Welcome to the very first Microcosms flash fiction contest! How exciting! 😀

Today is the 1st of January, which is celebrated as the New Year for many cultures around the world and is symbolic of new beginnings. And, in some ways, that’s what today’s contest is about – looking forward. Whether it’s the year you want to start writing or finish that book you’ve been working on, let’s pledge to make 2016 great!

However, we would be remiss if we didn’t honor the past. After all, Microcosms wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the tremendous work of others before us.

So, for our first contest, we’re going to pay homage to those great contests that have come before us and, sadly, are no longer here. Each of our options include elements inspired by Flash Friday by Rebekah Postupak, Three Line Thursdays by Grace Black, and Micro Bookends by David Borrowdale.

As usual, our contest will begin with three things: character, setting, and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are chracter: a biologist, setting: on a rainy day, and genre: drama.

Feel free to write a story using those or spin a new set of your own. Be sure to include which three elements you’re using.

  • person named David
  • a biologist
  • person named Rebekah
  • a dragon
  • person named Grace
  • a poet
  • in a publishing house
  • on a fishing boat
  • in Washington, DC
  • in a cave
  • on a rainy day
  • in an art gallery
  • sci-fi
  • fantasy
  • romance
  • drama
  • comedy
  • poem


All submissions should be 100 words in length, give or take 10 words (90 – 110 words). You have until midnight, New York time to submit.

If you like, you may incorporate the following photo prompt (not required).

Picture of star-shaped lights.
Star Lights, by KM Zafari

Winners will receive a copy of the Kindle version of Flashdogs: An Anthology (currently available in the US, the UK, Australia, and other territories), or a similarly priced book of their choosing.

Alternatively, winners may elect to have the monetary equivalent donated to World Reader or another literacy-related charity.

List of Entrants
Welcome to Microcosms!

67 responses to “Microcosms 1”

  1. Stephanie Ellis Avatar

    Death of a Story

    Elements: a poet/on a fishing boat/drama

    105 words


    He had brought nothing with him except a notebook, empty lines to be filled with the majesty of the sea; a haiku perhaps or an ambitious villanelle. Yet he experienced only a dreary monotony, failed to register the monstrous shape that shadowed their voyage – until it attacked.

    The crew fought long and hard to regain control, ignoring Ernest. There was no poetry in his predicament although he did have a story, if he lived.

    But he was an old man and terror devoured his thoughts as easily as a shark shreds a marlin and so he sat, an empty line on the ship’s last page.

    1. CR Smith Avatar
      CR Smith

      Nice, brought back memories of The Old Man and the Sea – I’ll have to read it again. I like that last bit, an empty line on the ship’s last page.

      1. Stephanie Ellis Avatar
        Stephanie Ellis

        Thanks, mentioned to Shakes on Twitter how I hated Old Man and the Sea as I spent 2 years studying it for O-level. This is my alternative reality when it DOESN’T get written (praise be!), although I know that will be blasphemy to many Hemingway fans.

    2. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      “For Sale: notebook. Never used”
      Great stuff, as ever, Steph.

    3. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Great last line–the whole story is brilliant!

  2. CR Smith Avatar
    CR Smith


    “I saw the glow from my house. What do you think it is?”

    As they approached the glow shivered, shaking the branches holding it captive. Light fragmented, catching in the drops of falling rain, showering them both in dancing reflections. The biologist cautiously pulled away one of the makeshift prison bars.

    “I’ve never seen one before, but I’ve heard the rumours. We need to free it before it dies.”

    Together they fought to untangle its points from the tree until finally it was able to float away.

    “It must have dropped from the sky last night.”

    “But what was it?”

    “A fallen star.”

    W/C 104
    a biologist/on a rainy day/drama

    1. Stephanie Ellis Avatar
      Stephanie Ellis

      Lovely. Although the star was freed, that last sentence is one that always strikes me as one of the saddest lines you can ever hear.

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Exquisitely poignant…You evoke the photo beautifully.

  3. Catherine Connolly Avatar

    We Grace Our Art

    With words we grace white paper walls
    with ink indelible,
    clothing comedic creations saltimbanque,
    painting black and blue sombre,
    cutting-out consonants,
    sculpting them into eventual existence –
    a distinct, dimensional complexity.

