Microcosms 148

Greetings, my flash fiction friends, and welcome to Microcosms 148.

In a break from the normal format, this week we don’t concentrate on events that happened on this day; instead, we look forward to Sunday, 11-NOV-2018.

Remembrance Sunday does not often fall on 11-NOV — the anniversary of the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany for the cessation of hostilities of World War I. As Sunday is also the centenary of this momentous moment in history, I thought it appropriate the we should draw the elements for our prompts this week from this conflict — lest we forget.

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 elements: character, location and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are:

Nurse; Funeral; Memoir

Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button below, 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.

REMEMBER!

(1) You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece.
(2) All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title)
(3) NO FAN-FICTION, please, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS
(4) Include: word count, the THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry
(5) Do NOT give details of your entry on social media, your blog, etc. until the Results post is live
(6) If you are new to Microcosms, PLEASE check out the full submission guidelines 

 

  • Recruit
  • Soldier
  • Poet
  • Nurse
  • Invalid
  • Wife
  • Veteran
  • Training Camp
  • Battlefield
  • Trenches
  • Field Hospital
  • Rehabilitation Centre
  • Funeral
  • Street
  • Memoir
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Diary
  • Tragedy
  • Eulogy
  • Newspaper Article

 

Spin!

 
Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Johanna, has kindly agreed to act as the judge this time around.

 

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 149
Microcosms 147

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28 comments for “Microcosms 148

  1. 9 November 2018 at 1:40 am

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    299 words
    Poet; Field Hospital; Memoir

    The Poetry of War

    They have brought me here. Ambulance attendants rummaged amongst the bloodied, dismantled bodies, seeking any breath of life, some semblance of hope.

    Hospital meat we are. Raw! Wounded!

    I was but one who momentarily was spared. Half-buried in mud. A limb nearly shorn from my body. The arm attached to a hand, a hand that once wrote polite verse. Trivial verse.

    I see you in the lavender sky,
    Your scent flowing into me on a gentle breeze.
    I see you in the lilac sky,
    In memory lost, tide turned into the tortured sea.

    Poets should not go to war.

    We die so easily in war.

    We are not alone in that. So many others die in war. One can lose track of the numbers. The numbers are so large. No one can appreciate their size.

    Perhaps the generals know.

    They know soldiers are dying in bunches, all those young flowers poised to bloom, dying in unison, unfulfilled, cast aside, their lives wilted.

    Gone.

    When she walks, there is a grating sound between her legs, as if she is made of starch. She is no longer a woman. No longer soft and smelling of lavender. Her heart is hardened.

    There is no light in her eyes.

    There is no light in mine.

    Time does not diminish
    Wars persistent nightmares.
    Peace does not mark finish
    To all the night terrors.

    She brings me pen and paper. My right hand is immobile.
    I seek pain to know that it can feel.

    My left hand seeks a muse. My heart, my brain seeks the shape of beauty.

    There are no words that come to me, nothing that gives it meaning.

    There is no meaning in war.

    And there is no beauty in war.

    War is death.

    The poetry of war is the grave.

    3+
    • Arianna Hammond
      10 November 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Beautiful and definitely poetic, Bill. <3

      1+
  2. Steve Lodge
    9 November 2018 at 1:59 am

    @steveweave71
    300 words
    Recruit; Funeral; Memoir

    Garbled Creese

    Yesterday was the funeral of my cousin, Keith. God bless you, Keith. RIP.

    Garbled Creese was a sublime setting for his funeral. Far from dense fogs that blighted our childhood. Between larch, ash, oak and probably some trees as well. The countryside held a silent sway, sensing our family’s mood. Friends, some from the Third Whitechapel Rifles (nicknamed the Blind Beggars), made the trip too. We’d convalesced at the nearby Nursing Home. Vallepointontonton was to be the final war effort for our regiment. Comrades lost forever or trying to come to terms with injuries.

    Before the war, our parents used to take Keith, his brother and me and my sister, Moon Over Tuppence, to some hotel near the gorge here, so we could taste emmental. One year, I accidentally created a stuffed broccoli and lime cheese premix that could be taken intravenously, while reciting Shakespeare from the viewpoint of Tybalt.

    I was younger than Keith. A raw recruit on the battlefield, trying to look tougher than I was. Keith knew I was scared shitless. Well, we all were.

    Just before the war, he’d got a trial at our local football club.

