RESULTS – Microcosms 170

Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 170. We had 14 entries this time. Thanks again for participating! And your patience is appreciated. 🙂

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 170 Judge’s Pick, Ellen Grace, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what they had to say:

This week’s entries were spooky, funny, and included memorable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed looking through all of your pieces and experiencing the worlds you have created!



Favourite / Favorite Lines

Eden Solera – At All Costs: “Ranks of guards all trained their guns on her form as she strode to the center of the ornate room.”
Stephen Shirres – One Last Time: ““Sorry bud.” Bram taps the metal sign with the cable cars operating times. “I’m afraid we aren’t open yet.”
Tim Hayes – In Search of the Lost Supermarket: “One thing is for sure, we need never fear starvation however long this exploration takes.”
Lynda Kirby – The Vampire Doctor: “He’d heard their logic: it’s not natural, Vampires are supposed to drink blood as much as stay out of the sun.”
Steve Lodge – Only the Voices Remain: “I had fainted from blood loss and she’d been carried off to the inevitable castle by Count Rafis”
Deanna Salser – Two of a Kind: “She ended his dilemma with her lips and their teeth fit perfectly together.”
David Lewis Pogson – Close Relations: “‘Yeah, all apart from your Dad. They were good company. They’ve all loosened up a lot since he walked out.’”
Dana Faletti – An Unexpected Dinner: “As if his steel-toed boots aren’t a calling card of his brand of assassin.”
AJ Walker – Light Reflection: “Maybe she’d fold in the next ten years or so.”
Bill Engleson – In the Market for a Wiseguy Investment: “He came recommended by people I don’t want to name.”
Ted Young – Sunset Pullivard: “He made his nightly sojourn to visit his blood relations and his dedicated fang club.”
Angelique Pacheco – Fire in her Soul: “Table Mountain’s cable car”
Diego Piselli – The Commuter: “Years later, the clerk, now retired, read a strange story: “in Milan, decades ago, a waitress had committed suicide jumping under a metro train. Her corpse couldn’t ever be found””
Phillip Stephens – Late Night Romance, Cross-Continental: “The California Zephyr’s dining car at the witching hour.”


Honorable/Honourable Mentions

Phillip Stephens – Late Night Romance, Cross-Continental

A fantastic opening line and a good use of scientific knowledge to enhance the narrative.

Stephen Shirres – One Last Time

Particular mention has to be made for this piece for the masterful character (and pun) that is Bram.

AJ Walker – Light Reflection

An amusing take on relationships with unusual longevity.


Second Runner-up

Tim Hayes – In Search of the Lost Supermarket

A cleverly written piece which would not look out of place in a serious travelogue. The care taken over this piece is obvious and has resulted in an amusing narrative.


First Runner-up

Steve Lodge – Only the Voices Remain

This piece is wonderfully written. I am particularly intrigued by the name changes throughout the narrative – is the narrator having misremembering a single person, or do they merely have a penchant for women with similar names?

And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 170.

(insert drumroll here)


Community Pick

Bill Engleson – In the Market for a Wiseguy Investment

300 words
Assassin; Bowling Alley; Comedy

I met Willie the Briefcase Muckle a couple of years ago. He came recommended by people I don’t want to name. Respectable people. Money people.

You understand, a guy in my line of work, it’s a very particular profession I’m in. Not a lot of opportunity to chinwag about investments.

I’d tried sockin’ away a little extra after every contract. Wasn’t having much luck. Easy come, easy go down the toilet. Flush one day; empty bucket the next.

I was in crisis …’til I met Willie.

“You can trust him,” these respectable people I don’t want to name said. “He’ll do right by your dough. Help you plan.”

Right off, Willie hit the nail on the hammer. Right away, he says, “You got no visible means…Say the Government hauls you in, puts you under the lights, demands to know where did all your jack come from? Whaddaya gonna say. Oh, I hit people. Yeah, that’s gonna go over like a ton of petunias.”

So, he comes up with this business plan. “You gotta buy a business.”

I’m thinkin’, oh, great, what kinda business does an assassin own? My first thought? Taxis. Willie kyboshed that. “Nah, Ubers gonna rule. No, its gotta be somethin’ you’re nuts about, that really turns you on.

