Microcosms 140

Greetings, my flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 140.

This week’s contest is based on movie and TV drama professionals, the anniversary of whose birth or death occurs on this day, 14-SEP.

BIRTHS

  • 1914 – Clayton Moore, American actor:”The Lone Ranger” (1945-51 and 1954-57)
  • 1947 – Sam Neill, Northern Irish-New Zealand actor: “Jurassic Park” (1993)
  • 1973 – Andrew Lincoln, English actor: “The Walking Dead” (2010 – present)

DEATHS

  • 1982 – Grace Kelly, American actress: “To Catch a Thief” (1955)
  • 2005 – Robert Wise, American director: Academy Award for “The Sound of Music” (1965)
  • 2009 – Patrick Swayze, American actor and dancer: “Ghost” (1987)

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: Governess, Location: French Riviera, and genre: Ghost Story.

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 **

 

  • Masked Avenger
  • Paleontologist
  • Someone Waking From a Coma
  • Wealthy Tourist
  • Governess
  • Banker
  • Old West
  • Theme Park
  • Apocalypse
  • French Riviera
  • Music Festival
  • Manhattan
  • Thriller
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Sci-Fi
  • Western
  • Ghost Story

 

Spin!

 
Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Tim Hayes, 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 141
Microcosms 139

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36 comments for “Microcosms 140

  1. 14 September 2018 at 12:53 am

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    Masked Avenger; Old West; Western

    How the West Was One Strange Place-From The Journal of Texas Tim Nevada

    I’d spent a speck of time in Santé Fe, but all the work had petered out. My pal, Slick Stircup, had a notion to wander on over to Albuquerque, but I had a yearning to head back to Texas.

    “Why you want to go back there fer, Tim? You dun already seen Texas. I got me an old gal in Albukerk…Donita…she knows gals.”

    “Sounds good, Slick, but Texas is a callin’.”

    Wasn’t much for directions back then so when Slick reminded me that I had to go through Albukerk to get to Texas, it seemed the natural thing to ride along with him and meet his lady, Donita.

    We headed out on the old Chisel Trail and arrived in Albukerk three days later.

    Donita was the featured chanteuse at the Masked Avenger Saloon right in the heart of Albukerk. I’d never seen a place the likes of it, even in my brain, which, once upon a time in my youth, was quite an active place.

    But when she came on stage, dressed in a red satin dress, ankles a flashin’, garters wrapped around her lovely thighs, this pink mask gracing her face like some sexy road agent, and started singing Welcome, Lonely Stranger, I was smitten like the silliest school boy.

    Welcome, lonely stranger,
    Sit down a spell,
    You ain’t in any danger,
    None that I can tell.

    I am the masked avenger,
    Lots of love to sell,
    So welcome, lonely stranger,
    Drop your bucket in my well.

    Oh, I am the masked avenger,
    I’m always on the prowl,
    But I’m also the love ranger,
    And together we will howl.

    I knew right away that I had seen the last of Texas.

    There was the matter of my friend Slick to consider.

    Course, folks died quick and easy back then.

    4+
    • Geoff Holme
      14 September 2018 at 11:55 am

      Lordy, I reckon you done agin, pardner! But ‘Drop your bucket in my well’? Oo er, missus!

      [ Quite a few points to query, though, Bill…
      * Did you mean to say ‘Santa Fe’, capital of New Mexico, or is ‘Santé Fe’ just the MC’s argot – like ‘Albukerk’. (Strangely enough, while researching this point, I discovered that there is a city called Santa Fe in Texas too! maybe you need to specify ‘NM’.
      * Should it be ‘Slick Stirrup’? That sounds a little more likely to me than ‘Slick Stircup’.
      *Now I’ve discover that Albuquerque is SOUTH WEST of Santa Fe, NM, while Texas is EAST… so it sounds like Slick is the one who isn’t a potential A* Geography candidate…
      * Is the ‘Chisel Trail’ fictional, or did you mean ‘Chisholm Trail’? But that is from Texas NORTH to Kansas… (Perhaps I’ve read too many Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee novels by Tony Hillerman.)

      1+
      • 14 September 2018 at 4:59 pm

        First off, Geoff, I meant Santa Fe, New Mexico…but went with Texas Tim’s spellin…

        Slick likely was as geographically challenged as Tim is , or was, not to say I’m not suffering from the same map ailment as well.

