Microcosms 193 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 193!

This week, we are pleased to continue with “The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction”, brought to you by Alert Terminal Warehouse.

Quick Access Links


Spelunker / Circus / Mystery
Demon / Cave / Action

$25 prize (free to enter)!

Come write a story in 300 words or fewer. Fun and free!


Here’s a brief rundown of changes we have made (details can be found on our FAQs page):

  • Weekly contest runs Sunday – Saturday.
  • New! Judge’s pick winner gets a $25 USD prize. (Default is by PayPal; other options available.) Contest is still free to enter!
  • Community pick winner(s) for fun and bragging rights!
  • We have a default spinner you can use now if you don’t like the prompt(s) offered. Enter as many times as you like!
  • We’re using the Pacific Time (PDT/PST, as applicable – Los Angeles time).

Add Recurring Weekly Calendar Reminder

Never forget to enter again! Choose as many as you like!

Add a recurring reminder for Sundays

Add a recurring reminder for Mondays

Add a recurring reminder for Tuesdays

Add a recurring reminder for Wednesdauys

Add a recurring reminder for Thursdays

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Add a recurring reminder for Saturdays


  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. We enjoy fan fiction! Just not for this contest. 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 (see format guide below).
  5. If you are new to Microcosms, please check out the full submissions guidelines on our FAQs page.
  6. I feel like this should go without saying, but just in case – absolutely no AI submissions.
  7. Constructive feedback is fine, but all comments should be made in the spirit of kindness. Determination of what that means and if there are any consequences (such as warning or banning) is at my sole discretion. This is a safe space. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, or anti-Semitism, etc. (including “dog whistles”), will not be tolerated. This has never really been an issue, and we generally have a very nice community here – let’s keep it that way.
  8. You retain all rights to your story, except otherwise noted and unless otherwise agreed upon in advance (e.g., if selected for inclusion in an anthology, a contract will be sent with details). By submitting your story to this contest, you are granting us worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free rights to display it on our website (and store it, as needed).

To Qualify For the Cash Prize, You Must:

  1. Submit your story as a comment below.
  2. Story must fit within the contest criteria, including word count guidelines, and be on time. (A few minutes is okay; contact us if there are technical issues preventing you from submitting more than 5 minutes past midnight, PT.)
  3. Include the prompts used. (You can use the ones we spun for or spin your own from the current or default spinner, but it must be clear what you used.)
  4. Vote AND leave a comment on at least one other story for the week that is not your own (doesn’t have to be the same story).
  5. Share a link to the contest on social media, if you have one. (I.e., if you include a social media handle in your submission to promote yourself, please extend the same courtesy in return.)
  6. Acknowledge that the decision of the judge(s) is/are final.


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)
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 on this post.

(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.)

This Week’s Prompts

Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, location/setting, and genre/style.

We spun, and our three elements are:

Spelunker / Circus / Mystery


Demon / Cave / Action

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.)




  • Lab Experiment
  • Getting a Tan
  • Weather Forecaster
  • Climber
  • Spelunker
  • Demon
  • Acrobat
  • Street Artist
  • Lab
  • Tanning Salon
  • Newsroom
  • Mountain
  • Cave
  • Hell/Afterlife
  • Circus
  • City Street
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery<>/li>
  • Steampunk

Judge this week is TBD. We’ll update this spot when we know for sure.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 192 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

Happy writing!


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. If you have an idea for a future contest and/or would like to be a guest judge, please contact us.

MC 191 Winners!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Without further ado, it’s time to announce the winner of MC 191 – we have a double dipper!

Community and Judge’s Pick

We have double dipper!

Huge congrats (and bragging rights) go to our Community Pick and the Judge’s Pick, who is also the winner of this week’s $25 Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction:

Drumroll, please!

Congrats, AJ! Please contact us for instructions on how to accept your prize, and please let us know if you’d like to judge another round!

Here’s what judge Steph Ellis had to say:

A lovely, well-rounded and gentle story of a loser in lover finally on the threshold of what could be a beautiful relationship. The self-deprecating humour of Billy, his thoughts that his date ‘looked intelligent and appeared potentially normal’ endeared him to me as a reader immediately. In a few words, you understood his losses over the years, his low-self-esteem and his bravery in having another go. The last line also gave me another chuckle with the innuendo of the police handcuffs in Cheri’s handbag. A story that tells so much more than was expressed in its 300 words.

HUGE thanks to Steph for judging this week!

