RESULTS – Microcosms 105

Thanks to everyone who submitted a story to Microcosms 105. There were 14 gems this week.

Please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.

Don’t forget that Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for anyone, not just fellow entrants, to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a Community Pick.

We encourage everyone to reply with a positive comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.


MC 102 Judge’s Pick, Alva Holland kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:

I’m delighted to judge the first Microcosms contest of the year, and we’re off to a fine start. I love the contests with favourite lines from previous stories, giving writers a chance to explore their imaginations and wrap another writer’s sentence into a new story. I was fascinated by how many writers chose the line ‘Death laughed and opened his arms for a sweet embrace’ – a somewhat macabre line but open to many interpretations. You all embraced this with harmonious glee! Congratulations to the winners and mentions. Wonderful entertainment here.


Favourite / Favorite Lines

Steve Lodge – The hidden ghost that has its home in me.
Angelique Pacheco – Some people wore masks to cover their hurt broken selves.
Danny Beusch – A caged bird is a sorry sight but you can’t set him free.
Kelly Griffiths – Engine guts, splattered with oil, steamed in glossy iridescent darkness.
Vicente L Ruiz – Funny how I could always hear her capitals.
Nancy Beach – Today he would take his life back, afraid or not.
Bill Engleson – Why is it so hard to capture a small moment?
Geoff Le Pard – He outbodied and looked at himself.
Paul Nevin – She stood beside a bald mannequin, decked out in red lace and feather boa, a throwback to the former world.
Susi J Smith – Reaching him, she’d barely smiled, instead staring at the crucifix fastened to the church wall.
Thom Connors – It was the way that he scratched at the cuffs of his shirt and stared at the hem of her dress.
Sian Brighal – It should have pulled down the bridge, just like the weight of loneliness.
Arthur Unk – I’ve never been the solution to anything.
Geoff Holme – The pristine vermilion lacquer on the nails of the receptionist at Chenier and Lafayette, Attorneys at Law, indicated that the Remington on the side desk did not see much action from her.


Honorable / Honourable Mention

Bill Engleson – The Weary Old Guy Across the Way

A mundane doorstep conversation turns strange. I love the flow of this, the hapless musings along the way, and the clever ending.


Angelique Pacheco – Mainlining Miss Emma

The feeling of despair is immediate, with a sense of foreboding sneaking through the lines. The costume-masking of troubles at the beginning turning into hospital masks at the end is a skilful twist. In truth, after several reads of both stories, I found it difficult to decide between this story and the winning one below.


And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 105.


(insert drumroll here)


Community Pick

It’s a tie!

Danny Beusch – Sing

250 words
#101 – A year ago they’d held hands, walking along the Seine and padlocking their love to the Pont des Arts.
#102 – Death laughed and opened his arms for a sweet embrace.

Sun-loving drinkers buzz noisily outside the city centre bars. Inside, away from the light, it’s like a dungeon. ‘Usual?’ the barman asks, passing a bottle of Sol, pointing me towards my windowless room.

I’ve booked two hours, enough time to trawl through our greatest hits. Along the way I’ll sing The Pogues, for our first Christmas together; Etta James, for our wedding day; Prince, for when we drew the curtains and lit candles and giggled at how loud and indiscrete we were. But then death laughed too, opening his arms for your sweet embrace.

I hold the microphone steady in both hands, awaiting my cue, trying not to think about the barman watching me on the security cameras. I sound thin and shaky and flat. Another beer might help me to do you justice.

I finish with the dying bars of your funeral song. Back outside it is sunset and the crowds have grown more raucous. Cruel laughter drifts from a group of men. Three women hurl insults at each other, primed and ready to pounce.

As I jump in a cab my Dad rings. I know exactly what he’ll say: it’s time to move on. But how can I when it was only a year ago that we’d held hands as we walked along the Seine, padlocking our love to the Pont des Arts? I send him to voicemail. A caged bird is a sorry sight but you can’t set him free. What’s done is done. Let him sing.


Bill Engleson – The Weary Old Guy Across the Way

300 words
#120 – Death laughed and opened his arms for a sweet embrace.

“Excuse me…I hate to bother you.”

No bother I say. He seems a nice young fellow. Harmless. Dressed in a dark suit, like many a door-to-door missionary. Not many seem that presentable these days. Don’t see that many either. This neighbourhood’s changed. Everything’s changed, I suppose.

“No bother. Can I help you?”

“I was looking for your neighbour. Samuel Holt. I presume you know him?”

“I do. I do know Sam. ‘Course Emmie knew Harriet better. They got along. Sam…well, can’t say I knew him all that well.”