        It actually is Stircup. I didn’t want to be too obvious.

        The Chisel Trail is meant to be a play on the Chisholm Trail, a sort of lesser route…

        My writing for Microcosms typically takes place as my Thursday night wanes. There is a pathetic hurriedness in my pace…my research suffers, the quality of my work goes south, or east, wherever the heck Texas is…

        1+
      • Geoff Holme
        14 September 2018 at 9:51 pm

        Long may you continue to spend the dwindling hours of Thursday crafting these joyous tales. It’s only a pedant like myself that would find AND point out these peccadilloes…

        1+
  2. Alva Holland
    14 September 2018 at 2:28 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    297 words
    Governess; French Riviera; Ghost Story

    Amelie

    ‘She needs to go to school.’

    ‘But she’ll be miserable. She doesn’t know the language, she is shy and missing home, she’ll be picked on mercilessly.’

    ‘You don’t know this. You can’t base everything on your own experience. She’ll fit in soon enough and she’ll grasp the language quicker.’

    ‘Let’s get her a governess instead. At least give her a start before throwing her in the deep end of French girl culture.’

    ‘A governess? Have you lost your mind completely? She’d hate that.’

    ‘You don’t know this. You can’t base everything on your own experience. She’ll get used to it soon enough and she’ll grasp the language quicker.’

    ‘Don’t repeat my words to me. You know how much that annoys me.’

    ‘So, what’s it to be? School or governess?’

    ‘I say school.’

    ‘I say governess, and the company will pay for it. Let’s give it a go.’

    ‘Dad! Dad! There you are. I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Who are you talking to?’

    ‘Just having a chat with Mum, pet.’

    ‘Oh! You miss her a lot don’t you.’

    ‘More than I can say, every day.’

    ‘I talk to her too, every night before I go to sleep. She seems real and I feel her close to the bed. She’s like a warm breeze across the sheets, she listens to my worries and takes them all away with her before I go to sleep. I wish she could stay. I’m not afraid of that sort of ghost.’

    ‘Some ghosts are magical, pet.’

    ‘Oh, and Dad, Mum says I should go to school. When can I start? I met a girl called Amelie at the garden wall yesterday. She says I can go to her school and she’ll help me with the French words.’

    ‘I guess that’s decided then.’

    7+
    • 14 September 2018 at 10:10 am

      Delightful, Alva…

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        14 September 2018 at 3:15 pm

        Thank you, Bill.

        0
    • Geoff Holme
      14 September 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Wonderful, Alva. So like you to show us that a ghost story can be the polar opposite of scary.
      ( A lovely touch too to have ‘Mum’ still retaining the ability to irritate ‘Dad’. 🙂 )

      1+
      • Alva Holland
        14 September 2018 at 3:16 pm

        Many thanks, Geoff. Could you correct a typo for me please?
        ‘… throwing her in the deep end…’
        Thanks!

        0
      • Geoff Holme
        14 September 2018 at 9:53 pm

        Done. Didn’t spot this one myself!

        2+
  3. Steve Lodge
    14 September 2018 at 3:24 am

    @steveweave71
    296 words
    Masked Avenger; Old West; Western

    Twin Geeks

    Shadow Weaver stared out into a darkness punctuated only by lanterns from a couple of homesteads along the silent, rutted road in front of him. He sat on a bench, his cape draped over the back.

    Masked Muscle sat next to him, drinking grape juice from a one litre bucket and scratching his balding head. He sensed that it was his crotch needed scratching next. Areas of his body were queuing up to be scratched. This avenger outfit was making him ‘itch all over’.

    “I gotta ask Moyna to change our fabric conditioner,” he said out loud. “I may smell like a ‘meadow in the spring, surrounded by a sentinel of tall pines and vanilla spruce’, but I got more rashes and itches than I have hands to cope with.”

    Shadow Weaver looked over at his slightly obese twin brother. Frankly, though ‘The Shadow’ would never say anything, Masked Muscle looked nothing like a legendary superhero avenger should look. Not the real deal. Especially now, as Masked Muscle sat clawing at his groin.

    “Oh, look,” said Shadow Weaver, “If it bothers you that much, why don’t you just shoot your balls off?”

    There was a moment of silence. No scratching at all. Then with a sense of satisfaction, Shadow Weaver said, “It’s a quiet night in Canaxa tonight.”

