RESULTS – Microcosms 125

Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 125. We had 17 entries this time.

Please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.

Don’t forget that Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for anyone, not just fellow entrants, to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a Community Pick.

We encourage everyone to reply with a positive comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.

 

MC 124 Judge’s Pick, Stephanie Cornelius, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what Stephanie had to say:

Wow. I went into this thinking it would be – not a breeze exactly – but definitely not as difficult as it was. I’m usually a really decisive person. I like what I like and I’m not afraid to say it and stand by it. But, the entries this week made decisiveness a bit difficult. Every story I have had the privilege to read was worthy of any number of accolades.

But, in the words of some famous show that I can’t remember – there can be only one! Was that Highlander or something? Buffy? Geez, this 35 year old brain is only semi-functional it seems (lol). I really tried to approach this with an open mind, which the predominantly Steampunk genre necessitated, and I think it worked.

If you have an issue with something I’ve said in my comments – let me know. I was trying to be insightful but that usually results in me rambling about miscellaneous items that may (or may not) actually have bearing on the facts at hand. I once stated on a SimLit WordPress blog that I was reading: “the League of Legends has a hollow bottom!”. To this day, I have no cooking clue what I meant by that, but at the time my sleep-addled mind thought it was really profound. I’m worried I might have done the same here, even though I am wide awake and compos mentis.

Steph 

Favourite / Favorite Lines

Bill Engleson – “Stay in the right lane, Dumb Quixote.”
Carin Marais – “I don’t know your religion well,” it said slowly.
Steve Lodge – It was like taking a fart to a shitfight.
Nthato Morakabi – It had taken a while for my murders to be big enough for the newsroom. Now I could cover my own story while keeping abreast of the city bobby.
Ted Young – “Er… While our next guest is getting ready, a word from our sponsors.”
Helen Buckroyd – “Yes, but I’ve never liked the fact that he promotes free rail passes to those of so-called limited means. You get all sorts of riff-raff on the railways nowadays!”
Angelique Pacheco – He was a true activist. Not the kind from the 21st century, who was all talk and no show.
Tim Hayes – ‘It’s too stiff for me to manage it’ and, ‘Sorry, it just slipped out’ were worked into the conversation.
M Levi – “You kill President Donner, and then you break my printing press?”
Arianna Hammond – No one is quite sure who did it but personally, I have a suspicion.
Vicente L Ruiz – It’s not suffragette, it’s w-o-m-an.”
Sian Brighal – But he’d heard of chokedamp, and a dead bird seemed a smaller price to pay.
Nikky Olivier – “Are we making the news? Or are we the news?”
Roger Shipp – Looking back does not profit unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors.
Geoff Le Pard – ‘It must be ‘Bring a Nutter to Work’ Day.’
Kelly Griffiths – First, the soil quivers, then a grimy hand penetrates the haze, tosses a sensor.
Deanna Salser – Besides, he’s human and she’s, well, she’s illegal.

 

Special Mention – for giving me a reason where murder actually makes some kind of macabre sense to me

Nthato Morakabi: The Epoch of a Reporter

The Epoch of a Reporter – I have often wondered about the motives behind murders of supposedly unrelated people, so the idea of a reporter committing the crimes so that he has something to write about really struck me. There is no excuse for killing another (I’m not counting self-defense) but, I could actually understand the reasoning behind his actions. I don’t even want to know what that says about me lol

Special Mention – for providing me with technology it would scare me to have (I’m a bit of a tech junky)

Nikky Oliver: Truth or Lies?

My opinion of this can be summed up in one of my favourite lines from the story: The crystal and steam powered machine was glowing as it collected thoughts from everyone in the city, processed them into popular opinions and printed the news.

When did the news become about popular opinion? At which point did it become not about reporting what actually happens, but what people want to hear? Yet, that is what we seem to be finding more and more; actual news stories that state the truth are being glossed over in place of what the broader Society finds “juicy”.

There was actually an article that I read this weekend, where the journo was stating that we should turn from Rule of Media, back to Rule of Law. It was written in response to a judgement that was legally sound, but public opinion and the media were labelling as corrupt and stupid, and a sign that a specific family has the Government tight in their pockets.

