Microcosms 121

Hello to all you flash fiction fans, and welcome to Microcosms 121. Apologies for the delay in posting; the closing deadline for the contest will be put back by an hour and a half – please ignore the countdown clock.

This week we have a guest host, Woody McBain. Take it away, Woody…

Hello, everyone. May the 4th be with you.

Looking back at corresponding weekends through the years, I see that quite a lot happened:


  • 1932: Al Capone was ‘banged up’ in Atlanta US Penitentiary
  • 1821: Napoleon ‘gave up’ the ghost in exile on St Helena
  • 1859: Devon and Cornwall were ‘joined up’ by the Royal Albert railway bridge
  • 1979: Margaret Thatcher ‘took up’ the position of UK Prime Minister
  • 1930: Amy Johnson ‘flew up’ on her solo flight from England to Australia
  • 1809: Mary Kies was ‘patented up’ for her technique of weaving straw with silk and thread to make hats


This week’s contest is based on these events.



(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be a 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: Politician, Location: Air Field/Airport, 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.


  • Gangster
  • Emperor
  • Architect
  • Politician
  • Aviator
  • Inventor
  • Prison
  • Island
  • Bridge
  • Official Residence
  • Air Field/Airport
  • Workshop
  • Sci-Fi
  • Drama
  • Memoir
  • Crime
  • Fairy Tale
  • Comedy

Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Bill Engleson, has kindly agreed to act as the judge this time around.


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

Due to the late posting of the contest, you have 24 hours until 01:30 am, today (Saturday, 05-MAY) 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 122
Microcosms 120

16 thoughts on “Microcosms 121

  1. Twitter: @ArthurUnkTweets
    Website: https://arthurunk.com
    288 words
    Inventor; Workshop; Comedy

    Friend of Invention

    Clemson Cogsworth sat at his table and toiled away into the wee hours of the night. Years of his life were rewarded when he had his breakthrough. He immediately called his best friend, Reggie, on the phone.

    “Reggie! I did it!”

    “It’s three in the morning, Clem.”

    “You don’t understand. I finally did it!”

    “What, had sex with that neighbor lady of yours?”

    “No, dammit! My mouth cleaner, it works!”

    “Sounds like you need to go back to the drawing board, your mouth is filthy.”

    “I even made the cleaning paste that goes with it.”

    “What you calling it then?”

    “I’m gonna call it the Tooth Rejuvenator.”


    “Hello? Reggie?”

    “We already have toothbrushes, mate. They were invented in West Virginia. If they were invented anywhere else, it would have been called a teethbrush.”

    “You’re not listening. This is next-level cleanliness. It’ll put dentists out of a job!”

    “I doubt that. My boy’s teeth are so crooked that they are running for Parliment this year. Doctor Kensington will be able to take that holiday to Cypress because of him. Besides, how you gonna get three out of four dentists to recommend your product if you put them out of a job?”

    “Just come over and try it.”

    “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You haven’t tested it yet?”

    “Well… not exactly.”

    “Your supreme confidence has me putting on my shoes and sprinting over. Piss off, I’m gonna try it out first! Wait a minute, did you ring because I have poor dental hygiene and you need a test monkey?”

    “Kind of. Listen you have the most horrible mouth I’ve ever seen, and if it works for you, it’ll work for anyone.”

    “Good night, Clem. I hope your shop burns down.”


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  2. 233 words
    Politician; Air Field/Airport; Crime

    Political Ground Coverage

    “I’ve got the arm!”

    “Torso’s on this side.”

    “Is that a leg up over there? Get it? Leg up?”

    Sam groaned. “Idiot! Just get the pieces over here.” He bent over to examine the remains on the tarp. This was not the way he expected to start his morning. The presidential candidate lay spread out in bits and pieces on the airfield like dominoes waiting to be put together. It wasn’t a huge loss, to be honest. No one liked this guy. If you didn’t know anything about him, you wouldn’t be able to put your finger on it. There was something off about him. The jokes were starting to fly in thick now.

    “I don’t approve of political jokes…I’ve seen too many of them get elected.”

    “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.”

    “My favorite mythical creature? The honest politician.”

    “Don’t steal. That’s the government’s job.”

