Microcosms 152

Feeling fit for a Friday flash fiction frolic? Welcome to Microcosms 152.


(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)
(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 


This week, we celebrate six women authors/screenwriters, the anniversary of whose birth occurs today – 07-DEC.

  • 1873 – Willa Cather, American novelist, short story writer, and poet: ‘One of Ours’ (1923 Pulitzer Prize winner)
  • 1915 – Leigh Brackett, American author and screenwriter: ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)
  • 1932 – Rosemary Rogers, American journalist and author: ‘The Wildest Heart’ (1981)
  • 1943 – Susan Isaacs, American author and screenwriter; ‘Shining Through’ (1988)
  • 1947 – Anne Fine, English author: ‘Madame Doubtfire’ (1987)
  • 1979 – Ayako Fujitani, Japanese actress and screenwriter: ‘Touhimu’ (2000)



(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:

Rebel; New Mexico; Tragedy

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.


  • Farm Boy
  • Rebel
  • Strong-willed Woman
  • Counter-Intelligence Agent
  • Out-of-work Actor
  • Emotionally-disturbed Girl
  • World War I France
  • Frozen Planet
  • New Mexico
  • WWII Berlin
  • Edinburgh
  • Japanese Suburb
  • Tragedy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Historical Romance
  • Action Drama
  • Comedy
  • Psychological Thriller



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


All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 153
Microcosms 151

34 thoughts on “Microcosms 152

  1. http://www.engleson.ca
    299 words
    Counter-Intelligence Agent; New Mexico; Comedy

    Whack Job

    Sam Washburn’s head is shaking something fierce. And his eyes are rolling. Sam’s eyes are usually as steady as a Sandy Koufax four-seam fastball. Devious, but they never roll.

    “What’s the assignment, Sam?”

    His noggin is still going back and forth. Not a pretty sight. “I want you to make your way out to New Mexico, Tim.”

    “Okay,” says I, thinking warm vacation thoughts. “Any place in particular?”

    “Las Vegas,” he says.

    “Isn’t that in Nevada?”

    “That it is. But the one I’m sending you to is in New Mexico.”

    “And…” I try to phrase this somewhat delicately, “What am I looking for?”

    “Look, Tim, somewhere up our National Security food chain, someone’s got the idea that there is something hinky in Las Vegas.”

    “Like what? You gotta be more specific.”

    “Back in ’84, there was a movie…Red Dawn. Ring a bell?”

    I begin scratching my head, but all I do is cause a bit of brain bleeding. “I got nothing. What’s an old movie got to do with anything of a security nature?”

    Sam is looking more red-faced by the minute. “In this movie, well, the commies invade America…Red Dawn was filmed in Las Vegas…but the story was set in Calumet, Colorado…which was a ghost town, so they needed a stand-in town.”

    “I’m still confused, Sam,” I confess.

    “Christ, Tim…it’s simple. Someone…I’m not saying who…has seem this film and suspects…thinks…guesses…hell, I don’t know…believes that the Russians have captured the town and are planning a full invasion.”

    I, of course, being an incredibly well-trained spy, prefer legitimate sources of information.

    “This someone…the movie buff…he’s got orange hair?” I ask, thinking it a reasonable question at this stage of the conversation.

    “Take Mooney. Check it out. Be thorough. Write a report. Stay sober. And…and for pity’s sake, stop laughing.”

  2. @steveweave71
    300 words
    Strong-willed Woman; Frozen Planet; Historical Romance

    No More Future Walks Together Across The Snowy Wastes (You’re As Cold As Ice)

    He appeared one day in our outpost, claiming that he’d been walking for days after falling off his horse. His long white shirt, untucked, the moon over his left shoulder pinpointed his dazzling teeth. He was wet from head to toe. He’d gone for a swim in Lake Digestive to clear his head. Shirin was captivated instantly. Her forced laughter could be heard around the outpost. They were a collision of energy and questionable ideas.

    “Do you not find it bonkers,” I asked her one day as she sat staring out of the window, waiting for his visit, “that he said he fell off his horse, when there are no horses left on Frozen Planet? Or that he went swimming in Lake Digestive which has been covered in ice since the days even before Ludicrous Bacon and Mrs Armitage wrote those endearing poems about whitethrush and skibbees in the undercroft, before the great snows?”

