Microcosms 108

Hello, flashionistas, and welcome to Microcosms 108.

Today (02-FEB) is Candlemas, the Christian festival of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, where Simeon recognised the holy infant as the Christ Child.

There was once weather lore that clear weather on Candlemas forebodes a prolonged winter. This was extended in the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees a shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks; if he doesn’t, because of cloudiness, spring season will arrive early.

The earliest mention of Groundhog Day is an entry in the diary of James L. Morris of Morgantown, Pennsylvania on 02-FEB-1840.

In the USA and Canada, the tradition of celebrating Groundhog Day, was made even more popular by the film “Groundhog Day” (1993).

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: Someone called Phil, Location: Charity Auction, 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 AND a title for your entry – not included in the word count.
*** NO FAN-FICTION, PLEASE, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS ***

  • Devout Man
  • Groundhog
  • Diarist
  • Weather Forecaster
  • Someone called Phil
  • Ice Sculptor
  • Temple
  • Pennsylvania
  • TV Studio
  • Bed and Breakfast
  • Dinner-Dance
  • Charity Auction
  • Comedy
  • Horror
  • Drama
  • Thriller
  • Crime
  • Sci-Fi
Spin!

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

 

REMEMBER: all submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length (excluding the title).

Unless you get stuck in a time loop, you have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece.

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

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 109
Microcosms 107
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68 comments for “Microcosms 108

  1. 2 February 2018 at 1:19 am

    @CarinMarais
    http://www.maraiscarin.com
    298 words
    Weather Forecaster; Temple; Crime

    At the Altar

    The people had chosen him on the day the weather forecaster came to town. Selected unanimously, his hands were bound behind his back and he was marched towards the temple.
    “You know not what you do!” he shouted as he tripped over the first step that led up the side of the hastily built altar outside the temple.
    “We cannot have a sinner in our midst,” one of the men holding him said calmly. “You see the drought. You see our crops withering and our children dying. There is no place for you, here.”
    The bound man struggled, but it was to no avail. They forced him to his knees in front of the forecaster.
    “You have brought this upon yourself,” one of his captives said.
    The forecaster stood closer. “Uncover his eyes.”
    “Look!” one of the men said. “One of his eyes is the colour of the soil, the other the colour of the sea.”
    “You have done well,” the forecaster said, taking out a knife. The bound man struggled, shouting for help.
    “He’s a demon!” he shouted, nearly dislocating his shoulders as he struggled. “Spawn of evil! He’ll take your children and make them slaves!”
    The forecaster bent down and whispered in his ear, grinning. “Their souls are mine. And you can’t stop me. Not this time.”
    Warm blood stained the altar. The forecaster looked down at his handiwork with a smile. “Now I shall take the payment due to me.” Fifty people clutched at their aching hearts.
    “We’ve given you gold!” one said, his face pale.
    “Useless in my line of work. I need souls. And now that you’ve killed your guardian, I can have as many as I want.”
    “The rain?” the other man asked.
    “Will come when it comes.” The forecaster grinned.

    8+

    • 2 February 2018 at 12:31 pm

      You’ve gotta love weather forecasters.

      2+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 12:27 am

      A grim one indeed, Carin. I shall see weather forecasters in a new light from now on! Well done.

      2+

    • 3 February 2018 at 5:10 am

      “…With a chill blowing in from the Cape.” More Horror than Crime, I would have thought, but very effective, Carin.
      [ “His one eye is the colour of the soil, the other the colour of the sea.”: “His one eye…” implies that he has only one eye. Would you like me to change this to “One of his eyes…”? ]

      0

    • 3 February 2018 at 5:35 pm

      The Weatherman sounds like an awesome idea for a new horror monster!

      1+

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:13 pm

      A fabulous story, Carin. Perfectly paced, loving the terrifying ending.

      0

  2. 2 February 2018 at 1:49 am

    @billmelaterplea
    300 words of encouragement for the Trumpmeister
    Someone called Phil; TV Studio; Dramedy

    The Philmeister

    “Rules? Baby, I break ’em like glass. Smash ’em on the sawdust floor.”

