Microcosms 206 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 206!

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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MICROCOSMS 206 Prompts: Parkour Traceur (Runner) / Cubicle Hell / Fantasy OR Vacuum Salesperson / Food Fight / Romance $25 prize (free to enter)! Come write a story in 300 words or fewer. Fun and free! microcosmsfic.com
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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. 
<a href="https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic">https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic</a>

You can also use it to do italics or bold text.
<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.)


  • 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’s Prompts

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

We spun, and our three elements are:

Parkour Traceur (Runner) / Cubicle Hell / Fantasy


Vacuum Salesperson / Food Fight / Romance

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.)




  • Schoolchildren
  • Parkour Traceur (Runner)
  • Graffiti Artist
  • Musical Performer
  • Computer Programmer
  • Vacuum Salesperson
  • Daydreamer
  • Archer
  • Food Fight
  • City Rooftops
  • Billboard
  • Off Broadway
  • Cubicle Hell
  • House Call
  • Somewhere Boring
  • Forest
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western


Helping judge this week is MC 203 winner Geoff Le Pard!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 205 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 204 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 204 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/08/26/results-mc-204/

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Microcosms 207 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)
Microcosms 205 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

51 thoughts on “Microcosms 206 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. Romance Sucks 

    Ru sighed. Another Monday! The shop was empty, again. He wondered if he should just do a demo to the other vacuums, to stave off the boredom.

    But the floor was clean, hoovered the day before, and he had no spare crumbs to use. 

    Inspiration struck. When Craig arrived he could nip out and get breakfast, then use the debris for a demo. That would work. He always liked when Craig was on – it helped that he was easy on the eye. 

    At last he arrived, bleary-eyed and unshaven. Yum. 

    The sandwich shop was empty, so he was back with two steak sandwiches in no time. Craig was inspecting his nails and humming. 

    “Here. Brunch!”

    “Breakfast, actually. I’m still hungover!” 

    He sounded it, a little gravelly. He didn’t hate it. 

    Ru opened his sandwich eagerly. It was hot, and smelled fantastic. Craig was inhaling his, eyes half shut. A little sauce wobbled at the side of his mouth. 

    “You’ve got a leak, Craig,” he said, gesturing. 

    “What? Oh. I’ll leave that for later. What are you, the King?”

    Ru laughed and threw an onion at him, laughing harder when it stuck to his cheek. Craig let out a mock roar, pulling the end of his sandwich and throwing it back. It missed. 

    “I’ll have you, you wee bastard!” 

    He pulled out the crisps, crumbling them in his hand, and rubbing them hard into Ru’s hair. 

    “There. Now you look as ridiculous as me!” 

    They were close, at last. Ru smiled. “Ridiculous but attractive as hell. I’m into sauce.” 

    Craig grinned. “Is that right? Well, lets make more mess then, shall we?” 

    The crumbs danced their way to the floor, followed by the sandwich bags as they shared a kiss, witnessed only by the vacuums waiting for their show. 

  2. Cold Cuts
    297 words
    Romance / Vaccum Salesman / Food Fight
    Antoinette A @LilBreezes on Twitter (X)

    He lit the candles as a final touch to the simple table setting for his gourmet meal. It was to be their third date and he wanted to show off his cooking skills – among others. She arrived fifteen minutes late which, after looking at his watch every ten seconds, had him in a sweat. She arrived with a stain on her blouse.
    “I hadn’t eaten all day and grabbed a plum to tie me over. Let’s see it,” she said.
    He put his hand on his chest and took a step backward. Cleared his throat and said, “It’s… it’s right over here.”
    He pulled out a chair for her at the table and poured the wine.
    “None for me, how about this great food of yours,” she said.
    Bitch, he thought. His feelings of romance and appetite fled.
    Sauteed Brussels sprouts, fried coconut shrimp, and fingerling potatoes. He had never tried those but liked the sexy name.
    “It’s cold,” she snapped.
    His face grew redder than the stain on her blouse. He tossed his napkin down, picked up a sprout and tossed it at her. It made a nice green mark next to the plum.
    “You’re into kinky,” she said with a smile and tossed a shrimp at him.
    “No,” he bellowed and grabbed a handful of potatoes and threw them at her hoping they would become mashed on her face.
    The doorbell rang and neither heard it as they carried on with their antics. It rang again to no avail.
    They jumped back as a man appeared around the corner of the room.
    “Door was open,” he said, with Hoover in hand.
    “Jane?” the Hoover man asked.
    “Daryl?” Jane replied. “Get me out of here!”
    “OK, right after I clean up this mess,” Daryl said.

