Microcosms 141

Welcome back, flashionistas. For your delight and delectation, we present Microcosms Round 141.

This week, we pay homage to Herbert George (H. G.) Wells, born on this day — 21-SEP — in 1866. Ranked among the fathers of science fiction, he was a prolific author in many genres, a prophetic social critic and a futurist. The elements are taken from a selection of his works:

  • 1895 – The Time Machine
  • 1900 – Love and Mr Lewisham
  • 1905 – Kipps
  • 1908 – The War in the Air
  • 1910 – The History of Mr Polly
  • 1910 – The Sleeper Awakes



(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 – Bicycle Engineer; Suburbs; Romance

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.


  • Inventor
  • Science Student
  • Apprentice
  • Bicycle Engineer
  • Gentleman’s Outfitter
  • Plutocrat
  • Dinner Party
  • Séance
  • Drapery Bazaar
  • Suburbs
  • Edwardian England
  • London
  • Steampunk
  • Romance
  • Coming-of-Age Story
  • Adventure
  • Memoir
  • Dystopian Sci-Fi



One of last week’s Community Picks, Alva Holland, 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, 21-SEP) 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 142
Microcosms 140

23 thoughts on “Microcosms 141

  1. http://www.engleson.ca
    300 words
    Science Student; Séance; Coming-of-age Story

    Return Ticket To Death

    I knew Lawrence Chatterton when he was just plain Larry. We grew up in Missoula. Well, I grew up there. The Chatterton’s moved to Missoula when Larry was six.


    Missoula was a fair-sized town back then, 25,000 but growing.

    My old man worked at the BIG Blue Sky Lumber Mill. He hated that mill, but he worked there. He’d often say, “I’m dying there. But I gotta stay. It’s the only way I can have a life.”

    Larry and I met the first day of elementary school. He took a shine to me.

    I was awkward then. Still am, I guess.

    Larry glowed. He was a beautiful boy.

    That first day, I don’t know why, we swore an oath.


    It was strange. We were so different. I didn’t think about it then, but later, I did.

    Our families were worlds apart. Larry loved that my old man would take the two of us fishing on the Blackfoot and climbing mountains like the Rattlesnake on weekends. Larry loved our adventures.

    His father was not the same as mine. He was a scientist and taught at the University of Montana. When he was at home, he worked in his home-laboratory.

    That first year, Larry’s mother died.

    His father hired a series of homemakers.

    None stayed longer than a month.

    Rumors spread: “It’s a strange house. They talk to the dead.”

    I spent a lot of time there those first few years. His father continued teaching, but much of his free time was devoted to the afterlife, to communicating with the beyond.

    Then one day, I was thirteen, the Chattertons left town.

    A decade later, I was watching the news and there he was. Dr Lawrence Chatterton. Scientist! Spiritualist! Advisor to the Rich! Writer of the bestseller, ‘Return Ticket To Death’.

  2. @Ravenangel888
    300 words
    Science Student; Séance; Romance

    It’s Never Too Late for Love

    They were setting up the table and chairs for the séance. The room was already swathed in dark curtains to block any stray light, the smell of incense thick in the air. I looked across the room at the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Porcelain skin, chestnut curls down to her waist, and curves in all the right places. She looked up at that moment, a soft smile touching her lips. We moved towards each other, aware of the people setting up around us.

    “Hi.” Her voice was everything I could have hoped it would be; dulcet tones that brought to mind a certain famous songstress.
    I gulped my nerves down, responding with a greeting of my own. We indulged in some small talk, and I knew it was love. When weather is interesting just because of who is speaking of it, you just know!

    “What brings you here? I’m a firm believer in Science, and this is not that! My Professors would turn in their graves, if they were dead.” I had been studying towards a Physics degree.

    “My Mom is here today. I had to come.” She looked up through her lashes as if apologising.

    “Yeah, my Dad also. I think they’re about to start.” My voice wavered as I realised people were starting to sit at the table. As the medium started talking, a hush fell over the room. All eyes were on her.

    “Show time I guess!” I moved towards the table and spoke firmly, “Lady, could you tell my Dad that I’m sorry I didn’t listen to him and it’s not his fault I died! He needs to move on.” My new friend looked on approvingly and moved forward to share her message for her Mom. We then moved together towards the light.

      1. Thanks Eloise. I love supernatural romance novels so this was kind of right in my ballpark lol

  3. @steveweave71
    300 words
    Inventor; Dinner Party; Memoir

    Heimlich Manoeuvre in the Park

    “Now, as an inventor, please tell us, Professor Leiderhosen. Will we know any of your inventions?” cooed the amazingly annoying hostess of this dreary dinner party, Lady Henrietta Legge.

