Microcosms 201 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 201!

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

It’s back to business as usual! Standard weekly rules apply.

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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!

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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:

Hairstylist / Wall Street / Poem

OR

Cosplayer / Back Alley Casino / Comedy

(Blame the spinner! lol)

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

  • Stockbroker
  • Ballerina
  • Entomologist
  • Cosplayer
  • Gambler
  • Private Detective
  • Hair Stylist
  • Kids TV Show Host
  • Wall Street
  • Dance Studio
  • Collection Room
  • Comic Con
  • Back Alley Casino
  • Speakeasy
  • Salon
  • TV Set/Studio
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western

Notes

Helping judge this week is MC 198 winner Dennis Conrad! Please be sure to thank them on their social media of choice (if applicable).

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 200 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

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/

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 199 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 199 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/07/22/results-mc-199/

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Microcosms 202 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms 200 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

49 thoughts on “Microcosms 201 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. CENTRE PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW
    146 words
    Hairstylist/Wall Street/Poem
    By Steve Lodge
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese

    It’s taken me some time,
    To get back on my feet,
    After the brutal fall I took,
    While walking down Wall Street.

    I wasn’t concentrating,
    I was listening to a song,
    And it was kind of icy,
    And I landed on my shlong.

    Now I’m convalescing in Hawaii,
    With a hairstylist called Erin,
    Whenever she talks, it sounds just
    Like a penguin learning to sing.

    She’s given up cutting my hair now,
    In truth, there’s not a whole lot left,
    No quiff, no pomp, no comb over,
    This is beginning to look like theft.

    She confused me when ordering take outs,
    I mean what is a lantern of eels?
    What are two shots of conditioner,
    That into our tea she would stir?

    Her odour became such a mystery,
    And she wouldn’t tell me why,
    So I ran her out of town,
    Just like a common housefly.

      1. You are right, Galen. I feel like there should be a helpline or support group.

    1. Nice! I like the humour.

      ‘She’s given up cutting my hair now,
      In truth, there’s not a whole lot left,
      No quiff, no pomp, no comb over,
      This is beginning to look like theft.’

      Brilliant!

      1. Thank you so much, Ash. In some countries where scissors are banned, a lantern of eels can be used instead. It is also a delicacy at penguin weddings.

  2. cheating means fleeing
    221 words
    Gambler / Wall street / horror
    Lien_B
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    Tick… Tick… Tick…
    ‘I’m telling you! You need to get me out of this situation, right now!’
    ‘Sir, please sit down and take a deep breath.’
    Tick… Tick… Tick…
    ‘Okay… This isn’t going to work. I’m telling you. We need to end this now.’
    ‘I understand your situation, sir, but there’s not much I can do. You’ve put yourself in a very awkward position. I’ve warned you before.’
    ‘I know… but I just coudn’t take it anymore. I needed that money.’
    ‘And now you’ve lost everything you already had: money, a house, your wife and kid, car, even trust.’
    ‘I know, but that’s not why I’m here. They are coming for me!’
    ‘Who, sir?’
    Tick… Tick… Tick…
    ‘I cheated and got the money, but as I left, three huge men followed me to my car.’
    ‘Oh, god, so you didn’t lose your money… You are in big trouble.’
    ‘I know! That’s why I want you to help me!’
    Tick… Tick…
    ‘What was the last time you saw them?’
    ‘When I left the casino.’
    ‘And do they know where you were headed?’
    ‘I don’t know!’
    ‘Calm down, sir. Everything will be just fine. Wait here for a second. I’m going to talk to someone.’
    Tick… Tick… Tick… Tick…
    Then he realized, but it was already too late.
    TICK… TICK……. BOOM!

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    1. Great usage of the ticking sequence! It’s a nice little way to keep readers on the ready! : )

  3. The Sparrow: Casino Nights!
    299 Words
    Cosplayer / Back-alley casino / Comedy
    Galen Gower
    Yes, I am open to derivative works including a themed dance off.