    Masked Muscle choked on his juice. “It’s always a quiet night in Canaxa. It’s a small village, nothing ever happens. I tell you, bro, to be serious avengers, we need to have something to avenge. We have to move to a city. I mean, I heard in San Jacinto and Pinto Bravo they have gunfights in the streets and everything. This place hasn’t even had a stagecoach run through it since the days of the Max Twist Gang.”

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      14 September 2018 at 5:44 am

      I always want to vote twice for your stories, Steve! This one’s a cracker.

      1+
    • 14 September 2018 at 10:03 am

      I may be mistaken, Steve, but isn’t the Masked Muscle a distant relative of that modern day crime fighter, FLASH FICTION? Anyways, the old west of Canaxa deserves a crime spree…

      1+
  4. 14 September 2018 at 5:48 am

    @maehschaf
    300 words
    Governess; French Riviera; Ghost Story.

    The Role Of A Life

    The children come running up the stairs from the beach and jump on my deck chair.

    “Play with your father,” I mumble, “Mommy is tired.”

    “Daddy, daddy,” the kids shout. “Miss Neill says the hotel is haunted!”

    Grace, who occupies the chair next to my husband, speaks up.

    “Bobby, the governess should really not tell such stories.” Her voice sounds stilted. As if she’s playing a role. No one even uses the term ‘governess’ nowadays, I think, while my mind drifts away.

    “She also said our house was haunted,” answers Bobby.

    Dear Bobby. When I married him, a lot of friends suddenly disappeared from my life. Bobby was just too handsome and too rich. They couldn’t stomach their envy.

    “She’s Irish,” Bobby adds. “She thinks she has the third eye.”

    “It upsets the children,” replies Grace theatrically. I’d like to figure out, what it is that she’s playing… but I can’t focus.

    Grace had been my best friend since Kindergarten. After the accident last year she showed up immediately. Ready to help. Of course, we didn’t need help. But the gesture was nice and Bobby liked her, too. Ever since it always seemed to be the three of us together.

    The nanny finally comes up the stairs, wheezing. She carries towels, beach balls and parasols. As she’s about to place the pile at the end of my deck chair, she looks up and stumbles back, dropping everything.

    “Hail Mary and all the saints!” she cries out, making the sign of the cross over and over, staring right at me, while towels and beach balls scatter all over the terrace.

    “Miss Neill!” exclaims Grace. “We don’t pay you to throw around the children’s things!”

    That’s when I finally get it. I understand what role Grace is playing. She is playing me.

    6+
    • 14 September 2018 at 10:13 am

      Nice and spooky with a marvelous voice. We should all wonder whether we are really here…in the flesh…

      1+
  5. 14 September 2018 at 12:44 pm

    @VicenteLRuiz
    293 words
    Governess; French Riviera; Ghost Story

    Gone

    My dear Katherine,

    Sister, I write to you in distress. I’m going through a great deal of disgraceful events, and I don’t know what to do; therefore I come to you for help.

    Everything started the day I went with the children to the Lake. It’s called Lac du Rabinon, by the Argens river. We took the family landau, and the children were delighted. I have to say it was such a wonderful day, Katherine! The children even spoke English all the time, to my delight. Amélie already has barely a trace of an accent.

    Mrs Crécy had given me permission for the children to bathe, and I jumped at the chance: you know how much I love swimming! But something happened then, and I cannot understand what it is. The children left the water suddenly, and I had to follow them. I barely had time to dress and board the coach, and they didn’t talk to me on our way back.

    Since then, Mr and Mrs Crécy also ignored me. It was as if I wasn’t there. I decided to stay in my room, but things had become so strange I had to feed myself from the kitchen at night. I tried to reason with them, but they didn’t talk to me. Imagine my surprise when yesterday I found my room locked!

    Katherine, you have to help me!

    ******

    “Mademoiselle Winters, I’m deeply sorry for your loss,” Mr Crécy said.

    “Merci, monsieur,” Katherine answered, stifling a sob. Mrs Crécy offered her her arm, and Katherine took it.

    “Your sister was a wonderful woman, the best governess our children ever had,” she said in heavily-accented English. “Amélie loved her like a sister!”

    At that, Katherine wept openly.

    In a corner, a shadow also wept.