How can a legally sound judgement get that backlash? It’s not as if the judge sucked his thumb and came up with something. It’s supported by existing case law. Seriously! People amaze me sometimes – and popular opinion scares the hell out of me!

Honorable/Honourable Mention

Helen Buckroyd – What is a Soft Target?

I love that in the interests of activism, a philanthropist was chosen based on his liberal tendencies. It shows even activists can have their pre-conceived notions of who is “worthy” to be in their perfect Society.

Second Runner-up

Vicente L Ruiz – Public Statement

I think that using the imagery of women’s suffrage to advocate for voting rights for automatons was genius! It raises the question of what would be considered the prerequisites to vote in a government “of the people”. In my mind, if the AI has independent thought processes, it should be allowed to vote; don’t lynch me, people!! Why are humans allowed to vote? Because we have opinions, and those opinions matter. Why would the opinion of a free-thinking machine be any less important? The key being “free-thinking”.

First Runner-up

Carin Marais – Babylon

I love that it shows that a person’s faith doesn’t matter when it comes to dying. For the alien to pray for the soldier and the soldier to request it, even though they both know that the alien is a non-believer shows the true universal nature of compassion. I would like to think I would pray for someone who was dying even if I didn’t share their specific beliefs.

And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 125.

 

(insert drumroll here)

 

Community Picks

It’s a tie!

Carin Marais – Babylon

300 words
News Reporter; Battlefield; Sci-Fi

“We can’t broadcast this.” The suited man stared in disgust at the reporter’s footage of the aftermath of one of the battles on Babylon.
The reporter’s red-rimmed eyes stared at the screen. “It shouldn’t be hidden.” He used two fingers to zoom in on the two figures in the centre of the screen. “Everyone should see this – both sides.”
“Like hell they will!” the man tried snatching the phone from the reporter. “I haven’t spent half of my money to let everything be destroyed by some kind of set-up between an alien and a human.
“Have you ever been to the aftermath of a fight where your weapons are used? Seen the maggots, flies and carrion animals? Smelled the stench of rotting flesh and blood? I have. All while you have been sitting safely in your office.” The reporter’s fingers flew over the screen, posting the video to social media. Views began to stream in.
“Bastard!” the man shouted and a shot rang out. The reporter crumpled to the floor. The phone fell out of his hand, the video still playing on loop; this time with sound added.
#
An alien crouched over a dying human soldier. The soldier, trembling, reached to his pocket, pointing and the alien removed a small, red book. The alien looked from the Gideon’s Bible to the man.
“I don’t know your religion well,” it said slowly. Its English accent showed that it was probably one of the scholars who had studied with the humans before the war.
“Pray for me,” the soldier sobbed, clutching his enemy’s hands. “Forgive me, I had no choice.”
The alien started at this. “Neither did I,” he said.
The human began to mumble, the alien repeating his words. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

 

Nikky Oliver – Truth or Lies?

271 Words
Activist; Newsroom; Steampunk

Bernard was, yet again, standing on his street corner soapbox – speaking the truth as he understood it to all who would stop to listen to his oratory.
The crowd today was larger than any before, and he knew that today was the day.

“We will storm the newsrooms!” he cried to whistles and murmurs of assent.

“They have been feeding us propaganda and lies for years! Let them write what the people need to hear!”

The cheers started slowly and rose to a crescendo as word spread through the crowd. New bystanders joining as they got caught up in the madness.

Chants of:
We want our news!
and
Stop feeding us lies!

Swept through the streets ahead of the enraged crowd. They were set on having it out with the people printing the newspapers.
As they crowded through the door of the building, Bernard was leading them, shouting his slogans and determined that absolutely nothing could stop them.

… until…

.. he saw the engine… the news engine….

Cogs turning, steam bellowing and gears squealing, all connected to a printing press on one side and a thought catcher on the other…
The crystal and steam powered machine was glowing as it collected thoughts from everyone in the city, processed them into popular opinions and printed the news. In fact, Bernard stood, jaw agape as he watched the morning edition begin to print.
The headline reading:

We want real news – Local Activist rallies the city to protest.

“Are we making the news? Or are we the news?” he thought as he slowly backed out of the room and shut the door firmly.

