Microcosms 99

Welcome to Microcosms 99, flashionistas. This day – 24-NOV – marks the anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and is internationally observed as Evolution Day. You have 24 hours to nurture the evolution of your selection of raw elements into a fully-formed flash fiction phenomenon.

This time round, I’m eschewing (lovely word!) my usual selection of birth and/or death anniversaries in favour of events that have occurred on this day in the past. Here’s my selection:

  • 1835 – The Texas Provincial Government authorizes the creation of a horse-mounted police force called the Texas Rangers
  • 1922 – Nine Irish Republican Army members executed by an Irish Free State firing squad. Among them is author Robert Erskine Childers, who had been arrested for illegally carrying a revolver.
  • 1962 – The influential British satirical television programme That Was the Week That Was is first broadcast.
  • 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is killed by Jack Ruby.
  • 1969 – Apollo program: The Apollo 12 command module splashes down safely in the Pacific Ocean, ending the second manned mission to land on the Moon.
  • 1971 – During a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (aka D. B. Cooper) parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money, never to be found.

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: Author, location: Airplane, and genre: Comedy.


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, location 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 (if you select [Your Choice], please specify exactly what your choice is) AND a title for your entry – not included in the word count.
*** NO FAN-FICTION, PLEASE, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS ***


  • Policeman
  • Author
  • Satirist
  • Assassin
  • Astronaut
  • Hijacker
  • Texas
  • Firing Squad
  • TV Studio
  • Police HQ
  • Mars
  • Airplane
  • Crime
  • Historical Account
  • Comedy
  • Conspiracy Theory
  • Memoir
  • [Your Choice]

Spin!


Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Sian Brighal, has kindly agreed to act as judge this time round.

 

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 (EST) 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 100
Microcosms 98
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74 comments for “Microcosms 99

  1. Alva Holland
    24 November 2017 at 1:38 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    Author/Airplane/Crime
    298 words

    Trip Advisor

    The skinny guy with the wannabe beard in seat 11B is about to be murdered by persons unknown – the occupiers of seats 12B and 12C who are in cahoots with the floozies unashamedly flaunting their wares in Row 34, partners in crime deliberately selecting seats as far away from each other as possible so no-one makes the connection, like the blue-rinse brigade in Row 35, all aspiring Jessica Fletchers, intent on solving a murder, maybe even preventing it, having convinced themselves of their superiority in the fields of observation and detection.

    The clucking hen party spreading their feathers over Rows 10 to 15 inclusive have no clue about what’s in store for them when the incognito Marshall in 16A discovers their secret stash of cocaine, and radios ahead, arranging for their detention on arrival, thereby obliterating months of careful wedding planning as a cover for their illegal courier trade.

    Slick businessman in his $2,000 Armani suit would be ill-advised to attempt conversation with the burly Russian-disguised-as-an-American-bouncer, for his expensive threads will be shredded mid-flight and his body stuffed between the flush button and the paper towel dispenser behind the locked toilet door.

    Suspicious-looking crew, all furtive and yet full of feigned efficiency. For one of them, this will be their last flight. Which one? Near-retirement captain perhaps, nothing to lose except his wife and family when they hear about his covert operations with the female purser who tires of his promises and ruins his tropical-island-cocktail-umbrella dreams.

    Turns out the food is off, passengers are sick, would-be murderers haven’t the strength, the Marshall is murdered by a feather-wielding matron of honour, the cocaine gets flushed, the businessman saves himself by knifing the Russian, while the fed-up purser plans a future with the flight engineer.

    Time for Chapter Two.

    12+

    • Eloise
      24 November 2017 at 2:07 am

      I loved your character descriptions 🙂

      0

      • Alva Holland
        24 November 2017 at 2:31 am

        Thanks so much, Eloise!

        0

    • 24 November 2017 at 3:34 am

      Ah, Alva! I thought at first this was a subtle marketing ploy for your new ‘aboard’ game, “Flew-do”®. 😀 But I see at the end that the author is actually you, constantly taking note of all that is going on around you and filing it away, so that you can throw together a cracking quick-as-a-flash fiction tale at an hour in Dublin when only an insomniac would be so awake.
      (Take note, flash fictioneers: using inventive compound adjectives like ‘tropical-island-cocktail-umbrella’ is not only clever but also a good way to keep your word count down…)

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        24 November 2017 at 5:01 am

        A Masters in Insomnia is my claim to fame. It comes gilt-edged, surrounded by dreams, nightmares and coffee. Most of my writing takes place between 05:00 and 07:00, the rest of the day disappearing in a haze of attempted concentration, collapsing miserably early evening. One day I might discover there is life after 21:00.
        Love this prompt btw.

