Microcosms 211 Flash Fiction Contest + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

MC 211 Flash Fiction Contest

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 211!

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 211 Free Flash Fiction Contest Prompts: Flight Attendant / Small Town Post Office / Mystery OR Painter / Big Top Circus Tent / Comedy 300 words or fewer. Spin for more prompts. $25 prize. Totally free to enter! microcosmsfic.com
Photo by fer gomez on Unsplash

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

To qualify for the cash prize, must MUST:

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

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

(Feel free to copy/paste and edit or save a copy of the Google Doc linked below.)

My Amazing Story Title
XXX words
Element / Element / Element
My Preferred Name (how you'd like to be credited as if your story is selected)
(Optional) website or social media link 1 (please include full URL)
(Optional) website or social media link 2 (please include full URL)
(Optional) Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information. /// OR /// No, I am not open to derivative works at this time, thank you.

***

My amazing story content goes here.

You can use HTML to add a link. 
Example:
<a href="https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic">https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic</a>

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

It’s totally fine to be creative with the “words” part, like “253 ripe bananas”, as we’ve seen some people do in the past.) Not using this format with NOT disqualify you. But it will help us out if you do use it.

We have prepared a free and easy-to-use, pre-formatted document in Google Docs to help simplify things. Just save your own copy and then replace the content with your own. (Sometimes, adding links will get your comment flagged by the spam filter. If you think that happened, please contact us for assistance.)

REMEMBER

  • You have ONE WEEK (Sunday – Saturday, midnight – midnight) Los Angeles Time (PST/PDT) to submit your masterpiece.
  • All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title and other header info).
  • We enjoy fan fiction! Just not for this contest. NO FAN-FICTION, please, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS for this contest.
  • Include: word count, the THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry (see entry format tab).
  • If you are new to Microcosms, please check out the full submissions guidelines on our FAQs page.
  • I feel like this should go without saying, but just in case – absolutely no AI submissions.
  • Constructive feedback is fine, but all comments should be made in the spirit of kindness. Determination of what that means and if there are any consequences (such as warning or banning) is at my sole discretion. This is a safe space. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, or anti-Semitism, etc. (including “dog whistles”), will not be tolerated. This has never really been an issue, and we generally have a very nice community here – let’s keep it that way.
  • You retain all rights to your story, except otherwise noted and unless otherwise agreed upon in advance (e.g., if selected for inclusion in an anthology, a contract will be sent with details). By submitting your story to this contest, you are granting us worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free rights to display it on our website (and store it, as needed).

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

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

Add Recurring Weekly Calendar Reminder

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Add a recurring reminder for Sundays

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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:

Flight Attendant / Small Town Post Office / Mystery

OR

Painter / Big Top Circus Tent / Comedy

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

  • Painter
  • Flight Attendant
  • Circus Performer
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Celebrity Chef
  • Sculptor
  • Game Show Host
  • Mail Carrier
  • Cybersecurity Expert
  • Art Gallery Opening
  • Commercial Airplane
  • Big Top Circus Tent
  • Outer Space Outpost
  • Five-Star Restaurant Kitchen
  • Stone Sculpture Workshop
  • Live TV Game Show
  • Small Town Post Office
  • High-Tech Cybersecurity Office
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western
  • Crime/Thriller
  • Fairy Tale

Notes

Helping judge this week is MC 207 winner Vicky Hinault! 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 210 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

Happy writing!

KM

We are always and forever in need of assistance. If you have any spare time to help, we will happily accept. Even something as little as 5-10 minutes a week would be amazing. (You have no idea.) To find out how you can help, please visit our volunteers page. If you have an idea for a future contest and/or would like to be a guest judge, please contact us.

MC 209 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 209 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/09/30/results-mc-209-flash-fiction-contest/

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We appreciate your support! Each week, we strive to be one of your favorite flash fiction contests, and our weekly contest will always be free.

We encourage you to share your stories on your website/blog and/or favorite social media platform. Be sure to tag/link to us – it helps us out more than you know! (Please refrain from sharing story titles on social media until until winners are announced for the comfort of our judges. Something that keeps it anonymous is great – eg., “Here’s my entry this week for @MicrocosmsFic! Please read and vote!”)