    “’Ow d’you get on, Keefy?” I asked him later in the High Street.

    “All old bollocks, Stevie. The manager put me out on the wing. I do me best work in the middle. He said I dun alright, but I told ‘im to stuff it. I said he couldn’t run a bath.”

    After the war, him and his brother started a business on The Isle Of Dogs. I drifted a bit, couldn’t settle. Woke up sweating some nights. Started writing though, and I think it helped.

    1+
  3. 9 November 2018 at 6:50 am

    @VicenteLRuiz
    255 words
    Veteran; Battlefield; Memoir

    Chapter XV: The Great War

    Grandpa proposed to Grandma before sailing to Europe. Had he been a little less lucky, none of us would have been born. Yet I’m not sure lucky is the right word: off went a young man of twenty; back came an emaciated husk of twenty-four, devoid of happiness.

    For years Grandpa couldn’t sleep at night. I remember one winter night I woke up and found him by the fireside, completely drunk. I was too small for him to talk to me like he did, but I think he really didn’t know it was me. To this day, I recall his face, the embers glinting off his pupils, the terror in his face as he told a child of five how he saw his comrades die around him. How he threw himself on a pool of mud when he realized one bullet had spilled the brains of his best friend on his coat. How they ran out of meat when they ran out of horses.

    Grandpa had been a rugby player before the war. He loved the game, and they say he was an accomplished winger, tall and fast, nimble of feet. He tried to play again when he came back. The first time he heard a referee blow his whistle, first he froze, then started convulsing. He never played again. They called it shellshock then. We call it PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, now.

    They used whistles in the trenches.

    How could he know he’d relive it all twenty years later?

    3+
  4. Stephanie Cornelius
    9 November 2018 at 8:04 am

    @Ravenangel888
    300 words
    Nurse; Trenches; Horror

    Use the Skills You Were Born With

    I could hear them moving through the soil all around me. Every now and again, one would try to get to me, but the iron lining the trench repelled them. It was a well-known fact that iron was deadly to the demons that surrounded me on all sides. Some property of iron worked to drain all Dark Creatures of their magicks, since their magicks were essentially part of them as much as a wing or a fang, loss of their magicks led to death. Slowly, and painfully.

    Usually, I wouldn’t have been within sniffing distance of them, but I go where I am needed. Today, I was needed on the front line. My particular skills meant the difference between life and death for the soldier I had been sent for. This war with the Dark Creatures had been going for so long that no one could remember a time when Humanity didn’t know about them. They had always known about Humanity however. Lurking in the darkness, watching, waiting, occasionally feeding on someone who strayed too far from civilisation.

    I reached my destination and lifted the covering from the doorway. In the small room was a soldier, maybe 22 or 23 years old. His body was covered in boils and blisters, a sure sign that he’d been bitten by a Dark Creature.

    “Are you the Nurse?” his shaky voice showed exactly how far gone he was.

    I said nothing. I could feel the fangs slide into place, my gums tingling in anticipation. I stepped forward and sunk my teeth into his neck. He went slack in my arms. As I finished feeding, I stepped back and saw the smile on his face. One good thing about being a half-Dark Creature Nurse – we can drain magicks from their victims and heal them.

    2+
  5. Muskan Dhiman
    9 November 2018 at 8:19 am

    255 Words
    Wife; Funeral; Memoir

    Only If…

    I look at the casket within which lies his lifeless body, but all I can see is his smiling face. His was a smile that could make anyone’s day. It had the power to dispel sorrow and to instil hope in even the most dejected person. It had the power to melt my heart.

    Only if I could see that smile again.

    The cold winter breeze caresses my hair, and I feel the ghost of his long fingers on my waist, the faint pressure of his lips on mine.

    Only if I could feel his touch again.

    I’m presented with the flag, and when I see the stars on it, I’m transported to another time, when we were but young fearless souls and used to spend nights lying on the damp grass, our fingers intertwined, looking up at the stars twinkling against the dark sky.

    Only if I could live those nights again.

    “He lived a happy, content life. How unfortunate that it ended so soon,” someone says.

    Happy and content with his life he was, save for one thing that he always wanted but could never have. A child. How much he longed for a child. We tried to conceive for years but to no avail.

    As I stroke my belly that is finally nestling our child, I think of how he would have been truly happy and content had he known that his wish had finally come true.

    Only if I hadn’t waited for him to come home this month before telling him.

