Microcosms 198 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 198!

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

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Start here if you’re new or haven’t been here in a while. Click each tab to learn more.

To qualify for the cash prize, must MUST:

  • ***Submit your story as a comment below. ***
  • 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.)
  • 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.)
  • 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).
  • 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.)
  • Acknowledge that the decision of the judge(s) is/are final.

Please kindly use this format, then copy/paste your response as a comment on this post.

(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 (how you'd like to be credited as if your story is selected)
(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>

You can also use it to do italics or bold text.
Examples:
<i>text you want to be italicized goes here</i>
<b>text you want to be bolded goes here</b>

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.)

REMEMBER

  • You have ONE WEEK (Sunday – Saturday, midnight – midnight) Los Angeles Time (PST/PDT) to submit your masterpiece.
  • All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title and other header info).
  • We enjoy fan fiction! Just not for this contest. NO FAN-FICTION, please, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS for this contest.
  • Include: word count, the THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry (see entry format tab).
  • If you are new to Microcosms, please check out the full submissions guidelines on our FAQs page.
  • I feel like this should go without saying, but just in case – absolutely no AI submissions.
  • 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.
  • 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).

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

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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:

Just Woke Up / Operating Room / Horror

OR

Stray Dog / Avalanche / Drama

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.)

Character

Setting

Genre

  • Just Woke Up
  • Plastic Surgeon
  • Mountain Climber
  • Unicorn
  • Shoemaker/Cobbler
  • Stray Dog
  • Concert Pianist
  • Porter
  • In a Dream
  • Operating Room
  • Avalanche
  • Rainbow
  • Workshop
  • Alleyway
  • Concert
  • Hotel
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western

Notes

We have some exciting projects in the works. Please register with the site here: https://microcosmsfic.com/register/

As a new bonus for entering, we’d love to help promote your work – for free! Promo page forthcoming. 🙂 For a limited time, anyone who has ever entered one of our contests is eligible to apply! Submit your book here for consideration: https://microcosmsfic.com/book-submissions/

Helping judge this week is MC 195 winner Cay Macres!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 197 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

Happy writing!

KM

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 196 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 196 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/07/01/results-mc-196/

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Microcosms 199 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms MC 100micro1 - Submissions

20 thoughts on “Microcosms 198 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. I’d Love To Avalanche Of Pizza
    300 words
    Stray Dog/Avalanche/Drama
    by Steve Lodge

    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese

    Initially, the last Alpine classic painted by Chapuisat (entitled “Yodelodelodle”) was thought lost forever when The Spirit Of The Salty Lash, sank near Whitelegge Point in 1882. That
    legend was full of holes.

    My colleague from Tree Scampi Aquatics, Polly Graf and I, were waiting at Seaharbour to meet up with Captain Willie Rough at his boat “The Frisky Rhino.” His passengers were 2 adventurers, both called John Coleslaw, who Tree Scampi Aquatics employed from time to time.

    Introductions made, we headed for The Clumsy Mermaid Tearoom. It was empty, as it had not yet reopened after the avalanche, so we were undisturbed while we explained the situation.

    “Yodelodelodle” neatly rolled up and ready to be transported had been located in an isolated cabin halfway up the Nurulingen Mountain by Art Division colleagues within the Tree Scampi Aquatics, following a tip-off.

    However, the avalanche had trapped our colleagues in the cabin, with frostbite. They placed the rolled painting around the neck of a stray mountain dog, put a tracking device on the dog and sent it off down the mountain. We monitored its path, even through the worst of the avalanche.

    As ill-conceived and bonkers as the plan sounded, we had found the dog and we now had the painting. Next, we were to board “The Frisky Rhino” and Willie was to take us to Port Coldharbour, from where the painting would go to the Muszeum Nasional at Glockenspiel.