    2+
  6. Angelique Pacheco
    14 September 2018 at 2:30 pm

    297 words
    Governess; French Riviera; Ghost Story

    Why I Suspect The English Hate The French

    I was on my way to a home on the French Riviera where I was to be a governess to two adorable little girls. My conservative parents were suspicious and allowed their thinking to get in the way of modern life, in the here and now. I wanted adventure, something new to hang my hat on, and teaching little girls about the ways of the world would do just that.

    I looked out of the window of the taxi as we turned into the drive. A massive house came into view, and I was a little apprehensive. Perhaps it was the darkness of the clouds brewing up a storm that made the structure imposing and uninviting. I shook my head. This was no time to get cold feet. I had to plunge in, regardless of the temperature of the water.

    The little girls opened the door and smiled sweetly. “Bonjour, Mademoiselle!” they chorused delightfully. They barely gave me a chance to breathe as they ran up the stairs, calling that I should follow. They gave me the tour, and I was thrilled at how well kept everything was. But something was off. I had yet to see any adults. It seemed rather bizarre.

    The girls beckoned me towards the attic stairs. This was the way to my room, they said. I followed them up and was pleasantly surprised to see a small room at the top that was done up. There was even a vase with flowers by the window. I stood at the window and sighed happily before a joint push sent me tumbling to the ground below, to my death. Now I’m stuck teaching two little ghost girls while a team of ghost staff maintain the mansion. At least my French is coming on nicely.

    2+
  7. 14 September 2018 at 3:48 pm

    @el_Stevie
    300 words
    Someone Waking From a Coma; Apocalypse; Crime

    Crime against Humanity

    Eyes blinked, closed against the harsh light filtering through the window. A breeze from somewhere brushed across his skin and found its way beneath the thin gown which, when he opened his eyes again, he noticed was the only thing covering him. The draught, he also discovered, came from the window, its panes broken and filthy, but not dirty enough to filter out the sight of skeletal office blocks. Even at this height it was obvious disaster had hit and he had slept through it.

    No. They had backed-down, hadn’t they? Retreated against his bullish threats? Except … he struggled to recall, took in his surroundings.

    Tubes ran from his body to machines sitting silent and blank-faced around him. There were no comforting blips or undulating wave patterns to show he was still alive. All was quiet, too quiet. He forced himself into an upright position, ripping the useless wires out as he did so.

    Someone had argued against his actions, said he’d have to live with the consequences. Who?

    The corridor, visible through his bay window was empty. No nurses rushing past; the lights, usually on even during the day, were off. He remembered a fight, a blow to his head and then nothing … until now.

    Someone had pressed the button. Had he?

    He tried to stand, only to fall to his knees, sending a jug crashing to the floor as he did so. Nobody responded, no security detail. He crawled over to the window. Pulled himself up and looked out. Saw the depth of his crime, his conceit.

    A voice from somewhere. “We let you live so you could see what you’d done. We warned you …”

    He hadn’t believed them.

    “You’re on your own now. But you’re still President, President of the United States of Nothing.”

    4+
    • Geoff Holme
      14 September 2018 at 10:04 pm

      Nice one, Steph. ‘Apocalyps’e does rather lend itself to this sort of scenario. President of the United States of Nothing… and no Twitter?!? NO-OO-OOO!!
      (Two weeks in a row… and counting.)

      1+
    • 15 September 2018 at 12:17 pm

      Excellent twist on his presidential nobnuts, Steph. Dark, but not out of reach. I may not sleep all that comfortably tonight…thanks for that.

      1+
  8. Nikky Olivier
    14 September 2018 at 4:06 pm

    298 words
    Governess; French Riviera; Ghost Story

    Does The Punishment Fit The Crime?

    Tricia Thornwood sat back into the deep pool of bubbles, a smile curling the edges of her mouth as she sipped her champagne. After months of hard work, her plan had paid off and here she was, living the dream on the French Riviera.

    A childish giggle broke through her relaxed state and had her up and alert in seconds.

    “Hello? Who’s there?” she called loudly, climbing quickly out of the tub and slipping on a robe.

    Not expecting a response, she was quite frightened when she heard the voice of a little girl, “Hello, Ms. Thornwood.”

    Tricia spun around in circles looking for the origin of the voice, but saw nothing.

    ‘Am I losing my mind?’ she thought, ‘or is this the guilt finally catching up to me?’

