Microcosms 212 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

MC 212 Flash Fiction Contest

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 212!

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

Time Left to Submit

Entries due Saturday, 14 October 2023 at midnight PT

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Quick Access Links

MICROCOSMS 212 Free Flash Fiction Contest Prompts: Wedding Planner / Wine Cellar / Horror OR Ghost Writer / Magic Castle / Fantasy 300 words or fewer. Spin for more prompts. $25 prize. Totally free to enter! microcosmsfic.com
Photo by Eric Cook 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

Never forget to enter again! Choose as many as you like!

Add a recurring reminder for Sundays

Add a recurring reminder for Mondays

Add a recurring reminder for Tuesdays

Add a recurring reminder for Wednesdauys

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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:

Wedding Planner / Wine Cellar / Horror

OR

Ghost Writer / Magic Castle / Fantasy

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

  • Concert Pianist
  • Stage Magician
  • Sommelier
  • Private Investigator
  • Historical Reenactor
  • Ghostwriter
  • Librarian
  • Robotics Engineer
  • Wedding Planner
  • Concert Hall Backstage
  • Magic Castle
  • Wine Cellar
  • Noir Detective’s Office
  • Renaissance Fair
  • Literary Ghostwriting Retreat
  • Historical Library Archive
  • Advanced Robotics Lab
  • Luxurious Wedding Venue
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western
  • Crime/Thriller
  • Fairy Tale

Notes

Helping judge this week is multiple MC winner Laura Cooney!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 211 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

Also, be sure to check out 100micro2 – our current quarterly contest!

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 210 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 210 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/10/07/results-mc-210-flash-fiction-contest/

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Microcosms 213 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)
Microcosms 100micro2 Microfiction Contest - Submissions

20 thoughts on “Microcosms 212 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

  1. A Slight Mistake.
    294 Words
    Wedding Planner/Wine Cellar/Horror
    John Holmes
    http://johnholmeswriter.com

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

    The Merlot dribbles in a clockwise flow from a small slit in the wooden barrel. The dim light, escaping from the flickering fluorescent tube, enhances the dark crimson colour of the wine.
    Dave, lying on the cold, stone cellar slabs, mouth open, catching every drop of the vintage red, isn’t appreciating the soft tannins nor the wild fruit flavours. No, he is simply getting drunk.

    Above him, in the white linen-lined room, is the bride, scrunched in a corner near the fallen, layered cake. From a distance, the white dress appears to be covered in intricately embroidered red roses, the colour of wine. Closer inspection would reveal that, although it is a liquid, it has never seen the inside of a barrel. Unfortunately for the bride, she had recently seen the outside of a double-barrel. So had the groom. A real shotgun wedding.
    ABBA plays on.

    Dave closes his mouth for a few seconds, allowing the cool, scarlet stream to roll over his lips. Somewhere in the distance a siren screams. The police probably won’t get too many invites to weddings. They’ll have to radio through to their ambulance friends when they discover what awaits them behind the large, wooden doors. Gatecrashers.

    Dave is aware that the carnage is all his fault, so he reopens his mouth and allows a self-service refill. His back is getting stiff and his thoughts are growing blurry. Images of knives and flashing guns zip through his mind.

    Being a professional wedding planner he should never have made such a blunder.
    He should have double checked.

    The bride had used his services for her first wedding. Dave had mistakenly sent the invites for her second big day to all the friends and family of her first husband.

    Oops.

    Cheers.

  2. I just wanted to say that it’s great that this page is back alive. 🙂 I’ll put you in the newsletter of my local writer’s group next month, hopefully it will make some people drop by. 🙂 I’ll come back and participate soon.

  3. Dark and Spiraling
    258 words
    Wedding Planner/Wine Cellar/Horror
    Galen Gower
    GalenGower.com
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including themed and/or corporate-sponsored outer space colonies.

    Aiden stepped further into the tunnel, certain the other man living his life would be found within. The noise of the reception upstairs grew quieter, faded, and died in the close black silence. Past the rows of racks, bottles resting dusty and serene, and into the tunnel.

    “The tunnel will spiral down into a place where no light or sound can reach,” he whispered to himself as he let a hand trail the rough stone, though it came away wet, and sticky. Aiden wasn’t sure if the stone was wet, or if it was him. He let his mind wander as he pushed further into the darkness.