    I still smile at her ridiculous name. Henrietta Legge. Oh, did he?

    Anyway, whenever she invites me, I always attend her dinner parties. The food is excellent and, as I’m a poor artist, she likes to show me off in front of her titled guests. Sometimes, at these parties, I get a commission to paint some old girl in a tiara. Occasionally I cough over the desserts to give the impression I have TB. It’s true, I do need fattening up. The previous night, I dined on a slice of pizza I found near a beggar.

    Anyway, I digress. Yes, this is my memoir, but we left Professor Leiderhosen about to answer our hostess.

    The Professor took off his glasses, squeezed the bridge of his nose and started shaking his head slowly. All the guests at the table turned to look as the Professor was weeping.

    Chief Dog Walker, from the Nipafoot tribe, enquired, “Why, Professor, what on earth’s the matter?”

    The Professor looked up. “I’m sorry, Lady Henrietta,” he whispered in broken English with an accent I pinpointed as Belzon, probably from Kontaminatsi region. “Zis often happens. You have invited wrong Leiderhosen. It’s my brother, Pavel Jurgen, who invents. I am medical specialist, you understand? Maybe you have read my research book, ‘A History Of Anal Warts’?”

    Some ladies began gagging over the tiramisu. Someone gruffly murmured, “I say.” I was desperately trying not to laugh.

    The Professor continued. “Yes, PJ I called him zis, invented a cake you can eat in ze shower.”

    There was silence. Then someone said “And was it a success, Professor?”

    “Lord, no,” he replied.

  4. @VicenteLRuiz
    300 words
    Inventor; Dinner Party; Steampunk

    Just A Social Event

    “Allard, no!” Dorry said.

    “Come on, Dorry, it’s just a peek,” he said.

    “Professor Allard Carr, youngest ever to reach that title, you’re incorrigible.”

    “Oh, please, I just have to see their insides! Look around you,” he said, waving his hand, “all those posh people ignore the automatic butlers. They treat them like they’d treat servants.”

    “First of all, Allard, these ARE my people. Second, you’re here because of them: this is a social event. And third, the butlers ARE servants. Mechanical. They’re of no interest. And you told me you’d behave.”

    “Please, Dorry?”

    She sighed. “Oh dear. I’m going to regret this. Try to be discreet, will you?” She looked around. “That one, it’s rolling away. Towards the kitchens, I guess.”

    The contraption, an empty tray in its arms, was indeed leaving the hall. They moved to intercept it, and the automaton stopped when Dorry planted herself in front of it. She looked around. People were getting ready: some had already gone into the dining room.

    “Hurry, Allard!” she said. He had already opened the panel in the back of the butler and was peeking inside. He had produced his trademark mini-spanner (how many of those he had, she wondered) and was rummaging inside the mechanical man.

    She heard him whistle. Piqued against her will, she asked, “What’s it?”

    “This is the work of a genius. I wouldn’t have done it better. It’s powered by a galvanic pile, and this gearbox… Oh oh.”

    She didn’t like that tone. She KNEW that tone. He poked from behind the butler.

    “Do you think a bomb belongs in here?”

    “A bomb?”

    “And I guess each butler carries one.”

    “There goes my social life,” Dorry sighed. She pulled her revolver from her purse and shot twice. “Fire! Fire! Leave the building! Everybody out!”

  5. 291 Words
    Bicycle Engineer; Suburb; Romance

    It Takes Two

    “Daisy, will you allow me to escort you to the dance next week?” Michael asked, his hopeful tone and puppy-dog eyes giving her pause.

    “I’d love to Michael, but how shall we get there? You pedal around on that bicycle of yours all day. I’ll not be climbing onto those handle bars in my new dress. Maybe old Mr. Wilkins will let you borrow his horse and cart for the night?”

    “No, he’s already promised them to Thomas and Daniel. If there were space for us, I’d happily ride along, but they’ve promised every empty seat already.”

    “Let me know if you can make arrangements and I’d be happy to be escorted by you. Have a good day.”

    Michael stared wistfully after Daisy as she walked, skirts swishing, down the dusty streets of their small suburb. Then a sudden idea struck him; off he ran and immediately bolted himself behind the closed doors of his workshop.

    The following days were filled with an awful cacophony of bangs and clanking metal, broken occasionally by the huff of bellows as the forge-fire was stoked. Michael opened the doors only once, and then only to have young Jimmy Anderson deliver word to Daisy Bell that she would be travelling to the dance in spectacular style.