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Microcosms 100micro2 Microfiction Contest - Submissions
Microcosms 210 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

36 thoughts on “Microcosms 211 Flash Fiction Contest + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. The Final Delivery
    300 words
    Flight Attendant / Small Town Post Office / Mystery
    Deanna Salser
    https://www.facebook.com/Beadanna777/
    https://beadanna777.wixsite.com/procreation
    I am open to derivative works.

    ***

    I set my bundle down on the counter while I wait to be acknowledged. I can’t believe I’m really here.

    Before the Pony Express gave way to the United States Postal Service, this spot was marked and guarded. Only a priest or an advanced advocate with protective energy could even approach. It was my ancestors who figured out how to contain this. I am the last priest of my people, exiled since I left these ancient lands for a modern life. But now that I’m back, I see there’s something about flying around the world for a living that makes this town seem even smaller than it did when I left.

    “Jeanie?! What a pleasant surprise!” I take a deep breath and paste a smile on my lips before raising my head.
    “Marie!” My baby sister hadn’t changed one iota. I watch her expression shift as her eyes drop to the package. She sucks in a breath, and when she looks at me, her face is radiant.
    “Is it time?” she whispers. I nod and duck under the section of counter she raises for me.
    “You grab supplies, and I will start the procedure,” I tell her. Her face falls.
    “But you just got here!” she wails. “I’m not ready to lose you, yet!” I smile and caress her cheek.
    “Nor I, you,” I avow. “Now go.”

    When she’s gone, I produce the key from a chain around my neck, open the metal compartment, and place the box inside. As the weight of it leaves my hands, a rumble starts, deep underground. I grip the rings fixed to the box for this purpose as a small whirlwind appears beside me, becomes a large one, and engulfs me.
    “Sorry, Marie,” I whisper as grit collects in the corners of my mouth.

      1. Thank you! That gives me an idea. I wonder if I could work a serial into next week’s prompts?

    1. I like your efficient usage of language, but I must confess: I really have no idea what the heck is going on here.

  2. BANG!

    300 words
    Flight Attendant / Small Town Post Office / Mystery
    Laura Cooney
    http://www.twitter.com/lozzawriting
    I am open to derivative works especially if the writers of the League of Gentlemen or Inside No.9; Reece Shearsmith or Steve Pemberton want to get in touch. Lol.

    “Dylis, did you hear that?” Neville pushed his glasses up and peered cautiously at Dylis. She was squatting on all fours fishing something out from behind the stacks of beans and grunting, her sizeable posterior wobbling like tumescent jelly.
    “I SAID DYLIS, DID YOU HEAR THAT?” shouted Neville.
    “I can hear YOU, you old arsehole,” grunted Dylis as she stood, holding what appeared to be a pair of used ladies stockings in her hand. Neville didn’t flinch.
    Both spoke at once;
    “Did you hear that?”
    “What are these?”
    “I’m more interested in what these are doing behind the cabinet? THAT’S the only question in my mind.”
    And at that exact moment the bell of the post office door rang true. A disheveled and grimy young woman who seemed to be wearing a tatty Devoid Air
    cabin-crew uniform stumbled in, Dylis assessed her, she’d seen her here before.
    Neville looked. The woman spoke. Mainly to Neville, a momentary recognition followed by confusion.
    “Ne—, what is—, how did—,” and then, “who are you, again?” Dylis cut in,
    “We could ask you the same thing hen, are these yours?” Neville shot her a look. And Dylis, who missed nothing, noticed the way the girl instinctively took Nevill’s hand just before Mrs Norris blustered into the Post Office.
    “Did yous hear the bang oot there? A plane’s gone down abou’ half a mile away, thae poor people!”
    “Ah, that solves the mystery of the bang.” said Neville.
    Not the only bang to occurred here, thought Dylis who observed the scene; Nevill’s arm round the girl, his genuine shock and concern, Mrs Norris oblivious, to it all scrutinising the bean cans.
    Enough! She handed the tights to the air-hostess.
    “Here, hen you’ll need these back.”
    And Neville’s weak protest drowned by the bell; ringing true her exit.

