It’s almost time for ghouls and ghosts, witches and warlocks. But no tricks… you’re in for a treat: it’s Microcosms 43!

Our guest host this week is Stephen Shirres. He’s crept out of the crypt to deliver this seasonal challenge:

This Halloween, we are taking a sideways glance at the classic Hollywood horror movies and the creature features of the 1950s which inspired one of the weirdest, kinkiest and utterly memorable musicals: ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ by Richard O’Brien. I’ve taken apart the opening song, ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’, for the contest elements. So it’s time to get your gold hot pants on, take a jump to the left, then a step to the right, and do the time warp for Microcosms 43!

Stephen

 

As usual, our contest will begin with three things. This week: character, activity and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are character: Bride, activity: Coming from Space, and genre: Romance.


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 – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspire you. Be sure to include which three elements you’re using.


  • The Invisible Man
  • Doctor X
  • Tarantula
  • Bride
  • King Kong
  • Brad/Janet
  • Worlds Colliding
  • Standing Still
  • Taking to the Hills
  • Building a Creature
  • Androids Fighting
  • Coming from Space
  • Comedy
  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Crime
  • Science Fiction
  • Steam Punk

Spin!


Judging this week is Microcosms 42 Judge’s Pick, Louise Mangos.

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 this image to inspire you – purely optional.

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show The Sugar Club, Dublin (Sebastian Dooris - CC by 2.0)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Sugar Club, Dublin
(Sebastian Dooris – CC by 2.0)

If you need further inspiration,

click HERE

…if you dare. <BWAH-HA-HA!>

Microcosms 44
Microcosms 42

106 responses to “Microcosms 43”

  1. Geoff Holme Avatar
    Geoff Holme

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDog
    299 words
    The Invisible Man / Standing Still / Comedy

    Superheroes 101

    “I am!” Ralph declared.
    “An invisible man?” I said.
    “Yes!”
    “Invisible as in ‘incapable of being seen’?”
    “YE-ES-S!!’
    “Erm… I don’t wish to appear confrontational but…”
    “Yeah?”
    “I can see you.”
    “Well, that’s standard, isn’t it?”
    “It is?”
    “Yeah. Every superhero has at least one supernormal power, right?”
    “With you so far.”
    “But he…”
    “Or she.”
    “…or she also has at least one vulnerability, one Achilles heel.”
    “That was certainly true of Achilles – though he probably had two in total. I doubt that he was a uniped.”
    “A uni…?”
    “Not important. You said every superhero has a vulnerability.”
    “Yes. Ergo, I too have one.”
    “So, your contention is that you’re invisible… but only when no-one is looking at you?”
    “Correct.”
    “And you’re visible when someone is looking at you.”
    “QED.”
    “…CCTV cameras!”
    “Eh?”
    “Can a CCTV camera see you?”
    “A CCTV camera is an inanimate object. It probably depends on whether someone is looking at the image produced by the camera.”
    ‘Probably’ ?”
    “Yeah… I dunno… I haven’t thought that deeply about it.”
    “This is beginning to sound like a koan.”
    “Come again?”
    “A paradoxical question given to Zen Buddhism students… a subject for meditation, to provoke enlightenment, such as ‘If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ ”
    “You’ve lost me.”
    “Doesn’t matter… You must know that loads of sci-fi authors have dismissed the notion of an invisible man.”
    “Why?”
    “For a man to be completely invisible, light would have to pass through the whole of his body… including the retina in his eyeballs.”
    “So?”
    Intrigued by our conversation, Sally entered the room.
    “So, anyone who was truly invisible,” she said, “would necessarily be blind.”
    Ralph stood stock still. Then, staring unblinkingly at the door, said “Who said that?!”

      1. Geoff Holme Avatar
        Geoff Holme

        Thanks, Nthato. I sense that you have superhuman literary perception. 🙂

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      Ingenious, Geoff. I had no idea where the story was going. Cracking ending!

      1. Geoff Holme Avatar
        Geoff Holme

        Thanks, Alva. I read the bit about the fact that an invisible man would have to be blind many years ago – it’s amazing at times what information stays with you!

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      That was fantastic…loved it! Again, just dialogue. Very inspiring.