    Finally, when the day of the dance arrived, Daisy waited nervously for Michael to call. As the knock finally sounded at her door, she raced to open it, eager to see what stylish manner of transport Michael had found.

    She stopped short at the sight before her.

    “Michael! What is that monstrosity?” she demanded.

    “Why, Daisy,” Michael proudly answered, “this way you’ll never have to sit on uncomfortable handlebars ever again… I’ve built the new ‘Bicycle Made for Two’.”

  6. 299 words
    Science Student; Dinner Party; Dystopian Sci-Fi

    Don’t Invite Them Next Time

    There was hush, a shocked silence around the table and they wondered how it had gone so wrong.
    The night had started so well. The author, Rainbow rover, had decided to hold a party to celebrate finally being able to get out of her motorised wheelchair. She had been part of a new drugs trial and it was going so well. Six of them sat down for the meal.
    Georgia was fascinated. ‘How have you managed to lose so much weight and regain your mobility?’
    ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.’
    ‘You don’t have to answer her questions. She’s only 11 and has no filters yet.’ Georgia’s mother was embarrassed. ‘I only brought her tonight as she loves your stories.’
    ‘It’s no big secret. Well, so long as you don’t splash it about, I’ll tell you.’
    ‘Of course we wouldn’t.’ Georgia took things very literally.
    ‘You know in the naughties they developed insulin pumps to mitigate the effects of damaged pancreas in type one diabetes? Well they’ve extended the process to add hormones, etc. on a pump system to correct any imbalances. They’ve given me thyroid drugs to stimulate a slow metabolism, dopamine and other neurotransmitters to compensate for low levels to combat depression and anxiety, and even some new agents to stimulate muscle development.’ Rainbow rover twirled showing off her new lithe figure. She felt liberated from the 16 stone hulk that had been glued to the chair.
    ‘I learn in science that steroids had side effects. Aren’t you worried?’ Georgia ventured where few dared to tread.
    ‘It may be a short life, but it will be a merry one.’
    ‘What do you mean, love?’ Rainbow’s husband, who had done so much for her, was looking really concerned.
    ‘I’m leaving’ she said, just before he shot her.

  7. 300 words
    Bicycle Engineer; Suburbs; Romance

    Love on Two Wheels

    As I am often heard to say, ‘Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.’ Nor for my future as a bicycle engineer. The more people employing this most perfect form of transportation, the better, both for mankind itself and for my profession, not to mention my pocket. I find it encouraging the number of young women nowadays who choose to adopt the freedom of the bicycle and the way that this is reflected in rational dress and the modern bifurcated fashions that many of them now wear.

    Recently I have noticed an increase in the number of suburban female bicyclists availing themselves of my services and I find this pleasing if confusing. There is one particular young lady that has come to my attention, both for the regularity of her visits and for her unusual familiarity.

    One day I was troubled to find my admirer, if I may describe her as such, dressed in a pair of the new-fangled bloomers, or knickerbockers as they are sometimes called. I do believe that she is chasing me in search of romantic involvement. I am much for the emancipation of women but this brought a blush to my cheek. She was even forward enough to suggest that I should accompany her for a ride.

    Shyly, I accepted her offer and found it to be an enjoyable experience. One thing led to another and before long we became betrothed. To celebrate the occasion, and not wanting to spend more than a minute apart, I set to in my workshop and created the bicycle of our dreams. It was a tandem machine of cunning design, a wedding present to us both.

    And now, together, we pedal the leafy lanes as one.

  8. 202 words
    Bike Engineer; Suburbs; Romance

    A Bid for Freedom

    Ladies and gentlemen, if I could say a few words? When my beautiful daughter, Hannah, left for Holland just over two years ago, I never thought that she would end up staying. But I was in for a surprise. Or two.

    As I’m sure you all know, she responded to an ad placed by Elsa who was looking for an engineer to help her on her project: A Bid for Freedom. I’m extremely proud of Hannah for being brave enough to move to an unknown suburb, in an unknown city, in an unknown country, and selfless enough to do volunteer work. Biking has always been one of Hannah’s passions, so designing specialised bikes for disabled people was right up her street.

    And it wasn’t just a good working relationship that blossomed. As the project gained momentum, they fell in love. I admit that initially I wasn’t keen. I had never envisaged welcoming a daughter-in-law into my family, and wasn’t sure I wanted to. But soon enough I saw that what they shared was true love, and that’s why we’re here today.

    I’d like to ask you to raise your glasses to two fabulous women who are fantastic together. To Hannah and Elsa!

