Microcosms 124

Ready for some Friday flash fiction fun, flashionistas? Then welcome to Microcosms 124.

 

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IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ!
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Replying to other “comments” is still not working properly.

** Workaround v2 **

Until I can solve the problem permanently, you should “right-click” on the [Reply] button, then click on “Copy link address”, paste that into the URL box at the top of the screen and press return key. This will take you to the comment box, with the proper link to the comment to which you are replying.

Apologies for this inconvenience.

 

Today (25-MAY) is Towel Day, celebrated every year as a tribute to the author Douglas Adams by his fans — including Tim Peake aboard the International Space Station in 2016.

On this day, fans openly carry a towel with them, as described in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to demonstrate their appreciation for the books and the author. The commemoration was first held on 25-MAY-2001, two weeks after Adams’ death on 11-MAY.

Geoff

 

(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: Tea Lover, Location: Restaurant, and genre: Memoir.

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 **

 

  • Author
  • Astronaut
  • Tea Lover
  • Hitchhiker
  • (Real) Estate Agent
  • Rock Star
  • Innsbruck
  • Space Station
  • Drinks Dispenser
  • Alien Spaceship
  • Islington
  • Restaurant
  • Mystery
  • Crime
  • Poetry
  • Horror
  • Sci-Fi
  • Memoir

 

Spin!

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

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 125
Microcosms 123

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26 comments for “Microcosms 124

  1. 25 May 2018 at 2:25 am

    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    299 thumbs
    Hitchhiker; Restaurant; Memoir

    Mary’s Eats

    The cookie salesman dropped me off at the crossroads where old Highway 10 scoots under the Interstate. “Take the cookies,” he said, thrusting a package of Aunt Miriam’s Peanut Butter Glories into my hand. “You’ll love ‘em, buddy. Chewy as hell.”

    I clambered up the bank and stuck out my thumb. It took a couple of hours to get the next lift. By then, the cookies were history.

    My new ride was an older guy. “Howie,” he pointed out at least half a dozen times, adding, “No one calls me Howard but Johnny Law. Did a stretch back in the day. Smartened me up pretty damn quick.”

    We had maybe an hour of daylight left when Howie rubbed his belly and muttered, “Time to put on the feedbag. First diner I see, I’m pulling over. That work for you?”

    I was still bloated from the Aunt Miriam’s rubbery disks but if Howie was paying, I was good to go. “I’m not that flush,” I confessed, just so Howie knew I was a little short.

    “No problem. Don’t like to chow down solo, anyways.”

    Ten minutes later, we spotted some flashing neon in the dimming light. MARY’S EATS twinkled in the dusk. Howie pulled into the parking lot. There were at least half a dozen cop cars.

    “Looks like a police convention,” Howie commented.

    “Maybe we should get back on the highway,” I tossed in.

    “The younger me might have kept on going,” Howie reflected. “But one thing I’ve learned, maybe the only thing that’s ever stuck in my noddle…this many cops gathered in one food emporium, you better believe the food is top notch. No short-order cook in his right mind wants to piss off this many gendarmes.”

    To this day, Mary’s sweet grease is still clogging my arteries.

    5+
    • Geoff Holme
      25 May 2018 at 4:24 am

      Finding new ways to say “Wow!” is becoming harder than writing an entry, Bill… 😀
      [ Should it be ‘I clambered up the bank…’ rather than ‘I clamored up the bank…’? ]

      2+
      • 25 May 2018 at 10:14 am

        Yes it should, Geoff…Thanks.

        0
    • Sian Brighal
      25 May 2018 at 5:26 pm

      Wonderful writing! Great descriptions…love the hints in the dialogue of what they’ve gone through, going through and how it stays with them.

      1+
  2. Stephanie Cornelius
    25 May 2018 at 4:15 am

    300 words
    Author; Drinks Dispenser; Sci-Fi

    A World of Books and Unable to Read – Nightmare in the Making

    I write this to you now, in awe of the technology I have found on planet ED-982.7T, colloquially known to its residents as Hkindnuna (pronounced Groonds).