    Tentatively, Tricia stepped from the bathroom into the hallway, glancing quickly from side to side, hoping that there could be some rational explanation for all of this.

    “Come play with me.” The voice sent shivers down her spine.

    She knew that voice.

    It was the voice of little Emlyn Van-Woods, her charge for the last six months, the child she had taken care of, the child she had kidnapped for ransom.

    The child she had killed.

    Tricia ran quickly into her new bedroom and skidded to a halt when she saw the translucent figure of Emlyn in the air a few metres away. She froze in fright as Emlyn drifted slowly towards her, approached her face and leaned in, as though wanting to share a secret…

    “Hello, Tricia,” the ghostly voice echoed, “I’m here to make sure that you’re never alone again.”

    As the sweet face of the shade morphed into a visage of pure terror, Tricia knew that she’d never escape the horror she’d brought on herself.

    5+
  9. 14 September 2018 at 4:12 pm

    248 words
    Masked Avenger; Apocalypse; Ghost Story

    Spirit Dance

    The old town was almost entirely devoid of life, as the masked warrior expected. It didn’t matter, though, as he knew the people he sought were there, relishing their evil victory.

    Today, they would meet him, and they would know his vengeance. The sun was setting, and it was getting colder as the desert heat gave way to night’s chilling hands.

    A movement, and the masked man reached for his gun, peering at the nearby window. Nothing looked back, and he turned his attention back to the streets, missing the flash as a pair of eyes appeared, stared at him for a moment, and then faded away.

    He moved towards the town hall, where he knew the crooks were hiding. He felt a chill down his spine, but ignored it. The streets were quiet, and the town hall was dark, save for candles in the windows.

    He reached the stairs, and the doors flew open, the villains screaming as they ran. The masked man blinked and stared at the semi-transparent spirits of the dead that were chasing the gang.

    “Okay,” he said, “that’s new.”

    A ghost passed through him, and he shivered. “Ghosts are real? Wait, I need to deal with the villains! WAIT!”

    The ghosts ignored him, and kept chasing the gang around town. Were the ghosts laughing?

    “SOMEBODY SAVE US!” the leader cried out, moments before a ghost threw him down a well. An empty, dry well.

    CRUNCH.

    1+
  10. Ted Young
    14 September 2018 at 6:29 pm

    279 words
    Governess; French Riviera; Ghost Story

    C’Est La Vie

    There’s a remote château on Chemin des Sables, north of the French Riviera, hidden from all sides by woodland, overgrown vineyards and long-forgotten landscaped gardens. The house had been grand, generations had grown up and prospered there, but it’s history had somehow died and buried itself.

    The Idea of being an artist had always appealed to me; a real artist I mean, travelling around looking for inspiration, surviving by wit and easel, with a bit of proper work (not too much) to top up funds. Living high on the hog on pig-swill wages.

    At twenty-five years old, we are invincible, indestructible and dumb enough to try anything. So as this young able seaman took the wheel of the cargo ship M.V. Chevy-Chase that followed the coast of the French Riviera, he found the romantic pull of the nomadic existence too much to bear. At the port of Toulon, he was gone like a cool breeze.

    The life was great and with the assistance of selective memory, every day was paradise.

    You will have guessed that it was I who wound up at the château and knocked at the door. But you may not have guessed that I was welcomed with hugs and kisses from a governess!

    “Oh my lovely boy at last you have come!” she sobbed, taking my hand, leading me to a garden ‘folly’.

    “Uh?” I articulated.

    “I must show you your inheritance and be released from my burden.”

    “Uh?” I suggested.

    “Farewell, mon cheri,” gushed the fading beauty as she removed the stones that concealed the treasures.

    “Uh?” I interjected.

    Nobody had been at the château for a 100 years.

    “Too spooky” say the locals.