        3+

      • 24 November 2017 at 1:10 pm

        A fine hyphen-five to Alma for sure, Geoff.

        1+

        • 25 November 2017 at 1:58 am

          Shirley, you meant ‘Alva’?

          1+

          • Alva Holland
            25 November 2017 at 5:18 am

            🙂 :0)

            0

          • 26 November 2017 at 11:25 pm

            A hyphen-five for Shirley, too.

            0

    • 24 November 2017 at 12:32 pm

      So Alva, you’re saying it’s not a good day to travel. Got it! I’ll stay home and wait for the exciting chapter two. Arthur Hailey would approve.

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        24 November 2017 at 1:40 pm

        Thanks for both of your fab comments, Bill. I’ll take Arthur Hailey’s name associated with mine any day of the week!

        1+

        • 25 November 2017 at 1:50 am

          I’m destined to have Arthur Daley’s name associated with mine: ‘The world is your lobster.’ 😉

          1+

    • 25 November 2017 at 7:52 am

      Clever! You should write this as a much longer story! Dark comedic crime.

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        25 November 2017 at 9:15 am

        Many thanks, Dana. 🙂

        0

    • 25 November 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Excellent!

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        26 November 2017 at 1:36 am

        Thank you, Angelique.

        0

    • NC
      25 November 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Delightfully sinister–on a couple levels, from the layering of complications to the plot-twist reveal. I shuddered at the proposed fate of the Armani-suit wearer.

      1+

      • Alva Holland
        26 November 2017 at 1:37 am

        Many thanks, NC. I may run with Dana’s suggestion and make this a longer story! Fun fun.

        1+

  2. Eloise
    24 November 2017 at 2:04 am

    293 words
    Author; Police HQ; Crime

    Who cooked Mr Goose?

    “So, Mr Swan. Can you tell us where you were on the night of 22 Nov 2017?” inquired the police officer.
    “I was at a book signing.”
    “Whose book signing?”
    “Mr Goose’s.”
    “What is the relationship between you and Mr Goose?”
    “We are arch-rivals. He always quacks on about nothing, and then claims my words to be his.” Swan ruffled his feathers.
    “So, you are saying there is just cause for you to want Mr Goose dead?”
    “No, never. We may be rivals, but it has never gone past the odd banter.”
    “Really? We have a note here which was found with the body. It says ‘Now your Goose is cooked’. Does that mean anything to you, Mr Swan?”
    Mr Swan dropped his head. This was not good. Why had Fox left a note? Mr Swan gulped down a lump.
    “I am not sure who would write such a horrid thing. Poor Mr Goose. He was such a fine fella”.
    “Excuse me? Just a moment ago you were tell us about your great rivalry.”
    “Yes, yes, but not in the ‘I want you dead’ way.”
    “So then, Mr Swan, who do you think would want Mr Goose dead?”
    “I am not sure. He never spoke to me about his personal life.”
    “Fine. You can go.”
    Mr Swan got up and ruffled his feathers. As he waddled away, a coin rolled on the floor. The inspector lifted it. It was one of Goose’s gold coins.
    “Where did you get this?” said the inspector as he shoved the coin in his face.
    Mr Swan squawked. “It was a present!” He swiped the coin back and waddled more determinedly out of the police headquarters.
    The inspector shook his head. Mr Swan was one slimy fella.

    5+

  3. 24 November 2017 at 2:15 am

    @billmelaterplea
    300 parachutes of time
    Hijacker; Airplane; Memoir

    Look! I Was Out of My Mind! I See That Now! But, Holy Hannah, It Was as Sweet as Drinking Cold Mountain Spring Water

    “I had three of them once. Buxom lasses all. Up in the Yukon. White Horse. Before it became Whitehorse. There weren’t that many horses, let me tell you. Mules. But White Mule never did sound right. Hell’s belles, Davy Boy. You ever had three? At once?”

    Roscoe has spun that tale a few times. He never tires of it though. I hope it’s true. Even if it isn’t, the dotty inmates at the Very Pleasant Valley Home for The Extremely Elderly enjoy the second-hand pleasure that Roscoe’s little confection gives them.

    I have no bawdy parables.

