RESULTS – Microcosms 108

Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 108 – especially first-timer Minhee H.There were 16 entries 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 107 Judge’s Pick, Steph Ellis, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:

Judging Microcosms is always an enjoyable privilege and being part of this competition is something I value, even if occasionally I don’t always get to enter. Microcosms and a large number of those who enter have been a part of my life for a few years now and each week it’s like meeting up with old friends. It is also great to meet newer additions who revitalise the challenge with fresh writing and different approaches.

Whilst I have the chance, I would just like to reiterate that there is no bias in this competition in terms of genre or judging. I judge blind – I don’t look at the contest post and the entries are emailed to me, stripped of any identifying detail. The elements that are given are chosen by the spinner, ie is random. If you don’t like what you are presented with, spin again … and again until you find something to your liking.

What I look for is story, originality and quality. This might mean I overlook horror entries – even though that is my favoured genre for writing – and select a romance that tugs at the heartstrings; on the other hand, it might be the horror that gets to me. It all depends on the story.

Before I move onto the judging, I would like to say one final thing. Microcosms is a wonderful place for people to develop and hone their writing skills. The friendly and constructive comments, the supportive remarks, all build a great place to come and write, something surely to be treasured.

And now without further ado, here are the results …

Steph

Favourite / Favorite Lines

Carin Marais – “One of his eyes is the colour of the soil, the other the colour of the sea.”
Bill Engleson – “Rules? Baby, I break ‘em like glass. Smash ‘em on the sawdust floor.”
Angelique Pacheco – Simon left everything and walked out of the Temple, shame seeping out of his soul.
Steve Lodge – Her smile took my breath away and sold it down the market.
Geoff Le Pard – Until his first auction, he hadn’t realised how many ways a penis could be represented in wood or stone.
Minhee H. – I turned away.
Marsha Adams – 2/14 Mary stopped by. I have her heart. Happy Valentine’s Day, god-damn assholes.
Eloise – Though everyone says you can’t believe us, we have never told a lie.
Vicente L Ruiz – But he gets a glimpse of appendices, tentacles and stalks flailing wildly as the bids get higher and higher.
Susi J Smith – The figure wept, the quiet words filling the still room.
Paul Nevin – He held the paddle down, lest he bid again by accident.
Arthur Unk – She would show up to places and – BOOM! – drama everywhere.
M Levi – That would show him what happened when you married a woman, got her pregnant, and threw her out.
Andrea Allison – I perfected my trade to kill those who disrespect it.
Stephen Shirres – My employers, locals of this world, cry tears of ice.
Cassandra – As footsteps faded into the night an ivory white smile shined out from the shadows.
 

Special Mention

Geoff Le Pard – The Auctioneer and the Career-Ending Comma

Not sure there’s been a story about Japanese erotic carvings but this gets a prize for setting/theme! The poor auctioneer’s embarrassment knows no bounds and the mishearing of Dolores’ comments all conspire to destroy his career. The images in your head as you read this…

 

Honorable/Honourable Mentions

Minhee H. – The Diary of Annalise, 1943, February 3rd

A strong reminder of what can happen when you do nothing, although a young child should never carry that guilt. The questioning ‘why?’ is perhaps something we should still ask ourselves when we see some of the atrocities continuing around the world, or the suffering on our own streets.

A compassionate and thoughtful story.

Steve Lodge – Only the Voices Remain

This was labelled drama but it was the humour in the phrasing which won me over: amoeba bread, the Garden of Dancing Frogs tea room. “I’d do anything she’d ask, even carry a piano up a ladder.”, I was not sure which was lumpier: the bed, the porridge or old Mrs Saxon, the landlady.

Great stuff.

 

Second Runner-up

Vicente L Ruiz – It’s All For Charity

What could possibly go wrong at a charity auction? Told in well-paced dialogue, this story shows Phil actually has good cause to worry. The appreciation the ‘aliens’ show the human ‘lots’ makes me think they might become the meal, rather than company. But that might just be me.

