Microcosms 213 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

MC 213 Flash Fiction Contest

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 213!

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, 21 October 2023 at midnight PT

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Quick Access Links

MICROCOSMS 213 Free Flash Fiction Contest Prompts: Space Tourist / Skyscraper / Action OR Mime / Shark Attack / Comedy 300 words or fewer. Spin for more prompts. $25 prize. Totally free to enter! microcosmsfic.com
Photo by Chase Baker 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:

Space Tourist / Skyscraper / Action

OR

Mime / Shark Attack / Comedy

I feel obligated to mention that, like bats, sharks often get an undeserved bad rap. But your odds of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million.

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

  • Bartender
  • Mime
  • Architect
  • Robot
  • Journalist
  • Space Tourist
  • Lifeguard
  • Paramedic
  • Ghost Hunter
  • Trendy Cocktail Bar
  • Parisian Street
  • Skyscraper
  • Futuristic City
  • Breaking News Story
  • Commercial Spacecraft
  • Shark Attack
  • Emergency Ambulance
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western
  • Crime/Thriller
  • Fairy Tale

Notes

Judge this week is MC 209 winner Vicky Hinault.

We’ve had a lot of repeat winners, and seeking individual volunteers is difficult. If you would like to help judge a future round (preference given to long-time entrants) please contact us.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 212 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 211 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 211 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/10/15/results-mc-211-flash-fiction-contest/

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Microcosms 214 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)
Microcosms 212 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

27 thoughts on “Microcosms 213 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

  1. LAGER AND MIME
    300 Words
    Mime/ Shark Attack/ Comedy
    by STEVE LODGE
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese
    Yes, I’m open to derivative works.

    We’d meet at our local pub, The Muddy Wheel, near the seafront in Stormwatch. It wasn’t far from the provincial theatre, where all summer, we were performing a play called “The Shark Attack” by Estelle Starling.

    The play had lashings of fake blood to make up for the small amount of scenery (just a bit of an old boat we’d found near the lighthouse after a storm and part of a fake shark that Babatunde wore strapped to his head). We hoped that with fake blood everywhere, the audience would enjoy themselves enough to ignore the fact that the play was poorly written, badly directed and suffered from inept acting.

    We were a cast of seven. It proved mildly infectious that we were having enormous fun and improvising a lot.

    The premise of the play was totally unoriginal. A shark lost in unfamiliar waters was terrorising a small coastal community. In the first attack, the vocal chords of a local singer and swimming champion, Ronnie Bonney, were ripped out and three other members of his deep water swimming party lost forever. Ronnie was a friend of ours and he used to insist on performing a mime act onstage during the interval, as, by then, his role in the play was over.

    Ellie used to say that we never heard from Ronnie after he became a mime artist.

    Cliff, Vince and I played multiple roles (mainly gored victims of the shark), Babatunde played the shark and the Lifeguard hero. Ellie and Shirin played victims who spouted fake blood everywhere on stage and beyond.

    We relied on holidaymakers for most of our audience, some nights we had around thirty punters. Times are hard. Indeed, that summer season, The Muddy Wheel pub, cut back its promotion deal from Happy Hour to Happy Minute.

  2. Joey Is Bored With Work
    220 words

    Joey Banana had been doing this job a long time, too long. A fishing boat so plain it was basically forgotten before it is even seen and a couple of poles and you are just another couple of guys out for a day of beer and bothering the fish.
    Today was just as boring as it sounds, three men going out and two would come back, Joey was dozing.
    A few miles out and the driver cut the power, the boat bobbed on the nearly calm water.
    “Ok, get up.”
    A man in black pants, black and white striped shirt and black beret stood up, his face covered in white make up.
    “Time to take a swim.”
    The man made swimming motions in an exaggerated way looking over the rail.
    The driver was dumping buckets of chum in the water, it smelled of over ripe fish, the heat of the day and lack of breeze enhanced the effect, Joey wanted to hurry this along.
    The man stood on the deck, his hand in the air moving in imitation of the shark fin moving toward the boat.
    Joey tipped the man over the rail, the bucket of cement holding his feet made a splash, churning the chum.
    “Boss was right, he didn’t say a word,” Joey said to the vanishing fin.