    On New Earth, I am a well-known author of the non-fiction series of books cataloguing the planets we have discovered since Old Earth was destroyed by its exploding star. This planet, however, is beyond anything I could ever have dreamed up if I had been a fiction writer. In fact, it is so unlike anything I have seen that I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t this author’s dream world.

    I am currently in the “Library” of the Capital city Pkrthady (pronounced Groondinum) and my mind is blown. The library consists of a “drinks dispenser” and a lovely spacious sitting area. That. Is. All! The dispenser contains different variants. Each one is a different author and book.

    You heard correctly. Each DRINK is a BOOK! Apparently, the physiology of the inhabitants allows them to ingest information in liquid form. I will not even attempt to explain how it happens or even how a drink becomes a book because, honestly, I have no bloody clue! I can tell you that the ability to “read” by these means DOES NOT translate into the Human physiology. A fact of which I am painfully aware at this moment.

    “Tanisduen? Lancubaceyenf? Maudcjshu?” The Librarian asked in the local tongue.

    I responded, courtesy of my language implant, “LLasujfdsbhfei. Uafekacevefka!”

    The Librarian was horrified that I was not going to read anything and queried why I was even there. I had to admit I was not a Yhkahdue (pronounced Groo, which is their name for themselves) and as such could not read their history, as much as I wished otherwise.

    My shuttle is waiting to take me home.

    5+
    • Sian Brighal
      25 May 2018 at 5:31 pm

      Fantastic read! I love the world you create….its language, its way of learning! And the last line just adds to that misery and despair of missing out.

      0
    • Geoff Holme
      26 May 2018 at 2:10 am

      Please see instructions in the preamble to the Contest Post, if you wish to reply to an entry!

      This reply from Megan (Mpart):

      The lore was absolutely fascinating! I really liked it!

      0
    • 27 May 2018 at 6:14 pm

      I’ll drink to the brilliance of this imagined world…make it a short one, though…I mean, it is only flash…not that it is a lesser form…no, but I do tend to drink too much, and have learned little.

      0
  3. Nikky Olivier
    25 May 2018 at 4:22 am

    300 Words
    Tea Lover; Restaurant; Memoir

    Tea for … Three?

    It happened late one afternoon, as I was sitting in a small restaurant in the quaint English town of Darjeeling. I had just ordered a cup of my favourite Chai tea and was settling in to enjoy a few quiet moments when the Earl of Grey sauntered in as though he owned the place.

    All brash and bluster and seemingly well in his cups already, he commanded his security to “check the bathrooms” and to “sweep for devices” before he would set foot in the establishment.

    Knowing his reputation as a bit of a blowhard, and having seen him in action a few times previously, I was well aware of how he could turn a quiet afternoon into a circus performance.

    But, it wasn’t my place to interfere, I was only here to observe.

    It wasn’t long after the Earl had placed his order – coffee, of ALL things… in one of the finest tea-houses in the country! –well anyway, he’d just ordered when in walked the reason for all the secrecy. Our very own Earl of Grey was meeting his mistress, a lovely lady who went by the name of Jasmine – her stage name of course, but as good a name as any for this telling.

    Jasmine was the sort of woman who could make most men take a second look, but our Earl was doing more than looking on this sunny afternoon, he was savouring every look and taste of Jasmine as he sat in this quiet tea-house.

    As I sat there, watching them and quietly sipping my tea, I managed to gather all the evidence I needed and broke the news to Lady Grey – it was what she’d hired me for after all…

    The last I heard, she’d set sail for Sri Lanka and married a rich tea-merchant.

    7+
  4. 25 May 2018 at 5:01 am

    Twitter: @CarinMarais
    http://www.maraiscarin.com
    261 words
    Tea Lover; Restaurant; Memoir

    A Cup of Tea

    I stare at the tea menu. Darjeeling or Assam? Perhaps white tea. Green tea. Oolong? I go back to the Darjeeling, then smile at the waitress and order. At least, I hope it was a smile and not a grimace. It’s difficult to smile when your heart is lying crushed in a box on the seat next to you.