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Microcosms 194 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms 192 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

42 thoughts on “Microcosms 193 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

    300 Words
    By Steve Lodge
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese

    “Good afternoon, viewers. Jim User back with you. Just had time to go home and change my socks after commentating at the Acupuncture Olympics in Niederscheid. As you can hear, I’m as fit as an otter and commentating now from the 2050 Glockenspiel Olympics in Syrupia, a lovely spot, high in the Himalayamalayamalaya Mountains of Belzonia. The fresh air is quite expensive here, but, thankfully, subsidised by the Olympic committee.

    “Well, it’s Gold and Silver medals up for grabs today, between the unfancied (at least by me) Mimi Sangster and the Tirolean giant, Erich Hofundlederhosen, who once scored 5 goals in a streamed event. Early in the competition, Mimi survived a botched kidnapping episode and looks as fresh as a daffodil as she goes through some last-minute sit-ups on her long-time trainer, Travis Spillane. If you’ve not seen Mimi and Travis before, viewers, Mimi is the one with the beer belly.

    “I tried to interview Erich recently at a preliminary spelunker tournament beneath St Nikolai Monastery in Szentmihalyi , which, interestingly, is the permanent venue of the Underground Circus Of The Legend. However, I learned that Erich only speaks by yodelling and I had an awful hangover that day, so I gave it a miss.

    “The Underground Circus Of The Legend, by the way, is looking forward to a healthy future. New sponsorship has been agreed with neighbours, Minstralig Dairy. Questionable acts below ground, like the human pyramid, the cannonball and the high wire trapeze have been withdrawn from the programme due to height restrictions. The local police, under Inspector Rorszag, continue to search for the former owners and the missing funds. I have heard that the Dairy have insisted that future acts include more yoghurt and soft cheese spread.

    “Anyway, the Glockenspiel Final is about to get under way…..”

  2. Odds or Evens
    299 Words
    Galen Gower
    Yes, I am open to interpretive works including street performance.

    “I’m sorry, I still don’t get it.” Emmett had really tried to listen. Honest.
    “Look, it’s really very simple. You call even or odd, we put out fingers, add them up, and you win or lose.” Oxlotl had explained this. Many times. He was losing patience. Ixlotl giggled and rocked his stool.
    “Right, but I put out two fingers, so that was even, right?” Emmett smiled blankly.
    “NO!” Oxlotl cleared his throat and let his spines retract before continuing. “Excuse me, no, I put out three fingers.” He held up three fingers. “So it was odds, get it?”
    “That’s why you lost. I said even and then put out two. Even.” Emmett tried nodding while he said it this time, to facilitate a better understanding. Ixlotl carried on giggling.
    “Dammit, man! No! That’s not how the game works, is it?” Oxlotl’s throat pouch was inflating. He was going to lose it. “What kind of game would that be, huh? What would you even call it? Hold Up the Number of Fingers? You say one, hold up a finger, you win! Why would we play that game? What kind of demon’s bargain is that? Eh? I set up in this cave and then everyone’s just walks right on through?”
    Emmett smiled politely. He adjusted his bowtie. He smoothed his hair down and put on his most contrite expression. He really hoped it wasn’t a bother, honest. Ixlotl guffawed and slapped his knee.
    “I’m dreadfully sorry, can you explain it a different way?” His eyes shone with pure incomprehension. Ixlotl howled with laughter.
    Oxlotl snapped. That was it. He bellowed and leapt for the fellow, aiming to disembowel. Ixlotl stayed on his stool and Oxlotl pawed and yowled, but it did no good.
    “Explain it again,” Ixlotl gasped between peals, “please!”

  3. Cave of Demons
    175 words


    Along the road to Alba, there is a dark wood. There is doorway, a cave, half hidden by nightshade and bindweed flowers. Some say it is a portal to hell. Some say, it is the way to paradise. You can decide. I will be your guide.

    Watch your step at the entrance. Watch out for the bones of those who have gone before. Why do you shudder so? What happened to your courage?

    The light is green here, like walking underwater. Yes, there is the smell of water, and things that prefer dark and damp. Do you see the deer running on the walls? Do you see the white butterflies? You do know demons can see in the dark.

    Yes, I will be your guide. Here you can meet your demons. Here are your weapons—punches and flying kicks, a rope of bindweed. Your demon struggles, then falls, then gets up again.

    An ice knife gleams in the greenish light. The demon vanishes like mist. Congratulations! You have beaten your fear, your first demon. Onward!

