Microcosms 110

Greetings, flashionistas, and welcome to Microcosms 110.

In late December 2017, I stumbled across the word tsundoku, a Japanese term for the habit of buying books, then piling them up unread. Since I suffer from this affliction, I decided to do something about the backlog.

My New Year’s resolution was to attempt to read 50 books in a year; extremely ambitious, as I usually pick up a book, read a few chapters – very slowly – then put it down for several months…

But I’ve managed to read six so far, including “The Quarry”, Iain Banks’ last novel before his untimely death.

 

Today – 16-FEB – is the anniversary of the birthday in 1952 of Iain Banks, one of my favourite authors. So this week’s theme is based on some his novels I’ve read over the years.

  • ‘The Wasp Factory’ (1984)
  • ‘Walking on Glass’ (1985)     
  • ‘The Bridge’ (1986)               
  • ‘Espedair Street’ (1987)        
  • ‘Consider Phlebas’ (1987)     
  • ‘Complicity’ (1993)                  

I’ve just discovered that Iain Banks also wrote an introduction to the comic book “Adventures of Luther Arkwright – Vol. 3” written and drawn by Bryan Talbot.

(Bryan was a year above me at Wigan Grammar School in the 1960s… Jus’ sayin’…)

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: (Gonzo) Journalist, Location: House Party, and genre: Crime.

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 **

 

  • Psychopathic Teenager
  • Young Man
  • Coma Patient
  • Bass Player
  • Mercenary
  • (Gonzo) Journalist
  • Island
  • House Party
  • Bridge
  • Private Plane
  • Galactic War
  • Edinburgh
  • Horror
  • Mystery
  • Poetry
  • Memoir
  • Sci-Fi
  • Crime
Spin!

Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Dana Faletti, 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).

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 111
Microcosms 109

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67 comments for “Microcosms 110

  1. David Creighton
    16 February 2018 at 12:42 am

    298 words
    (Gonzo) Journalist; House Party; Crime

    Gathers No Moss

    I always wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson.

    Sure, a university newspaper is no Rolling Stone; a guy has to start somewhere.

    I had a plan. One of the popular girls was slumming at the paper to get extra credit to scrape her English mark to a B. I figured if I tutored her, I could finagle my way into one of the parties the popular people gravitated towards like mosquitos to a bug zapper. Then I could expose all the debauchery that went on there.

    It worked. I dressed the best I could and headed to a frat house.

    Her name got me in. That was the biggest hurdle. Next came blending in. Everyone was drinking, that was no surprise, and hardly a scandal, even if at least half of them were south of twenty-one. I accepted the offer of a beer and nursed it as I looked around. I was tense. Nervous. I felt like an international spy.

    The beer eased my nerves, so I decided to try the punch.

    Six hours later, I found myself on a park bench serenading a Coke can. My memory was a bit fuzzy. I remembered a long conversation with a winged, pink elephant who, for some reason, had a Norwegian accent. The vomit on my clothing made it clear I drank more than one beer. Also, my left shoe was missing.

    Still, it didn’t seem bad. It wasn’t until later I learned just how many misadventures I’d packed into that six-hour period. Like puking in a preacher’s daughter’s lap and leaving a burning, poop-filled shoe on the Dean’s front step.

    Remember that popular girl who needed a B? She wrote up the entire story. I ended up a laughingstock, a drunken idiot.

    Maybe I will be Hunter S. Thompson.

    7+
    • Nikky Olivier
      16 February 2018 at 4:53 am

      Love the references to the origins of Gonzo journalism, style is quite accurate too. The twist at the end really lends a humorous edge to the whole story.

      0
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:01 am

      It’s funny how we always lose the left shoe…

      0
    • 16 February 2018 at 12:43 pm

      Very nicely done. Straight ahead story with a wise dose of self effacement. Gonzoesque…

      0
    • Geoff Holme
      16 February 2018 at 10:37 pm

      Good work, David; love a story that includes the word ‘finagle’ – and a missing shoe. 😀

      1+
  2. Minhee H.
    16 February 2018 at 2:09 am

    167 words
    Psychopathic Teenager; Edinburgh; Poetry

    Train

    Goodbye mama
    With your grey hair and loving eyes
    Goodbye Rosa
    my beautiful little sister
    With your tight blonde curls
    And your flushed cheeks
    Goodbye papa
    With your wrinkled smile
    And your tired
    But always bright
    Eyes.

    Goodbye school
    Goodbye home
    Goodbye Edinburgh.

    I took a breath
    My fingers slipped out of hers
    I ran
    I leaped off the platform
    Sailing through the air.
    I heard my mother scream
    I saw fingers pointing
    I heard shouts of shock and panic
    I heard Rosa wail
    I’m sorry,
    I’m sorry for giving you this pain
    But I can’t bare this dull life no longer
    Please forgive me

    I landed, hard, on the train tracks.
    With a heavy thud
    The gravel scraped my cheeks.