    “You too?” a dishevelled-looking man with a shoebox under his arm asks me.

    I glance from his face to the shoebox and back, then nod. To my relief, he shuffles to a table in the corner, carefully placing the box on the table. Then I catch my own reflection in the window, red-rimmed eyes partly blocked by the back-to-front letters of the tea shop’s name.

    The waitress returns to my table with my tea. “You’ll need this one,” she says with a shy smile and an accent I can’t quite place. “On the house.” I stare at the glass teapot and the bunch of flowers slowly opening on the bottom. Cream and red and green.

    “It’s called Heart’s-ease,” the woman at the table next to me says, not taking her eyes from the flowers. “Supposed to be able to cure anything. I’ve only ever seen pictures of it.”

    I pick up the old delivery box and open it. Inside is my stinging, half-beating heart, it’s cogs and wheels and pipes all scattered. No wonder my chest ached so. I take a small screwdriver and go to work, the tea’s healing aroma filling the air. I glance over at the waitress and smile.

    6+
  5. 25 May 2018 at 6:05 am

    Twitter: @NthatoMorakabi
    300 words
    Hitchhiker; Space Station; Mystery

    Translucent

    She gleamed translucent as the snowflakes that once cascaded atop the Drakensberg Mountains. Her skin as pale yet tinged with green algae growing over her skin.
    “Don’t think she’s alive, Joe!” I said in a shout above the gust. Behind his stooped form, red sand granules crashed across the rusted sheen of metal that was the base station in a sand wave.
    “Then leave her be!” He shouted back, “We should look for survivors!”
    I nodded to him and didn’t move. She was definitely from Earth. The Pangalactic UN logo was creased between her crossed arms on the sheen of silver space-jumpsuit clinging to her like a second skin. Something about her seemed… familiar.
    Nonetheless, I stepped back out from the doorway and turned back to Joe. He’d turned his face upwards towards the incline of red rock and moving sand where the rest of the abandoned Space Station stretched outwards in a semi-circle of steel against Mars desertscape.
    “I think I see something up there,” Joe said, pointing towards the transmission tower. Indeed, there seemed to be somebody waving a flag at us. Joe and I took off in gravity-deficient leaps as we continued our hike.
    “God…” I heard Joe whisper. There was a body alright, but it too had become the same translucent white. The waving flag was a flap of skin that had torn off the torso and stood wavering against the wind.
    “What the hell is going on?” I heard myself say, when a siren blared across the space station. Insistent wailing that seemed to reverberate with the moving sandstorm.
    Then I felt the pulse of it sink through my skull. Wash over my body in electrical jolts.
    I remembered. I remembered it all.
    Joe.
    I had to kill him too. Mars was demanding it.

    4+
  6. 25 May 2018 at 6:41 am

    Twitter: @Rhapsody2312
    300 Words
    (Real) Estate Agent; Space Station; Horror

    For Sale: Owner Deceased

    My job isn’t easy. You think real estate is at a premium back on Earth? Try working on the SS Atticus. No, it’s not a ship. The SS stands for space station – currently the only permanent resident station in orbit, and my assigned territory.

    No one else at the agency wanted to take the station. The job requires living in orbit for 340 days of the year, with 25 days surface leave on Earth. And once the 500,000 square feet of living space is occupied, that’s it. No more commission for the agent until a resident dies. It was only natural they’d foist it on the new guy.

    It’s a crummy assignment, but it’s been mine for the last 15 years. I know every nut and bolt on this floating space boat and every one of the 500 residents by name. After all, I sold them their place on the Atticus.

    Once or twice, the agency tried to replace me, sending new guys up for training, but it takes a special sort to live out here. Despite having all the comforts of Earth, there’s a deep silence behind the man-made noise that drives most people insane. Sometimes, the silence is so loud, I can’t hear myself think.

    Still, I make good money: enough that my family back on Earth has never wanted for anything. Every commission I get brings in three times the amount of a house sold on Earth, and since the agency covers my living expenses, the wife and kids back home are sitting pretty.

