Microcosms 165

We’re baaaaaack!

Greetings, my flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 165.

KM, here. I’ve been gone for far too long, and Geoff carried the torch for quite a while. I cannot offer enough thanks to him for that, and he’s always welcome back here anytime.

I’m ready to get back into things. However, I do want to streamline the contest a bit to make sure it is feasible and flexible going forward. (I.e., I don’t want myself or anyone else to burn out.)

A few changes going forward – or at least in the interim. Things may not always be this way, but at least they will be for now.

  • I’ve decided to extend the time to include Saturday, as well.
  • That way, anyone who still wants to do it on Friday can, and anyone who isn’t able to do it on weekdays and submit on Saturday.

    Let’s try it this way a couple of times and then take a vote. (Just Friday, just Saturday, both days, or something else.) Sound good?

  • Judges will be using the “honor system”.
  • By this, I mean that they will read the stories on the site, rather than receiving them blind. Since this is not a high-stakes competition, I think we should be able to trust our fellow writers to not let the opinions of others or any personal associations cloud their judgments. This was actually how I’d originally intended for the contest to run, on the advice of other contest hosts, and I’d like to go back to that while I’m involved.

    The main reason for this change it to make the contest more sustainable going forward. If there are any willing volunteers, I’m happy to revert back, if that’s what people want, but this format gives judges a little more time flexibility, too.

    I’ll ask judges to submit on Sunday or Monday. I’ll do my best to post the results as soon as I can. I travel for a living, and there’s a chance I’ll be flying when results come in. So we’ll plan for them being posted on Monday, but there’s a chance they could be posted on Tuesday. I hope that’s acceptable to everyone.

  • Please include your Twitter handle, if applicable.
  • If you want your Twitter account linked to in the results and would like to be notified via Twitter, this would make things quite a bit easier, rather than trying to look them up. Some I still have memorized and some we have on file but certainly not all of them. If you don’t have a Twitter, a “no Twitter” note would be helpful, but don’t feel obligated.

  • Actively soliciting volunteers for assistance.
  • I’ve been having a lot of personal issues the last few years that have really taken a toll on my mental health. And I know Geoff had some issues of his own to deal with. However, I want the contest to continue. Not only did it bring me so much joy when I was involved with it, I think it does offer a service to the community.

    With that in mind, if anyone is willing to help out in any way (it does NOT have to be a long-term commitment), please let me know. This could be anything from coming up with contest ideas and hosting to helping us post on Twitter. Or if you have any ideas on efficiency, etc., I’m certainly willing to listen.

  • There’s a small chance of technical issues this week.
  • I know, I know. I’m really selling you on things. lol I’m having some minor hosting issues that might affect the contest at some point this week. I’m hoping they won’t impact things, but there’s a chance the direct URL may not work for a period of time.

    I’ll try to monitor Twitter. Please contact me that way if you have any problems. We’ll work together to get things resolved and address any potential issues.

    In the meantime, the base URL is zwoodle.com/microcosmsfic. Please take note of this in case there are any minor hiccups.

    It’s terrible timing, but I really need to get back into the swing of things. There will be huge benefits when things are all said and done, such as the site running faster and smoother, so I think the small risk is worth it. I hope you will agree with me.

    Again, this is just a potential and not a guarantee, but I just wanted to be as upfront as possible.

    Also, I still need to update some things, such as the auto-Twitter posts and the countdown clock. These may be temporarily incorrect. Please bear with me and let me know if I miss anything. Your patience is so appreciated.

I hope that summarizes things succinctly enough and that everything I said came through with the positive tone with which it was intended.

I’ve missed you all so much!

All right. Let’s jump back into things. 🙂

 

REMEMBER!

(1) You have just 48 hours until midnight, tomorrow ***(Saturday)*** 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) If you are new to Microcosms, PLEASE check out the full submission guidelines 

Thanks, all!

I took some inspiration from “Today in History” sites and added something from current events, so it’s going to be pretty random. But that’s part of the fun, right?

Best wishes,

KM

 

(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:

Greek or Roman Soldier; Movie Set; Historical Fiction

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.

 

  • Greek or Roman Warrior
  • Founding Father/Mother of a new country
  • A Census Taker
  • An Engineer
  • A Film Director or Actor
  • A (Horse) Jockey
  • A Musician
  • An Insect
  • An Alien
  • Battlefield
  • Area 51
  • Racetrack
  • Meeting
  • At Someone’s Door
  • A Movie Set
  • A Colony or Hive
  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • Romance
  • Action
  • Historical Fiction
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • Horror

 

Spin!

