Microcosms 172

Greetings, flash fictionistas, and welcome to Microcosms 172. Sorry for the delay. Let me know how you feel about Saturday/Sunday. I’m down for whatever you guys prefer. It’s just been a rough week. Hopefully, we’re back on track, now! Thanks for your patience.

 

REMEMBER!

(1) You have just 48 hours until midnight, tomorrow (Sunday) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece. Ignore the countdown clock in the sidebar this week!
(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 

 

Took a peek at history again and found some interesting things. Also wanted to include some current events. (Even though the Area 51 “raid” now happened yesterday, I’ve been waiting to use it. lol) Enjoy!

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/setting, and genre/style.

We spun, and our three elements are:

Revolutionary; Airplane; Steampunk

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.

 

  • Revolutionary
  • Newspaper Printer
  • Telegraph Operator
  • Alien
  • Aerobatic Pilot
  • “Storming” Invaders
  • Well
  • Secret Military Base
  • Colony
  • 1776 New York City Fire
  • Newsroom
  • French Revolution
  • Spaceship
  • Airplane
  • Stonehenge
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Epistolary
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • Steampunk
  • Romance
  • Action

 

 
Spin!
 

 

00

Judge is TBD. We’ll update this as soon as we can.

 

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Slight Schedule Delay - Saturday/Sunday This Week

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15 comments for “Microcosms 172

  1. 21 September 2019 at 12:20 pm

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    Revolutionary; Newsroom; Drama

    Earth Daze

    It started with the five of us. Earth Day. 1970.
    We became true believers.
    Faster than spit.

    We would graduate high school later that year. Then we would be off to LRU. We’d become the class of ’74.

    LRU? Stands for Louis Riel University. I know what you’re thinking. No such place. Trust me, you’d be wrong. It’s a Canadian Revolutionary thing. Rebels we were. Rebels to the core.

    That first year, we five infiltrated the Wheel of Truth, LRU’s student paper.

    Back to Earth Day ‘70.

    Lucy Fellows had the idea.

    Her brains were always stretching like a rubber band.

    Twang!

    Twang!

    After the massive marches in the States, the exhilaration of them, the fear of what they signified, Lucy asked, “What if…” and she hesitated a fraction, “what if we dedicated our lives to the earth?”

    “What are you talking about, Luce?” Mac Tyler asked. They were an item back then, Mac and Lucy.

    “Rachel Carson. She’s spoken to us. Here, right here,” and she read a part of a line from Silent Spring: “we have at last asserted our “right to know.” The earth, the people of the earth have a right to know that we are killing it. It and them.”

    Mac, Bobby, MaryJane, and I were silent for the longest time. What was Lucy asking of us?

    Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I asked, “What are you saying, Luce?”

    Then she got that look. Kind of angelic it was. Scary. Beautiful. “We’re all off to University, right? Families? Careers? Life? So, what if…we commit ourselves to a life of truth telling. Become reporters Earth Journalists? What if we find stories, write stories that save the earth?”

    And there it was.

    Our lives had suddenly become BIG PICTURE lives.

    There was no turning back.

    3+
  2. Kyra Dusk
    21 September 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Twitter: @DuskKyra
    249 Words
    Alien; Stonehenge; Sci-fi/ Fantasy

    Sunset at Stonehenge

    Orange light ignited the Neolithic temple, shining so brightly under the western arch that everything else appeared obscured in smoke and darkness. At eight sunrises and eight sunsets throughout the year, a galactic doorway opened here on this sacred site.

    All human eyes were fixed on the sunset, so none noticed the otherworldly traveler who stepped from the shadows of the eastern arch.

    The alien, Bergd, adjusted her costume emulator to match the life forms in front of her: pilgrims wearing colorful robes and crowns of autumn leaves. An instant later, the fabric of her own robe snapped and rustled in the breeze, while her epidermis heated to an intoxicated flush and her respiration carried the perfume of apple wine. On all sensory levels, she exhibited the characteristics of another joyous reveler.

    Beneath the disguise, Bergd’s temper meter fluctuated with frustration. She’d aimed her arrival for earth year 2019, when human dissidents had rallied against her people’s peace treaty with the native governments. Apparently, she’d mistimed her landing by about a millennium.

    The sun dipped toward the horizon. As soon as it plunged below the hillside, the gateway would close for another forty-five earth rotations. No way was she getting herself trapped in this barbaric era.

    Bergd calibrated her time transistor to return home and try again. She was about to step back into the shadows of the eastern gate when she heard something that didn’t match her intelligence on Earth’s Dark Ages:

    The ringing of a cellular device.

    2+
  3. 21 September 2019 at 5:17 pm

    stoner; ghost ship; comedy
    287 words

    Oscar

    The USS Bronson departed the solar system on the first Wednesday in October, carrying 420 tons of prime marijuana for trade on the rim. Its wormhole jumps were automated.