  3. Updog? Well I hardly even know ‘er …

    300 words

    Parkour Traceur (Runner) / Cubicle Hell / Fantasy


    moonofpluto on some socials (and geometea on others)

    Open to derivative works


    Sometimes yer maybe twenty nine stories up outta hells know how many, all cause someone hired you ta piss off a wizard, so yer clawing your way up the side of a tower which looked huge from the ground but turns out to be taller in person*, an’ that’s when a voice says

    “Do a flip.”

    But the problem is you’re all flipped out, and flipped off too, cause you left all your fancy flippin’ twenty stories back and you’re hittin’ finger-splittin’.

    So you flip a bird through the window, then look through the window, and call you a lark and drop you off the edge of the world** because it’s cubicles for days in there.

    Anyway, the imp*** who spoke lets you in, and you swing yer pretty ass through, and suddenly yer in scry central. Mirrors far as the eye can see, all with some poor devil stuck up in front of ‘em.

    “How many floors to the top?” you ask.

    And the imp says, “You’re on twenty three out of thirty.” An’ then he says, “What are you doing?”

    “Hired to rob your boss,” you say ‘cause mamma raised no liar****.

    “What are you after?” asks the imp, all casual like he’s not about to hit the alarm.

    “It’s an ancient artefact,” you tell him. “‘s called Nunya.”


    You grin. “Nunya Business*****!”

    And then yer on top ‘o the cubicles and running for the stairs.


    *Generally, the taller the tower, the shorter the wizard. This one was owned by a gnome.

    **Incorrect. The world, being a taurus, does not have an edge. Topologically speaking, it does have a rim.

    ***Low level summon. Used for menial tasks, such as inconveniencing adventurers or customer service.


    *****Nunya’s Business, called Nunya Business, is a divine blade forged [read more]

  4. Be Careful What You Wish For
    Parkour Traceur/cubicle hell/fantasy
    296 words
    Geoff Le Pard

    Hans Tand’s life turned upside down when he found out that his water bottle was, in fact, a magical lamp occupied by a fat, rather morose genie with halitosis called Roger. One minute he was refilling his bottle for life, the next this rather unpleasant apparition filled his vision.
    ‘Yes? What?’
    ‘I’m Roger the genie so…’ the genie made a hurry up sign. ‘You know, three wishes? Can we get this done and I can get back? I’m in the middle of season one of Stranger Things.’
    ‘God, are you always this boring? Why are we here?’
    Why indeed, thought Hans? Stubbornness. Stupidity. They were the only explanations for an aspiring free runner with vertigo, motion sickness and lack of grip. ‘To get up there.’
    Hans pointed at a sheer concrete wall that was the start of the free running hell that was the Cubical.
    Hans’ stomach was the only part that lagged behind as he shot to the roof and it wasn’t happy when it caught up.
    ‘Next.’ Roger magicked a bucket for Hans stomach to express both its opinion and Hans’ lunch.
    ‘I’d really like this to end.’
    ‘On it!’
    In a blur of limbs, concrete and swearing the next thing he knew were hands high fiving and fists bumping. He stood at the finish line, at bottom of a terrifying lightwell.
    As the other participants drifted away, Hans pulled out his water bottle cum magical lamp.
    Roger emerged in a cloud of angry fumes, smelling like old kippers and with breath that could neutralise isotopes. ‘And?’ The genie looked at a large fob watch.
    ‘I won?’
    ‘You won. Whoop-de-doo. One more wish.’
    Hans shook his head in disbelief. ‘Fuck me’
    Roger’s head slumped to his chest. ‘Not again…’

  5. Suzanna Lundale
    Vacuum sales/food fight/romance

    Waiting for Bruno

    “Open your eyes. Namaste.”

