Microcosms 175

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 175!

Before we get into the prompt, we have some changes for you this year! Here’s a brief rundown (details can be found on our FAQs page):

  • Weekly and monthly contests! Weekly runs Sunday – Saturday. Monthly runs for the full month.
  • Weekly will have a community pick winner. Monthly will have both community pick and judge’s pick winner(s).
  • You can enter the same story from your weekly contest to the monthly one, if you like, or write something new. We also have a default spinner you can use now if you don’t like the prompt(s) offered. Enter as many times as you like!
  • Judging is “on your honor”, unless judges request blind entries.
  • We’re now using the Pacific Time


  1. You have ONE WEEK (Sunday – Saturday, midnight – midnight) Los Angeles Time (PST/PDT) to submit your masterpiece.
  2. All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title and other header info)
  3. NO FAN-FICTION, please, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS for this contest.
  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 submissions guidelines on our FAQs page.

Please use the following format when submitting your entries (feel free to copy/paste and edit or save a copy of the Google Doc linked below):

My Amazing Story Title
XXX words
Element / Element / Element
My Preferred Name
Optional: website or social media link 1 (please include full URL)
Optional: website or social media link 2 (please include full URL)
Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information. /// OR /// No, I am not open to derivative works at this time, thank you.


My amazing story content goes here.

You can use HTML to add a link. Example:
<a href="https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic">https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic</a>

Please kindly use this format, then copy/paste your response as a comment. (It’s totally fine to be creative with the “words” part, like “253 ripe bananas”, as we’ve seen some people do in the past.) Not using this format with NOT disqualify you. But it will help us out if you do use it.

We have prepared a free and easy-to-use, pre-formatted document in Google Docs to help simplify things. Just save your own copy and then replace the content with your own. (Sometimes, adding links will get your comment flagged by the spam filter. If you think that happened, please contact us for assistance.)

I feel like there should be some special designation for a number 175, but I wouldn’t know what it is. haha

Inspiration again comes primarily from history, with an outlier coming from a line in one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail. “Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one.”

Also, it’s time to announce the Community Picks for Microcosms 173. And yes, that’s “picks” plural because, believe it or not, we actually had a FIVE-WAY TIE! Wow! That’s a first!

So, huge congrats to:

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. MC 174 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week.

Happy writing!


(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:

Poet / Airplane / Comedy

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. (Don’t like any of these? Try our default spinner.)

  • Comedian
  • Basketball Player
  • Queen
  • Assassin
  • Professor
  • Poet
  • Mobster
  • Butterfly
  • Pilot
  • Surgeon
  • Astronaut
  • Billionaire
  • Space
  • Operating Room
  • Airplane
  • Comedy Club
  • Subway
  • Restaurant
  • Coffee Shop
  • Sporting Event
  • Fundraiser
  • Palace
  • Hideout
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy

We are always and forever in need of assistance. If you have any spare time to help, we will happily accept. Even something as little as 5-10 minutes a week would be amazing. (You have no idea.) To find out how you can help, please visit our volunteers page.

Microcosms 176
Microcosms 174

21 thoughts on “Microcosms 175

  1. Prepare for Departure
    Pilot / Operation / Horror

    Eryn McConnell

    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    Prepare for Departure

    The leather gleamed, the instruments sparkled. Captain nodded in approval.
    “Well, Paul, are we set for our next flight?”
    Paul nodded, mute. His eyes were still bloodshot, his synapses shot from when Captain had removed his tongue.
    The Captain felt a burst of something, joy, perhaps, as he recalled it. The feeling of the tongue slithering triumphantly outwards. Delicious.
    Captain’s eyes turned to his passengers, strapped in and prepared, limbs arranged. Only one moved, straining against her bonds, her eyes awash with tears. Please, they begged. Please. They always begged.
    Standing at the front, he looked out at empty eyes and sewn up faces. His wonderful passengers.
    “Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking. I welcome you on-board this flight today, we will be embarking shortly. I have one or two pre-flight checks to make and then we will be on our way.”
    Captain’s eyes slid back to his instruments, set out carefully on the table. Gleaming. Paul had done an excellent job. Breathing out in anticipation, his hands curled around the first, his favourite, the scalpel. It leapt hungrily into his hand, settling in place in his palm.
    He walked towards his newest passenger, noticing the sweat beading on her brow, the veins bulging in her head. Such a nervous flyer.
    He tsked. She screamed, a muffled sound behind the gag. Her hands hammered in her seat, restrained by leather cuffs.
    “Now, now,” the Captain soothed. “It is not a long flight, there’s no need to be nervous.”
    The scalpel grinned as she screamed, her eyes widening as he cut, surgically. The music started to play in his mind, blending with the squelch, the surgical slice, the wet crunch.
    Blood flew.
    “Please prepare for departure,” Captain smiled. “Seatbelts please, Cabin Crew!”

