Thank you to everyone who put finger to keyboard to enter Microcosms 28. We had a good number of submissions this week, but we always welcome more. Please keep returning to Microcosms, and spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
Many thanks to Geoff Le Pard for judging MC 28. He did a great job of getting his deliberations back to us in double quick time.
[ Geoff was so impressed with the quality of your stories that he has very generously donated a FREE Kindle copy of his book “Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle” to every entrant… Oh, all right then: it’s actually free to *everyone* for the next five days – 18-JUL to 22-JUL. Download it from Amazon and leave a glowing review! ]
Here’s what our judge had to say:
This week’s entries took us from a steam-driven lift to a smouldering volcano, via a dodgy curry house. We had maestros and mysteries and a lot of fun besides. And many stories brought humour to the fore to provide this judge with an enjoyable ride.
Favorite / Favourite Lines
“He was the poster boy of the new wave of young politicians.” Vibha Lohani
“Weaponised onion bhajis rained down, splattering curry onto crisp white cotton.” CR Smith
“It was a bottle of your perfume re-labeled to pin the murder on you.” Holly Geely
“Makes your sonnets look like Virgil.” A.V. Laidlaw
“A word like that could make a pretzel out of a virgin’s tongue.” Bill Engleson
“The Maestro is allergic to water!” Meg Kovalik
“Probably the first and last time we’ll ever be regarded as Cuties.” Steph Ellis
“The bellboy, the impudent quisby, arches his eyebrow like London Bridge.” Stephen Shirres
“You’re either cooking or you’re just heating up.” A J Walker
“He’d leapt to the phone when it rang, but it wasn’t his agent as he’d hoped.” Josh Bertetta
“You’re an actor – everything you say about yourself is going to be a fib!” Geoff Holme
Meg Kovalik – It Never Rains but it Snows
Water as poison is as good a way as any to build a theme and the characters here are well-judged.
Bill Engleson – Tourist Trappings 2010
This works as a nice piece of comedy; the favourite line is a peach and the idea of a disaster as a tourist attraction sadly true though done here with delicious
C R Smith – Hold on to your handbag
I enjoyed the idea here, of a simple accident leading to a forced marriage that, surely couldn’t happen and yet, and yet, who was going to stop it? And how can you not enjoy Weaponised Onion Bhajis?
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 28.
(insert drumroll here)
C R Smith – Hold on to your handbag
Student / Dinner / Mystery
A man I only met yesterday drags me forwards, his fingers squeezing my arm. I briefly wonder if the waiting official has an inkling what’s going on, but remain silent – I value my life too much. Sneaking my first look at my husband-to-be, it’s a complete mystery to me how I ended up in this predicament.
Feeling flush, due to our recently deposited student loans, we decided to celebrate with a curry. The restaurant was so packed we had to squeeze past tables. Unbeknown to me, the strap of my handbag dropped and lassoed a chair back. As I moved forward it toppled over, straight into the waiter’s path. The food he carried shot upwards, its trajectory watched by all the diners in open-mouthed silence. Weaponised onion bhajis rained down, splattering curry onto crisp white cotton. When I tried to slope off towards the door a tattooed hand grabbed my arm.
“Not so fast.” A mountain of a man leant over me, granting a glimpse of the holstered gun inside his jacket. He pushed me into the kitchen where I came face to face with a curry-stained shirt.
“It was an accident,” I pleaded, looking up at the man wearing it.
He began pacing back and forwards, scratching his bearded chin.
“You’ll do,” he finally said.
“Do – for what!?”
“Tomorrow, you’ll marry my chef.”
“W – Wh – What?”
“He’ll sell me the recipe if I find him a wife.”
“No way,” I said, defiantly.
“You’ll do as I say,” he said, pulling a knife from the wall; words matching the coldness of the steel he brandished.
The official’s voice interrupts my thoughts.
“ – Anyone present who knows a reason why these persons may not lawfully marry, to declare it now.”
I pray for intervention, but none arrives.
Stephen Shirres – The Actor and the Bellboy
There was a stand-out this week, and this steam-punk story of an actor in a lift – such a tiny setting – contained so much detail, such beautiful characterisation, such wonderful phrasing that you had to double-check the number of words used. It fills you with a delightful nonsense. It could have been a comedy, and yet it is poignant too, and knowing and cruel and so much. Saturate yourself in the words used, in the images ‘I want to punch the boy but a gentleman never resorts to violence, not even towards an American.’ When it ended, on a nicely ambiguous note, I felt deflated. There has to be more. Surely?
Actor / Stuck in a lift / Steam-punk
“Confidence my dear boy, confidence.” The words of my mentor. My face in the opulent mirror does not contain a single letter of the word. I am my voice, the greatest the London stage has ever heard. You have not heard Hamlet until you have heard my performance.
“Indeed sir.” The bellboy, the impudent quisby, arches his eyebrow like London Bridge. He is American, of course he does not respect his betters. I take out my pocket watch, in need of the polish I can’t afford. That will soon change. This audition will open up the ghastly American world of motion pictures, beneath me. Silent dance shows accompanied by a prattling piano. I can travel to New York in under a day yet we can not record the greatest voice of our age.
The puff, puff, puff of the lift’s steam engine strains before the lift stops.
“We’ve stopped sir.”
“I can bloody see that.” My pocket watch ticks into the future. “Do something about it?”
He speaks into a brass cylinder, its sister pulled to his ear. Tick, tick tick, seconds become minutes. “It’ll be a while sir.”
Tick, tick, tick.
“Don’t know sir.”
I want to punch the boy but a gentleman never resorts to violence, not even towards an American. All I can do is stand and watch the minutes tick by. I slouch to the floor after thirty, I am late. The great gamble has failed. All I have left is in this lift, the bag beside me, clothes I wear. This savage and his infernal machine has cost me everything.
“Indeed sir,” he says with a hint of a smile.
Congratulations again, Stephen. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let Steph Ellis know if you are interested!