Microcosms 200 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 200!

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

***As you might have guessed, it’s a special microcosmsversary! Things are going to be a little different this week to celebrate, so be sure to check out the details below.***

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MICROCOSMS 200 Prompts: Frenemies / Heaven/Hell (or similar) / Romance OR Hero/Villain / Hostage Situation / Steampunk $25 prize (free to enter)! Word count this week: 180-220. Fun and free! microcosmsfic.com
Photo by Rafael Garcin on Unsplash

Info Tabs

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

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***This Week Only***

In celebration of our 200th(!) weekly contest, we have made the following changes to the contest rules:

  • Word Count: 180-220 (a 200-word contest to celebrate 200 contests!)
  • All of our prompts have been inspired by pairs/twos/couples, so be sure your story includes at least two characters. (Optional: for an extra challenge, try incorporating both sets of prompts!)
  • An optional photo prompt

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:

Frenemies / Heaven/Hell (or similar) / Romance

OR

Hero/Villain / Hostage Situation / 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. (Don’t like any of these? Try our default spinner.)

Optional Photo Prompt

Two people, possibly men, stand among reeds and are silhouetted by a stormy sunset.
Photo by Rafael Garcin on Unsplash

Character

Setting

Genre

  • Twins
  • Opposites
  • Hero/Villain
  • Married Couple
  • Frenemies
  • Angel/Demon
  • Separated
  • Trauma Bond
  • Hospital
  • Competition
  • Epic Showdown
  • Therapist Office
  • High School
  • Heaven/Hell (or similar)
  • Love Across Time
  • Hostage Situation
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western

Notes

NEW! We have yet another exciting announcement. We’re partnering with a podcaster who reads flash fiction and would like to invite you to submit for inclusion. Please contact us or leave a statement below your name on your submission if you are interested!

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. 🙂 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 197 winner Eden Solera! Please be sure to thank them on Twitter!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 199 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $50 (a one-time increase, thanks to judge Sophie H. Sigrafys, who requested to pay forward their prize to double the award for this round)!

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 198 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 198 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/07/15/results-mc-198/

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Microcosms 201 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms 199 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

90 thoughts on “Microcosms 200 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. A STREET AWAY ON A SILENT DAY
    200 words
    Frenemies/Heaven or Hell or similar/Romance
    By Steve Lodge
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese
    Podcast: Mmm, yes please.

    “No, Sergeant, you drive a police car now, so stop wearing your bicycle clips.” I know when my boss, Detective Pepper Titus, is mad at me. She calls me Sergeant, instead of Withers, darling, even when we’re alone.

    The restaurant door was only half unlocked.

    “What’s wrong with your door?” Pepper shouted. “Are you open or what? Two police officers trying to get in here.”

    “Thousand apologies, ma’am, and welcome to The Heaven Or Hell Restaurant. I’m Ronnie, the owner. I will attend to the faulty door forthwith and withforth. I’m meaning to repair it for donkeys of years. We serve the best bhajis in Sparrowditch.”

    Pepper was looking around the restaurant impatiently. “Come on, then. Where’s the body?”

    “Body? There’s no body. Show me proof in black and writing.” Ronnie whined defensively.

    “I’m kidding. We need a curry, in a bit of a hurry.” Pepper’s poetry was adored. By Pepper.

    We sat in a quiet booth. Pepper nibbled my ear. “These Sparrowditch murders will make my career, Withers, darling. I’ll be Queen of the Force. Don’t worry, I’ll drag you onto the podium with me.”

    “Let’s solve the crimes first.” I smiled. “Want some naan bread and a hug?”

    1. The chacterization of the story was pretty fun! They all seem really ‘human’ (if that makes sense), it felt natural and not forced. Loved the last line ofc : )

  2. Hostages to Love and Slaves to Desire
    219 words
    Frenemies/Heaven or Hell or similar/Romance
    and
    Hero/Villain / Hostage Situation / Steampunk
    By Galen Gower
    Yes, I am open to interpretive works including a seven-course meal based on this story.