    “That’s fine, Walter. But that wasn’t the question. You were invited to be part of our Common Man panel to discuss significant issues of the day. You, Margie, Verna, and…someone called Phil. And speaking of Phil, Andy, where’s he wandered off too?”

    “Right with you, Cecile. Phil’s a little under the weather.”

    “Is he going to be able to go on? If he isn’t, just go out in the street and get me someone else.”

    “Phil’s don’t grow on trees, Cecile, and besides, it’s just a little gin-induced stage fright. I mean the subject makes quite a few of us not a little fidgety. We’ve got a volatile POTUS so this provocative Common Man Panel title – IS DONALD TRUMP’S FINGER TOO TINY TO BE ALLOWED TO PRESS THE NUCLEAR BUTTON? – could drive a teetotaller over sobriety’s brink…and believe me, Phil is not a ‘tea for two, two for tea’ kind of guy.”

    “Andy…find him or replace him?”

    “Give me a moment. I’ll check the biffy.”

    #

    “Phil? You in there? Hey, buddy, you don’t have to be on TV if you don’t want. No one’s holding you hostage.”

    “Sss…orry, Andy. Don’t know what came over me. You give me this great opportunity to support the President and I go all Crazylegs Hirsch on you, wandering all over your studio.”

    “No problem. So, you’re a Trump man.”

    “Mostly.”

    “What about him…appeals to you?”

    “Well, he doesn’t drink. That’s impressive.”

    “His brother was smitten with substance issues.”

    “Yeah, I know. But what appeals to me is that he does and says whatever he bloody well likes. How many of us can do that?”

    “Phil, when you’re right, you’re right. Ready to tell the world?”

    “Guess so.”

    “Then let’s go.”

    6+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 12:30 am

      ‘Phil is not a tea for two, two for tea kind of guy.’ Love it, Bill.

      1+

  3. 2 February 2018 at 5:13 am

    300 words
    Devout Man; Temple; Drama
    300 words

    Humanity’s Error

    Simon was a vendor. He sold sheep and doves for the atonement of sins. He kept a few measly sparrows under the table for the truly poor who also wanted to make a sacrifice. He sat in the temple every day, near the door so that he could observe everything. It was bustling and noisy. He could see the other booths, and couldn’t help being proud of his spot. He got most of the customers, except for Aran the tax collector, who sat in his booth amassing a small fortune.

    This upset Simon, but at least he had a good gig going himself. The sheep he sold were supposed to be blemish-free in order to get the highest price. He had come up with a salve that could remove any fur that was stained. All his sheep looked perfect. It was a good scam.

    One morning, a buzzing began. “The Teacher is coming,” they whispered to one another excitedly with expectation. Not Simon though. It felt like a rock had settled on his chest. His heart began to race and his palms were slick with sweat. He wanted to run but was rooted to the spot.

    The Teacher walked in. The temple became silent. He looked around, his face showing sorrow. Simon couldn’t help remembering that this was how quiet the Temple had been in his youth. A place of reverence. And then the Teacher’s face changed. Sorrow turned to anger instantly. The man strode with purpose and began overturning booths. Sheep scattered, birds took flight and mayhem ensued. Aran tried to stuff his pockets with money as he crawled on the floor, but as people began to run he was trampled to death.

    Simon left everything and walked out of the Temple, shame seeping out of his soul.

    7+

    • Eloise
      2 February 2018 at 1:02 pm

      Love it 🙂 Your story has great atmosphere 🙂

      1+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 12:32 am

      It was almost an aside that the tax collector was the one trampled to death! Well done, Angelique.

      2+

    • 3 February 2018 at 6:44 pm

      Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s!

      1+

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:19 pm

      It’s great, reading this story from a different point of view. Well done Angelique!

      0

  4. steve lodge
    2 February 2018 at 8:16 am

    @steveweave71
    300 words
    Someone called Phil; Bed & Breakfast; Drama

    Only The Voices Remain

    I was enjoying a bowl of Shakespeare’s Stutter and some amoeba bread in The Garden Of Dancing Frogs tearoom at the Koncilia Zoo in Horse Ridings. I sipped at a cup of robust coffee from Northern Belzon while re-reading the letter I’d received that morning from dear Elsa. I realised then how much I’d missed her.