 

First Runner-up

Stephen Shirres – Icy Creation

On another planet, a sculptor is faced with columns of ice ‘beautiful and clean’. The writer expertly uses a few, well-chosen phrases which immediately create an arctic impression in your mind and you can see the MC, small against the columns, against his employers.

At first you think he is merely carving a sculpture for these creatures but when you consider the line ‘my employers cry tears of ice’ and that the sculpture he carves from the ice formed from these tears becomes a child, you realise he is actually helping to create a family. The touching gestures, the kiss of the ice to give life to the child within, the bow to the sculpture gives the icy beings an unexpected emotional warmth, make them seem almost human.

This becomes a surprisingly gentle and touching story. I must admit that I switched this and the winning story back and forth a few times. It was a very tough call.

 

And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 108.

 

(insert drumroll here)

 

Community Pick

Carin Marais – At the Altar

298 words
Weather Forecaster; Temple; Crime

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.

 

Judge’s Pick

Marsha Adams – Winter Kills

It’s the sheer level of grumpiness shown by the diarist driving through all these entries that grabbed me. He blames the kids, blames the cops, the army. Isn’t really aware of what is actually happening only that the world has gone to hell – courtesy of the internet. And while he’s cursing all and sundry, he is doing his own little bit: comforting the widow, eating the kid, ripping out throats.

The writer has created an everyday image of a grumpy old man against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse but the horror in effect takes a back seat and it’s his belligerence that comes to the fore.

Written with such a light touch and with so much character, I thought this story was great fun.

298 words
Diarist; Pennsylvania; Horror

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.

 

Congratulations, Marsha. 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 109
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17 comments for “Welcome to Microcosms!

  1. zwoodle
    26 December 2015 at 4:15 pm

    We’re going to do a soft launch on 1 January. We’ll be e-mailing everyone shortly. Stay tuned!

    1+
  2. 12 September 2019 at 5:20 pm

    What’s happened to all the stories from last week’s competition?

    0
    • KM Zafari
      12 September 2019 at 6:31 pm

      They’re all still in the system but not displaying on the front end. Part of the glitch I’m trying to resolve. :/

      0
  3. 13 September 2019 at 6:37 am

    Who is Stoner, please?

    1+
  4. 13 September 2019 at 11:20 am

    Ghost; Haunted House; Comedy
    298 words

    The Gang, Fifty Years On

    “Hey guys, it’s our anniversary. It’s fifty years since we got together and solved our first case.”

    “That’s right. Why don’t we do something to celebrate? We could stay the night in the old, haunted house.”

    “I’m not really sure. None of us are as young as we used to be, we’re all in our late sixties now.”

    “Yeah, and I’m not sure that I want to stay up past my bedtime.”

    “Oh, go on, it’ll be a bit of fun. It’s not as though any of us get much of that anymore.”

    “It just won’t be the same without the dog.”

    “You’re right about missing the dog. I even miss that annoying little one that accompanied us on some of our later adventures.”

    “OK, it’s a date then. We just need someone to drive us out there before it gets dark.”

    “I’ll organise some supplies. Some drinks, a snack, spare walking sticks, and a flashlight for each of us.”

    “I’m not sure that I see the point. We never managed to find any real ghosts or monsters, never in our entire career. It was always a scam of some sort, and always one carried out by ordinary, everyday losers dressed up in costume.”

    The overnight stay was uneventful until just before dawn when they heard someone moving about downstairs. Silently they crept down the stairs only to find a fat balding man dressed up in a sheet going, “Woo… woo…” As it was obvious something untoward was going on, they phoned for the police. When they arrived a few minutes later the police arrested the would-be ghost. As he was taken away the last thing the gang heard him say was, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those pesky pensioners!”

    2+
  5. 13 September 2019 at 11:52 am

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy

    That’s Some Spooky Shit, Man–Sailing the Silvery Seas with Long Joint Spliffer

    Man, I had more wobbles than a bobblehead.

    Bobblehead?

    Bubblehead for sure.

    Or Stubble head.