    Soon, she kicked me out of our beautiful cottage. She’d met the love of her life, she said, and was not interested in a word I had to say. She said she’d hope I’d try to walk across Icy Water Creek, blindfolded, during the Crosscreek archery finals.

    “Well, I’m not getting you that otter for your birthday, you heartless…”

    The door was slammed in my face and I heard her yell, “I’m not interested in my stupid birthday, you moron. Just go away and shiver your bones out somewhere public.”

    Sometimes, when I was huddled in the shelter of an elderly cave, shared with a cormorant of indiscernible age, I fancied I heard her cackling laugh and the bustle of her current favourite frock as Shirin and Mr Gently skated down Wyneyard to a clavichord recital or barn dance in the village hall at Rockett Falls.

  3. @j_writes_stuff
    300 words
    Rebel; New Mexico; Tragedy

    Fatal Freedom

    Desert. Nothing but empty desert, as far as the eye could see. And he was stranded in the middle of it. Leigh wiped the sweat from his forehead, sighed and kicked the back wheel of his motorcycle. No use in trying to start it again. He had tried at least a hundred times.

    The bike was supposed to be his ticket to freedom. Just a man, his machine and the open road. He had been idly browsing the local classifieds, when he saw the add. A dream in chrome and leather. He had fallen in love with the motorcycle there and then. And now this.

    His phone was long dead. He hadn’t seen another soul for hours. Leigh threw a glance at the sky. The sun hung dangerously low above the horizon. When it got dark, the temperature would turn from destructive heat to fatal cold. He needed to get help. But he couldn’t just leave his motorcycle here. The thought of his chromed dream being salvaged for parts by passing scavengers made him sick.

    Uncertain he let his eyes wander along the road. Which direction should he go? Back where he had come from, or forward into the unknown? When did he last pass a town? A gas station? A camping site? He couldn’t remember.

    Leigh threw one last look around and started pushing his motorcycle down the road. His former ticket to freedom was now a weight chained to his leg. With every step, he inched the heavy machine forward, his eyes fixed on the horizon. Behind him, just outside his field of vision, soft grey smoke curled towards the sky.

    The campers found him the next morning. Only a few miles up the road. His fingers frozen to the handlebar. A man and his machine. Both dead.

  4. 267 words
    Rebel; New Mexico; Tragedy

    Dog Day Dreaming

    I’d always thought of him as a brother. ‘Come on, let’s play with my new doll, Billy.’
    He pulls my corn-coloured plaits.
    ‘No, Jean. I have to help our new uncle. I’m the man of the family now.’ Billy scans the dried-out russet prairie, longing to be away from eastern Mexico. As foster children, we were both used to moving to new families. This time we’d been lucky enough to move together.
    Billy, the eldest, now 10, takes his responsibilities seriously. He tramps back to the cerulean washed wooden cabin. From there, Uncle Ned drags him out onto the Mescalero Sheet. This sand shrubland, with its stands of shinnery oak and playa lakes, is where the black-tailed prairie dogs live.
    Hunger made us irritable. We ate whatever they shot. We needed to eke out the corn meal and spindly home-grown veg.
    Twenty years later
    I draw my gun and yell the official warning.
    The figure halts outside the same ramshackle blue shack on the now desolate sands. ‘Jean is that you?’
    ‘Eaten any good prairie rats lately?’
    ‘Come on, put your gun down.’
    ‘You part of law enforcement now, Jean?’
    ‘You’re working with the rebels, Billy? Smuggling people or drugs?’
    He raises his Magnum and aims at her torso. ‘I do what is needed to make a living. I never did believe in the cause. I just didn’t fit. Ever.’
    ‘Come on, Billy, we can sort…’
    He cuts her off. He aims, giving her no choice.
    She bends over his dying body. He whispers, ‘I just wanted to be like you were as a girl, carefree.’

  5. 297 words
    Rebel; New Mexico; Tragedy

    The End of a Mission

    Stuffing the red handkerchief in his pocket, he carried on walking, further into the Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico. He’d somehow given the government men the slip. But he had to go on, complete his mission.

    A faint noise caught his attention too late. “Got ya!” yelled Joshua.