    Explanations over, things suddenly got out of hand. Obvious attempts at double-cross occurred and in the excitable melee, the Coleslaws accidentally shot each other, Polly and Willie ran off with the painting, never to be seen again. I was left feeling hurt and jilted. Later, I adopted the stray dog, as therapy, but its name escapes me, just as Polly had.

    1. This feels like a cross between a Steve Miller song and a classic musical. You should consider writing this series into a musical.

  2. Banished to the Undermind
    300 words.
    Just woke up / operating room/ horror
    Galen Gower
    Yes, I am open to derivative works including translation into the language that causes all men who hear to go mad and tear out heir eyes in an attempt to unsee what the Great Old One promises.

    The surgery made me sick.

    ‘Your voice is weak. I banish you to the undermind,’ I thought, but it wasn’t me. It was like reaching into your pocket for keys and coming out with a handful of earthworms. I felt the wriggling pulse in my head.

    “This can’t be real,” I tried to say. I couldn’t. I was in a dream, swinging my fists as hard as I could to no effect. I wanted to scream and run away. Tear at my hair. Instead, nothing. I am not in control.

    My thoughts used to be mine. I would think something and whatever it was would happen. It was a bridge I drove over so often I stopped noticing it. The connection between thought and action disguised that my mind is just an empty room. Without control, it’s prison. It’s emptiness.

    ‘You can’t keep me here! Hey! This isn’t right!’ My inner voice doesn’t even echo off the walls. It just dies and the silence is laughter. I can only watch and experience his thoughts. They are blind starlings, a swarming and seething river of flapping and murderous intentions.

    “Mr. Malcom, you’re going to be a little unsteady, so take it slowly. The surgery went well, but you did have a, umm…” The doctor clears his throat, looks away, “Well, I’ve never seen anyone react to anesthesia the way you did.”

    “It’s fine Dr. Churchman. I feel like a brand-new person already,” I hear him say with my voice. He laughs, the doctor laughs. We’re not even out of the operating room and I start to panic.

    ‘This can’t last forever,’ I think. This time he does laugh. It goes on forever, echoing off the strange curvatures of our mind. His mind. My whole world is enslaved to his madness.

    Forever.

    1. This rocks. The essential premise is bone-chilling but I’m also in love with the imagery and description you used here, it’s pure panic-attack stuff. In particular the entire “My thoughts used to be mine” paragraph utterly rattled me. Excellent stuff Galen!

    2. Definitely got goosebumps from this one. One of the greatest tools I feel of horror is the description of the loss of control over action and this definitely sums up that existential dread.

  3. Irregularity
    293 words
    Just Woke Up / Operating Room / Horror
    Dennis Conrad
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    Buzzing fluorescents whine in my ears. Smell of formaldehyde and sanitation. I cannot remember my name but I can remember that I am not supposed to be awake. A feeling of emptiness. Feeling of openness at my midsection. The pain is less intense than one might expect and I feel more acutely that exposure, that things that should not be in the light are. A scrub-clad shadow shifts over me. Glasses rendered mirrors of pure light peering down at the void in my body. Holding aloft a tool I have never seen. Not a scalpel. Something much crueller.

    His voice mutters and I can only make out the word “irregularity”. He might be aware of what’s happening. My emotions are still deadened by whatever narcotic pumps through my veins but I do not want him to use that tool he’s holding. Upon further inspection it is curved and serrated. A thing cannibals would have carved their meat with. He must see my heart quivering exposed like a panicked animal nestling into too small a space.

    I see that shadowed face lean closer to the yawning cavity and the quaking jelly-things within. I hear now what he says: “Shall we proceed?”

    And I look to the other murky forms in this room and see none turn to speak and wonder, indeed, if he’s addressing me. And I try to form the words to beg him not to. I can only feel something in my throat twitch and fail to make a sound.

    But something else answers. A voice more terrible than anything I’ve imagined rasps from my open chest: “Proceed.”

    Everything within me is so occupied with the effort of screaming that I do not even feel the doctor go to his hateful work.