Microcosms 164 winner David Lewis Pogson has kindly agreed to judge. 🙂

 

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 166
Microcosms 164

Leave a Reply

13 comments for “Microcosms 165

  1. 2 August 2019 at 3:05 am

    KM
    I won Microcosms 164. Geoff asked me if I’d judge the next one but then suspended the competition. On that basis I’m still willing to judge 165 if you want a volunteer. I have judged a couple of others before so I’m fairly familiar with the process subject to being reminded and subject to any of your proposed changes.
    Dave

    2+
    • KM Zafari
      2 August 2019 at 6:37 am

      Sounds great to me! I’ll update the post tomorrow. Thanks! 🙂

      3+
  2. 2 August 2019 at 11:11 am

    @billmelaterplea
    http://www.engleson.ca
    300 words
    A census taker; at someone’s door; comedy

    Everyone Counts: Even If It Makes No Census.

    Every day begins with one door.

    One bell.

    Where’s the damn bell?

    Everyone’s got a bell!

    There’s no bell.

    A knocker then.

    Nada!

    It’s knuckle rapping time.

    Knock knock!

    Nothing.

    Somebody inside. I hear something anyways.

    A blue expletive.

    Then, “Yeah. Waddayawant?”

    The door opens.

    The fellow’s nearly naked.

    Ginch. T-shirt. Socks.

    “Sir. I’m your census taker. I’d…”

    “I don’t want any. Beat it.”

    “Sir, I don’t think you understand…”

    “UNDERSTAND. I UNDERSTAND. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

    “Sir. I understand.”

    “NO! I DON’T THINK YOU DO. WHAT THE HELL TIME IS IT?”

    “A little after nine, Sir.”

    “RIGHT! JUST PAST NINE. AND DO YOU KNOW WHEN I WENT TO BED?”

    “The government doesn’t need to know that, Sir.”

    “I WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO KNOW WHEN I WENT TO SLEEP.”

    I pull out the Census Takers Code of Conduct and read it.

    It’s sort of like the American Miranda Warning.

    “The Canadian state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation, Sir.”

    “I DON’T WANT YOU IN MY BEDROOM. IT’S WHERE I SLEEP. WHAT I WANT IS FOR YOU TO KNOW WHEN I WENT TO SLEEP.”

    The poor guy is getting quite aggravated.

    I try to placate.

    “Fine, Sir. The Canadian Government is flexible. When did you go to sleep?”

    “WELL, I’M GLAD YOU ASKED. AN HOUR AGO. AT EIGHT.”

    I process this information. The man has been asleep for just an hour.

    How odd.

    So, Sir, you were up all night?”

    “THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT. I WORKED THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT. LIKE I DO EVERY OTHER WEEK.”

    I finally understand.

    Still. The Census must be completed.

    “I can come back.”

    His eyes roll.

    “Nah. Let’s fill out the damn thing now. Can the State come in the kitchen and have a cup of java?”

    “Yes,” I smile, “The State would be honored.”

    0
  3. 2 August 2019 at 1:23 pm

    300 words
    Census Taker; Area 51; Sci-Fi/Fantasy

    In the Realm of the Census
     
    The place: Area 51, Lincoln County, Nevada. The year: 2020. A truck pulls up at the main entrance and is met by an armed guard.

    ‘Hello, I’m here about this year’s census. I need to enter your facility and count the number of people living on base.’

    ‘I’m afraid that won’t be possible. The air force takes care of all that. It will inform your bureau in due course.’

    ‘But it’s important that I come in and count everyone living on the premises, whether citizen, permanent resident alien, legal temporary resident alien, or illegal alien.’

    ‘I’m afraid that information is classified, Sir. I can only repeat what I’ve already told you, the air force takes care of the census on behalf of your bureau.’

    ‘I can accept that it’s the air force’s responsibility when it come to military personnel but it’s the number of aliens in residence that I’m particularly concerned about.’

    ‘No can do, Sir. That information is strictly confidential.’

    ‘We need to establish whether there has been an increasing population trend since the early forties when the figure was zero.’

    ‘Don’t get your hopes too high, I’ll check with the General and see what he says.’

    Moments later the sentry returned accompanied by a senior officer. ‘Sorry, Son,’ he said, ‘I’d like to help you but I can’t. For the military the consensus is the census makes no sense as we do not differentiate the status of the aliens based here, other than they are of non-human origin and not subject to the census.’