    “You idiot! You scared me half to death!”

    Joshua grinned. “Did you bring it?”

    “Of course I did. But it wasn’t easy this time. I was almost caught.”

    Joshua sobered up. “Did they follow you?”

    “No, I think we’re okay; but just so we’re on the safe side, take the others through the other cave entrance at the back. I’ll wait a bit until it’s safe then I’ll go out the front. I’ll meet you here again in a month? Tell Amy I send a kiss for her and the baby.”

    “Yeah, yeah, I’ll just give her a kiss, shall I?”

    Pete frowned, then laughed, realizing that Joshua was just joking. Joshua left then, taking with him the precious pre-natal vitamins his wife and the other pregnant women needed.

    The government had implemented a “chip” system. At first, it worked well, there was no need for money or documents to be carried around. It meant that people could do what they liked by simply swiping their hand. “We should have known that man’s greed would surpass convenience,” Pete thought as he ran his finger lightly over the scar on his hand. There were a few who rebelled, but that meant living life on the run, never being able to buy food and supplies because they were no longer chipped.

    Pete stood up and made his way towards the front of the cave. The blast caught him off guard. He looked down, watching the red stain spread across his chest.

  6. 281 words
    Out-of-work Actor; Edinburgh; Comedy

    Merely Resting

    ‘Dear boy, I am not, I repeat not, out of work,’ protested the actor. ‘I am merely resting between jobs. A quite natural state of affairs.’

    ‘You may consider it to be a natural state of affairs but, by my reckoning, you’ve not worked for at least five years. I call that you being out of work and me being out of pocket,’ said his agent.

    ‘You don’t know what it’s like do you? I am a method actor. I immerse myself in my character and then, when the part is finished, I need time to decompress. Time to shed the character I’ve been playing, indeed, the character I’ve become.’

    ‘I understand that it takes you time to both take on a character, and then to discard it when finished, but five years? Honestly?’

    ‘I need the time, otherwise I’ll never regain my own personality. If I don’t take things gradually, I’m in danger of becoming lost.’

    ‘How about going to Edinburgh and tackling the fringe this year? You could put on a one-man show of some sort. You could even consider reviving your award-winning “Do You Want Fries with That?”

    ‘Ah, dear boy, I’ve moved on far, far beyond that. Every moment of my waking life I am in character. I fear that I may have become permanently stuck in the persona of my last role.’

    ‘I thought that was your last role.’

    ‘Not in my mind, dear boy, not in my mind.’

    ‘Well, if you do have a change of heart, I hear that there’s a new branch of a well-known fast food franchise opening up nearby in the new year. You should be perfect for that.’

  7. @geofflepard
    287 words
    Farm Boy; World War I; Tragedy

    How Martin Fisman Played A Small But Important Part In Rebuilding Europe

    Martin Fisman grew up unaware of life beyond the farm in Wiltshire. His life followed the seasons. One summer afternoon, in 1912, he was ploughing the high field when the ground gave way and he found himself in a dark dank chamber. Unbeknownst to Martin he had fallen into an undiscovered ancient barrow. For two days he felt his way around eventually finding a spot near a large stone, where he dug the soft earth. His rescue was treated as a miracle, toasted in the Swan on his birthday, but he never described the details, the strange skull he had felt, the deep sense of dread.
    When war fever swept the nearby town, he found himself part of the enthusiastic group signing up for service in France. One cold bright morning, fifteen months after he landed, he pulled himself over the parapet and advanced into no man’s land, when a crack brought him to a halt. In seconds a fissure opened in the mangled earth and Martin slipped below, memories of that moment three years before overwhelming him as the soil filled his mouth.
    In the hot summer of 1947, Michel Founmann turned his tractor for the final run. The parched crusted ground grumbled as the thick tyres bit into the surface before giving way, tipping the machine and throwing Michel into the newly revealed hole. Michel waited for the soil to swallow him yet, somehow the sides of the hole held long enough to allow Michel enough time to scramble free.
    He sat on the ground, gathering his thoughts and wondering if he had imagined, poking from the earth, a man’s skeletal hands holding a skull out to him as if offering him a lucky charm.