    I’ve just got an email from the wife. My boy, Doug, has a school tour coming up, and she needs extra cash to cover it. Looks like I’ll have to free up some space, and I know just how to do it.

    5+
  7. Ted Young
    25 May 2018 at 7:05 am

    260 words
    Tea Lover; Restaurant; Memoir

    Woodsman, Save My Tea

    Grandma started this business a hundred years ago. It’s still called ‘Lilly’s Café’ and embraces her philosophies, like: ‘They’ll eat anything, as long as the bread is fresh and you get their tea right’.

    The customers forget I’m here, you know. I could blackmail some of ’em with what I hear, but why make waves? I’m happy serving plates of ‘Cholesterol Specials’ and ‘Avaguess’ sandwiches, in an establishment with ambience and cuisine rating us somewhere between ‘Greasy Spoon’ and ‘Bistro’.

    One of our regular diners is Councillor ‘Nimby’ who thinks his purpose in life is to oppose everything presented to his department.

    Last week, old Nimby spent a lot of time in here — he loves my tea — with a young eco-warrior, wearing a silly, wispy beard that looked like a camel’s bum. They were discussing the salvation of some old tree — more of a stump really — that developers wanted to remove. The Camel’s Keister wanted to take the Rambo approach, but Nimby was insisting on lawful means. Round and round the discussion went… up and down like a jogger’s knockers, keeping words to the bare maximum.

    That’s when I understood the meaning of ‘Paralysis by Analysis’. It had been explained to me once as like a centipede spending so much time considering which leg to move first, he seized up and starved to death.

    You’ve guessed it: while these two twits were pontificating, the old tree was cut down, chopped up and carted off.

    “Oh well, que sera… How do you like your tea, sir? Milk first? Quite right… peasant!”

    3+
  8. steve lodge
    25 May 2018 at 10:21 am

    Twitter: @steveweave71
    300 words
    Tea Lover; Restaurant; Memoir

    The Third Rifles Starmy

    They were a couple madly in love. I’d never seen him happier, except on night raids in enemy territory. Jobby had told his brother, Squalid, that Madeleine made his groin smile.

    They had met at a speed-dating convention in Seabec, a town renowned for its coffee, and discovered they shared a hatred of coffee and an extraordinary love of hard tea. Their affair was like a juggernaut without brakes ploughing through the snow. Unstoppable, until…it stopped.

    He took her to a Belzonian Restaurant in Hendricks Road in London’s Silvertown. Things started well with the traditional chewing of melancholic tea from the lower Belzon plateau, followed by the customary spraying of the tea around the room using only the tongue as a weapon.

    Jobby Dobbs is a notorious food shoveller and great lover of Belzonian cuisine. He took control of the menu and was relentless. For starters, fingers of Kaka Maka – blemished and grilled – then fried buattonhole of fatmalinga. Steamed cobra serum followed with winterfruits, red limp rind and geeghe, drizzled with wounded flen and beaten with the ugly stick.

    He ordered castrated onion spring steens laced with durian porridge. Next came a platter of interesting cheeses: some turned green as she watched, horrified, others seemed to have a pulse. He ate voraciously, not even noticing when she ordered a cab and went home.

    Finally, he couldn’t resist a bowl of eelectrified dancing cobalt muth with mashed konjeel. Dipping bread into the grey sauce made it sizzle like a firework, burning off one of his eyebrows.

    Early the next morning, a heartbroken Jobby and brother Squalid, joined a band of mercenaries. It became their signature force, The Third Rifles Starmy. Their motto ‘Rincomaelium’ means ‘cobalt muth makes a man rinco’. Their regimental song was always played on a silent harmonica.

    1+
  9. Justin J.
    25 May 2018 at 11:37 am

    298 words
    Hitchhiker; Drink Dispenser; Memoir

    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

    Heh, you want to know something else about me? You want to know what else I remember from back then? Right, I’ll tell you about this time I picked up a hitchhiker while on the road. Nice guy, too. Very quiet, the type of guy horror stories warn you about, really.