  4. Into the Lion’s Den
    299 words

    The search party had covered every inch of the cave system but Gary Braithwaite had vanished. He’d only needed to stay down there for a month to break the record and it was gone that.
    “Where’d he get to?” asked Frank. Had Gary crept out, been watching them?
    Moira shrugged. “We had a chat before he went down. Discussed which exit he’d use. Said he’d do a full circuit of the tunnels and then come out in our top field.”
    “Isn’t that where you let the circus camp recently?” Frank had heard the lions, the sound had terrified him.
    She gave a slight smile. “I showed them exactly where to pitch their tents—and the best place for their cats.”
    Frank stared at her, dots connecting. “How did you know they’d be passing this way?”
    “Met up with some of them in town. They were having a bit of difficulty with the locals, thought I’d help out. Wouldn’t want those beasts chomping on anything they shouldn’t.” There was almost a purr to her voice.
    Frank gulped.
    “Look, here comes that nice inspector,” said Moira. “He might be able to shed some light on the matter.”
    “Sorry, Mrs Braithwaite. He’s definitely not down there. We thought the dogs had picked something up in your top field but it was a false alarm. We’re thinking he’s just taken himself off somewhere for a while. I’m sure he’ll turn up again. If we find anything else, we’ll let you know.”
    Frank and Moira made their way to the field, watched the search party leave. Nearing the tunnel exit, Frank’s foot sank into a stinking pile of something unmentionable. Pulling free, he spotted a familiar ring. Frank swallowed again. Trotted after Moira. Best not to know. Best to find his own escape. Soon.

  5. ‘Beyond Occam’s Razor’
    298 words
    Demon / Cave / Action
    Website: https://awalker.org
    Twitter/Spoutible: @zevonesque

    On the Devonian cliffs a natural symphony built around James as the waves crashed and flowed with tympanic regularity, building the atmosphere for his return to Keen’s Cavern. It had been years since he first heard of it during family holidays. The locals called it Devil’s Cave – warning all to avoid it. It was possessed ‘by the devil himself’ with countless taken.

    James was back for the first time since his childhood. He’d persuaded himself to best the cave: to beat the devil. He knew it was a story told by the locals. There was no devil. Perhaps there was something of value in the rocky monument. Maybe a smuggler’s cave. He was older, stronger, and no longer suffered the impetuousness of youth.

    He doubted there was a treasure. It was not The Goonies. His treasure would be his defeat of the devil within; the fear he’d grown up with and those memories of his parents losing their shit when they found Clark had disappeared. His older brother had always been the poster boy for misplaced bravado. After his body washed up beneath Keen’s Cavern, those warnings came back to him again and again. The devil had surely taken Clark. James feared the devil and had the fervent faith in gods ever since. Until his faith fell away after his parent’s death. His faith was replaced with belief: in science.

    As he scrambled through the Pre-Cambrian rocks he laughed out loud. This was a cave. A hole in the ground. Through science they could date the rocks, the chemicals in them, and how they were formed – and deformed. Science won over faith. His brother had slipped and fallen. Occam’s Razor.

    The devil sensed it all. It amused him how people never believed in him until the very end.

  6. Progress
    300 words
    Climber / Mountain / Sci-Fi
    Lily Finch
    Optional: website or social media link 1. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100081017924537

    Optional: website or social media link 2. https://twitter.com/home

    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.



    His grandpa used to say that the mountain was for climbing, but that was long ago, when climbing was okay.

    But now that the tables are turned and the Gardenians have all but taken over the planet, the rivalry is to disappear from sight; there is no time for taking prisoners. To become the aliens on the planet where they were born, well, therein lies the rub. The Overtaker Gardenians were every Crowdan’s worst nightmare, stealing what they wanted, taking Crowden whom they wanted, and leaving the Crowdan to wallow in their shitty circumstances.

    But the Crowdans’ goals were lofty; their first was to be indiscreet and attack those Gardenians while they were asleep. The entire brood moved to a cave by a brook, and there they trained to defend what they loved, the land.

    But soon enough, they were pushed up higher until the height was too much; out went two men to find an alternative where all of them could live to continue their training.

    The fluke was a discovery by a young, tiny boy who saw a girl in the distance and wanted to play. She lured him along until she was suddenly gone. He eventually made it to the exact spot, and he saw her on the inside walls of the cave that protected so many Crowdenese and Crowdanese that the boy felt at home there, like this is where he belonged.

    The girl said, “I’ll go with you to get your people.

