Microcosms 32

Today – 12th August – is a popular day to croak, kick the bucket, cash in one’s chips, pop one’s clogs, assume room temperature, cease to be… It’s the D.O.D. for:

  • Last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, Cleopatra – 30 BC
  • Steam locomotive pioneer, George Stephenson – 1848
  • Author of Death In Venice (1912), Thomas Mann – 1955
  • Author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964), Ian Fleming – 1964
  • Star of the 1957 movie Twelve Angry Men, Henry Fonda – 1982
  • Composer of the infamous 1952 opus 4’33”, John Cage – 1992

not to mention – since it is The Glorious Twelfth – countless grouse…

So let’s bear these people in mind as we turn our attention to Microcosms 32.

As usual, our contest will begin with three things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are character: Inventor, setting: Grand Hotel, and genre: Fantasy.

Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set. Be sure to include which three elements you’re using.


  • Consort
  • Engineer
  • Famous Author
  • Inventor
  • Juror
  • Composer
  • Alexandria
  • Time Trials
  • Grand Hotel
  • English Village
  • Murder Trial
  • Concert Hall
  • Historical Fiction
  • Thriller
  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Drama
  • Parody
  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Fairy Tale



Judging this week is Microcosm 31 Judge’s Pick AND Community Pick, Geoff Le Pard.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time to submit. (If you are new to Microcosms, check out the full submission guidelines.)

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.


If you like, you may use the following picture to inspire you (optional).


Copyright Rob Noble (reused under Creative Commons License)
Copyright Rob Noble
(reused under Creative Commons License)
Microcosms 33
Microcosms 31

10 thoughts on “Microcosms 32

  1. @steveweave71
    275 words
    Inventor/ Grand Hotel/ Fantasy

    Don’t Crenellate The Vampire Lime Trees.

    The traditional home of 9-a-side Porridge, Footspa Castle, was under renovation. The battlefields and turrets were being crenellated by the 5th Duke, Ambrosius Verruca and his nephew, Hugo Butt-Cleavage. No invading army had ever got past the vampire lime trees, but the 5th Duke was known for being ultra-cautious. In any case, this was about 1997 and invading armies in Chessex were rare, probably due to the robot-flu epidemic, inept leadership and a lack of really good maps.

    So for this years’ Championship, the venue was switched to the Grand Hotel on their imaginatively named Grand Lawn. The much fancied England team had been narrowly beaten in an earlier round on penalties by an unpaid band of fishermen, postmen and a dinner lady. This gallant band of no-hopers were inevitably walloped in the next round.

    That left the Final to be contested between the so-called Haferflocken 9 from the German town of Idlevice and the outsiders, Moon Lakes Drifters (Porridge Division) representing Space. It was here in the Final that the spectators witnessed for the first time the Dragons Breath Brei Annihilator. Apparently a recent invention by Herr Rodvang, a keen Porridge fan from Idlevice, this ambling machine lived up to its fancy name. The whole of the Lakes Drifters team was massacred in a hideous passage of play early in the second period by a stream of incessant, supersonic volleys of porridge from the Annihilator. This was the first time in the long seven year history of the event that fatalities have occurred and one wonders now whether this sport, which is clearly growing in popularity, will ever be accepted by the Olympic Committee.

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  2. Condogenics

    “Set ‘em up, Charley. I’m gonna close down the joint with you.”

    “Comin’ up Frankie. You look like you’ve seen a…”

    “Yeah, a friggin’ ghost. I coulda handled a ghost….this was somethin’ else. Weird. Capital W Weird…”

    “So, gimme the skinny, Frankie. What’s got your nuts in a tailspin?”

    “So I’m walkin’ over by the old train station…you know that pain in the neck of the woods, right?”

    “Yup…Rubblesville. What possessed you?”

    “Scroungin’…lookin’ for work, somethin’…”


    There’s a “Super Wanted” sign in the window of that old dowager…used to be called the Hotel Metropole…ring your cranium?”

    “Yeah…hoity toity birdies used to frequent that mousealeum…”

    “Good one, Charley. So I goes in and it’s like a graveyard at night. Spooky creepy! Candlelight flickering all over the place. So I give the old haunted house yodel…anybody here? I say, expecting…don’t know what I was expecting. Anyways, this old geezer in white overalls creaks out from a side door and says “Velcome!” With a V no less. I say something dull like, You need a Super? And he whoops it up and says…EXCELLENT. LET ME INSTRUCT YOU IN YOUR DUTIES.”


    “He introduces himself, Professor Wonkywidget or something…he’s got this Albert Einstein vibe goin’ on. He then shows me the whole rigmarole. Charley. He’s goin’ to renovate the old girl back to its glory and…”

    “Condos, right?”

    “You’d think. But no. “Cryo-friggin-genics. The rich are just dying to come back and he plans on turning the Olde Metropole into a massive storage unit for dead people who have every intention of coming back. I tell ya. It gave me the D.T.’s…”

    “The Delirium Tremens?”