    I was running a delivery at the time. Drinks dispensers, from one side of the country to the other. The pay was garbage, but it let me do my real work in peace. People are trusting…too trusting.

    This guy, though, he was different. He dressed like something out of an adventure movie. Long, dusty coat, nice hat, dark clothing to hide the dirt, and black boots. His pack looked heavy though, but I guess he could handle the weight.

    We talked for a while, you know. He was on this journey of self-discovery, dropping out of college to figure out what he wanted from life. A travelling artist, he called himself. He liked the inside of my cab, thought the little bunny hanging from the rearview mirror was cute.

    I didn’t tell him it was made from real rabbit fur, and he didn’t ask. I considered it, you know…performing my real job on him, but he was different from my usual clients. Smarter, more savvy.

    So, I let him sleep most of the way to the next truck stop. He did ask what I was delivering, and I told him. The rest of the trip was spent in quiet, nothing but the radio to fill it. We reached the truck stop, and he left. Nice guy.

    Father, you wanted to know why I have an empty spot in my sculpture room? How one ‘got away’?

    It was because he didn’t ask about the smell of raw meat.

    4+
  10. Angelique Pacheco
    25 May 2018 at 1:00 pm

    298 words
    Tea Lover; Restaurant; Memoir

    Undiscrimina-tea-ng

    Tea gives me the trots. I am grateful for it. You see, it saved my life once.

    I visited a Russian Tea Room in London one afternoon. I was, for lack of a better term, a “foodie”, even though the term hadn’t been coined yet. I wrote reviews for a small country paper which had a circulation of about fifteen.

    I was impressed by the mystic, oriental feel it had. It was a Jefferson Station meets India and throws in a little Thailand kitsch. I knew I shouldn’t drink tea, but surely this tea wouldn’t make one sick? So indulge I did. And pay the price I would.

    After a few sips of my Darjeeling, my stomach did its familiar dance of displeasure. I tried my best to ignore it but I began to sweat and the cramping became unbearable. I jumped up and motioned the waiter over. I whispered fervently that I would be back in time for my ‘turkey with truffle croque monsieur’ and shuffled off towards the men’s room.

    It was just as luxurious as out there. Big wall mirrors, soft lighting, warm towels and cologne to refresh oneself. I could hear the music as I went about my business and then a sound like plates breaking. I was a little pissed at missing out on this, when it occurred to me that this was a Greek tradition, not a Russian one. I shrugged and finished off. I availed myself of the products available and then walked out excited to partake in High tea. The red sprays on the red décor only enhanced the smell of rust. The bodies lay sprawled out prostrate, in quiet repose. The Mafia had once again ruined something good. I wandered out into the sunshine. I was no longer hungry.

    3+
  11. 25 May 2018 at 1:17 pm

    300 words
    Tea Lover; Alien Spaceship; Sci-Fi

    The Garden

    Barbara tilts her head back and looks up at the moon. She can see the rows of solar panels that provide the colonies up there with power and generates their artificial electromagnetic field. Looking back down, she contemplates her tiny garden.

    Inside her little greenhouse is the only place in the universe that these strains exist; no one else grows the delicate plants necessary for making the ancient brews. On the moon, space is reserved for the plants necessary for survival. The Camellia sinensis thrives in the rich soil the reborn planet provides. But Barbara also grows bee balm, lavender and yaupon, not to mention several kinds of mint, so the air inside the greenhouse is intoxicating.

    Practically no one lives here now since the 2002 NT7 asteroid hit in 2219. There hasn’t been enough time for the planet to have repaired itself since it has become cool enough to support vegetation growing on the surface. She had to sneak here in her grandfather’s pod with her stash of seeds. If people can live on the cold, dead moon, they can live on the earth, with its violent geothermic activity. You just have to pick the right place. Her garden proves that it is an oasis of peaceful green in a world of chaos.

    A bright light appears directly overhead. It envelops her greenhouse. As she watches, it lifts from the earth with a wet ripping of roots and begins to float up toward a disc hovering above her. Someone’s trying to steal her garden! Barbara gathers her legs beneath her and jumps, grabbing onto a root hanging down. Just in time, as the disc sucks the greenhouse up into itself, pulling her along with it. She gets up and brushes herself off. What did she just get herself into?

