Thank you to all who waited patiently for inspiration in order to post their entry in Microcosms 36. The number of submissions fell slightly: perhaps some of you were intimidated by my making the theory about seeing everyone you’ve ever known a prompt for your stories. Nil desperandum: please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
Don’t forget that 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.
Remember, you can reply with a comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.
Many thanks to Steve Lodge for judging MC 36. Here’s what he had to say:
Hi there, nice to be with you. I’m sitting here in the Sprained Duck, surrounded by the detritus of brunch and generous refills of old latte. I have enjoyed reading the submissions for #36 from these very gifted writers. Geoff’s great prompt has brought out the best in these heroic wordsmiths. Congratulations to all.
A J Walker – The scrawled red pen on the back of a twenty simply read ‘Nice Try.’
Alva Holland – The rectangular brass plate has tarnished and the wooden laths are, like myself, cracked and weathered by time.
Nthato Morakabi – Aurulent light cascaded over his long dark lashes framing large brown eyes no longer innocent.
Marie McKay – Harry would get it from the people on the 4th.
Geoff Le Pard – The straw hat, the slight favouring of the left side, the twitching middle finger.
Holly Geely – I let one kid get eaten by a jellyfish, and they’re all ‘ooooh he must be past it, give him early retirement.’
Bill Engleson – What would you expect a squirrel to say?
Voima Oy – I even went to Paris once, and saw girls that Renoir would have painted.
Steph Ellis – A flutter of wings and then a vision of peacock clarity.
Stephen Shirres – A single red pill to fix whatever synapse in his brain gives him his words back.
Joe Volkel -Then he leaned over a little and crapped right on my nose.
All very enjoyable stories; thank you. (What a story it would make if we put all the fave lines together.)
My quest for stories that are as strange as my stubble, as bohemian as a mystery picnic and as weird and eye-catching as otter cheese, has brought me to the following selections.
Nthato Morakabi – As It Is
Strong story, peppered with lush, light wordplay and a gruesome last paragraph.
Geoff Le Pard – Alimentary, My Dear Watson
Affectionate, well-written and deliciously funny. Was it his Moriarty paranoia that led to Holmes’ addictions or his addictions that led to his Moriarty paranoia? Maybe we’ll never know.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 36.
(insert drumroll here)
Alva Holland – Brass Tacks
Pensioner / Park Bench / Memoir
‘Have ya lost your bleedin’ mind, woman? Names on a bench. Pah!’
I can hear his voice as clear as day.
‘Keepin’ up with the Joneses,’ Da scorned. Ma didn’t give a damn. She loved her brasses. Shuffling to the porch each morning in her slippers, shining the bejayzus out of them she was. Flashes of Da’s reluctant hammering of the guide nail to hang the new brass door-knocker – Ma’s pride and joy, as I sat in rags and she spat and polished, tried to make the place look ‘decent’ from the outside at least.
Many a freezin’ day saw Ma and Da’s bottoms on the gnarled tree trunk felled by the storm of ’28. Nothing so posh as a park bench then.
The rectangular brass plate has tarnished and the wooden laths are, like myself, cracked and weathered by time.
‘Wouldn’t it be somethin’, Dan, to have our names on a bench, ya know like the way they do in church. Wouldn’t that just make ya feel real important?’
‘Full o’ notions,’ Da said.
Their bones lie together in the field over the fence there, where ancient headstones dot the landscape. The ‘old graveyard’ where my bones will go. Not long now. Sitting here on this bench, Ma’s name with Da’s, whether he liked it or not, etched into the brass. I did it for you, Ma. Sorry, couldn’t deal with the church brass plan and old creepy collar himself.
I should sit here until the end, let my life, such as it was, seep into the wood, fossilize into the laths. Let strangers and their strange children be the family I never had.
Everyone I’ve ever known? Just Ma and Da and me – the way it’s always been. Old creepy collar, the bastard, made sure of that.
Microcosms 36 Judge’s Pick
Bill Engleson – The Old Guy Who Talked To The Squirrels…or, at least, one Squirrel
That 300 words just went too quickly. I didn’t want the story to end. So many threads. I loved this piece. Only a matter of time before Roberto gets his own TV series.
Pensioner / Park Bench / Memoir
“Yup, that’s the way I remember it, Officer. Every day, I walk by that little park, sit down on the wooden bench by the stream, feed the squirrels, talk to ’em, tell ‘em it’s alright, squirrels are people too.”
Whack jobs, thought Tom Dilly. On this beat, I get whack jobs. Still, Dilly, you gotta be professional.
“So, Sir, you were talking to some squirrels? What did they say?”
The old man looked at Officer Dilly as if to ask, “What would you expect a squirrel to say?”
“My apologies. It was one squirrel. I talk to them all but really it was only one of them who spoke to me.”
“One?” queried Dilly.
“Yup. Their spokessquirrel, I guess you could say.”
“Fine. And he…it was a he?”
“Roberto. So, yes.”
“The squirrel who spoke to you was named Roberto?”
“Yup. Could be an alias, I suppose.”
“Right. What did Roberto say?”
“Well, he asked me if I had ever watched Davy Crockett’s Keel Boat Race?”
“I’m sorry. What?”
“It was a delightful Walt Disney episode back in the 1950’s. Before your time, I suppose.”
Dilly rubbed his eyes and momentarily wished for the weekend to arrive.
“So he asked you about some old movie?”
“TV show. Yup.”
“And did you remember it?”
“Vividly. Quite vividly.”
“He asked if I remembered the squirrel in the episode.”
“Yup. And I did. The squirrel kept throwing nuts in Georgie Russell’s coffee.”
“Davy Crockett’s friend…played by Buddy Ebsen. Fine actor. And a funny scene. Highlight of my life up to then.”
“And he asked you about this…why?”
“Oh, to establish his credentials, I suppose. The squirrel in the film was an ancestor of Roberto’s.”
“So then he mentioned the Martians to you?”
“Just one Martian, officer. Just one.”
Congratulations, Bill. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me know if you are interested!