“Weeds legal,” I suggested. Willie initially thought that might work but then backtracked. “It’s a maybe at best…still dicey. Come on! Think! Whaddaya really love?”

That got me all teary-eyed, took me back to when I was a kid. Twice a week, bowling at the Pins and Needles.

“A BOWLING ALLEY?” Willie shouted. “They still do that?”

He checked. Yup. Folks still bowled.

These days, in between hits, I am the new kingpin of the recharged Pins and Needles Lanes.

Life’s a bowling alley of cherries.

The perfect game!


Judge’s Pick

Dana Faletti – An Unexpected Dinner

This piece is so poetic. Having the narrative told in three POVs works so well with the narrative and the details are delivered to the reader in a tantalising why. With every word you want to read more, but the ending is not unsatisfying. I’m curious as to the identity of the voyeur, but also feel that we got just the right amount of information about them. The characters are beautifully developed in such little space. A fantastic entry!

300 words

The Hunter:
She looks like an angel. Except for the trace blood beneath her fingernail. A clue.
Not that I need one. I’m the best. I can’t deny my calling.
I edge beside her in the vestibule, allowing my cheek to brush her ebony hair. Her breasts heave when she catches my scent. Her lips tremble. It’s like watching a magnolia open slowly, its carnal craving for air, sunlight.
She craves me.
The foretaste of my flesh drifts around her like an amuse-bouche.
I’m amused.
It’s too easy.
“I’m Cecily,” she offers, her eyes devouring me.
“Sam,” I say. “Dinner? Cabin three?”

The Hunted
He takes me for a fool.
As if I’ve never been prey, only predator.
As if his steel-toed boots aren’t a calling card of his brand of assassin.
I cannot help what I am.
I can only be the best of my breed.
Like he is, I suspect.
His blood will stain my chin tonight.
I will never become dust in his hands.

The Voyeur
The peephole’s dime-size, but it’s worth the strain.
She’s pristine. Every curve, brushed porcelain.
He’s lost in her hair, her body.
I can’t help what I am – a watcher.
I watch him caress her arm, fingers dancing down her side, slipping into his pocket.
I watch him remove a wooden cross, spear-like on top.
I watch her kiss his neck, tongue flicking and sucking, tasting the flesh behind his ear. My mouth waters as her jaw unhinges.
I watch man and woman freeze. There’s something in the pause I cannot see, a choice, perhaps. Their chests deflate in rhythm. He pockets the cross. She closes her mouth, buries her face in his shoulder.
I watch.
As they make love with the abandon of two people who’ve dodged death and found Heaven.

Congratulations, Dana. 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! (We also have some judging guidelines, if needed.)

RESULTS - Microcosms 169

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15 comments for “Welcome to Microcosms!

  1. zwoodle
    26 December 2015 at 4:15 pm

    We’re going to do a soft launch on 1 January. We’ll be e-mailing everyone shortly. Stay tuned!

  2. 12 September 2019 at 5:20 pm

    What’s happened to all the stories from last week’s competition?

    • KM Zafari
      12 September 2019 at 6:31 pm

      They’re all still in the system but not displaying on the front end. Part of the glitch I’m trying to resolve. :/

  3. 13 September 2019 at 6:37 am

    Who is Stoner, please?

  4. 13 September 2019 at 11:20 am

    Ghost; Haunted House; Comedy
    298 words

    The Gang, Fifty Years On

    “Hey guys, it’s our anniversary. It’s fifty years since we got together and solved our first case.”

    “That’s right. Why don’t we do something to celebrate? We could stay the night in the old, haunted house.”

    “I’m not really sure. None of us are as young as we used to be, we’re all in our late sixties now.”

    “Yeah, and I’m not sure that I want to stay up past my bedtime.”

    “Oh, go on, it’ll be a bit of fun. It’s not as though any of us get much of that anymore.”

    “It just won’t be the same without the dog.”

    “You’re right about missing the dog. I even miss that annoying little one that accompanied us on some of our later adventures.”

    “OK, it’s a date then. We just need someone to drive us out there before it gets dark.”

    “I’ll organise some supplies. Some drinks, a snack, spare walking sticks, and a flashlight for each of us.”

    “I’m not sure that I see the point. We never managed to find any real ghosts or monsters, never in our entire career. It was always a scam of some sort, and always one carried out by ordinary, everyday losers dressed up in costume.”