    Int. Cunning Clockworks, production office, twilight.
    Bennet Crab paces, pointing a crossbow at his friend and nemesis Julius Steenfleet who is chained to his desk chair. A powered down automaton sits in the corner. An intercom on the desk relays his demands to the Spark City Police.
    Bennet: And I want an airship! Full tank of steam, too!
    Intercom: Sure thing, Bennie, full tank of steam. You got it.
    Bennet: And a million Willard Bucks!
    Intercom: A million? That seems steep, Bennie.
    Bennet: Don’t mess around! Get me the Bucks, or Julius dies!
    Julius struggles against his chains.
    Julius: You’ll never get away, Bennet! And I’m changing the locks on the chalet! You’re uninvited to all the parties!
    Bennet runs to the automaton and tenderly caresses her cheek.
    Bennet: I don’t care about the parties, Julius! Molly Belle Three and I belong together! You can’t keep us apart!
    Julius: She’s just a robot, you idiot!
    Int. Cunning Clockworks Lobby, twilight. Cops are standing around, speaking quietly to each other.
    Sgt. Butterbee: …and he does this every time. Horatio is in charge of unfulfilled desires department and he really gets a kick out of robot love triangles.
    Cadet Hornaday: Seems cruel, Sarge.
    Sgt. Butterbee: It’s hell, kid, what’d you expect? You never noticed we never leave this lobby?
    Fade out.

    1. Great fun. I’d like to apply to join the Unfulfilled Desires Dept. Keen to know what happened to Molly Belle One and Two. This story could run and run.

      1. I think a four episode limited series would be enough to really capture the spirit of things.

    2. Really liked the script format. I considered that myself. Works brilliantly for this prompt.

      Great write. So much to explore here.

  3. THE TWO IN THE MACHINE
    184 Words
    Frenemies / Heaven/Hell / Romance + Hero/Villain / Hostage Situation / Steampunk
    By Ash K. Gray
    Instagram: @ash.k.gray
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    There were two of them strapped to the machine, the squeals of its rusty rotten cogs seeping past every nook of their being and pouring right into their ears. The first was Satan’s lover. A man with no remorse – no revere for the immoral – fitted into velvet leather overalls and tipped with a copper fedora. The second, cuffed to the first’s red right hand, was a servant of the heavens – the best man at the ceremonial matrimony of Joy and Glory. He wore nothing but a large black veil.
    “Why are you here?” asked the first man
    “I suppose I am as much a danger to them as yourself.” responded the second man, irises – ones that were a twinge too green – swaying to the floor.
    “I’ll bet. If I’m worse than the lot of them combined . . . then,”
    “Then I’m a reminder of what they hopelessly strive to be.”
    A grin lined the lips of Satan’s lover. “And what they will inevitably fail to become.”
    The second man went mute. He sighed.
    “I’m right.”
    “I hope you aren’t.”
    “But you know I am.”
    “ … yes.”

  4. They speak in bolded truths and italic lies
    199 words
    Married Couple/Therapist Office/Mystery
    By Gerald Castillo
    Instagram: @dejectedduplicate
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions and an entire 8 episode adaptation of this short story. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    “It’s strange, that new wallet. Do you think he’s cheating on me?”

    “Is that why you suspect him? From what I’ve heard he seems like a good man.

    Actually no, there were a few times I felt odd about him. Recently he talks on the phone for a long time, and decided to work the night shift without telling me. Said it was to buy a new perfume to surprise me, which he did buy but as well as a whole slew of cosmetics! I’ve never told him anything about make-up but suddenly he knows every brand like the back of his hand”

    “You have nothing to worry, I’m sure he loves you. I’ve never met your husband before if I do I’ll see if he can tell me anything from his side”

    “There was also that circle on his calendar, it matched the day he came home with a receipt for that new Greek restaurant. He doesn’t even like that cuisine! You sure I shouldn’t be concerned?”

