RESULTS – Microcosms 8

Wow, you guys are amazing.

A HUGE thanks to this week’s judges, Bill Engleson and Sal Page.

Here’s what Bill had to say.

I am, by nature, an observer. Not a natural judge. It is likely that I am also a little too self-effacing, self-deprecating to be a judge. Actually, no likely about it. In fact, I would prefer to critique my own work, if only because it is often full of flaws, familiar missteps and I am perennially comfortable determining where it was exactly I went awry.

That caveat aside, I had a reasonably engaging time judging this week. It was only my second time judging in the exciting world of flash so I am by way of a newbie. Eventually, should the opportunity come my way again, I hope to get better at it.

Every offering engaged. Choosing amongst so much fine writing brings to mind Buddy Hackett’s immortal words, “As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.”

I would never be so blunt and there were plenty of choices at the Microcosms 8 table.

So here goes.

All right, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Honorable Mentions

David Shakes – Predictable Coda

Comments from Bill: I suppose “the pustulent future” shouldn’t appeal to an optimist…me…but it does.

This doomsday tale also has a great punch line, the psychic narrator “didn’t see that coming.” Neither did I.

Casey Rose Frank – Another Man’s Treasure

Comments from Bill: This is one of two poems which conjured up for me an image of a poor soul, a Chaplinesque maid, dutifully performing the most mundane of tasks and catching glimpses of “a place beyond this too real world.” Quite beautiful.

Ashley – Starlight’s Reprieve

Comments from Bill: This was another poem that portrayed a poor soul dabbling at cleaning, perhaps accepting the futility of it all, grateful for the enduring beauty of the stars. Lovely and redeeming.

Craig Anderson – Scrub

Comments from Sal: A lovely little poem. Well-constructed – rhymes & all – and with lots more story for the reader to tease out.

Firdaus Parvez – Stains

Comments from Sal: So much of this maid’s life in so few words. Her mother, now a star, but who thought in colours, naming her after one. I particularly like the image of the colours / stains on her apron.

Geoff Holme – Life Imitates Art

Comments from Sal: A very atmospheric and dramatic flash, which makes the reader work hard because, appropriately, as Luke’s recalling a tale he once read, there’s much more story between the lines.

Runners Up

Voima Oy – Hunters in the Snow

Comments from Bill: There is a fullness about this scene, in the sense that I have read the story, seen it before it even begins. As a reader, I am instantly transported into the narrative. I hear the hunters, their quarry’s panic, the decision to stay awhile as a blacksmiths apprentice, the practicality of doing that in order to repair the drive. A well-told old-time tale with room to go much further.

Geoff Holme – Life Imitates Art

Comments from Bill: I am so drawn to Venice, the smells and the air of intrigue. Geoff captures all of the mystery, leaves more undisclosed than reveled, treats us to a rich and sudden death. I am left wondering, aimlessly ambling along the canals, its dusk.

Stella Turner – Come Dine with Me

Comments from Sal: Oh, the horror of being cooked for and fed – vegetarian too I think, sounds good – by a very cheerful chef, then becoming the meal yourself – there’s the meat! Not only that, knowing it’s going to happen. Horrific AND … also kind of funny!

Ashley – Starlight’s Reprieve

Comments from Sal: The rhythm works to emphasise the maid’s endless and futile tasks. I love the repetition/emphasis of ‘she cleans’ and the concept of carrying on cleaning until the stars, which she’s glad she can’t reach to clean, are out. A very satisfying one to read aloud.

Favorite Lines

Before we get to our winners, here are Bill and Sal’s favorite lines from this week. (They both submitted favorite/favourite lines – thanks!)

A stain of wine blushed at the memory of his look. – Firdaus Parvez

Smudge of lipstick and faint scent of his cologne, where she’d wiped him off her lips. Her master. Doomed love. – Firdaus Parvez

‘They all slept with the same woman: Peggy Guggenheim.’ The Inspector winced; Peggy had been dead for over twenty years. – Avalina Kreska

Marcia’s malady was a migraine; a flashing rainbow aura, brief but disabling. – Avelina Kreska

A quiet village, asleep, unaware of any change to their cut of sky. – Dana Faletti

Brilliant spirals, each singing unique arias on a backdrop of indigo. – Dana Faletti

After the shower and a poo she has to milk a cow or two. – A.J Walker

The maid’s not slept for all the night
Reading ‘Time: Past, Present and
Future – AJ Walker

The shouts of men and the barking of dogs carried on the frosty air. – Voima Oy

His ship was hidden behind a fallen tree. Unless he could fix the drive, he wasn’t going anywhere. Voima Oy