    The overnight stay was uneventful until just before dawn when they heard someone moving about downstairs. Silently they crept down the stairs only to find a fat balding man dressed up in a sheet going, “Woo… woo…” As it was obvious something untoward was going on, they phoned for the police. When they arrived a few minutes later the police arrested the would-be ghost. As he was taken away the last thing the gang heard him say was, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those pesky pensioners!”

  5. Geoff
    13 September 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Stoner, haunted house, drama
    295 words
    ‘Hi Pete. How’s it trucking?’’
    Pete blinked, hoping his neighbour was another bad trip.
    ‘Garden’s looking great. Not many weeds. Ho!’
    Pete sucked in air, disorientated by the lack of smoke. I need to cut back oxygen. ‘Hi Greg. You after a packet?’
    ‘I was just wondering how you get them so… leafy?’
    Pete licked the paper. ‘You planning your own? Take some seeds, man.’ He sealed another joint, willing him to go.
    ‘I don’t think so. What’s the secret?’
    Pete looked at the soil at his feet. ‘Peace and love, man.’
    ‘Seriously. We grew cannabis at college but that was inside in Cheltenham. You manage outdoors, in Scotland in January…’
    ‘I rely on my relatives.’ He kicked the dirt, exposing the head of a femur. ‘That’s Auntie Jane. The plants love her.’
    Greg’s eyes widened. ‘That’s your aunt?’
    ‘Think so. Hang on.’ Pete put down the Rizzla packet and bent to the bone. ‘Yeah? You sure? Right ho.’ He looked up. ‘Uncle Portius. They look the same at that age, don’t they?’
    Greg rubbed his eyes. ‘I must be passive smoking your product. Did you just talk to a bone?’
    Pete laughed. ‘Course not. Bone’s don’t talk…’
    ‘They’re ghosts. I you like I can do you some Mexican spicy and my second cousin’s torso as a starter kit…’
    Greg backed away. ‘Maybe later.’
    Pete started another joint and covered the bone. He’d need another dozen for the school run. ‘Thanks Ponti, I’ll get you that pint of Ruddles later.’ He looked down the rows of fecund and fullsome plants to a slightly saggy group by the hedge. ‘And I’ll pick up some dubonnet and lemon for Granny Emmaline. Wouldn’t do to let her crop get peaky, what with festival season nearly upon us.’

  6. 13 September 2019 at 10:25 pm
    300 words
    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy

    That’s Some Spooky Shit, Man–Sailing the Silvery Seas with Long Joint Spliffer

    Man, I had more wobbles than a bobblehead.


    Bubblehead for sure.

    Or Stubble head?

    Like man, that cat had a gnarly beard. Facial hair all wiry and dense. I could feel it, man. Spikes shooting out of his face like fireworks.

    Bazooka hookahs, man!

    Reefer creepers!

    Maybe it was the Maui-Zowie? Or the BC Bud? Or, get this, the Alberta Muerta?

    Made that up, man. Killer weed, though.

    Whatever it was, it was some magic shit. Maui Cowie poop, eh.

    Hah! I don’t know what that is.

    Anyway, I’d been up all night zinging in the shower, tingling in the tower, baying at the full moon, a giant silver dollar beauty, when I got the urge man to go down to the waterfront, watch the river flow.

    You ever done that, man? The river! Love the river. Like its dark, man, and late. The taverns have all closed. Streets littered with the soulful. Sky’s storm ready. Clouds gathering like jumbled sheets on a bed that’s never been made. Guess you know where that metaphor comes from. Anyways, you can feel it. Something’s gonna burst. So, I go down to the river and I see it through the thick fog. Like its out of the movies, man, full masted, skull and crossbones flapping in the night wind, and that ain’t no Errol Flynn standing at the helm. Not on your booty. Its someone eerie as hell, with some yo ho hoing and a bottle of bong…and I’m thinking, Bong? James Bong?

    There I am, staring at this vessel, double o sevening away, and this dude starts walking the plank and says, “Sorry Mate, no gambling tonight. The Jolly Better’s closed tight. City ordinance.”

    “Bummer, man” I bleat, “and me with the munchies and a pocket full of pieces of eight.”