    Oh I’ve eaten there before, it’s pretty good. Well in my opinion I wouldn’t fret, Edward’s most likely anxious abou—”

    “Wait… I never told you his name. How did you know—”

      1. That little thing I came up with was so last second, I’d only realize I could do that with the title as I was about to submit it! Thanks for the comment Ash! I really appreciate your words

      1. hehehehe : ) it’s a mystery story tho… although its up for interpretations I’ve never bolded the calendar or the receipt part, its debatable whether or not the two were related. All we can confirm is that “He does not like Greek cuisine”. For all we know, Edward had a meeting with a doctor and they had accidentally slipped their restaurant receipt instead of a prescribed medication list, in this case all the bolds and italics line up still. Either way, Edward isn’t leaving this unscathed thanks to your careful eye Steve.

    1. hehehehehe A 7 course meal sounds way more appetizing IMO, although that would only be about one meal per episode if we were to make it an 8 episode special eeeekkkkk! So much for leaving with thoughts and stomach full then

  5. One Man’s Hell is Another Man’s Heaven
    220 words
    Frenemies/Heaven or Hell or similar/Romance
    By Laura Cooney
    Yes, I am open to interpretive works, especially mime!

    The first and last time they’d shagged was enough. Enough for them to know that they were in love. And yet, trapped in purgatory, it would be necessary instead to hate each other forever.

    It was a Tuesday in December when the car they were in skidded off the road and wrapped them round a tree. 5 years of saying but not saying, looking but definitely not looking, arguing sulkily silent…and now this weirdly impromptu trip to the coast, the end of all that.

    “Are you fucking kidding me?” He looked at her steadily as she surveyed the signs on the doors.
    “I don’t understand!” She said, instinctively taking his hand, why not now?

    The left, ‘HELL’
    The right, ‘HELL’
    And the one in the middle,
    ‘LIFE, but you must never see each other again.’

    “Hellish decision,” he said with a smile, the old humour still intact.

    “I really do hate you, you know.” She said turning to face him. “This is just typical, this would never have happened if…” She trailed off as he kissed her for the third time, long and deep.

    “One man’s heaven is another man’s hell, right?” he said putting his free arm on the handle.

    “And vice versa, for sure,” she breathed.

    As the door opened, they knew it really was no choice.

    1. I really like how you combined intimacy and annoyance to create this relationship that feels really realistic (despite the fantasy elements).

  6. Virtue And Vitriol Mean Nothing In The End, It’s Just Horses And Dice.

    220 words

    Frenemies/Heaven/Hell/Romance & Hero/villain/ hostage situation/ steampunk (I think!)

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

    ___________________________________________

    ‘These plebs are seriously mistaken if they think they get to choose where they end up.’

    ‘Why did you design it like this?’

    ‘Bit of fun for that last moment in life, Gabby.’

    ‘They’re already dead, Bub, you don’t need to prolong their agony.’

    ‘Everyone knows calming carousel tones help to lull into nostalgic catatonia. Besides, it detracts from the fact it’s all random.’

    ‘You’re kidding….
    ….
    … You’re not kidding?’

    ‘Nope. So, why not make some cranky carousel, with its weird curling snake-like centre, enthral until it concertinas out and nabs them into Hell?’

    ‘You make it sound so romantic, Bub. And those not nabbed?’

    ‘Ridden off into the sunset towards the creaking gates of Heaven on their iron stallions.’

    ‘A fitting end.’

    ‘I’d say so. A flick of the dice, the Devil decides.’

    ‘Who goes where and to which side? I’m a poet, they don’t know it…’

    ‘Huh?’

    ‘That they’re actually in prison, held to ransom by your flicking switch.’

    ‘Dice.’

    ‘You roll dice, Bub, not flick them.’

    ‘You’re an annoying idiot, but I have to admit I couldn’t do this without you.’

    ‘You couldn’t.’

    ‘I just said that.’

