:24 am

      Well done, that young man! And Nicolette for bringing this to life between son and father. Love it!

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:00 am

      Beautiful and emotive story. Love how it helps two conflicts come to terms and peace.

      0

  10. 17 November 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Title – What are you willing to do for stricter gun laws?
    Prompts – Aliens/Armistice/Choose Your Own Adventure
    Word Count – 299
    Twitter – @nancymbeach

    Brian and his friend, Luka race from the bus stop to the willow tree, three meters away, their backpacks swinging, arms pumping.

    “Morning Mrs. Crow.”

    “Morning, Rodger. One day your son is going to beat Luka.”

    The school bus squeaks to a stop. Maybe a walk will quiet your churning insides. You retrace the boys’ steps down the path. Only your feet are heavy– you don’t notice the tree. The deadline is approaching—only a half hour until 9:30 AM.

    You remember back to the night in early spring when the tulips were in bloom. You woke—at least you thought you woke. Down the stairs. Out the front door. The voice from the lake drew you. Night after night, the shadow met you. Honored to be the chosen one, you accepted his vague answers about who he is.

    The walk ended too soon. Back at 87 Cobblestone Lane, you push open the front door and with a deep breath, sit at the Amish made wood table.

    It’s time. You look down at your watch. To an observer, it looks like a first generation Apple watch with a stainless steel band. But looks are deceiving. A gift. From the voice.

    Your pulse throbs in your temples as your brain feels like water spilled–all the colors of the painting running together. The whisper in your mind tries to get your attention. Will innocent deaths really result in stricter gun control? The watch vibrates, looking down you see the message.

    “The end justifies the means. In violence, we are heard.”

    You know the instructions. Men are standing by in San Francisco awaiting your orders. Turn the knob down towards you, and they open fire, away from you and it’s usual day on the West Coast. What do you do?

    3+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 7:22 pm

      Enjoyed your story and usage of prompts.

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:13 am

      Interesting thought experiment and nicely written story. Would there be a penalty for not twisting the dial either way?

      1+

      • 19 November 2017 at 4:08 pm

        Good question! Yes, it would be very unwise to not choose! I will edit the story in the future to include that bit of information.

        1+

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:46 am

      Well-constructed story leaving me wonder what a usual day on the West Coast would be? Nice one, Nancy.

      0

  11. 17 November 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Your Choice (Nuns)/ WW2/ Historical
    Word count: 300

    Sisters of Mercy

    “You can’t bring that on board!” Sally hissed at Miriam.
    “Watch me,” I sneered and stuffed the whiskey bottle deeper into my bag.
    There was a knock at the door. Sister Nancy stood there quivering like a leaf. “Mother Catherine will see you now.”
    We followed her down the damp corridor as we made our way towards the decks.
    “Where are we going?” I asked.
    “To the poopdeck,” she replied timidly.
    “Whaaaat?” She blushed furiously as I giggled softly to myself. I always got the novices with that one.

    Sally and I arrived at Mother Catherine’s cabin and stepped inside. The room was bare but for a bed and an old wooden crate on the floor. Mother Catherine smiled at me and looked at Sally.
    “Well? Will she do?”
    “Don’t know, “I replied, “Didn’t ask.” I flopped down on the bed and ripped my headpiece off. Sally looked aghast at this.
    Mother Catherine walked over to Sally and put out her hand. “When we’re here in my room, call me Cat.”
    Sally, looking dumbfounded, shook her hand back.
    “Right then. Should we get started?”
    “Yup!” I yelled as I sat facing the table. “C’mon Sally! Sit your ass down next to me.”

    Catherine went over to the cupboard and brought over an ashtray and cigarettes. She lit one up and passed it to me. I rooted around in my bag and pulled out the whiskey and some plastic cups. Cat offered a cigarette to Sally and I held out a whiskey.
    “But what are we doing here?” she stammered.
    “Same thing we do every night until we get to Normandy. Play cards, drink and smoke the nights away. There’ll be plenty of time to be pious when we do last rights on the battlefields.”

    Sally grinned as she sat down, ready.

    2+

    • Mark Sadler
      18 November 2017 at 3:57 am

      This reminded me of a hypothetical scene from one of those old movies that I sometimes stumble across while channel hopping on Saturday and Sunday morning.

      The stereotypes (the tremouring nun who finds even the simplest of actions a great source of anxiety) and the subverted stereotypes (the veteran sisters who find greater solace in earthly pursuits) are well-established in fiction, but well presented here. You are able to communicate a lot about the personalities of the characters through their dialogue and their actions.