    2+
    • Geoff Holme
      15 September 2018 at 11:26 pm

      Great story, Ted — I think I followed all the plot this time! 😉
      So, is ‘…this young able seaman…’ a crafty indication that this an autobiographical tale?
      And you trotted out a selection from your repertoire of alternatives to “I said” — though you wisely avoided my favourite from the Sherlock Holmes canon: “I ejaculated”…
      [ However, did you mean “Chemin des Sables” (a thoroughfare in Antibes)? ]

      0
      • Ted Young
        16 September 2018 at 10:10 am

        How frighteningly well you know me, Geoff.
        Never fear, you’ll get no Sherlockisms from me.
        Of course… Antibes. I’m so ashamed.
        Thanks, man.
        Peace & love

        0
  11. 14 September 2018 at 7:00 pm

    @geofflepard https://geofflepard.com
    298 words
    Masked Avenger; Old West; Crime

    Every Dog Will Have His Day

    Joleyn Pinkruffle knew he’d die shortly and it really annoyed him. ‘If you’re listening, I’m not having this. You said, if ever I wanted to trade my soul…’
    ‘I’M LISTENING.’
    ‘Right, it’s a soul for three wishes…’
    ‘YOU’RE HARDLY IN A POSITION TO BARGAIN. ONE WISH.’
    ‘You said…’
    ‘HE’S ABOUT TO SHOOT.’
    ‘Oh come on. It’s a good soul. Barely used.’
    ‘ONE WISH.’
    ‘Alright. Can I make it?’
    ‘GO ON.’
    ‘I want to be a Masked Avenger.’
    Joleyn blinked. He was dead. The bullet had gone in one ear and out the other. But he could still see. He’d got his wish. Right, he thought, on with the mask and… He gasped. Instead of hands he had paws. ‘What have you done?’ He blinked. Had he just barked?
    ‘YES. YOU BARKED.’
    ‘I’m a masked avenger!’
    ‘HE’LL NOT RECOGNISE YOU. YOU’RE AN ATTACK DOG. OFF YOU GO, BOY, AND AVENGE.’
    Bugger, he thought but OK, he could work with this. He quickly licked his nethers – he’d always wondered about that – a bit too savoury for his taste – less bee’s knees, than dog’s…
    ‘ARE YOU GOING TO DO THAT ALL DAY?’
    ‘I’m in no rush.’ Joleyn marked the corral, surprised at his bladder control. Another upside to balance against the lack of opposable thumbs.
    ‘I NEVER SAID YOU’D HAVE LONG.’
    ‘What? That’s not fair.’
    ‘SEE. SEE. THERE HE IS, BOY. KILL!!’
    Joyeln ran off, across the dusty Main Street and hurtled at the ageing gunslinger. The greying jowls wobbled, surprise written across them. Then the gnarled killer grinned. ‘You!’
    If that wasn’t bad enough, Joleyn licked the stubbly chin and felt his rear end begin to, yes, wag.
    ‘What have you done?’
    ‘I HAVE YOUR SOUL, REMEMBER. IF I WANT YOU TO LOVE HIM, THEN I CAN. MWAHAHAHAHAHA.’

    1+
  12. Deanna Salser
    14 September 2018 at 7:12 pm

    @beadanna7
    299 words
    Masked Avenger; Old West; Thriller

    A Close Shave

    Rick shook his head to clear it, the fogginess remained, but he felt his hat shift on his head. At least they hadn’t taken that; he’d had to work hard for a month to afford it. They’d also left him with his mask, though, somehow, it had gotten twisted and he couldn’t see more than a tiny slice of the world. He felt a hard rail beneath his neck, another under his knees, and knew with a sinking dread, that he had been tied to the tracks. At least there wasn’t a train coming until tomorrow; they only came this far west every twelve days.

    As soon as the thought crossed his brain, he felt the ground beneath him vibrating. Wait, what day was it? He tried to think, but the rails under his body were singing, and he knew he was out of time. He began to tug at his bonds. There was a little give, but not much. That didn’t stop him from yanking at them in panic as the distinctive sound of a train whistle rent the air.

    Oh God, his neck was on the rail! The train would decapitate him if he couldn’t get free in time! He struggled harder, tearing his skin on the raw hemp of the ropes. The train rumbled closer, the whistle ripping the air again with its shrill voice. Muscles tore and tendons popped, as he forced himself to keep pulling. He thought he felt something give, and pulled harder, although his skin shredded and blood began to flow. The train huffed its steamy breath in his ear, and Rick could feel the air suddenly released, as the conductor saw him and tried to brake.

    Blood slipped him free, a quick twist, and the train roared past over his head.