    We gather in the dayroom daily. Most of us engage in not much; chitchat, gum-flapping mostly, gawking robotically out the windows at the manicured lawn that rolls down to the freeway.

    The highway teases. None of us drives anymore.

    Our attendants, pleasant enough, have come from far away. They feed us. They comb our hair, should we have any. They straighten our limbs when they bend uncomfortably. We are kept relatively clean. What other lives they must want to have! We have become their future.

    “Come on, Davy,” Roscoe eggs me on. “You must have some stories. No one should get that old without at least one fine exploit to share. Do your bit, for cryin’ out loud! We’ve been waitin’ a lifetime.”

    I smile. Enigmatically. That’s what Roscoe calls it. He says, “You’re a friggin’ enigma, Davy.”

    I am lost in memories of the frigid smack of wind slapping me silly, the pull into the void, the fall into my own oblivion.

    Perhaps a little closer to my great final exit, I’ll draw Roscoe in tight, my dank breath, probably a wheeze by then, smelling of peanut butter, puffing a light gust into his ear, and regale him with my one grand adventure.

    7+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 1:53 am

      Love this wander into the past, dwelling on the present and gazing into whatever future there might be, short for the residents, long for the carers. ‘We have become their future.’ Wonderful story, Bill.

      2+

    • 26 November 2017 at 2:28 pm

      When I put this contest together, I thought the lure of filling in what happened to that airplane hijacker and his ransom money all those years ago would be irresistible to Microcosms regulars, but you were the only one to take the bait, Bill.
      I never would have dreamed of setting the story years later in the carpet-slipper-shuffling tedium of God’s waiting-room! You did, however, manage to conjure up my favourite story this week (despite the low-key, low-action setting) with some cracking lines to evoke the environment beautifully in 300 words; that last sentence engages all five senses! Hats off to you, Bill.
      [ My only quibble is that the references to Davy’s ‘one grand adventure’ seem way too subtle: without the information in the contest preamble, it would be impossible to know how the tale really addressed the character and location elements.
      But perhaps having, for instance, the ubiquitous old-folks-home background TV broadcasting a local news report on the 50th anniversary of this daring feat would be too clunky; maybe others will think that ‘less is more’ works here, leaving the reader intrigued and wanting to know more. ]

      1+

      • 26 November 2017 at 9:11 pm

        Hi Geoff, I have got to stop being too subtle. DB Cooper is such a marvelous mystery that I imagine his second greatest pleasure, should he have survived the leap, is chuckling all the way to the memory bank. By the way, Roscoe is my paternal uncle, at least how I imagine he might have been on a good day. Regards…

        0

  4. 24 November 2017 at 7:51 am

    @NthatoMorakabi
    300 Words
    Author; Police HQ; Conspiracy Theory

    Truth in Fiction

    The Dallas Police Department headquarters is mostly a cloud of smoke and tight corners of bare white walls. The secretary clacks away on a portable typewriter sitting on the cluttered desk. Detective Mahoney stares at me with beady eyes under grey caterpillar eyebrows.
    “The Texas School Book Depository huh?” He says, the cig in his mouth bounces with each word.
    “Yeah, man. I keep telling you,” I say to him for about the hundredth time. He pretends to jot it down for the same amount of time. “Look, we’re running out of time.”
    “I hear yer. So let me see if I got this right. Lee Harvey Oswald. President Kennedy. Assassination. And 12:30PM November 22. Is that right?”
    “Yes! President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is going to be assassinated at 12:30PM on November 22 by a man called Lee Harvey Oswald from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository,” I shout.
    “And how have you come to find this out?”
    I hesitate.
    “I… I just know.”
    “Well here at the DPD we work with this thing called evidence. You know about it?”
    “Yes, of course. I’m not daft.”
    “Clearly not, although we’ve asked around about you. We hear you’re an author of fiction. Most of which consists of conspiracy theories being proven true. You sure you’re not getting theory and reality crossed in that big ol’ not-daft brain of yers?”
    I sigh again. Agitated.
    “Fine. Whatever.” I stand up and with the anger still brimming, raise a finger at the detective, “But when it all goes down, remember this day. Remember you were warned!”
    “Will do,” the detective says, and escorts me out.
    In the parking lot, I step into the white Datsun waiting for me.
    “They believe you?”
    “Not a single word.”
    “Good,” Lee says with a smile.