    3. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Love this – so clever and funny!

  2. Alva Holland Avatar
    Alva Holland

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    WC: 300
    Bride/Coming from Space/Romance

    Celeste’s Big Day

    Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

    Celeste mused.

    ‘GN-z11 – that’ll do for the old thing – tick.
    A refulgent diamond star discovered in 2014 – new enough – tick.
    Roscosmos can do without that miniscule space station it thought would change the world and put Russia in charge of infinite galaxies – tick.
    Don’t worry, Vlad, I’ll return it. Just borrowing for a day.
    The galactic powers won’t miss one little gem of cyan nebula – pocketed – tick.

    Now, for the dress. A milky way streak of lace and effervescent bubbles. No, Ma, meteor showers are so old-school. Orion would go all supernova on me. I’m a new world bride. He’s a modern groom who expresses his feelings in galactic measures. Blindsides me with his burning desire to satisfy my needs. We hit Deep Space Nine together last week. Staggering depth, even for us.

    Getting side-tracked here. Ice for cooling. Ah, ice grains turning to sugar molecules – cake decorations – tick.

    Bridesmaids. No discussion – Canis, Ursa and Draco. They can triple up for special effect lighting.

    Guest list – God! (no, not you – too much of a distraction.) Always the hardest part, they tell me. Universal participation – if you can get here, you’re invited. There! Orion will be impressed. I’m so efficient at this.

    Orion – hmmm. Where the hell is the little star-gazer? Him and his precious celestial equator. Don’t think I don’t know that’s why he chose me. Things will change when we’re married. Those protostar groupies will go for a start, full of shallow flickering cosmic dust, no substance.

    Honeymoon? Andromeda. Stellar nightlife.

    Nearly done. Da, have I asked you to do the aisle spacewalk with me? Of course, I’ll always be your baby Celeste. I know – separation is difficult. Look out for me – Orion’s bride, forever in your shadow.’

    1. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
      Angelique Pacheco

      Love this Alva! Brilliant 🙂

      1. Alva Holland Avatar
        Alva Holland

        Thanks Angelique. I had so much fun with this!

    2. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      Wow! Really taking the ‘Mini Universes in 300 Words or Fewer’ to heart, Alva. Who knew they taught this stuff in Dublin… I’ve never heard of GN-z11, the oldest known galaxy, before, and I thought at first that Roscosmos was just a nod to (Mic)Rocosms. Epic canvas!
      [ Canis, Ursa and Draco – It looked like this was going to be a new genre of joke: a dog, a bear and a dragon walk into a wedding reception… 🙂 ]

      1. Alva Holland Avatar
        Alva Holland

        Haha! Thanks Geoff. I wish they did teach this stuff in Dublin. I’m a citizen of the world donchaknow. Dangerous claim nowadays, I believe. My work with NASA and my pleasure at beating Richard Branson to space (both jokes btw) fueled my solid rocket boosters for this story. No idea where it all came from. Sometimes when I finish a story, I look at it and go … ‘say what?’

    3. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Delightful! Stellar! Just flowed so nicely. I love how each concept had a little backstory to it, drawing so much more into it.

      1. Alva Holland Avatar
        Alva Holland

        Thanks, Sian. This is so out of my normal genre, who knows, maybe horror next. Eeek!

    4. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      ‘Hit Deep Space Nine together’…Alva your language is superb!

      1. Alva Holland Avatar
        Alva Holland

        Aw, thanks, Hannah. I’m blushing!

  3. Christelle Bloem Avatar
    Christelle Bloem

    @stellieb3
    283 Words
    Bride, Coming from Space, Romance
    Love that Defies