    1. Gross! But this gave me the creeps, willies, hoo-has, etc. It would be truly terrifying to be awake during surgery, but the bit where something inside him talks… That’s great!

  4. The Clink of Metal on Metal
    300 words
    Just Woke Up / Operating Room / Horror
    A.J. Walker
    https://awalker.org
    Twitter/Spoutible: @zevonesque
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    I’m struggling to open my eyes. I hear the clink of metal on metal and voices murmuring; a background television too. I can’t place the language. The words are too indistinct. It’s possibly German. There are English words from the TV though. It sounds like Friends.

    ‘James. I sense you’re with us.’ It was English, spoken as a second language. I eventually force my eyes open. The room gradually comes into focus. There’s a man and woman in operating gowns. I can see a trolley with a range of glinting implements. The woman moves something on the tray and I hear the clinks once again.

    ‘Don’t worry, James. You won’t be able to speak with the heady concoction we’ve given you. You’ll be able to watch and even feel things as we work. Don’t worry we kind of know what we’re doing. Well, we know more than we did. It’s all good practice, so thank you for that.’

    I can see the TV behind his right arm and the back of someone’s head sat in an armchair.

    ‘Ah, you’ve seen our earlier guinea pig. He’s from the States too. He’s a bit of a mess and not even a work in progress now. But he was a worthwhile first attempt. I do hope you like Friends too. You’ll be watching it with him soon.’

    The woman pushed the armchair forward and span it round and I saw a scarred face sewn into some perverse forced laugh. ‘Liam, say hello to James.’ The face creased and the eyes widened. I couldn’t believe the man was alive.

    I heard the clink of metal. ‘Now let’s turn our focus to you.’

    The woman turned the TV up and the last thing I heard before passing out was Phoebe killing a song once again.

  5. Dreams Before Dying
    300 words

    Just Woke Up/ Operating Room/ Horror

    Nina Miller
    Website: https://ninamillerwrites.com
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/NinaMD1

    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me using the above links.

    ***

    How long have I been asleep?

    The call room was dark except for the flash of Zenon’s beeper blinking from her scrubs pocket.

    Shit! Better get moving. Today’s the vivisection.

    As she climbed down, each metallic clink echoed in the dark. Zenon felt each tap penetrating her skull. A cold tingling burning her limbs. It’s just nerves. Nerves that had plagued her ever since they brought that creature on board.

    Orion’s medbay was typically alive with bustling nurses, doctors, and orderlies. It now lay dormant, powered down, dim, screens flashing error messages, and with a squid-like alien strapped to the table. Its bulbous head encased in the halo with its brain exposed.

    How long have I been asleep?

    Zenon awoke to her beeper blaring. She breathed a sigh of relief. A dream. As she felt around to shut it off, she felt sticky, dried blood that clung to her chest; saw in the dim fluorescent light the rust-colored streaks covering her light blue scrubs. Those around her awoke screaming, their faces mangled. She willed herself to wake.

    How long have I been asleep?

    Zenon’s eyes opened and squinted from the overhead glare of surgical lamps.

    “It’s waking up, Doctor.”

    She attempted to move but couldn’t.

    “How is that possible?”

    Tingling reinnervated her appendages, and she quietly snaked them free from her bindings as her captors adjusted knobs and injected chemicals.

    Zenon could taste the fear in the air as she wound her tentacles around the surgical staff, pulling them all away from her. She released her sleep ink, and one by one, she saw their dreams in her mind’s eye. She feasted.

    ***

    When Cassiopeia’s rescue team boarded Orion, the crew appeared fast asleep. Their skeletal bodies were in barely living stasis.

    “Hey, you should see what I found in medbay!”