    4+

    • 24 November 2017 at 10:48 am

      Nice bit of reverse psychology, Nthato.
      I’m no expert – UK-born and raised, never been to the States – but, like most people, I’ve seen a lot of US TV and movies. I would have thought that ‘Agent’ is reserved for an FBI employee; ‘Detective’ sounds more likely for someone in a police department.
      You seem to have the other details spot on, apart from the name of the would-be assassin. Did you really mean to say ‘Harvey Lee Oswald’ rather than ‘Lee Harvey Oswald’?
      (If you’d like to make amendments, let me know.)

      0

      • 25 November 2017 at 1:17 am

        Oops wrote that in a fog. Thanks Geoff would appreciate amendments of both detective and Oswald

        0

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 2:40 am

      Nicely done, Nthato. Love that twist.

      0

  5. Mark Sadler
    24 November 2017 at 10:16 am

    @backwards7
    299 words
    Author; Airplane; Comedy

    The Downward Arc of the Driver

    Pamela Bradley contacted me half an hour before we were due to meet. She had missed her flight from LAX. She would now be driving from San Francisco to New York and would have to postpone our interview for the several days that it would take her to make the journey.

    I texted back, informing her that I was already sitting at the table I had booked at Roovers, an Italian bistro in central Manhattan that she favoured. She responded by forwarding me the private wine list the restaurant issues to its preferred customers, with her personal recommendations highlighted.

    The following week we sat down in the lobby of the Acreman, on the west-side of Central Park.

    “As you are aware, my ex-husband, Henry Kingsbury, has taken it upon himself to pen a hugely successful novel, titled ‘The Arc of April’. I suspect that he did it to spite me,” she said.

    “I used to fly domestically with Ellis Air. It turns out that Henry has an advertising deal with the company. Every plane in the Ellis fleet has his face emblazoned 30 feet high on the tail fin. I got to the flight gate and looked out onto the concourse. All I could see were multiple images of my former husband staring back at me.

    “I said to Maxine; she’s my agent, I am not getting on that plane. Then I posted a few unfortunate comments on social media that resulted in Ellis putting me on their ‘no fly’ list.”

    I asked her how she would be getting home.

    “My friend, Porter Firth, is flying out to California on his private jet tomorrow morning, with some of his friends. They are going skydiving over the Santa Lucia range. He’s offered to drop me off.”

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 2:45 am

      Driving from SF to NYC – even the thought of it! Ex-husband’s face on tail fins. It gets worse. Dropped off by a sky-diver. Not my cuppa activities but made a good tale, Mark!

      0

    • 25 November 2017 at 7:56 am

      Funny! I love the shock of the last line, especially 🙂

      0

  6. 24 November 2017 at 10:30 am

    @geofflepard
    289 words
    Policeman; Texas; Crime

    In Its Shadow

    Flies, by the score. That was what stopped him; a dark midden hanging in the air, staining his view.
    Officer Barnes switched off the engine. He waited until the last bit of chilled air lost its battle with the sun before heaving himself onto the dirt. Under the smudgy sky, three ridges shimmered; at this distance they were just ruts in the the mud, easy to mistake them as the residue of the recent construction – easy, but for the flies.
    Black pockets formed on his shirt as he reached the bodies. Another family. Two children and their mother, he supposed.
    The woman’s hands revealed her recent manual labours; scoured by the futile climb, ripped by the glassy welcome on top. Each child bore the scars of desperation as they were lifted to a new future, born by the love of a reluctant but choiceless mule.
    They could have died of the drop or the dehydration, yet the small single perforations in each forehead told of a promise broken; the woman’s indignity laid bare as her deceiver removed her cargo before leaving to await the next informal import from the South.
    Barnes had joined the police to fight crime; such a simple moral notion. Yet as he radioed in the next statistics, he pondered the crime he was fighting. The three illegals? The smugglers who set up the crossing? The murderous reception committee? Or the wall that created the environment for the other crimes to exist?
    He wiped his forehead before doing as he’d done before and would, no doubt do again: he dragged the bodies and propped them against the pitted concrete, giving them a small measure of shaded dignity. It was the least the wall could do.

    3+

    • 24 November 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Cautionary tale of the consequences of intolerance and hatred. Well done, Geoff.
      [ It seems likely that you meant ‘borne by the love of a reluctant but choiceless mule.’ Let me know if you’d like it edited. ]

      0

    • 24 November 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Geoff, your ‘cautionary tale’ reminds me of one of my favourite noir films, Anthony Mann’s 1949 flick, Border Incident. Some issues never end. Well done.

