Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 157. We had 14 entries this time, plus two late entries: READ THOSE RULES, GUYS! A warm welcome to first-time entrants, Nicola and Russell J Fellows.
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 156 Judge’s Pick, Harrietbelle, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:
To say that I was surprised at being chosen as the Judge’s pick last week would be a huge understatement and I am still reading (and sharing with anybody who has not heard already) David’s accolade of my work! Thank you so much; such words were very welcome, and I will take that encouragement as an incentive to carry on writing!
For my part, I hope I can do the same for the writers that I have picked for various mentions, not just the winner but those whose words have caught my eye and meant something to me that is worthy of recognition.
It has not been an easy task for me because the subject matter was not familiar to any of my zones! But I have challenged myself to read and re-read every piece until I understood and appreciated the essence of it.
I believe we who write — whether for fun, income or both — are going to be only too aware of the constant need for encouragement so that we can go on believing in ourselves and in our gift, however small and underdeveloped that gift may be. So, from the springboard of my own success and David’s encouraging words, I dived into the sometimes turbulent seas of this week’s competition and discovered in the depths pieces that I could hold up to the light and say with certainty: ‘Here we have treasures!’
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Storm – You see there were only a few humans left in this world and they paid a lot for them, it was just for business.
Bill Engleson – “You must be Pitchfork” she said, her hips chugging away like an out-of-whack metronome.
Ellen Grace – “What’s this about?” Anna-Claire sighed; met Hanks eyes. “Someone drained the Sea of Tranquility.”
Nicola – “Yes, sire. His eyes are particularly blue, just like you like them.”
Steve Lodge – Crisp and petrifying, a deep fog was settling; you could hardly see your identical twin in front of your face.
Johanna – “As exciting as watching rocks race,” Tina muttered to herself.
Tim Hayes – Gazing up at the pyramid the Professor strained to remember what he was doing there.
Russell J Fellows – They still had tomorrow? Amelie pushed herself to her feet. There was still hope.
Alysia Ascovani – As she laughed again some of the students moved as if to look out a window, only to realize that they were deep down in the middle of the ocean, where nothing could be seen anyway.
David Lewis Pogson – ‘You may recognise many of the vessels from history – the Titanic, the Lusitania, HMS, etc. Their imprint rests here but all passengers and crew move on eventually. […]’
Kevin Curtis – At the last second, he diverted his hand, and the priest tumbled down the steps with the knife jutting from his chest.
Angelique Pacheco – It was true, he could be absent-minded at times, buttering his egg and salting his toast, but that was because he had so many other important things to think about.
Deanna Salser – Laughing, she knew she had just made the discovery of a lifetime.
Sian Brighal – Then bladderwrack wrapped around the wheels, and broken shells cut feet, and saltwater footprints appeared on wooden floors.
Deanna Salser – The Right Motivation Creates Incentive for a Major Discovery
The title of this piece alone deserves a mention with its complete explanation of what the story is about! To begin with I felt I was reading a nice easy story in a teenage magazine or book, but as the story progressed, it developed into something else. I was transported into something sci-fi and different. I liked the way this happened so that it was understandable and perfectly plausible!
Johanna – A Stack of Old Rocks
I loved the ease in which this well-written piece took me into the character of Tina straight away.
I could see this girl sitting on the rock, blowing her sticky pink bubble gum, and I could almost smell it as it burst all over her chin! The story was very readable and believable, and the writer made clever use of humour in the conversational way the characters were presented. The twist in the tale leaves us again on a funny note, with the reality of modern time breaking into the Uncle’s fantasy of a past time by way of the ‘Gift Shop’!
Thank you. This made me laugh!
David Lewis Pogson – In Transit
This writing was out of my usual understanding; it took many reads before I got it. However, I found it compelling, and it made me want to understand. I thought it was a very clever piece that sent goose bumps up my arms, since I felt I was there on that strange quayside. I appreciated the cleverly-constructed ending too that left me wanting more.