    Anna Blanchard was floating in her space ship on her way back to Earth. Her dress was flowing in every direction, and she absolutely loved every single ripple it was making even without gravity. She had sewn it herself, as she had also been a control freak, and her wedding would be no different.
    “When we land, I’m going to make you Mrs. Fraye as soon as possible.” She heard Bryan’s voice as he drifted up to her, kissing her cheek gently.
    “You better. I’ve waited five years for this moment. If only marriage was legal in space.”
    “If it was, we wouldn’t be going back.”
    She gave him a small kiss, and looked out the window back to her previous home. She looked around her again, and Bryan was gone. She only sighed.
    She knew he wasn’t real, but she couldn’t help how she felt. Across the boundaries of sanity and infinite nothing, she knew deep down that even if he wasn’t, their love was real.
    She pushed herself away from the wall of the ship towards the head where the pilot sat. She tried to manoeuvre past the dead bodies of her crew mates to get there, almost puking as she smelled the macabre on them.
    “Hannah! Can’t you keep your hands to yourself? You got blood on my dress!” she shouted angrily. If they all just left her to her peace they would all still be alive. Her twin sister Hannah was still ruining her life even from her atmospheric grave.
    Anna didn’t know how she was going to explain everything that happened when she landed, but she didn’t care. Everything she did, she did out of love for Bryan.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      A haunting story, Christelle, with danger lurking everywhere.
      Bitterness, unrequited love, and jealousy woven into an intricate tiny tale. Well done!

    2. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      This was a clever take on the prompt elements, Christelle. (Welcome to Microcosms.)
      [ ‘…the head where the pilot sat.’ – in the US, ‘head(s)’ is a term for a ship’s toilet. Is this really what you meant? 🙁 ]

    3. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Oh that was chilling! Nicely done.

    4. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Christelle, this is so so chilling, and atmospheric…gothic in all its glory.

  4. Carin Marais Avatar

    Words: 263
    @CarinMarais
    http://www.maraiscarin.wordpress.com
    Elements used: Character: Bride | Activity: Coming from space | Genre: Romance

    Long-distance relationship

    Adriana woke up in a galaxy where old earth was little more than a distant memory for most. The inhabited planet where she was heading was called Paradise by its inhabitants, she had been told, and hoped that it wasn’t some cruel joke they played to attract new inhabitants. Whatever the planet looked like, it was one of the few where importing brides from earth was still legal. Most of the colonies had grown tired of immigrants from earth showing up on their doorstep looking for a life away from the smog and filth of the dying mother planet.
    “You all right?” one of the other brides asked and Adriana nodded.
    “I’m so scared. Can’t even remember my new husband’s name. It’s been years since we got married, you know. I couldn’t get a shuttle to bring me.”
    Adriana looked at the ring on her finger. It was only an engagement ring. The white dress was packed in her allotted luggage.
    “I hope everything goes well for you,” Adriana said. What else could you say?

    She read the last message she had received again. I can’t wait to meet you in person, it read. I have loved you from the first time we spoke. We are soul mates, you and I.
    Soul mates. She wanted to – needed to – believe him. Had to believe that this was true love that she felt and not just a wish to escape the constraints of earth.

    Adriana’s battery beeped. She was fully charged at last. She stepped from the shuttle to start her new life.

    1. Nthato Morakabi Avatar

      She was fully charged!! OH MY GAWD didn’t see that coming! Nice one Carin!

    2. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      Love the way you wrapped the time warp into your story, Carin. As Nthato said, the ending was a great twist.

    3. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Brilliant story of hope and dread. Either way…she’s there and charged.

    4. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Clever, and sad…and so many elements of truth in this. Thank you for the read.

  5. Nthato Morakabi Avatar

    @Nthito
    295 words
    Title: Interstellar Blind Date
    Bride, Coming from Space, Romance

    Substation forty-two-seven. A glossy enamel coated hexagon floating against the dark expanse of space in the Northern corner of the Milky Way galaxy. In constant rotation around it were two satellites from DISTV, hovering higher than normal allowing the influx of passenger ships to stream in, while each satellite streamed the convoys to homes across the galaxy. The season finale of Interstellar Blind Date accrued its highest viewership since the romance between the Mantodeanite dancer and her partner during So You Think You Can Congambaltz. Reality TV had never been showcased on extra-terrestrial transmissions and they were eating it up faster than female Mantodeanites ate their male partners.
    The running broadcast would finally reveal the contestants to one another, in a face-to-face date-cum-wedding between the star-crossed lovers in every sense – and only the audience knew of their fate. To each other, Ara had fallen madly in love with Diptera, the reverse tenfold, during silhouetted “online” dates where the two never saw each other’s faces; viewers on the other hand were privy to their identities and watched with bated breath as neither contestant guessed the other. Oh it made for stellar television alright, and the final episode would be the most watched, downloaded, torrented and eventually sought after episode in all of history.
    Ara sashayed onto the stage with a veil over her face however everyone had turned to see the slowly widening compound eyes and gaping segmented mouth-parts on the spindly Diptera. The crowd sat in abject silence. Ara dragged her bulbous body forward, wedding dress and all, eight thin appendages clacking asynchronously while her chelicerae scissor in excitement. Diptera edged forward slowly, too terrified to notice the translucent threads around the stage.
    “Diptera.” She whispered, “They should have given you a less revealing name.”