    By the first jump, the crew, consisting of Oscar Slama, was baked. He sat in the captain’s chair with a bowl of chips in his lap.

    In front of him, he appeared.

    “Wha…?” he said.

    “Don’t freak out,” Oscar 4-6 said. “I’m just more you, in the fourth, fifth, and sixth dimensions.”

    “Whoa,” Oscar said.

    “Got a light?” asked Oscar 4-6.

    After a second wormhole jump, as the ship navigated n-space on its trip to the rim planets, Oscar 7-9 joined the others, who, using a bong, were now ozzy. He immediately commenced baking brownies, a smoking blunt held between his clenched teeth.

    Croned, the three talked about the meaning of life with others who joined them subsequently.

    “It definitely has something to do with this yup yup,” Oscar 64-66 said.

    “Dude, it’s like … like … life,” Oscar 90-92 said.

    “Having trouble finishing my sentenc… ” Oscar said. Oscar 99-101 refilled his bowl with organic, unsalted puffed peas.

    “How many are me?” Oscar said. “I mean, how many of dimensions of me are they …?”

    “Infinite,” said Oscar 19948892…

    More wormholes, more dank. Infinitely more Oscars, steetched.

    “Let’s all squeeze in together,” Oscar said. “Dudes, I am so fazed …”

    “Dude, not out here in n-space. You got to stay spread out in n-space.”

    “No, squeeze in,” Oscar said with the frown of the chonged.

    They burned the crops. They squeezed in, all infinity of them.

    The ship flew on, empty of Oscars and budda.

    The Oscars looked around.

    “Where are we?” they asked themself.

    “In this universe, we’re God,” said the part of Him most lit.

    “Dude!” they said.

    1+
    • 23 September 2019 at 6:12 am

      This story’s very funny: made me laugh out loud.

      0
  4. 22 September 2019 at 5:42 am

    @K_J_Watson
    299 words
    revolutionary; well; comedy

    The Transcendental Artist

    At least, the mayor didn’t throw me down the well. Instead, he and his cronies lowered me on a rope.

    ‘Consider this empty well your new home,’ the mayor called when I reached the bottom.

    ‘Despot,’ I shouted back.

    ‘That’s the attitude which has forced me to put you here, Max,’ the mayor rejoined. ‘We’re suffering a drought and your response is to insult us. You’re a parasitic would-be painter who contributes nothing.’

    ‘I’m a transcendental artist,’ I declared. ‘A revolutionary spirit.’

    But the mayor had gone.

    A subdued bray resonated down the well’s shaft. I stared up. The light above me was fading as night fell; nonetheless, I could see a donkey’s head.

    ‘Leonora,’ I exclaimed, ‘lower the rope.’

    Leonora brayed again.

    ‘Typical, the mayor’s taken it,’ I muttered.

    I thought for a moment.

    ‘Bring me my paints and brushes, Leonora,’ I asked. ‘And a candle and matches.’

    Leonora nodded and disappeared.

    By the time she returned, I could see nothing. Leonora brayed softly and a series of objects fell around me.

    I managed to find and light the candle. My oil paints and brushes were all there.

    ‘I’m going to paint my way out of here,’ I told myself.

    It took me several hours. I painted a ladder onto the stones of the well. As I did so, I climbed the rungs.

    I reached the top of the well as my candle burned out.

    Leonora was waiting.

    ‘Now I’ve a surprise for those who’ve treated me so unpleasantly,’ I told her.

    We hurried to the dried-up fountain in the town square. No one was about. I painted water gushing from the fountain’s pipes, over its side and into the town.

    When I’d finished, I led Leonora away.

    ‘Let’s go,’ I urged, ‘before the town floods.’

    4+
    • Ellen Grace
      22 September 2019 at 9:07 am

      This is one of my favourite tropes! And I adore that the donkey is called Leonora.

      2+
      • 23 September 2019 at 6:13 am

        Thank you, Grace. Your comment’s much appreciated.

        0
  5. Ellen Grace
    22 September 2019 at 9:02 am

    http://www.nowmywingsfit.wordpress.com
    @ellengwriter
    295 words
    Telegraph operator; Colony; Drama

    Five Words Screaming

    On the first day, the Sergeant told them that what they were doing was vital to bringing victory to the colony. Goldie, like most all of the two hundred and something other women in that room, had believed him. The war effort thrived on communication and someone needed to get those messages across the entire continent and then some.

    The weeks that followed saw them sitting there, learning Morse code and practicing pressing the pedal with their forefingers: getting the pressure just right to make a dot or a dash, practicing not until they could get it right but until they couldn’t get it wrong.