    I am unstoppable. That’s my mantra. I repeat it in my mind and suck in my stomach. Here it comes…
    “Wait, Kel, the light’s not right, let’s turn around,” George says.
    “Come on George, you do this every time!” He always wants to reset. Infuriating. “The set looks fine, the light’s great, let’s just shoot!”
    George is fiddling with the fills, and then the kickers aren’t in the right place, and I’ll have to sit here for an hour. The mask is hot, and my makeup will get ruined.
    “I’m going to get a new photographer, George.”

    “Where to get chips?” a man asks. His accent is really thick. I don’t understand him.
    “Did he say cheap? What’s cheap?” George asks.
    “I think he called you a creep,” I say. I look at the guy with the accent. He’s short, but he’s got two big guys with him. They look like they eat too many potatoes.
    “Is nice. Ours is now. We take,” he says.
    “It’s half past five,” George says helpfully. The extras are starting to look sweaty. One of the potato guys goes over to the roulette table.
    “Uh, sir? Guy? Yeah, that’s just a prop,” I say. He tries a spin and breaks the rim of the wheel.
    “Is foul, house win,” he says and scoops all the chips into a pile. The other guy has gone to stand behind the blackjack table.
    “Full of what?” someone asks.
    “Dealer having blackjack,” the other guy says. Those aren’t even real cards.
    “Next time don’t make casino in Vanag neighborhouse.” The small guy looks very pleased.
    “You want to be in the pictures, sir?”

    The pictures of The Sparrow with Latvian crime boss Uleg Vanag is my best set ever, but the FBI won’t leave me alone now.

  4. SNIPPETS
    200 words
    Wall Street/ Hairdresser/ Poem
    By Laura Cooney
    Twitter: @lozzawriting
    Derivative works: Yes please, especially if it involves a trip to New York as part of the contract.

    It doesn’t take much to cut this hair.
    But it is a real annoyance to listen to the chatter,

    Snip.

    If you’re not part of the ‘world,’
    Half of it goes,
    Pun intended,
    Right over your head,

    Cut.

    Self aggrandising, unrealistic, chauvanistic,
    They ooze money.

    It’s all they can think about and they can’t look up long enough,
    To,

    Buzz.

    Let you finish the job.

    Its all phones, phones, phones.
    Buy, sell, buy.

    Words like:

    Dead Cat Bounce,
    Bear Market,
    Hedge,
    Diamond Hands,

    Chop.

    Nonsense really.

    One of them with real diamonds for hands and a mouth full of pearls,
    Misjudges the situation,
    In which he finds himself,

    So when you’re in court and the judge asks about:

    Penny Stocks, manuipulation, pyramids that aren’t in Egypt…

    Suddenly you understand it all,
    The same as someone who learned Esperanto, or Dutch.

    The snippets fall into place,
    Like shorn hairs on the floor.

    Dzzzzzzzzz,

    And they don’t look at you as you are, a hairdresser from Queens.

    They look at you and they see you properly for the first time.

    Chop.

    Samantha… who holds the ticker tape in her hand and knows how to use a pair of scissors.

    Snip, snip, snip.

  5. Elvis Left The Building And Was Reincarnated As A Member Of A Boy Band
    283 words
    Cosplayer/Back Alley Casino/Comedy
    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.

    ‘Marcy? I have a question. When you were thinking of all the names you could call your business, what made you decide on this one?’

    ‘What’s wrong with ‘Backalleycas’? Sounds Irish. Intriguing. Everyone loves an Irishman.’

    ‘You’re not Irish. Or a man for that matter.’

    ‘It’s got an air of suspense about it. Like… you know, come down the back alley you never know what you might win.’

    ‘Or catch.’

    ‘Huh?’

    ‘You never thought about the double entendres, the Freudian connotations, the nudge, nudge wink winks?’

    ‘Say no more.’

    ‘Exactly.’

    ‘No I mean shut up, he’s here.’

    ‘Who’s here?’

    ‘Robbie Williams. He’s come to open the casino.’

    ‘You’ve got Robbie Williams? How the hell did a PA from Briny Breezes, Florida, manage to secure Robbie Williams to open an insignificant, run-down, back street casino in Reno?’

    ‘Well, it’s not the Robbie, just a very close comparison. This guy’s won awards.’

    ‘Where?’

    ‘Louisiana State Penitentiary Cosplayer Convention.’

    ‘You mean detention? That’s a prison.’

