Okay, all. Sorry for the late results. (These 12-hour workdays have been rough, but I do apologize.) What’s especially disappointing about posting late is that you all wrote some AMAZING stories. This was one of those weeks where any one of you could have won, and I mean that.
All right, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
DE Park – Somewhere Under the Rainbow
Comments: Witty wordplay and a clever idea combine to make this chilling story a sobering one, as well. With undertones of contemporary issues and themes of consumerism and injustice, this is one tiny tale that has a lot to say. Well done.
Sal Page – Flamingo Umbrella
Comments: Gorgeous descriptions cantilever the horrific elements of this tightly-wrapped package, giving us a story that is balanced but feels really unsettling. Why?, indeed!
Firdaus Parvez – Ugly duckling and black sheep
Comments: What a lovely story. The “metaphorical duck” has found love with a “black sheep”, and it is beautiful. I think many people can relate to their feelings of inadequacy, especially ones that are reinforced by negative comments from parents, etc. Love transformed this character from the inside out, and it’s such a joy to read.
AS Gardana – Mr. Gnome’s Gruesome Guests
Comments: Most scary garden gnome stories focus on the creepiness of the gnomes themselves. But it wasn’t just the trope turned on its head that intrigued me. There is a visceral sense of helplessness in the face of violence that is truly terrifying.
Before we get to our winners, here are my favorite/favourite lines from this week.
If demon princes admitted to fear, the duckling would have done so. – Dave James Ashton
Attention turned to the butterfly, their disappointment dying as they became giants with the power of life and death. – Steph Ellis
The talking duck stretched out its wing. I ran away before it finished its warning. – Santino Prinzi
Finally, he set out his most irresistible article of bait; the shoe with the worn sole in desperate need of repair. – DE Park
‘Shame to waste it, don’t you think? All those nutriments.’ – Geoff Lepard
“Yes, it’s hideous. isn’ t it? ” Mrs. Beaton said. “But it’s pure magic for roses.” – Voima Oy
A rainbow bridged the sky, shot through with bruises of vilest magenta and purple. – Sal Page
“Keep flapping your feather dusters, Donnie. Not your gums. – Bill Engleson
I could feel the web between my toes vanish a little. – Firdaus Parvez
Mr. Gnome grabbed his children and buried them in the plant bed. He placed Mrs. Gnome over the visible tips of their hats. – AS Gardana
“Daryllduck’s pitching,” squeaked Maeve. “Best in tri-habitat area!” – Dana Faletti
All in a row, they stretched their little wings as far as they would reach. – Leara Morris-Clark
Eventually the hawk dropped fluffy over Wrigley Field just as the hitter swung. Skur…patch! Duck paste! – AJ Walker
The duo lay across the bed, bodies riddled with bullets, blood smearing the walls, the quilt no longer white. – Stella Turner
Breathing deeply, she opened her box of talismans: a lock of hair; a tattered rag; a picture of the deformed street urchin she once was. – Meg Kovalik
And now, without further ado, I present to you the winners of Microcosms 15.
(insert drumroll here)
It’s a tie!
Geoff Lepard – The Circle of Life
Bride/groom, wedding, horror
The circle of life
For two years, dad toiled to have the garden perfect for Daisy’s wedding. He spared no expense, no effort for her big day. She knew what it meant; she couldn’t disappoint him, even after each revelation: Craig’s cheating, the two exes and four children. It was inexorable. She’d go through with it.
Daisy held the knife against the cake and waited for his hand relax. Her first blow severed an artery but she didn’t stop.
As she waited to be led away Daisy noted her father collecting Craig’s gore. ‘What’s that for, dad?’
‘Shame to waste it, don’t you think? All those nutriments.’
Sal Page – Flamingo Umbrella
Everything changed in a blink of plunging darkness. A whiff of burning. A flash fork of lightning.
I’d waited so long. Strolling through primroses, to see newly hatched chicks. The warmest day yet.
Brain splitting thunder. A rainbow bridged the sky, shot through with bruises of vilest magenta and purple. Blood rain began to fall on me. I grabbed the nearest flamingo as an umbrella.
On all sides, folk enjoyed their day. Warm sun in their hair. Grassy picnics. Laughter. Life.
Why just me?
The temperature had plummeted. Feet fused to my palms, the flamingo umbrella flapped around my shoulders, pecking holes in my cheeks.
I’d only wanted spring.
Flamingo – Rainbow – Horror
Bill Engleson – When Ducks Can Catch Flies
Comments: I’ll admit that this is not the kind of story I am normally drawn to. But the characters’ personalities shine through their dialogue, and the ending is incredibly sweet. It has just enough emotion to be endearing without being overly sentimental. When it comes down to it, it’s a simple story, well told. I love it.
When Ducks Can Catch Flies
“So Teddy, I’m thinking, bloody hell, there’s no reason a duck can’t play ball.”
“Donnie, Donnie, Donnie. Focus! Flap them wings. Oh, and by the by, if you had fingers and hands like humans, you’d be able to count at least 10 reasons…”
“I can count in my head. Don’t need fingers.”
“Keep flapping your feather dusters, Donnie. Not your gums.
“Well, I’m pretty tired, Teddy. Ooh, look, down there, a ballfield…and little leaguers….so cute…it must be…”
“Yup. Opening Day, Donnie. Part of the old flight plan.”
“You did this for me, Teddy?”
“Don’t get maudlin. Let’s park our butts down there and watch the game.”
“Teddy, you’re the greatest.”
110 dreams coming true
Duckling; baseball stadium; fantasy
- 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 The Ugly Duckling (Illustrated). 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 each invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!