  9. 300 words
    Apprentice; Drapery Bazaar; Romance

    Draped in Love

    A small bell attached to the handle of the door, rings as I pushed it open. It’s silver metal clinking on the brass.
    ‘Drapery Bazar’ the faded sign had read. I am in the right place. Gripping my folder with the acceptance form inside, I sidle into the room.

    Dust stings my eyes, and my nostrils burn with the change of scent. Coughing, I squint through the watery view. Curtains line the walls in a stylish fashion. While the room is long and well lit, it is obvious not many have set foot here in some time.
    Shaking my head, I walk to the dark counter. An old register, measuring tape, book of samples, and a random Snickers bar wrapper, decorate the surface.

    “Morning! You lost?”

    I jump, startled.
    A woman smiles at me.
    She is beautiful.

    “N-no. I am the…apprentice. Are you Bree?”

    Her pretty lips seem to brighten, as she says, “Welcome! And no, I’m not Bree. Anika.” She reaches out her hand to shake.

    “Alice,” I reply.
    We stand looking at each other, with an unexplainable connection.

    “Ahem. Hi, can I help you?”

    Anika and I let go.
    Another woman stands next to me. She, older with graying hair.

    “Yes,” I say “are you Bree?”

    “Yes I am. Are you Alice?”

    “That’s me!” I cheerfully state.

    “Wonderful. I see you’ve already met Anika. The others will be here soon.”

    “Others?” I ask, stupidly. Of course there are others.

    “Mmhmm. Zack, Avery and Raven.”

    “Okay. Great! Oh, here’s the letter.”


    Fifteen minutes later, we are all standing by the counter. Zack, a rustic beauty, is giving a summary about this place.

    “..and after all that, if things work out, you can help run this joint.”

    Raven pipes up, “what about her initial? Is it–?”

    “Yup,” says Bree. “B-A-Z-A-A-R.” Right next to Anika.

    Anika smiles, I feel warm.
    I can’t wait to start.

  10. 205 words
    Bicycle Engineer; Suburbs; Romance

    Wheels of Love

    His jaw dropped when he saw her. She was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was curvy in all the right places, and yet she was sleek and slim, smooth in all the right places. He sighed blissfully. What a happy guy he was. He was in love and he wanted to shout it out to all his neighbours.

    He ran his hands lovingly over her, marveling at his workmanship. He wheeled her out of his garage and got on her gently. He put his feet on the pedals and then, wanting to move slowly at first he pushed down. She was having none of that. She was built for speed and she would show him that he liked fast women. Her tires began to spin and he had no choice but to pump his legs harder and harder. The men looked up from their driveways and stared open-mouthed as he zipped past them riding an angel of a bicycle. His newest design that would surely win him prizes at his engineering firm’s gala next year.

    “Oh. You thought I was talking about a flesh-and-blood woman? Don’t be silly! Everyone knows that men give their wheels women’s names and treat them like goddesses.”

  11. @alysia_ascovani
    263 words
    Inventor; Dinner Party; Romance


    The grand hall rang with dozens of conversations, full, yet not quite loud enough to overshadow the lilting music of the orchestra. Wine glasses were lifted to lips, peals of bell-toned laughter chimed in the air, and hors d’oeuvres floated around the decadent party. As the orchestra’s piece wound to a close, a tall, thin man stepped on stage, grasped the microphone, and called for Scarlett Iyer to come forward.

    Her long black gown flowed about her legs as she strode through the crowd. Reaching the stage, she smiled at the man as he handed over the microphone. Long locks of bright violet hair framed her face as she spoke. “I’d like to thank everyone for coming here today. It is an honor to be able to introduce my newest invention to you all this evening.”

    She presented a small glass vial, filled with brilliant pink liquid, to the crowd. The light glinted off the vial, reflected in her blue eyes. Radiant beauty bloomed in the room as she uncorked the vial. The crowd stared, frozen, in a silken silence, as the liquid shimmered into the air.

    Stars filled the eyes of everyone in attendance, their expressions wiped blank of all but a misty calm. Smoky, half-lidded eyes found others, losing themselves in the depths of another’s being. People leaned into one another, heads rested on the shoulders of strangers, fingers tightly interlaced themselves as the world faded to a seductive blur.

    Lowering the empty vial with a vixen’s pointed smile, Scarlett filled the room with her velvet voice, “The Nectar of Amour.”