    For weeks he’d catch sight of himself, reflected in a mirror, or a window. A puddle. The man peering back wasn’t him; it wasn’t even someone he knew.

    “The Montclair has a wonderful ballroom and plenty of parking, too,” he remembered saying, though not exactly when. The details of the other man’s life were slipping around in his mind, but he’d find him and a place to be quiet, both.

    When he judged he’d gone far enough down, Aiden dropped to his hands and knees and felt around in the soft, warm dirt until he felt an elbow, an ear. He read the braille of the other man’s form and his mouth moved with each discovery.

    “An ear, a hoof, and these are his gnarled fingers,” he whispered, “teeth and cheeks and his long, crooked spine.” Aiden curled himself into the stranger’s waiting embrace and sighed. He’d found himself after all.

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  4. Malfunction Junction
    300 words
    Wedding Planner / Wine Cellar / Horror
    https://www.facebook.com/Beadanna777/
    https://beadanna777.wixsite.com/procreation
    I am open to derivative works.

    ***

    By the time I felt solid ground beneath me, my hands were frozen around the rings, and it took several tries before I could let them go. There was something I was forgetting but I was having trouble thinking. It was dark and smelled faintly of fermented grapes. I fumbled in my pocket for my phone, the dim light making me feel better at once. I was in a narrow, stone-lined room. Row after row of wine bottles marched along one wall and shelves of amber fluid in squat bottles adorned the other. The door opened and in stumbled an inebriated woman with a large wineglass in one hand. A light bloomed, making me squint.
    “Five on the nose!” she announced.
    All of my hairs stood up and said hello. My heart joined the process as I moved closer, pounding hard inside my chest. This person looked like my sister, only much older.
    “Marie?”
    She nodded, almost falling down in the process.
    “I threw you a party.” She gestured toward the door, where I could now hear the regular thump of bass drums.
    “How did you know?”
    “Every day, Jeanie. You show up here at the same time every day!”
    “Wait, I just left. This is my first stop.”
    She burst into tears.
    “Oh my God, Jeanie! What are we gonna do?”
    My memory handed me a déjà vu just as the rumble started again.
    “I don’t know. What have we done before?”
    “Everything!” she screamed. I grabbed a bottle of amber, popped the cork, and gulped a mouthful. It burned all the way down, but now I was fully awake. The package! It was still in the post office box. But now I was too far away. The whirlwind roared into existence.

    I would have nothing to hold onto…

      1. Yay! It was fun to challenge myself even more. Too bad I didn’t include a wedding…I was thinking party planner.

    1. I almost left out the wine cellar so I know it is easy for the story to get in the way of paying attention. When a story flows right the rules are forgotten, I do like this one even if you missed the wedding, but how about the wedding being understood as the day he entered the cellar?

      1. I was kinda thinking that but wanted to come clean. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment!

  5. Matching And Dispatching: A Connoisseur’s Delight
    Wedding planner/wine cellar/horror
    301 words
    Geoff Le Pard
    @geofflepard

    Mal Beck purred within a deep contentment. He loved his job.
    A cough brought him back to the moment. ‘Yes, Sharon?’
    ‘Mrs Jolly asks if you’re ready to introduce the newly weds?’
    ‘Of course.’ He checked his tie in the mirror and strode into the reception room.
    Bo Jolly looked, frankly ridiculous in peach and walrus, or whatever it was she had chosen. She stopped her nervous hopping. ‘Ready?’
    ‘All in hand. My people will throw open the French doors and the happy couple will be announced and sweep in. Glasses of our latest English sparkling wine will be handed round. I will propose a toast and then invite everyone to sit.’ He leant in close, touching her elbow in the intimate way he’d learnt made women of a certain age, such as Bo putty in his hands. ‘As agreed I will mention how much missed is your husband, Gerry, but how, in a very real sense he will be part of today.’ A very real part, he thought.
    Bo dabbed at her eyes. ‘I’m so touched. You’ve been amazing. As has your brother. The service for for Gerry’s memorial was perfect. There can’t be many brothers who do both funerals and weddings?’
    Mal nodded. ‘We feed off each other. It’s symbiotic.’
    As Mal stepped forward, nodding to the team to open the doors, he thought about Gerry’s aquamation. These new fangled disposals were very ‘in’. Not just cremation, but composting and now dissolving. And who would have guessed that one could turn one’s loved one into an award winning wine, with a little ingenuity and the right grape base.
    ‘Ladies and Gentleman,’ he knew he had a voice for these occasions, ‘I give you Mr and Mrs Jolly. Please take a glass so we can toast their happiness.’