    There was more screaming
    Then the deafening sound
    Of the train coming
    Vroom vroom
    The wheels scraping against the track
    Louder and louder
    Vroom vroom
    The last thing I saw
    Was white
    Vroom vroom
    Over my body

    Crack
    Rip
    Scream
    Vroom vroom
    Vroom vroom
    Then silence.

    5+
    • Nikky Olivier
      16 February 2018 at 4:55 am

      WOW. Really heavy subject.
      Well written, pulls the reader in to the scene.

      0
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:02 am

      Lots of emotion in this one

      0
    • 16 February 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Lots of fine flash crunch going on here.

      0
  3. Nikky Olivier
    16 February 2018 at 4:51 am

    296 words
    Gonzo Journalist; House Party; Crime

    The Real Monsters Walk Among Us

    I walked into the dingy bar and saw him immediately, sitting hunched over at my regular table. A cop with a conscience – who would’ve thought.
    We sat in silence for a while, and I could see him gathering the nerve to speak. When he did, the coarse timber of his voice led me to think he’d been a pack-a-day man for years.
    “Really don’t want to be in the middle here, see. But the way that this whole thing is unfolding is just plain wrong.”
    I waited, hoping my silence wouldn’t reveal just how clueless I was.
    “They say there wasn’t a crime. The brass are telling us that the party line is ‘accidental death or suicide’ because no-one actually knows what kills these alien kids, do they?”
    “I’m telling you though, this kid, or thing – or whatever they’re calling the other-world visitors these days – he was murdered at that party.”

    I knew I was here for a story, but this caught me off guard, the first-kid of Venus, murdered?!? The implications, if this was true, would send shock-waves through the interstellar political community.
    “You know I’ll never be allowed to run with this. They’d rather shut down the paper than deal with the shitstorm this will unleash.”
    “Yeah, I know. Had to take a chance though, everyone told me you were the most likely to get this out in the open.” He downed the last of his drink and stood with a groan “If you can’t help…” He shrugged. “See ya ’round.”

    Saw his face a few days ago, could almost make out his features, even. The Venusians are not known for their compassion.
    Made me wonder for a moment if I did the right thing, sending the story to the Venusian ambassador.

    6+
    • Eloise
      16 February 2018 at 6:58 am

      Interesting tale. The twist was very unexpected and I want to hear more.

      1+
    • David Creighton
      16 February 2018 at 6:59 am

      Interesting mix of crime and speculative fiction. For a journalist to sell out a source like that is the true horror of the tale.

      1+
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:04 am

      This sets the stage for some political intrigue as well

      1+
    • vicentelruiz
      18 February 2018 at 5:47 am

      Brilliant. But I have to complain this is not within the Crime subgenre: it’s an amazing mix of Noir and SCiFi! 🙂

      0
  4. 16 February 2018 at 5:05 am

    @CarinMarais
    300 words
    Coma Patient; Galactic War; Memoir

    First Blood

    This time they had not come for our mines, but for our other resources – clean water in abundance and cheap labour. The battle between the colony and earth was over in six days. I woke up on the day it ended. It was considered a miracle. I think everyone was looking for a miracle after countless were left dead. I guess I was as good a poster girl as any: the first victim.
    I was on my way to my family’s escape pod when the bullet tore through my shoulder. I vaguely remember the second shot, the explosion. I remember intense heat and the sound of voices. I heard screams, felt my body being moved, saw myself from the corner of the ceiling of the operating theatre, and heard a priest pray next to my bed while I lay trapped within a flesh prison.
    I read about everything that had happened after my recovery. I sat alone in my room and scrolled through the many reports of the war. Here and there I read about myself, though the reports were sketchy and only told half a tale. Apparently tearful people gathered for vigils in honour of me. The photo they used of me had been taken earlier on that fateful day, outside the wedding venue. I smirked. What a lie that white dress was. What a lie all of it was. I was to marry the ambassador of earth on that day. Instead, he had used me; the daughter of the colony’s defence secretary.
    I remember his eyes when he realised that the paradise he had been promised was a lie. I touched my shoulder. My marriage was supposed to be my ticket away from this hellhole in space. Good thing he was a bad shot – but I was not.

    6+
    • 16 February 2018 at 6:13 am

      That last line! Brilliant Carin… as usual 🙂

      1+
    • Eloise
      16 February 2018 at 7:00 am

      Great story. I loved the imagery in these two words “flesh prison.”

      1+
      • 19 February 2018 at 1:42 am

        Thanks, Eloise!

        0
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:06 am

      I don’t know why, but whenever I see coma patient and war I immediately think of the music video for One by Metallica

      1+
    • 16 February 2018 at 12:47 pm

      Sweetly rendered, Carin.

      1+
    • vicentelruiz
      18 February 2018 at 5:50 am

      Oh yes. The kind of Memoir that better be published long after the conflict. Fantastic!