    This last one even got me to chuckle. This character had had it coming. He was on every watch list in the world. There wasn’t a single thing he wouldn’t do for a quick buck. Unfortunately, drug cartels are not forgiving if you cross them. The proof was in pudding–face lying here, broken up and scattered to the wind.

    I sighed. At least we had known this devil. What would we get next?

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  3. @steveweave71
    300 words
    Inventor; Island; Drama

    Always Have A Smile and A Reason To Pretend

    It was 1950 … or maybe nearer to 8 pm, I wasn’t sure. Our plane had crash-landed on an island somewhere just off the coast. Luckily, all four of us were only nursing bruises, but as we tried to build a makeshift shelter, we’d been captured.

    We were to be tortured in turns throughout the following day. Apparently, our anonymous captors seemed convinced that one of us had invented a device making it possible to eat a cake in the shower, and would stop at nothing to learn the secret. I have a low pain threshold and felt sure I’d let the lads down under torture.

    In quiet moments there, I searched for peace in the inner recesses of my mind, but I only found a disturbingly vivid childhood memory of me riding a camel on the beach at Southport.

    Bimmer, The Guffler, Sid and me. All captured and tied to trees around a small clearing, with monkeys sucking our toes, waiting for painful torture. I was in the company of three of the most fearless men I’d ever met. I gritted my teeth but, every time I heard a roar or the sound of a frisky rhino near the clearing, I started to shake, shiver and soil myself.

    The others started singing loud versions of ‘Mongoose Rock’, ‘Warplanes Over Belzon’, that Strange Band classic ‘Cold Hands’ and ‘I Last Saw My Darling In Greenspoon Bay’. These brave, brave men’s ability to murder a tune enthusiastically made me sing along with lusty pride, until our captors arrived with what looked like an enormous cooking pot — easily big enough for four men to stand in — and started placing wood beneath its base.

    Suddenly, hysterically, and to no one in particular, I shouted. “Hang on a minute. I’ve never been to Southport.”

  4. @NthatoMorakabi
    300 words
    Gangster; Prison; Sci-Fi

    Unperceived Existence

    There’s nothing quite like breaking your own arm and using the serrated bone as a shiv to stab a tentacled guard in its cyclopean eye. Here on this despairing, sun-bleached prison, where the stars sit against a Byzantium-hued cosmos, death is swift and sure.

    Mr Pqowi, leader of our gangster-cum-rebel trio, rises from his seat. There is palpable silence, reminiscent of the gaping abyss of space, that stifles the prison mess-hall. Mr Pqowi stalks towards the guard to grab the flow of feelers on the creature’s head, and drags the still leaking guard towards a camera.
    “You have secured, within this floating penal institution, some of the galaxy’s most nefarious creatures. Yet you have failed to appropriate suitable sentries?”

    He throws the guard aside as one would a dirty rag.

    “Or do you have so much confidence in the fact that the entire space-station is a prison, that you thought it unnecessary?” Mr Pqowi turned to face us, an amalgamation of facades and blinking orbs sweeping over each of us in a single instant.

    “There is an ancient, philosophical account that arose within the Jroq System where my human friend here resides. It raises questions of observation and perception and simply asks, can we confirm the existence of something we cannot perceive or observe?”

    He nods at Merd, whose head splits open like a Venus fly-trap, releasing barbed worm-like appendages glowing with an electrical charge. They attach themselves to various cameras around the room and from his eyes, light projects an image of ourselves as our capturers would see us.

    “With that in mind, and as Merd’s reparation to your system gives us full control, let me ask you this – once you no longer observe or perceive our existence in the galaxy… do we still exist?”

    Darkness encompassed the ship.

  5. 202 words
    Politician; Air Field/Airport; Crime

    High Crime

    Marty felt sick. Tried not to look out of the small window. Some jerk next to him was talking about an engine that had fallen off a plane last week. He scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Cat pictures distracted him from his terror for a few minutes. But as the plane took off, he opened his bottle of little white pills.

    The doctor had said to take two maximum. He took four. Next thing he knew, the pretty flight attendant was shaking him awake. His mouth dry, the corners of his mouth crusty. Slightly dazed, he grabbed his case. All those dossiers he had meant to read en route.

    He stepped out to an unexpected crowd. Flashes from a multitude of cameras.