    1+
  6. 9 November 2018 at 9:11 am

    236 words
    Soldier; Battlefield; Eulogy

    One Hundred Years On

    War is hell for all involved. From the raw recruit to the seasoned soldier. It starts at the training camp and continues through to the battlefield, to the trenches themselves. It also effects those left at home to worry and to grieve.

    As time went by, it seemed there was no escape other than becoming an invalid, or through death. Some kept a diary, some wrote poems, memorialising the horrors of war. It was their way of trying to stay sane in an insane world.

    The grim escape from the battlefield, via the field hospital and the rehabilitation centre, and finally to the street. They were the lucky ones. Few of those they left behind at the front received funerals, only death and oblivion.

    Now, one hundred years on, there are no veterans left. No poets or nurses to tell of the suffering, no distraught wives, become widows. None left to tell of the suffering. Yet still we remember those who fought.

    More than nine million soldiers lost their lives in this conflagration that introduced the world to war on an industrial scale. Many of the dead were never recovered, their bodies rent asunder and trampled in the mire.

    This week’s newspapers are full of the armistice and the end of the Great War, their pages eulogizing a lost generation, a tragic lost generation. Yet conflict continues to pervade our world. Some lessons are never learned.

    1+
  7. Lesley Turrell
    9 November 2018 at 10:51 am

    294 words
    Soldier; Street; Tragedy

    Family Reunion

    Not all of the family would return home. They had gathered from all over the world to celebrate 100 years since the death of their relatives in World War I.

    Josie, studying history at Sheffield, had started it. Pointing to the plaque on the cream stone of Irnham Church she exclaimed, ‘Three brothers from the same family, our family, died in 1918.’ She picked up a booklet from the pew. ‘It says here they are going to do a quarter peel to commemorate Arthur Joseph’s death. I’ll organise everyone.’
    Emails pinged and flights from America were booked, bringing eight members of the Joseph family together. Staying in the newly-refurbished Irnham Hall in Lincolnshire, Josie was in her element. ‘We’ll visit Stragglethorpe first, grandad. That’s where the family moved to later, to get away from the graves and their memories.’
    They stood in the narrow hamlet street, looking at the tiny brick farm cottage. Twelve members of the family lived here. There was no running water. No electric light or gas, just candles.’
    ‘No,’ Josie looked at her grandfather horrified.
    ‘I was always ill, when I came to visit . The sewage was just released onto the ground by the well. We were all starving really.’
    ‘Is that why you hate cabbage so much? Too much homegrown veg.’
    ‘Yes. They were skivvies working the land for the lord. Some relatives even lived in prefabs in the field. No heat or facilities.’
    Josie’s grandfather, an old soldier himself, sways and falls into the placid street. A combine harvester turns the corner. It’s driver spots the prone old man and takes evasive action. Josie, her mother and father are pushed against the wall. The shock is too much for the grandfather’s heart.
    Josie never suggested a reunion again.

    1+
  8. 9 November 2018 at 1:27 pm

    @alysia_ascovani
    181 Words
    Poet; Funeral; Poem

    Forlorn to Oblivion

    Inside Death our souls mourn
    For all given and lost
    Lives turn to bitter shade
    For all those left behind
    To dream of days gone by

    Change is never easy
    Hurt fills the air
    Floods our twisted heart
    In the void of those abducted
    Into the moonless terror that awaits

    Solace of peace stolen too
    Ripped from us all
    To follow life to Death
    In honor and in Love
    Thou shalt never die

    Our evening embraces dawn
    In souls cold and dreary
    Change is never easy
    For Death’s Love forever final
    An eclipse tonight be everything

    Harmless Death left
    Naught to melancholy
    To resign to living
    With so hollow a sorrow
    Thou shalt never die

    Inconsolable silence
    Shudders in shame
    Fallen fatal futures
    Torn in infinite seconds
    Change is never easy

    Memories all to linger
    Bitter dissonance of
    Fortune and Love
    In invisible essence
    Thou shalt never die

    Death shines like a tear
    Transcendent of our torment
    Under forsaken farewell
    Forever in Love and life
    Memory to remember

    Change is never easy
    And so shall it be—
    Thou shalt never die

    2+
  9. Angelique Pacheco
    9 November 2018 at 3:09 pm

    300 words
    Nurse; Funeral; Memoir

    Old Woes and New Promises

    I fell in love with him when I tended to him in the war. He was an enigmatic man even after his leg was amputated. We were married days after the war ended. Love ended on that day too. At first, we thought it was the aftereffects of war. He couldn’t sleep, and this made him a little grumpy at times. Then he stopped going out and I thought he was feeling a little down. When he started calling me names, I told myself that I should be more supportive of him and when he started to hit me, I thought it was because I deserved it.