    Within words, we are our art.
    We live amidst our
    lined galleries of sentences, voicing expression;
    layers and levels textured in conversation,
    imagined, emoting; an evolving eco-system.

    Within verse, we, you, Grace, I,
    visualise our art.
    Within words, we are our all.

    We grace white paper walls,
    with ink indelible.
    A gallery where others walk,
    in shared experience.

    (91 words)


    A person called Grace/an art gallery/poem

    1. Stephanie Ellis Avatar
      Stephanie Ellis

      Absolutely beautiful poem.

    2. CR Smith Avatar
      CR Smith

      I love that line, Within words, we are our art. Lovely poem, heartfelt words.

    3. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Just beautiful

  4. Santino Prinzi Avatar


    Elements: A Biologist / on a rainy day / Drama
    110 words
    Twitter: @tinoprinzi

    “The rainfall – it’s too much – what am I supposed to do?”

    “Calm down, Ieuan.”

    “They’re not supposed to get this much water. Our experiment will be ruined. Ruined! We don’t have enough funding to start again, Dr Clark!”

    “Shut up, Ieuan.”

    Through the window Ieuen observed the tiny cacti planted outside between rain droplets racing down the glass.

    “They’re growing, exponentially, Dr Clark!”

    “Good, my hypothesis was correct.”

    “Your hypothesis?” Ieuen stepped back from the window as the cacti grew nearly twice his height. The cacti lifted themselves from the earth with their prickly arms and advanced towards the building.

    “You and my wife.”

    Ieuen dropped the phone and ran.

    1. Stephanie Ellis Avatar
      Stephanie Ellis

      Ha! Revenge of the killer cacti! Nice take.

    2. CR Smith Avatar
      CR Smith

      I like a good tale of revenge, made me smile.

    3. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Excellent story!

  5. A V Laidlaw Avatar
    A V Laidlaw

    108 Words
    Biologist / Rainy Day / Drama

    A God’s Idle Afternoon

    Raindrops swell and fall onto the dirt, each one a microscopic universe of wakening spores, the sleeping spirits that have waited so long for life. I lean a little closer to watch them. They are fecund. They spread. The hunters appear, protozoa darting among the algae with whip-tails and amoebae engulfing prey with the patience of death itself. They grow. The drama of their minute lives unfolds under my unflinching, scientific gaze. I wonder if they know I am watching, if they pray to me to avoid their fate. There is nothing to be done. Soon it will stop raining and again their lives will turn to dust.

    1. CR Smith Avatar
      CR Smith

      A microcosm of life and death in 108 words, very nice.

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      This is absolutely stunning…worlds within worlds…

    3. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Absolutely stunning…worlds within worlds…

  6. Bill Engleson Avatar


    The last two lines of the poem come first.

    I will have to work backwards.

    “And glory, would you tarry,
    Leave what time will not carry.”

    Reverse is always…awkward.
    Or so I’ve found.

    I feel her weight. How hard it is to grab hold.
    The rain, the unrelenting rain splatters down cruelly,
    floods the drenched furrows of my brow.

    With drowning eyes, weary,
    I fall fast to the muddy ground, shackled by my burden.

    On my knees, sinking into the sodden earth,
    I brush her damp auburn hair from her shuttered eyes.

    Skyward, I remember the stars, our colours of love.

    Will this final poem be vanquished?

    Will I?

    Elements: Poet; On a rainy day; Drama

    110 dark poetic moments

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Hands across time
      102 words

      The winter the Great Lakes froze, Dr. Raquel Moreno, a biologist, and Dr. Alexi Bikov, an anthropologist, discovered the ice-age caves. Flashlights revealed walls covered with painings—red ochre and charcoal from ancient fires. Tiny hand prints decorated the walls. Mammoths and big cats appeared with birds, suns and moons.

      “What a find!” Raquel exclaimed. “Congratulations, Alexi.”

      “Look at this, Raquel,” Alexi’s flashlight illuminated a skeleton in the corner. It appeared to be an almost human figure, but there were more fingers, and the bones were too long.