      When I read this piece, it struck me more as an excerpt from early on in a longer story, than it did as something small and self-contained. I think this arises from the personalities of your characters, which seem too big to be contained within a short scene. There is strong potential for their individual development and the development of their relationships as they move into the theatre of war.

      1+

  12. JK
    17 November 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Prompts – Noble prize winner/ Aftermath of war/ Poetry
    Word Count – 264

    Angels of the Battlefield

    Wounds and blood stained my clothes daily

    Purposeful killings and senseless ones

    Even I had my list of victims and those I helped

    My mind haunted by gruesome, bloody, massacres

    Best friends and soldiers slipping from reach to be forever lost by the soil on the battlefield

    Nurses and doctors working hard to save us from taking our last breath and not bleeding out

    Those of us who survived left limbs and parts of our mind and soul on the battle ground

    Coming home to families and friends to share good or bad news felt like being stabbed again

    Our perceptions forever changed

    Our mission leaving us united in our military family but somehow separated from the rest of the world

    I lost a part of myself out there but knew deep down my purpose was to serve others

    What was next for me was dedication to the mental and physical well-being of our nation’s soldiers

    This made me whole again

    The ability to help those acquainted to the battlefield in the past, present, or future

    To find a way to make their body, mind, and soul whole

    Find their way to family and friends

    To no longer feel like an outsider to their life

    I am honored for my recognition of this

    But I cannot take credit alone

    The soldiers past, present, and future are one of the many threads that weaves through the heart of our nation

    We all have a special place and role

    I just happen to be a part of this one like so many before and to come

    1+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Title – Angels of the Battlefield

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:17 am

      Poignant poem touching on how war seeps into every aspect of life.

      1+

      • JK
        21 November 2017 at 2:34 pm

        Thank you, Sian for taking the time to read and comment. Any thoughts are helpful and appreciated in my writing journey!

        0

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:44 am

      Gorgeous title for this tragic story. Well done, JK.

      1+

      • JK
        21 November 2017 at 2:33 pm

        Thank you, Alma! I appreciate you reading and comments. Lots of wonderful entries and a lot to learn yet.

        0

  13. 17 November 2017 at 4:02 pm

    terrorist/aftermath of war/fairy tale
    299 words
    @GriffithsKL

    The Colonel’s Last Wish

    In the bombed-out shell of a Starbucks cafe, I sat at a buckling and tilted table. What I wouldn’t give for a green-smocked barista right now. A US Army truck painted over with my familiar insignia passed by, likely headed to the dump. I halfheartedly returned salute and covered my nose. The dead Americans stank.

    A familiar voice whispered, “You have one more wish.”

    “I know.” I was afraid to say more. He’d already tricked me into wasting my first two wishes.

    ***

    “I wish we had more recruits,” I had mumbled. To myself. Barely aware of the vaporous and negligently-clad genie behind me. All I did was tap the kettle spout on the relic that had mysteriously appeared on my desk. No one saw who left it. My words were barely out when a legion of recruits showed up, eager to don our newest nuclear plastique vests. I was just happy our need was met.

    Next, it wasn’t even a wish, just wishful thinking. “Oh, that they’d all fall– every major city.” The new recruits departed in unison, waited till all were ready. A thousand magic-controlled minds depressed the igniters… boom. 

    Thankfully, I was in the underground bunker when it happened, else I might have wished myself dead. Everything good was gone. How could I tell the genie I wanted it back, just, sans Americans? What did I want with cornfields and rural towns full of gun-toting Republicans? I wanted the cities, the nightlife. The Starbucks. The pretty young baristas.

    But these genies, they were black souls. They sneaked up on you and gave you exactly what you asked for, not what you wanted. 

    All I wanted was a cup of espresso. “Can I wish for more wishes?”

    “You know the answer to that.”

    I spit at his feet. 

    5+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Great story and fun read!

      0

    • 18 November 2017 at 10:11 am

      Wise words. I know a miserable old man who got everything he wished for. Turns out it wasn’t what he really wanted.

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:26 am

      Loved the writing and the story. Interesting how their wishes manifested themselves…and the ominous line about wanting an espresso.

      0

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:42 am

      Wonderful! Black-souled genies. What more could one wish for?

      0

    • 20 November 2017 at 4:09 am

      Kelly! Always love your writing and this was absolutely amazing. Wow!