    A line from an Otis Cochise poem came to my mind. “I’d do anything she’d ask, even carry a piano up a ladder.”

    It was three years since we’d last met. She’d gone off to spearhead an emerging clandestine organisation and I’d become curator of a Cheese Museum in Stormwatch, a twenty-minute drive from the zoo. I lived in a bed & breakfast in Blackwatch. I was not sure which was lumpier: the bed, the porridge or old Mrs Saxon, the landlady.

    Eloise’s letter was typically vague; she was fine, visiting London soon, hoped we could dine at the Silvertown Mezzedine, her favourite Belzonian Restaurant. She’d be thrilled The Statellite Club had reopened after the shootings. She loved jazz. She wrote that she’d met someone called Phil, was madly in love and I simply must meet him and..and..and…

    My heart was breaking as I read. Didn’t she know how deeply I loved her? I would wait four hours in a bubble bath for her. Her smile took my breath away and sold it down the market. She was magically delicious. Ilse’s letter stirred memories within me. I smiled through tears, remembering how openly clever she was.

    There was the time I dived into the shimmering, translucent waters of the Rio Corazon at midnight to find her contact lens. I had to be rescued after collapsing with hypothermia from four hours in the water. Luckily, Eliza had already left the scene, so I was spared any embarrassment.

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 12:34 am

      Makes me want to visit The Garden of Dancing Frogs Tearoom, Steve! Nice one.

      0

    • 3 February 2018 at 6:36 am

      Bravo, Steve; another chortle fest! (“…carry a piano up a ladder.” – don’t try this at home, kids! 😉 )
      [ “… into Rio Corazon at midnight into shimmering, translucent waters…” is a little awkward. For a few Belazonian shekels or maybe a signed poem by Otis Cochise, I could amend it to “… into the shimmering, translucent waters of the Rio Corazon at midnight…”, if you like. ]

      2+

      • Steve Lodge
        3 February 2018 at 6:55 am

        Your way is infinitely better. Thank you very much, Geoff.

        0

        • 3 February 2018 at 7:12 am

          Oh, I don’t know about ‘infinitely’; ‘three or four orders of magnitude’, maybe…

          0

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:25 pm

      Let’s see, this is more Dramedy than Drama… ;P Steve, I was laughing half the time.

      The line “Her smile took my breath away and sold it down the market” is magic in a sea of surreal wonder.

      I also loved the name melder… And Otis Cochise? Where have I read that name before?

      1+

  5. 2 February 2018 at 9:09 am

    @geofflepard
    292 words
    Someone called Phil; Charity Auction, Comedy

    The Auctioneer and the Career-Ending Comma

    Philip Ribbault disliked auctioning Japanese erotic carvings. It was like waiting for the second boot to drop; as soon the artistically-crafted genitals were paraded in front of the bidders you waited for the stifled snigger or suppressed snort. Until his first auction, he hadn’t realised how many ways a penis could be represented in wood or stone. Normally he’d say no, but Masterton asked him to come; and what Masterton wanted, Masterton got. ‘Charity’ was all he’d said.
    To make matters worse, Masterton and his business nemesis, Outwood McGee were competing for this highly-polished, bulbous-veined oak monstrosity.
    ‘Do I hear 15?’
    They both glared at him. He knew he had to drop the hammer for Masterton and here was the hesitation he was looking for. That was when Dolores, manning the phone bids, said, ‘Someone called, Phil.’
    Who was phoning in a bid, now? He glared at the woman. She stared blankly back. ‘Well?’ he demanded.
    She shook her head frantically and indicated, with her eyes, where Masterton sat.
    Damn. He knocked his hammer and said, ‘Sold to…’
    Uproar. Somewhere his mind registered, ‘15’. He took in Masterton, on his feet, furious and McGee, leaning back, grinning. McGee had bid and he had dropped the hammer on his boss and path to success.
    He was dead; no, worse – a laughing stock, an out-of-work laughing stock. He spun to Dolores. ‘Why’d you say someone called?’
    ‘I didn’t, sir.’
    ‘You said ‘Someone called, Phil’.’
    ‘I wasn’t talking to you, sir.’ She indicated her mobile. ‘I was telling my husband the name of a plumber. It’s someone called Phil. I wouldn’t call you Phil, sir.’
    A plumber. After the rodding through he was about to receive, the last thing he’d need was a plumber.