      The biologist and the anthropologist looked at each other. They reached for each others’ hands.

      1. AlexBrightsmith Avatar

        Such a world of unspoken horror in that one last eloquent gesture

      2. Voima Oy Avatar
        Voima Oy

        Thank you . I am curious why it leaves a feeling of horror?

      3. AlexBrightsmith Avatar

        Isn’t it funny how strong an image you can take sometimes when it wasn’t the one intended? I saw them groping blindly for one another’s hands for a shred of human comfort, unable to tear their horrified eyes from what they’ve found … but I’ve probably been watching the X Files too much.

      4. Voima Oy Avatar
        Voima Oy

        Yes, I can see the X-files feel to it, too, now. Thank you very much for time and attention. I really appreciate your thoughts!

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      beautiful piece.

  7. Sonya Avatar

    100 words
    person called David / in a publishing house / sci-fi

    What’s Next – Flowers?

    David looked at his list. Sparkly vampires – they’d come and gone faster than the first time round. Neo-Dickensian sales were plummeting. And the less said about the merpeople erotica, the better.

    ‘Hey, Siri.’

    ‘How can I be of assistance, David?’

    ‘We need a boost for the list. Fast.’

    ‘David, it has been a decade since we rejuvenated Pride and Prejudice.’

    ‘Genius, Siri. Consult Marketing for the latest trends and plug them in. Send the finished manuscript to Copyediting ASAP.’

    ‘A thank you wouldn’t go amiss.’

    David muttered a few swearwords under his breath. Bloody artificial emotional intelligence.

    ‘Thanks, Siri.’

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Great story!

  8. Liz Hedgecock Avatar
    Liz Hedgecock

    109 words
    a dragon / in a publishing house / comedy

    ‘Beatrice ffoulkes!’ Jessica’s voice cracked.

    ‘I know…’ Pippa soothed. ‘Before we go in…’

    ‘Oh, I’ll let you do the talking. You’re the agent.’ They scaled the stone steps and waded through shag-pile to the lift.

    Pippa sighed. ‘I have to tell you. She’s a dragon.’

    ‘She can’t be that bad!’

    Pippa looked at the floor. ‘The last author I brought could have been the next Rowling. Shot down in flames.’

    Jessica swallowed. The lift pinged.

    Pippa banged the metal door, and grabbed an extinguisher.

    ‘Enter!’ Jessica’s skin prickled with heat and the burnt-toast smell.

    ‘Lovely to meet you…’ drawled Beatrice, waving a manuscript spiked on her claw.

    1. Liz Hedgecock Avatar

      Can’t seem to edit…there should be a para break after ‘burnt-toast smell’!

      1. zwoodle Avatar

        I fixed it for you. 🙂 If you aren’t registered on the site itself (e.g., just logging in to comment), I think the plugin I’m using only gives you five minutes to edit it. As a normal practice, I’m trying to shy away from manual edits to reduce the workload of volunteers that will be helping out, but I know the site is going to have growing pains. I’ll see if I can extend the edit time for everyone. I know how it feels when you submit something and then see a typo! 🙂

      2. Liz Hedgecock Avatar

        Thank you! It’s a learning curve 😉 Must try harder!

      3. zwoodle Avatar

        Haha No worries! Everything is new – there are bound to be bugs and issues that need to be fixed. I’ll try to improve the site as we go. 🙂

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      “shot down in flames” –so clever –well-done!

  9. @dazmb Avatar

    Name: dazmb
    Words: 107
    Elements: A person called Grace / a rainy day / poem

    Title: untitled

    From the beginning, Grace knew what would kill her.

    But she has three lines left to write.

    Three lines left, to fall in love

    With the thing that will kill her.

    Or the idea of it.

    She falls asleep.

    Waits for the dream to come to her.

    She returns to her childhood home.

    It’s raining.

    She opens the door and with a sense of horror smells the ghosts inside.

    The lingering scent of her mother.

    She runs away.

    She wakes up.

    In the sky there is a new kind of light.

    She writes.

    None of us have names

    And our hearts are let go

    Above an open sea.