    Shannon sat back, eyes closed. Well and good for the meditation guide to open her eyes in her clean studio with subtle artwork. Shannon was… here.

    “You won’t have to do anything,” her sister had assured her. “Let us have the seance at yours; we’ll take care of everything.”

    The seance was MUCH louder than Shannon expected. In the morning, she saw why. While she hid in her room with a romance novel, her living room was trashed.

    Two broken bottles, smashed cake on the rug and curtains… What kind of seance was this? A spooks vs skins food fight? So many questions, and they’d fucked off without answering one, except who was going to clean up. Obviously, she was.

    The doorbell broke her sulking reverie. A gorgeous man stood on the porch in a tight black t-shirt and tiny shorts, holding… a vacuum?

    “Uh, hello?” Shannon asked, staring at his eyes – lovely, but also, it felt obscene to look anywhere else on him.

    His smile was flirtatious. His voice warm velvet with a hint of Chi-town. “You must be Shannon.” He took raised her hand to his lips, sending a zing of electricity through her.

    “I’m Bruno,” he said simply. “I’m here to clean.”

    “Um… okay.” Shannon ushered him in, straightening a lampshade.

    “No, beautiful lady. You just watch… if you like.”

    “My sister send you?”

    “She said you might want a demonstration.”

    “A… demonstration?” Shannon raked her eyes over his taut body.

    “Of the Robo5000. The vacuum.”

    Shannon barked an awkward laugh. “The vacuum, right. Absolutely, demonstrate away.”

    Bruno vacuumed and tidied, giving a very thorough demonstration. Afterward, Shannon grabbed her wallet. “That was actually… great. Really… impressive vacuum. What do I owe you?”

    Bruno smiled. “Could I maybe make you dinner, instead?”

  6. Love Doesn’t Suck

    “I wanna sell vacuums when I grow up!” said no kid anywhere ever. “Sell” is a strong word for schlepping cleaning equipment across buckling pavement and up and down uneven stairs, ringing unanswered doorbells, standing around like an idiot, and mumbling your sales rap to yourself a thousand times a day, eight to twelve hours a day, just not to feel so damn lonely—”Sick of vacuums that break your back and fall apart in less than two years? Our bagless lightweight easy-store carbon-insulated machines will suck it all up without letting you down, effortlessly handling a lifetime of dust, dirt, and detritus . . .” So I’m about to ring the last doorbell on the last house on the last street of the day, dog-tired, ready to be done with it all—my whole damn pointless life included—when this kid with blue and white frosting all over his face opens the door and runs out screaming, “You ruined my birthday! I hate you all!” And here comes his mother—who’s smokin’, by the way (I like older women)—bouncing after him in a sundress like, “Jacob! Come back!” and behind her there’s this mayhem of kids laughing and crying, throwing cake and pizza and ice cream at each other, and I just know it: this is my moment. So I swooped in there, whipped out that patented rotating wet-dry large debris filtration attachment, and before you could say “Somebody’s nailing an eight-year-old’s hot mom tonight,” that whole mess was gone, kids and all, slurped on up into the bagless, infinite capacity of my Ultrasuck 4000. You might think the parents were upset about their kids being gone. But you’d be wrong. Whenever Jake’s mom gets done unclogging my extra-long hose, you can ask her.