  3. Funny Haunted Mansion
    268 words
    Robot/Haunted Mansion/ Comedy
    By: Mur dur
    Yes, I’m open to derivative works

    In a haunted mansion in the middle of nowhere, 2 scientists wanted to unravel the secret inside the mansion. One is Bob, and the other is Joe. They were tasked by the A.S.F( American Science Facility) to look at what’s inside the mansion. They put a robot into the mansion because they were super scared and didn’t want to go in. They waited outside for 3 hours and finally the robot came out. Bob hesitantly opened the footage the robot took and what they saw was fascinating.

    They say a ghost monkey and a wizard dancing, while drinking wine. There were also some ghost and vampires playing spin the bottle. They could see that there were HUMAN kids in there eating chips and candy. They were confused and understood that this haunted mansion was a Halloween party, and not some actual haunted mansion. They then went in and went partying with all those people. After they were sleepy and drunk, they went back and reported to the A.S.F what they saw. They told them that there were actual ghosts and vampires in there sucking on peoples blood. The reason they did that was obvious, they didn’t want to lose one of the highest paying jobs in America. Also Bob said, ” If we didn’t have a car we wouldn’t even make it out of there”. The boss was dumb and actually fell for it. They went back there the next morning and started partying with the kids and the vampires.

  4. The Real End of the Pier Show
    300 words
    Mime / Shark Attack / Comedy
    A.J. Walker
    https://awalker.org

    Belle and Hannah had intended to have a nice relaxing day around the coastal resort. Beach. Cliffs. Ice-creams. The best of British, like the summer holidays from their youth.

    ‘It’s a bloody monsoon.’ Belle pulled the curtain wider but couldn’t find a hopeful edge to the sky. She turned the second table lamp on. ‘What we gonna do, Han?’
    Hannah was headstrong and opinionated. It didn’t always help her, she really needed to keep cool and unreactive. Being with a girlfriend on a beach was all well and good, but she knew being confined all day with unforeseen annoyances was asking for trouble. She slumped on the bed wondering why she hadn’t allowed Belle to persuade her to go to the Canaries. But she hated flying; at least by aeroplane.

    The new plan for the day was made by Belle and that’s how they ended up at the end of a pier show. Hannah thought that she could survive it, but hadn’t factored in her mood.

    When the mime artist came on she began to shake. ‘Oh my fucking god!! I abhor clowns but these guys drive me insane.’

    Belle could take them or leave them—in so much as she knew it would be over in a few minutes. It was of course. Not entirely in the way anyone expected.

    Hannah had fought to ignore him, but when he pulled that imaginary rope… She decided to drop him into the worst thing she could think of: a pit of snakes. But as the spell developed she thought sharks were even scarier than snakes and so it was that the stage at the end of the pier was inundated with surprised sharks. It was messy. Most of the audience thought it was part of the show; well to begin with.

  5. Mime/shark attack/comedy
    263 words
    Geoff Le Pard
    @geofflepard

    A Short History Of The Horse’s Elevation In The Pecking Order Of Intelligent Lifeforms

    It is often thought that horses might be super-intelligent, given the complicated tasks and manoeuvres they can undertake despite having hooves not thumbs. Sadly because we can’t speak ‘neigh’ we never realised how clever until Professor Stan Gullible discerned a pattern in the movements of Cally Pajus , a multi award winning dressage pony and translated the first horse mime.
    What Stan discerned was that Cally was warning him of his incipient prostate cancer, which she did by bending her head when he approached and thumping his scrotum as he held out a carrot.
    After this stunning discovery, other horsey actions became clear. The swaying head wasn’t to dissuade flies but a sign that the watcher needed to look both ways to avoid an inattentive pizza delivery moped. The biting of the bare back ride surging through the waves wasn’t just a bloody minded reaction to the horse getting salt water up its nose, but a warning of an imminent shark attack.
    While these revelations brought the equine community greater recognition and benefits, some horses remained sceptical at this human volte-face. Despite pressure from horse elders to suspend the age old dirty protest that all horses had undertaken since time immemorial, some still evacuated their bowels without a care.
    And when, eventually, horses were allowed access to places normally barred to them: supermarkets, cinemas, ice rinks and bars, things soon turned sour after a barista was trampled to death by a group of partying piebalds who reacted badly to being greeted, on entering his cafe with:
    ‘Hey boys, why the long faces?’