  6. House Cleaning
    293 words

    The wedding had gone well, a silly goth theme but it was easy enough since it was in October the decorations were easy to find.
    The guests were gone and now as part of my one stop wedding planer service I was cleaning up the mess.
    The venue was an impressive old Victorian pile with an actual stone walled wine cellar for a more private party. Cleaning up what had been the wilder party in the small room was more work than the dinning room but cleaning is cleaning.
    It was dark, the cellar dimly lit and getting colder, I was alone with my cheap radio just mindlessly cleaning. It was almost zen like, relaxing after the stress of the day.
    A tap on my shoulder blew a year or so off my life span.
    She stood there in a black gown, more lace than satin but my first response was fright more than interest. My second response was neither fight nor flight. A beauty in black, I hadn’t yet considered how she got in the locked house.
    She just stood there looking as if she was trying to decide if she knew me or not, an unspoken question.
    I stammered out a rather dull witted, “the wedding is over, can I call a car for you or something?” She must have been left behind by somebody a little less drunk than her, passed out in one of the many rooms was my guess.
    With a nod she looked around, a look of understanding, she mouthed the word “wedding”, frowned and once more nodded her head.
    I started to speak again but she turned away and took a step into nothingness. I was alone, in the cold dark house. My radio blaring static.

  7. Wine ‘Em, Wine ‘Em
    298 words
    Wedding Planner / Wine Cellar / Horror
    Stephen Kramer Avitabile
    stephenavitabilewriting.com
    https://www.instagram.com/stephen_avitabile_writing/
    Yes, I am open to derivative works. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    Heavy oaky smells in the cellar… uncertainty even heavier.
    “What do you think?” Sophie yammered. “June wedding here is beautiful. Nine months from now though…”
    “Waddaya make more money from? Wedding planning or wine?” His studious brown eyes scanned the barrels.
    Sophie grimaced… sucked her teeth. “It’s about an even split.”
    “I’d think the wedding planning would earn you more.” He was elbowed by his fiancé.
    Sophie turned her attention to the fairer of the two. She inhaled, smelling her heavenly aroma.
    My in.
    “What’s that scent of yours?” Sophie beamed. “It’s fruity but…”
    “Gooseberry.” The woman interrupted. “Astounding health benefits. I have perfume, body wash, shampoo, lotion, I consume them with every meal…”
    “She exudes gooseberry.” He quipped.
    “I love the smell.” Sophie uttered. “Everyone would. In a close space like this… mm! Your guests will love drinking lovely wines during the ceremony…”
    “We’re going to think about it.” The man backed away. “We’ll call you. Which way is out of here?”
    I hate showing them the way.
    Sophie smiled and motioned to a door.

    It smelled less oaky in the cellar.
    “What do you think?” Sophie asked impatiently. “June wedding here is beautiful. Three months from now…”
    “We’ll take it!” The man exclaimed.
    Sweet relief!
    He and his fiancé hugged. Sophie grinned. She preferred making money from wedding planning.
    “Let’s celebrate with wine.” Sophie opened a barrel and poured glasses for them. She explained how she’d decorate the place and everything else she’d plan.
    “Mm!” The woman was surprised. “This wine’s so unique.”
    “One of our newer blends.” Sophie said.
    “Can we have it for the wedding?”
    “Absolutely.”
    “What’s that immediate flavor?”
    “Gooseberry.”
    The man’s blue eyes danced. “Hopefully not real goose. We are vegan.”
    Sophie forced laughter for his corny joke. “No. Not goose.”

  8. Dingleberry—The Contrary Polymath
    300 Words
    Ghost Writer/Magic Castle/Fantasy
    A.J. Walker
    https://awalker.org

    Alexander Dingleberry had led a complex and intriguing life that he felt the world should know about. He’d grown up in a rough housing estate on the south side of nowhere good. He’d flunked at school but somehow got to and excelled at university. He’d taken every drug known to man (all in the name of experimentation). He’d been taken on by the secret services for covert surveillance in East Asia and Central America. He’d issued books on art, architecture, tantric sex, and the amazing uses of potatoes and bananas for things other than food (which surprised everybody—and barely crossed over with his sex thesis). Piano was his forte, but he preferred the trombone. He was a contrary polymath.