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      Excellent take on the prompt, Nthato. The feeling of a bottomless pit of space around the stage, the nervousness of the contestants and the sense of real fear make this a great piece.

    2. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      Well done, Nthato. Great update of “The Spider and The Fly” by Mary Howitt. You’d have thought, with those compound eyes, Diptera would have seen that coming!

    3. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Ha! Love it…and if I read it right, does that mean her wedding breakfast is sorted too?

    4. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Ouch. Very sharp and smart. Always impressed how simple prompts induce such imagination!

  6. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
    Angelique Pacheco

    The invisible man/Standing still/Sci Fi
    294 words
    Karma Chameleon

    I have been given the honor of eradicating this primitive and somewhat garish race of human beings. They call us “body snatchers. We don’t snatch. We filter in. Taking over is going to be a “piece of cake”. I laugh. Human beings have such nonsensical phrases.
    I have assumed the body of a man. I am flesh and blood but definitely not human. My skin is papery; I can see great chunks of blue arteries running up my arm. I look down. I am wearing some sort of old red flannel gown that has been washed so many times the fluff balls cling on for dear life. I feel pain in all the wrong places. There is a strange buzzing sound in my ears. I look around for bees and a blur hits me full on. I can make out shapes but not details. I call out in a reedy, raspy voice that grates on my still buzzing ears. I am ignored. Have I become invisible?
    Someone shushes me. I try to walk. I cannot move. The person in front of me comes into focus. A flurry of white uniform becomes brighter and as they move closer I think, “This will be a good body for me.” I look at the face. A rather feminine looking man with large, gorilla-like hands is standing over me with a syringe. He murmurs cooing, sugary platitudes, but his face is pure evil. He plunges the syringe into my very obvious blue veins and fire burns up my blood stream. The buzzing has stilled. He bends over and gently whispers, “I am ending your suffering. Go to the light.” I gaze up in horror. I hear the old man laughing in my head. Everything stands still and stops.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      Such menace in the line – ‘we don’t snatch, we filter in’ – set the stage for a scary story which I figured wouldn’t end well. Cleverly done, Angelique.

      1. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
        Angelique Pacheco

        Thanks. I think I creeped myself out a bit today 🙂 These kinds of genres aren’t normally my type of thing, so I really tried to stretch myself. Lol!

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Wonderful…bad luck on the filtering in. I loved the old man laughing; I like irony.

      1. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
        Angelique Pacheco

        Thanks Sian. Bit of yay for the old man 😉

    3. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Very atmospheric, thank you.

  7. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
    Angelique Pacheco

    Tarantula/ coming from space/Romance
    296 Words
    Mark and Thera

    “My name is Theraphosidae. You can call me Thera” She put two legs out shyly as she looked at the handsome boy tarantula before her.
    “Thera?” he laughed. “Don’t you mean “Sarah?”
    “Thath’s what I thaid! Thera!”
    All of Mark’s eyes went wide. He could see he had upset Sarah, her eyes all brimming with tears. If she started to cry now she was likely to flood them out of the tree.
    “I’m sorry,” he said. ‘’I shouldn’t have laughed. You have quite a pronounced lisp.”
    “Thith ith how we thpeak on our planet,” she said. “I came to vithit my Aunt Erika, here on earth.”
    “Cool. Do you want to hang out?”
    “Yeth. That would be lovely.”
    They crawled off, and Mark was a good host tarantula. He took Thera to his funnel web and introduced her to his mom. The shaking of legs took a while. She invited Thera to stay and they had a yummy lizard lunch. He showed her his catches, including a mouse, which was his prized possession. They crawled for hours, hunting for prey and chatting and laughing about movies like Arachnophobia. Mark told her of the time he had scared a human into sitting on a table for hours, and Thera told him of the time she was almost killed by an alien. After a while Mark didn’t even notice Thera’s lisp anymore. In its place he saw her many beautiful eyes, her wow legs, all eight of them, and her shy demeanor. Mark was falling in love. Thera too. She promised him she would stay in contact via the web, and he promised to do the same. Mark was sad to see her go. She turned back and winked a thousand winks. He knew would see her again.