    ‘Minister Hebdon, what do you say to the calls for you to resign?’ A microphone was thrust in his face.

    He opened his mouth, words didn’t come. What the hell was this about?

    The journalist showed him his Twitter feed. He realised his mistake. He’d liked a picture posted by a terror organisation. By accident. But apparently, that didn’t matter.

    His career flashed before his eyes. His plans for a youth centre and recreation area evaporated.

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  6. 296 words
    Politician; Air Field/Airport; Crime


    I have worked many years in the political sphere. Not all of them legitimately, I will admit. Nevertheless, my new position as a crime beat journo was not one that I thought would take me back to those hallowed halls. At least not on my first day.
    Looking down at the body on the floor, I couldn’t help wondering which one of these politicians she had pissed off and how. She was stabbed five times in the chest, so I was relatively sure a crime of passion was involved.
    The victim was a petite redhead, with the requisite large rack, and generous hips and ass. She was as close to an hourglass figure as you could get while still looking well-fed and healthy. Her eyes had probably been a pretty green in life; in death, they had a sickly grey-green, opaque shine. The consequences of death – even the beautiful become reduced to smelly corpses.

    24 hours later
    I had been following the lead detective in this case like a shadow. I can be bulldog-stubborn when I want something. This shadowing had led me to what I thought was a deserted airfield in the middle of the boonies.
    Suddenly, I heard the roar of an engine and caught a glimpse of a small Cessna, coasting into position to pick up a passenger. I imagine its route was directly to some far-flung country that had no extradition treaties.
    What happened after was so quick, it was actually anticlimactic. The detective was crouched beside a load of boxes, watching, waiting. As soon as the well-heeled gentleman started to approach the plane, he sprang up and yelled, “Vice President Nicholas Stanfield, you are under arrest for the murder of your aide, Rebecca Tewa!”
    The article wrote itself from there.
    Case closed.

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  7. 111 words
    Gangster; Prison; Sci-Fi

    A No Hope

    Sans Holo was not in a good mood. He’d broken out of prisons before, but today he was having to break in to get out Ronald Drumpf. The gross plastic gangster owed him a great deal of money, and had got himself sent down following some bizarre run-in with a dolly bird called Dormy Samuels or something before paying Sans for the last job (the one where he blew up a moon-sized weapon with a piece of Lego strapped to a safety match). He needed to get the untrustworthy turd out of clink and get him to his Orange Tower pad — the one with the tacky golden elevator — pdq.

    Sans knew he could get the job done with a quick in and out and would barely break into a sweat. Those troopstormers ultimately were pretty crap (even though Sans had to admit they looked cool), but he was growing tired of always flying by the seat of his pants. In future, he’d only work for payment upfront. He was also of a mind no longer to work for people of an orange persuasion.

  8. 252 words
    Politician; Air Field/Airport; Crime

    Flights of Fancy

    What denotes success? What constitutes a crime? Is ambition always beneficial? Meet some people who know.

    Tinkabell Piecrust was a small cog in the negotiations department for Brexit. Noted for her calm, persuasive manner, she eventually gained the position of spokesperson for the Government’s preferences concerning smaller matters, and consequently, was regularly seen at Gatwick Airport.
    The majority of policies required were accepted, giving Ms Piecrust credit, increased salary and responsibilities.

    Bella LaBoll was a jazz singer who frequently toured pubs and clubs around England. She had started small, but deserved reputation had magnified her profile. She too was regularly seen at Gatwick.

    Let’s meet Stan Dunstair. Employed as a security operative, he spent most of his time, hidden in a cubicle of a Ladies’ restroom, following his passion for entering puzzle magazine competitions.

    Flushed with success at completing a ‘word-search’, he turned his attention to what he was paid for. He observed the transition, by skillful cosmetics application and latex scaffolding, from Tinkabell Piecrust to … Bella LaBoll.

    Both these successful ladies were alter egos of Troy Menifold, a freelance origami tutor (up to and including black-belt standard).

    Sleight of hand had morphed into sleight of mind, creating a situation as awkward as juggling soot…

    Hearings, inquiries — even court cases — followed Stan’s discovery.

    No plane tickets were purchased; therefore no theft.

    Ms Piecrust’s philosophy — “If you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it” — was convincing.

    Bella LaBoll was pure, raw talent.

