Microcosms 6

Hey, everyone! Welcome back. 🙂

Continuing on with the theme of time, in honor of the Flash Dogs’ new anthology – which is being released on Monday – I thought we would look at the present and think about things (people, careers, and places) that may not be here in the future.

I often regard my day job in this way. It adds a bit of romanticism to being a flight attendant to think that someone in the future may look back and say, “Wow, I bet that was a fun job!” (And it is.) But I feel like there will be newer, faster means of traveling in the future and that, at some point, people won’t be using airplanes anymore.

So, that got me thinking about other things that may be replaced, either by technology (e.g., jobs that can be done by robots) or trending changes in politics or social mores. (I’m not saying whether or not they should be replaced, only that they may.) What is common now that may not be here in the future? Today’s mundane may be tomorrow’s nostalgia. So, feel free to keep that in mind (or not) when you write your story today. 🙂

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

We spun, and our three elements are character: judge, setting: truck stop, and genre: sci-fi. Alrighty, then.

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.

  • flight attendant
  • pilot
  • chauffeur
  • maid
  • barista
  • religious leader
  • farmer
  • miner
  • factory worker
  • politician
  • mechanic
  • waitress
  • receptionist
  • soldier
  • doctor/nurse
  • translator
  • teacher
  • police officer
  • firefighter
  • customer service rep
  • cashier
  • warehouse worker
  • truck drivers
  • taxi driver
  • hair dresser/barber
  • animator
  • train conductor
  • judge
  • airplane
  • airport
  • limo
  • mansion
  • coffee shop
  • house of worship
  • farm
  • mine
  • factory
  • senate/parliament
  • auto repair shop
  • restaurant
  • office building
  • battlefield
  • hospital
  • classroom
  • crime scene
  • burning building
  • store
  • warehouse
  • highway
  • truck stop
  • city street
  • salon
  • Setting
  • train
  • train station
  • courtroom
  • horror
  • sci-fi
  • steam punk
  • mystery
  • fantasy
  • romance
  • drama
  • comedy
  • poem


Judging this week, we have one of last week’s winners, Stella Turner, along with yours truly, KM Zafari. 🙂

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.

Winners will receive a copy of the Kindle version of FlashDogs : Time: Volume III (currently available for pre-order in the US, the UK, Australia, and other territories and being released on 8 February 2016), 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.

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

Plane flying overhead, silhouetted by clouds.
B737 by A. Carlos Herrera

Microcosms 7
Microcosms 5

20 thoughts on “Microcosms 6

  1. Mountain Justice

    The eighteen booster trans-universe rig glides to a stop just above me. It hovers down and the passenger portal swings open.

    “Hop in, traveller,” the driver beckons and no moss grows.

    I clamor in, sit back, breathe the mint air.

    He blasts up the mountain grade.

    “Much of a wait?”

    I straighten my robes, give him a sagacious stare and decree, “No, you arrived as expected.”

    “How far am I taking you, sir?”

    “Half way down the other side. A little hideaway called the Affinity Lake Diner.”

    “Will you be long there?”

    “No. A quick hearing; the sentence, as always, expiration.”

    “Good. Time enough for a cup of Joe then.”

    Judge; truck stop; sci fi
    110 judicial reviews

  2. Scarlet Teacup

    D. E. Park @ParkInkSpot

    110 words. Judge/Truck stop/SF (ahem…sci-fi…purists would eat you alive for that expression, you know)

    The fossil somehow managed to dodder his way into a booth. Margot’s approach confirmed her suspicion that the fetid stench arose from the cheek-sucking old invalid.

    “What can I get you, hon?”

    “Tea.” His palsied hands trembled as he placed a large copper coin on the table. “Please.”

    “Buddy, do you need a doctor?”

    He met her gaze directly for the first time. “I am furious, not ill. I would have you pilloried for such scandalous attire, exposing so much…” He indicated her skirted server uniform with a gesture, “Limb.”

    “Just what century do you think this is, Bub?”

    He paled. “I fear that might be the fundamental question.”