      1. I realised a while ago there had to be a reason for the evolution of the horse, which to me has always been dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle, so when I heard about the equine mime it suddenly explained its place in the Grand Celestial Plan. I’m glad the explanation helped you too…

  6. The Plot Thickens
    300 words
    Space Tourist / Skyscraper / Action
    Deanna Salser
    https://www.facebook.com/Beadanna777/
    https://beadanna777.wixsite.com/procreation
    I am open to derivative works.

    ***

    When the dust finally clears again, I’m on the roof of some tall building. I’m stiff and sore, and I have trouble getting to my feet. It’s freezing, and the sky is iron gray. It takes several tries to remove a sealed helmet I don’t remember putting on. Bits of ice buffet my cheeks as I look around. Viewfinders stand on top of a tall concrete wall. Steel mesh is strung between iron pilings, preventing jumpers, I assume. It’s a long way down. People and cars on the street below look like ants from up here. I head toward the door. The warm air inside hits me like a wave and I stop to savor it. When I look up, Marie is there, rushing toward me, face streaming with tears. The wondering is pushed to the back of my brain by her first words.
    “One hundred yards away.” She grabs my arm and steers me toward the bank of elevators.
    “How did you know I would be here?” I pull back, thinking I need to stay close to where the portal dropped me off so I wouldn’t miss the next departure.
    “Come on, we don’t have much time.”
    “Time for what?”
    “Look, Jeanie, do you want to travel forever?” Cryptic response. For me, it’s only been a few hours, but Marie looks about ten years older than she did before. I shrug and follow her. Going out past security, the guard stops us.
    “Didn’t I tell you no tourists allowed?” he demands. I spot a key around his neck, a twin to mine! As I zero in on him, his eyes narrow, and his hand goes to his gun. I smile and pull my key out on its chain. His eyes widen, and he prostrates himself.
    “My Queen!” he grovels.

  7. Sharks Don’t Eat Cotton Candy
    300 words
    Mime / Shark Attack / Comedy
    Deanna Salser
    https://www.facebook.com/Beadanna777/
    https://beadanna777.wixsite.com/procreation
    I am open to derivative works.

    ***

    Dressed in full costume, Miles stood on the pier and gestured at passersby. His makeup portrayed a sad clown, the corners of his mouth drawn down and tears standing out red and blue on his white cheeks. His movements were sharp and defined, making him, he thought, the best show on the boardwalk. His cap lay upside down on the splintered wood with only a few coins and a lonely dollar bill inside. At the shore, a group of boisterous boys made their way down the gangplank, cutting up large. At the cotton candy stand, they overturned the vat allowing long sticky strings to blow away in the wind, sticking on hair, and jackets, and pants. At the fresh fish stand, they dumped the offal buckets into the sea and stole crabs and lobsters, chasing girls with them and laughing at their screams. Miles watched them come, fear making his heart pound at first, then curling the corners of his mouth as an idea snaked its way into his head. He went into his box routine, edging his way over to the edge by the fish stand where the waters were beginning to roil. One boy, the largest and meanest, therefore the leader, spotted Miles and with a nasty grin headed toward him. Miles stayed serenely in his box. At the last minute, he swung out with his hip and the boy tumbled over the side. As fins showed up, he started to thrash, the water turned red, and Miles mimicked his movements. No one noticed but his friends. They only saw Miles. And it looked like they were joining in, with their jumping up and down and their frantic waving. Everyone on the pier gave Miles a standing ovation, impressed that he had included those boys in his act.

  8. Don’t Be Off Your Guard In A Game Of Charades
    238 words
    Mime / Shark Attack / Comedy
    By Jaime Bree
    @jaim_ee_bree

    _________________________________________________

    ‘It’s a beetle.’

    ‘A donkey?’

    ‘No, hang on, hang on, I’ve got it… your grandma.’

    ‘Ok. Possibly that was offensive. It’s…’

    ‘In the water?… Finally!’

    ‘I don’t get the hand on your head.’

    ‘No. Nope. Still not getting it. Loser?’

    ‘Not you, darling. I meant do you mean loser? Someone is a loser? No? Ok.’

    ‘Water… swimming… hand on head, like a, like… you’re drowning… who am I kidding? I’m drowning here… Er… er… I know. It’s a fin? You’re a fish.’

    ‘Nemo?’

    ‘Blinky.’

    ‘Captain Birdseye?’