    Others saw but didn’t say anything. It wasn’t something we spoke about back then. But many women looked at me with tear filled eyes of sympathy as I struggled to keep my head up and tilted to the sky. As if I hoped the sun would kiss some of the pain away.

    I stopped remembering and came back to the present. I looked around the chapel and saw many faces. But these faces were not here to celebrate him or his life. No, he had pushed everyone away. These people were here to celebrate my life. To say, “Well-done! We don’t know how you managed. Thank-you for marrying him and not making him one of our problems.”

    I felt his presence before I saw him. The man who had many a time wiped the tears from my face. The doctor I had served with in the war had become my doctor years later. He sat next to me and his hand brushed mine softly. It was time to shake off my dusty heart and live out the rest of my life with all I had left to give. I smiled. Then I wept.

    4+
  10. Deanna Salser
    9 November 2018 at 3:25 pm

    @beadanna7
    300 words
    Nurse; Funeral; Memoir

    Fentanyl Strikes Again

    Hello, everyone, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Randy, Tyler’s friend. We went to med school together before the war. Anyways, I’m Randy. Did I already say that? I’m sorry, I’m a little out of it. I still can’t believe it, you know? I mean, it was so sudden. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I halfway expected this years ago. I mean, back when he was out of control maybe, but not now, not when he was finally starting to get his life together.

    When I first met Tyler, I knew about his lifestyle, I mean, he never hid it. That was the main reason he said he wanted to be a nurse, so he could get all the good drugs. And he was high all the time, you know? But that didn’t stop him from being worthy, and he kicked all the rest of our butts, too. He was that good. Paul, didn’t he show you how to run a central line? And Craig, his trick for getting an I.V. in on the first stick? That’s important out in the field, when you’re running against the clock all the time. You guys know, you went through it. Hell, we all did.

    I remember the time we had to retreat from the front with a bunch of wounded, and Tyler, his pupils were so huge, I knew he was on something, but he carried his man and the bag of supplies, and led us all to safety with the bombs flying over our heads.

    So yeah, after everything we went through and survived, for him to go like this, all alone and with no one to notice until he started stinking up the joint. It just kills me, you know? It kills me.

    1+
  11. 9 November 2018 at 3:50 pm

    @geofflepard
    296 words
    Wife; Street; Tragedy

    The Impossible Art of Soldiering On

    Geraldine ran a finger round the stiff collar. The VAD uniform wasn’t made for comfort. She felt eyes on her and glanced at number fourteen. Mrs Ephram shuffled out of her door; she nodded as she realised Geraldine was looking. ‘First day?’
    Geraldine lowered her gaze out of respect. Their Harry had taken a bullet at Ypres. ‘Yes, Mrs Ephram.’
    ‘Good.’ She patted her arm as she shuffled past.
    Geraldine watched her go, physically broken but keeping on. How did she do it? She moved to one side, to avoid the horse droppings from the baker’s cart. She didn’t want to have the staff nurse on her case on her first day. She didn’t think she could bear that.
    Young Martin appeared, pedalling furiously up the rise. She waited, ready to tease him. Before he reached her, he had his hand in his pocket and pulled out a telegram. ‘It’s alright, Geraldine. It’s good.’
    Martin was a sweet boy with ears like sails and teeth like granite chips. ‘Go on.’
    She opened it and read it slowly. ‘Pte Arnold Summers has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry on the field of battle.’ Her Arnie.
    A cough made her turn. Cousin Peter. ‘Arnold’s Ma’s ‘ad a turn.’
    She ran behind him, the speed and her uniform stopping her asking what was up, while she clutched the telegram. They were shown into the foreman’s office. Mrs Summers sat, gripping a hanky and a telegram. She held it out to Geraldine. ‘I know, Ma.’
    Puzzlement filled her face, confusing Geraldine who read the second telegram. ‘We regret to inform you of the death of Pte Arnold Summers from injuries sustained…’
    Geraldine met her mother-in-law’s gaze. They would get through this, like Mrs Ephram and so many more.

