Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 149. We had 17 entries this time. A warm welcome to first-time entrant, Susan O’Reilly.
Please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
Don’t forget that Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for anyone, not just fellow entrants, to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a Community Pick.
We encourage everyone to reply with a positive comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.
MC 148 Judge’s Pick, Tim Hayes, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what he had to say:
As ever, Microcosms is a difficult contest to judge. Everybody seems to have pulled out all the stops this week, so congratulations all round.
So, what have we learnt from this week’s offerings? Amongst other things: to beware the potentially homicidal bus driver; that life as a boxing trainer can be a heartbreaking affair; and that every small town has a deputy sheriff with a problem to solve.
One thing that stood out this week was the number of stories that featured authentic sounding colloquial dialogue.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Alva Holland – Doorbell rings. It’s the uniform. His eyes tell me what words cannot.
Bill Engleson – We both grew up to be functioning adults. Jimmy never did.
Frank Key – The tires spun wildly, but an unseen obstacle prevented the vehicle from moving.
Stephanie Cornelius – Can’t be dozing off on the job. I might kill someone.
Geoff Le Pard – The coffee pot steamed and the blackened cooking pots were crusted with beans and stew.
Johanna – Congratulations, Maggie. You discovered bathroom breaks.
Alysia Ascovani – The city lights flickered dimly as the bus trundled by.
Susan O’Reilly – He said he was tired and that I looked knackered myself.
Leslie Turrell – Her legs twitch while she sleeps, as if she is running away.
Ted Young – …he swapped it for a poster of Brigitte Bardot when puberty got the better of him!
Deanna Salser – Maniacal laughter echoed off of brick and concrete, seeming to come from every direction at once.
Vicente L Ruiz – You’ll come with me, dead or alive. And I don’t give a damn one way or the other.
Marsha Adams – She’s a prospect, a genuine contender, and I’m failing her.
Angelique Pacheco – Being a small town, everyone knew everyone else’s business.
Stephen Shirres – Raw power with a right hook closer to a polar bear than a bee.
Arianna Hammond – My heels click down the sidewalk pavement, and I grumble with each step.
Geoff Holme – I’m retired. I’m just an ordinary member of the public now.
Alva Holland – A Life in the Week of…
A well-executed but sad story told over the course of a week in diary form.
Stephanie Cornelius – The Perks of Being a Road Follower
This macabre tale of a demonic bus driver has definitely put me off long-distance bus travel.
Johanna – Double Take
A nice little pocket procedural in three-hundred words. It makes you wonder why they stretch them out to forty-five minutes for television.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 149.
(insert drumroll here)
Johanna – Double Take
Deputy Sheriff; Small Town; Crime
“This ain’t CSI: Las Vegas, Maggie. The bartender says he was there. No need to go through hours of surveillance footage.”
The sheriff dropped in a desk chair opposite his deputy.
“Yeah Ed, but this ain’t Criminal Minds either,” Maggie replied without turning away from her computer. “When the wife’s murdered, it’s usually the husband, who’s dun it.”
On her screen, a figure wearing a baseball hat and dark clothes stood up from a corner table and walked out of the picture.
“It’s seven twenty-eight, if he leaves now, he could be at the house in fifteen, murder his wife ’round eight, and be back quarter past,” Maggie commented. “Town’s small enough. Maybe the bartender was distracted.”
Ed looked at her screen. For three minutes they stared at footage of a dimly lit bar. Then the figure returned.
“Congratulations, Maggie. You discovered bathroom breaks.”
The figure on the screen grabbed for his beer. Maggie did a double take. She scrolled back through the footage. Then forward. Then back again.
“Remember the coroner said the murderer is left-handed?” Maggie asked, and pointed at the screen.
“He holds the glass with his left hand,” Ed observed. “So what if he’s left-handed? He’s still in the bar the whole night.”
“That’s before the bathroom break. Look what happens afterwards.”
Maggie scrolled forward. The figure returned from the bathroom and grabbed the glass with his right hand.
“At eight twenty he’s on another bathroom break. And then this.”
She stopped scrolling and the figure returned the empty glass to the bar, carrying it in his left hand.
“Whoever is there between the first and second bathroom break is right-handed. That’s not him. He switched places with someone!”
Ed shook his head.
“Woman, I take back what I said. Maybe this is CSI after all.”
Geoff Le Pard – The Little House on Fifth
I found this story especially appealing for its surreal imagery and comic content. A home on the range transposed to a Fifth Avenue apartment in New York … what’s not to like?
House Cleaner; New York City; Western
Fifth Avenue apartments were the plum cleaning jobs. All on one level, lift accessible, and no one about to get in the way. So why had Marita been given this assignment? The slip said the owner was Red Ballantyne. She was to deep clean the kitchen and bathroom, remake the beds, dust the living room and then walk the family pet.
She stepped into the apartment and stopped. The floors were covered with sand, the hatstand was a many-armed cactus and the automatic lighting reminded her of sunrises over her native desert.
She smiled. No vacuuming then.
Her first shock was the kitchen: no state-of-the-art stove, but rather a proper wood range. The coffee pot steamed and the blackened cooking pots were crusted with beans and stew. A bucket and hand pump replaced a conventional sink.
Curious now, she checked the bathroom. No power shower for Red; instead he had a tin bath above which hung an old can, stippled with holes. She looked for the toilet and spied a trench in he floor with a pine bench in front. Leaning over, the water automatically flowed, disappearing heaven knew where.
The sitting room furniture was minimal and set to look like wagons circling an open fire in the middle. The master bedroom lacked a traditional bed; in its place were a series of straw mattresses. On rails to one side hung assorted cowboy and cowgirl gear: jeans, checked shirts, fancy buckled belts and leather chaps.
It was the second bedroom that decided her. A palomino pony stood, tied to a rail, chewing on a bag of oats. Next to the pony hung the largest pooper scooper she’d seen.
Marita sighed and pulled on her rubber gloves. The money was good and this was New York. Why should she be surprised?
Congratulations, Geoff. As Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms this coming weekend. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!