    My ruse had worked. By posing as a census taker I had got the US air force to admit to the existence of space aliens. But it left me wondering, did the genuine Area 51 census report include a specific category for aliens?

    1+
  4. Geoffrey Holme
    2 August 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Aah, I’ve really missed the weekly helping of Engleson wit and humour… A real chuckle fest, much appreciated today.
    [A nearly naked bloke? It was with some trepidation that I looked up the unknown ‘ginch’. Not in Chambers, not in M-W… I finally found out it’s a niche Canadian slang term for Y-fronts… Phew!]

    1+
  5. Geoffrey Holme
    2 August 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Don’t forget to add 24 hours to that countdown clock, folks.

    0
  6. 2 August 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Hey Geoff, good to hear from you. As for that “niche Canadian slang term”, well it’s a ginch, once you know where to look.

    1+
  7. Angelique Pacheco
    2 August 2019 at 4:32 pm

    290 words
    Greek or Roman Soldier; Movie Set; Historical Fiction

    Conquests and Carry-on’s

    Gripping his sword tightly, the Greek soldier advanced on the enemy. He wiped his beaded brow and looked out into the crowd. It was his turn. He dove into the melee, dodging one soldier as he thrust his sword into another. Blood gushed from the wound of one as another went down silently. He launched himself on low walls and tumbled down ravines. He parried and thrusted, turning this way and that, until the dead lay thick on the ground and only a few remained. He saw his friend Gary in the distance. It would be good to get a beer after this.
    “Cut!” yelled Jim the director. “Sam, go stand by the bushes again. Stop staring at your girl, Gary.” he laughed with a sort of wheeze as though the funny had to be squeezed out of him. “Let’s take it from where you stab Ron…” All afternoon he fought, until the smell of corn-starch and red dye made him feel ill. It was a good thing it wasn’t real blood. He didn’t think he would be able to deal with that. But if the movie was successful, it stood to be the best historical remake of Greek mythology to date.
    ***
    He burped and the gang laughed. This was how they spent their lives. Making movies during the day, pissing it all away at night. It was not a glamorous lifestyle. Then she walked in. A Greek goddess if ever he saw one. Tumbling black hair, violet eyes and a look that said, “I’m better than this.” She made Marge, who played Helen of Troy in the movie look like a milkmaid. He brushed his hair back as he stared directly at her. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, he thought.

    2+
  8. 2 August 2019 at 9:15 pm

    @EdenSolera
    300 Words
    A Musician; Battlefield; Horror

    Arise

    Smoke rose across the field, the acrid smell mixing with that of decay. Sage strode amongst the embers, a mournful tune rising from her violin. Unbeknownst to her, each body she walked past jerked as her melody touched them.

    Reaching a boulder that stood out amidst the desolate landscape, Sage sat down, her music resonating through the bones of the dead. As she continued to play, Sage closed her eyes, losing herself in the dark tone of her violin.

    The sun began to slip beneath the horizon, an eerie glow framing the shadows as they grew to embrace the night. Her eyes still closed, Sage felt the wind shift, the formerly gentle breeze howling as it swept across the dirt. Grains of dust settled across her back as she continued to play, ignoring all but the feel of the strings beneath her fingers and the motion of the bow moving atop the violin.

    Drunk on her haunting melody, Sage became aware of a spectral chorus singing along as she played. Dismissing the sound as a trick of the wind or even simply her imagination, she kept playing, her tempo increasing as the music pulled her farther out of touch with reality.

    In the now dimly lit field, a crescent moon barely poking out from behind the rapidly thickening cloud cover, bones beaten and broken arose to the beat of Sage’s song. Unable to escape the lure of this siren song, all flocked to the lone boulder betwixt the smoldering grounds where flesh had been rent from bone earlier that day.

    Sage herself swayed back and forth on her seat, lost within the harmonies she created, even as they grew more twisted. A skeletal hand laid itself atop her shoulder, another caressed her cheek.

    A discordant shriek sounded.

    So Death sang.