    1+
  12. 9 November 2018 at 3:51 pm

    @el_Stevie
    81 words
    Veteran; Street; Poem

    Wear a Poppy for Me

    I see you
    You wear a poppy
    A scarlet drop on your lapel
    Signalling respect
    And remembrance

    Then you see me
    Alone, down and out
    Sheltering beneath this memorial
    To those who fought
    See a stain to be erased

    You take aim with your fist
    Become a bullet fired at my head
    Sending me back there
    Falling, fallen
    Seeing the scarlet drop
    Rise to a flood
    Of the blood I spent

    You wear a poppy for me
    And I am forgotten

    2+
    • Arianna Hammond
      10 November 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Incredible story with much emotion captured in 81 words. Beautiful. 🙂

      1+
  13. 9 November 2018 at 4:27 pm

    296 words
    Nurse; Funeral; Memoir

    Inheritance

    ‘After retiring, I nursed him at home until he transferred to the Hospice. When too feeble to write he dictated this letter to me. To be given to you immediately after his funeral.’

    Sam,
    You’re 18 and I’m dead. I’ve had a good life. I need to tell you something important. You’re old enough now to understand the explanation and its implications.
    All your life you’ll have noticed that you can hear your mother’s voice inside your head, even when she’s miles away from you. Faint but real. You’ve kept it to yourself since the other kids laughed at you. So far you’ve managed to shut it out because your life has never been endangered. At those times it becomes very noticeable.
    Every male descendant in our family has had the same ability. The female line can pass it on but they can’t hear it. That’s why my daughter and granddaughter couldn’t tell you about it. Your mother only knows now because of this letter.
    It’s saved my life … At the Somme, my mother’s voice stopped me from walking down a road. If I’d ignored her I’d have been killed by a shell along with many others. Later she told me to miss a flight. The crash killed everyone on board. Finally, she woke me to get everyone out before that gas leak destroyed half the street… it could save yours too. The voice stopped when she died.

    ‘Do you believe this?’
    ‘I’ve no idea. Do you hear my voice inside your head?’
    ‘Yes; that part’s true. It’s been my secret. Have you ever tried to warn me of anything?’
    ‘Consciously? No.’

    Remember, if you heed her voice, you could live a long life … as I did … without the full burden of fear.

    2+
  14. 9 November 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Geoff
    Not sure what you actually receive …
    The letter – middle section and last line – should be in italics. Everything else (within speech marks) should not be in italics. Formatting lost in submission. Can you fix please?

    0
  15. Arianna Hammond
    9 November 2018 at 6:09 pm

    284 words
    Soldier; Funeral; Tragedy

    I Miss, You Miss

    Your tears.
    They flit from glassed, mournful eyes.
    Your lips.
    Pressed with quaking, distraught sadness.
    Your body.
    Its language screams the loneliest pain of singularity.
    Your voice.
    While it doesn’t make an outright sound, I hear your intent. Your misery. Love, been lost though not forgotten.

    You miss my tears of joy when we welcomed our first daughter.

    You miss my lips that channeled the first tender words that melted you when we first met at that dance.

    You miss my body, from all the times I held you. From the first time, to when I left for service overseas.

    You miss my voice from phone calls each night that reminded you I was still here. Still alive. Telling you all was okay.

    And I.

    I miss your tears when you first told me you loved me that night in Vermont, with our favorite movie playing in the background, and I repeated it.

    I miss your lips. The ones that kissed the forehead of my mother at the wake when she died at 78. You didn’t know her, but somehow you loved her.

    I miss your body that moved with such grace when we danced, and felt like velvet when we touched.

    I miss your voice. You telling me about our daughters’ most recent adventures, growing up so fast and moving up to second grade and kindergarten, creating finger paintings of the family for Daddy once he comes home. You described them so well.

    You miss me.
    Your tears fall on to my coffin.
    Your lips touch my lifeless picture that you then hold close.
    Your body bends as
    Your voice whispers in my ear “I miss you.”

    Guess what,
    I miss you too.

    1+
  16. 9 November 2018 at 6:30 pm

    286 words
    Wife; Trenches; Newspaper Article

    Waiting

    I haven’t had a letter in three months, and I’m beginning to fear he’s dead.

    The last time he wrote, he told me that he would never be able to tell me what it’s like in the trenches, even if he would want to. The stench, the screams, the foul air which makes it hard to breathe.