    1+
    • Geoff Holme
      14 September 2018 at 11:00 pm

      Creative use of the prompts, Deanna, with this ‘Perils of Pauline’ cliff-hanger.
      [ Just one piece of advice. If you’re writing a thriller where there’s someone tied to a train track with a train approaching — and the tension is built around will he/won’t he escape? — it’s a bit of a spoiler to give the story a title like ‘A Close Shave’. 🙂 ]

      1+
      • Deanna Salser
        15 September 2018 at 10:01 am

        Right! Thanks, Geoff. What a rube I am!

        0
  13. Geoff Holme
    14 September 2018 at 8:01 pm

    @GeoffHolme
    300 words
    Banker; Manhattan; Thriller

    The Midnight Shadow

    Dressed in black, he sat in the darkness, totally still. Beneath the brim of his hat, covered by a domino mask, only his eyes moved, watching the woman scurry anxiously along the sidewalk.

    He leaned fractionally forward, the susurration of his silk cape barely audible. His every muscle tensed, poised for action. A menacing figure appeared, closing in, hand raised, a glint of steel…

    Before he could react, his alter ego leapt from the gloom, silently disarmed the villain and rendered him unconscious; the intended victim entered her house, oblivious.

    The credits began to roll. He blinked rapidly as the auditorium lights came up.

    #

    “Mr Kaplinsky? Is that you?”

    Shocked to hear his name, he turned quickly. “Mr Emerson!” His pale face blushed instantly.

    “Are you going to introduce me, Joe?”

    “Sure. Rachel, say hello to Mr Kaplinsky, manager of the Sandrino Premier Bank — the man who made the dreams of opening our own diner a reality!”

    Rachel kissed the banker on the cheek and whispered, “Thank you!”

    His blushes deepened. “Please forgive my appearance. The Midnight Shadow has been my hero since I was a boy.”

    “Mine too. When I heard the Manhattan Cineplex was showing a retrospective, I had to bring my family along to share my passion.”

    “I see that doesn’t extend to wearing the costume!”

    “No,” Joe chuckled. “I know a lot of people do.”

    “I thought my identity was concealed; it’s embarrassing for a man of my age and status. Please excuse me. Nice to meet you, Mrs Emerson.”

    They watched the diminutive figure leave, then turned to each other with raised eyebrows. Joe felt a tug on his sleeve.

    “Pops, who was that masked man?”

    “That, Timmy,” said Joe with a broad grin, as he ruffled his son’s hair. “That was The Loan Arranger!”

    3+
    • 15 September 2018 at 5:41 pm

      You can always bank on you coming up with a substantially witty deposit of an ending, Geoff…

      0
      • Geoff Holme
        15 September 2018 at 11:04 pm

        …Even if I’m not a great story TELLER and my tale may not always hold your INTEREST!

        Thanks for the comment, Kemo Sabe!

        0
  14. Arianna Hammond
    14 September 2018 at 9:51 pm

    300 words
    Masked Avenger; Music Festival; Ghost Story

    Oh How The Killed Show Up

    Music blares through my ears as I make my way through the crowd.
    Boom.
    Boom.
    Click.
    Lyrics.
    Everything mashes together. I am a person of priority and getting to my target is all that matters, no time for singing along or head bopping.

    My target is so easily slipping through the mass of bodies. As slick as oil on water. I can hardly keep up, what with my cape getting trampled and squinting through these gosh-darn small eyeholes.
    I see his red hat duck down, creating a blur and stunningly falling in rhythm with the beat.
    Boom.
    Boom.
    Duck/Whoosh.
    Lyrics.
    He makes it to the fence.
    I am not far behind now, just squeezing past a family with abnormally large feet. I hope they don’t step on my cape.

    The fence is close, but my target’s trademark hat has now disappeared around a line of porta-potties.
    It is here where finally, after all these years, I meet my father’s killer.
    Behind the porta-potties wasn’t a likely vision, but nevertheless.
    “You’re just as pathetic as your father, weakling.” He groans, out of breath.
    “Hello, my name is Richard O’Donnell. You killed my father. Prepare to-”
    “Ah, this crap? Really? First the lame avenger costume thing, now the ridiculous movie quotes? You really are a loner.”
    “Enough! Karma kills you and I hold its weapon!”
    “Oof, I’m cringing here ma-”
    I stab him.
    Blood starts to soak his shirt.
    He falls down. Breathing his last.

    After I move him so his body is hidden, I rejoin the crowd, eager to hear what I paid for.
    The people cheer.
    Squinting at the stage, I see the bass guitarist wearing his usual red beanie.
    Then my father’s broken voice rings out. From the microphone.