      1+
  5. 16 February 2018 at 5:13 am

    @NthatoMorakabi
    300 words
    (Gonzo) Journalist; House Party; Crime

    Fees and Bodies Must Fall

    You would think the blood spatter, taste of copper, and underlying stench of faecal matter would ward me and the others off 17 Mahogany Drive that hot July afternoon. It wouldn’t. Journalists are the curious type and like the proverbial cat, death is part of the gig. Confetti is still strewn about the leather couch, right next to a Ms. Davidson, 22, student at the University of Johannesburg. We look over the shoulders of a police squadron on site led by a Constable Gumede who is all frowns and glares.
    “This isn’t a puppet show,” he growls. But we know it is. And not because we can see the threads of bed sheets hanging off the balcony, angling Ms Davidson across the couch like a modern-day Death of Marat. It’s because we know the M.O. That this is the third victim in the repertoire of a man we journos have affectionately labelled The Neoclassic Killer. Just the previous month, a house party in the pseudo-glitzy Parktown area revealed students from Wits University arranged as The Death of Socrates. Bed sheets and all.
    It’s difficult to remain objective when faced with the surrealism that our city has a serial killer. The fear radiating through our bones. Poisoning our hearts. Lining our street poles with headlines screaming murder at each corner. Yet we must remain objective so we may assess the situation without emotion. To notice that the killer targets these students not based on any merit of their own but the continuous protests sweeping our streets; Fees Must Fall – which Ms Davidson led as an advocate of.
    I am not a prophet, it’s not in my job title; but as more pledges rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next classic we see, is The Oath of The Horatii. And death.

    5+
    • 16 February 2018 at 5:48 am

      Wow, Nthato! Love this!

      1+
    • Nikky Olivier
      16 February 2018 at 9:09 am

      You really bring across the jaded outlook that seems natural for a crime reporter.

      0
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:09 am

      Great use of historical aspects. You learn something and are entertained at the same time.

      0
    • vicentelruiz
      18 February 2018 at 5:54 am

      I’m reading all the stories in order so I still have a few to go, but wow Nthato, THIS is a favourite! I’d give it several votes if I could. It’s so powerfully written!

      0
      • 19 February 2018 at 1:44 am

        Huzzah! I completely agree! 🙂

        0
  6. Eloise
    16 February 2018 at 6:53 am

    300 words
    (Gonzo) Journalist; House Party; Crime

    The Oleander Massacre

    Good evening. This is Shirley Gonzo reporting from the Whitaker estate in Blandontown. Tonight, Gerald Whittaker has been found died amongst a bevy of beautiful woman. The suspect – his wife. She has been taken into custody for questioning, though she swears she did nothing. The forensic report says that the victims had traces of oleandroside and nerioside in their blood.
    With me now is Mrs Nosie Parker, the Whitakers’ neighbor.

    “Mrs Parker. I am sorry about your neighbor. Did you see anything unusual happening when it happened?”
    “Oh my! Oh my! That Mrs Whittaker is a real rogue. She has been planning his demise for a year.”

    “A year?”

    “Yes, my dearie. She had bought a beehive and planted white oleander bushes all along the bottom of the garden. I told her it was not a good bush to be planted. My poor little Frank passed away because he would sneak over to her garden and do his business there and one day, he came back not looking too well and died, but we could never prove it was her.”

    “Oh really? And how do you think she killed Mr Whitaker and these ladies?”

    “Oh, she had invited Mr Whitaker and his lady friends to come for afternoon tea. I thought it rather strange as she had despised the women immensely but she smiled and served everyone with a Cheshire cat smile. It was only when I saw her put honey in everyone’s tea that I knew something fishy was up. I called the police but they didn’t believe me, but here we are. Four deaths. I hope they have tested the honey.”

    “Oh thank you, Mrs Parker”

    There you have it, viewers. The alleged murder weapon is the honey. Friends of Mrs Whitaker make sure you don’t eat her honey.

    2+
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:11 am

      Oleander, very pretty flower and a great rock band from the 90s.

      0
  7. Marsha Adams
    16 February 2018 at 7:22 am

    Twitter: @marshawritesit
    299 words
    Mercenary; House Party; Sci-Fi

    Set Your Sights High

    She spilled my drink. I won’t say I hadn’t noticed her before that – you could hardly miss the only Arturan in the room, her crest scraping the ceiling, proclaiming her sex and her availability as much as her homeworld – but I hadn’t dared pay her any attention, not until she turned as I passed her and the blaster slung across her back bumped my glass.
    As a kid, my father taught me a simple rule: never pick fights with people smaller and weaker than me, because that’s bullying; or anyone drunker than me, because the Creators protect drunkards; or Arturans, because I’d get my ass kicked.
    I should have just gone back to the kitchen and got a refill: she was an Arturan, which meant she was taller, stronger and definitely not drunker, but she was an Arturan, which meant ‘stay polite and steer clear’. Still, it had been a long, hellish week, I’d had my drink spilled more often than I’d had my ass kicked by a beautiful woman and I wasn’t in the right place to make the right choices.
    “Watch it, Blue, ya clumsy bigger. Why ya carrying that weapon anyway? D’ya even know how to use it?”
    She turned round. Looked down at me. Looked further down. Arranged all her features into a single, unspoken reply: ‘Right back at ya, buddy’.
    One of the Creators must have been watching. Maybe more than one: she made pancakes in the morning. But they were watching me, not her. She found an employer the next day; joined a crew headed for Ocasta. Met her Creators a week later, same as all the rebels. Left me with a story, a bad case of Blue balls and a new rule: if you want it, fight for it.

