RESULTS – Microcosms 130

Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 130. We had 16 entries this time — including one ‘Just for Fun’ from yours truly. A warm welcome to first-time entrant, Parastoo.T.

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 129 Judge’s Pick, Nikky Olivier, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:

Thank you for the opportunity to act as a judge this week.

I love a good story, no matter what it’s about – if I can relate to it and it has a good flow, I enjoy it.

I’ve discovered, over time, that I’m quite a stickler for using the given prompts, as opposed to the spinner, as it takes me out of my comfort zone time and time again. Given that, and the fact that there are no ‘spun’ prompts this week, it made my job just that tiny bit more difficult.

In the end, I had to give the most consideration to, firstly, which story carried across the best, and secondly, who incorporated their chosen line(s) in the best way.



Favourite / Favorite Lines

Bill Engleson – I didn’t feed him any condolences cookies.
Geoff Holme – I idly wonder how many forests were denuded to provide the charcoal that fuels these endless primeval feasts.
Vicente L Ruiz – It’s not every day that you get to watch two angels fighting.
Steve Lodge – They were talking of rug or buttocks? Who knew?
Angelique Pacheco – I would ride off into this sunset a married man.
Ted Young – …he was a ‘correct me if you’re wrong’ kind of guy, who used truth like a knuckleduster, and honesty as a tactic.
Geoff Le Pard – I am one of several bottoms, the subject of her ribaldry.
Tim Hayes – Occasionally, it’s all too easy to overlook that extra limb, or eye, or set of wings.
Steph Ellis – His design was living, breathing … a condition they shared, but only for a short while.
M. Levi – “You stab your brother, and somehow it’s my fault that he’s dying?”
Deana Salser – He screamed, a high, thin sound, like air being forced out of the narrowed neck of a balloon.
Camilla Johansson – There on the ledge was a man without even a leaf to cover him up, waving his arms and shouting incoherently.
Stephen Shirres – Someone over my shoulder turns the blinds, bringing dusk into the room.
Harrietbelle – She was scared… very scared, I know that.
Parastoo.T – My heart was almost exploding and the words were all tangled in my throat.
Arianna Hammond – You know what? I’m done being nice, I deserve better than the last eight.


Special Mention

Tim Hayes – Done Manifesting – for clever concept

I was really amused by the idea of the demon’s uncertainty when he had to manifest in human form.


Honorable/Honourable Mention

Angelique Pacheco – Hold ’em Stakes and Wedded Bliss

For me, this story really encapsulated the old west. I felt that it could have been elaborated on a bit more, but was still a really enjoyable piece to read.



Vicente L Ruiz – A Difference Of Opinions

Well thought out and well written, this story grabbed me right from the start.


And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 130.

(insert drumroll here)


Community Pick

It’s a tie!

Tim Hayes – Done Manifesting

118 – Skin is weird.
127 – I turn around and notice a person standing on the opposite sidewalk, just…watching.

I turned around and noticed a person standing on the opposite sidewalk, just… watching. Watching what though? That was the question. Actually, that was the second question. It wasn’t clear from this distance whether it was a man or a woman who was staring in my direction or what exactly it was that was being stared at. I suspected that I was the subject of his or her interest. Things hadn’t been going that well of late. Sometimes it was the arms or legs that went wrong, I usually manifested the correct number but somehow they didn’t turn out quite right. I ran a quick inventory… Left leg? OK. Right leg? OK. Feet? Check, two, and they were even pointing in the correct direction, forward. Arms? Check, two, present and correct. Hands? Two, one on each arm.

Being a demon living in a human world can be difficult. Humans have such a restricted repertoire, they pretty much all look the same. Demons? Well, we’re a mixed bunch and come in an assortment of imaginative shapes. Occasionally it’s all too easy to overlook that extra limb, or eye, or set of wings. Oh God, it wasn’t the wings again? Nope, must be something smaller, less significant. I looked at my reflection in a nearby shop window. At first glance, everything looked fine. I was looking at the image of a regular human male, nothing seemed out of place. Then I realised. It’s happened to me before, skin is weird. At least I’d got the colour right, if not the shade. Although I have to say it worked out OK that St Patrick’s Day when I’d come out green. I always find shades of red difficult and have never understood this human affinity for fleshy pink. What was wrong with bright crimson?