    1. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Never thought of spiders as romantics before. Nice story.

    2. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Oh how I enjoyed this, such fun imaginings from another perspective…I love the way they enjoy their day together 🙂

      1. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
        Angelique Pacheco

        Thanks Hannah! I did enjoy trying to “humanize” the spiders 🙂 Quite fun actually 🙂 (As long as no spider reads this and thinks I’m extending the hand of friendship…eek!)

  8. A.J. Walker Avatar
    A.J. Walker

    Mostly ‘C’s
    A.J. Walker

    It was hard living in a new colony on the outer edges of nowhere. ‘Go West!’ they’d said back on Earth1.0 in days bygone. Xartos wasn’t sure what west was, but out on Planet X2342-B he was pretty sure he couldn’t be more west if he tried.

    It had been hard for the first few years. Work was life and life was work. There was time for some sleep on good days, otherwise it was work-eat-shit-work. These days things were easier. The work had borne fruit, literally, and now he had time to kill. He even had time to be bored.

    But mostly there was time to be lonely. On days like that he wished he had more work.

    The Company had the knowledge from countless previous terra-forming projects. They knew that once the back of the project was broken that a new phase was upon them. All the crew had filled out questionnaires back in the days before they were sent out to Planet X2342-B and the computers did their maths thing and came up with an answer – which was rarely 42 (unless it was 21 x 2 then sometimes it was).

    The correspondence had started over a year ago and it soon became clear that Djanet had been sent out years ago, maybe at the same time he’d left Earth3.2 but on a slower transport. Their video calls revealed that they got on like long lost lovers; they were made for each other. And as soon as she arrived they’d be married, having never even met.

    Xartos was surprised at how accurate the computer match had been, given that from what he remembered he’d been running late on the day of the multiple-choice questionnaire and so he’d mostly just ticked “C”.

    _______________

    WC-300
    @zevonesque
    Bride – Coming from Outer Space – Romance

    1. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Grammar school test with a twist. Wickedly entertaining!

  9. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
    Angelique Pacheco

    Bride/Taking to the hills/Crime
    290 Words
    Bride-not-to-be

    The white lace fluttered against the blue sky, reaching for the heavens but not quite getting there. Her breath came in sharp, short bursts, a gurgling sound deep in her chest indicating that her lungs were filling with blood. He wiped a stray hair from her face, ignoring the look of horror on hers. She tried to look at anything but his face. She didn’t want him to be the last thing she saw before she died.

    Ten minutes before
    “Do you take Vincent to be your lawful husband?” Her chest was starting to close. Why hadn’t she listened to her sister six months ago when she started to plan the wedding? Now her sister was dead, and she was pretty sure she was about to marry her killer. His ice blue eyes, a reflection of his cold heart, pierced hers as if he could sense her hesitation.
    “Uh-hum,” the priest looked vaguely uncomfortable as if he knew why she was hesitating. She stared at the burning candle for a minute, then, from deep within the recesses of her mind she heard her sister scream, “RUUUNN!” And she was off like a shot.
    She ran through the old church doors, the light blinding her for a second and she felt a cool breeze on her skin. The church lay miles away from any town. She would take to the hills. She ran, her veil floating away like a cloud. The bouquet was crushed under her feet, the cloying smell of flowers mingled with her sweat as she thundered her way up. She had never felt so free. Her blood froze as she heard a crack. She was knocked sideways as the bullet ripped her organs apart. He stood over her.

    1. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Superbly sinister….wiping the lock of her hair away from her face, forcing her to die looking at her murderer.