    1+
  12. Holly Geely
    25 May 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Twitter: @hollygeely
    293 words
    Tea Lover; Restaurant; Memoir

    An Excerpt from ‘Smithwick The Time Thief: in His Own Words’

    Chapter 73 — Judy’s Diner

    As I’ve mentioned, portal-hopping is second nature to time jumpers. You’ll never get anywhere or anywhen without at least a rudimentary knowledge of portal anatomy. They come in all shapes and sizes and there is an infinite variety of destinations.

    Judy’s Diner housed one such portal. It opened the summer of 2162 (the portal, not the restaurant; the restaurant had been open since the late 2000s, and the original Judy was long gone) and closed in the fall of 2164.

    During that two-year period, dozens of time jumpers flocked to Judy’s Diner; but the thing you have to realize is that it wasn’t just a portal to an alternate dimension. Judy’s Diner was an institution.

    My first trip there was purely business. I was half an hour (sideways and through) when it opened, so I arrived three hours prior (between and down) to see it happen. It turned out to be a space portal, rather than a time portal, and it led to an alternate dimension where humans had evolved to become expensive cheeses (more on that later).

    When I arrived at the diner, the current Judy greeted me personally and sat me by the window. She didn’t scream or cry when the portal ripped open a hole in her backroom – she fired three shots into its abyss and called it some names. That woman had class. She was the first and only time I ever broke the rule of secrecy and explained who I was and why I’d come.

    “Time jumper, huh?” she said. “Sounds like a crap job. I’ll make some tea.”

    That tea was mostly whisky. The woman had class.

    Excerpted from ‘Smithwick The Time Thief: In His Own Words’ by Smithwick. Published by everyone yesterday.

    1+
  13. Megan
    25 May 2018 at 1:53 pm

    300 words
    Tea Lover; Restaurant; Crime

    Death By Tea

    The man stirred his sweet tea and frowned.
    He was very disappointed no one had tried to poison him today; someone wasn’t following the schedule.
    Murder was a crime around here, but he didn’t like to make it known that there were people who tried to kill him every day. It simply wasn’t professional as he was in a deadly business himself.
    Luckily, he was immune to poison for more reasons that one. He just had to figure out who was the disgruntled client. The man lifted the tea to his lips and took a long drink as his frown grew.
    They hadn’t even bothered to put sugar in his sweet tea before putting poison in it.
    His food hadn’t even arrived and he was ready to complain. Sweet tea without any sugar?
    Ridiculous. The poison improved the taste of the tea! Oh, he was done.
    It was time to complain to the manager.
    The waitress finally showed up as the man leaned forward and rested his head on his hands.
    She was a nervous thing; her fingers twitched and her eyebrows furrowed as she looked around the room with wide eyes.
    If he had to guess, she was the one who had to poison his drink.
    What a shame. He might not have time to complain to the manager after all.
    He smiled widely at her. “Could you take a sip of this? It seems..off. Doesn’t scream ‘sweet tea’, you know?”
    The woman’s hands started shaking. “I-I…”
    “Well? Are you or aren’t you? Do I have to complain to your manager?” The man persisted.
    The woman shook her head as she lifted the tea to her lips and took a small sip; more than enough.
    Such a shame she had to die.
    She was such a nervous little thing.

    3+
  14. 25 May 2018 at 1:58 pm

    297 words
    Author; Space Station; Horror

    Read It and Weep

    It was just another Friday on an out-of-the-way space station, and it was time for the weekly flash fiction contest. Oh the horror! It was widely accepted that those authors who participated in the contest would give the notoriously bad poets of a certain race of intergalactic highway constructors a run for their money in the category of worst poetry and prose in the universe. Although said race were rated the third worst poets in the universe, for some unaccountable reason – possibly linked with the workings of the probability drive – their prose was nowhere near the dire standard of that of the space station Macrocosms’ enthusiastic authors.