    Like man, that cat had a gnarly beard. Facial hair all wiry and dense. I could feel it, man. Spikes shooting out of his face like fireworks.

    Bazooka hookahs, man!

    Reefer creepers!

    Maybe it was the Maui-Zowie? Or the BC Bud? Or, get this, the Alberta Muerta?

    Made that up, man. Killer weed, though.

    Whatever it was, it was some magic shit. Maui Cowie poop, eh.

    Hah! I don’t know what that is.

    Anyway, I’d been up all night zinging in the shower, tingling in the tower, baying at the full moon, a giant silver dollar beauty, when I got the urge man to go down to the waterfront, watch the river flow.

    You ever done that, man? The river! Love the river. Like its dark, man, and late. The taverns have all closed. Streets littered with the soulful. Sky’s storm ready. Clouds gathering like jumbled sheets on a bed that’s never been made. Guess you know where that metaphor comes from. Anyways, you can feel it. Something’s gonna burst. So, I go down to the river and I see it through the thick fog. Like its out of the movies, man, full masted, skull and crossbones flapping’ in the night wind, and that ain’t no Errol Flynn standing at the helm. Not on your booty. Its someone eerie as hell, with some yo ho hoing and a bottle of bong…and I’m thinking, Bong? James Bong?

    There I am, staring at this vessel, double o sevening away, and this dude starts walking the plank and says, “Sorry Mate, no gambling tonight. The Jolly Better’s closed tight. City ordinance.”

    “Bummer, man” I bleat, “and me with the munchies and a pocket full of pieces of eight.”

    0
  6. Geoff
    13 September 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Stoner, haunted house, drama
    295 words
    Gardening
    ‘Hi Pete. How’s it trucking?’’
    Pete blinked, hoping his neighbour was another bad trip.
    ‘Garden’s looking great. Not many weeds. Ho!’
    Pete sucked in air, disorientated by the lack of smoke. I need to cut back oxygen. ‘Hi Greg. You after a packet?’
    ‘I was just wondering how you get them so… leafy?’
    Pete licked the paper. ‘You planning your own? Take some seeds, man.’ He sealed another joint, willing him to go.
    ‘I don’t think so. What’s the secret?’
    Pete looked at the soil at his feet. ‘Peace and love, man.’
    ‘Seriously. We grew cannabis at college but that was inside in Cheltenham. You manage outdoors, in Scotland in January…’
    ‘I rely on my relatives.’ He kicked the dirt, exposing the head of a femur. ‘That’s Auntie Jane. The plants love her.’
    Greg’s eyes widened. ‘That’s your aunt?’
    ‘Think so. Hang on.’ Pete put down the Rizzla packet and bent to the bone. ‘Yeah? You sure? Right ho.’ He looked up. ‘Uncle Portius. They look the same at that age, don’t they?’
    Greg rubbed his eyes. ‘I must be passive smoking your product. Did you just talk to a bone?’
    Pete laughed. ‘Course not. Bone’s don’t talk…’
    ‘But…’
    ‘They’re ghosts. I you like I can do you some Mexican spicy and my second cousin’s torso as a starter kit…’
    Greg backed away. ‘Maybe later.’
    Pete started another joint and covered the bone. He’d need another dozen for the school run. ‘Thanks Ponti, I’ll get you that pint of Ruddles later.’ He looked down the rows of fecund and fullsome plants to a slightly saggy group by the hedge. ‘And I’ll pick up some dubonnet and lemon for Granny Emmaline. Wouldn’t do to let her crop get peaky, what with festival season nearly upon us.’

    2+
  7. 13 September 2019 at 10:25 pm

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy

    That’s Some Spooky Shit, Man–Sailing the Silvery Seas with Long Joint Spliffer

    Man, I had more wobbles than a bobblehead.

    Bobblehead?

    Bubblehead for sure.

    Or Stubble head?

    Like man, that cat had a gnarly beard. Facial hair all wiry and dense. I could feel it, man. Spikes shooting out of his face like fireworks.

    Bazooka hookahs, man!

    Reefer creepers!