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Lovely lines, stunning piece!

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      lovely lines–stunning piece!

  10. Geoff Holme Avatar
    Geoff Holme

    Word Count: 107
    Elements: A biologist / on a rainy day / drama

    The Vintner’s Tale or The Wine Merchant of Venice

    [Museum. Rebekah (Biologist) arranges bear against woodland scene. Lunchbox is on chair. Enter Grace (Vintner), carrying crate]
    Grace: What’s going on here, Rebekah?
    Rebekah: Just finishing the new diorama. I sent you a text.
    Grace: The rain got on my glasses. I thought you said ‘drama’!
    Rebekah: Is that the wine? The sponsors will be here soon.
    Grace: About that… We sold out at Christmas. My husband had to scrounge from his contacts in the beer trade.
    Rebekah: This is David’s borrowed ale?
    Grace: Afraid so…
    [Rebekah takes fruit from lunchbox and makes to throw it]
    Grace: I’ll just leave it here…
    [Exit, pursued by a pear]

    1. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      I can’t see how to edit… I’d like to replace ‘carrying box’ at the end of the first line to ‘carrying crate’. Sorry if there is some way to do it myself.

      Also I can’t see a link to rules – specifically, are we restricted to one entry each? And please confirm that word count does NOT include the title.

      1. zwoodle Avatar

        Fixed it for you. 🙂 You should be able to edit it yourself, but I’m having some technical issues with that, atm. Trying to fix it. The FAQs have some information, but I’ll add more. Word count does not include title. And I see no reason to restrict the number of entries. The more the merrier! If this policy somehow causes problems in the future (I don’t know what those could be), things might change at that point. But for now, write away! 🙂

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy


  11. D. E. Park Avatar

    Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?
    100 words, Dave @ParkInkSpot
    biologist/rainy day/drama
    Mrs. Black cancelled the third grade field trip to the Botanical Gardens due to the rain. After selecting an alternate, her class headed to the Field Museum instead.

    The Field’s arachnologist, Dr. Barrowdale, stopped mid-presentation and exclaimed, “Marybelle has escaped!”

    “Our Brazilian Wolf Spider, Lycosa raptoria. She is one of our finest specimens. Please, children, look about you very carefully and watch where you step.”

    Pointing at the doorframe, Rebekah said, “She’s up there.”

    Dr. Barrowdale quickly and calmly recaptured Marybelle.

    “Thank you, young lady. You must have sharp eyes.”

    “It was obvious. The wolf is always at the door.”

    1. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      Cracking pun to end, Dave!
      [ Did you mean to change ‘Borrowdale’ to ‘Barrowdale’, to protect the innocent, or was it just an oversight? :-} ]

      1. D. E. Park Avatar

        I’d blame the copy editor. Except that’s me.

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      So clever– well done!

  12. AlexBrightsmith Avatar

    Indefinite leave
    (Biologist in the rain – drama, 109 words)

    Coming from the cool dry of the facility, she found it beautiful, at first. A breeze on her face, the soft prickle of rain on her arms, and all around her the defiant green shout of nature. This was what she had loved and studied. Amongst her racks of seed, in clinical sterility, each sample had become merely a dead thing to be docketed.

    The thought rocked her with harsh, jangling laughter that melted into sobs. She sank down onto the dying grass, blisters already forming on her bare skin. Those dead things were alive, waiting, whereas she – on leave when the blow fell – was as good as dead.

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Defiant green shout of nature…beautiful line. I like what you did with the rain, such a tragic story…

  13. Clive Avatar

    When A Dragon’s Work Is Done

    Arbaleq sighed as he looked at the treasure mound. If it wasn’t mostly clean by the time mother got back he’d be better off unhatched. Blowing frustration born smoke from his nostrils he wrapped cloth around a claw and started polishing. As he rubbed a lamp a genie exploded from its spout.
    “Oh great one,” it said, “you have three wishes.”
    “I wish I didn’t have to polish all this for a start,” Arbaleq said without thinking.
    The genie clicked it’s fingers. The treasure disappeared.
    Arbaleq looked round the empty cave with growing horror.
    “Arby, I’m home,” called his mother.