    2+
  9. Emaly Hart
    2 August 2019 at 10:01 pm

    300 words
    An Alien, A Movie Set, Comedy/horror/sci fi fantasy
    Home
    “All Right everyone, places, places,” I overheard the producer clack the clapperboard.
    Walking towards the set, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in vanity mirror.
    I have never seen myself before, only others from my commune. I faintly recognized the deep forest green of my skin and the deep blue veins that were barely visible through my seemingly translucent skin. Black, deep-set eyes stare back at me and I find beauty in their lack of expression.
    Passing the corner, I see others who look like me, but I was the only one who came to this world. Confused, I step closer to see the imposters.
    “What are you doing over here? Get on set,” a woman pushed me towards the others.
    Stepping towards the others, I felt scared.
    “Cut, cut, cut. Makeup team, why don’t the rest of these guys look like that?” A man stood up from the chair.
    Inching closer, he touched my skin, “Make all of them look this realistic. Until then, you stay on set, the rest of you off. Now!” He paused as they left the set, “and action!”
    I stood motionless in the middle of the set, surrounded by fake shrubbery and strange, foreign objects. Reaching out to touch the props on set, I heard the man sigh.
    “No, no, no. You’re supposed to walk towards Shayla and pretend to rip her apart. Stop blindly looking at everything like a wanker.”
    I walked towards a woman who was barely on the stage. Reaching out, I wrapped my hand around her throat. Her skin began to turn blue and she was choking. Suddenly, she stopped moving altogether. Looking back at the man, I said, “Home.”
    “What the he-“
    I used my mind to create the chaos that ensued.
    I just want to go home.

    0
  10. Deanna Salser
    3 August 2019 at 3:47 pm

    @beadanna7
    300 words
    Jockey; Meeting; Comedy

    Water Weight

    Max shifted positions again, easing his buttocks on the hard metal surface. Having spent most of the day on various equine backs, it felt like his posterior had molded itself to the shape, and no matter how he twisted and turned, he could not get comfortable on the chair.
    “Max, you need to see a man about a horse?” This from Miles, who always had something to say, usually sarcastic, always funny, cracking them all up non-stop, from the time they got to the track to the time they stumbled off on their own, bone weary from all the jarring and jostling of training. Chuckles erupted around the room and Max could feel his face turning red.
    “Miles.” Now it was Mile’s turn to change color as Delia softly reprimanded him. The laughter died out as she continued.
    “Only the lightest will ride tomorrow,” she said, looking at each of them in turn. Max dared not look at his companions. The running gag among them was about her sizable breasts and how they weighed her down.
    Delia tried not to smile as she scanned the room. She knew about their joke but the laugh would be on them. She would be up on Olympia tomorrow, and she would win the race, ensuring that she would be hired for the filly’s career. The men gazed placidly back at her, their faces inexplicable as each thought about his own secret attempt at concealing his weight.
    “See you at the scales,” she told them, barely able to hide her mounting glee as she stood and folded her chair.
    In the crush to leave, Delia was caught in the middle. One shove from behind and with a muffled double pop, water cascaded to the floor, leaving her as flat as the men surrounding her.

    2+
  11. 3 August 2019 at 6:13 pm

    294 Words
    Jockey, Hive, Sci-Fi

    Drone Racing

    “Beings from across the universe, welcome to Apoidea for tonight’s race.”
    The voice booms throughout the hollow hive, shaking ruins of honey from overly clean hexagons. The racing bees below will be shaking in their tight stalls. Hachi always did. The crowd around me don’t care. They scream and howl at the booming voice’s commend.
    “Who’s that I spot in the crowd? Jockey Theodora Lucas.” A drone camera buzzes about me. “Suffered a nasty fall in our last race but has made a full recovery to take a streak of no deaths to one thousand races.” The voice extends the number for as long as it can.
    The number is a lie. Only certain species get included in the statistics. There are deaths every race.
    “A wave for your fans Theo.”
    I give the biggest, most dramatic wave I can, catching the camera. It spins out of the control, shakes itself stable and zooms off down to the start line.
    “Two races in a row you’ve hit a camera Theo. Carefully now.” The voice laughs. Each note bores into me. He won’t be laughing soon. I tap the edge of my atmosphere googles. The right lens tunes into the camera drone I hit earlier. My bug has control, claiming the rest of his colony. Red dotes fill my google display.
    “Let the countdown begin. Five.” The crowd joins in.
    “Four.”
    “Three.” Every camera drone positions themselves in front of the starting gates.
    “Two.”
    “One.”
    The starting horns drown the Hive. The gates fly up. The racing bees and their riders zoom forward. The camera drones do the same. The riders don’t realise until it is too late, until the drones are ripping through their flesh. The way the bolt gun did through Hachi

    1+
    • 3 August 2019 at 6:15 pm

      I’m clearly out of practice. I forgot to include my twitter handle, opps! It is @The_Red_Fleece. Thanks

      0

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