  12. @beadanna7
    296 words
    Bike Engineer; Suburbs; Romance

    Puppy Love

    Max’s soft brown eyes gazed mournfully, yet hopefully at Alex, over the leash he held in his teeth. Alex sighed, then took the leash, causing Max to bounce joyfully up and down. The dog’s obvious delight brought a brief grimace to Alex’s face, before his customary scowl returned to take its place.
    With Max firmly fastened into the special harness on his newly-designed dog-walking bike, he started off slowly to give Max a head start. Within a few turns of his multiple wheels, Max had taken the lead and was pulling faster than he could pedal. What had gotten into him? Max usually stayed in the dog zone of the bike, but today he was dangerously close to the tires. Alex tried applying the brakes, but today, Max wasn’t having it. All Alex could do was hold on and steer, as his dog took him for the ride of his life on his own invention.
    Suddenly veering hard to the left, through an open gate at the end of a long driveway, Alex couldn’t make the turn as his dog lunged ahead, and he hit the gatepost hard and went down. Through a fog of pain he watched as Max dragged the bike partway up the driveway, running to meet a beautiful collie racing down the lane toward him. The two dogs rushed to each other, barking happily, and sniffed noses. They licked each other ecstatically, pressing themselves together. Alex climbed painfully to his feet, looking up in surprise as his bike rolled to a stop in front of him.
    “I think your dog is in love with my dog.”
    Alex looked up into a pair of impossibly blue eyes. “I think I know how he feels,” he said as his face stretched into a smile.

  13. @CalebEchterling
    298 words
    Inventor; Dinner Party; Adventure

    Choose Your Own Burrito

    Each guest at the dinner party received a bound sheaf of thick stationery. “Excellent,” Jasper whispered to Yolanda, “a choose your own adventure theme.”

    “I think it’s a menu,” Yolanda said.

    “Either way, I’m putting that know-it-all Hubert in his place. He thinks he’s so smart just because he invented a miracle invention that invents other inventions that have wiped out disease and itchy slacks.”

    “You’re going to put him in his place by ordering off the menu?”

    “Damn straight.”

    Hubert clapped his hands twice. The room fell silent. “Thank you all for coming to my choose your own adventure themed extravaganza” – Jasper nudged Yolanda – “which will determine once and for all who among us is the smartest.” Jasper wet himself with glee.

    Jasper and Yolanda read from the first page of the menu slash adventure choice:
    Oysters Rockefeller ….. Turn to page 25
    SPAM thermidor ….. Turn to page 33
    Tater tots à l’orange ….. Turn to page 14

    Yolanda flipped to page 25:
    Would you like your Oysters Rockefeller in the form of a burrito?
    Yes ….. Turn to page 44
    No ….. Turn to page 6

    Yolanda mimicked gagging, and turned to page 6:
    Ha ha, tough shit. Burritos are the second greatest invention in human history.

    Stunned disbelief painted every face in the room, as though the cat had asked for twenty bucks to score some halfway-decent Scotch because the stuff you drink is crap.

    “What invention can possibly be better than burritos?” Jasper said.

    Hubert pressed play on a cassette deck. The speakers blared staticy fanfare. “Behold, my greatest invention yet. A machine that can turn any foodstuffs imaginable into a burrito.”

    The room ooh’d and aah’d. Ladies clutched their pearls. Gentlemen fainted.

    “It’s a robot with a stack of tortillas,” Yolanda said.

  14. Inventor; Dinner Party; Steampunk
    279 words

    A Ticking Clock

    “Is it time, Susan?” the man drawled as he tapped his fingers impatiently on the moving table. The rusty wheels under the glass top of the table sputtered to a stop before turning in the opposite direction.
    “What time?” Susan muttered under her breath as she gestured to the clocks on the back wall, their constant chiming and chirping making everything else impossible to hear until the clocks themselves were at last acknowledged.
    “One would think a dinner party would have dinner.” Susan had been planning this dinner party for months. The robot hadn’t taken into account that while she may have run simply on oil herself, humans did not. Of course, one would not think she was anything less than a human with a first glance. The man had made her perfect, with lifelike brown eyes that held the dullness only a human being’s could. The synthetic skin was a nice touch, yet the eyes… the eyes were what hid the lack of soul beneath.
    He had been called a mad man for his creation, but in a world of whirling clocks and prosthetic limbs, what did a false life really mean?
    Susan crossed her arms. “The food is still being prepared. You should socialize with our guests.”
    The clocks began to chime again as the mechanical gears in the man’s head turned. He leaned forward. “Is it time, Susan?” the man drawled as he tapped his fingers impatiently on the moving table.
    Oh how he hated dealing with humans; Susan being the worst of them.
    The rusty wheels under the glass top of the table sputtered to a stop before turning in the opposite direction once again.

    1. Amazing!
      The ending completely caught me off guard in this fascinating, brilliant way. Great job, and totally steampunk.

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