    ‘Finger. Fish finger?’

    ‘Piranha?’

    ‘Well you’re gritting your teeth so I …’

    ‘You’re pointing to your watch. Is that part of the mime?’

    ‘More gritting. And snarling… And pointing. Frantic… Saliva… Definite saliva. Pointing. Oh, oh, ok, I get it. We’re running out of time.’

    ‘Well, if you did something that showed me anything about what it is I’m supposed to guess, my love, that would help… your chin? A fin and your chin? And something to do with having a swim?’

    ‘Keep your head above water? No that would be stupid especially if you had your hand on your head. I mean, who could stay above water like that. Idiot thing to…’

    ‘Sweetie? Is the knife part of the charade or…?’

    ‘It’s a slasher movie?…’

    ‘An attack?’

    ‘Fuck.’

    1. This definitely made me smile! I love how you only use dialogue, but it’s immediately clear what’s happening. For me, it immediately evoked the feeling of being home for the holidays with my family.

  9. Statistics Are Everything
    297 words
    Mime/Shark Attack/Comedy
    Laura Cooney
    Derivativey open.
    http://Www.lozzawriting.com
    @lozzawriting everywhere social.

    The chances of being attacked by a mime are 1 in 3.7 million, the same statistics are true of shark attacks, though not in Paris. You’re more likely to be so annoyed by a mime there that you kill it yourself, but seeing a shark is deemed pretty unlikely, let alone being attacked by one.
    Mike had never much been a fan of France, and now was no better, as he sat by the Seine, on a derelict Tuesday with his mother’s ashes in a “Dent De Requin” brand tea caddy by his side. She had wanted this to be her final resting place and it was fitting here, right at this spot, among the rats and rather large cats of Paris.
    And it had been alright, he supposed, right up until that tit had started his overly jolly and silent nonsense, right up in his face with his white gloved hands, pale face and beret assaulting Mike’s eyeline. When Mike had been encouraged under strict duress to pull the invisible rope it got too much. He’d said, “NON!” twice. And enough was enough. At the point the mime guy had tried to knock the “glass” in front of Mike’s face and had punched him as he tried to move away, Mike shouted, “merde!” and truly lost his shit.
    His mother hadn’t specified where exactly where she wanted the ashes scattered on the Seine and over this mime’s head was as good a place as any.
    As Mike walked away, empty tea caddy in hand, the mime, still silent, stuck up his middle finger, but of course Mike didn’t see that. He was long gone, towards Notre Dame.

  10. Stowaway
    300 words
    Space tourist / Skyscraper / Action
    Cay Macres
    Instagram: @alienoftheweek
    Yes, I’m open to derivative works.

    Sunlight fell on the interplanetary port’s pink runway rings as Adeona clocked out at the cafe kiosk for the last time. After scanning a badge she had stolen the day prior, she waltzed right past the AI security and down a metal, accordion tunnel. At the end sat a small, angular spacecraft. Inside the ship, Adeona hid in a storage compartment. Hours went by.

    Then there was a promising rumble. When Adeona tried to adjust her position, the compartment opened. She fell out with a cacophonous crash.

    The pilot was the only person on board, and- even more surprising- they were an alien. They had scaled skin, pointy ridges on the side of their head pierced with metal hoops, and six suspiciously shifty eyes.

    “You aren’t the captain.”

    With one quick motion, the alien’s tail whipped around and grabbed Adeona’s right arm, its suction cups pulling at her skin. Adeona slapped the tail away, but it coiled around her and pulled her into the cockpit. When she was close enough to the alien pilot, she used all of her fingers to poke their six eyes. The alien screamed, dropping her and the ship’s controls.

    “Do you want us both to die?” The ship nosedived.

    “No!” Adeona held the controls to keep them from crashing. The plane wobbled precariously.

    Rubbing their eyes, the alien took back the wheel and turned to face her, all six eyes glaring.

    “Then listen to me. You’re a space tourist, not a stowaway. I’m your personal pilot. This ship isn’t stolen. Got it?”

    “Yes.” At that moment, Adeona’s boss called.

    “Can you work tomorrow?”

    “No.”

    “Why not?”

    “What excuse should I use? I’m sick… No, I’m dead!”

    “How about the truth?”

    “I’d rather be abducted by a very rude alien than work another day for you!”

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