    7+
    • vicentelruiz
      16 February 2018 at 8:03 am

      Great touches of humour throughout. Well done!

      0
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:14 am

      Quite a story indeed, and good fatherly advice

      1+
    • 16 February 2018 at 12:50 pm

      Good rule of thumb for writers too…”If you want it, fight for it.” You certainly have.

      1+
  8. vicentelruiz
    16 February 2018 at 8:00 am

    Twitter: @VicenteLRuiz
    280 words
    (Gonzo) Journalist; House Party; Crime (!)

    The Last Scoop

    “Hi! It’s a great, party!”

    “Thanks, man!”

    A smile, a drink in his hand that nobody notices never gets drunk. He blends in. He has always known how. That’s how he gets his scoops.

    A picture here, a selfie there. They don’t mind. They do it themselves, all the time. The real camera is hidden, and rolling all the time. Not that there’s anything that rolls nowadays. He edits himself out afterwards, doesn’t use his own face. He’s an unknown.

    Years ago, he did it for the rush. Gatecrashing private parties, letting his readers know what was going on inside. He was never caught. It was exciting.

    But now, he realizes he has changed. The readers don’t matter any longer. He does it for the money.

    He hears the scream. He has been to many parties, has heard many shouts, yells, howls. This is different. There is terror in the female voice.

    The girl appears, covered in blood, splattering everything and everyone in her path.

    He feels this can be his definitive chance. Many people follow the girl, but his keen eye has realized the blood wasn’t hers. He goes the other way, following the blood stains on the floor to their source upstairs.

    He finds the body in a bedroom, burst open. He feels bile at the back of his throat, but just makes sure he has it all on video. One touch and everything will be uploaded.

    A hand grabs his phone and yanks it off.

    “Oh no, we cannot have that,” a voice says. “We’ve tolerated you for too long. Now the real party starts.”

    He feels more hands grabbing him as new screams rise from below.

    4+
    • Arthur Unk
      16 February 2018 at 9:16 am

      I hope there is a part 2 coming sooner than later

      0
      • vicentelruiz
        18 February 2018 at 2:05 pm

        Not really? 🙂

        0
    • 16 February 2018 at 1:06 pm

      Career change, perhaps a permanent condition. Nice twist.

      1+
  9. Ted Young
    16 February 2018 at 8:01 am

    198 words
    Gonzo Journalist; House Party; Crime

    Bling Blag

    Mario Gonzales was well past his prime but still pulled his weight as a columnist and review hack at the Chiswick Star.

    The Jazz-folk singer-songwriter Thorn Crofter, who had clawed his way up to the top of his ‘shrub’, hit town. It was obvious who should cover this seismic event, especially as all the thrusting young reporters suddenly became frantically busy. The obligatory house party for the semi-famous poser and shopping list celebrities was assigned to “Gonzo”.

    The Mario Gonzales philosophy was to approach every assignment with “thoughts as pure as a vegan’s fart”, but he wondered why this ‘Zed-list’ celebrity would wear so much gold at a function with no security.

    Unsurprised, and from his vantage point under the safety of a table, Gonzo watched a mob from Fulham burst in and strip Thorn of his ‘bling’, and managed to snap a beautifully clear image of the tell-tale wink passed between Fulham villain and pseudo-Dylan.

    The police were convinced, the insurance broker was convinced, the readership of the Chiswick Star was told all that Gonzo considered necessary … and Thorn Crofter was convinced that Mario Gonzales should receive some consideration.

    Gonzo often enjoyed short breaks in Spain.

    5+
    • Geoff Holme
      16 February 2018 at 11:22 am

      Yay! You’re back for more, Ted – and you managed to load your story this week.
      There’ll be no stopping you now, especially with classic lines like ‘thoughts as pure as a vegan’s fart’ and ‘…the tell-tale wink passed between Fulham villain and pseudo-Dylan’! 😀

      3+
    • 16 February 2018 at 1:09 pm

      I’m hooked. Great story-telling. I’m tempted to find a true vegan to test the truism…but maybe another day.

      1+
      • Ted Young
        18 February 2018 at 7:29 am

        Thanks, Bill … Good hunting.