  8. @beadanna7
    300 words
    Farm Boy; Japanese Suburb; Tragedy

    No Solace

    Peter stumbled as he made his way unsteadily through the darkness of the unfamiliar neighborhood. Despite the lateness of the hour, kanjuji lanterns flickered, each with a tiny flame illuminating a glowing sphere just large enough to get him to the next one. There was no one around that he could see, but he could feel eyes on him just the same, making the hairs at the back of his neck curl with a tickle that went straight to his spine. He could smell the aroma of animals and growing crops, he should know, he had grown up just outside Indianapolis, on a sprawling hundred acre farm. It reminded him of home, although the smells were mingled with whiffs of city living. He walked hunched over, with one hand clutching his side. He needed to find help. He had left the gnarled hunk of metal that used to be his plane in the fields where he had come down, cockpit deep in the muck of the rice paddies. He was in enemy territory and knew he could trust no one. Out of nowhere, shadows surrounded him, and he heard the terrifying ringing of many swords being unsheathed. Turning in a slow circle, he held up his hands, feeling his viscera begin to protrude from the rip in his belly. As the shades crept closer, his mind, in denial, fled toward home, and the life he had left growing in the safety of his wife’s body. Wind whistled by steel, barely stirring the air. Swift retribution as his unfeeling body hung together momentarily before slowly sliding apart, hitting the ground with a series of thuds. His eyes watched unbelieving, as he saw his torso hit the ground in front of him, one hand still trying to push his entrails back inside.

  9. 292 words
    Rebel; New Mexico; Tragedy


    Lily was just a normal 13-year-old. She had long brown hair and a glint in her eye as if she knew all your secrets. She had no real future plans. She didn’t want to be famous. She just wanted to say quite and hide in her room so the world would never see her face. Until one day that all changed.

    Lily and her parents were driving through a red canyon in the depths of northern New Mexico. Lily’s face pressed against the cold glass window. She stared at the ever-expanding clouds disappearing behind her. Then she saw something in the cliffs that made her eyes widen and her legs tense up. She pounded on the window. “Let me out!” she cried. Her father glanced up from his phone.

    Without looking away from the road, Lily’s mother asked, “What’s wrong, sweetie?” No response. Lily’s mother finally looked back and saw an open car door swinging in the wind.

    Her daughter had run for the hills. Lily’s mother thought she saw Lily disappearing into the sagebrush, but instead of running, she was galloping on her arms and legs. The surprised parents never saw their daughter again.

    Most people still wonder why a normal girl would disappear into the wild for no reason. They wonder what she saw. An omen? A ghost? Or something even worse?

    People tell this story to their children of a girl turned into a wild animal. They all tell of what she saw but everybody’s story is different. The only person who knows the true story is Lily. But she’s long gone. Or is she? Next time you see a herd of wild horses look for the horse with a long brown mane and a glint in her eye.

  10. 298 words
    Farm Boy; World War I France; Tragedy

    I Had Promised Her

    I sink to my knees. All around me, I see blurs of khaki, firing machine guns, fighting until Death beckons them. But I can no longer do this. Every inch of my body aches. I long for Death to take me into her arms and rock me to eternal sleep.

    I think of home, of the smell of the freshly-ploughed cornfields, of the peace of the countryside.

    I think of Ellie.

    Her honey-coloured hair, fluttering in the breeze. Her beautiful eyes, warm and brown. Her smile, enough to light up my day. Her clear, ringing laughter.

    I think of those days. Working at the farm throughout the day. Going for walks along the winding country roads, hand in hand with Ellie. The movies we saw at the cinema, followed, always, by ice cream at Billy’s. The countless evenings we spent by the river, surrounded by tall grass, the occasional dragonfly fluttering by.

    I yearn for home, for my Ellie. I yearn for Peace.

    “I know that you’ll give your best,” she’d said, taking my hand. The setting sun had dyed the whole sky orange, and Ellie seemed to glow in the warm hue, looking like a goddess. A faint breeze blew, rustling the grass. A dragonfly settled on her hand, flying away when Ellie reached out to touch it.

    That was the last time we’d met.

    “I know that you’ll give your best,” she’d said.

    I’d promised her that I would.

    I wanted to fly into the void, just like a dragonfly, but I’d promised her.

    I get into position, but just before I fire, a hand grenade lands right next to me.

