A HUGE thanks to this week’s judge, A.J. Walker. Here’s what he had to say:
Hey, you guys made it tough. But then again you usually do. I do like the longer word count stories (wow, all of 250!) as it gives a bit more range to the stories and all of them were a good read.
Not a clown fan myself and I think if I’d been writing I’d have killed the weirdos off – as a couple of you guys and gals did. Some did that fangled spin thing and ended up with puppeteers in subways/tubes (the spin thing didn’t seem completely random or else was controlled by strings held by some scary train spotting character out of screen shot).
Anyway, without further ado my picks.
Drum roll please, Mr Clown Pants…
AV Laidlaw – I Had Not Thought Death Had Undone So Many
The claustrophobic description of the train journey and the lady’s flat and the repetitive commute are all to familiar to us. And then the arrival of the tiger puppet strikes a change for her something different. Enjoyable albeit with a taste of fear.
Stephen Shirres – One Thousand And One Graffiti Nights
Well I know that groan of last orders. So not a good start to a story for me! But I too was pulled in along with the graffiti from the other place to get involved with the puppeteers tales. Night after night I fear.
2nd Runner Up
David Shakes – The Illusionist Never Speaks
I liked this picture of city life. Where graffiti stained walls, beggars and entertainers colour the lives of the commuters each day. Those people we walk past or half watch in passing. Paying them some small change out of fear rather than guilt was a nice call.
1st Runner Up
Ashley Gardana – The Clown Murderer – An Origins Story
Great imagery in so few words. The piece hangs together brilliantly. Oh, and plenty of clowns would be shaking in their stupid big shoes.
Classy, loved it.
Before we get to our winners, here are my (that is, Steph’s!) favorite/favourite lines from this week.
“Look, you useless tree stump, it wasn’t my fault,” Max said, through gritted teeth. – Holly Geely
… he’d decided/kill them all/All clowns, even those/who did not swing from frames at will – Ashley Gardana
“It’s Hallowe’en, dark, we’re in an isolated location… what could possibly go wrong?” – Geoff Holme
… you could knock me over with a budgie feather and no one would object – Bill Engleson
A few coins will raise a smile and a polite bow, but you wouldn’t let your child eat that sweet. – David Shakes
… a memory, of a darkened night/And blood and smoke and mirrors. – Steph Ellis
She saw dark jungles in its eyes – AV Laidlaw
… but neither fear nor wonder lasts, not for a shadow on the subway wall – Alex Brightsmith
A sigh blows through the subway – Stephen Shirres
She folds into a tuck position, like a diver, unfolds like an origami bird – Voima Oy
The old man looked at me with a snaggletooth grin – Leara
And now, without further ado, I present to you the winners of Microcosms 21.
(insert drumroll here)
David Shakes – The Illusionist Never Speaks
Magician, Subway, Horror
Curious, how he always stands in the part of the subway where the lights are dimmest and the acoustics fool your ears. His face is at once familiar yet difficult to place – wasn’t he once on TV?
A flourish of cheap, plastic flowers from deep within the folds of his coat are usually produced for the ladies. A grubby, hard boiled sweet travels from knuckle to knuckle before disappearing, only to reappear behind your child’s ear to then be presented like a rare treat. A few coins will raise a smile and a polite bow, but you wouldn’t let your child eat that sweet.
The illusionist never speaks.
More curious than that faded magician is the mural he chooses to stand before. The caricatures of business commuters are painted life size and grimacing on the cracked, white tiles.
Every now and again a new figure is added, seemingly overnight.
I’d never given it much thought until recently. The newest addition was the perfect portrait of a man I’d grown used to seeing on the daily journey home. Indeed, the last time I’d seen him was in this very subway, berating the busking conjuror for his tired tricks and lack of imagination. It had been quite a scene.
That’s probably why I remember the guy, and why the contorted features of his painted self disturb me so.
The thing is, I’ve never seen him since. So, that’s why I always pay a few coins, because you never know, do you?
Geoff Holme – The Mystical Machine
Word Count: 250
Clown / Mansion / Mystery
Well shiver my pirate ghost timbers these pesky kids came in and stole the show. Okay, it must be my age. But I grew up without a Scooby-Do. And this story stole my biscuit. And all the other food from a well stocked larder. Damn Scooby munchies.
The little italicised chase scene was perfect and the clown throwing that evil bucket of coloured ribbons. Those pesky kids, for a change, never stood a chance. Well done Rooby Roo.
Having judged these blind I’m not sure who’s behind the mask… Reveal thy self oh child of the 70s!
“This is it,” says Fayed, as they leave the psychedelic van. “Anthem, Arizona.”
“We always end up someplace at night,” moans Thelma.
“It’s not Fayed’s fault!” says Dymphna, in her boyfriend’s defence. “His father forgot to wire his allowance, so we couldn’t buy gas. We would’ve been here hours ago otherwise.”
Scraggy trails behind. “I’m not begging on the streets with Rooby-Roo again,” he says. “It’s humiliating.”
“You’re such a dirtbag,” says Fayed, “you look like a homeless bum… especially with that hungry-looking Great Dane.” Dymphna and Thelma laugh; the dog glares at Fayed with narrowed eyes, and growls.
Soon they’re standing outside a spooky, Gothic mansion. “Woah!” quakes Scraggy. “This looks like a Mission Impossible even Ethan Hunt would refuse.”
“Tom Cruise isn’t a coward!” Thelma retorts.
“Quit bickering!” says Fayed. “Let’s split up and look around.”
“Sure,” mumbles Scraggy. “It’s Hallowe’en, dark, we’re in an isolated location… what could possibly go wrong?”
Swamp-Monster chases Thelma… Fayed and Dymphna chase Swamp-Monster… Scraggy and Rooby-Roo hide… Fayed, Dymphna and Thelma catch Swamp-Monster in rope-net… Fayed removes Swamp-Monster’s mask to reveal… a clown in full make-up!
The clown produces a pail full of… Fayed, Dymphna and Thelma scream and flee in terror, as the clown throws… sparkly scraps of paper.
Scraggy’s and Rooby-Roo’s grinning faces appear from behind a pillar. Scraggy turns to the clown and smiles. ”If I’d known before that those supercilious jerks were all coulrophobes, Rubes and me coulda done this way sooner.
“Thanks for your help, Dad!”
Additionally, you are each invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!
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