      1. Hi Stephen! Thanks a million! I guffawed so hard when the spinner gave me those prompts. It could go no other way…

  2. My Plane Crash Life
    286 words
    Poet / Airplane / Comedy
    Jaime Bree

    ‘God give me strength, this is harder than I thought’, sighed Gary as he folded another paper airplane and set it aside with the hundreds of others.

    He flinched.

    ‘Bloody paper cuts. If there’s one there’s a hundred. Stings like a bitch.’

    A forced cough behind made his eyes roll. ‘I know that cough’, he thought. ‘I hate that motherfu…’

    ‘Gary darling?’

    ‘Yes Stella.’ He turned to look at her.

    Power suit. Three inch heels. Red lipstick, incredible body and a face only a mother could love. Though he doubted even she did.

    ‘Was that a naughty word I just heard?’

    She snorted a laugh.

    ‘Ooh did you hear that? I’m a poet…’

    ‘ – and you don’t know it…. Yeah I heard. Ha ha, how wonderfully funny you are. You make Jim Carrey look positively amateur.’

    Confidence wasn’t his strong suit but sarcasm seemed to flow from his mouth like faeces from a baby’s diaper.

    ‘You know it’s company policy.’

    Gary stood up, smiled that kind of smile that covered up the murder scene playing out in his imagination.

    ‘I sure do. What’s it gonna be this time? Barbed wire strangulation? Hari-Kari? Lynch mob?’

    ‘Don’t be so silly, sweetie. Just the usual virtual rap on the knuckles. Gotta keep you on your toes, you’re our best employee.’

    He looked around the empty warehouse.

    ‘I’m your only employee.’

    ‘Well, you’re renowned for your paper-folding skills.’

    ‘What a legacy, eh?’ he replied. ‘And on my gravestone shall be written, ‘Swift of fingers but on the other hand…’

    He managed a wry smile as a paper airplane was hit from the breeze of the open door and flew… straight into the floor.

    ‘… crap at his job.’

    1. Terrific. I need to get some dialogue writing lessons from you sometime.
      Tough competition from you lot this week. I wish I’d read them before posting, frankly.

  3. Disaster Movie #101
    299 words
    Wilson Holmes
    None of that

    I’m an artist; cultured, eloquent, cool. What I am not, is a survivor. I’ve seen enough disaster films to know that even if I survive the crash, I’ll be the first to be devoured when the cannibalistic urge inevitably stirs. I mean, what use is a poet on a desert island, or stranded at sea? Art is the first thing to burn when civilisations collapse.

    There’s only one thing for it, if I am to survive, I need to delve deep into the vast resources of my charm and lie.

    “I once sailed with Jacques Cousteau. I know the oceans well. We’ll be absolutely fine.”

    The lady to my right smiles meekly. The seed is planted.


    What if she were to die on impact? She doesn’t strike me as particularly robust. The specimen to my left, however. Young, chiseled, a born leader. In another life, perhaps…No! Focus.

    “Did a stint in Nicaragua with the French foreign legion, too.”

    That felt less convincing. And the handsome devil’s wearing earphones. Shit! Darkness envelops me. My fate is written, I’m sure. I press the call button for the host, fingers trembling. He appears almost instantly, like a knife.

    “How may I help you, sir?”

    So composed in the face of impending catastrophe. If I could steal a leaf from his pages. But panic is beginning to consume me, my mouth dry, heart aching. The vibrations of the engines churn my insides.

    “When it happens, would you be so kind to see that they bury me, what’s left of me, in the proper manner? Perhaps some wildflowers and a small cross to mark my final place of rest?”

    He regards me with a look of reassuring pity.

    “Sir, we’ll be taking off soon. Please fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the flight”

    185 Words
    Steve Lodge
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese

    My friend, William Cakebread, the eccentric poet and bagpipe exporter, gave his last poetry slam at The Haunted Pussy, twelve years ago this week.
    He recited “The Moon Disappears Over Flatula,” then calmly announced he had accepted the position of Resident Poet at the Sinisterre Silent Retreat Complex in the Himalayamalayamalaya Mountains.
    He gave his audience his customary “smiling finger” as he left the stage and I drove him to Ringstad Aeropuertog for his domestic flight on Air Belzon to Paranoia Aeropusti in the foothills, from where a “kartslinger” would transport him to the Retreat.
    The weather appeared foul and the flight was delayed as the other passengers – mainly farm animals – were herded aboard.
    Sadly, for those who liked William or were owed money by him, the flight went missing over the treacherous mountain flightpath and William was never heard of again (or so was thought).
    Apparently, sometimes at night in those unforgiving mountains, I’m told, there are ghostly, ghastly sounds of farmyard animals giving their appreciation for yet another recital of “The Plane Disappears Over Paranoia” ending, no doubt with the traditional “smiling finger.”