      0

  14. Eloise
    17 November 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Wolfie’s big day
    Peace Meeting/Lobbyist/Fairy Tale
    Word count: 299

    “We are gathered here to join this wolf and this girl together in holy matrimony. Does anyone disagree to the union?” The priest scanned the congregation and waited for an objection.
    “Ok let’s proce…”
    “WAIT! This union can’t happen”
    “Why dear sir?”
    “Firstly, she is the granddaughter of the woman who killed our pack leader in 1998”
    “Well, your pack leader ate our great-great grandmama” screeched the girl’s mother.
    The wolves teeth glistened. “Well, you do make tasty morsels” said the senior alpha male as he liked his chops.
    “But, that was resolved in the peace meeting of 1998.” Muttered the priest as he pulled out a document with the paw print of the pack leader and grandmama’s signature.
    “Well, that does not mean we liked it.” Growled Wolfie’s father.
    “Grandma, you told me this hatchet had been buried a long time ago and me and Wolfie could live happily ever after”
    Wolfie stared lovingly at the girl. His father moved closer to the girl. His grin growing broader. “Well, I don’t think your Grandmama paid a worthy price but I am sure you could settle the score nicely”. Wolfie sprung before his father “Pupa, No! Don’t do something we will both regret”.
    “Son, don’t you see that you have been verbally poisoned by these humans. They hate us. They would never treat us as equal”
    “But maybe our union will bring us peace Pupa. Maybe our grandpups will be the glue to cement it.”
    “What those bastard children!” he stabbed the girl’s belly. Wolfie bared his full fangs and his ears shot out like horns. He flew at his father. His father crouched away and rolled to show his belly. A new alpha was established that day.

    4+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 7:14 pm

      Fun twist to a fairy tale!

      1+

      • Eloise
        19 November 2017 at 3:56 am

        Thanks JK.

        0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:30 am

      Liked the way it escalated. Weddings are always stressful.

      1+

      • Eloise
        19 November 2017 at 3:52 am

        Thank you Sian for your encouragement.

        1+

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:39 am

      Another quirky take on a classic fairy tale. Well done, Eloise.

      1+

      • Eloise
        19 November 2017 at 3:45 am

        Thank you, Alva.

        0

  15. 17 November 2017 at 5:31 pm

    @stellakateT
    King / WW III /Crime
    280 words

    The Price of a Bullet

    He’d only been King for three months and in that time he’d suffered a near death experience by assignation. He hadn’t realised meeting Mrs Williams alone at the palace would send her husband into a jealous frenzy and nearly end the monarchy. Prime Minister Williams was refusing to attend the coronation and pay homage. It was feared Williams had instructed the secret service to shot the King on sight. A bullet had already narrowly missed the King. One of his bodyguards took that for him. The widow, still waiting for some recognition of her husband’s ultimate sacrifice

    Now he was being told that World War III could occur any day. An unknown enemy was creating fake news, sabotaging social media by deleting selfies and any sensible comment substituting bullying insults. The King, himself had received many but he shrugged them off thinking PM Williams was behind the campaign. His advisors thought so too. He had been told that many of the world leaders were receiving such messages and replying with even more churlish insults. The major democracies were about to be toppled or at the least severely shaken.

    His hobby had spiralled into an obsession. The IT course he’d taken at Cambridge was his inspiration. When he’d hacked into the FBI, Interpol and GCHQ he knew he’d found his niche. The big banks well that was easy! He’d siphoned a steady stream of cash into an offshore account for when he abdicated. He’d honed his internet insults to perfection. Getting that guy to attempt to shot him was a blinder. Who would suspect the King of England of bringing down the world economy when people were out to kill him?

    2+

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:37 am

      Like the references in this story. Great concept and disturbing.

      1+

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:37 am

      Wonderful combination of old and new here, Stella. A great read.

      1+

  16. 17 November 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Same Old Story

    Elements: terrorist, peace meeting, fairy tale
    Word count: 299

    @el_Stevie

    They gathered around the table. Red cloaks hung up along the wall.

    “You followed the path?” asked Red 1.

    “Didn’t deviate at all,” said Red 2.

    “Nothing suspicious?”

    “No.”

    “We’ll give her another five minutes and then we’d better get started. The sooner we stop this fighting between the wolves and the villagers the better.”

    “Good job I brought my knitting,” said Red 3. “About time my granddaughter got her own cloak.”

    “She’s going to join us?” asked Red 1. “We could do with some new blood.”

    “True. Once upon a time, we had hordes banging on our doors, now …”

    “Now, you’re seen as old-fashioned, irrelevant,” said Red 4.

    Red 1 turned to look at her. She was new. But my, what big eyes she had, and oh, those teeth! At least this one was on their side.

    “I’m glad you made it to tonight,” said Red 1.

    “Got a stomach full of stones again the other day,” growled Red 4, eyes glinting dangerously. “I’m tired of this feud between my cousins and you lot. We need to stop them. Tell people we’re not just the same old story.”

    The cottage door crashed open. The woodcutter stood there, axe in one hand, a miserable looking wolf in the other.