    The drug ridden estate was far behind him. As he put pen to paper on his biography he was living in an out of this world castle along with the great, the good, and the really quite outrageous. His life really had been an epic journey. One the world should know about.

    His best buddy, Penelope Pitt-Brookes, read each page he passed to her in avid admiration. ‘You’ve had such a life, Alexander. I wish I’d known you back in the day.’

    ‘Well you know me now. I’m thankful for that.’ Alexander smiled.

    ‘It’s a real page turner which will be gobbled up when you get it out there.’

    Alexander nodded. ‘I think so. Wish I could write better though. It’s hard work this malarkey. I wonder whether I should get a proper author to ghost write it for me.’

    Charlie on the next table nearly spat out his coffee and Alexander gave him a quizzical look over his glasses.

    Penelope leant over to Charlie and whispered. ‘Stop it, Dickens. He’s still in denial about the whole being dead thing.’

  9. Title: Just Desserts
    300 words
    Wedding Planner/Wine Cellar/Horror
    @jaim_ee_bree
    Yes, I am open to derivative works. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    ‘Seriously? I told you I’m not going down there.’
    ‘It’s our job, Stacey, they made their choice and you have to go fetch it.’
    ‘Do you know what they say about this place?’
    ‘I’ve heard the rumours, but that’s all they are. This is our big break.’
    ‘I can’t believe you chose here to start a business.’
    ‘It’s the most prestigious castle in Europe. Rooms to die for and the most extensive selection of wines in the world. We’re going to make big bucks this weekend.’
    ‘There’s a reason no one ever comes here.’
    ‘Well, I’m very persuasive. They’re here getting high on the atmosphere and drugs and hoping to wash it down with a very, very expensive Cabernet Sauvignon, so get yourself down there.’
    ‘Ok. Ok…’
    ‘What’s with the hesitation?’
    ‘I’m just realising why horror movies have idiots going down into dark cellars.’

    ***

    ‘Jesus, Stacey, what took so long? The guests have almost finished their mains.’
    ‘The stupid light didn’t work, then I fumbled for a torch and that was shaky, plus, I was literally crapping myself with every step, but you know, the wine choice is more important.’
    ‘Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t take how afraid you were seriously. You really do look pale, you sure you’re ok?’
    ‘Just shook up, and I feel so hungry, I don’t think I’ve eaten all day.’
    ‘We’ve been busy. Give me the bottles, I’ll go serve the bride and groom.’
    ‘It’s ok, I’ll do it. You’ve been working flat out, and don’t worry, I’ll be the perfect host.’

    ***

    ‘Christ, Stacey, why are all the guests… what the fuck happened? They’re… there’s so… much… blood. I don’t understand. I don’t…’
    ‘I told you I was hungry. Shame they didn’t get to the dessert course. I spent ages making that cheesecake.’

  10. Dead Glimmer
    295 words
    Wedding Planner / Wine Cellar / Horror
    Jacquelyn Meng
    jacquelynmeng17@gmail.com
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.
    Footsteps clomp when I stalk the room, looking for a dangling chain. With a quick tug, light illuminates the room, but it’s reach can only go so far. Darkness embraces me as I make my way down the grimy floor. The only sound is the pipe drip in the near distance, wasting itself away. In the darkness, barely anything can be seen, including the labels of wine. Finally, after careful scrounging, a wine barrel marked: SM1913, exactly what they wanted. A glimmer catches my attention when I turn my back. My eyes catch upon a puddle, shining and glistening. When I turn, I could have sworn something turned away, with the speed of light.
    “The sooner I get out of here, the better,” I whisper. I start running towards the darkness, scanning the barrels like mad. There: an old, rusted barrel, AR1465. I start pumping out some of the wine, enough to fill 10 bottles I hope, before I catch the glimmer again. This time, before whatever is following me can get away, I catch a gaunt, unearthly hand. This zombie-look-alike hand is enough to warn me that something ancient, and grim is coming for me. I start running, barely able to pump my legs and carry the bottles as well. Shhh, the darkness whispers, in cruel delight. With a last heaving breath, I slip out of the cellar, to come face to face with the bride and groom, but, it’s not them. Their pale, hollow faces bore into mine, and stare and stare and stare. With a shudder, I try and slip past them, but one of them grasps onto me, twisting my arm and speaking final, decisive words into my ear: “It’s approaching, and you’ll be one of us once it’s finished.”

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