        0
  10. 16 February 2018 at 8:23 am

    @geofflepard
    287 words
    Teenage Psychopath; Island; Horror

    Following In My Footsteps

    ‘Hey, yo, moron. See.’
    ‘What, spotty?’
    ‘Footprints. Told you there was someone, dude.’
    ‘You’re the moron. They’re yours. Ours. Mine.’
    ‘Yeah, right. Like I’d fall for that trick. Geez.’
    ‘I’m creeped by your stupid obsession. Talking to yourself. Don’t you get it yet?’
    ‘See. My foot’s smaller than the print.’
    ‘God. Of course. It’s sand, numpty. It spreads.’
    ‘Yeah but there’s two tracks.’
    ‘So?’
    ‘Two tracks. Two people.’
    ‘Thus me. You. Us. Christ, will you stop talking to yourself? I’ve walked around this island twice and there’s no one.’
    ‘Not that we’ve seen.’
    ‘Like on the boat? You pushed the skipper overboard…’
    ‘That was a stowaway. Hey, it could be him. Here. Maybe he swam…’
    ‘That was two days ago. You think he swam ahead of the boat?’
    ‘Why not? That would explain the footprints.’
    ‘Can’t. You. Get. This. You killed our one hope of rescue. You crashed the boat into this godforsaken rock. And now you think there’s someone stalking us, me.’
    ‘Yeah, exactamundo. We’ll catch him and kill him.’
    ‘Yeah? And how… Geez, where’d you get the knife?’
    ‘Ha! You think you’re so smart.’
    ‘You’re cracked, the shrink was right. Effing psycho. You know what they’d call it if you did catch the guy making those prints?’
    ‘Self-defence.’
    ‘Suicide. Hey, what are you doing? Be careful with that knife.’
    ‘Not so keen now, are you? Maybe you’re making those prints. Maybe you’re the creep.’
    ‘Of course I’m making the prints. You are too. They’re our prints. It’s just us, me, we, I who’s here. If you… bloody hell, that hurt.’
    ‘Yeah, it did, didn’t it? What about this…?’
    ‘Mate, you’ve stabbed me!’
    ‘Me too. That’ll teach us.’
    ‘Hey, look. There’s a boat.’
    ‘Too late…’

    6+
    • Geoff Holme
      16 February 2018 at 11:03 am

      “Fear and Loathing on the ‘High’ Seas” 😀
      Nice job, Geoff, with a real Hunter S. Thompson vibe.

      0
    • vicentelruiz
      18 February 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Whoa. Truly the fruit of a deranged mind. 🙂

      0
  11. Arthur Unk
    16 February 2018 at 8:57 am

    Twitter: @ArthurUnkTweets
    http://arthurunk.com
    279 words
    Psychopathic Teenager; Island; Horror

    Ground Zeroes

    The air was warm on Skylar’s face. She slowly opened her eyes and looked out over the ocean horizon. A new day was dawning and a spectacular view of the rising sun set the island sky on fire. ‘Red sky in the morning; sailor’s take warning’ her dad used to say. The acrid smell of the burning building broke the enchanted moment. The lab had burned for over an hour, and she was sure that they were all dead.

    Such a simple experiment; such a horrible tragedy. RejuveCore accepted a government contract 2 years ago to work on the process of reanimating tissue. The project was a wild success after the first year with her expertise in the relatively new field, but that was nothing compared to what happened yesterday. They had officially brought the dead back to life. The one factor they did not count on was that a human body without a soul is just a shell driven by the most basic need: the need to feed.

    A quick look up the hill confirmed her worst fear. The dead were crawling out of the building like an anthill that had been kicked over. It would only be a matter of time before they had infested the whole island. Skylar did not have any fight left in her anymore. She knew that these abominations were either God’s or Mother Nature’s punishment for defying the most basic laws of existence. They didn’t care that she was only 17 and hadn’t fully experienced life. Dead eyes ran towards their next meal. Skylar turned back towards the rising sun and the barely visible steam from the morning ferry bringing fresh supplies.

    4+
  12. Tim Hayes
    16 February 2018 at 9:24 am

    300 words
    Bass Player; Private Plane; Mystery

    The Bass Player and the Plane

    Have you ever flown in a private plane? One of those single engine light aircraft?
    Just the thought of it makes me shudder. Still, here I am waiting at a small airfield for my lift to an unexpected gig. Times are tight, I need the money. I need the money enough to contemplate going up in one of those flying deathtraps.
    My agent had called, ‘Hank, I need a bass player for a gig on one of those offshore islands. The pay’s good, the only catch is that the only way to get there is by air. Are you OK with that?’
    ‘I’m game. If the money’s good, so am I.’
    So here I am a day later at the airfield, my bass by my side snug in its hard case. As usual, I’m the butt of the jokes of the would-be comedians amongst the other passengers in the departure lounge. It’s always the same: ‘That’s a really big violin you’ve got!’ or ‘I bet you wish you played the flute!’ or my favourite – not! – ‘How do you get that under your chin?’.
    The plane arrives, and I’m called to the gate. The pilot himself collects me and escorts me across the tarmac. He casts a worried glance at my double bass.
    ‘I really don’t think that that’s going to fit,’ he said. ‘It’s only a four-seater.’
    ‘Don’t worry about it. I usually travel with it sitting in the seat next to me.’
    Half an hour later, after much to-ing and fro-ing with both of the aircraft’s doors open, we managed to fit it securely into one of the rear seats. I sit next to the pilot and off we go.
    It’s a mystery how we’re going to get it out at the other end though.