    1. ”her sizeable posterior wobbling like tumescent jelly.”….my favourite phrase in this piece, though it might put me off jelly for a while

  3. Some Letters Are Never Meant To Be Sent
    Flight Attendant/small town post office/mystery
    298 words
    Geoff Le Pard
    @geofflepard

    In 1943, Basil-Don Bond, a humble paper shuffler in the SOE introduced a blue paper that better absorbed invisible ink. He was rewarded with the appointment as flight attendant on a drop over Northern France, delivering various letters containing important secret messages. Sadly, as Basil-Don ascended from the Suffolk airfield at Dollop-on-the-Nadge, a strange storm caused his plane to disappear.
    Eighty years later, after a similarly freakish storm, the sodden airfield belched the remnants of the plane to the surface. Basil-Don, who had assumed he was dead, found it beyond mysterious that he was alive and able to climb out of the cockpit. He collected the box of secret messages and headed for the village.
    To Basil-Don nothing had changed. The small post office looked the same, though the postmaster was now a blue-haired Albanian ex-wrestler. Basil-Don approached the counter. ‘I need to send a telegram.’
    ‘Soz?’
    ‘A message?’
    ‘E-mail?’
    ‘Ideally something quicker than the mail.’
    ‘I have wi-fi. You use?’
    Basil-Don blushed. Was he being offered the use of this man’s wife? Or was she some sort of courier?
    ‘If your,’ he hesitated, not wanting to patronise this foreign person, ‘wifey isn’t too busy?’
    ‘We have broadband.’
    Basil-Don’s confusion grew. What on earth was the relevance of a female musical ensemble to his current dilemma? He was still pondering his next move when DEATH appeared. The Grim Reaper, who only Basil-Don could see apologised for the delay ‘classic wartime cockup’ and administered the Final Cut.
    To Grogan, the disappearance of the mysterious Englishman wasn’t unusual. This was Suffolk after all. When he opened the box, realised it contained numerous letters, he decided to post them; it seemed a kindness.
    To the recipients of 100 hundred blank sheets, smelling of lemons it was just a mystery.

  4. Title: Come On Baby Light My Fire
    300 words
    Painter/Big Top Circus Tent/Comedy
    By Jaime Bree
    Twitter: @jaim_ee_bree
    BlueSky: https://bsky.app/profile/jaimewriter.bsky.social
    https://jaimebreewriter.blogspot.com/?m=1
    Yes, I’m open to derivative works

    ______________________________________

    Bobby had a way with a brush. You couldn’t call him Picasso or Bartolomé Barmejo, but his style had a sort of toddler-splatting-the-wall pizzazz. He’d gone on YouTube to show off his talent, and begun to take risks, to get more likes than the twelve family members he’d slipped a tenner to.

    Big tops.

    That’s where it’s at, was his new mantra. Stripey, seaside-rock-style designs that enticed a small child or your grandma. He was going to paint these conical monstrosities and make a fortune.

    It just so happened that O’Dreary’s ‘Oh So Cheery’ Circus was in town. Reputation like an over-aged stripper desperate to try pole dancing. Failing and not very pretty. A shabby shell of a bygone era, too far gone and then some.

    Bobby saw the opportunity, but was shocked when they turned him down. ‘Who wouldn’t want his vibrant yellow and red paint smeared in perfect lines?’

    ‘It’s not good enough to shine on the outside if you only have crap within.’ O’Dreary said looking around at his excuses for performers.

    Then it dawned on him.

    ‘You’re good with a rope, right?’ he asked Bobby, who nodded with a frown.

    That evening the big top was a sell out. People came from far and wide to see

    ‘THE ABLAZING MICHAELANGELO.’

    Bobby couldn’t believe his luck, and whilst he didn’t want to point out the typo on the headliner, he was thrilled to not only paint stripes but some actual art on the inside of the canvas roof.

    He hung there in deep satisfaction, totally lost in his creativity.

    Shame he didn’t see the spark that ignited the rope and the Bobby-sized pool underneath him. As he whistled his favourite song ‘Light My Fire’ by The Doors, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what he expected at all.