    ‘Not his fault. He was framed. He said it was actually Robbie Williams that stole those smokes and liqueur. He can’t help that he looks like the guy, can he?’

    ‘Right.’

    ‘Besides, I thought in my best Abba-esque lightbulb moment why not take a chance. It’s fitting, you see, ‘take a chance on me’, casino, rolling dice. Get it?’

    ‘Sure.’

    ‘Don’t you just love Abba?’

    ‘More than life itself.’

    ‘Don’t laugh when you see Robbie #2 though.’

    ‘Why not?’

    ‘He said he’s portraying a ‘Robbie as Elvis’ persona. Isn’t that cool? Apparently Robbie Williams saves it only for his true fans. Kept it secret for years. Who knew?’

    ‘So you’ve hired an ex-con Elvis impersonator to impersonate Robbie Williams as Elvis?’

  6. ‘Louisiana State Penitentiary Cosplayer Convention’.

    That’s a special thing there…

  7. SOMEONE SOMEWHERE OR SOMETHING, I THINK.
    300 words
    Stockbroker / Speakeasy / Sci-Fi
    by Ash K. Gray
    Instagram: @ash.k.gray
    Info
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions and a glitter factory

    ***

    He’d failed at the only thing he’d ever prided himself on being good at: pushing half-decent stocks onto steep-pocketed unsuspectors.
    Dejected, he drags himself to his regular speakeasy, walking in with eyes struck to the hard wooden floor. He takes his regular seat. His gaze now darts to the mahogany table at his front and remains stapled there for a little longer than is ordinary.
    “The usual.” He says.
    An unfamiliar voice with a bit of a strange gurgle to it answers back. “And da hell’s dat supposed ta be?” it asks.
    He looks up at the source, wondering why Joe sounded so incredibly different today. He is met with his answer. This was not joe. This was a purple mass of gelatinous goo clumped together in the form of not even a man, but a cup of jello. He stops himself from gasping at the sight– and resorts to letting his jaw loosen a bit at it instead.
    “What the–???”
    “Wat? Ya look like ye’ve seen a ghost, kid.”
    Kid? Last time he checked, he was a forty year old divorcee.
    He strikes his hands atop table to prop himself up. And when he does, he takes note of those very hands and realises that they were not only a ton smaller than they should be, but also heaps greener. He’s too baffled to know how to react so he sits back down.
    “Okay ya know wat? I don’ got time for dis shit. Call me overh’n ya got yer order.”
    The blob slithers away. He watches as he does, now taking in the full scope of the bar – the one he is still entirely certain is the place he’d always known albeit now stuffed to the brim with an unhinged array of paranormal patrons, himself apparently included.

  8. Stains
    300 Words
    Cosplayer / Back-alley casino / Comedy
    A.J. Walker

    Website: https://awalker.org/
    Twitter/Spoutible: @zevonesque

    Daniel was doing his best not to kick up any of the greasy mud which caked the Back Queens Street alley. He never knew where all the grease came from, nor the mud. The cobbles were well laid, there was no exposed soil and there were no greasy spoons putting their waste there – not without a commute. He was adamant he would not splatter grease on to his hired outfit before returning it.

    He spotted the door he was after and carefully climbed the steps. Finally he was faced by the doorman.

    ‘What do we have here?’ the bruiser asked.

    ‘I’m Robin Hood, of course.’ Daniel replied with some trepidation; blood on the costume would be no better than grease.

    The doorman put his head to one side. ‘I can see who you are dressed as, but why the hell?’

    ‘The Spider-Man costume was gone.’

    ‘You wanted to dress up as Spider-Man, but instead came as a sad old folk hero – to a casino? What the fuck?’

    ‘No. I’m here for the cosplayer event. It’s here isn’t it?’

    The doorman’s face gradually progressed through thinking, smiling, and laughing before settling on nodding.

    ‘Yes, Mr Hood. Right place, wrong time. That’s next week. Tonight Robin, this is a casino. You want to play roulette or blackjack? Or you going to wait for Friar Tuck and Little John?’

    Daniel cursed, but eventually went in; whilst promising himself to sort a diary.