    His eyes lit up, and he said, “Oh yes, please, let’s go get them.”

    The group felt at ease and fit right in. That was until they brought them in.

    The craft crashed with a thud, landing hard against the mountainside; every Gardenian was injured.

    They certainly couldn’t leave them to die.

  7. Sizzling Strawberry Lemonade
    272 words
    Getting a Tan / Hell/Afterlife / Comedy
    Mackenzie Kemp
    Twitter: @MackenzieKemp22
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.
    I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for a moment like this. All of the years of research, sitting on rooftops, eavesdropping on the self-proclaimed “Tanning Squad,” spending what’s left of my paycheck to achieve the perfect tan, and now, in the wake of my death, I’ve luckily been thrown right into the fire.

    The literal flames of hell.

    The Center of Hell, similarly to Earth’s core, is known for its extreme temperatures. The kind that would kill you instantly, you know, if you’re not already dead.

    Like a main street festival, this place is crowded with people and the occasional gigantic spider (which I prefer to pretend doesn’t exist, just like the question I’m sure is floating in your mind currently).

    How did I die?

    Despite how much I attempt to remember, the only detail I can recall is walking out of my favorite restaurant with the leftovers of my strawberry lemonade. Besides, I’m sure my death really wasn’t anything interesting, definitely not to the level of the afterlife.

    After finding a spot, I let my body hit the ground, the heat audibly sizzling.


    “That’s not my name.”

    The man sits next to me. “Well, it’s a fitting nickname, don’t you think? You intentionally seeked out a place to tan, even though that’s physically impossible. You’re technically just a soul.”

    “Technicalities aren’t important. I just want to spend the rest of eternity, right here.”

    “I wish you luck, Ember. Hell isn’t the most welcoming place.”

    He stands up, stretches his arms, and starts walking back the way he came.

    My first conversation with a Hell Regular. How strange.

  8. The Mystery of the Steam Punker Biscuit Dunker Spelunker & the Cream Cheese is the Bee’s Knees, Breeze Loving Trapezer.

    Spelunker / Circus / Mystery
    WC : 300
    Sal Page

    Algernon loved caves. The darker and damper the better. His skin was prone to sunburn. Even ten minutes in the sunshine & he’d start to go pink. Never mind the sun on his back, the feeling of cold cave water seeping into his boots was utter bliss.

    Isobella was a trapeze artist. She loved to be above the ground as much as Algy enjoyed being below it. He went to the circus just to watch her flying above his head. Pale pink hair, sequins & diaphanous tuille. A real contrast to Algy’s black jeans & creased leather boots, moss green shirt, clay-coloured waistcoat and battered top hat with goggles.

    Izzie loved fresh air & breezes, pink lemonade, egg white omelettes & marshmallows. She said cream cheese was the bee’s knees whereas Algernon favoured black coffee, mushrooms on toasted rye bread, & biscuits covered in dark chocolate. He dunked them deep into his coffee while Izzie floated her marshmallows on the surface of her champagne glass of lemonade.

    They moved into a two up two down. The bathroom was shiny and white, the bed draped with white muslin & the ceiling painted with clouds on sky blue with kites & birds. The windows were always open.

    Downstairs, kitchen and living room were all dark wood with a cold stone fireplace, pitch black leather sofas, mud coloured carpet & shelves of ancient books. The windows were always shut.

    So many people marvelled at the mystery of Algy & Izzie. The types to say ‘if you like pineapple on your pizza I cannot be your friend’ or ‘My way or the highway.’

    Look a tad deeper & we can see that Algy & Izzie, despite their polar opposite differences, were quite similar. Both were tolerant and respectful of others. Accepting, easy-going and empathetic.

    1. Nicely done by subtly bringing their reality into being despite their opposites which made all the difference.

      Enjoyed how it speaks on so many levels and reaches many with a seemingly simple story.