  7. Revelry Conquers All
    Parkour / Cubicle Hell / Fantasy
    291 Words
    Galen Gower
    Yes, I am open to derivative works including a series of failed utopian communities that always devolve into cannibalism.

    “So they jumped? That’s how they all came to be dead?” Officer Werner asked sharply.

    “Well, they all came running and sliding through the workspace, but I don’t know what happened exactly,” Mr. Riley answered. He didn’t know the extent of Alphatown Corporation’s liability exposure, so he didn’t want to offer anything up just yet. Werner turned his frustration on the EMTs.

    “So how ‘bout it fellas? They’re dead because they jumped out the window or what?”

    The EMTs looked at each other before Ed nodded to his partner Juan.

    “Well, I mean…” Juan trailed off, pointing at the tarp, “I’m not sure what this is.”

    Werner threw up his hands and snapped his notebook shut.

    “Jesus, what?! I just talked to two dozen people,” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the crowd of people in the office entrance, “who say our naked dozen came cartwheeling and tumbling and shit through the office behind a goat man. What the fuck are you guys trying to pull here?”
    Instead of answering, Juan pulled the tarp back to reveal a body with a human top half, but backward goat legs where the bottom half goes. As they stared, the satyr twitched. All four stepped back as it gasped and sat up.

    “Aha! Death is never final! Let the revel continue!” he cried and climbed to his goat feet. With a flourish, he pressed his pan flute to his lips. The naked corpses rose, full of life, to dance and cavort once more. Officer Werner didn’t understand the feeling, but he, Ed, Juan, and the Mr. Riley the Alphatown Corporation manager all tore off their suffocating clothes and joined in the celebration with shouts and somersaults as they ran free into the night.

    300 Words
    Vacuum Salesperson/ Food Fight/ Romance
    By Steve Lodge
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese
    Yes, I’m open to derivative works.

    Last schoolday before the summer holidays. Sondra Hickey and I swapped notes. We’d been hanging out together for a while but now, she was going to France with her family for 6 weeks. After that long apart, we’d know if we were heading for a real romantic relationship (her words).

    One thing I do remember writing in my note to Sondra was that her kisses reminded me of a donkey chewing an apple. I began to see how my comment could be seen as insensitive. Then I read her note to me. She had described my kissing technique as being like a bulldog licking piss off a stinging nettle. Seems we both had work to do on our kissing.

    During the school holidays, I helped my brother, Vic, who was a vacuum salesperson. Once, we were watching cricket at Rothermill and Vic said he’d got a great idea to sell a vacuum cleaner. We had access to stale buns and broccoli donuts from Uncle Bob’s bakery, we’d make them soggy, then I would go into our empty school with friends and loads of buns and broccoli donuts and have food fights in as many classrooms, the hall and corridors as possible. Unfortunately, the Principal’s office was locked, still the school looked like a warzone by the time we finished. Then someone would call the School Security and say there’d been a break in and they should send someone down. Vic managed to sell them his company’s top of the range cleaner, The Golcar Hydro Vacuumington Deluxe Thirds, to clean up all the mess.

    I asked one of the girls in our street, Cora Luni, on the way home after the food fight if I could kiss her but she said no, because she’d heard about the way I kiss. Dammit!!

  9. Daydream Believer
    297 words
    Daydreamer/Forest/Sci Fi
    Andrew Patch

    The bus collected Flex and her fellow companions from home, weaving its ways sluggishly along the country lane to work. Flex scanned the dense tree line as they went by, grateful that there were no rabbits today, no need for the bus to stop, for the snaring to begin. Just endless rows of dark green shadows.

    Arriving at the deserted mall, Flex dismounting with the others, walking with the ever-present guards. Mr Faversham waiting at the fountain, clip board and stern eyes. Roll call, a shop assigned, Flex headed to the second floor. Entering the shop through the employee door. On the counter a suitcase, containing a carefully pressed cowboy outfit.