    Troy Menifold’s only defence was, “I hate flying”.

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  9. 295 Words
    Politician; Airfield/Airport; Crime

    Playing Games

    The small airstrip is deserted at this time of night; the only visible lights come from the interior of the dark sedan idling between two hangars.
    Barely visible through the tinted windows are two shadowy figures, deep in conversation.
    “Are you sure this is enough?”
    “I’m sure. This isn’t my first time, you know.”
    “I realise that! You came highly recommended. That’s why I contacted you in the first place.”
    “You know how to make the plant?”
    “If it’s ‘accidentally’ found in his briefcase as he goes through security tomorrow, no-one can pin it on me.”
    “That would be the easiest way. I’ll leave you to it then. Payment?”
    “In the case at your feet, fifty, as arranged.”
    “A pleasure doing business with you, senator.”
    A shadowy figure emerges from the vehicle, closing the door with a slam that echoes through the night, and vanishes into the night like a ghost.
    Around the corner another vehicle sits, this one in total darkness; a panel van that looks like any of the maintenance vehicles dotted throughout the small airfield. But inside another discussion occurs, one that could have dire consequences for the senator in the sedan.
    “So, did we get that on tape?”
    “Yep. The senator delivered himself to us in a nice neat ribbon. Tomorrow when they catch the President with all that smack in his briefcase, we can name our price.”
    “Aren’t we taking this a bit far? I mean, letting the President get busted for drugs? Just seems a bit much…”
    “If you don’t have the guts for this, then you’re welcome to leave. Just remember where your loyalties lie.”
    “I’m a fed, I know where my loyalties lie. Do you?”
    “I’m loyal to me. You in or out?”
    “Let’s do this.”

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  10. 296 words
    Inventor; Bridge; Sci-Fi

    Rainbow Bridge

    He had a degree, it just wasn’t in engineering of any kind. No, he was a dabbler in the field. He was brilliant, though, and stubborn. Very stubborn.

    “This will work!” Hank Movahan said as he put the last circuit in and welded it in place, connecting the final piece of his puzzle. “Faster-than-light travel, and I will be the one to have created it!”

    He laughed. It wasn’t an unstable laugh, in his opinion. Nor was he going to rant about how he was going to show all of the fools that doubted him.

    Well, he was, but not in an evil way. He wasn’t crazy.

    “Okay, power source is connected…everything is ready… tests done…”

    He grinned. “Mankind’s first steps into the outer reaches of space begin with my Bifrost Engine! Twenty years of work! Twenty years of being mocked! It all comes down to this!”

    He peered around at his ship. It was a second hand one; a junker, the dealer had called it. He had taken years to rebuild it, to make it space-worthy again. Oh, sure, the only places people went easily were to the moon and back, but he would go to MARS!

    His grin widened. “Bifrost… ACTIVATE!”

    He pressed a button, and the engine activated. Beneath the ship, a light shone, shooting out in a bridge of high-density energy that shone the colours of the rainbow. Hank laughed joyfully as the ship burst into motion, gaining speed as it went along the bridge…

    The last anybody ever saw of Hank was when he disappeared past the moon, on his Rainbow Bridge. Unknown to the rest of the world, he lived.

    “YES! I did it! I’m not sure where I am, but this is another. Freaking. GALAXY! YESS!”

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  11. 296 words
    Politician; Air Field; Crime

    The Case of the Air Field Assassination Attempt

    “They say truth is stranger than fiction. My tale demonstrates that, doesn’t it Cecil?” Lord Huffington parked his capacious rear on a luxurious leather chair.

    “I’m not arguing with you,” his friend smiled very smugly. “In fact, I have a tale to tell you that simply beggars belief!”

    Lord Huffington eagerly anticipated his friend’s story, knowing he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from betraying some state secret or other in his desire for one-upmanship.

    “Thank God, the Lady’s not for turning. If she had done, she’d have got it in the neck!”

    “What on earth are you talking about?”

    “We’d only just landed. We were met by the usual crowd. He must have somehow secreted himself on the roof of the hanger, probably aided by his age and size. She was talking to the ambassador and, as she moved forward, there was a whooshing sound. Luckily, she didn’t turn. Thank God.” He looked visibly upset. “Jeffrey got it in the neck!” Lord Huffington stifled his desire to guffaw uncontrollably with difficulty, and inhaled his cigar smoke which led to a very nasty coughing fit.