    Maybe it was the Maui-Zowie? Or the BC Bud? Or, get this, the Alberta Muerta?

    Made that up, man. Killer weed, though.

    Whatever it was, it was some magic shit. Maui Cowie poop, eh.

    Hah! I don’t know what that is.

    Anyway, I’d been up all night zinging in the shower, tingling in the tower, baying at the full moon, a giant silver dollar beauty, when I got the urge man to go down to the waterfront, watch the river flow.

    You ever done that, man? The river! Love the river. Like its dark, man, and late. The taverns have all closed. Streets littered with the soulful. Sky’s storm ready. Clouds gathering like jumbled sheets on a bed that’s never been made. Guess you know where that metaphor comes from. Anyways, you can feel it. Something’s gonna burst. So, I go down to the river and I see it through the thick fog. Like its out of the movies, man, full masted, skull and crossbones flapping in the night wind, and that ain’t no Errol Flynn standing at the helm. Not on your booty. Its someone eerie as hell, with some yo ho hoing and a bottle of bong…and I’m thinking, Bong? James Bong?

    There I am, staring at this vessel, double o sevening away, and this dude starts walking the plank and says, “Sorry Mate, no gambling tonight. The Jolly Better’s closed tight. City ordinance.”

    “Bummer, man” I bleat, “and me with the munchies and a pocket full of pieces of eight.”

    4+
  8. Angelique Pacheco
    14 September 2019 at 4:56 am

    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy
    135 words

    Green Boo-ty

    I saw through the haze
    A ghost ship’s hallways
    Twisting and turning
    The maze was daunting

    A ghostly dancer beckoned
    “Get naked,” she reckoned
    My mind said, “Okay!”
    My body said, “Let’s play!”
    The scene was rearranged
    And the actors were exchanged.

    The captain wore coat tails
    He clung onto the rails
    He shouted for pirates
    And called us bandits
    Zombies took me to the ledge
    To walk the plank to the edge.

    When I came down
    We were back in Cape Town
    I found myself at the pool
    Standing starkers like a fool

    The mystical dancer
    Was a Trans performer
    Security was cuffing me
    No zombies could I see.

    Don’t ever take the green stuff
    It can be quite rough
    Make sure you buy local
    Not pirated forms of diabolical.

    4+
  9. 14 September 2019 at 6:19 am

    stoner/ghost ship/comedy
    WC: 365
    http://www.awalker.org
    @zevonesque

    One More Sausage

    Fred was hungry. It was his semi-permanent state. Always eating; yet as thin as a rake that had been split in two–his acquaintances assumed he was looking after some tape worms. His best buddy, Havant, had just as voracious an appetite. Being a dog it was expected.
    Their holiday to France wasn’t going well. The language was unfamiliar and the food was not as good as anticipated. It was four days before Fred discovered that they were in Hamburg. And, whilst it was just two letters shy of his favourite word, it wasn’t in France.

    Things began to look up when they went for a couple of currywurst after a big breakfast. They got chatting to a groovy guy by the wurst-stand about all things sausage related ,which had got them a) excited and b) hungry again. Being at the wurst-stand that had been easy to deal with. There was always room for one more sausage.

    They shared a funny cigarette with Groovyman, which made them giggle. He said he’d never seen a dog smoke before. Fred said it happened regularly, usually when he’d spilt cooking oil on Havant.

    Groovyman enquired why he was called Havant. Fred explained that it was short for Havant A. which left him none the wiser. He then told them about the sausage barge, where the price for a four hour trip includes an ‘All That You Can Eat’ buffet. They weren’t going to miss this opportunity, so they heading down to the docks with big loping strides and stupid grins.

    At the docks everything was a bit blurry. Clearly they were in danger of fainting from hunger. So they got onboard the SS Hamburger with expectant bellies and an aim to make the buffet their home. Havant A. realised something was amiss when their boat passed through a series of locks without the gates opening. The lack of taste to the buffet wasn’t an issue, but the lack of substance was. When the captain turned up minus his head even Fred thought something was amiss.