    Mr Faversham’s voice echoing, the brokers were coming. Changed, Flex entered the glass box that made up the shop front stage. A magnificent unicorn stood waiting on red sand, a lance of sunflowers resting against the saddle. Mounting the creature stirred it into life, hydraulics and cogs whirring, galloping on the spot as winged holo-creatures burst into life around her steed. Speared to nothingness by Flex’s deadly aim.

    She could feel the brokers now, walking around, browsing, taking notes, mouthless beings clad in black suits and bowler hats, whose scribbled orders were the only thing that mattered. One order could make the difference, not only for the forever people living high up in tower, seeking a momentary taste of distraction, but also for Flex’s chance of staying at home.

    Her last performance review hadn’t gone well, Mr Faversham’s words as severe as his eyes. Her dreams were losing their appeal he said, the market changing for other delights, eat more cheese he said, do less exercise, but overall if things don’t change.

    Well no one lives long as a rabbit in the woods do they dear?

  10. Love Doesn’t Suck
    296 words
    Vacuum Salesperson / Food Fight / Romance
    Francesca Leader
    Yes, I am open to derivative works

    (*Note: resubbing as first post did not include contest-compliant header. Please disregard prior post.*)

    “I wanna sell vacuums when I grow up!” said no kid anywhere ever. “Sell” is a strong word for schlepping cleaning equipment across buckling pavement and up and down uneven stairs, ringing unanswered doorbells, standing around like an idiot, and mumbling your sales rap to yourself a thousand times a day, eight to twelve hours a day, just not to feel so damn lonely—Sick of vacuums that break your back and fall apart in less than two years? Our bagless lightweight easy-store carbon-insulated machines will suck it all up without letting you down, effortlessly handling a lifetime of dust, dirt, and detritus . . . So I’m about to ring the last doorbell on the last house on the last street of the day, dog-tired, ready to be done with it all—my whole damn pointless life included—when this kid with blue and white frosting all over his face opens the door and runs out screaming, “You ruined my birthday! I hate you all!” And here comes his mother—who’s smokin’, by the way (I like older women)—bouncing after him in a sundress like, “Jacob! Come back!” and behind her there’s this mayhem of kids laughing and crying, throwing cake and pizza and ice cream at each other, and I just know it: this is my moment. So I swooped in there, whipped out that patented rotating wet-dry large debris filtration attachment, and before you could say Somebody’s nailing an eight-year-old’s hot mom tonight, that whole mess was gone, kids and all, slurped on up into the bagless, infinite capacity of my Ultrasuck 4000. You might think the parents were upset about their kids being gone. But you’d be wrong. Whenever Jake’s mom gets done unclogging my extra-long hose, you can ask her.

  11. On The Edge.
    298 Words
    Vacuum Salesman/Parkour. Rooftop. Romance.
    John Holmes
    Yes. I am open to derivative works.

    Paul loved himself. (Someone had to).
    His conversations in front of mirrors were intense and full of passion, even if they were significantly one-sided. His enemies called him ‘vain and a real loser’.
    He didn’t have any friends to defend him.

    “You’re driving us up the wall,” his mum said to him, as he scrambled up onto the garage roof. She might have been impressed if he hadn’t scraped his knee. And used the old wooden step ladder.

    The selfie on the roof showed that a camera always lies. Paul’s smiling face and windswept hair implied danger and glamour, if you ignored the backdrop of the neighbour’s washing-line fully loaded with over-sized underwear. He immediately posted the photo online for his one follower, then dropped a red heart. He looked forward to opening it later.

    Lying there, watching the grey clouds drift swiftly by, he thought about his own life, which was also floating away. He wondered why, with all his good looks and vibrant personality, he wasn’t rich and famous. Why was glory taking so long?
    Being perfect was quite frustrating.

    The endless videos he’d watched on parkour traceur made it look so easy to descend. Paul crawled nervously to the edge and looked around for the ladder.
    It had been put away.
    With no other option, he tried the J-Step for the first time.