    It breaks my heart to think of him there. He would never admit if it is so, but I wonder if he’s afraid. Ever since I became his wife, he has been my rock, the one to turn to and the one to dry my tears when I’m afraid. Now I wonder if he is. What would it do to us, if I knew? Could I be weak in front of him again?

    I struggle with the newspaper articles about what’s happening. I want to read them, and I want to avoid them.
    The part of me that wants to read wins every time, and afterwards, I find myself sitting at the kitchen table for hours, seeing the war play out in front of me.
    I get nothing done, and when night comes, and I lie alone in my bed, I dare not close my eyes. If I do fall asleep, I wake up screaming.
    They always told me as a child that I had a vivid imagination. Back then, it was a source of joy. Now it opens the gates of hell.

    There is a yell in the street, and I go to the window to see what is happening, armistice they cry out. What does it mean, is it over? Will he be coming home? I will be waiting. I will wait until the end of time.

    1+
    • 9 November 2018 at 6:32 pm

      I’m afraid I forgot my three words: Wife/Trenches/Newspaper Article

      Sorry

      0
      • Geoff Holme
        9 November 2018 at 11:22 pm

        You also forgot to give word count and title. Please leave a reply here with this information ASAP, unless you replied to my email.

        [ For future reference — for you and everyone else submitting:

        * the word count should be in the format ‘xxx words’ and appear BEFORE the elements
        * the elements should be separated by SEMICOLONS and EVERY word should have an initial capital letter – Xxx; Xxx; Xxx
        *the title of your entry should appear AFTER the elements — leave a blank line, your title, and another blank line before the start of your entry.
        * DON’T put ‘Word Count:’ , ‘Elements: ‘ or Title: ‘ before each of these items of information.

        See (MOST!) other entries for clarification, if necessary. ]

        0
  17. Matilda Rice
    9 November 2018 at 7:08 pm

    @Matilda40119810
    Soldier; Trenches; Memoir
    300 words

    They Are Monsters

    ‘They are monsters,’ they told me. To them it was that simple, a basic fact. So easy to understand, to accept.

    They are monsters.

    The muddied earth beneath me is cold and damp. I feel the warmth slowly trickle from my body, leaving me numb. The gradual draining of heat used to scare me, making me afraid that my frozen limbs would never wake again. I don’t really mind it now though. Haven’t for a long time.

    I inhale slowly. The air is filled with the scent of rot and decay. It used to make me gag, the stench of death too wrong for my body to accept. It doesn’t anymore. It feels like a part of me now, the slaughter and pain just another piece of my life. I can’t remember when it became so normal. I’m not sure I want to.

    They are monsters.

    I lie motionless, watching as the first rays of light fall upon the war-torn earth around me. The shattered ground stretches past the horizon, scored and stained, deep red smears merging into the dark brown of the soil, an unending portrait of suffering. I turn away, forcing myself to focus. To listen and watch.

    To wait.

    Suddenly, the silence breaks. The fall of footsteps, quiet and tentative, slowly winding their way towards me. The air grows heavy with tension and fear.

    They are monsters.

    I grasp my rifle and pull it closer. I see him now, a single silhouette in the distance. Once, I would have seen a person. Now all I see is prey. I lift my gun, take aim.

    Fire.

    They are monsters.

    His screams ricochet across the land, piercing. I hear him cry out, begging for help. I see his pain, his fear.

    I smile. Turn away.

    We are monsters.

    2+
  18. Rebecca Povall
    9 November 2018 at 7:44 pm

    298 words
    Wife; Street; Tragedy

    The Trigger

    Two gunshots ring out in the narrow street. Tall town houses either side ensure the sound resonates long after bullets sink into flesh.

    I turn to Franny and I see the fear on his face. His face is the first thing I notice; then the taste of blood, then the pain.

    My hands reach for my stomach and then I see the blood. It keeps coming.

    I look around and people are rushing about. A woman, maybe a nurse, is applying gauze to the wound but the blood won’t stop.

    I turn back to Franny. He’s bleeding too. I feel tears streaming down my face and decide to never look away from his face again.

    I think of the life we’ve shared. I think of the first time we met; of the stand he made to be with me against the approval of so many people, including his father.

    I think of our three beautiful children. I think of peering over my knitting to see Franny’s face of pride as he smokes his cigar and watches the children playing and stumbling about the living room.

    I think of the child we lost.