    1. Title of dreams again. I really enjoyed the off beat nature of this. Geoff is right about Dismaland. Love the Vibe

  5. Dead Letters
    300 words
    Flight Attendant / Small Town Post Office / Mystery
    Zannie Rose

    Emma didn’t know how her mother could face this day after day. A dingy airless room, a decrepit table and piles of undeliverable letters and parcels returned daily by postal staff. Emma always helped during her visits which were more frequent now her mother’s health was worsening. And, it seemed mum was getting hard of hearing too as Emma’s suggestion that she resigned as postmistress made no impression. ‘Tell me about the celebs you’ve seen recently on the London-Dubai route’ she asked.
    Emma loved to see her mum’s face light up when she heard the stories, gangly Peter Crouch and his love of peanuts, minor Z-listers, desperate for attention and Instagram-worthy photos. Anyone would think Emma was a doctor or something, the way her mum went on about her job to her friends.
    They separated the post into hopeless, the ones with a partial address and nowhere to return it. The dead letters. And the items with a slight chance of delivery. A missing number, the wrong postcode, an almost legible return address.
    ‘Oh not this again,’ exclaimed her mother. The same brown envelope, the same handwriting, the same missing information. It will have to join the others. Can you pass me that box?’
    Emma peered inside the container as she handed it over.
    ‘Why do you keep them? Aren’t you ever tempted to open them? There might be clues that could help you get them to their destination.’
    ‘It’s illegal to tamper with the Royal Mail’ replied her mum.
    Emma ignored her mother, tipped out the envelopes and began sorting them by date. Thirteen in total. She opened them one by one, extracting a single sheet of paper from each of them.
    After reading every letter of every letter, Emma took out her phone, and dialled 999. ”Police please.”

    1. This is really good. Keep up the great work! I’m eagerly waiting for the rest of the story to solve the mystery.

  6. This was brilliant, easily the start of a longer story. Well done! I want to know what happens next!

    The dead letters is a great wat to describe them

  7. Struggles of a homebody 101
    300 words
    Painter / Open art gallery / Comedy
    Sripriya

    Tom, is a renown artist but being an introvert makes it difficult for him to get feedback for his works.
    “Why do I have a ridiculous wish of hearing from people in person when I actually panic if someone just blinks at me accidentally in a busy street?”
    He sighs loudly.
    Then he gets startled by the vibration of his phone. He already knew who was calling because he has only one friend.
    After sighing again, he picks up the call.
    Henry : Hello, Tommy boy! What’s up?
    Tom : Don’t call me that, for the 100th time, it sounds like I’m some pet.
    Henry : Um, well, you are though! Didn’t I adopt you as my frien- uh pet 13 years ago? Wait, I wanted to ask at what time are we visiting the art exhibhition where your work is displayed?
    Tom : Uh, well, about that, um… Can they exhibit it on a doom call instead?
    Henry : I wonder who made you famous!
    Tom : That reminds me, why don’t you go in my place?

    The conversation continues for a good 2 hours about how Tom would be happy if he didn’t leave his home. After Henry was left with two braincells convincing Tom, they decided to visit the next day

    Tom, looking at his art wondered why people were staring at him while he was dressed like a spy.

    A little kid caught his attention admiring his art work. He mustered up his courage and asked him about it and the kid replied, “I asked my mom to bring my painting but she said that only professional works are displayed. If these many people came to see just this blue spray, I wonder if I want to be a professional!”

    Tom had invisible tears and he regretted human interaction all over again!

  8. Struggles of a homebody 101
    300 words
    Painter / Art gallery opening / Comedy
    Sripriya

    Tom is a renown artist but being an introvert makes it difficult for him to get feedback for his works.
    “Why do I have a ridiculous wish of hearing from people in person when I actually panic if someone just blinks at me accidentally in a busy street?”
    He sighs loudly.

    Then he gets startled by the vibration of his phone. He already knew who was calling because he has only one friend.
    After sighing again, he picks up the call.

