Thank you to all who spied the hidden secrets of the story elements in Microcosms 30. We had a reasonable number of submissions again this week, but we always welcome more. Please keep returning to Microcosms, and spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
Despite my efforts, I have made no progress towards solving the problem that some people have with the spinner not showing the genre. If you are in the same boat, please let me know at my twitter account. I will have to pass the problem “upstairs” and ask Kristen, with her superhuman powers (AKA higher blog administrator authority) if she can find time to look into it.
Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for *anyone*, not just fellow entrants, to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a community pick.
Maybe it’s this voting mechanism, or simply our busy lives, but we seem to have abandoned commenting directly on other stories via the “reply” button. I am firmly of the opinion that everyone appreciates feedback, even if it’s simply “Great story” or “I enjoyed that”. I’d like to encourage us all to reply with a comment to at least one or two other entries.
Many thanks to Sal Page for judging MC 30. Here’s what she had to say:
Spy comedy eh? Great, I LOVE comedy. Spies, on the other hand, I long ago put in a box and labelled ‘For other people’.
I have to confess to only ever having seen one James Bond film. Live and Let Die, 1973. I’d have been seven. As for David Niven, to me he’s just someone over there … in those 100 films I’ve never seen, I guess. Though I could pick him out in a line-up so that’s something.
So – a good start – you have the wrong judge. Apologies to everyone for not getting the references and for so much of it going over my head. And for being so foolishly stuck on my sitcoms, I never watched anything with spies in.
But … which ones made me laugh? Which ones have a proper story to them? Which ones have an original voice? Okay … I can do this. What exactly IS a fortress?
Favorite / Favourite Lines
Steve Lodge – They were smoking and laughing, sometimes both at once.
Geoff Le Pard – ‘Who Baldrick? He not have Kremlin clearance?’/‘He’s a figure of speech, you moron.’
Bill Engleson – “…Like the wall that hairball who wants to be President wants to make.”
Voima Oy – She was surrounded by large men, with large guns. None of them were smiling.
A V Laidlaw – Some days, however were worse than others. Such as days when one found oneself suspended above a shark infested pool.
Holly Geely – “The thing is, Nighty – can I call you Nighty?”
A J Walker – It used to tower a bit more, but the contractors had played a little with the cement to sand ratio resulting in a fair bit of said tower doing a good impression of a scree slope.
Joe Volkel – …DO NOT hide in a suit of armor. It gets freakin hot in there. Especially in the middle of August.
Richard Edenfield – “Man left by Miracle Grow heiress shoots his lawn!”
Stephen Shirres – Spy training tells me a gentle lean against the glass will reveal the weak points.
Special Mention for Best Title
Richard Edenfield – The Man Who Mowed His Lawn With a Revolver
A real makes-you-look title.
Special Mention for Including a British Sitcom Character
Geoff Le Pard – Bring On the Empty Horses
I love Blackadder and am delighted to have witnessed Baldrick’s ‘cunning plan’ entering the language.
Second Runner Up
Stephen Shirres – The Woman Who Was Angry At Me
I found this character’s voice and the hapless and haphazard way he goes about his spying business amusing. The first paragraph cleverly brings us straight into this man’s world without the need of preamble and it’s easy to imagine the building rushing towards him, his parachute billowing out in the wind and the painful fall through the glass. I liked the ending too. This is just a snippet – a flash – of the character’s spying life and this ending leaves the what-happens-next open for the reader to wonder about.
First Runner Up
Joe Volkel – Agents and Spies
I like the way the narrative voice is speaking to me the reader. The ‘Bob, Just Bob’ is funny and the gradual realisation that this is a child’s game, beginning with the yard and fence, then the line ‘play this game’ is well handled. The Old Ladies nickers (knickers?) in the trophy case and the running, leaping and gingerly waving at the same time made me laugh too, although I’m not sure if the latter was intentional.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 30.
(insert drumroll here)
Richard Edenfield – The Man Who Mowed His Lawn With a Revolver
Spy / Fortress / Comedy
A man’s home is his castle. In this case, it was his fortress. Frank Allison had married an heiress to the Miracle Grow fortune. Their life grew together with a bright green lawn spilling out from a large mansion. Their lawn was mowed with the precision of a beauty queen combing her tresses with a brush fitted with a snipers scope; perfect lines spoken by the preacher of a sunlit horizon.
Then his wife left him. She gave no reason other than their relationship had stopped growing. Frank took this very badly. You see, Frank had been trained in the military for Black Ops. He then became a spy. So using his paramilitary training, Frank built a moat around his home and set up surveillance cameras. He then started mowing his lawn with a revolver. Soon there were thousands of holes all over his lawn. People would stare through a gate and watch as Frank took aim at each blade of grass. His holster and cowboy hat with his narrow blonde moustache matched with his Armani suit, made him look like James Bond crossed with Josey Wales. Soon his lawn looked like a connect the dots type of drawing that children drew; when you connected the dots it looked like a picture of a lawn that had been mowed with a revolver.
“Man left by Miracle Grow heiress shoots his lawn!” That was on the front page of his town’s newspaper. Soon Frank set up cannons and ballistic missiles. He was determined to keep love away.
Then his wife returned. She looked at the lawn and started to cry. The tears entered the holes in the lawn and soon water flowers started to grow. Their petals were streams. And they had the scent of a garden of flowing forgiveness.
Steve Lodge – Spied ‘Er With Dozy
This did make me laugh and the title caused some groaning, which was not totally unpleasant either. Original use of the ‘spy’ prompt. Love the idea of a semi-professional squinter’, am most intrigued by ‘breakfast at The Hall Of The Shepherd’s Pie’ (there’s a whole other story here) and amused by the unbelievably rich and disgusting sounding ‘turtle, basil and wasabi snackette’ only heard about when it is, understandably, brought up again. Memorable! Above all, I like the way the narrative voice brings the reader into this character’s world. Hope he has better luck with Philippa. Good work!
Spy / Fortress / Comedy
I only met Melissa last week, but she looked like a winner to me. So feminine and sweet. Her smile made my knees go weak. We became inseparable instantly. In that week, I never saw her chew gum and eat dinner at the same time. That would have impressed my Mum.
I wanted her to like me, I may have tried too hard. “No need to be sorry,” she had said, so I took my apology back.
She took me to the Fortress Of The Damned (the first night there was such fun, till someone found the axe. Later I befriended an owl).
Now as I stand looking over the Fortress turrets, out across the sea, there’s a moon over the bay that wasn’t there yesterday. There’s also a distant light across the harbour, too low to be a star but it is insistent, it makes me squint like a semi-professional squinter and gives me a striking headache. When I’d finished vomiting the turtle, basil and wasabi snackette, she had gone.
I slouched out of the fortress, towards the pier. I don’t know what made me look at the upturned boat on the beach, but there was Melissa, all cosy under the stars, cuddling my mate, Dozy. Some mate. They were smoking and laughing, sometimes both at once.
Oh, oh, Melissa, I’ll try hard not to Miss ‘er.
As a poem, it’s a work in progress, but I’m very proud of it.
The church bell struck noon. I had been sitting on a park bench across from the upturned boat for hours. I heard her giggling as I went off to find breakfast at The Hall Of The Shepherds Pie. I don’t know if they saw me.
I only met Philippa today, but she looks like a winner to me.
Congratulations, Steve. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!