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 12:36 am

      Ah, the importance of a comma! Laugh out loud piece, Geoff.

      1+

    • 3 February 2018 at 6:50 pm

      Nice piece of comedy you have there!

      1+

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:29 pm

      I envy you, Geoff. I have to be in a really special mood to write comedy, yet yours looks effortless!

      0

  6. Minhee H.
    2 February 2018 at 10:03 am

    260 words
    Diarist; Bed & Breakfast; Crime

    The Diary of Annalise, 1943, February 3rd

    Goosebumps lined his thin, bony arms. His teeth chattered. His posture was rather crooked and stooped, and he hobbled more than walked. Clumsily, he stumbled through the streets of Pennsylvania, head down, eyes away, looking at nothing.

    He wore threadbare, feeble clothes: nothing but a thin unraveling sweater, a pair of faded sweatpants, and tattered sneakers.
    And of course, the yellow star.
    The Jewish star.

    The people were throwing food at him.
    Spoonfuls of mashed potatoes flew in the air at rapid speeds, along with pieces of bread, cookies, whatever food there was.
    Unfortunately, at the moment, there happened to be a lot of food. And a great variety.

    A bowl came spinning through the air.
    I ducked, as it sped forwards.
    Crash.
    It hit the back of the Jewish man’s head and cracked into a million white shards. The porcelain embedded itself in the man’s back. Blood leaked, gushing from the man’s cracked skull.
    There was a scream.
    A thud.
    Then silence.

    Guilt, shock, and grief filled my heart.
    Why didn’t I do something?
    Why didn’t I help?
    How could I let that happen?
    How could I let such terrible creatures just kill an innocent man just because of his religion?

    I turned away.
    It didn’t matter.
    I couldn’t do anything. Nobody could blame me. It wasn’t my fault. I was too little, too young, to make a change.

    It was the fault of the war.

    ***

    1955

    Now, as I look back, it was my fault. I should’ve done something.
    You are never too little to make a change.

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 12:38 am

      There’s always something we can do. Well done, Minhee.

      1+

      • Minhee H.
        3 February 2018 at 1:32 am

        Thanks Alva! 🙂

        0

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:30 pm

      The power of words. May it never fade. Great, powerful story, MInhee.

      0

  7. 2 February 2018 at 12:32 pm

    298 words
    Diarist; Pennsylvania; Horror

    Winter Kills

    2/2 No shadow so early Spring, thank God. Mark got bitten, must have hurt Phil when he picked him up. Clumsy asshole. God-damn Inner Circle should have elected me President, not him. I told them.

    2/3 Amy came by, told me Mark’s in the hospital if I want to visit.

    2/4 Amy came again, all bandaged up. Mark went crazy, biting and scratching. Amy doesn’t deserve that, she’s a god-damn fine woman. Should have picked me, told her that for forty god-damn years.

    2/5 Heard gunshots across town tonight. Drug deal gone bad, for sure. God-damn kids. Town’s been going to hell since the internet.

    2/6 God-damn teenagers fighting in the street. Can’t even fight like men. Called the cops but they never showed.

    2/7 Amy came round, crazy with grief. Mark died. Should have visited, I guess. Consoled the widow. Wild sex, she’s a god-damn biter. The asshole had that for forty years.

    2/8 Cops finally did something about the kids. There’s a curfew. Amy came by anyhow, hammering doors up and down the street. Most all let her in. She’d stop by for a while then start off again. God-damn nympho slut. God-damn assholes taking advantage of a grieving widow.

    2/9 Kids about rioting outside. Called the cops, no answer. Whole department’s god-damn useless.

    2/10 National Guard in the street. We’re supposed to stay indoors. Some kind of quarantine.