    2+
  13. steve lodge
    16 February 2018 at 9:41 am

    @steveweave71
    299 words
    Young Man; House Party; Crime

    Ain’t Nothing But A House Party

    Roger Double-Barrel of the Foreign Office sipped a favourable whisky on the vast back terrace of Crumble House, looking over absolute mayhem. He was here for the weekend at the invitation of Lord Crumbleholme, who wanted to cheer his friend, as Evie Double-Barrel, wife of Roger, had recently galloped off into the sunset with a polo player.

    Roger tried to sound jovial. “Please explain what’s happening. I’m a duffer when it comes to the country. No idea. Doubt I’ve ever been to a weekend house party before. Look, up in the woods. Who’s that character?”

    Lord Crumbleholme squinted in the noonday sun. “Spooky the poacher.”

    Lady Nog Crumbleholme appeared briefly to welcome Roger. He’d heard that, after the demise of his first wife, Lord Crumbleholme had gone on holiday to Thailand and brought Nog back with him. As she left the terrace, he mumbled “Lovely girl, eh, Roger?”

    “Mm, most striking,” replied his guest. “Huge Adam’s apple and an unusual name.”

    His Lordship laughed. “Her real name has 42 letters, no vowels and is unpronounceable. Now, Roger, pay attention. Here on the main drive, everyone just grabs a sack of feathers and hits each other with it. No one gets hurt, everyone wins. Buffet lunch, darts on horseback, then the children dress up as demons and wizards and jump into the swimming pool. I call it Shalloween, haha.”

    ++

    Elsewhere on the terrace, Trenchcoat the butler is giving instructions to a very attentive young man.

    “Hold this sack, Luke, walk down the main drive, just amble through the kids and hand the sack to your cousin Nobby, up by the main gate. Don’t hit anyone with the sack.”

    “What’s in it, Uncle?” asked the young man.

    “Just some silverware his Lordship wants me to get valued. Go on. Join the others.”

    1+
  14. Andrea Allison
    16 February 2018 at 10:39 am

    Twitter: @sthrnwriter
    297 words
    Psychopathic Teenager; Island; Horror

    It Ended With a Walk on the Beach

    “I can’t believe we scored the trip of a lifetime. I know we’ve been working on this for a couple of years, but we’re actually here. I mean, how many seniors can say they spent their class trip at some fancy hotel on an island?”

    “I know, right? It wasn’t a thing until it became a thing. Now it’s a thing.”

    “I just hate we had to bring all the losers with us. I mean, couldn’t they do a public service and just stay home? Let the awesome people have a cool vacation?”

    “Of course not. They’re jealous of us. Especially that Adrian guy. You know, the weirdo guy who gets into fights and stares at you all the time.”

    “Please don’t remind me. Oh, my God! Look at this lobby, Molly. All the gold, and the little men in cute uniforms. I can’t wait to hit the beach wearing my new bikini.”

    “Royce is going to die when he sees you in that, Sarah.”

    “Uhh. I think he already did die. There’s so…much blood. They’re dead. He killed them. Why would he do that?”

    “Shhh… We just…we just need to hide here and and and be quiet. Just need to be quiet. He won’t find us here. Oh, my God! This can’t be happening.”

    “Listen up, Class of 2018. It’s been a pleasure reading all your tweets and watching your Snapchats. Seeing you live all your lives oblivious to the real world. You wanted paradise. Now, none of you are going to leave here.”

    “Adrian, please don’t. Please…please…no. No!”

    “Molly? Your head is gone. Don’t worry. I’ll find it.”

    “Hiya, Sarah. You didn’t think I would forget my best gal. Now that all the distractions are out of the way, let’s go for a walk on the beach.”

    1+
  15. 16 February 2018 at 12:08 pm

    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    300 interfaces between the young and the not
    Psychopathic Teenager; Bridge; Crime

    Jumper

    “Ya gotta see this,” I says to Maxie.

    And he says, “Don’t wanna see nothin’ you’ve seen. You got dead eyes, Louie.”

    And I says, pointing to my peepers like they were heavenly stars, “Dead Eyes? These are beautiful eyes. Full of freakin’ life eyes.”

    “Still don’t wanna see anything your eyes have seen,” he says, as if he knows how to make a point…

    He’s trying to draw a line in the bleeding sand, telling me that I don’t matter to him. THAT I DON’T MATTER.

    ME!

    “Fine!” I shriek. “Fine! You don’t want to see some old bird top himself down by the old railway bridge. Fine by me.”

    Even as I say it, I know I’ve tweaked his nosy interest. It’s always been good sport, watching the wizened ones wander along the tracks, sometimes so deaf and blind that they don’t see a freight train barreling down on them.