    Goldie and her colleagues weren’t allowed to touch a real machine until their training was complete. At least, not a real machine that was connected to anything. They learned the phrases they would need most often, burning the motions into their muscle memory.

    When they were first unleashed on a room full of telegraphs, they fantasised about what messages they would be tasked with sending and who would be on the receiving end. Maybe they would just be letters home from weary soldiers on the front lines. Maybe Goldie’s finger would convey the dots and dashes that made up the words that would win the war for them in the end.

    Most of the messages ended up being addressed to civilians – to mothers, wives, husbands, siblings. But they weren’t from soldiers. They were all the same, only the names changed, signed by the Sergeant – sometimes the same one who trained them to begin with all those months ago, sometimes one they had never heard of. But the message itself – the message was always the same:

    I regret to inform you…

    I regret to inform you…

    I regret to inform you…

    2+
    • 23 September 2019 at 6:17 am

      I like this story very much. Tightly written and moving.

      0
      • Ellen Grace
        23 September 2019 at 3:58 pm

        Thank you very much!

        0
  6. 22 September 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Revolutionary; Airplane; Steampunk
    300 words

    Per Ardua Ad Astra

    “Today sees a revolutionary step forward in the history of flight as the Starling Steamer prepares to take to the air. For the first time, we can look forward to the prospect of the one-hundred miles per hour barrier being broken by a heavier than air flying machine.”

    In the kinematic theatre the camera pulled back to reveal the startling new aircraft in all its glory. The sight of its three funnels brought a gasp of appreciation from the crowd. The scene changed to show the air crew readying for their historic flight. There they were, the captain, resplendent in his flying cap and goggles; his co-pilot, similarly attired; and two short, stocky individuals covered in coal dust – the stokers. The additional stoker was unusual and, some said, the key element to exceeding the fabled speed.

    It was a large machine, larger than any steam-powered aeroplane flown so far, it had to be to accommodate all the coal required to reach the fabulous speed expected of it. The camera turned its gaze to Sir Wilbur Arkwright, the inventor and builder, as he was interviewed before the flight.

    “Tell me Sir Wilbur, are you really sure that your aircraft can exceed the hundred miles per hour you claim of her?”

    “All of our simulations indicate we can easily reach that figure and more. Thousands of man-hours were spent sweating over slide rules, calculating the performance of our new and improved steam power plant. The power to weight ratio says it all, even with the extra load of an additional stoker, we are confident of reaching our objective.”

    “Do you have any last words before the flight?”

    “Nothing, other than to say full steam ahead and god bless the brave crew who are flying the Starling Steamer on this, her maiden flight.”

    2+
  7. Diego Piselli
    22 September 2019 at 4:31 pm

    THE GOLD MINE
    294 WORDS, REVOLUTIONARY; AIRPLANE; STEAMPUNK
    The working shift at the gold mine has been terrible. The young miners have worked fifteen hours straight under watchmen’s lashes and guard dogs barking. They had to hurry to fetch the steam-operated mineral conveyor belt: their nightmare.
    At the exit the threatening guards had searched every inch of miners’ body, suspicious of any attempt of gold smuggling.
    Tired workers proceed towards the barracks: a tasteless soup is waiting for them, they are people with no hopes for a better future. They had all been tricked by cunning masters into forced labour and if they try to escape angry dogs we’ll be searching for them across the country.
    Mr. Peters, the lonely, humble and loyal accountant watches the sad line of men. He has been weaving his net with a small group of apostles of liberty.“Tonight’s the night”, he whispers to a handful of slaves.
    Later in the night he meets his supporters: pale and underfed, but very brave anyway.
    Silently, they remove the steam engine from its basement. In an abandoned well of the mine they attach the engine to a strange, huge bird, they have been secretly building in the past few months: it’s made of steel discarded plates and leather strings.
    When dawn breaks, the mine guards go to the barracks to call the roll, but nobody can be found in the dorm. The guards, puzzled, search frantically the mine compound, while the earth starts to tremble under their feet.
    A strong buzz erupts from a remote adit. A gigantic steamy bird is taking off: miners are on board cheering and screaming towards the freedom.
    Mr. Peters helms the Bird. He’s wearing the rosette of the “steam for the future” society. Spartacus and his comrades are now flying on a plane.

    2+
  8. 22 September 2019 at 9:11 pm

    @EdenSolera
    300 Words
    Revolutionary; Airplane; Drama

    On Pain of Death

    The plane lurched beneath her feet as she turned to face all of the other passengers. Before she could speak, wind howled through the cabin as many of the windows shattered. Though the plane rolled violently to the left, she remained upright, one hand clenched around the back corner wall of the lavatory.

    “Everyone,” her voice cut through the flurry of screams. “Remain calm.”