  7. Angelique Pacheco
    14 September 2019 at 4:56 am

    Stoner; Ghost Ship; Comedy
    135 words

    Green Boo-ty

    I saw through the haze
    A ghost ship’s hallways
    Twisting and turning
    The maze was daunting

    A ghostly dancer beckoned
    “Get naked,” she reckoned
    My mind said, “Okay!”
    My body said, “Let’s play!”
    The scene was rearranged
    And the actors were exchanged.

    The captain wore coat tails
    He clung onto the rails
    He shouted for pirates
    And called us bandits
    Zombies took me to the ledge
    To walk the plank to the edge.

    When I came down
    We were back in Cape Town
    I found myself at the pool
    Standing starkers like a fool

    The mystical dancer
    Was a Trans performer
    Security was cuffing me
    No zombies could I see.

    Don’t ever take the green stuff
    It can be quite rough
    Make sure you buy local
    Not pirated forms of diabolical.

  8. 14 September 2019 at 6:19 am

    stoner/ghost ship/comedy
    WC: 365

    One More Sausage

    Fred was hungry. It was his semi-permanent state. Always eating; yet as thin as a rake that had been split in two–his acquaintances assumed he was looking after some tape worms. His best buddy, Havant, had just as voracious an appetite. Being a dog it was expected.
    Their holiday to France wasn’t going well. The language was unfamiliar and the food was not as good as anticipated. It was four days before Fred discovered that they were in Hamburg. And, whilst it was just two letters shy of his favourite word, it wasn’t in France.

    Things began to look up when they went for a couple of currywurst after a big breakfast. They got chatting to a groovy guy by the wurst-stand about all things sausage related ,which had got them a) excited and b) hungry again. Being at the wurst-stand that had been easy to deal with. There was always room for one more sausage.

    They shared a funny cigarette with Groovyman, which made them giggle. He said he’d never seen a dog smoke before. Fred said it happened regularly, usually when he’d spilt cooking oil on Havant.

    Groovyman enquired why he was called Havant. Fred explained that it was short for Havant A. which left him none the wiser. He then told them about the sausage barge, where the price for a four hour trip includes an ‘All That You Can Eat’ buffet. They weren’t going to miss this opportunity, so they heading down to the docks with big loping strides and stupid grins.

    At the docks everything was a bit blurry. Clearly they were in danger of fainting from hunger. So they got onboard the SS Hamburger with expectant bellies and an aim to make the buffet their home. Havant A. realised something was amiss when their boat passed through a series of locks without the gates opening. The lack of taste to the buffet wasn’t an issue, but the lack of substance was. When the captain turned up minus his head even Fred thought something was amiss.

    Then they smelled the Sausage Cruise pass in the other direction. It was a good job Havant could swim and Fred could float.

  9. Diego Piselli
    14 September 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Stoner, Ghost Ship, Comedy
    282 words
    The rumor had spread with lightning speed, fuelled by media coverage.
    A mahogany barge, loaded with Lebanese weed was floating somewhere in Amsterdam canals, unattended
    Smokers in coffee shops hotly debated the matter. Abe swore he saw it moored near Singel canal; Alwine claimed to be certain that the ship was far in the harbor; Rastafarian waiters fabled about an Iranian merchant, owner of the barge tugged along his princely yacht, vanished with a Circassian beauty.
    Eventually, on a warm summer Saturday night, the Quest had its beginning.
    Hordes of stoners, old hippies and weirdos of all kinds gathered in Dam square and started scouring all the canals, walking on the banks, boating or paddling in muddy waters: braver and youngsters went so far as to swim in the smelly current.
    The Quest was unsuccessful, but Saturday phantom barge hunting became a fixed meeting. If interest decreased, the press reported a new sighting and people got back to the endless hunting. Hunters set up groups and association named by famous weed smokers of the past. Each group had a leader, a hymn, a flag.
    And every Saturday evening Mr. Janssen, managing editor of “Amsterdam Today”, savored happily the silence of his flat in Central Amsterdam, a little nest in a medieval alley crowded with coffee shops. No more yelling, no more stoners’ noise. No more frantic strolling of excited people along the cobblestone street.
    All the smokers had gone away, searching for the barge.
    His little article full of question marks and drop hints about a mysterious barge had proved useful, and he could eventually savor domestic pleasures in peace. “Marijuana enthusiasts are like children,” he said to himself “they believe anything”.