    The past couple of years, several of them, memories in the scrap heap, most escapees from one of the dozen or so smelly old Aged and Useless homes we got spotted all over Sweetwater Junction, have been smacked and splattered all over our hellish woodland. Children, lovers, and mushroom pickers, traipsing in the forest, often find bits and pieces of craggy old body parts instead of flowers…

    So, when one of these braindeads wants to do the decent thing, jump off the bridge into the rapids, why, sometimes they need our rah rahs.

    Maxie buys in, says “For real. You got a jumper?”

    “He’s raring to leap,” I says. “Just needs a friendly word.”

    So, we hightail it to the bridge.

    Old wrinkly butt is poised to do ‘er.

    His cane’s on the track. Maxie picks it up.

    “Yup,” I says, “give him a poke.”

    3+
    • Geoff Holme
      16 February 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Like I always say, it’s nice to have a hobby… 😉
      A little low-key compared to your normal fare, Bill, but it still works for me.

      1+
  16. Angelique Pacheco
    16 February 2018 at 12:41 pm

    300 words
    (Gonzo) Journalist; Edinburgh; Memoir

    Notion Potion

    There is an old Japanese saying that says “Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.” You don’t say! I was playing pachinko at the opening of a new Casino in Hirogama Road and I had no idea what was about to happen. One moment I was there, and the next I wasn’t.

    I blinked. I was staring up at a tree. I sat up. Tents lined a river that gleamed like silver in the sun. Two Indian men stood knee-deep in the river trying to spear fish. Had I somehow landed in Eigamura, the movie town in Kyoto? And yet, the landscape looked completely wrong. I was sure I was in Scotland. The two men spotted me and were already grabbing their bows and arrows to fire at me. I wasn’t surprised. Xenophobia was alive and well in ancient Scotland, it would seem.

    I began to run. I found myself on a path in a forest. I followed it until I reached a small, thatched cottage. I banged on the door. A young, beautiful woman opened the door and motioned me inside like she expected me. I didn’t speak any English. She gave me a sprig of lavender which she stuffed into my pants and then she opened a bottle of something so vile, it would make your hair curl. And Japanese hair doesn’t curl. I drank it all up and the world began to spin once more.

    I woke up on the floor of the Pachinko parlor. Old, fat businessmen were laughing at, me chanting, “Wine is lunatic water!” I walked out with my head hanging in shame. I could smell something. I reached down and put my hand in my pocket. Out came a sprig of lavender.

    I could smell a story too.

    4+
    • Geoff Holme
      16 February 2018 at 2:49 pm

      Gonzo story, Angelique! 🙂
      [ Your chosen location element is ‘Edinburgh’, but the nearest you come to mentioning it is ‘England’: Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland! Would you like to make some tweaks? ]

      0
      • Angelique Pacheco
        17 February 2018 at 12:57 am

        Please change England to Scotland, Geoff! Thanks 🙂

        0
  17. Stephanie Ellis
    16 February 2018 at 2:43 pm

    @el_Stevie
    177 words
    Mercenary; Private Plane; Poetry

    Final Destination

    Let the worm turn and the bones with them
    Keep eyeless sockets locked in their tomb
    Keep a coffined death away from me
    As I take my place in the Judgement Room

    Beneath, soft clouds may cushion me
    Above, cruel ice embrace
    As I glide across the heavens
    Where from God I turned my face

    For money, I have killed a man
    Joined armies just for gold
    Fought for the one who paid me most
    To the Devil sold my soul

    Around me all is silent
    I am truly on my own
    I am the one who carved my path
    Must reap what I have sown

    The engine’s drone becomes a scream
    An echo from my past
    As ghosts of countless victims
    Sense justice near at last

    Spectral fingers rip my flesh
    Whilst fire warms my heart
    Voices curse and damn me
    Yet I was damned right from the start

    I will not stand, I will not fight
    I know the end is near
    I have lived a Hell of misery
    And have nothing left to fear

    3+
  18. Geoff Holme
    16 February 2018 at 3:08 pm

    ‘Mercenary’ and ‘Private Plane’ aren’t obvious elements for poetry, Steph, but you certainly pulled it off!
    [ At least you didn’t go for your obvious comfort-zone of horror! 😉 ]

    1+
    • Stephanie Ellis
      16 February 2018 at 3:51 pm

      I do try occasionally 🙂

      0
  19. Paul Nevin
    16 February 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Twitter: @paulnevin
    300 words
    (Gonzo) Journalist; House Party; Crime