    I hear Ellie’s laughter just behind me, but when I turn, all I see is Darkness.

    I’d promised her, but alas, I couldn’t fulfill it.

  11. 297 words
    Emotionally-disturbed Girl; Frozen Planet; Tragedy

    Cold Climate, Heated Argument

    “Just another couple snow drifts, right?”

    “Oh I don’t know, Peter, I wasn’t the one looking out the cockpit window.”

    “Blame me now? It wasn’t completely my fault that SOMEONE got the wrong coordinates!”

    “Yeah, yeah. Emphasis on COMPLETELY.”

    “Shut up.”

    “No! Why would I shut up now? You asked about the damn snow drifts and I’m giving you a damn answer!”

    “No you’re not! You’re just turning all this mess on me. That is not an answer.”

    “Whatever, Peter! That crash was absolutely terrifying. That’s all I have to say.”

    “Liar. You have more to say than a drunk comedian.”

    “Ha! Do you really want to get into that? Because, your right. I have more then a few words based on your stupidity.”

    “Valerie, have you thought for just one second that I didn’t actually want to be trekking my way through knee-high snow in freezing temperatures?”

    “Maybe I would, but then again, you were the one who crashed us onto this god-forsaken planet! And I told you that maybe a warmer climate would be nice! But NOOOO.”

    “You got the maps wrong! That was all you!”

    “Sure. Blame it on the girl, why don’t you!”

    “I didn’t mean it like that, Val. Just cool down!”

    “Cool down? I’m freezing my ass off! I can’t flipping cool down any more! I am emotionally out of this!!”

    “…Is this because of what I said on the ship?”

    “What? No! This is because YOU stranded us on a planet and keep joking about the situation!”

    “Fine. If you have such a strong opinion, why don’t you just journey this yourself?!”

    “And hike for hours in YOUR mistake? I don’t think so. We’re in this together.”








    “Hold on!!”



  12. 300 words
    Rebel; New Mexico; Tragedy

    Thou Shalt Not Kill

    Taos Jail. April 1847. America conquered New Mexico and then, curiously, arraigned and executed the rebels who resisted on charges of treason for defending their own country.

    Dear Mother,

    Life seems unfair, but God must see purpose in it. Six more of us will hang tomorrow at dawn. By the time that you receive this last letter, I will be dead. I ask that you arrange to carry my body back home and for Father Pedro to say a burial prayer for me.

    I want you to know the true circumstances so that you do not believe the Americanos’ version about treason.

    I wanted to become a priest like Father Pedro, but the Generales forced me to join the rebellion. The Americanos will say that, like these other five soldiers, I resisted their attack on Taos. The truth is that I did nothing wrong. I never fired my weapon. When the Americanos came I hid, not in fear as I knew that God would protect me, but so that I could not break the fifth commandment. The Americanos do not believe me. They think that I make excuses just to try to save my life. But even if I had joined them, it cannot be treasonous to defend your own country against invaders. God says that we must forgive our enemies. I hope that he gives me the strength to do so.

    Say farewell to Rosita for me. She loved me, but it was not a love that I could return with my wish to join the Church. She will find someone else soon.

    Last night the Sacred Mother visited me. She dressed and acted like a water carrier but her presence brought me peace. I saw the compassion in her eyes. I am ready now.

    Your loving son,

    1. Reading this at work was not a good idea. I’m on the verge of tears. This was so beautifully written. My Manager is looking at me funny because of the sniffling.

      Well done!!!

  13. @VicenteLRuiz
    295 words
    Strong-willed Woman; Frozen Planet; SciFi

    Uncomfortable Awakening

    Disoriented. I feel disoriented.

    I never feel like that, unless I’ve been unconscious.

    That can only mean one thing: that bastard Willard stunned me. But the second thing I feel is a spike of pain on the back of my skull. So he knocked me out.

    I swear I’ll kill him. But first things first: I sit, slowly, and wait until I get my bearings.

    Sickbay. I’m in sickbay. That’s good.

    Tentatively, I walk. My knees are a bit wobbly, but I’m getting better. I get some benzodiazepine, it’s the best I can find. I’ll try to fight off drowsiness if it comes.