  3. Years Like Snow
    109 words

    “I fear I shall go mad,” the Duchess said, “Professor Sato said you were his best student.”

    Daniel admired the library, the high shelves of books, the view from the windows. It was an old place, and the Duchess of Alba was an old woman. “I did my dissertation on Heian poetry. Not much call for translators, these days.”

    “It is an art. I need an artist to help me.” she unrolled a decorated scroll, covered in calligraphy. “You know this poem?”

    “It is attributed to Murasaki Shikibu.” His hand brushed hers, briefly, as her hair fell over the lines. “Years like snow, it says.”

    Outside, snow was falling.

  4. The Finishing Touches
    110 words
    Elements: hairdresser-mansion-drama

    The Great Hall is decked out in silks and satins for the ball. Everything that shines is polished. The ladies’ dresses are pressed; they await only their coiffures. As a bell echoes the length of the corridors a servant glides to open the front door. The ladies twitter. Some of them remember when coiffeurs used scissors but this, the top man, is renowned for the sharpness of his fingers, the skill with which he winds and twists their shiny locks. He needs no old-fashioned tools.

    He does his work quietly, his hands strong and confident. The ladies, in the end, are supremely decorative. And as silent as the men desire.

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  5. @firdausp
    (110 words)


    As a translator of ancient scripts and maps, I accompanied a team searching for lost treasure. We didn’t find any, but we bathed in the spring of immortality, laughing at the myth.
    Now two hundred years later, all twelve of us are the only ones alive on earth. Disease and hunger has claimed most of our organs, we’ve lost our skin, and use duct tape to keep what’s left from falling out. We wait for death but it never comes.
    Hiding in this old mine from harsh elements, we stare at each other’s deformed bodies. Our tongues have dried. Silence is all we speak, and that doesn’t need a translator.

  6. Decade after Decade

    Pete lies on his back, pain pinning him to the ground.
    He looks up into the dizzying sky,
    a swathe of cloud, an aeroplane.
    He recalls his mother, crying in chapel,
    for his pilot brother, killed years before.
    Hijacking, bomb, the plane falling from the sky.
    He’d left and become a hero,
    while Pete ran the farm. Day after day,
    month after month,
    decade after decade.
    Endless milking, mucking out & balancing the books.
    Evenings of mind-numbing paper-work,
    jumping through hoops for supermarkets.
    With his last breath, Pete laughs.
    Never set foot on a plane.
    Ended up here, with his head in a cowpat.
    How would she manage without him?

    Farmer – House of Worship – Poem
    108 words

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  7. Repetition Drives the Lesson Home

    “You called yourself an honest man.”
    “I did,” he replied to the voice that came from everywhere.

    Pitch black night in the parking lot.
    One lamp shining down on the truck.
    Click, boom, body hits the pavement.
    He’s holding the gun.
    It all reverses in slow motion.
    He sees the agony, the droplets of blood drawn back to the source.
    The man who had escaped his courtly justice.
    Click, boom, body hits the pavement.
    Reverse, and again, reverse, again, reverse, again.

    He cries.
    He is a murderer.
    This is no court but he is being punished all the same.

    100 words
    judge/truck stop/sci-fi

  8. @AvLaidlaw
    107 Words
    Judge / Truck Stop / SF

    The Last Days of Rome

    The metal behemoths arrive in a clouds of dust, the fury of their engines only tamed by the priests of the automobile, the worshippers of Ford and Peterbilt. They drag out a boy by the chains around his wrists, his eyes swollen by bruises.

    “Stealing gas,” they say. No charge more serious; stealing the last blood drops of their tattered world. They sit in their cabs and smoke cigarettes as they await the judgement.

    The judge turns on the neon signs as he pronounces. The light flickers across the chrome grills, and on into the desert darkness.

    “Death by hanging.”

    In this way, they save their civilisation.