    “Nah…the Donald Trumps. Crazy talk…”

    “So you didn’t take the job?”

    “Of course I took it. Good money. At least until the Zombies arrive. Then I’ll chuck ‘er.”

    Inventor; Grand Hotel; Comedy
    300 Graves to Condo

  3. White Sails
    215 words
    consort/Alexandria/historical fiction

    Alexandria was a port city. From the balcony, she looked out at the sparkling waves, the white sails of ships arriving and departing.

    The man in the bed lay spread out under the rumpled linen sheets, smiling in his sleep. Was he dreaming of new worlds to conquer, cities falling at his feet?

    She gathered her things, braided her hair, applied the black eyeliner they all copied these days. It was her style, the style of the nomadic desert tribes. The black protected from the glare of the sun. The caravan she had arrived with would be leaving soon, trading cloth and perfumes for beads. She had come with them, trading her talents for a ride to this city. She glanced from the mirror to the sea, watching the white sails vanish.

    The sleeping man was named Alexander, a ruler in his homeland, he said. She, who knew only the desert stars, could not imagine a land of olive groves and philosophy.

    Last night, he had promised he would take her with him, one of his souvenirs. She could live in a white house with a garden, a splashing fountain, light and lively as the doves. She longed for the silence of dark and distance, the names of cities he had whispered in her ear.

  4. Jensen’s Grandest Hotel
    297 words
    Inventor, grand hotel, fantasy
    (I think it turned out more sci-fi, oops)

    Jensen’s Grandest Hotel was fully booked for its Grandest Opening.

    “Why grandest?” one reporter had asked.

    “Because there are plenty of grand hotels having grand openings on the ground,” Jensen had replied.

    Shuttles delivered rich customers with plenty of money to waste on exorbitantly priced food and alcohol; “Import fees are astronomical,” Jensen had explained, as she added zeroes to the menu. The government had provided ample funding, but between an outrageous(ly good) profit margin and a few side dealings, Jensen was going to be filthy rich.

    The government wanted working artificial gravity, and Jensen had delivered. She had suggested the Grandest Hotel as a way to attract tourists with money, who would then fund the project as well as testing the final product.

    “Every guest will be required to sign a waiver in the event of an accident, but I assure you they are in no danger whatsoever,” Jensen had said to the reporter. “We have evacuation measures in place, but I’m confident we won’t need them. I have no doubt that the guests will make repeat visits, possibly for the view alone.”

    Every guest at the opening gushed about the view.

    “I can’t believe I’m walking around on solid ground up in space,” one guest confided to Jensen. He was technically incorrect; he was no longer walking because he was too drunk. He was lounging on a velvet sofa that was bolted to solid ground up in space.

    “How does it feel to know you’ve changed the world?” the reporter had asked.

    Jensen had invented some garbage about it being her pleasure to shape the future. When she looked around at the sparkly cocktail outfits, drunk people on the floor, and the married couples arguing, she didn’t think artificial gravity would change much at all.

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  5. @AvLaidlaw
    299 words
    Inventor / Grand Hotel / Fantasy

    The Automatic Hotel

    Monsieur Leroy was so perturbed by events at the Hotel Grande that a single hair of his waxed moustache curled out of place. “It is impossible,” he confided to his friend Maximilian Holtz. “Count Rostoff asked for more salt on his eggs benedict and Pierre… Well, you know Pierre. He walked out. A hundred guests and no chef. Impossible!”

    “Nothing is impossible, dear Jacques. Remember the mechanical bell-boy I invented?”

    Jacques could hardly forget that nightmare of clockwork and pistons. But it did carry the heaviest case without complaint. “A mechanical chef? Is it even possible?”

    “Nothing is impossible.”

    The success of the mechanical chef led to other problems. “So many guests are rich playboys now, and they flaunt their money. The maids fall for all the diamonds and honey words. Then they fall pregnant. Three just in the last week. Three! And your mechanicals won’t cut it, I’m afraid. The guests want sex appeal.”

    “Come in, Cherie.”

    She was perfect, milk white skin and eyelashes that fluttered seductively at Jacques. He felt his heart skip a beat.

    “Underneath it’s all cogs and gears,” Max said. “Just like the others.”

    “I’ll take a dozen.”

    Max continued inventing his mechanicals. During the fallow winter months, he created artificial guests to make the old hotel look crowded – a dowager duchess, an American gambler and an exiled African prince.

    “Sometimes I think the hotel is full of nothing but mechanical people,” Jacques said.

    “Me too.” Max smiled, his wrinkles creasing into deep folds. Over the years his hair had turned grey. His hands trembled.

    As he left the old man, Jacques Leroy, glimpsed his own face in the mirror. The jet black hair and rigid posture of a young man. His skin smooth and unblemished by age. “Nothing but…” He said.