  6. Gambit for the King’s Heart
    298 missing heartbeats
    Just Woke Up / Operating Room / Horror
    Sophie H. Sigrafys
    I’m open to derivative works and can provide contact information to those interested
    ***
    The floor beneath Dr. Rahul glinted sterile in the hospital light, mocking his carnage-covered latex gloves dyed crimson. Amon Akuji, 15, heart transplant patient, table death, 7:15 pm. Bitter tears burned his throat as he fought them back. Reddened eyes would only add to the family’s grief.

    He staggered along the hallway, discarding the soaked gloves in a biohazard bin near the sink before cupping his hands, willing the water to burn and erase the pain. No matter how tightly he clenched his fingers, droplets still overflowed past them and slipped into the abyss. They dripped as he reached into his pocket, two chess pieces clinking into his palm: a white pawn and queen. One small traveler trying to make it to the end of the board for a better life, and a hopeful light with the powerful ability to fight to make things right. Amon made Dr. Rahul promise to keep them with him as they went into surgery.

    Rahul should have saved him.

    A shriek pierced the air before he could head toward the waiting room doors.

    The nurse flew wide-eyed out of the operating room, “Doctor! It’s – I mean – He’s – The patient just woke up!”

    Rahul raced in and there sat Amon, peacefully on the operating table.

    “H-how?” Rahul’s voice broke, “H-how is this possible? How are you feeling? Amon, can you hear me?” He placed his fingers near Amon’s jugular to feel a pulse. No movement greeted his fingertips.

    A hollow voice echoed in the room as Amon’s eye’s turned entirely black. “The boy arrived at the chessboard’s end, doctor. We shall change him.” Rahul felt a scalpel slide into his hand, lights flickering. “His transformation is at your fingertips.”

    “What are you willing to sacrifice to give him the heart of a king?”

  7. Coffee Run
    Barista / Graveyard / Horror
    300 Words
    Kate Andrews

    Melissa pushes the gate open with her hip, maneuvering her way through as she balances four cardboard drink carriers. The creaking of the metal hinges is jarring in the otherwise silent night and she takes a moment to breathe before completely entering the graveyard. The graves are the oldest here, tombstones crumbling and angels rendered faceless, and she treads carefully around the occasional marble body part half hidden by weeds. She sets the drinks down under the singular streetlamp, pulling the bright green apron off and shoving it in her backpack.
    “Alright, which one of you ordered under the name ‘Berthinia Gaynelle’? I told you to stop using pseudonyms.”
    Her voice lands heavy in the dark. She waits a minute before sighing in exasperation.
    “I’m not giving out the rest until Berthinia answers. Do you want cold coffee?”
    A hand sheepishly pushes its way up through the dirt, waving slightly. Melissa makes her way over, scowling.
    “Vladimir, that is not your name. It’s hard enough keeping track of all of you after an 11 hour shift without you making it worse. Here’s your venti caramel mocha, you a**hole.” Shoving it into the waiting hand, she grabs the next few drinks. As she weaves her way through the graveyard in search of an Archibald Ferguson, something grips her leg and with a curse she kicks away the slimy hand, glaring at the decomposing head smiling up at her.
    “This is not your frappuccino. Wait your turn.”
    When everything is distributed Melissa returns to her bag. She holds it far away from her as she slowly unzips it, but when nothing emerges she wacks it a few times.
    “Get out. I’m not taking a vampire home with me.”
    A bat flies away.

  8. Ours Stars Yet Align
    299 words
    Stray Dog / Avalanche / Drama
    Steveisagirl
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    “The stars are misaligned”

    Buddy shivers, praying harsh breaths into his palms. I tug at his sleeves and gesture for the cave, where the fire is still lit. He refuses again, stubbornly forcing his face into his palms, crystalline tears like snowflakes falling into my hair. “The stars”, he starts, “why won’t they align!”

    The mountains respond with a harsh rumble that quietens Buddy’s sniffling. He hurriedly walks me to the cave, tossing his telescope into the flames and sitting away from the fire.