 

Judge’s Pick

Steve Lodge – Ship To Shore

The imagery of the poor being nothing but rubbish for the rich to sacrifice in war is beautiful, if one can call such a thing beautiful. I think we all know that the first people to be sacrificed in times of war are the people considered to be expendable. It is sad that Society views the poor and/or underprivileged people as such. This is true in most – if not all – countries in the World, whether you are speaking of the Western World, the Eastern World, or especially in Africa.

We see so much poverty nowadays that those of us who have homes to live in and food on our plates have become virtually blind to them. How many of us even share a smile with the beggar on the streets? Yet, they are as human as ourselves. They are not a separate species or anything less than us simply because they are lacking in material wealth.

There is a homeless family that sleeps on a corner on my route to work. A man, his partner (not sure whether she’s his spouse or not) and their child – who looks about 8 years old). His sign that he has nailed to the tree on the corner simply asks for donations of furniture, food, old clothes, dishes and toys. He does not beg for money. And the last phrase on his sign is “God Bless you for reading this”. How many of us would wish blessings on people even before we knew whether they were going to assist us?

282 words
News Reporter; Battlefield; Poetry

There is only a gentle autumn sea breeze. I’m reporting from the shoreline of a disappearing sea. I am with a band of beggars sitting on a beach that is red, stained with the blood of the many. The tide may come in and wash it away, and with it the bodies, the detritus. For the past week, this beach has been a battlefield.

“Couldn’t you run, escape, get away from the invaders?” I ask them.

“What’s the use?” I am told by these forlorn survivors. “We are an empty pocket, the split lining, inhabitants of the poor zone. It’s the same old story always told. They told us we were the first line of defence. From what? They didn’t say. They gave us guns that were faulty. It was like taking a fart to a shitfight. We were hopelessly outnumbered. The reinforcements didn’t materialise. There was nowhere to go. When the battlefield is a beach, you can’t hide in the trees, there are none. You can’t run for the shadows. There are none of those, either.”

For these are the times we’re living in,
Huddled together, sheltered in slums,
Our bellies empty, we living on crumbs,
It wasn’t like we set the bar very high,
Just to the mist, the moon and the midnight skies.

I remembered the poem they chanted. It was taken from a song by a long-ago London group called The Strange Band. I’ll check when I return to the newsroom. I think it was called ‘Ship To Shore’. But, for now, this is Caleb McEvoy, for Station XLYPK, here on Makepeace Beach, scene of the most recent, dreadful invasion, returning you to Vincent Best in the studio.

 

Congratulations, Steve. As Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms this coming weekend. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!

RESULTS - Microcosms 126
RESULTS - Microcosms 124

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17 comments for “Welcome to Microcosms!

  1. zwoodle
    26 December 2015 at 4:15 pm

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

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

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

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

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

      0
  3. 13 September 2019 at 6:37 am

    Who is Stoner, please?

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

    Ghost; Haunted House; Comedy
    298 words

    The Gang, Fifty Years On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Man, I had more wobbles than a bobblehead.

    Bobblehead?

    Bubblehead for sure.

    Or Stubble head.

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

    Bazooka hookahs, man!

    Reefer creepers!

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

    Made that up, man. Killer weed, though.

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

    Hah! I don’t know what that is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Man, I had more wobbles than a bobblehead.

    Bobblehead?

    Bubblehead for sure.

    Or Stubble head?

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

    Bazooka hookahs, man!

    Reefer creepers!

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

    Made that up, man. Killer weed, though.

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

    Hah! I don’t know what that is.

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

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

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

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

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

    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy
    135 words

    Green Boo-ty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    One More Sausage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    stoner; ghost ship; comedy
    287 words

    Oscar

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

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

    In front of him, he appeared.

    “Wha…?” he said.

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

    “Whoa,” Oscar said.

    “Got a light?” asked Oscar 4-6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Infinite,” said Oscar 19948892…

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

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

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

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

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

    The ship flew on, empty of Oscars and budda.

    The Oscars looked around.

    “Where are we?” they asked themself.

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

    “Dude!” they said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    @EdenSolera
    150 Words
    Unmasked Villain; Spooky Location; Drama

    Inferno

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

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

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

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

    Flames smoldered still.

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

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

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

      298 Words

      Bookworm; Mine; Mystery

      The Case of the Canned Canaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      0

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