    Mum called the office on his behalf, explaining her son wouldn’t be able to do his sales work for a while.
    “Broken foot.”
    The boss, at Vacuum Cleaners UK, simply replied, “that sucks like a HF12,” then immediately started to organise cover for Paul. Permanent cover.
    Paul, not aware that he was being swept under the carpet, continued to draw hearts on his new plaster cast, ready for another selfie.

  12. Parkour Runner/ Cubicle Hell/ Fantasy
    300 words

    Mind Games

    The track was set. Only, instead of being held outdoors, it was a version of the “office”. I stood at the ready. The buzzer went off. I saw the straight lines of the office furniture and made for the course. Leaping over a desk, I sprinted to the water cooler and cartwheeled over it. I danced across the window sill towards the window and popped out. I dashed across the roof of our office block, relishing the cheers that followed me. Fluent in motion, I executed my moves flawlessly, bouncing from one rooftop to another, one desk to another. I descended stairs ten at a time and climbed them using only the railings. I was unstoppable, unbeatable and the women around me knew it. There is something to be said of a man who knows his way around a parkour track. Apparently, no woman can resist being with such a fine specimen. Over and under, through and around, I had no desire to pace myself. I zigged and I zagged and I excelled. The finish line appeared before me and I knew I had broken every record set before.

    “Mr. Neelman. Are you going to sit there all day and stare into space? Those papers will not file themselves away!” Chris Neelman was startled to find himself still in his tiny, dark, airless cubicle. He sighed as he turned back to his work. A few of the women giggled and he went beet-red. It was all fantasy. Chris Neelman would never have the guts to do parkour.

    A woman looked over the screen of his cubicle.and winked at him. “I’m picking you up at 5am on Saturday morning for parkour.”
    “How…how did you know?” he stammered.
    “Sweetie, when you fantasize, you talk out loud.” Chris blushed again but smiled.

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  13. It Started With A Vacuum
    300 words
    Prompts: Vacuum Salesperson/ Food Fight/ Romance

    It was his first day working at the vacuum display in the mall. He couldn’t believe he was spending his summer trying to make vacuums seem exciting. Yet, he had no other option; he desperately needed the money.

    The mall hadn’t even opened yet, and there was already a commotion at the food hall at the other end. He glanced over to investigate.

    The food court was a mess. It appeared as though the stores had emptied their entire inventory throughout the area: spilled beverages on the floors, strands of spaghetti adorning the tables, ketchup smeared across the walls, and—could that possibly be a slice of pizza stuck to the ceiling? Amidst the chaos, a group of teenagers, roughly his age, and the floor manager he had met earlier stood, the manager exuding irritation.

    “Considering your decision to indulge in a food fight for amusement last night, I trust you’ll derive even more enjoyment from tidying up this mess,” the manager addressed the defiant group.”This place better be spotless by noon. And be prepared to commence your summer shift at your designated stands, unless you want to be reported to the police.”

    And then he saw her. She was putting her long, dark hair in a messy bun, about to start picking donut crumbs from beneath the tables. He had never encountered anyone as striking as her. What’s more, she would be stationed right in front of him for the entire summer! Finally, a glimmer of hope that summer might not turn out as dreadful as he had anticipated. But he had to do something. He had to make his move.

    With a sudden surge of confidence, he felt his feet taking him to where she was. She looked up, her gleaming, mischievous eyes displaying no hint of remorse for the previous night’s escapade.

    “Could you use a vacuum for that?” he quipped.

  14. Bagless Might Save The Environment But It Won’t Find You Love
    300 Words
    Vacuum salesman/food fight/ romance
    Jaime Bree
    Yes. I am open to derivative works.