  6. Communication: Breakdown
    A.J. Walker

    The door of Room 301 of the Grand Hotel, Mayfair was ajar. Accrington’s Harry Bunion knocked gently and walked into the expensive suite. It was early afternoon, but he found it difficult to see with the heavy curtains closed. A single candle flickered on a table and as his eyes adjusted he saw Lady Wattmore sat at the table. She gestured for him to be seated: Lady Cecilia Wattmore; rich, beautiful, universally adored. Respected. Also universally pitied since the untimely demise of Lord Roger.

    Harry fumbled through his pockets before finding and presenting his card with a flourish to Lady Wattmore.


    “Mr Zorba, pleased to finally meet you.”

    “And me you, Lady Wattmore. I’m sure I can assist you.”

    He placed his Gladstone bag on the table and ceremonially brought out his new invention; the ‘Intra-dimensional-Phone And Decoder’. It was the first time he’d put his IPAD in front of a customer. He hoped the dials and switches would comfort anyone that it must do something significant.

    “So, Lady Wattmore, can I assume it is Lord Roger that you wish to speak with? What questions do you wish me to ask?”

    She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mr Zorba. I have no questions for him. You must please simply request him to leave me alone. Roger has not given me a moments peace since his accident.”

    This was an unfortunate turn. Harry had hoped to draw out any number of visits to ask – and answer – inane questions. A flush woman in need of peace of mind; his bread and butter. How could he make money out of a delusional woman already hearing dead people?

    Roger floated into the room drinking a whisky sour. Harry fainted.

    WC – 300
    Inventor (and conman)/Grand Hotel/fantasy

  7. Imagination Leads to Invention or Vice Versa
    Inventor/Grand Hotel/Fantasy
    WC 300

    “Larry! Why did you bring that? This is supposed to be a vacation. No tinkering.” She reminded him.

    Larry was an inventor, uncomfortable without a project to do. However, he promised Maggie some time away. So, he only brought one thing.

    “I brought my night vision goggles, just for fun. No tinkering, I promise.” He said.

    He’d been studying the Deilephila Elpenor’s ability to see color in the dark. That’s what standard night vision goggles were missing. He hoped to remedy that. He hadn’t been able to test them yet.

    They dressed for dinner hosted by the hotel. Larry tucked the goggles into a worn satchel he carried everywhere regardless of occasion, and despite Maggie’s protests.

    He enjoyed dinner but was distracted. If he could test the goggles, he could put them away and give Maggie undivided attention. He excused himself to the restroom but bypassed it to exit the building.

    There was a cemetery adjacent to the hotel. He crossed over and put on his goggles. As his eyes adapted, a large figure came into focus. He quickly removed them.

    He lifted them to his eyes peeking through once again. Clear as day, with colors, he saw a towering Gryphon near a mausoleum.

    It was magnificent.

    He had invented something that not only allowed color night vision but otherworldly vision as well.

    “It is interesting that you can see me. I am the guardian of this cemetery and the spirits that reside here.” It stated.

    “H..how long have you been here?” Larry stammered.

    “Two-hundred years,” He replied eloquently. “I am afraid I cannot allow you to possess this ability.” The Gryphon removed Larry’s goggles and proceeded to crush them underfoot.

    Realizing the device was destroyed, Larry dropped to his knees, head in hands. How would he ever explain this?


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  8. [I know I have COMPLETELY missed the deadline this week but wanted to throw in my contribution anyway, just for fun. I’ll make sure I’m more on the ball next week…]

    The Exchange

    The door didn’t so much burst open, as burst into pieces.

    Jax didn’t flinch – though, to be fair, trolls were widely renowned for their unflappability.

    “Katrice,” he rasped in a voice forged from granite. “Dramatic as always.”

    The wily battle-Elf smirked and tipped her head. “One does have a reputation to maintain,” she replied. Her eyes darted to the corner of the elaborately furnished room. “Is that him?”

    Jax grunted. “Yep. That’s the freak you want. Take him!”

    Katrice tossed the troll a bag of coins and sidled up to the industrious blond man. He was tinkering away at something on the floor and ever-so-slightly rocking back and forth. She nudged his shoulder with her foot; he didn’t react, focussing laser-like on his task.

    The troll shuddered with a sound of grinding boulders. “He gives me the creeps! Why d’you want him so bad?”

    Katrice shrugged, sheathing her sword. “The boss says he’s the smartest guy ever lived. He “has use” for his inventions – whatever that means.”

    She hooked her hands under the inventor’s arms and hauled him up. “C’mon sunshine! You’re my property now.”

    The blond man suddenly grinned and held aloft an intricate ball of gears and tubing. He pressed a button on its side, threw it to the centre of the room and suddenly kicked Katrice’s kneecap with such force that she could do nothing but collapse, releasing him.

    As he darted through the broken door towards the lobby, the device released a sickly green gas that made Jax seize up, while Katrice helplessly retched on the floor beside him.

    “Fuck. That. Guy!” Katrice gasped between convulsions.

    Jax swivelled his eyes to look through the window, where he could see the inventor wandering aimlessly away.

    “Always the weird ones,” he muttered through clenched teeth.


    297 words

    Inventor; Grand Hotel; Fantasy

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