    2/11 Guard’s gone. Assholes just upped and went in the night, I guess. Left a god-damn dead kid on my lawn. Keeping quarantine anyway.

    2/12 God-damn dogs tried to steal my kid. Went out to stop them, the assholes bit me. Tore their throats out.

    2/13 No food left. Finished the kid. So hungry.

    2/14 Mary stopped by. I have her heart. Happy Valentine’s Day, god-damn assholes.

    3+

    • 2 February 2018 at 8:27 pm

      Awesome! Love it!

      0

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 12:40 am

      Good grief, horror indeed. And only half the month dealt with. Horrible stuff, nicely written!

      1+

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:34 pm

      Really well done, Marsha. Love the story and the style. And the dark, bitter humour.

      0

  8. Eloise
    2 February 2018 at 1:00 pm

    272 words
    Weather Forecaster; Dinner-Dance; Drama

    Mr Fairweather’s Win

    “Welcome to the sixth annual dinner-dance for weather forecasters of the world. Though everyone says you can’t believe us, we have never told a lie. We are here today to commemorate the best weather forecaster. Who will it be?” said the announcer while everyone shuffled in their seats. There had been some great weather events in the last year. Some had left people homeless. Others had seen crazy antics by the public to get close to the eye of the storm.

    His predictions had never been wrong because he had a direct line to The Weatherman. Every morning, he would wake up and walk into his shed. There he had a mirror and The Weatherman would show him what the weather would be. No one knew about the magic mirror as he hid it in the shed, and when people came to visit, it looked just like an ornate old mirror.

    “Tonight’s winner of the greatest weather forecaster of the world is Dr Fairweather. He predicted the weather correctly for 365 days. This has never been seen.”

    “WAIT!” screamed Mr Thunder, his voicing booming across the hall. “He cheated. I have video footage”. Mr Thunder stormed to podium and pushed Mr Fairweather in the process. “See.” He started to show the video of Mr Fairweather looking into the mirror but no one could see what Mr Fairweather was looking at.

    “Mr Thunder. This is not evidence. This just shows that Mr Fairweather is slightly vain. Please return to your seat.”

    As Mr Thunder slunk back to his seat, Mr Fairweather whispered, “Yes, I am just vain,” and winked at Mr Thunder.

    4+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 1:05 am

      Oh, this is fabulous! I love it, Eloise. Cracking story.

      0

      • Eloise
        4 February 2018 at 7:49 am

        Thank you Alva 🙂

        0

    • 4 February 2018 at 11:05 am

      Nice one Nix! Well done!

      1+

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:37 pm

      I love the subtle, yet careful worldbuilding here. Well done!

      1+

  9. 2 February 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Twitter:@VicenteLRuiz
    237 words
    Someone Called Phil; Charity Auction; (SciFi) Comedy-ish

    It’s All For Charity

    “I can’t believe you talked me into this… again.”

    “C’mon, Phil, it’s for charity!”

    “I know it’s for charity, Hannah. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t!”

    “Look, Phil, just breath out, breath in. Relax. What could possibly go wrong?”

    “What could go wrong? Every time you say that, something goes wrong!”

    “That’s nonsense and you know it, Phil. Jinxes don’t exist.”

    “Maybe not, but this… This auction… It is degrading, and sexist!”

    “Sexist? How can you say that, Phil? I’m here as well! I’ll also be auctioned off!”

    “Well, I don’t know. Xenophobic, then.”

    “Now you’re being paranoid, Phil.”

    “Perhaps, but you didn’t say it wasn’t degrading. Patronizing. They see us as inferior, that’s why they auction us.”

    “They don’t. And it’s not only us. But we’re appreciated. We’re considered really good company, that’s why they like us, and we collect so much money, Phil.”

    “I don’t really want to be here.”

    “You can’t go now, Phil! We also have a bet! And look here, in my phone: the charity is…”

    “Alright, alright! I need no more pictures! I had enough last time!”

    “So, Phil?”

    “So…”

    “And now, please give a grrrrreat round of applause to a real star! Let me introduce… Phil!”

    The curtain parts. The crowd roars. A floodlight blinds Phil.