    Then they smelled the Sausage Cruise pass in the other direction. It was a good job Havant could swim and Fred could float.

    2+
  10. 14 September 2019 at 4:03 pm

    stoner; ghost ship; comedy
    287 words

    Oscar

    The USS Bronson departed the solar system on the first Wednesday in October, carrying 420 tons of prime marijuana for trade on the rim. Its wormhole jumps were automated.

    By the first jump, the crew, consisting of Oscar Slama, was baked. He sat in the captain’s chair with a bowl of chips in his lap.

    In front of him, he appeared.

    “Wha…?” he said.

    “Don’t freak out,” Oscar 4-6 said. “I’m just more you, in the fourth, fifth, and sixth dimensions.”

    “Whoa,” Oscar said.

    “Got a light?” asked Oscar 4-6.

    After a second wormhole jump, as the ship navigated n-space on its trip to the rim planets, Oscar 7-9 joined the others, who, using a bong, were now ozzy. He immediately commenced baking brownies, a smoking blunt held between his clenched teeth.

    Croned, the three talked about the meaning of life with others who joined them subsequently.

    “It definitely has something to do with this yup yup,” Oscar 64-66 said.

    “Dude, it’s like … like … life,” Oscar 90-92 said.

    “Having trouble finishing my sentenc… ” Oscar said. Oscar 99-101 refilled his bowl with organic, unsalted puffed peas.

    “How many are me?” Oscar said. “I mean, how many of dimensions of me are they …?”

    “Infinite,” said Oscar 19948892…

    More wormholes, more dank. Infinitely more Oscars, steetched.

    “Let’s all squeeze in together,” Oscar said. “Dudes, I am so fazed …”

    “Dude, not out here in n-space. You got to stay spread out in n-space.”

    “No, squeeze in,” Oscar said with the frown of the chonged.

    They burned the crops. They squeezed in, all infinity of them.

    The ship flew on, empty of Oscars and budda.

    The Oscars looked around.

    “Where are we?” they asked themself.

    “In this universe, we’re God,” said the part of Him most lit.

    “Dude!” they said.

    0
  11. Diego Piselli
    14 September 2019 at 5:04 pm

    THE BARGE
    Stoner, Ghost Ship, Comedy
    282 words
    The rumor had spread with lightning speed, fuelled by media coverage.
    A mahogany barge, loaded with Lebanese weed was floating somewhere in Amsterdam canals, unattended
    Smokers in coffee shops hotly debated the matter. Abe swore he saw it moored near Singel canal; Alwine claimed to be certain that the ship was far in the harbor; Rastafarian waiters fabled about an Iranian merchant, owner of the barge tugged along his princely yacht, vanished with a Circassian beauty.
    Eventually, on a warm summer Saturday night, the Quest had its beginning.
    Hordes of stoners, old hippies and weirdos of all kinds gathered in Dam square and started scouring all the canals, walking on the banks, boating or paddling in muddy waters: braver and youngsters went so far as to swim in the smelly current.
    The Quest was unsuccessful, but Saturday phantom barge hunting became a fixed meeting. If interest decreased, the press reported a new sighting and people got back to the endless hunting. Hunters set up groups and association named by famous weed smokers of the past. Each group had a leader, a hymn, a flag.
    And every Saturday evening Mr. Janssen, managing editor of “Amsterdam Today”, savored happily the silence of his flat in Central Amsterdam, a little nest in a medieval alley crowded with coffee shops. No more yelling, no more stoners’ noise. No more frantic strolling of excited people along the cobblestone street.
    All the smokers had gone away, searching for the barge.
    His little article full of question marks and drop hints about a mysterious barge had proved useful, and he could eventually savor domestic pleasures in peace. “Marijuana enthusiasts are like children,” he said to himself “they believe anything”.