    Fear clutched the hearts of all of the other passengers, and yet, something about her, the way she denied gravity control over her body, the steel in her eyes, pried those barbs free. Silence all but returned to the cabin, even the wind, uncontrollable as it was, somehow quieter than it had been moments ago.

    Her long locks of ebony curls blew behind her, wild, yet still, somehow, contained, as if her mere presence were enough to command nature itself. “Tonight, we are going to rewrite history.”

    Her voice, though barely more than a whisper, carried over the wind, striking true into the others’ hearts. “They say history will be written by the victors.

    “Not this time.

    “They think they’ve beaten us, sent us to our deaths here, amidst the stars.”

    She shook her head. “Those poor fools. While we still draw breath, they say they’ve won.”

    She almost snarled as she paused for breath. “Well, I say it’s time to show them just how wrong they are.”

    The plane spiraled into a nosedive.

    “They may try to erase us.

    “Try to hide the truth.”

    She brandished a flare beside her.

    “They will fail.

    “Our legacies will never fade.”

    Flames crackled and hissed as they sprang to life.

    “History will be ours.”

    What was later said to be a shooting star split the Stygian sky.

    Upon impact, the Earth evanesced in a burst of crimson light.

    2+
  9. steve lodge
    11 October 2019 at 6:20 pm

    @steveweave71
    300 words
    Storming Invaders/Newsroom/Drama

    Cluster Seven Colony TV (3rd March 2045, evening)

    “That was Michael Ironside’s Jazz Embryo with their version of Tyler Trucker’s classic “Trumpet In The Wind”, featuring Wynton Churchill on harmonica. Michael, of course, is on flugelhorn, piano and bass guitar with Freddie Parkes, the bassoon buffoon and Fritz Noise on drums. This particular track was laid down live at London’s original Statellite Club way back in 1965. Now, we gotta interrupt this programme to cross over to the newsroom, to your anchor, Fantasy Twist. What’s up, Fanny?”

    “Barney, an update from Cluster Seven Central Command on the storming invaders from Planet Ogogo that breeched our defences last night over in Zone Quadrant 17. Space Nomad patrols alert us to the invaders ability to morph at will and they are seeing parallel forms of themselves and other citizens gathering in the parks of East Varicose City. So far no communique has been received in Central Command from these invaders. I dunno, Barney. Sounds a bit grim to me. Cluster Command invite citizens to avoid the area, stay in their pods. No instruction to prepare neighbourhood escape spaceships, but we are warned to expect imminent Cluster war.”

    “Thank you, Fanny. You look good in green, doesn’t she, citizens? More from Fantasy Twist later. Keep smiling. Now for those of you staying in your pods, here is The Roger Spillane Trio with “Jazz Never Felt So Fluffy.”

    “Well, that’s just great,” growled the producer, Silas Lightfoot, off camera, as he reached for another can of Pond & Waters local beer. He laughed ironically. “I mean, a cluster war….in this colony….in October….”

    His robo-wife, Maudie Earthy, rotated her head 360 degrees so she could see him and Barney while continuing to prepare lunch in the small studio kitchen. She laughed soothingly as she said. “In October….in this colony….a cluster war……That’s nice, dear.”

    0
  10. Kirtan Savith Kumar
    15 November 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Instagram Handle: @kirtan_sk
    300 words
    Prompts: Alien; Well; Romance

    Title: At the End of Everything

    Along with the drone of the rain, there’s another sound. It’s people screaming, begging. At that moment, you know they’ve come for us humans.
    Japeth stares at you from across the well. It’s an old brick-and-mortar well, with a tiny red roof perched on two wooden poles above. The roof is what’s keeping the rain from entering the arid well and drowning both of you, and you’re grateful.
    “Are you scared?” Japeth asks for the umpteenth time.
    You usually just shush him, tell him to be quiet. However, there’s something about the petrified screams from above that just breaks something in you. You can’t pretend any longer. You can’t keep up this brave façade any more.
    “A bit,” you whisper, shifting the raven locks from your eyes so you can get a better look at him. Japeth looks at you straight in your eyes. If it weren’t for the lavender tinge of his skin and pointed ears, he could pass off as a human.
    Japeth blinks his sea-green eyes rapidly, and that’s how you can tell that he’s nervous.
    “Don’t be, Padma. They won’t find us here,” he nonetheless says, crawling across the well’s muddied bottom such that he’s now beside you. He wraps his arms around you, and you sigh, feeling the warmth of his skin against your own.
    That’s when the screaming intensifies. Guns are being fired. You hear people praying.
    Japeth pulls you closer to him but you now struggle to break free from his embrace, the sounds from above shattering your illusion of safety.
    “What are we doing? Why are you protecting me, Japeth? Just let them take me!” You practically yell, no longer caring if you’re discovered.
    “Because I’m in love,” Japeth whispers, and kisses you passionately, the world above exploding in fire and fury.

    0

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