    It’s a curious fact that there are far fewer readers of flash fiction than there are writers of it. This might be explained by the lengths that people, especially those inhabiting a certain space station, would go to in order to avoid being subjected to short stories of three hundred words which inexplicably seemed to go on for far longer than their allotted length.

    Talk about never getting the hang of Thursdays… Here, people wished Fridays had never been invented. The compulsory reading out of participants stories over the internal comms system resulted in countless injuries as listeners were forced to stop their ears in increasingly inventive ways in order to avoid being exposed to material which, if heard, would inevitably result in madness.

    How the writers themselves managed to avoid permanent brain damage was open to debate. They were amongst the few who read each other’s prose, yet they were able to come back week after week to participate. One conjecture was that once you’d written this stuff yourself that you developed an immunity to it. Either that or you were so insane that it no longer affected you.

    3+
    • 25 May 2018 at 2:05 pm

      In my case, there may well be permanent brain damage from my addiction to writing flash fiction. Nice touch, Tim.

      0
    • Ted Young
      27 May 2018 at 2:48 pm

      Roll on total insanity.
      Nice one Tim.

      0
  15. Sian Brighal
    25 May 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Twitter: @sian_ink
    300 words
    (Real) Estate Agent; Islington; Horror

    Can’t Take the Street out of the Boy

    Satnav had given up. Not that he was complaining; her incessant ‘recalculating’ was too much like mocking. All these backstreets looked the same with their tightly-packed houses crouching behind their fences and hedges: netted eyes watching his futile progress. One of these damned houses was up for sale, and he had to check it out.

    He couldn’t be lost: not in Islington! He’d lived round here: some idiots thought it was posh…safe. He’d left as soon as…happily severed all ties. But as he drove, the houses became less familiar, looming and peering down on him. Overgrown hedges reached out their spindly limbs, scratching at the doors or whipping the windscreens, grasping for him…echoing the lashes he’d had as a kid. He accelerated. He’d got out before.

    The road suddenly curved and he hit the brakes to make the turn. Breathing hard, he looked ahead. He knew this street! It was the goddamned street he’d turned off ten minutes ago. He’d done a U-turn! But that wasn’t right?! He’d driven into this estate along this road. Swallowing bile, he carried on…back into the narrow street, back to the houses that now gloated as they beat his car…back to the road he came in on.

    Tears burnt his eyes, and teeth popped in their sockets as he stopped, got out and walked up to the nearest peeling door and hammered on it until a recognisable face appeared: side of the head caved in just behind the ear. He stumbled back, and looking up, saw impossible faces in the bedroom windows, accusing him. The towels he’d used to quieten their crying hung round their little shoulders like shrouds. Strong fingers grabbed his earlobe, yanking him inside.

    “All roads lead home, son,” his mother muttered thickly. “Just you wait ‘til your father gets home.”

    2+
  16. carlos
    25 May 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Carlos Orozco
    @goldzco21
    300 words
    Hitchhiker; Restaurant; Sci-Fi

    The Good Samaritan

    It was a slow week at the diner. That is the only reason why the Margo A.I. agreed to let him in.

    The man sat on Hovertable™ #6. He waved a finger in front of him, looking for something to order. He said he was on his way to old Seattle via Hyperloop when his account was hacked, and his credits were stolen. Phishing scams were a regular occurrence, but I could tell by his obsolete FAANG 3 HUD lenses that he hadn’t had enough credits for the Hyperloop in ages. His FAANG Map Memories showed he hitchhiked here from Minneapolis.

    He swiped through the menu four times. He showed an increased interest in our house special. His eyes focused in on this item for eighteen seconds more than any other item on the menu. The Margo A.I. alerted me that he appeared ready to order, so I approached him.

    “What can I get you, sir?” I asked.

    He paused in embarrassment before responding, “What can I get for seven credits?”

    I ran a credit check scan on my FAANG XVI’s. The man had a total of five credits; barely enough for a glass of water and a piece of discounted toast, which wasn’t nearly as tasty or nutritious as real toast. The man looked pale and hungry. His tired eyes reminded me of my father’s.