For the Barbary Coast, or hunting ghosts. – Dave James Ashton

For the Barbary coast, or hunting ghosts. – Dave James Ashton

The pustulent future is still there but she’s maniacally laughing. – David Shakes

Tomorrow is smeared across the canvas of this Earth like a cancerous growth. – David Shakes

…a place beyond this too real world. – Casey Rose Frank

She has mastered seeing everything

and turning it into nothing – Casey Rose Frank

Where mistress and maid are turned about, the dance amended. – Cath Barton

Whole worlds burn out as she watches – Cath Barton

Watching moonlit gondolas, he glimpsed a blood-red blur – Geoff Holme

Watching moonlit gondolas, he glimpsed a blood-red blur: the small, hooded figure
ran, someone pursuing. Memories stirred. Luke followed down an alley. – Geoff Holme

Turns monochrome reality into a palette of fantasy – Stephanie Ellis

… glass misted by whispers

Of wishes and wonder – Steph Ellis

…the infallible remains of dead skin and soil, twirl around her. – Ashley

She cleans;

the infallible remains of dead skin and soil,

twirl around her,

(her only company). – Ashley

…yodels whilst he roasts the aubergines. – Stella Turner

…down deeper where vessels bleed scarlet into the pulsating black walnut ink. – Emily Clayton

It is true plein air work, but she makes deals with the undertaker to avoid much of the

later decay. – Emily Clayton

And my boss will become just like me. – Craig A

They say that there’s nobody out there,

That we are alone in this void.

As I scrub round the rim of the toilet,

It’s so hard to be glad I’m employed. – Craig Anderson

The traveler’s discovered the only piquant diversion offered in this fin de siècle washout city. – D.E Park

The bitter redolence of anise and herbs cloys and nauseates, lingering disagreeably

on the palate like a penniless relation. – DE Park

And now, without further ado, I present to you the winner (yes, just one!) of Microcosms 8.

(insert drumroll here)

Community Pick

Dana Faletti – The Maid’s Secret

Dana’s entry was also chosen by BOTH of our judges – wow! We’ll let you read it below.

Judge’s Pick

Dana Faletti – The Maid’s Secret

Comments from Bill: As Firdaus so crisply states, “This is brilliant writing.” Now, most flash fictionistas on this site and others are excellent writers. Even I have my moments. But “The Maid’s Secret” is damn smart writing. Dana, as many did, embraces the offered prompt trilogy. So, we are treated to a poem, a maid and a starry night. The writers this week offered up a host of maids, each a little different. One, Dana’s somewhat infuriating blissfully self-absorbed vandal, finds herself caught in an exquisite ode to casual sabotage and a carefree work-environment. It is delightfully agonizing to read. I am sure that Vincent would have given her an earful had he known.

Comments from Sal: Not just any old maid but Van Gogh’s. Not only do we get some fabulous descriptions of the art, we have the delicious implication that the maid just might’ve been the genius hand in those paintings, as well as doing her cleaning tasks. Good on her. A poem both beautiful and clever.

Title -The Maid’s Secret
maid/starry night/poem
110 words

Monseiur Van Gogh will never know
If I dare add a dash of gold, a flick of butter yellow, to his canvas.

I’ll dust the shades and fluff the sheets as well.
I’ll make the floor shine bright as my master’s Starry Night.
But oh, what sets my soul alight is the secret of his brush between my fingertips,
Cakes of paint that give birth to such a story.

Hills rolling toward Heaven.
Brilliant spirals, each singing unique arias on a backdrop of indigo.
A quiet village, asleep, unaware of any change to their cut of sky.
My servant fingers sweep and twist and dare to add a watchful moon.

Congratulations, Dana! You will receive:

  • A winner’s badge on the site
  • An invitation for inclusion in the anthology (with a note that your story was selected as a winner)
  • A Kindle copy of Guns, Gods & Robots: Seven Curious Tales, which has generously been donated by Brady Koch. If you already have the book or don’t have a Kindle, etc., you are free to choose another book of similar value or donate the cost of the book to World Reader, The Book Bus, or another literacy-related charity. Please contact me with the country you live in and the e-mail address you’d like me to send the Kindle book to.

Additionally, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!

RESULTS - Microcosms 9
RESULTS - Microcosms 7

5 thoughts on “RESULTS – Microcosms 8

  1. Congratulations, Dana, for your unequivocal win – way to go!

    Well done to the other HMs and to everyone who entered.

    Many thanks to judges, Sal and Bill, for your deliberations and feedback. I feel very fortunate to have received an HM, as my entry was essentially a reworking of a Daphne du Maurier story: no one seems to have picked up on my punning reference to it in the first three words of my flash… :-$

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