    But he gets a glimpse of appendices, tentacles and stalks flailing wildly as the bids get higher and higher.

    Humans were appreciated, indeed.

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 1:07 am

      I have a vivid image of this auction room! Trying to ‘un-see’ it now. Well done, Vicente.

      1+

      • 4 February 2018 at 5:06 pm

        Thank you, Alva! I hope it was at least a little fun, Comedy is the part I struggled with.

        0

  10. 2 February 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Words: 282
    Used: Devout Man – Charity Auction – Horror
    @Susi_Moff
    https://mairi187.wixsite.com/susi-j-smith
    Title: The Cross

    Daniel stared at the crucifix. Blood dripped down the fragile figure’s face. The thin lips quivered, silent words escaped. Pained blue eyes stared into his.
    “Do I hear 20?” The auctioneer’s words echoed in the half-empty hall.
    Daniel’s hand rose into the air. Blood trickled down his arm from the wounds in his wrist. His mouth opened, his eyes rolled. He fell back in the pews, body twitching.
    The nails pounded their way through his wrists. Thorns scratched his head. Quiet prayers shook their way free from his mouth.
    A soft cloth moistened his forehead, cool water rinsed his wounds. He opened his eyes and stared into the smiling face of a priest.
    “Rest my child.”
    “The crucifix…”
    The priest frowned. “Don’t worry about it now.”
    “No, I must have it. I’ll double the final bid…for the orphans.”
    The priest turned, rinsing the damp cloth. “A very generous offer. But I must have it.”
    The golden knife dug into his wound, twisting. He screamed. The wet cloth filled his mouth, muffling the sound.
    He kicked out. The priest stumbled backwards. Pulling the knife free, he stabbed it deep into his neck. Blood spurted his clothes, the walls, the floor. Digging through his victim’s robes, he found his prize.
    He sat in a pool of red, running a thumb over the small figure. The head moved, the mouth curled into a smile. The head shook. Daniel’s wounds began to gush.
    The smile broadened. Tears crept down its cheeks.
    His vision distorted, warm blood covering his eyes.
    The mouth moved.
    His body convulsed.
    The crucifix fell to the floor.
    Daniel dropped down dead.
    The figure wept, the quiet words filling the still room. “Cursed.”

    3+

  11. Paul Nevin
    2 February 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Twitter: @paulnevin
    Word Count: 300
    Prompt: Character called Phil / Charity Auction / Comedy
    Title: Bidder 157

    Phil sat in the back row of the audience, twirling the paddle with his number – 157 – and hoping that the auctioneer would look at somebody else. Marta had given clear instructions – that he was to win the lot for dinner at her restaurant, Lisson’s, because she didn’t want to spend the evening entertaining a real fan, with them asking endless questions about her latest book, and where she got her ideas from. But he’d arrived late (of course) and after a frantic search through the lot directory he’d found that he’d missed the Lisson’s lot, and in his panic was now the highest bidder for somewhere called Blossom’s.
    ‘At fifteen thousand pounds,’ the auctioneer said. A cheer went up from the crowd. Fifteen thousand was a huge sum for a cookery class with a celebrity chef that Phil had never heard of.
    ‘Fifteen five,’ the auctioneer said, pointing at someone near the front.
    ‘Oh thank goodness!’ Phil said. He held the paddle down, lest he bid again by accident. He stared at his shoes, feeling the eyes of those around him, until he heard the auctioneer’s gavel end the sale.
    ***
    The auction was over, and there were only a few bidders remaining, paddles still in hand.
    ‘This is Mr Simpson,’ Marta said. She gave Phil a smile that looked like a grimace.
    Phil shook Mr Simpson’s hand. He stared at Marta, awaiting an explanation. ‘Mr Simpson won the dinner at Lisson’s,’ she offered.
    ‘Cant wait!,’ said Mr Simpson. ‘I want to know where you get all your ideas from!’ he said.
    Marta was still smiling. It looked strained, painful even. ‘Me too!’ she said. She looked at Phil. ‘It’s going to be a wonderful evening.’
    Mr Simpson wandered off, beaming.
    Phil shrugged. ‘He seems nice,’ he said. ‘Keen, but nice.’