    He recognised the dealer on the blackjack, it was the lovely Joy L’al from the Back Alley Massage Parlour.

    ‘Hell! They’ve taken you on after closing the massage parlour then?’

    ‘No, Mr Dal. Diversification. We do usual after casino closes. You want play?’

    ‘Cards?’

    ‘Either, or both. With the cards I can’t promise Dan happy ending.’

    Daniel wondered about possible stains.

  9. Left on the cutting room floor
    113 Words (+ 200 extra characters)
    Hairstylist / Wall Street / Poem
    Gerald Castillo
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions as well as (but not limited to): a tie-in remake of the film Sharknado using this work as inspiration, an entire 3 day long performative dance take or even a merchandise line. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    [currencyderivativecommoditymarketspreadmargininvestmentbusiness]
    [———————————————————————————————]
    [————————–They spoke in trading terms——————————]
    [——————————-Because they believe———————————-]
    [—————————–It made them sound clever—————————–]
    [———————————————————————————————-]
    [volatilityleverageexchangebondarbitrageaskstrikefunddistributionyields]

    {snipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchop}
    {————————————————————————————————}
    {———————————-And because of that,———————————-}
    {—————–She hated the new words they throw about.———————}
    {—————“Damn these men and their language of stocks!”—————–}
    {———Whilst yes, she admits they carry the market on their backs———}
    {—————-And she was nothing more than a haircutter———————-}
    {—————————–Trying to make ends meet,——————————–}
    {—————-How dare they speak those blasphemous terms—————–}
    {—————————-In this sacred territory of hers——————————}
    {————–Her scissors weren’t well-educated like these men—————-}
    {.——————Its vocabulary wasn’t as broad as theirs;————————}
    {————————————They were simple,————————————}
    {———————————-They were repetitive,———————————–}
    {———————They were so damn easy to understand———————–}
    {————–And honestly with all that’s going about in this world,————-}
    {———————–That’s perhaps all we really needed————————–}
    {————————————————————————————————}
    {snipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchopsnipcutchop}

    NOTE: Formatting this was genuine hell! If any site supervisor is reading this, is there a way you could allow comments to have a better way to format works? It would really improve the creativity people have with writing! Just a little request!

  10. The Venus of Okinawa
    300 worms
    Prompt: Cosplayer/Back Alley Casino/Comedy
    My Preferred Name: Otter/Otter of fun.

    Adam entered the casino where the convention was being held. He considered all possible scenarios while making a mental note of every weirdo walking these fancy rugs. He took a deep breath and heightened his senses.

    Despite his prodigious skills in the field of security, nothing could have prepared him for this mission.

    *Funky radio noises*

    “Overmind to Kurumi-Chan, do you have eyes on the objective?”

    “Negative.”

    “All right, stay frosty.”

    “It’s definitely frosty down here, I’ll tell you that.”

    “Don’t complain.” “It’s a tactical outfit that helps you blend in and appear less threatening. It was Cyborg’s idea.”

    “Nuh-uh, I don’t believe you. This was all you.”

    “Yuh-uh, he said it fits your bone structure perfectly. I’ll show you the data.”

    Adam sighed in pain.

    Suddenly, the stage lights illuminated, and Evanescence began playing the main theme of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

    Cricket McCricketson, the manga millionaire, Beyblade superstar and two-time winner of Dancing with the Stars, approached the main podium.

    “Fellow weebs, on this day of celebration, I present to you a treasure of unparalleled magnificence, unbeknownst and untamed: the Venus of Okinawa.”

    He pulled back a linen sheet, revealing an extraordinary piece of art. A 9-foot-tall RX-78-3 G-3 Gundam model. It wasn’t made with cheap-quality plastic that breaks when you bend it, but instead, with good-quality plastic that doesn’t break when you bend it. Painted by Master artisan Hikaru Murasaki, valued at 84 million dollars.

    “And then what, Grandpa?” asked Adam’s granddaughter as they all sat by the fireplace.

    “It was at that moment that I realized my work had meaning, little Sophie,” he said, while hugging his Shrek full-body pillow tightly and rocking gently in his chair.

    He looked at his husband, Cricket McCricketson Jr, and lovingly held his hand.

    It was the best Christmas ever.

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