    Picture the scene if you will. A slow-motion, B-movie quality moment of red wine spillage and custard tart ooze, amalgamated with projectile peas and the croque en bouche tumbling like Jenga across the table. It was always the same at this convention. Would they ever learn? The VacAss group in the same room as the Quantech ‘X’ Version 7 society. Like a scene from West Side Story only with no choreography and a lot more swearing.

    Slow motion is a funny thing. In that moment, when you see your eyesight flash before you, before a splat of lemon meringue obscures your vision, you’re sure, utterly convinced that Barbara Johnson just glanced your way.

    That slim, petite, pencil-skirt-wearing ‘Salesperson of the Year’, with a reputation of being the ogre of the office, but clearly an overarm throw as good as any pitcher, just caught your eye.

    And smiled.

    Then laughed.

    And pointed.

    But not in a ‘ha ha’ sort of way, no, in a ‘what you got big boy’ kind of way, as she gestures with a wiggle of her fingers to bring it on.

    The rival company wants war.

    I look around. There’s not much left. I see the VacAss Pro on the display table, post demonstration, and yank the bag from its plastic body. I stare for a moment at the plump, dust and dirt filled bag I’m holding. Who in this day and age has a bagged vacuum? Pondering aside, I only have eyes for her. The battle rages around me. I approach. We stare at each other, everything else pales into insignificance around us. Our breathing intensifies. A drop of custard drips from my chin.

    I rip the bag open and pour the contents over her head.

    ‘You know bagless really is the way forward’, I say.

    1. This was funny on so many levels. “Who in this day and age has a bagless vacuum? Pondering aside,” deeply enjoyed that line for some reason. I LOVE THIS.

  15. I hate you Jaime Bree – Making Me Keep My Wings
    300 words (Written Under Duress At The Last Minute)
    Parkour Traceur (Runner) / Cubicle Hell / Fantasy
    Laura Cooney
    @lozzawriting everywhere

    The trouble with wings is that they get in the way when they aren’t allowed. Flora knew this was going to be a problem when she first took up parkour. Her mother had told her it was one of those things that a fairy would find really difficult and,
    “Didn’t she want to stick to things she could do?”
    Flora was an independent, she had no time for restrictions like that and so she had joined the Gnomeville Parkour association with excitement and had quickly become one of the most talented traceurs that the group had ever had.
    Strapping the wings was easy, keeping them from fluttering was difficult. It was sore by the end of each session and that was what had caused Flora to decide one Sunday afternoon to have surgery to remove her wings. A fact she was keeping from her mother and her own community. The only person that knew was Jaz, the gnome she was beginning to fall in love with.
    As she leapt from building to building on the way to the appointment she imagined that he would fall in love with her, she’d win the championship and live happily ever after. What she hadn’t banked on was the toilet.
    When she had arrived and filled in the forms she had begun to get a serious case of the jitters. On one hand it would be easier to fit into the gnome world and there would be less judgement about jumping ‘advantage.’ On the other, wings were part of her identity.
    So she’d gone for a nervous toilet visit and was fatefully trapped in the cubicle due to a broken lock, there was no flying or parkour that could aid her escape and so she missed the appointment, and has her wings to this day.

      1. You ken me, I wrote it in my head last weekend. I just didn’t have the time to write it down. I think it could be better but thank you!

  16. The Floor is Lava
    300 words
    Parkour/Cubicle Hell/Horror
    Jennifer Saar

    I don’t know why I said yes.

    Scratch that – it was the money. I couldn’t say no to extra dough, even if the guy was giving me majorly hinky vibes from the moment he appeared. (Although in retrospect, this was probably because he was a demon. At the time I just thought it was because he was middle management.)

    “Hello, stragglers!” he said to us. “Everyone else has left for the weekend. How goes the work?”

    “It blows,” Rod snarled.

    “Rod’s an idiot,” Karen added. She looked pointedly at Rod.

    Rod pointedly shot her the finger.

    Office Guy pointedly ignored them. “Tell you what – why don’t you take a break and play a game with me? I’m lonely, but I don’t have time to make real friends. It’s easier just to pay time and a half. It’ll be fun!”