    “Survived, but he’s not been the same since. They found the culprit hiding in a barn. He was only seventeen. One of those miners from up North. They’d tracked his footprints – tiny they were. He’d gone barefoot but had trodden in some tar as he made his escape. The blowpipe was found at his side. He died from the self-inflicted wound. They’ll stop at nothing, you know.”

    Lord Huffington smiled to himself. The papers would hear nothing of this, but he couldn’t help writing a headline in his imagination.

    Sherlock Holmes’s Inspired Midget Minor Miner’s Blowpipe Assassination Attempt Thwarted!

    Maybe that’s a bit too wordy, he thought. I’m out of practice.

  12. 300 Words
    Architect; Island; Fairy Tale

    Treehouse for Herma

    I wipe another gallon of sweat from my brow, stopping for a second to rest. This woman is crazy. Yeah, that’s it. Totally bonkers. Only an insane person would build their home on a freaking island in the middle of nowhere.

    “Fairy Tale Island?” I remember scoffing to my partner. “Is that even a real place?”

    “Well, the lady included a map to it,” he responds as he pulls a map out of the envelope containing the commission details. His eyes go wide and he reaches back into the envelope and retrieves a huge wad of cold hard cash.

    “Holy–” he whispers.

    “Is that the down-payment?” I question, eyes equally wide.

    “Yeah,” he confirms, and looks back down at the commission details. “And your final check is a whole lot bigger.”

    It sounded like an easy job. All the lady, Herma, wanted was a tree house on the island, not too big, only 200 square feet. It was a steal of a commission for such a big bill.

    “Ah!” I scream as I round a tree and find a woman staring straight at me. Her eyes are sunken, dress tattered, hair matted, smile rotting.

    “S-sorry, ma’am,” I stutter. “Are you, ah, Herma Rogers?”

    The woman’s rotting smile widens and her eyes shrink farther into her face. I’ll take that as a yes.

    “Okay, so I was thinking that tree over there would be a good site for your house. Shall we take a look?”

    Herma just stares at me, smiling. Suddenly, there’s a stretching, snapping sound ad her back begins to stretch and contort. Two fleshy wings pop out of her back and begin to vibrate. She rises into the air. I turn to run but there are more like her, more fairy demons surrounding me.

    Slowly, they close in.

  13. @geofflepard
    252 words
    Politician; Airport; Crime

    Let Them Eat Cake

    ‘What’s wrong with the Boss?’ Sandra regarded the POTUS, currently crumpled over a large desk.
    ‘He’s waiting on the twitter storm.’
    ‘So why’s his Chief of Staff grinning, Pete?’
    ‘After the last four years? Give me a break. A little terror is good for his soul.’
    ‘They’ve found it? Heaven be praised.’
    Peter spoke into the throat mike. ‘Yeah, we’re good to go. Where are we headed? Detroit? I’ll let him know.’
    Sandra held him back. ‘Come on, spill.’
    ‘What did he tweet about Governor Beast yesterday?’
    ‘He was intent on stealing the election?’
    ‘Right. But specifically, he said – I’m paraphrasing – you’ve stolen creepy looks at my wife, and now you’ve stolen this election etc.
    Sandra nodded, taking her seat as the aircraft taxied towards the runway. ‘And?’
    ‘So, he’s scrolling through his feed and he finds this tweet about yesterday’s photo op.’ Peter held up his phone, showing the POTUS eating cake with an adoring group.
    ‘Jeez, Pete, he’s not worried about the sugar-nazis, is he?’
    ‘Nope, it’s the caption… When we land he expects Beard’s team to be making it headlines coast to coast.’
    ‘I don’t get it. All it says is Mr President Enjoys Some… Oh, crap, he doesn’t think…?’
    ‘Sure does. And you thought a dyslexic POTUS would play well. Bring back Dan Quayle, eh? Do you want to put him out of his misery.’
    ‘Give me the phone.’ Sandra re-read the caption, under the POTUS with a mouthful of creamy coloured fruitcake.
    Mr President Enjoys Some Stollen Cake.