      Now that’s a writer! LF6

  9. The Tattooed Lady’s Secret
    300 words
    Spelunker / Circus / Mystery
    Deanna Salser
    I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    The smell of elephants infiltrated Tessa’s senses, burrowing into her sinuses with an insistent wiggle. One gloved hand came up to pinch her nostrils, holding in the sneeze she knew would give her away. She crept forward, rubbing furiously to erase the sensation. A crumpled flyer headline caught her eye. “Watch For Intruder Expected at Ringling Museum Tonight!” A chill rippled down her body. She gave a mental shake and continued toward the multi-colored tent. They couldn’t be talking about her. Slipping inside, she shone her light around the space. There they were, the ancient drawings, hewn from the rock in her cave.
    A brief but excruciating reverberation stifled her consciousness. As it filtered back to her, she was startled by a voice.
    “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty.”
    Tessa jerked up, dismayed to realize she couldn’t move. A pair of intense green eyes surrounded by a confusion of colors came closer as a woman squatted beside her. She wore a string bikini, and her vivid tattoos seemed alive, moving eerily as she settled herself. Tessa felt her pocket, surprised to find it empty. The woman dangled a derringer. “Looking for something?” she teased. Tessa’s heart pounded as she pulled at her bonds.
    The woman smiled as she peeled the cloth away from one breast, revealing a small patch of bare skin.
    “Now, stay still,” she warned. Tessa tried to roll away, but it was too late. The woman flung out her arm and winked one glowing jade orb as her hand appeared to enclose something in the air between them. She abruptly clenched and slapped her hand over the circle of pink skin. Tessa abruptly disappeared.
    The tattooed lady caressed her newest piece, an athletic woman, coiled ropes slung over her shoulders, Pitons dangling from a ring attached to her belt.

  10. A Life Lost
    300 words
    Spelunker / Circus / Mystery
    Jessica Gardner
    Twitter: @jgardnerwriting
    E-mail: jessica.a.gardner0307@gmail.com
    Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    Alan Georgeson grew up in Oregon near some great caves. Alan didn’t care about much, but he loved the solitude of exploration. Spelunking was his life.
    He started giving tours of the developed areas of local caves. The liability was too high to take tourists spelunking – he loved it, but it was a risky hobby.
    That is, allegedly, until he met Melanie. She toured the caves with her family, and they connected immediately. She laughed at his canned jokes, and even in the dark, her hazel eyes gleamed. At the end of the tour, he asked her to dinner at a local brewery.
    Dinner was followed by drinks. Between laughter and beers, they took shots of Jack. Alan hadn’t had many dating prospects and was enjoying himself too much. Last he knew, he knocked over a barstool while the bartender and Melanie laughed.


    The next morning, he woke up bruised and sore at the mouth of Derrick Cave. The girl was gone, as was his phone and some of his gear. As he stumbled into the daylight, he knew he was in trouble.
    In the days that followed, Melanie’s family reported her missing. The cops retraced their steps. The bartender recalled a very intense discussion of Derrick Cave. The dogs found her, but her body was too far down for them to retrieve.
    Though Alan claimed to have no recollection of what happened, the jury wasn’t swayed. He was sentenced to three years. As a convicted felon, he had only been able to land seasonal gigs.
    Which is how Alan found himself shoveling dung at a circus. He had racked his brain in prison – he didn’t believe that he killed Melanie. The only person who could absolve or condemn him was eternally lodged in the only place he ever loved.

  11. EL ILUSO
    300 words
    Spelunker/ Circus/Mystery
    ///No, I am not open to derivative works at this time, thank you.
    (Also, careful of the word Drip, it trips word counters)

    “Thanks”, Paola says, exiting with a paint-worn bicycle from the rundown shop. She wheels around the old town, visiting every place the brochure had included, occasionally stopping to converse with the locals who understood English.

    “Beautiful town”, she’d start, easing them into the flow of her interrogation. When they sensed what she was getting at, they’d warn. “Forget the dead”.

    She couldn’t.

    She wheels by a child no older than seven, watches his grandmother buy vegetables across the street, speaking,

    “You like candy?”. He nods.

    “El Iluso? Know about it?”


    She grins, throws a quick look to the kid’s oblivious guardian, large hands hefting him onto the front of the bike, running the pedal. “Show me”.

    The kid throws out orders of left, right, Paola pedalling accordingly straight out of town. When she arrives at the cave, she hands him a bag of skittles, walking in. He gives her a sympathetic look before hopping away.


    Paola feels along the slimy walls of the cave, dipping her fingers into nail-drawn grooves as she follows it underground.
    “Hurry”, the whisper, however familiar, startles her. She runs into the cave now, feet clattering on scattered bones, soon arriving at a subtly illuminated opening where she sees a large blue-white tent eerily glowing.

    “Come in”

    She enters, easily sitting in the grandstand. Minutes after, the entire place lights up with the bustle of a crowd. An announcer speaks, then a clown takes the stage, juggling. Later, aerialists, a lion tamer and—him.

    He appears on the tightrope, flashing her that smile she’d searched for years to see again.