    Let me state for the record that the floor was, in fact, lava, and it was not fun.

    Rod missed a jump onto a desk chair and went down with the grace and balance of a fat kid on a seesaw.

    Karen fell next. She might have had a fighting chance without the kitten heels.

    But Parkour is like a dance if it’s done right. Balance is important; speed and momentum are key. Better yet, I wore flexible, grippy shoes on as I raced across the tops of cubicles and flipped over gaps.

    When I finally thumped to the lavaless ground in front of Office Guy, he looked bemused. “Well, this leaves me in a bit of a bind. I could eat you, but that seems like a terrible waste of talent… Why don’t I just make you my new assistant, and you can help me with Marco Polo next week.”

    His eyes flared red.

    “I’ll bring the sharks.”

  17. Elle For Leather
    300 words
    Parkour/Cubicle Hell/ Fantasy
    A.J. Walker

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

    Jenna was undeniably the queen of parkour. The diminutive lady had her speed on. Her T-shirt said it all: “Elle for Leather.’ She was often portrayed flashing across the skyline of an iconic city jumping between rooftops in the blink of an eye. In the world’s greatest timed races she’d won all the highest grossing champion chases. She had so much coverage from brash and slick advertising for everything from sportswear to garden sheds and dog food that everyone had heard of Jenna.

    But today’s race was not going to be remembered for such images, there was no chance of catching her with the moon or town clocks as a backdrop; the Singapore Central Business District Parkour Cup was fully an internal affair racing a circular route within a succession of towering offices.

    In the last of the buildings she winked at one of the cameras relaying live footage around the world. She’d been relieved that there were few cameras at the event. These were the offices of the richest companies in the world. Doors were often locked or cordoned off. Sensitive information and valuable art work no doubt beyond some of the restrictions. This meant she could safely use her trusty timely-wimey belt buckle on her leather belt to skip forward in time and space without fear of being caught in flagrante.

    It was ironic then when she pressed forward in one of the last corners that she slipped on the polished marble floor and was sent off target. She found herself failing to make the turn and flying through the door to the Gents she landed squarely between two famous old CEOs in the third cubicle. In flagrante. An agreement was swiftly made. She finished the race mid-table and she’d never speak of the dalliance in Cubicle 3.

  18. The Day Had Come
    273 Words
    Archer / City Rooftops / Poem
    Chris Mullan

    Woke up knowing the day had come
    Left a note saying goodbye to Mum
    Couldn’t really flush the loo
    Very quietly pulled front door to
    Took a short cut through the park
    It’s 4am so still quite dark
    Passed a couple, she’s on her knees
    Clearly trying her best to please
    I hurried past to the office block
    Gained access forcing a lock
    Security had no night shift
    Easy access to the central lift
    No pee anywhere, it was very clean
    I quickly pressed the button sixteen
    Three minutes later and I’m on the roof
    Knew I didn’t need my waterproof
    Placed my rucksack by the ledge
    Drinks, butties, two meat and no veg
    It felt quite chilly, made me shiver
    I sat down next to my bow and quiver
    Looked at my watch, got a while to wait
    Figured I’d start about half past eight
    Managed to have a three hour kip
    Not long now before I let rip
    I’ve had a quick peep over the top
    Saw there’s a queue at the coffee shop
    Customers wait to quench their thirst
    While I start to wonder, who will be first?
    The time has come to vent my rage
    Wind strength, distance, easy to gauge
    Arrow in place, pulled the string back
    Bow bent perfectly, took up the slack
    Breathe slowly, ready to release
    Hoarse honks from some overhead geese
    And then it’s gone, arrow in flight
    I didn’t move, kept it in sight
    One in the queue no longer stood
    Lay on the floor covered in blood
    I’ve got to admit the feeling was great
    Grabbed another arrow “Time to replicate ….”

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