  14. @rhapsody2312
    299 Words
    Emperor; Island; Fairy Tale

    The Emperor’s Nude Beach

    Remember that story about the emperor? The one who paraded naked because a pair of con artists sold him the “finest clothing in the world”? Of course you do. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a popular moralistic tale about the dangers of pride and vanity.

    What you may not recall is how it ended. Oh sure, a kid yelled that the guy was naked, and he suffered public humiliation. But after that? The child who’d called him out had to go for counseling. First, she’d seen a fully grown man starkers in public. Second, she’d been responsible for calling to task the most powerful man in the empire. Security descended on the girl and her mother before they could say “threads”. The 24 hours spent in the cells of the palace guardhouse were terrifying.

    Luckily, the Emperor was not, by nature, a cruel man. Insipid and vain certainly, but he cared for his people as much as any politician would – meaning he wanted to maintain his throne and the privilege that came with it. That meant keeping his people happy, and throwing a little girl into jail was making them most unhappy.

    Of course, he’d been unaware of her fate, too wrapped up in his abrupt descent from the pinnacle of ego-driven hubris to do more than sulk in his bedchambers for hours. The public alerted him by throwing bricks at the palace windows in riotous protest.

    Horrified, he immediately ordered her release, greeting them himself, with as effusive an apology as an emperor could make: he appointed the girl his chief advisor.

    The child accepted on one condition: if the Emperor ever wished to parade naked again, he would take himself to a deserted island to do so.

    The first nudist beach became quite popular with the public.

  15. Twitter: @The_Red_Fleece
    Website: https://www.theredfleece.com
    199 words
    Politician; Air Field/Airport; Crime


    The gentle buzz of a plane interrupted the night air. The Right Honourable Jason Milton tried to find it amongst the stars. Only one of them moved, a low journey across the dark sky. The opening bars of the famous Disney song started in his head, but this wasn’t a wish come true.

    A car roared into Jason’s thoughts. Out sprang Sylvia White, his chief aide and the woman most responsible for his career. “What are you doing?”

    “What the law won’t allow.” Jason didn’t take his eyes off his landing star.

    “But it’ll kill your career, your ambitions. Teresa is only one bad day away from resigning, and you are in pole position to replace her. Number 10, Jason.”

    “Three months is a more important number to me. Only three months left.”

    Sylvia reached up and patted his arm. A tear in her eye.

    “How long have we known each other?” A laugh dancing, tripping through Jason’s voice. He put his arms around Sylvia and hugged her. She cuddled him closer. Her single tear multiplied.

    The buzz became a shape in the sky. A new darkness against the existing one. Wheels down, coming into land.

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  16. 296 words
    Gangster; Island; Comedy

    Not Okay

    David had failed. Not beautifully, not tragically … horribly. Who knew it could be so hard to steal a seaplane, yet so easy to crash it upon the most remote island in the Atlantic Ocean? Apparently not David. He stormed out to the beach, leaving the crumpled and still alight aircraft behind him. He flopped down on the sand, digging his hands into it. He knew his father would be disappointed; one chance to be accepted by both the gang and his father, and he blew it.
    “You okay?”
    Startled by the sudden voice he whipped around; his hands, flying from underneath the sand, sprayed his eyes in the process. Blinking and rapidly rubbing his eyes, he looked up and let out a yell.
    Carla looked like a zombie; the side of her head was bloody, and mascara streamed down her sweaty face. She had wanted to come, and David wanted to show off. Yeah, that went well.
    “I’m okay,” said Carla, answering her own question. Her shaky hands reached into the pocket of her tight jeans and produced a small tube of lipstick. She brought it to her lips, painting them bright red.
    “Seriously? You’re putting that on now? After a frickin’ plane crash?” David blurted, voice quivering.
    She nodded. “Yeah, you want some?”
    “I’m a guy!”
    “So? How do I know what you’re into these days?”
    “You should just– ARRRGGGGGH!!”
    “You okay?”
    “No, I’m not.”
    “Seriously, try the lipstick. It makes me feel better.”
    “No. I hate it.”
    “You said the same thing about squash.”
    “I hate squash!”
    “Okay, but you never know if you don’t try!”
    At this point, David just wanted her to shut up, so he snatched the lipstick and smeared it on.
    Carla smiled. “Feel better?”
    “Sure,” he grouched. “Thanks, Mom.”

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