    “I’ll put your order in,” I said with a smile. I ordered the man the house special on my FAANG’s and the Hovertable™ fetched the order.

    The man stared at his plate in amazement. He looked at me and smiled wide. I instantly received a message on my FAANG’s.

    Swipe to accept a Good Samaritan credit bonus of 10,000 credits.

    Excitedly I swiped, not noticing the man leave without touching his food.

    3+
  17. Arianna Hammond
    25 May 2018 at 7:27 pm

    300 words
    Rock Star; Restaurant; Memoir

    Her Song

    “Please don’t freak out! we’re normal — well, normal enough.”

    I remember saying that to the waitress at my favorite restaurant in Britain.

    She had given me a look and nearly tossed the water pitcher into my lap when she realized who I was. Roxanne was her name. Our band had a gig later, so we stopped to get dinner before the show. Her white hair was swept back in a neat bun, leaving her face clear with the exception of the thick, red-rimmed glasses hoarding the center. The color of her cheeks quickly matched her glasses when she exclaimed we were her favorite. Lowering her voice of course, so as not to cause a commotion.

    One of the guys — Daniel — asked if she wanted an autograph or something. I guess we had gotten used to the attention by now.

    “No.” She smiled, then chewed on her lip. “There is one little thing…”

    “Yeah?” I asked.

    “Would you mind singing a bit of ‘Northern Lights’? It’s my favorite. I live for experiences — but it’s okay if you don’t want to.” I looked at the guys and shrugged, so we all cleared our throats and started singing a capella:

    “Lights flutter around like halos
    I wasn’t around to see her that time
    I never wanted to let go
    She was prettier than the northern lights
    Oh the sky illuminated
    Never seen a lovelier sight
    Than when her eyes gazed into mine
    They used to brighten the night”

    That was so joyful, and one of my favorite memories. I am so glad we did that.

    Roxanne passed away a couple months ago. We had become well acquainted as we went often to that restaurant. The night of the funeral, we did no public performances. Instead, we did a song for Roxanne. Her song.

    1+
  18. Cassandra
    25 May 2018 at 10:53 pm

    295 words
    Tea Lover; Resturant; Memoir

    The Enemy

    …Always remember: stand up to the enemy, no matter what happens.

    Affectionately,

    Lady Grey

    “Lady Grey?”

    “Yep, that’s my pseudonym. Cool, right?”

    “Susan, don’t you think this whole thing has gone a little too far?”

    “No Angie! This is exactly what Aunt Elizabeth would have wanted.”

    “Are you su–”

    Suddenly the room was rocked by a resounding knock.

    “Who is it?”

    “Mr. Folgers.”

    Angie raised one eyebrow in confusion.

    “What do you want!?” called Susan.

    “I just want to talk to you.”

    Susan balled her hands into fists as her face turned red. Angrily she opened her mouth to demand he leave the premises immediately, but Angie opened the door.

    “Hello, come right in.”

    “Angie! He is enemy number one.”

    Mr. Folgers peered into the musty closet with surprise and confusion.

    “What are you doing?”

    Susan got up off the floor and stretched herself to her full height before shouting: “We are resisting your tyranny!”

    Mr. Folgers looked more confused than ever.

    “Tyranny?”

    “Don’t play coy, mister. I know what games you coffee lovers play.”

    “Coffee lovers? That’s what this is all about?”

    “Absolutely!” cried Susan, her face flushed with passion.

    Mr. Folgers smiled softly. “Mrs. Smith, you may want to come see this.”

    A middle-aged woman appeared from the next room. “Susan! What are you doing?”

    “Standing up to injustice Mom.”

    “What injustice?”

    Angie stepped out from behind Susan’s rebellious figure. “She thinks that, because Mr. Folgers turned Aunt Elizabeth’s tea room into a coffee shop, he’s infringing the rights of tea lovers — or something like that.”

    “What!?”

    A smile spread across Mr. Folgers’ gentle face.

    “Then maybe you two should see this.”

    He led the whole group to a sign on the window that read:

    Ms. Elizabeth’s Tea Room — Under new management.

    0

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