  10. 14 September 2019 at 7:44 pm

    stoner/ghost ship/comedy
    Word Count – 260

    Clang! Clang! Clang!
    The sound reminded Midshipman Smythe of the death march if it was played badly by a toddler on kitchen pans. What was scarier was the lack of bodily panic symptoms. His heart hadn’t tried to explode. His stomach hadn’t emptied like a freshly flushed toilet. Nothing was doing nothing in fact. Peter, the welcome guy, had warned him about this but it took some getting use to.
    “Is that her Midshipman?” His Captain pointed at the blue haired girl hitting the ships pipes.
    “Yes Sir.”
    “Madam.” The captain pulled herself to the full height of her tall frame. “How did you get on board?”
    “I don’t know man.” She didn’t look at the captain. Instead she gazed off to the left, as if following an excitable fly.
    “Madam, I am very much not a man.”
    She blinked three times, each time she forced her eyes as wide as she could. “You are so pale…wo-man. Did I get that right? Wo-man.”
    She giggled to herself.
    The Captain did not see the funny side. “Madam! How did you get on board this ship?”
    “Space cakes.” Her hand becomes a rocket which follows the same trajectory as her imagined fly. She takes the same level of interest.
    The Captain groans. “Midshipman?”
    “Yes Captain.” He clips his heels together, disappointed at the lack of noise. Another thing he has to get use to.
    “Go find the Chaplin. Tell him to prepare for a bio-exorcism. I won’t have a breather on my ghost ship.”

  11. 14 September 2019 at 10:09 pm

    150 Words
    Unmasked Villain; Spooky Location; Drama


    Flames flickered in the oppressive darkness, solitary among thousands. A tall woman strode around them, her high-necked red dress flowing dangerously close to the light. Watching her, bathed in the shadows, were hundreds of people, their breathing heavy in the air of anticipation.

    She spun to face them, her eyes flashing as they reflected the flames. Her voice thundered through the deadened space. Disdain blanketed the group, suffocating even the bravest of her followers.

    Weakness was unacceptable, this they knew, but they had still managed to disappoint her. All fell to their knees, bowing their heads to the shame brought on by her piercing glare.

    She reached down to grab one of the candles, holding it in such a way that her face was cast in a ghostly light. Swiftly, her fingers were enveloped in the burning wax. Everyone else hissed, shocked, yet impressed by her stoicism.

    Flames smoldered still.

  12. Lindsey P
    16 September 2019 at 9:48 am

    I guess mine didn’t get saved…oh well.

    • Lindsey Pittenger
      16 September 2019 at 9:51 am

      298 Words

      Bookworm; Mine; Mystery

      The Case of the Canned Canaries

      As they ventured further down the dimly lit tunnel, Miranda pulled her book closer to her face, squinting to make out the words, comparing them to her surroundings. Everything seemed to be just as she’d expected. The construction of the mine shaft seemed stable and matched the text, which eased her growing sense of claustrophobia, but there was something that still just didn’t seem right. She hadn’t noticed that she’d slowed to a stop until the man behind her nearly knocked her over.

      “Oomf—sorry about that. Need to watch where I’m going a bit more,” he said with a sheepish grin.

      “I’m fine,” she said, clutching the book to herself and waving him away. Ignoring the dismissal, he pointed at her treasured cargo.

      “So what are you reading down here that’s so important to gum up the traffic?” he asked jovially, lowering his pickaxe from his shoulder.

      “Oh, this?” She held up the book. “It’s just an old book about mines. I figured I’d bring it along for some good-natured analysis. This mine seems similar to the one in the book, but the thing that’s been concerning me the most is the canaries.”

      “Canaries?” he asked, confused, briefly glancing around the shaft as though he’d missed something.

      “There aren’t any,” she said matter-of-factly, reopening her book, “Here, they use canaries as a warning system for noxious gases to keep people from dying, but this whole time we’ve been here, I haven’t seen a single one.” The look on her face fell as he burst into laughter.

      “I’m sorry,” he said, pointing to a box on the wall. “I think this sensor is that canary you’re looking for. Don’t worry, we are monitoring the safety of the air down here. At any rate, hope you’re enjoying your tour!”


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