    Me and Mac and the Case of the Drowned Producer

    Me and Mac, my photographer, arrive at about ten, thinking that the party will be in full swing by then, but we’re either among the first to arrive, or others have already left.
    Leo Swain, the producer whose party this is, is out in the pool, face down. Mac and I look at each other, thinking that he’s in there snorkelling, because he’s an eccentric, Swain. But there’s no snorkel and no bubbles.
    A tall thin blonde man is sitting on a lounger at the side of the pool, transfixed by Swain twirling slowly in the water, his dressing gown trailing behind him like a superhero’s cape.
    Mac snaps his fingers in front of the guy’s eyes, but there’s no reaction. Then he does the wave in front of the guy’s face. Then he turns to me and shrugs.
    ‘Drugs,’ I shout. ‘It’ll be drugs.’
    Mac nods. Case closed. But there’s still the matter of Swain swirling in the pool.
    We haven’t thought of pulling him out because we figure that he’s already dead, but for all we know he could have been in there for two minutes before we arrive, and might still be alive. He could have just now tripped over the stoner staring at the water. Or one of the other zombies dotted around the pool.
    ‘Has anybody called the police?’ I say. ‘Or an ambulance?’ There’s a murmur and a few looks around – people looking for someone else to take responsibility, to take charge. Then someone jumps into the pool. It’s Mac, ever the hero. He pulls Swain over to the edge, and out of the water. But Swain is gone. He’s been in there hours is my guess, ignored the whole time.
    Someone claps, and there’s a whoop. But then the party continues.

    2+
    • Geoff Holme
      16 February 2018 at 10:12 pm

      Intriguing tale, Paul, that cries out for another episode.

      [ Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help thinking that a producer, eccentric or not, would have security to prevent journos or paparazzi turning up.
      You went with ‘Crime’ as the genre, but you seem to be distancing yourself from running with that: ‘He could have just now tripped over the stoner staring at the water. Or one of the other zombies dotted around the pool.’ A knife in the back or a cord round the neck would have nailed it; or perhaps it’s a crime against social etiquette for the host to be found dead, face down in the water, at a pool party. 😉 ]

      0
  20. Michael Pickard
    16 February 2018 at 7:05 pm

    295 words
    Gonzo Journalist; House Party; Crime

    Right Place, Wrong Time

    By the time I pulled up outside 3310 Sycamore, the house party was in full swing. Good, I thought. More people means fewer questions, and I could do without those tonight. No attention. My aim was to blend in with the drunks and the drug takers, the dancers and the dreamers. I just had to go about my business discreetly, hiding in plain sight, in the shadows of the strobes lighting up every room in the house like it was Mardi Gras.

    I ring the doorbell. No-one answers – it’s too loud to hear yourself think, so I let myself in. No-one acknowledges the stranger in the hallway. They’re all strangers here, and I’m meant to be a bystander, that’s what journalists do. Watch and report.
    But it’s all I can do to avoid the beer pong table and the group doing shots by the pool. I stick to a beer and a bowl of pretzels I find in the kitchen.

    It’s an illegal house party, taking place in a deserted mansion on one of the richest parts of town. I’m here because I read about it on Facebook, and decided to come along for the ride. I’ll get the story and sell it to one of the tabloids. They can’t get enough of this stuff, another stick to beat down the youth of today.

    Then there’s another knock at the door, and more lights now than before. But these are different, and they’re coming through the front windows. A pause, and then 20 armed cops come racing in, rounding up any protestors and throwing the wasted to one side. My crime? I’m the only one sober enough to make any sense, hauled off to explain myself.

    I didn’t even get another beer for the road.

    2+
    • Geoff Holme
      18 February 2018 at 11:26 am

      Thanks for your entry, Michael.

      [ I amended ‘discretely’ (separately) to ‘discreetly’ (carefully, prudently) … You’re welcome! 😉 ]

      0
  21. Joe Constant
    17 February 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Gonzo Journalist, House Party, Crime

    Detached

    Red, warm, sticky – these were now her experience. Gonzo had learned to disconnect from the situation. She was paid to be the fly on the wall after all. Journalistic integrity she rationalized, but in reality the world swam around her since her childhood.

    Growing up in a small town, everyone knew everyone but no one said anything. Such things would have been uncouth, we’d all have to sit around the same Thanksgiving table after all. So when the bruises appeared on young Alexis Gonzales, no one said anything. The world shunned her, shaming the victim of childhood sexual violence. She plunged into a fascination with Gonzo on her favorite Sesame Street – a blue stranger who somehow learned to get by. She took up his name to gain his power.

    When she could, she fled that life and used her powers of invisibility to help others abused. Telling the story the way it really was. Uncovering the skeletons in these small havens. As it turns out, her cloak of invisibility was not as strong as she thought. When she went to the child pornographers house party, her armor was pierced by the villains gun.

    As she collapsed to the ground, she took solace the fact that for the first time since her childhood, she finally felt something.

    1+
    • Geoff Holme
      18 February 2018 at 10:44 am

      Thanks for your entry, Joe.
      Unfortunately, it was too late for the judge’s consideration: Microcosms is a 24-hour only contest every Friday.
      As you will see from the preamble to each and every Contest post, “You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece.”
      Perhaps you were “misled” by the count-down clock. This shows the amount of time left to submit when a contest is live; but, when the contest deadline is reached, it changes to the amount of time left until the next Microcosms contest starts.
      As you are new to Microcosms, you are also encouraged in the preamble to check out the full submission guidelines – always a good move! 😉
      I hope this setback will not deter you from entering future Microcosms contests.

      0
      • vicentelruiz
        18 February 2018 at 5:27 pm

        And it’s a real pity because Joe’s story is poignant and powerful!

        0

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