    I nudge his flask into his cold lethargic palms, whining when he doesn’t listen and barking when I’m fed up. He’s so unresponsive, I growl, facing Marie. She offers me a smile, her face as warm as the flames that consume Buddy’s dreams. She points to the stars, then Buddy and me, saying as she disappears, “It’s what does align”.

    Plopping my head into Buddy’s lap, I savour the falling teardops. It wasn’t your fault, I wanted to say. You wouldn’t have known. She’s safe now, but Buddy was grieving. He blamed himself more than the restless snow.

    “Aooooo!”

    The echo of my own voice in the silent night is shaky, fragile almost. Buddy suddenly wraps his arms around me, head against mine, howling alongside myself. The mountains are quiet now, maybe they finally understood our pain.

    At daybreak, Buddy is fast asleep, thin arms still around me. I gently free myself from his hold, shimmying my collar off and placing it by his head before leaving the cave. Running, tumbling down the snowy mountains, “Help!”, I bark, when I find people walking over.

    “It’s a stray!”, one of them yells. I spit out a piece of Buddy’s cloth, pointing my muzzle to the peak. Buddy wouldn’t want this, but this is what does align.

  9. Do No Harm
    298 words
    Just Woke Up / Operating Room / Horror
    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.

    ***

    Screams and sobs tangled in his ears, and he shook his head, fighting to be rid of those final echoes of a dream he couldn’t remember. Yet they refused to go. If anything, they grew louder with every passing second.

    He opened his eyes with a soft groan that became a strangled gasp.

    He wasn’t in his bed, he wasn’t even at home. He was still at the hospital, standing over a patient, bloodied scalpel in hand. Or rather, what was left of a patient. Chunks of the body were missing, scooped out like ice cream, and the nurses huddled in a corner, watching him with wide, tear-filled eyes. It was their screams that had woken him.

    He blinked, recoiled with a scream of his own.

    The nurses, a moment ago safe, if scared, were now crowded around the patient, their hands stitched inside the holes carved in the patient’s body, unconscious according to the monitor, though she ought to be dead.

    He blinked, lay facedown on the cold tile floor, hands cuffed behind his back.

    Two policemen knelt beside him, gripping his shoulders firmly enough to bruise. They must think him responsible for this, though that wasn’t true. He’d gone home. He remembered falling asleep in his own bed, didn’t he?

    He blinked, wore an orange jumpsuit inside a prison cell.

    He was alone, deemed too dangerous even to interact with murderers. Ridiculous, since he hadn’t done a single thing wrong. He’d left work exhausted and collapsed in bed the moment he got home.

    Perfectly ordinary.

    Innocent.

    He blinked, pressed himself against the bars of his cell and shouted for help, for someone to save him.

    But there was no one there.

    No one but himself, the patient, and the nurses who’d been stitched partway inside her.

  10. The Long Count
    289 Words
    Mountain Climber/Workshop/SciFi
    Thea Pueschel
    Twitter: @PueschelThea
    http://www.theapueschel.com
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    Readying for Earth play, Quetzal slipped on hiking boots, buttoned up a flannel, glided on a Camel Pack, ruffled her wolf cut, and dusted “sunburnt” blush across her nose.

    She slid the door open and greeted a group of kindergarteners, their eyes wide with sensory hunger and ears closed to the words coming from her mouth. Quetzal flipped the lever and the cold metal room transformed into the hologram topography of the Sierra Nevadas. Sand flowed and hardened under their feet. Her hippocampus lit up and her quads ached in muscle memory. They were atop the peak of Tumanguya. Different from her lived childhood but the same in sensation. The children gasped and reached down to the terraform.

    A gust of air blew in and a scream of a hawk pierced their ears. A few feathers fell from the ceiling. The children crunched their boots in faux snow and made disappearing snowballs.

    “This was the before of times,” she said as she sucked sachi from the straw of the Camel Pack. The alcohol mingled with the piped-in scent of synthetic bergamot and patchouli.

    She put the lever in the upright position. The sand sifted through the grates of the floor. The children’s feet struck the metal platform and their shoulders sulked.