      0

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 2:47 am

      A chilling horribleness here, cleverly told, Geoff.

      0

    • 25 November 2017 at 8:02 am

      Wow, Geoff. This is really moving and visceral. I was right there with the detective, heartbroken for this poor little family. Fantastic piece. The last line about the wall providing shade is really a punch to the gut.

      0

    • NC
      25 November 2017 at 3:02 pm

      I confess to goosebumps on that final sentence. Well done.

      0

  7. 24 November 2017 at 11:30 am

    @GriffithsKL
    295 words
    Author; Airplane; Comedy

    Blind at 40,000 Feet & Beyond

    Bentley was blind from birth, and he played it right. Flight attendants took pity and if an extra first-class was available, would usher him into the plush leather seats. Bentley would compliment her on how good they felt and drop the line: a touch in the dark’s better than a smile in the light, as he traced the soft skin on her arm. Sometimes the arm was snatched away, sometimes not.

    Blindness also paved the way for Bentley to realize his dream of becoming a writer. Right about the time seeing people were having their midlife crises, Bentley decided his mind was a gift, that his revolutionary thoughts were the world’s prescription. He revealed his opus to anyone who would listen.

    Bentley was high on writers’ conference. Plunked into first-class, Bentley discharged his mind on the gentleman next to him. An oldish guy, Bentley figured, based on the voice, on “fine, thank you. How are you?” Those were the only words the man spoke. By 40,000 feet, Bentley had already relinquished his bio, his book idea, and how Oprah Winfrey had plagiarized portions of his memoir.

    At some point the gentleman asked Bentley what sort of writing he did.

    “Oh, you mean, like, genre?” Bentley felt so smart using that word, genre. “Romantic comedy.”

    “Have you ever tried horror?” The man asked.

    “Oh no. Disgusting stuff. Gore is for amateurs. I work hearts, my friend. Just watch.”

    To prove it, Bentley stroked the flight attendant’s arm as she set down his soda water with lemon. She made a slight gasp, the kind that’s smiling.

    Finally, when Bentley finished unloading every awesome facet of himself with the exception of his name, he extended his hand for a shake. “Bentley,” he said. “Ferguson”

    “Stephen,” said the man. “King.”

    4+

    • 24 November 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Good stuff, Kelly.
      The natural inclination is to feel sympathy for someone ‘differently-abled’, but that doesn’t automatically mean that person won’t be obnoxious. The phrase ‘a touch in the dark’s better than a smile in the light’ is more than a little creepy in the post-Weinstein world.
      [ “writers’ conference” sounds more likely to me: a conference for one writer would be attractive only to someone who liked the sound of his/her own voice… On second thoughts… 😉 ]

      1+

      • 24 November 2017 at 5:17 pm

        Oh thank you, Geoff! I’d be so grateful if you’d fix that. But I agree. Who wouldn’t want a one on one?

        0

    • 24 November 2017 at 2:29 pm

      I suspect I have a smidgen of Bentley Ferguson in me, Kelly. I’ll have to do something about that. And I have met a few others who have ‘discharged their mind’ at will. Nicely done.

      1+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 2:49 am

      Splendid story, Kelly. The King of Horror as a flight companion!

      1+

    • 25 November 2017 at 3:18 am

      I enjoyed this character study of a man who has used a physical impairment as an excuse to surrender himself to the worst elements of his personality. Whose blindness extends beyond his eyes. Who is too full of himself to realise that King’s inquiry into whether he has ever attempted to write horror isn’t a question at all; it’s a guarded insult, tailored to go over his head.

      1+

  8. 24 November 2017 at 12:34 pm

    191 words
    Author; Firing Squad; Historical Account

    Rose-tinted War

    She stood up straight and her chin was tilted up defiantly. She stared at him through narrowed eyes. She was a pretty girl, tall and thin, her blonde hair cascaded down her back in golden waves. The wind blew it in different directions. She picked up her dress so the mud would not reach the hem. It had been expensive and she had saved up her money for a long time before finally being able to buy it. She was well known as a writer and an inspiration to many young ladies in the village. The others around her were whispering nervously and she looked sternly at them. They fell silent. She turned her face to the sun and listened to the birds twittering and the bees humming. Her eyes were closed. She had seen enough of this world.

    The bullets from the fully automatic rifle ripped through the crowd, tearing their flesh apart as they knocked into each other like bowling pins. Not one scream was heard as the air became pink. When the mist finally settled, rose-tinted bodies could be seen sleeping peacefully, arms and legs entwined like lovers.