    Elements – Dragon&Cave&Fantasy


    1. AlexBrightsmith Avatar

      A lovely thought that even dragons’ wishes go awry

    2. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Love this story!

  14. A. J. Walker Avatar

    The Garden IS Empty

    David lay flat on his back blinking into the rain.

    “Dave,” said Bex, “You okay?”

    David grunted.

    “Think I fainted. Shouldn’t have skipped breakfast.’

    He felt the mud in his fingers, concentrating on its feel. He’d check later, but he was sure it was a silty loam.

    “We had ham and eggs,” Bex said. “At Grace’s Cafe.”

    David squelched a shrug in the mud as he watched the heavy rainclouds battle for position.

    “Okay, I’m coming down with something.”

    Bex leant over him, hands on hips.

    “So, you didn’t faint seeing Henry here?” she said, pointing not so much the elephant in the room as the dragon in the garden.

    Biologist, rain, drama etc

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      I love the concrete details of the rain and the mud.. IS there a dragon in the garden?

  15. Karl A Russell Avatar
    Karl A Russell

    In a Hundred Years, What Will It Matter?

    Marv’s world was rain and regret. 

    He wasn’t sure which was the worst idea, Friday night Jaegerbombs or Saturday morning overtime,  but the combination was deadly. He wouldn’t have minded if the work had been interesting,  but the senior biologists took the good jobs and left him testing thousands of Paleozoic moss samples. They were all inert after so long in the ice, but someone had to tick the boxes.

    His phone chirped and he reached for it,  knocking a petri dish from the workbench.

    The text was a single word: Pub?

    “Sod it,” Marv decided, rapidly ticking all of the remaining boxes. 

    Down on the lab floor, something slithered. 

    110 words
    Biologist, rainy day, drama

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Beautifully done– Love “rain and regret”…the Paleozoic moss samples….
      and the last line, wow!

  16. Craig A Avatar

    In a flash

    Thunder rumbles in the distance, but I hardly notice. I’m fixated on the progress bar. This is the last test. If this passes, my life’s work is complete. No more aging.

    I’ve been so careful. No notes, no backups, nothing to steal. I’ve told no-one. If this falls into the wrong hands, it will be abused. Instead of prolonging brilliant minds, it will keep supermodels perky.

    The bar creeps towards 100%. It’s at 99 when the room bursts into light. The thunder is instant and deafening. When my vision returns my screen is blank and I catch the acrid scent of my life’s work going up in smoke.

    110 words
    Biologist, rainy day, drama

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Very nice! Your stories seem so effortless. A delight to read.

  17. Ed Broom Avatar
    Ed Broom

    — Lunar Maria —

    “Miss, David’s forgotten his sun cream.”

    “OK, tell him to borrow Dale’s.”

    When she turns, there’s a man beside Grace. Black, scruffy, and yet, to Grace’s eye, with the face of God. A serious expression eclipses his smile.

    “Sweetheart, once you’re in,” he nods toward the museum, “head for the moon rock. Be sure to…”

    His voice becomes a whisper. Grace nods, blinks, and the man’s gone.

    Inside, Grace is last in the queue. Ignoring Miss’s urging, she concentrates on her instructions. David brushes the smooth surface before scurrying to join the others.

    Grace breathes deep and extends all ten fingers.

    person named Grace / in Washington, DC / drama
    108 words

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      Such a marvelous sense of wonder–I love the ending…

  18. Brady Koch Avatar

    Donor Regret

    Dr. Sharon waited outside of her colleague’s office in the rain. A fat raindrop followed the water-worn path from fingertip to the wrist and the large keloid scar that encircled it. It was astonishing Sharon was even able to feel the touch of the rain. A year ago this hand had been attached to his colleague, Dr. Farouk. After no suitable candidates were found, the two transplant doctors agreed perform to the world’s first hand transplants on each other. Dr. Sharon’s had worked, while Dr. Farouk’s body rejected the new appendage. Farouk and her lawyers wanted her hand back, but the knife in Sharon’s new grip said otherwise.

    109 words

    1. Voima Oy Avatar
      Voima Oy

      What a horror story . Well done!

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