    “Welcome to the aftertimes.” The port window shades slid open, revealing space dust and stars. The children ran to the windows and smashed their faces against the glass, looking for a glimpse of the earth. Soy and corn growth barrels floated up, obscuring the view outside.

    The globe rested black below. The children squabbled over whether they could see the peak of the mountain. A shrill buzzer interrupted their debates. A stealth fermented soy belch escaped her lips.

  11. Patient 101
    300 words
    Just Woke Up / Operating Room / Horror
    Mindy Han
    ***
    “Was I dead?” I thought to myself.
    All I could see was darkness. My eyelids felt glued together. No matter how much I struggle to open them, my eyes won’t. I heard faint voices in the background, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Until I heard a familiar voice.
    “Dr. Elmira, is Patient 101 ready to operate?”
    “Yes, Lady Miruna. She’s all prepared for the dissection.”
    I felt the doctor’s body heat getting closer, but I couldn’t wake up. I want to cry, yell, scream; anything for the doctors to know I’m alive. PLEASE! I DON’T WANT TO DIE!
    “LADY MIRUNA, PATIENT’S HEARTBEAT IS INCREASING RAPIDLY!” yelled Elmira.
    “She’s still alive, unfortunately,” Lady Miruna sighed.
    When I heard that, I was muddled. What does she mean by, unfortunately? Suddenly, creaking footsteps walked toward my paralyzed body. Chills ran through my spine, as someone grabbed my arm.
    “You may feel strange, but everyone’s life comes to an end,” laughed the doctors.
    Voices filled my head. All I heard was their laughter repeating over and over in my head. I couldn’t control my own mind anymore.
    “Stop…STOP! STOP LAUGHING, LEAVE ME ALONE!” I screeched.
    Suddenly, I woke up in tears. My vision was blurry, but I assumed I grabbed a metal syringe, and pointed it at the doctors.
    “STAY BACK!” I cried.
    I couldn’t distinguish what the doctors looked like, as they were blobs; due to my vision. As my vision started focusing, I screamed in terror. What I thought was a syringe; was a dissected finger. But not any finger, it was my friend, Aaron’s finger. The doctors sauntered toward me, and I got a better view of them. They had shallow, voided eyes with blood gushing out, and torn gowns.
    “Don’t worry you’ll join him soon,” Elmira giggled.

  12. Coronation
    296 words
    Just Woke Up / Operating Room / Horror
    Justin Riley
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    In Tiller’s eyes there was only darkness, but in his ears were several voices.
    “You fool, he looks nothing like him!”
    You fool, keep your voice down. He’s done well enough; the peasants will be at a distance. Our true fools…”
    A slam. “Well enough?! There isn’t a doctor between here and the sea who could do better. You should have found me a better canvas. How many villagers are there between here and that sea? And you come to me just weeks before the assassination–”
    “I said keep your voice down. If the walls hear us, this is all for naught.”
    The darkness filled with silence. He could feel the cold slab upon which his naked form was perched.
    “Who will hear us this deep in the castle? In the king’s personal hospital?”
    “Secret rooms, tunnels…” A pause. “He does have a point though, doctor. Look at the royal portrait again.”
    A sigh.
    “If I do too much, the swelling won’t go down in time… but…”
    Tiller felt the knife enter his face, and with it came dreams of memories: a sword opening his wife’s throat, their infant daughter taken from her arms; the same voices that now faded offering him a deal: the girl would live, adopted by a noble family. In exchange, a task: die in the place of the king so that he may fulfill the prophecy of his resurrection and win over the rioting peasants.
    He awoke to the doctor’s voice:
    “It’s done.”
    Tiller heard the familiar sound of a throat being cut and felt the man’s blood fall over his face as if to baptize it’s new form.
    “See? You are the fool!”
    Laughter. The sound of liquor pouring into cups; a toast:
    “Long live the king!”

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