    2+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 2:51 am

      I love how she picked up her dress so the mud wouldn’t reach the hem. How futile, how vivid! Nice one, Angelique.

      2+

    • NC
      25 November 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Love the attention to detail and how those details contrast so starkly between the two paragraphs.

      2+

  9. JK
    24 November 2017 at 3:59 pm

    300 words
    Astronaut; Plane; Memoir

    My Almost Unfinished Space Memoir

    Sometimes my life felt like a dream, other times my dreams felt like life. I suppose we can all say that. I am an old man now, not all there from my deteriorating mind and body. I was travelling to see my family on what would be my last descent through the clouds on a 747, which always reminded me of my life’s work.

    I adored my spacecrafts and captain’s chair where I viewed the darkness of space, the stars, planets, and moons. One mission in particular I will never forget. This mission I happened to be aboard the shuttle “Tradition”, but the mission was everything except traditional.

    To this day no one believes me about this particular exploration and my crew has since passed mysteriously. With all of our technology you would think NASA would have caught on to the missing time on our recorder. We were gone much longer than anyone realized. We saw incredible things such as different galaxies, life forms, and unique environments. I made friends with a 8 foot tall alien named AE88, but I called him Tad due to his striking resemblance of an overgrown tadpole.

    I learned a lot about space, how we were created, secrets about Earth that I doubt anyone living on Earth knows. Once I was returned to Tradition I wrote in my journal for weeks and taped my experiences. Like any other story the government wants hidden, they buried mine. They chalked it up to brain damage and early onset dementia. Like I said earlier this would be my last trip through the clouds, at least on Earth. By the time we landed I had passed, which is still a mystery how I died. Luckily my story will live on and you can decide what you feel is true.

    2+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 2:52 am

      The title is brilliant, the opening line just perfect for what follows! Great story, JK.

      0

  10. NC
    24 November 2017 at 5:10 pm

    @rowdy_phantom
    299 words
    Policeman; Texas; Crime

    Asperges Me

    At least ten pieces, it’s whispered, otherwise they’ll keep coming after you. I’ve processed enough of these scenes to know the Immigrants don’t have zombie powers. But my testimony counts for nothing.

    The truth will set you free.

    —That’s just your opinion!—

    The exposed innards always smell like flowers. This one, like hyssop and roses. My eyes burn.

    “Hey, Merill, what are three things you’re thankful for?” Ryan’s flashlight beam plays over the quivering bits that litter the dust. He’s been on the force ten years. Too short to know what it was like before the Immigrants. Too long to lose his lunch over another decimated one. He drops markers like breadcrumbs.

    “That you’re not my regular partner,” I say crouching by the Immigrant’s translation pod. Figure they ripped that part out first.

    —Their siren song will lure you into sin!—

    Let he who is without sin… I start on the string, strands from the CPU (the heart) to the components (her dismembered body parts). Good folk believe themselves akin to Beloved John, who stuck through the cruelty of the crucifixion. I used to believe it too.

    “Two more thankfuls,” Ryan goads. We could feed every pigeon in the county with as many breadcrumb markers he’s laid. I’m going to need more string. I always need more string.

    “They aren’t gods,” I mutter. What you do to the least of these…

    “Like Osiris cut into pieces?” Ryan snorts. “So, what’s the third?”

    “We don’t have to bury them.” Immigrant bodies dissolve after three days, unlike the earlier human versions.

    Ryan nods. “Better than rotting meat.”

    Better than…

    “Get a warrant for Ben’s truck,” I say.

    Ryan nearly steps on a glob. “Serious? Judge’s not going to grant it.”

    I don’t care. I shall be washed. “On record. Request it.”

    2+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 4:45 am

      Deep and dark. A little gory and futuristic. Well done, NC.

      1+

      • NC
        25 November 2017 at 2:47 pm

        Thanks! It’s hard to resist adding spec-fic to other genres.