    Medics crowd around the car. Franny’s shirt is deep red. Tears fall from his cheek and disappear on his bloodstained collar. He takes my hand and squeezes it tight. I look into his calm eyes and think of the future we won’t get to live out together. I wonder what kind of people our children will grow up to be.

    Franny’s grip tightens and he whispers, “Sophie, Sophie. Don’t die. Live for our children!”

    My dear Franny, I don’t think I can.

    One month later marked the start of the First World War. The tragic deaths of a father-of-three and his wife were just the trigger.

    2+
  19. 9 November 2018 at 8:42 pm

    @ArthurUnkTweets
    https://arthurunk.com
    222 words
    Soldier; Battlefield; Eulogy

    He Had A Lot to Say

    There are no words that will ever be able to express my sorrow. Yesterday, I lost my best friend, my brother. The only good thing I can say about today is that I know he felt no pain. Everyone here should know that I tried my best to save him. Medics on the battlefield think that they are God until the Devil shows up to prove them wrong. To say that this is the most humbling experience of my life is an understatement. I don’t even know how to tell his mother what happened. Cold dead eyes stared up at me by the time I arrived. I use that memory as a reminder that tomorrow is not promised.

    I am not alone in my grief. The brothers and sisters of the 1st Infantry Division also cry with me. All I know is that somehow, the world is still here without you. Today is as rough as its going to get. If you were here right now, I know that you would tell all of us to carry on and complete the mission. That’s just the type of guy you were. Michael, we miss you. All of us will do our best to carry forward and honor your name.

    Bring the hammer down soldier medic, heroes never die. I love you brother, John.

    1+
  20. Jenny
    10 November 2018 at 10:27 pm

    298 words
    Recruit; Training Camp; Memoir

    Ready to Die

    I was only sixteen, and proud to join. The war was for heroes and I fancied myself Hercules. Stronger, faster, smarter. Ready for any challenge. I arrived at training full of gallant dreams of glorious victories.

    And then I met him. Sergeant Wilkins was a tall, sinewy, serious man. He was young, and at first glance, unthreatening. But his eyes. They had no glow of wisdom, no furrow of concern, no sheen of malice. No emotion at all. They were dead, unresponsive voids.

    He took special note of me, asked for more. More reps, more marching, more everything. Always wanted more. I met the challenge, exhausted but I did it. I waited for praise, but the more I did, the more he asked.

    Only weeks in, I was drained. All recruits were, training was brutal. But I felt myself dying. Every inch of me ached, every movement hurt. Still, I grit my teeth, ready to be a hero.

    Until one day it stopped, and I was called to his office. I walked down the halls, head high. Ready to be showered in admiration. This meeting would set the tone for my career.

    So we met, just us, and he locked the door. And then asked for the one thing I wasn’t willing to do. I thought he was joking. But this was a man who did not make jokes. And we stared at one another for a while, him with those unflinching eyes, me blinking rapidly.

    Eventually, he stood, forced me onto the ground. Forced himself on me. I didn’t even fight. I walked out of that room that day, and every day like that, more ready to die. I was praying the war would kill me. It didn’t matter if it was heroic. Just that it was over.

    2+
    • 11 November 2018 at 6:52 am

      Very powerful story. Not an enjoyable read but with a relevant message in these #metoo times. Impressive work.

      0
      • Jenny
        11 November 2018 at 10:10 am

        Thank you so much!

        0
    • Geoff Holme
      12 November 2018 at 7:19 am

      Welcome to Microcosms, Jenny.

      I agree with David’s comment – a powerful story with a very contemporary message.

      However — and I regret that I seem to have to say this very regularly — as a first-time entrant, you should have read the rules of Microcosms before submitting. Even a look at the “REMEMBER!” section of the introduction to each week’s contest (with it’s recently-increased font size, in an effort to draw people’s attention to it! — would have alerted you to the fact that Microcosms is a 24-hour contest, running from 00:00 to 23:59 on Friday New York time (EST). Your entry was submitted at 10:27pm (EST) on SATURDAY — well after the entries were emailed to the judge for consideration.

      [ If you wish to submit to future contests, please read the full rules, and also bear in mind the information in my reply to Camilla Johannson’s entry above concerning the formatting of the information required before your entry. ]

      0
      • Jenny
        12 November 2018 at 10:40 am

        Sorry! Guess I didn’t notice that part of the introduction. Thanks for letting me know- I’ll look out for the next contest on Friday!

        0

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