Kevin Curtis – No Sacrifice
This was a strong contender for Judge’s Pick. I found it compelling from the tense beginning, through the exciting build up, to the riveting finale that had me gripped. I could imagine the whole scene as if I was watching it on a Saturday afternoon old black-and-white movie channel; and the ending came with relief! I overcame the temptation to look at the final sentence until I reached it, so it had a great impact in it’s matter-of-fact abruptness and drama.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 157.
(insert drumroll here)
Johanna – A Stack of Old Rocks
Absent-minded Professor; Inca Sun Temple; Adventure
Tina sat down on her backpack and watched as her uncle approached the Inca Sun Temple. Ecstatically, he put his hands on the stone and traced the ancient hieroglyphs around the massive doors.
“Imagine Tina, we could be the first humans to decipher these symbols!” he exclaimed.
Tina pursed her lips and blew a pink bubble. It popped and scattered sticky bubblegum all over her chin.
“You mean the first humans since the actual Incas,” she mumbled.
Her uncle didn’t hear her. He was already flicking through his papers, busily comparing his notes to the centuries-old writing.
“It’s going to be very educational,” was what her parents had said before shipping her off for the summer. “Your uncle is a renowned professor, you will learn a lot.”
“But I don’t wanna learn anything,” Tina had replied. “I’m on holidays!”
And now she was stuck here, watching a no-longer-middle-aged man sweating over a stack of old rocks. Someone really should turn on the air conditioning, she thought and leaned back.
Her uncle looked up and pointed to a group of symbols.
“I think these pictographs refer to the door mechanism,” he shouted over to her. “Isn’t that exciting?”
“As exciting as watching rocks race,” Tina muttered to herself. Aloud she asked, “Is it ok if I walk around a bit?”
Her uncle didn’t react. Tina sighed, got up awkwardly and walked over.
“I asked if I could walk ‘round a bit?” she repeated.
“Sure, sure, just don’t get lost,” her uncle replied, his eyes fixated on his papers.
As Tina was almost out of sight, her uncle suddenly seemed to remember his duties as her guardian. He looked up and called out after her, “And if you don’t find me anymore, remember, we meet in the giftshop when the museum closes!”
Sian Brighal – Can’t Distance the Dead
This writing was so atmospheric and descriptive I could feel the cold, smell the sea and most of all engage with the pain and despair of the character as he struggled in the depths of his soul to find forgiveness. The words conveyed his misery over and over again and although it was harsh reading it was also beautiful in its imagery and pathos. Thank you for sharing such a literary treasure with us. I for one was deeply moved by these 293 words of prose.
Old Sea Dog; Tibetan Monastery; Thriller
This was the highest, the furthest, he could get. During nights where deeply sunken terrors left ripples on the surface, he walked up the mountain until the cutting cold tried to freeze the air in his lungs and he prayed he was high enough. Surviving the night, and when calmed by the biting reality of year-long winter, he walked back to the monastery, stroked the prayer wheels, and worked for his board and meals.
The monks left him to his work, his penance, his hiding. He didn’t know if they knew, understood or appreciated his fears and needs, and he couldn’t say he cared. He was just glad to be as far from the bottom of the sea as he could be.
For two years he built the hope he was either forgiven or there were no such things as curses. He dared breathe deep and think of descending the mountain. But the first day of the third year he woke to the smell of brine and the feel of salt on his face. Hope drowned in dread and on the memory of his scuttled ship.
Then bladderwrack, wrapped around the wheels, and broken shells cut feet, and saltwater footprints appeared on wooden floors. The monks whispered, said their prayers could not offer safety or comfort. When he woke to skeletal deep-sea fish and his salt-soaked log on his cot, he ran screaming from the monastery and up, and up, until he drowned on thin air and blood.
They waited until news of his death came down from the mountain, then they burnt the last of their fish remains, shells and seaweed. The children of the drowned wept their last bits of salt and hoped ghosts could now rest on the ocean floor.
Congratulations, Sian. 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!