        0

  11. 24 November 2017 at 5:45 pm

    @danafaletti
    300 Words
    Author; Airplane; Comedy

    In Flight Fate

    Horace:

    What’d I do to deserve this? For once in my life, the Gods have smiled down. This never happens.
    “Hello. I’m Horace,” I say, and a string of saliva swings like a trapeze from my lips. Nobody catches it, obviously. She glances up from her book just as the spit string lands on my chin.
    “Hey.” Her response speaks volumes of disinterest. She’s probably looking forward to a few hours of intercontinental quiet. Last thing she wants is a yabbering neighbor.
    “So,” I continue, despite one raised eyebrow that’s clearly telling me to shut the hell up. “Where ya headed?”
    “La Guardia,” she answers without looking up. I shimmy my generous portion of buttocks into the middle seat. I never know where to put my elbows when I sit in the middle seat. My pits are slimy. The middle seat is fiery freakin’ hell for a fat guy like me, but – silver lining – I get to sit next to cherubic Rapunzel with her bright green eyes and bubble gum breath.

    Becca:

    What’d I do in past lives to merit this? Drown kittens? Steal Cream Of Wheat from babies? Fate’s stuck me next to this dude? He’s Jared the Subway guy minus the Subway! He smells like pickles. I was hoping to escape into this book, but Mr. Chatty here…
    “I know how that book ends,” he says.
    I turn to him. “You’ve read it?”
    “Once or twice.”
    The pilot’s distinctly Aussie voice takes the airways.
    “Hello, all. Flight time’s three hours. Special welcome to celebrity guest – Jared Johnson – author of Iced Love – acclaimed romance series. I believe his real name’s Horace?”
    He flashes a chubby grin at me, and I can’t help it. I swoon. I’m a sucker for writers.
    “I’m Becca,” I murmur.
    Geez, my pits are slimy.

    4+

    • 25 November 2017 at 3:04 am

      Dana,

      I enjoyed your split-screen airplane comedy.

      The inner awkwardness of Horace – a ball of social anxieties who settles for what he can get in his interactions with the opposite sex; who has the empathy to realise that the stranger in the adjacent seat isn’t interested in what he has to say, but who can’t but who stop talking.

      The pride and prejudice of Becca who is revealed as the less likeable, more self-fixated character

      Two parallel beginnings that converge neatly in a resolution that isn’t really a happy ending.

      I can’t really think of any criticisms. Everything here seems to work in context.

      0

      • 25 November 2017 at 7:50 am

        ~thanks Mark 🙂

        I don’t write much comedy, but this scene popped into my head right away. Becca is such a snot, right?! And, Horace is the endlessly optimistic nerdy guy who just keeps on giving. I imagine him as Josh Gad. 😉

        0

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 4:47 am

      Choice story, Dana! A meeting of two strangers, a little repulsive behaviour, a twist – great job.

      0

      • 25 November 2017 at 8:05 am

        Thanks Alva 🙂

        I imagined Josh Gad and Anna Camp.

        0

    • NC
      25 November 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Fun read! Love the two distinct voices. Even though Becca is a snot, her sarcastic sense of humor garnered a measure of sympathy from me.

      The echoes at the opening and close with “what did I do to deserve this?” and the slimy pits ties it all together.

      1+

      • Dana faletti
        25 November 2017 at 2:55 pm

        Thank you! It was fun to imagine.

        0

  12. 24 November 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Nicolette Stephens
    @Rhapsody2312
    237 Words
    Author; Airplane; Comedy

    D/Evolution

    Men weren’t meant to fly.

    Women, however, flew regularly. Off the handle, that is. Or at least, my woman did.

    We’d been married for thirty-five years, much to the surprise of the priest who’d married us and each of our three kids before his untimely death; aged 98. Marge was convinced he’d died too soon, and determined that she was “gonna take it up with the man upstairs.”

    We’d never travelled. Mostly because Marge got car sick and was terrified of flying.

    “If we were meant to fly, we’d have wings and hollow bones.”

    I refrained from pointing out that evolution developed our brains to accommodate for our anatomy. Marge didn’t like to be corrected.

    So when she told me she was going to take a short flight so she could be closer to heaven in order to give God a piece of her mind about taking Father Patrick too soon, I kept my mouth shut.

    With any luck, God would ignore her, resulting in a need for further travels. He wasn’t very good at dealing with customer complaints, not since people started expecting stuff for nothing, but Marge had practiced complaining on me for thirty-five years. That had to count for something, surely?

    I kissed her goodbye, wished her luck with her task, and went back to the study, already thinking of a title for my next book.

    “Flight or Fight: Out-smarting the Big Guy Upstairs.”

    3+

    • 25 November 2017 at 12:58 am

      Would you provide the elements you used for your entry, please, Nicky? Thanks.

      0

      • 25 November 2017 at 3:20 am

        My apologies, Geoff!

        I used the given elements: Author, Airplane, Comedy.