    ‘I mean… You actually couldn’t. One of us leads up, the other takes down. There’s literally no you without me.’

    ‘That hurts.’

    ‘It’s the truth.’

    ‘The truth hurts.’

      1. Oh thank you! It was a fun write. I love writing dialogue so having this opportunity was very exciting!

    1. I love the randomness of this one. Makes me ask a lot of question but yet the narrative is strong. Well done!

  7. Wired to Kill
    220 words
    Cay Macres
    Instagram: @alienoftheweek
    I’d be very interested in a podcast!

    Hammer looming above, blocking out the sun, all Two could think to say was “My head was molded first!”

    Their twin AI rested the weapon at his side with a thunk that made Two gulp. Face framed in a sunset that spilled onto the skyscraper roof, their brother frowned.

    “Doesn’t that make me older?” Two felt the dent in their cheek caused by One’s fist. He must have gotten his fingers filled in with lead.

    One’s laugh sounded like a bitcrushed audio file of a crackling fire. “Consciousness was simultaneous. I don’t care about your copper. It’s the wiring that counts.”

    Rust blended into the chestnut color of Two’s metallic skin. On One, it appeared to leak from his aluminum.

    “Hm… being killed over metal or wiring… I’m not sure which is worse.” As Two spoke, they inched backwards, hand reaching towards a loose pipe.

    “We’re equals. Without you, I’m rare. I’m a million dollars.”

    “You’re a glorified toaster.”

    Lead fingers gripped the hammer’s handle.

    Copper hands found the steel pipe. Two held it in front of their face.

    The impact made their arms crumple into their body. One fell backwards.

    One’s aluminum face, once connected to his sprawled-out body, was flattened. Using their feet, Two unscrewed his arms. They didn’t care for aluminum, but these new limbs would do.

    1. Enjoyed the “glorified toaster” and how you moulded the prompt into a great imaginative tale. Nicely done. LF6

  8. Working the Problem
    300 words
    Frenemies / Heaven/Hell or similar / Romance
    Deanna Salser
    https://www.facebook.com/Beadanna777/
    https://beadanna777.wixsite.com/procreation
    I am open to derivative works.

    ***

    “Oh, hey Dee! When did you get here?”
    “Hey, Jude. Um, I don’t know. Where are we?”
    “Not sure. Don’t think I’ve ever been here before.”
    “I can’t move. Jude, I can’t move!
    “Me either!”
    “Lean back or something, you’re too close.”
    “I’m too close! You’re too close!”
    “God, did we get kidnapped?”
    “I don’t think so, Dee, there are no ropes.”
    “What? Ropes? What are you talking about?”
    “There’s nothing holding us still, that’s what I’m talking about, you moron! We just can’t move”
    “I’m not a moron, you’re a moron!”
    “Shut up!”
    “You shut up!”
    “No, I need to get away from you! Why. Can’t. I. Move?!”
    “Shhhhh! Let me think. The last thing I remember is…”
    A frown, a flash of memory. A gasp. “Hey, you pushed me!”
    Eyes widen. A recoil involving the entire body occurs.
    “Well, you grabbed my jacket and dragged me off with you!”
    The realization feels anticlimactic, the consequences already driven home. Two pairs of eyes glower into each other. Time passes. Straining only makes the hold tighter. Tears erupt.
    “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you a moron.”
    “Yeah, me too. So where are we, do you think?”
    “Maybe, heaven or hell? Or maybe a waiting room?”
    “I don’t know, it feels like there’s something we’re supposed to be doing.”
    “We can’t do anything?!”
    “No, like making up, or something.”
    “Oh. Well, we already apologized. What more can we do?”
    More staring while wheels attempt to turn. Gazes soften. A hand reaches out and strokes a strand of hair back. Reaching into an embrace.
    “This feels amazing.”
    “I know, right?”
    “Why haven’t we ever…?”
    “Done this before?”
    “Yeah.”
    Long, lazy kisses. Hands roaming, soothing, arousing. The sudden sound of a slap and laughter rings out.
    “That’s more like it!”