“But you know him. Reason I ask, we had an appointment and he seems not to be at home. When was the last time…?”

As he asks about Sam’s whereabouts, I try and remember when it was that I last saw him. Why is it so hard to capture a small moment? I once was able to snap my fingers and point to the very second in time when I spoke to someone, or paid a bill, or saw a wolf moon.

“It’s been a while since I saw him. Like I said, with Emmie and Harriet both passed, Sam and I…well, truth is, we didn’t have much in common…except being old.”

He continues to be a nice young man, smiles, says, “Age catches up to all of us. Or at least, it once did.”

I find this last statement interesting. “Once did?”

“Ah,” he says, “the reason for my appointment. Here’s my card.” He hands me a gold-embossed business card. I am impressed. And curious. It says, Ralph Death, Esquire. LIFE FOREVER. He adds, “We’re all about Cryogenics.”

I of course am fascinated. “Would you like to come in and talk to me about it?” I ask.

Ralph Death laughed and opened his arms for a sweet embrace. “I’d love to.”

Judge’s Pick

Kelly Griffiths – Last Touch

This is the story that jumped from the page for me on first read. A tragedy – the opening line sets the scene perfectly. An accident, young love, fast car, fast food, last touch. Vivid imagery made me feel so sad for this young life cut short. I felt for his parents left behind. I felt for Emma. I wanted the young man’s beautiful thoughts to continue. Instead, his life ended in a distracted moment. Evocative writing from this author. Congratulations!

300 words
#102 – Death laughed and opened his arms for a sweet embrace.

A tire spun, the one not furrowed by speed and thrust. Smoke wheezed from the buckled steel hood. Engine guts, half-erupted and splattered with oil, steamed in glossy, iridescent blackness. Beside a twitching foot lay an unwrapped breakfast sandwich. The smells of sausage, cologne, and sharp copper ghosted the car, floated out the broken windows, past the craggy blades. If his eyes worked, they would still see McDonald’s in his rear-view mirror. They had looked, in fact, cost him precious reaction time. That, plus a novice driver’s penchant for overzealous turning.

A deer in the road. Nothing had ever been so surprising. A deer. Right there. Where a second before had been open road.

He took the wheel too hard over and flipped the Subaru his parents gave him for his sixteenth birthday. Dumb luck his side hit the pole. The last thing John saw was wood grain, dark and deep like the lines on his mother’s eyes. And some rusty staples. A triangle-shaped scrap still clinging to one. He had time to recognize Death. First his skull hit the glass window, then the telephone pole.

John’s focus had been behind him, on McDonald’s drive-through. Even as he fished in the bag for the breakfast sandwich, he glanced behind and conjured her. Emma had said, “For you,” kissed it, and dropped it in the bag. “Pay me later.” She winked. The feathery touch of her hand as they passed the bag would be the last physical thrill John would know. As he gazed dreamily in his rear-view mirror, it was her face he saw, her lips against the paper wrapping.

John couldn’t wait to devour that sandwich. But when the unbending glass and wood splinters entered him, it was Death who laughed and opened his arms for a sweet embrace.


Congratulations, Kelly. As Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms this coming weekend. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!

RESULTS - Microcosms 106
RESULTS - Microcosms 102

4 comments for “RESULTS – Microcosms 105

  1. 8 January 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you for faithfully running this contest! So often (this week included) I don’t know what to write about. Microcosms helps me find a story. Helped fourteen of us, in fact. 🙂 Congratulations to all and a thanks to Alva for spending some weekend time judging.


    • 9 January 2018 at 7:15 am

      Thanks for this comment, Kelly, and the one you left against my entry. I didn’t find time to go back and read/comment on everyone’s entries – but they are all appreciated.
      Every time I do this ‘list of favourite lines as prompts’ post, I think “This will be an easy contest post to put together”. I always forget how many entries there have been over the previous quarter and how many great lines were chosen, and I don’t leave enough time to make the selection; that’s why the contest was posted late this time.
      But it does mean that I feel justified in submitting an entry that isn’t ‘Just 4 Fun’, since I have 24 hours to come up with the goods, just like everyone else.
      I enjoy the challenge of attempting to include all the favourite lines in one story. But this time, I realised that roughly half my entry was actually written by other people. So I think next time I’ll restrict myself to one or two prompts, like everyone else!


  2. 8 January 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Dilly! Dilly! To Kelly, Bill, and Danny. Great stories all. Alva had her work cut out for her.


  3. 9 January 2018 at 7:25 am

    Congrats everyone! 🙂


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