    6+
  12. 14 September 2019 at 7:44 pm

    @the_red_fleece
    http://www.theredfleece.co.uk
    stoner/ghost ship/comedy
    Word Count – 260

    Clang! Clang! Clang!
    The sound reminded Midshipman Smythe of the death march if it was played badly by a toddler on kitchen pans. What was scarier was the lack of bodily panic symptoms. His heart hadn’t tried to explode. His stomach hadn’t emptied like a freshly flushed toilet. Nothing was doing nothing in fact. Peter, the welcome guy, had warned him about this but it took some getting use to.
    “Is that her Midshipman?” His Captain pointed at the blue haired girl hitting the ships pipes.
    “Yes Sir.”
    “Madam.” The captain pulled herself to the full height of her tall frame. “How did you get on board?”
    “I don’t know man.” She didn’t look at the captain. Instead she gazed off to the left, as if following an excitable fly.
    “Madam, I am very much not a man.”
    She blinked three times, each time she forced her eyes as wide as she could. “You are so pale…wo-man. Did I get that right? Wo-man.”
    She giggled to herself.
    The Captain did not see the funny side. “Madam! How did you get on board this ship?”
    “Space cakes.” Her hand becomes a rocket which follows the same trajectory as her imagined fly. She takes the same level of interest.
    The Captain groans. “Midshipman?”
    “Yes Captain.” He clips his heels together, disappointed at the lack of noise. Another thing he has to get use to.
    “Go find the Chaplin. Tell him to prepare for a bio-exorcism. I won’t have a breather on my ghost ship.”

    3+
  13. 14 September 2019 at 10:09 pm

    @EdenSolera
    150 Words
    Unmasked Villain; Spooky Location; Drama

    Inferno

    Flames flickered in the oppressive darkness, solitary among thousands. A tall woman strode around them, her high-necked red dress flowing dangerously close to the light. Watching her, bathed in the shadows, were hundreds of people, their breathing heavy in the air of anticipation.

    She spun to face them, her eyes flashing as they reflected the flames. Her voice thundered through the deadened space. Disdain blanketed the group, suffocating even the bravest of her followers.

    Weakness was unacceptable, this they knew, but they had still managed to disappoint her. All fell to their knees, bowing their heads to the shame brought on by her piercing glare.

    She reached down to grab one of the candles, holding it in such a way that her face was cast in a ghostly light. Swiftly, her fingers were enveloped in the burning wax. Everyone else hissed, shocked, yet impressed by her stoicism.

    Flames smoldered still.

    2+
  14. Lindsey P
    16 September 2019 at 9:48 am

    I guess mine didn’t get saved…oh well.

    1+
    • Lindsey Pittenger
      16 September 2019 at 9:51 am

      298 Words

      Bookworm; Mine; Mystery

      The Case of the Canned Canaries

      As they ventured further down the dimly lit tunnel, Miranda pulled her book closer to her face, squinting to make out the words, comparing them to her surroundings. Everything seemed to be just as she’d expected. The construction of the mine shaft seemed stable and matched the text, which eased her growing sense of claustrophobia, but there was something that still just didn’t seem right. She hadn’t noticed that she’d slowed to a stop until the man behind her nearly knocked her over.

      “Oomf—sorry about that. Need to watch where I’m going a bit more,” he said with a sheepish grin.

      “I’m fine,” she said, clutching the book to herself and waving him away. Ignoring the dismissal, he pointed at her treasured cargo.

      “So what are you reading down here that’s so important to gum up the traffic?” he asked jovially, lowering his pickaxe from his shoulder.

      “Oh, this?” She held up the book. “It’s just an old book about mines. I figured I’d bring it along for some good-natured analysis. This mine seems similar to the one in the book, but the thing that’s been concerning me the most is the canaries.”

      “Canaries?” he asked, confused, briefly glancing around the shaft as though he’d missed something.

      “There aren’t any,” she said matter-of-factly, reopening her book, “Here, they use canaries as a warning system for noxious gases to keep people from dying, but this whole time we’ve been here, I haven’t seen a single one.” The look on her face fell as he burst into laughter.

      “I’m sorry,” he said, pointing to a box on the wall. “I think this sensor is that canary you’re looking for. Don’t worry, we are monitoring the safety of the air down here. At any rate, hope you’re enjoying your tour!”

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