Stephen Shirres – Burger Time

290 Words
124 – That tea was mostly whisky; the woman had class.

“Did you find her?”
I bite into my burger. Whatever the hell burger sauce is, dripped between the patties and onto the plastic table top. Not her style at all. Her dinner was whisky; the woman had class. The burger joint didn’t, but I wanted this conversation to happen on my turf.
“Well?” Her paper cup is placed with precision next to my burger sauce stain. Someone over my shoulder turns the blinds, bringing dusk into the room.
I swallow my latest bite. “Sort of.”
“How do you sort of find someone?” She brushes red hair from in front of her face to behind her ear. The movement as smooth as her voice.
“Oh, I found her. Quite quickly. The issue is more who she is.” I paused, waiting for the confession which will never come. I have another two bites before filling in the gap.
“She isn’t your daughter. She was your lover, who left you for good reasons from what she told me. Not that I’m one to judge.”
My client doesn’t do or say anything. Everything is happening in her head, working out her next course of action. I put a fifty on her reaching for her dinner. A bite later, I keep my bet. Once the cup is back where it started, movement ceases again. She has until my burger is finished.
I wipe my mouth clean, scrunch the napkin into a ball and leave it to reform where my burger once sat. “Seems like our business is done. I’ll send through the final bill in the morning.”
“Final bill?” Her usual smoothness cracks.
“Aye. Unlike the movies, my life continues once I walk out of the door.”


Judge’s Pick

Steve Lodge – Done Up Like A Kipper

The P.G. Wodehouse-esque style embodied in this story had me reading and re-reading it, chuckling softly at almost every dry, witty comment made. As well-written as it was, the way in which the chosen line was used endeared it to me even more.

300 words
121 – If you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it.

Lady Agatha lounged on the sofa, staring intently at the butler’s buttocks as he stooped to retrieve an envelope that had slipped off her lap on to a quite beautiful rug.

“Exquisite,” she said, absentmindedly.

“I’ve always thought that, Agatha,” responded her friend, Lady Daphne.

They were talking of rug or buttocks? Who knew?

The butler, Goodbody, handed the envelope to her Ladyship, poured sherries for the ladies and left the room. Coming towards him down the corridor and breaking wind like a rhino was Lord Rodney Kipper. His Lordship popped into the room where his wife and Lady Daphne sat talking.

He nodded meekly at Daphne then turned to his wife. He couldn’t stand either woman. “Just off to the village. I–”

“It’s noon,” Agatha interrupted. “You’re going to The Haunted Poacher, like every lunchtime.”

“May just pop in for a livener, won’t be back for luncheon.”

Agatha passed him the envelope. “Happy Christmas. Open it at the pub, you’ll need a whisky.”

Rodney was taken aback. “Sorry, old girl. Didn’t get you anything. I say, are these tickets for that cruise you spoke of? Greek Islands? Crete, Rhodes and… er… Clitoris?”

The ladies roared. Agatha said, “If it were Clitoris, you’d never find it.”

Rodney stuffed it into a jacket pocket and left huffily, although his mood brightened the further he got away from that room. By the time he was halfway down the drive, there was a positive skip in his step and he began singing loudly:

“If you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it,
Yes, if you’re not there, you can’t put your foot in it. Lalalala…”

Daphne looked over at Agatha. “He didn’t realise it is mid-May and, therefore, nowhere near Christmas, Aggie. You gifted him the divorce papers, didn’t you, dear?”


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 131
RESULTS - Microcosms 129

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15 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!

  2. 12 September 2019 at 5:20 pm

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

    • 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. :/

  3. 13 September 2019 at 6:37 am

    Who is Stoner, please?

  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!”

  5. Geoff
    13 September 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Stoner, haunted house, drama
    295 words
    ‘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…’
    ‘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.’

  6. 13 September 2019 at 10:25 pm
    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.


    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.”

  7. 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.

  8. 14 September 2019 at 6:19 am

    stoner/ghost ship/comedy
    WC: 365

    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.

  9. Diego Piselli
    14 September 2019 at 5:04 pm

    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”.

  10. 14 September 2019 at 7:44 pm

    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.”

  11. 14 September 2019 at 10:09 pm

    150 Words
    Unmasked Villain; Spooky Location; Drama


    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.

  12. Lindsey P
    16 September 2019 at 9:48 am

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

    • Lindsey Pittenger
      16 September 2019 at 9:51 am

      298 Words

      Bookworm; Mine; Mystery

      The Case of the Canned Canaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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