        0

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 4:49 am

      Love the idea of giving God a piece of her mind for taking Fr. Patrick too soon! Well done, Nicky.

      0

  13. steve lodge
    24 November 2017 at 10:44 pm

    @steveweave71
    300 words
    Policeman; Texas; Crime

    The Reason Is?

    “Ellery, can you please….” I started.

    “….make you a coffee? Go out drinking with you? Give you a hug, because hugs can dissolve all hurt and anger? No, no, I know. Introduce you to my sister. She’s hot, Clark. You’ll love her.”

    My neighbour, ladies and gentlemen. Ellery Redrobe. Nice enough guy. Bit strange. The world’s worst sentence finisher.

    He went quiet, so I jumped in to finish my sentence.

    “… tell me what happened when you got home and found Eric here on the floor.”

    I knew they’d been flat-sharing long before I started renting the apartment next door. I looked at my notebook, hoping he wouldn’t cry. He’d always seemed very emotional to me. More highly strung than a violin.

    Being the neighbour, I was first policeman on the scene. I verified Eric was dead, I could see he’d been shot, no sign of a struggle, nothing looked out of place. No sign of a gun.

    Ellery composed himself. “Sorry, Clark. I’m in total shock. I came back with the groceries and there he was, lying like a half-peeled satsuma on the rug. I didn’t know what to do; then I remembered you were a cop. I’m in bits, Clark. I’ll miss him so much. Who would do this? Who?….” Then he thought for a minute. “Oh, Lord, who’s going to tell his sister?” Then he sobbed.

    To stop him, I said quickly, “Do you know her name? Where she lives?”

    “Mmm, sure. She lives here in Texas. Near El Paso, I think. Small place called El Gringo de los Alamo Joe Rios Santa Cruz.”

    “Well remembered.” I wrote it in my notebook.

    I took another look around the place, before CSI invaded. That’s strange, I thought. He said he went out for groceries. So where were they?

    1+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 4:51 am

      It’s the simple things catch us out in the end! Nice one, Steve.

      0

  14. Caleb Echterling
    24 November 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Caleb Echterling
    @CalebEchterling
    hijacker/TV studio/comedy
    294 words

    Action News!

    Shots fired. Bodies dived under desks. Cameras swiveled to catch the action. A man in cinched-up hoodie swirled his hips to give everyone a good look at the prominent bulge in the hand-warmer pocket. “Don’t move. I’m taking you all hostage. Everybody take off your clothes, so you can’t try anything funny.”

    Bare torsos popped up from their hiding places. “But monsieur, no one is wearing any clothes. This is the set for The Nude O’Clock News. We’re France Télévisions – America’s top rated show.”

    Hoodie man squinted from the casino-bright stage lights. “Even the crew?”

    Naked bodies stepped from behind camera and cue cards. “Yes, it is important that everyone be nude for that certain je ne sais quoi a French news program must have. And I must ask, is that a banana in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?”

    Hoodie man pulled up his pant leg to reveal a banana. “Nope, it’s in my sock. In case I get hungry later. The gun’s right here.” He patted his belly pocket, which erupted with noise and smoke. Nude woman in front of a floor-to-ceiling green screen dropped dead. “Guess this is as good a time as any to state my demands. I want to read a statement live on the air, and I want some peanut butter from my banana.”

    “Ah, monsieur, all French persons believe that peanut butter is an abomination, and an affront to God. We would rather eat a dead snail than foul our kitchens with the paste of ground peanuts. But you are free to read your statement, provided you remove your clothes and work in the weather report somehow. You’ve shot our meteorologist, and the show must go on. We’re back from commercial in ten seconds.”

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      25 November 2017 at 4:53 am

      Weird and wonderful! Naturism in a TV station – whatever next?

      0

    • NC
      25 November 2017 at 3:57 pm

      Ha! Brilliant use of the elements.

      0

  15. 25 November 2017 at 1:26 am

    Classic, Caleb. I wouldn’t have thought of hijacking a TV studio, but why not?

    [ “…I want some peanut butter FROM my banana”?! That reminds me of that old gag:
    – How do you get down from an elephant?
    – You don’t get down from an elephant; you get it from a duck. 😀 ]

    2+

    • Caleb Echterling
      26 November 2017 at 10:32 am

      Good eyes, Geoff. Thank you. It was supposed to be “peanut butter for my banana”, although the typo version may be funnier 🙂

      0

  16. 26 November 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Quite fun…

    0

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