    The computer is not answering to my voice commands. Either Willard has done something really nasty, or he’s switched it off. I know what I’d do. Luckily for me, life-support systems work autonomously if the computer is offline.

    Something’s really off. I cannot pinpoint it, not in my current state. The bridge. I must get to the bridge.

    On my way there, I finally realize what’s wrong.

    We’re not moving. In space, people usually don’t notice, but I always have.

    What has Willard done? Has he left and left me stranded out here, nowhere? Or has he disabled the engines?

    The bridge is dark, but I got a torch. There’s energy, I can still breathe. I open one of the service panels; with some rerouting, I’ll have lights and even navigation.

    The lights come on. Nothing that I can see seems broken or disabled, but the screens are blank. It’s either nav or screens first.

    Screens are easier and are soon online.

    And I know why I feel no movement. The ship is on a frozen surface.

    A ship that cannot take off from a planet.

    The bastard has marooned me.

  14. @Matilda40119810
    300 words
    Strong-willed Woman; Frozen Planet; Tragedy

    A Dying Planet

    I was born on a planet that was dying. My entire life was spent watching the numbers on the thermometer slowly rise, an ever-present promise of destruction. I saw peoples’ indolence and placidity slowly destroy everything mankind touched, and I looked on, horrified, as society turned their backs on the trail of devastation that they left behind. I saw them watch the world crumble and burn and still choose to do nothing. Back then, I prayed for change. Now I wish I hadn’t.

    Hurt anything enough and it will hurt you back.

    When temperatures began to fall, nobody really noticed. In the first year it was barely detectable, a mere millionth of a degree. But that was just the beginning. Each year temperatures fell by more, little by little, until they began to plummet. But even then people didn’t listen. We were so foolish, so naive. It had just seemed so right, this redress of natural balance. Most embraced the change, called it a miracle. Little did we know it was anything but.

    The snow began to fall in December. It seemed normal at first, soft white sheets that gently covered the earth. But soon, it changed. It became something new, different. Darker and unnatural. It fell ceaselessly, blanketing the entire planet. Fields of crops were buried beneath it, smothered by the foreign frozen wasteland it created. Famine spread across the globe like fire, wiping mankind from the earth.

    The world fell apart.

    If you’ve never seen a world collapse then you cannot truly understand the chaos that followed. The pain, the destruction, the fear – it was everywhere. I tried to stay strong, refusing to give up, waiting for it all to end. But it never did. I don’t think it ever will.

    Never try to kill a planet.

  15. @GeoffHolme
    300 words
    Farm Boy; New Mexico; Historical Romance

    (I’m using ‘romance’ here in its meaning of ‘an extravagant story that lacks basis in fact’.)

    Only Make Believe

    June 3rd 1947

    Drove through New Mexico, heading back home; mile after mind-numbing mile of arroyos and distant mesas, in relentless heat, never seeing another soul. Decided to break the monotony by visiting second cousin Jesse. Hadn’t seen him in years, so I hoped he still worked on the same farm.

    Seemed a good idea, but I’d forgotten how much Jesse resembles the hero of the book I’m reading – “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” – a meek, ineffectual man living in a vivid fantasy world.

    As I pulled up, I glanced in my rearview mirror, and saw Jesse emerge from a nearby cabin. I needed to walk a spell, so we took coffee as he showed me round the spread. On the way back, I asked how he’d been since last we met.

    His face altered and he became animated. He told me how he’d been a pilot in the war, receiving five Air Medals for shooting down enemy planes; how, after his return, he’d used his many years’ experience as an ER medic to perform an emergency operation to amputate the lower leg of a farmhand trapped under an overturned tractor.

    As we approached my car, I said I’d heard he’d been rejected for armed service, and I knew he’d always had a pathological fear of hospitals. His features crumpled, his body seemed to shrink; I felt real bad I’d called him on his daydreams.

    We stood looking into the vast open spaces. I told him I envied his healthy, outdoor life in an unspoilt landscape.

    “You joshin’ me?” he said. “You live in the big city, with skyscrapers ‘n’ whatnot. Thousands o’ people with excitin’ lives. Allus ambulance sirens blarin’ ‘n’ cop cars chasin’ villains. Shoot! Ain’t nuthin’ interestin’ ever happen out here in Roswell.”

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