  9. captured inside
    248 words
    Trauma bond / high school / fantasy
    Lien_B

    Yes, I am open to derivative works

    ***

    It was only a glare, a touch from the past, a kiss from the future. There in the moonlight, bathed in solitude, lay a woman like a fallen angel, her hands chained in iron shackles. She looked at me with shining eyes as her words were carried with the wind to my ears.
    “Why did you come back?’
    ‘I couldn’t leave you behind. Not after everything that happened. I need you and you need me.’
    The angelic woman straightened up.
    ‘I was just going to hold you up.’
    I clenched my fists, furious that she brought herself down every time.
    ‘You saved me when I was in my dark times. Now it’s up to me to do the same!’
    I ran to her, extended my hand and tried to reach her, but it seemed like there was an eternity between us. In my head, the seconds were counting down.
    ‘Ten… Nine… Eight…’
    I ran and ran, propelled by desperation.
    ‘I promise… I’ll save you!’
    In my hand appeared a giant scythe, shrouded in dark flames.
    ‘…Three…two…’
    I destroyed the moonlight with one swing, breaking the curse that held her.
    ‘One!’
    When I awoke, everyone in the classroom looked at me with wide eyes. And only then did I realize what I had done. It was nothing more than a caress of the past and a kiss of the future. A hypnosis of desires. She was chained for a reason. And now… I had awakened the monster.

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    1. ‘Ten… Nine… Eight…’ I really like a counting thanks lien and adds a roller to your story, nice one!

  10. STENCHWING
    211 words
    Angels and Demons / Love Across Time / Drama
    By Sam O’Neil (@OneWheelONeil)

    “Gaudium?! Hey!”

    Sulfurous fumes wafted from Stenchwing. He knew that voice. “Oh, Sapientia… Hi.”

    “Gaudi, how are you?! It’s been what? Four—”

    “Five millenia. Yeah. It’s uh, Stenchwing now.”

    “Oh, right, sorry.” Sapientia paused, uncomfortable. “Stenchwing.”

    “Uh, I’m good though. Doing good. I mean I’m doing evil, but I’m good at it. So…” Stenchwing continued avoiding eye contact, a difficult task since Sapientia’s promotion to Cherub.

    “So, I see you have a new human. How’s that?”

    “You know, it, uh… it has ups and downs. More downs recently, lucky for me.”

    “I miss the one-on-one work sometimes. But I get facetime with the Big Guy now, so…”

    “Sounds like choosing to focus on your career has worked out.” Bitterness dripped from the remark. Cordiality proved difficult for the Fallen.

    “Look, I…” Sapientia’s words faltered. “I’m sorry about how things went between us.”

    “No worries. I get it. It’s for the worst. I mean, the best. But for me that’s worst.”

    “It’s just…”

    “No explanation needed. Matthew 22:30, right? We’re cool. I mean, not cool, but… no hard feelings. Beyond like, the eternal ones.” Stenchwing chuckled in an awkward attempt to relieve the building tension.

    “Cool.”

    “Yep.” Stenchwing turned to follow his human back into the café to berate an employee.

      1. Thank you so much! I appreciate you reading; I’m glad the dialogue felt natural. This was so fun to write, though I may have slightly missed the mark with drama, haha. Perhaps dramedy would be more accurate.

      2. I really enjoyed this Sam. Very Gaiman. The nonchalance you created with the dialogue was great!

      1. Oh wow, thank you! That’s very kind of you. I’m stoked that you enjoyed it, and that it captured your attention enough to warrant multiple reads. That means the world to me.

    1. The scope of dialogue was as fitting as it is entertaining. Really loved how you got the prompt into this one. Well done. LF6

  11. The evolutionary trajectory of number 17 Main Street
    200 economic externalities
    Twins / Love Across Time / Sci-Fi
    Damien Hicks
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via (one of the above channels for more information).