    “Dad!”, she gasps, flailing her small hands, cheering when he walks to the other end once more. The townspeople who had come looking for her sight the bicycle out front, sighing,

    “El Iluso has her”

  12. Send In The God Damned Clowns
    300 words
    Spelunker /Circus / Mystery
    Laura Cooney
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    “What’s a spelunker?” Mel asked frowning.
    They were at the circus with the kids, both of whom were meaning about how boring and lame the clowns were. It was supposed to be a half term treat for the family but they’d made the ultimate error, forgotten the golden rule. The thing that everyone forgets because of candy floss and circus tricks. The simple, and unchanging fact that, honestly, children don’t like the circus!
    But here they were, eating stale popcorn, and waiting to see the world famous trapeze artist and spelunker Mia Toni Davinci spinning 30 feet in the air.
    “I don’t know hen, it’s a mystery to me.” said her husband. “Sounds disgusting whatever it is.”
    He scrunched his face and began imagining all sorts of things a spelunker might do. Some of the things imagined in the next five minutes were not actually all that bad, to his mind, and it passed the time while a small dog chased a small man on a unicycle and it really was unclear who was chasing who and whether in fact it was the dog on the unicycle.
    In the end Mia put on a very good show up there. The audience breathed more than a few relieved sighs when she came back to earth. Balanced on one crooked leg and swinging while holding a machete isn’t many peoples idea of a fun Saturday, watching or participating.
    As the family left the big top they were handed a flyer for the circus being held during the city’s upcoming comedy and arts festival. As her daughter finished the last of the candy floss and linked her arm, a sensation passed through Mel.
    “Hey, you guys? Fancy going to this?
    She’d forgotten the golden rule already, hadn’t she?


    1. Combining those three prompt words must have been a challenge — congrats on somehow managing to pull a fun tale out of them!

  13. The Devil’s Gone South In The West
    297 words
    Demon/ Cave / Action
    Jaime Bree
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    The Preacher arrived with a leather bound book in one hand and a charred wooden cross in the other. He bypassed the church, where his congregation waited & headed straight for the bar where he ordered seven whiskeys.

    Lined up in front of him, he set each of them on fire, laid the cross over the top, waited for it to catch, then downed each whiskey in turn.

    On the seventh, he paused, turned to survey the scene of deadbeats and depressives supping their final dregs of hope from dirty glasses with rotting souls. He whispered under his breath, ‘Jesus rose from a cave for this shit and nobody noticed. Well, no wonder.’

    He picked up the leather book, swiped the last glass through the air, smashing it into the mirror behind the bar.

    The Preacher turned to face the punters.

    ‘And on the seventh day, the Lord shattered illusions that Sunday is a day of rest. Now get your lazy, godforsaken souls to church. We have some toil on us to save this town before the devil himself comes take it.’

    You ain’t ever seen them people move so quick.

    In the silence and as the dust settled onto the saloon floor, the Preacher looked at his reflection. The cracked glass distorted his features and contorted his face. He blinked away a glint of red that briefly appeared in his left eye.
    ‘You fuckin’ dare’, he shouted, pointing at his image smiling back at him. ‘I didn’t cross two states on a dying horse and wearying resolve to deal with the goddamn devil over a bar room brawl.’

    He pulled his pistol and shot the glass into smithereens before circling it into his holster, tipping his hat at the cowering barman and bidding him good day.

  14. The Nature of Demons
    236 words
    Demon / Cave / Action
    Eden Solera
    Twitter: @EdenSolera
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    What is it that you imagine when you think of Hell?

    Fire and brimstone. A searing heat far too alive to house the dead.

    No, Hell is obsidian stone and black ice, the river indistinguishable from the cave, for it is all the same. A mirror into the soulless eyes of your demons, which are no more than your memories.

    You awaken a statue of dead, blackened skin, sightless eyes, and soundless thoughts, and you scream. The sound never leaves your hands, cradled there, an invisible babe to which you have given birth in these first moments of your death. It never lives, but it grows as eternity passes, fed by the screams you cannot speak.

    You are alone with yourself and the knowledge of who you were, the truths you always feared to admit. In life, you could run; you could hide from yourself and pretend the shadows that followed you were cast by the light of the sun, not the sins imprisoned in your soul.

    But death kills all delusions. You are your own demons, and there are none more sinister because you know them.

    You have always known them.

    Hell is indeed eternal torment, but there is no judgment to be passed, no agony as the price to be paid for your sins. The torment is in the truth, and the price has already been paid by the lies in which you lived.

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