  9. Buddha’s Jewel

    96 words
    Elements: religious leader, airport, poem


    He smiles, a permanent sun
    Against the grey frown
    Of the runway
    Beneath sweeping mountains
    Whose snow-capped peaks
    Bring memories of home

    Once he stood high above the world
    Watching the flames of the day
    Play across a peaceful sky
    Now he must look on
    As others burn for him
    Transient torches
    In the Tibetan darkness

    Disciple of peace,
    He stands in exile but not alone
    A reincarnation of the six tribes
    Gentle adversary of those
    Who seek to crush freedom
    A crimson-robed thorn
    In the Red Dragon’s side
    Buddha’s jewel
    From the Land of Snow

  10. After Bacon
    A.J. Walker

    John could just make out the faded words on the sign ‘Ana’s Greasy Spoon’.

    “It’d be illegal this place now. Fat, oil, carbohydrate. More fat. Bet it was lovely.”

    Simon looked at his dad bemused. “It actually advertised having greasy spoons? Bizarre.”

    John sighed. “Before everyone was chipped you wouldn’t believe what was acceptable.”

    “Criminal. Killing people.”

    “This place here’s a truck stop. Imagine that. How many gas guzzling giants passed through here? Killing people with their carcinogens.”

    “Weren’t you a judge?”

    “Aye, crime was more complicated – grey. The chips stopped all crime. Black and white. It’s permitted or not. Recorded, downloaded.”

    “No judge required.”

    “Maybe a bacon sandwich though.”

    WC 110
    Judge/Truck Stop/SF

  11. Emily Clayton
    elements: waitress, limo, mystery
    109 words

    The Green Dragon Room

    “Eww, is that a dead body?” Anita recoiled from her dive across the limo’s cushions. She glanced at the other passengers, the “would-be murderers” who gazed with innocence pasted on haggard faces.

    The party had been a blast, but now it was time to crash. Home? Boyfriend’s? She couldn’t stomach waitressing, serving any more of the thick, syrupy concoctions bubbling up from behind the make-shift bar.

    And now, there was a dead body.

    Little did she know her fellow passengers had committed their own crime. They were innocent of the limo murder, but not that of her boyfriend, who was no longer sleeping off drinks at a downtown bar.

  12. This is just for fun, obviously. 🙂

    religious leader / factory / horror

    The Foreman
    110 words

    Dismembered limbs traveled down the conveyor belt at a breakneck pace. Younger brothers sorted through them; they tossed misshapen ones aside, saving the premium appendages for their gods.

    The foreman strolled along the factory floor, hands knitted tightly behind his back, lips continuously pursed in disapproval. “Halt!” he called, stopping at the station of a silent cenobite, who quivered as he approached.

    He peered over the shaking man’s shoulder, then leaned in to assess his work. He twisted toes and tugged on nails, finally murmuring his approval.

    The young monk sighed deeply, the hollow where his tongue used to be a constant reminder of the last time he failed inspection.

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  13. The First King of Crete
    Roya Carmelle (@royacarmelle)
    Judge/Truck Stop/Fantasy
    110 words.

    His breath stilled, and he could visibly see the falling snow stop before his eyes. The normally fluid flakes melted at his touch, his hand reaching upward toward the phenomenon. He felt something sweep through him, and he sighed quietly as he left behind the decaying space.

    The horned creature watched as tires screamed, a man fell, a crack resounded, and blood pooled.

    And the snow began to sway again, coating the tattered truck cabin, warm air still blowing from the vents, keys still hanging from the ignition.

    And Minos approached him, drinking in the death for which he prayed, judging the memories that he saw through the lonely eyes.

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  14. Judgebot 3000

    These meatbags are very good at deleting each other.

    This time it’s a dead trucker at some backwater truck stop. It has all the trademarks, the same rope fibres, similar victim, same time of day. It’s definitely the work of a serial killer.

    I stare at the accused man before me and listen to his testimony. I parse out key phrases while performing voice stress analysis. Theres a 99.3% chance he’s innocent. Wrong place at the wrong time.

    I bring down the hammer and pass my verdict.
    “Guilty. Sentenced to death.”

    He screams as they drag him away.

    Between me and the serial killer, these meatbags don’t stand a chance.

    110 words
    Judge/Truck Stop/Sci Fi

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