  5. WW3 Was Stupid, There’s No Arguing About It
    300 words
    CEO / WAR / SCI-FI
    Laura Cooney
    Twitter and Instagram: @lozzawriting
    Website http://www.lozzawriting. com
    Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    He hadn’t had the company long before trenches were dug on either side of his building. Why they had chosen this as the epicentre of the neutral zone was beyond him? He could see why they hadn’t chosen the Twitter offices, nothing neutral there. He wished then that he’d caused more trouble than he was worth. But, as it was, his company never caused any hassle and, he supposed, this kindness of spirit was why he was now literally in the middle of a war he hadn’t started and wanted nothing to do with.

    The robot that worked downstairs in the last Starbucks on Earth had an opinion about it, but you could never tell if the opinion was her own or someone else’s so you always had to take that with a pinch of salt. Sometimes a soldier on their break would come in and they’d ask what the fighting was for. The soldiers were never sure, some Social Media argument about whether you could have cornflakes with gravy had spiralled out of control, they thought.

    There weren’t many more people to email, of all the Fortune 500 companies McDonald’s had lasted the longest and the guy that ran that was a jolly bloke. His emails always had a touch of humour, so he looked forward to them. With robots being the main staff in all the stores it was nice to have a bit of human contact really.

    Well, that was the last of them, the final email, the final latte. He leaned back in his chair and looked at the vista of decimation, rubble as far as the eye could see. He still had to decide, the last choices open to anyone soldier or robot? Which to choose?

    Robot… at this point it was all the same.

  6. Emergency Aboard
    244 words
    Element / Element / Element
    Vicente L Ruiz
    Twitter: @VicenteLRuiz
    Website: Vicente L Ruiz Writes
    Medium (free to read): https://medium.com/@vicentelruiz
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    “I thought these things only happened in the movies!” Angela said.

    “Me too,” Mike said. “But we need to do something.”

    “OK, let’s keep calm,” Magnolia said, grabbing seniority by its nostrils. “We’re trained for emergencies. We’re lucky the pilots managed to open the safety door to the cockpit before passing out, that is something. Mike, get in there, sit down and try to talk to someone on the radio. It should be on, a controller will hear you. And don’t touch anything else. Bad thing, the passenger’s music and TV don’t work. Angela, check the passenger list. See if we have any pilots aboard. We carry five hundred people, there must be someone. The rest of you, don’t let anything show. If anyone suspects, calm them down.”

    “I can’t believe this,” Jackson said.

    “I know, Jackson, but that’s what we have.”

    “What if it’s not food poisoning?”

    “What if it is and we pass out, too? So far, we all are OK, so it falls into us.”

    But the passengers noticed. There was something wrong in the plane. It was clear for everyone: the crew were trying so hard to behave normally, it immediately stood out. People started pinging the crew. More and more.

    “I know what I can do,” Jackson said. “We should keep them entertained, until we can find a pilot.”

    “What do you propose?”

    “You’ll see.”


    “Saucy limericks? That’s your idea of entertaining the passage in an emergency, Jackson, really?”

  7. How Do I Love Thee?
    299 words
    Poet / Airplane / Comedy
    KM Zafari
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    21A. This is it.

    He sat down at the window and watched them load the bags onto the plane. He loved nighttime flying. Even amidst the bright lights off the airport, the stars were visible.


    He unbuckled his belt and opened the overhead bin to the annoyed smile of the flight attendant who had just closed it.

    “Sorry,” he whispered. “I just need my notebook really quick.”

    Back in his seat, he began scrawling a rough draft.

    In your eyes were the embers of light from stars extinguished eons ago
    At times, I hear your laughter carry on the autumn wind
    Nights without you still chill me to the-

    “Hi! I’m your seatmate, Jan.”


    Nights without you still-

    “So, whatcha workin’ on?”

    “A poem. I’m flying to Atlanta to surprise my ex.”


    “Oh, Georgia is lovely this time of year. Actually it’s lovely any time of year. Be sure to get some peaches!”

    “Yes. Sorry, I don’t mind chatting during the flight, but I’m just trying to jot down a couple of lines.”

    “Tray tables up for takeoff, please. Thank you.”

    “Right, sorry.” His phone dinged. “Oh, um, excuse me?” Oh, no. She has on one of those pained smiles. “Uh, sorry to bother you, but this alert says my luggage has been sent to Ambrolauri, not Atlanta. Isn’t that like in the country of Georgia, not the state?”

    “I’m sorry, sir. I really don’t have anything to do with that side of things. And your phone needs to be in airplane mode at this time.”


    “Sir, if it’s going to be an issue, we may have to ask you to leave the plane.”

    “No, there’s no issue. But that’s actually not a bad idea. I think the universe may be sending me a sign.”

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