    Henry : Hello, Tommy boy! What’s up?
    Tom : Don’t call me that, for the 100th time, it sounds like I’m some pet.
    Henry : Um, well, you are though! Didn’t I adopt you as my frien- uh pet 13 years ago? Wait, At what time are we visiting the art exhibition where your work is displayed?
    Tom : Uh, well, about that, um… Can they exhibit it on a doom call instead?
    Henry : I wonder who made you famous!
    Tom : That reminds me, why don’t you go in my place?

    The conversation continues for a good 2 hours about how Tom would be happy if he didn’t leave his home. After Henry was left with two braincells convincing Tom, they decided to visit the next day

    Tom, looking at his art wondered why people were staring at him while he was dressed like a spy.

    A little kid caught his attention admiring his art work. He mustered up his courage and asked him about it and the kid replied, “I asked my mom to bring my painting but she said that only professional works are displayed. If these many people came to see just this blue spray, I wonder if I want to be a professional!”

    Tom had invisible tears and he regretted human interaction again!

  9. ‘The Missing Days of Lorraine Little’

    300 words
    Flight Attendant/ Small Town Post Office/ Mystery
    A.J. Walker

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

    With her handbag over her shoulder and her shoes dangling on the straps, Lorraine found herself walking barefoot down a country lane in the early morning hours completely bemused. She didn’t know what day it was, or where she was. It would be helpful to remember where she’d been, but her brain was unable to assist. The last thing she recalled was being on the flight to Qatar. It was supposed to be the first a long run taking in Qatar, Delhi, Kuala Lumpar, and Hong Kong, before heading back to the UK. It sounded like a glamorous trip but it was hard work being perfectly turned out and constantly smiling throughout those long cattle class trips. As she stumbled slowly down the middle of the country road she tried to work out where she could be. She wasn’t smiling. It was green, or it felt like it would be when daylight arrived properly. It certainly wasn’t Qatar. The banks and hedges at the side of the road reminded her of her Devonshire holidays.

    Her feet were past feeling sore. She periodically stopped to knock off the accreting chunks of gravel. But she plodded on relentlessly hoping to see anything she’d recognise. Then it came: lights and silhouettes of civilisation. There was a sign informing her she was entering Brixworth, wherever that was. She only became certain it was England when she made out a Post Office van outside a row of shops.

    The Post Office door was open and she made her way in.

    Her tired legs failing, she tripped through the door and landed on the day’s newspapers. She came face to face with herself; or more precisely a scratchy colour photo of her under the headline, ‘Where is Lorraine? Missing Flight Attendant Mystery Extends Into Second Week

  10. The infinitely extending dark
    300 Words
    Cybersecurity Expert / Outer Space Outpost / Sci-Fi
    Jiayi Duan
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    I enter the dining room and get compressed food from the front table, then I go to a window seat as usual. Two years of work experience has wasted away my passion. Chewing the tasteless food, I look out of the window, which is a scene that hasn’t changed for the two years I’ve been at this outpost station, the same as my boring working time. Dark and lifeless horizons have set off the brilliance of distant stars. The scientist just finished the 7th detection for this lifeless planet. The huge cost of this project makes me curious if the company executives find something on this planet.
    “ You know what? David, I…I found a secret… from my superior.” a guy in my back seat said to his peer has grabbed my attention. From his disorderly words, obviously he got drunk. At material scarcity outpost, liquor is a luxury that only executives can enjoy.
    “ The scientist, they…they had found…found something at deep rock formations of this planet! “ It seems his peer David is also drunk, he only can make muffled sounds.
    “ they found a…a black ’fuel‘! That might…might substitute the mainstream fuel! “ he pauses for a while and then says “Also it can extend at… at a low pressure environment. But it … it seems to have a life!” After he finishes the last word, then like lying down on the table and falling asleep.
    Would that “fuel” spread out to space be filled to the whole space? I thought sarcastically, it was absolutely impossible. That man might just boast.
    Just at this moment, a spark appeared in my peripheral vision, but in the next second the light from space seemed to have dimmed. I turn my head. A dark like a flood, quietly and quickly swallowed up all the starlight.

    1. Wow! great job, Jiayi! I really like what you did. Some parts seem a bit muddled, but the first part is well written and I like the idea overall — the fact that these guys are drunk adds to it in a weird way.

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