    ***

    “Hey Hongping why’re you watching that retro reality-tv show?”

    “It’s good Chao-lu! Though admittedly kinda cheesey. Maybe, um, therapeutic? Just am, okay?”

    Hongping intends to listen to his sister’s reply but his attention has drifted back to the screen.

    “Waster”.

    With which Chao-lu attaches her P10 filter and heads out to the ablution cell. Two minutes later the brightness of Hongping’s screen increases a little.

    Methanogenic electricity is both cool and distracting, Hongping ponders, but pays the primitive technology no further thought as his concentration is focussed on the incarcerated mammals on screen. There is a chimp in a cage, an orangutang tied to a tree, and a bat with little weights sewed into its wings.

    “Alright little unexpected twin of the seventeenth One Child Policy, tell me what’s good about this two-hundred-year-old trash.”

    “Okay Chao, see. The contestants wanna be the first to reach Mount Landfill, but they’ve gotta obtain food stars in the Frot-The-Badger round. So two frantic minutes to locate which part of the beast’s body is most humid, then biff that area with paddles to the point where the Climate Badger coughs up a foam star.”

    “It’s nice to watch TV together, like a proper family.”

  12. Bill and Gloria
    300 words
    Frenemies/Heaven/Hell (or something like that)/Drama
    My Preferred Name
    Optional: @LilyFin46373371
    Optional: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100081017924537

    Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions.

    “I told you, Bill, I didn’t touch it,” Gloria answered back to her husband.

    He stomped around their house—accusing her of taking his magazine—like a mad bull, the rings of rising plumes of smoke escaping his long, red nose.

    “Don’t lie, Glo; I know you took it! I just want it. Then we’ll call it even.”

    “Really Bill? Now I wish I had taken it so I could use it to bargain with. But I can’t help you because I don’t have your damn book. Ugh—Bill, you are impossible!” She exclaimed.

    He opened the fridge and swept everything onto the kitchen floor.

    “What the hell is going on in here?” Their son, Glenn, wanted to know as he came in.

    “Your mother took my Playboy magazine this month, and she’s denying that she did,” Bill said.

    “Oh, that’s because she didn’t. I took it. I didn’t want Jolayne to see it. Hang on, I’ll get it.”

    “Honestly Bill! That’s the last time you put me through hell.” Gloria stated.

    As Glenn came out of his room, he stated, “You two sound like frenemies rather than a married couple.”

    “Talk to us after you’ve spent fifty years with the same person.”

  13. Title: Bonds of copper
    Words: 216
    Prompts used :Frenemies / Heaven/Hell (or similar) / Romance + Hero/Villain / Hostage Situation / Steampunk + the photo prompt.
    My Preferred Name: Otter/ Otter of fun

    ***

    The wind felt both light and uneasy as the cosmic pigment of wheat was lifted, by the incandescent, dying sun.

    “Don’t do this Magnus! That life does not belong to you!” Dianka yelled, shortly after stepping down from her Marianne R.S motorized vehicle.

    He cocked his single-action Welton revolver.

    “Come with me, love,” said Magnus.

    “You signed a contract, peanut. We both did.”

    “I am so tired. It’s been so long.”

    “We have lived so long because we are valuable to the company. We are needed.”

    A singular tear was shed from his elderly biological eye. It rolled down across rubber, steel, ceramic, and brass, but not one of the few lonesome patches of wrinkled skin still left on his face.

    “Dianka, I love you. Please let me go.”

    The whirring and whistling from the pneumatic pump became louder and louder as the strain on her mechanized cardio-vascular system increased.

    “You are so selfish! Why do you refuse to unders-”

    A gunshot echoed.

    A short, piercing wailing.

    “It happened again goddammit! Send medical and bio-mechanical ASAP!”

    Rushing towards her beloved she tenderly inspected the wound on his temple.

    “There is no doubt that part of him will be lost again.” Dianka thought.

    Her tea gown dress opened like a moonflower as she broke down in tears.

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