    I guiltily run off to the porta-potties. Where the only spirit who knows is me.

    0
  15. 15 September 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Death at the Festival
    298 words
    Lesley Turrell
    http://Www.lelstories.home.blog
    @lelttt

    Governess Music Festival Thriller

    Georgia and Henry are standing, waving their hands and trying to avoid the sheep droppings. They had slipped out the private school detention room to while away a few hours in dancing frenzy. The stately, though slightly run down Gothic mansion provides an ethereal backdrop to the stage.
    ‘This is much better than that stuffy school or tutorials with Sniffy Stevens.’ Georgia had hated their old governess with a passion.
    ‘She was ok. She cared about us.’
    ‘Henry, you just enjoyed fantasising about what you wanted to do with her body.’
    Henry give Georgia that look. ‘Shut up sis. You got what you wanted. She was sacked and us more freedom at school.’
    ‘You helped. The evidence you provided made the case.’
    ‘Shut your mouth. Just dance. It’s not something we want to discuss in public.’
    Someone dancing behind them offers them some mushrooms, ‘These will blow your minds, free sample.’
    Henry pops one in his mouth without a moment’s pause. Georgia hits him for being so foolhardy and impetuous. Then, once she’s seen there are no ill effects she grabs a handful for herself.
    The sun lowers in the sky and Georgia shivers. ‘Let’s go back, I’m getting cold. A Festival goer wanders past them, all in dark flowing costume with an evil witch mask. They drop an almost full bottle of tequila and stagger off.
    ‘This will warm you up.’says Henry wiping the bottle top with his hand. They each swig the bottle. Later they start to convulse. A circle opens up around them and gradually the music dies.
    ‘That will show them not to get on the wrong side of the governess who has knowledge of binary poisons.’ Daisy Eath fills out the form for the next job. In the name of Katy Iller.

    0
  16. Geoff Holme
    15 September 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks for submitting an entry to Microcosms, Lesley.

    However, as this is your first time, you really ought to have taken the time — as we urge every week in the introduction to the contest — to read the full submission guidelines. Even ignoring this helpful advice, a brief perusal of the introduction would provide you with information that “You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece“.

    Microcosms is a WEEKLY contest, lasting 24 HOURS only each FRIDAY, until midnight New York time (EST). If in doubt what the time is in New York, the countdown clock in the right-hand sidebar at the top of the contest post will show how long you have left to submit while the contest is active; after the closing deadline, it shows the amount of time until the NEXT contest is active (i.e. the following FRIDAY).

    Your entry was posted at 2:25pm on SATURDAY (EST); so, sadly, it was ineligible for judging.

    I hope this news will not deter you from entering future Microcosms contests. In the meantime, you can always vote for your favourite stories and/or leave (positive!) feedback underneath one or more entries.

    ####

    If you do, please bear in mind the following information:

    Each contest is judged ‘blind’ – the judge does not log into the blog while the contest in in progress, but is emailed all the entries — stripped of all indentifying details — when the contest deadline is reached.

    To make things easier for the Microcosm curator (at the moment, usually me!) to cut and paste entries WITHOUT indentifying details, we request that entries are formatted:

    (not required if your Microcosms userid IS your name!)
    (if you have one and wish to share it)
    ((if you have one and wish to share it)
    (excluding the title of your entry, in the format ‘xxx words’ — NOT ‘Word Count: xxx’, etc.)
    (in the format ‘xxx; xxx; xxx’ e.g. Governess; Music Festival; Thriller — NOT ‘Elements used: xxx/xxx/xxx’)
    BLANK LINE
    (With the initial letter of each word capitalised, apart from short words such as ‘of’, ‘in’, with’, etc. and NO period/full stop at the end, e.g. Death at the Festival — NOT ‘Title: xxx’)
    BLANK LINE

    So ideally your entry above would have looked like this:

    http://www.lelstories.home.blog
    @lelttt
    298 words
    Governess; Music Festival; Thriller

    Death at the Festival

    Georgia and Henry are standing…

    0
  17. Lesley
    17 September 2018 at 11:59 am

    I did post it on the Facebook post by the deadline as it kept saying that it was a duplicate post when I tried the other way. Please check your logs. Lesley

    0

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