    2+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 1:10 am

      Celebrity authors! Who’d have ’em? Nice one, Paul.

      1+

  12. 2 February 2018 at 6:30 pm

    @ArthurUnkTweets
    arthurunk.com
    Someone named Phil; Charity Auction; Comedy
    253 words

    Love for Sale

    Phil stood in the back and listened to the rhythm of the auctioneer’s voice. “Dollar, dollar, who’s got a dollar? I want a dollar for this basket.” It provided calm in his otherwise turbulent life. Then his otherwise blissful day was ruined.

    A bitchy voice broke his calm,“What the hell are you doing here?”

    “I’m supporting local charities, Barbara.”

    “Really? With what money? Like you know anything about art or anything else.”

    I’m dumb? You’re the one who thought the word farm was spelled E-I-E-I-O.”

    “Whatever, Phil. Don’t go broke.”

    “Then how would I be able to pay you back for all your shade?”

    Phil didn’t know what the hell his last comment meant, but it felt good to say. God he hated her. She was like an atom bomb wherever she went. She would show up to places and – BOOM! – drama everywhere.

    He loved to watch her leave though. She was probably the most attractive woman he had ever slept with. Her hotness to craziness proportion was completely accurate. The view of her backside filled him with an unnatural desire to do something stupid. He sat down his drink and waved in an attempt to get her attention.

    “Sold! To the gentlemen in the brown tweed coat!”

    Phil had a look of confusion on his face. “What?”

    Barbara laughed. “Congratulations on your purchase, dummy.”

    The Hello Kitty toaster was brought to him by a man in a dark suit.

    “That’ll be $300,” the man said.

    Phil sighed and searched for his wallet.

    4+

  13. 2 February 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Weather forecaster/charity auction/thriller
    Words: 285
    Title: Cold Fronts

    “Oh my goodness! Is that Camden Remington?”

    Camden whipped around, violently shaking his head, but it was too late. He found the door, making his way towards it, but he was stopped at every step by well-dressed magnates and entrepreneurs and royalty from little-known provinces in France. He had to get to the door.

    “There!”

    It was too late. They had found him.

    Camden bit back a sob as he thought of his wife. Two years together, and they had been on the outs since two months after their wedding…he had said he never wanted to look at her again…but now this faceless figure, after him, he didn’t know who was trying to kill him but he wanted to see his wife one more time, hear her laugh, he wanted to see his daughter and tell her that daddy loved her more than he loved his job, really, this time he’d clean up his act–

    The shot rang out, and Camden fell.

    There were screams from around the auction. He had fallen across a display case of a burial urn from somewhere in southern Italy. His body had bounced off of the glass, but there was a bloody streak down it. The magnates and entrepreneurs and royalty looked around for the murderer, but she had already disappeared into the crowd.

    That would show him. That would show him what happened when you married a woman, got her pregnant, and threw her out. Damn him, and damn his job. Damn him to hell.

    People began clustering around the cooling body, recognition growing on the faces of coworkers and people who watched the daily news.

    “My goodness,” Countess de Cardevac gasped. “Is that Camden Remington?”

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 1:14 am

      Love how this story jolted along to a fine ending!

      0

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:47 pm

      This is a great full-circle story. Loved it!

      0

  14. 2 February 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Ice Sculptor/bed and breakfast/horror
    Words: 203
    @sthrnwriter

    Respect the Ice

    They needed a gimmick. Something to make this grand opening of a bed and breakfast more spectacular than all the others. I loathed the genius who chose ice sculptures. It was the trade passed from one person to the next in my family. A trade I perfected but my customers believed a grand frozen statue could be whipped up in less than an hour. I roll my eyes as they spew their ignorance. But a job is a job.

    I laid out my blocks of ice. Chainsawed and chiseled into the desired shapes: Cinderella and her prince along with her horse drawn carriage. I worked day and night until they were finally finished. Each piece put into place on the bed and breakfast front lawn just in time for the guests to arrive.