    “Come in, Woodcutter,” said Red 1.

    “Glad I got here in time,” he said. “Seems you have a fraud amongst you. This poor sod was on his way here when his cousin jumped him, took his cloak, took his place.”

    Red 4 leapt up, detonator in paw. “One move and I’ll blow you to Kingdom Come,” he said.

    “Fine by us,” said Red 1. “Although I much prefer Happy Everafter.

    The Woodcutter raised his axe but the wolf was too slow. Sometimes, the story has to remain the same.

    6+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Loved your story and how you used the elements. Fun to read.

      0

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:41 am

      Great take on a classic and a fantastic story…guess the old writers of these fairy tales knew the endings never really change too.

      1+

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:36 am

      Brilliant, Steph! A fabulous take on this favourite old story.

      0

  17. Sian Brighal
    17 November 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Sian Brighal
    291 Words
    Soldier / Protest / Steampunk

    Until We Have Nothing More to Give

    He hammered the steel breastplate, sucking on his teeth in frustration: too little carbon. The metal was too soft, too easily bullied by his beating. He dropped the hammer and ran his fingers over the cold metal. How like flesh it was becoming…so fragile, so easily damaged. Soon, they’d be useless and the enemy would swarm through the cities…soon surrender would be the only option. Better to live in uncomfortable peace than be dead.

    The smith sighed and sat his tired bones in a chair near his slumbering forge. Outside in the storage sheds, a dozen or more skinned automatons stood, waiting on him to repair their metal skin. So many came back these days as though some hungry beast had tried to devour them. He knew what that meant. The traitor smiths were harvesting steel for their own metal soldiers. With every bite the enemy grew stronger and fatter, while their own withered. He thought on the weakened army out there now, facing a gleaming foe, perfect steel flashing like the teeth and claws of apex predators and his beleagured constructs torn and gutted. He sobbed softly in time with many distant hammers.

    Out on the battlefield, under skies venemous to men, the enemies met. Motion sensitive sensors met sensors, steam hissed as it escaped joints and split solder. A chatter and squeal of radio signals filled the air, ending with a sombre crackle of static. Old metal men meeting each other battle after battle for decades beyond counting, equal in all things, incapable of deserting and immortal, said their piece, and as one, they tore at their flesh or sacrificed a limb, adding it to the rusting pile where no man could walk. Their slow, long and only protest.

    6+

    • JK
      17 November 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Great story, nice descriptions, and enjoyed your take on the prompts!

      1+

      • Sian Brighal
        18 November 2017 at 11:45 am

        Thank you. 🙂

        0

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:35 am

      Oh, I love this, Sian. Vivid image of ‘tired bones in a chair.’ Splendid story.

      1+

      • Sian Brighal
        19 November 2017 at 9:03 am

        Thank you 🙂

        0

  18. 17 November 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Religious leader – peace conference – memoir
    Word Count: 239

    The Personification of War

    I held the picture in front of me, as if I needed anything to bolster my memories.

    They had asked me to pray and speak at the conference. Though a leading religious leader, I represented no particular religion, just the universal need of all people to live in peace. Negotiations dragged one direction, then the next. Every man out for supremacy. Every country thirsting for dominance, for a stronger grip on villages and lands. It sickened me.

    I put the picture in front of them.

    As I spoke, I told them all peoples should have hope for a future that didn’t involve bombs and bullets. That all humans deserve the right to live a quiet life with a plot of land and enough food to feed their families.

    I softly spoke the unspeakable while the picture shouted at them from the wall behind me.

    My voice rose like a strong tide as their attention ebbed. But I spoke to leaders who never lived with the stark carnage of war. They wore suits and sat in climate-controlled buildings. They counted numbers instead of people, seeing profitability in despair.

    I walked away, my head held high, but my spirit pulled down to the dirt by more than gravity.

    I left the picture in front of them.

    But the eyes wide with terror, the tangled little bodies, the silent screams of the children meant nothing to those who valued dollars over lives.

    2+

    • Sian Brighal
      18 November 2017 at 11:50 am

      Wonderful writing, creating a bitter image of compassion and sense trying to reason against profit.

      0

    • Alva Holland
      19 November 2017 at 2:33 am

      Beautiful, Paula. We have to keep trying.

      0

  19. 20 November 2017 at 11:43 am

    I just wanted to leave a general comment to everyone here to say that I think all your stories and the quality of the writing you submit is superb.

    I unfortunately don’t have a lot of time to leave individual comments, or to respond to the lovely comments you leave for me, but I read all the stories and comments and really appreciate each one.

    Thanks for being such a supportive community of writers!

    2+

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