    With cash in hand, I walked away. I didn’t look back. Not when the crowd swarmed around them, admiring my craftsmanship. Not when they uttered words of disbelief. Not when those words turned into screams as frozen statues began to kill their way to freedom. One mangled body after the next left behind outlining their path into the picturesque woods.

    I perfected my trade to kill those who disrespect it.

    4+

    • 2 February 2018 at 8:30 pm

      I never thought about how an ice sculptor and horror would be perfectly paired. Bravo!

      0

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 1:15 am

      Respect the ice indeed! Great story with a fabulous title. Well done, Andrea.

      0

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:48 pm

      Truly original. Fantastic!

      0

  15. 2 February 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Icy Creation
    by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)
    A 272 sci-fi tale about an Ice Sculptor set in a Temple

    The temple stretches to the heavens themselves. All of it ice, beautiful and clean. Intimidating. Inside is my job, two columns of ice waiting to be carved.
    At the entrance we stop. My employers, locals of this world, cry tears of ice. Each landed drop become the start of a new cairn. For the first time, I notice we are standing in a field of them. Hundreds, maybe thousands of visitors, all here for the same reasons. Am I the only person who comes here for money? 
    Blue flames light our way inside to my ice columns. They tower over me, I’m almost scared to cut into them. Worried my tools won’t even split the perfect surface.
    “Carve wish you what.” My translator still struggles with their language, especially sentence structure. Still their message is clear. Shame my imagination is blank. All I can see is my employers, their seven foot smooth beauty. Their eyes the same blue as the cold flames around us. Where humans have hair, they have thousands of tiny icicles, like an ice flow down a glacier. They both nod as if they knew what I was thinking. I click open my instruments case and get to work. Blades cut and slice away the ice. Slowly the columns become copies of my employers with imperfections I added.
    My employers step forward, face to face with their carved reflections. They reach forward and kiss the figure in front of them. Their lips shine blue. The eyes of the carved figures go the same colour. Their limbs crack into movement. All four turn and bow. “Our children for thank you.”

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 1:17 am

      Wonderful chilly imagery here, Stephen.

      0

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:51 pm

      Whoa. Amazing story. Reminds me of the classic scifi pieces of old!

      0

  16. Cassandra
    2 February 2018 at 10:00 pm

    300 frosted words
    Ice Sculptor; Dinner Dance; Crime

    Cold Feet

    The slap of my shoes echoed along the sidewalk. The air around me was dry and frosted. I pulled my deerstalker down on my forehead and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible as I sauntered over to the entrance of a large dance hall. A woman stood outside.

    “Are you Johnson Mariscoto?”

    “Who wants to know?”

    “I’m Marisa Thompson, we spoke on the phone.”

    “Oh yes, you’re running that dance thing where I’m to display my art.”

    “Yep. Do you have what you want to display?”

    “Maybe.” I eyed the woman warily as she sighed and placed a hand on her hip in exasperation.

    “If you don’t give me a little more information, I can’t help you.”

    “Hey, lady, you wanted me to bring my art here, I said no but you persisted.”

    “Are you going to bring the ice sculptures or not?”

    “Who told you they were ice sculptures?” My body tensed as I stretched up to my full height ready to fight or flee.

    “It said ‘Ice Sculptor’ on your card. I meant no offense.”

    “I know,” I said. Slowly I let out a blast of air and unclenched my fists. “So much has happened in town lately. I’m on the trail of a thief,” I confided.

    “I see.” Marisa gave me strange look as I adjusted my hat.

    “Well, my sculptures are in a refrigerated truck a block over.”

    As footsteps faded into the night an ivory white smile shined out from the shadows.

    ****

    A slow smile spread across my face as I closed my eyes and prepared for the thunderous applause. A gasp ran through the crowd as eyes grew wide in wonder. I chuckled softly, my work was better than I had thought. I opened my eyes and nearly screamed. My sculptures were gone!

    3+

    • Alva Holland
      3 February 2018 at 1:19 am

      To Catch a Thief! Well done, Cassandra

      0

    • 4 February 2018 at 5:53 pm

      Ha, I didn’t see that coming! Great!

      0

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