  10. Stephanie Ellis Avatar
    Stephanie Ellis

    Spiders from Mars

    299 words
    Elements: tarantula, coming from space, crime (blurring the genres)

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Taran Tula eyed the gently glowing spheres with interest. Dark shapes with many limbs moved within. A memory stirred. “Tape off the area, Constable,” said Tula. “We need to keep people away until we find out exactly what … these things … are.”

    “And the body?”

    The mutilated corpse still hung where they had found it. A fine silk skein forming the deadly noose.

    “We’ll leave that to forensics as well. You know how they are about compromising a crime scene.”

    “Strange-looking crime scene if you ask me,” said the constable. “More like something out of an old B-movie.”

    The orbs began to glow brighter, held the constable transfixed by their light. Tula’s antennae twitched as something else crawled in the darkness of her mind.

    “Say, Detective,” said the constable, finally tearing his gaze away. “Weren’t you out here last night?”

    She frowned, tried to recall. A reported sighting of … who? She looked at the body again, the face almost unrecognisable. Almost but not quite.

    “That’s him!” said the constable suddenly. “It’s him isn’t it … old Bulldog Simpson?”

    The body swayed slightly. Tula ran her eyes over the body, its muscular build and partial tattoo on the remnants of its face confirming her colleague’s identification. She glanced down at her hand, silk-wrapped, slipped on a pair of gloves.

    “Detective, look!”

    The constable’s shout drew her eyes back to the clutch on the ground. The spheres were cracking open, swarming up and over the body. Feeding. The constable ran forward. Tula had to do something. She raised a hand sent a silken thread lassoing towards him. It caught his neck and he fell; his body convulsing as he gasped for breath.

    Tula stretched, allowed her body, her mind to revert to its natural form. Scuttled after her children.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      This verged on horror for me and as Sian Brighal knows, I run like a mad thing from horror.
      But I stayed with this, and was so glad I did. Brilliant, Steph.

      1. Stephanie Ellis Avatar
        Stephanie Ellis

        Thank you :). The horror seemed to creep in even with ‘crime’ for the genre. I figured a corpse, police and some crime tape would keep it just within that and then it went all B-movie!

      2. Geoff Holme Avatar
        Geoff Holme

        Or should that be a Bee-movie? 😉

    2. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      Good stuff, Steph. Nice to see you take a tentative step outside your horror comfort zone.

    3. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Spiders are awesome! And so so so many young! Lol. I liked this a lot: the slight confusion of probable guilt, the building tension…the feasting!

    4. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Oh how I enjoyed this 🙂

  11. Anne Chowdhury Avatar

    @TwiAddictAnne
    300 words
    Bride, Coming from Space, Romance
    Title: Welcome Home

    She opened her eye as soon as the soft whirring sound of the machine next to her head stopped.

    “Welcome back to Earth,” a voice greeted her. In the harsh light surrounding the owner of the voice, she could barely make out anything.

    She squinted, trying to see through the light. “Why is it so bright?” she asked.

    “Oh shoot!” the voice swore before turning off a switch. Immediately, the lights dimmed, allowing her to open her eyes fully and take in the man standing over her. He had a chaotic mess of muddy-brown hair and bright sea-green eyes. He was wearing a hideous white knee-length shirt but it was the smile he offered her that made her say, “You’re pretty.”

    She watched, fascinated, as the tips of his ears reddened. “So are you,” he responded after a moment.

    She smiled at him then. “May I ask who you are?”

    “I’m Maxx.”

    “Nice to meet you, Maxx,” she said. “I’m …” she stopped,unable to remember her name. In fact, she couldn’t remember anything from her life until a few moments ago when she opened her eyes. “Who am I?” she asked. “I can’t remember.”

    Maxx’s looked apologetic. “Right now, you’re Subject no. 9033.”

    “Subject?” she asked, a feeling of foreboding coming over her. “Subject of what?”

    “A scientific experiment.”

    “About?”

    On her persistence, he sighed in resignation. “Earth is about to go into war with Mars. So we need to know all we can about Martians. And you were chosen as the King of Mars’ future bride.”

    She felt her breath catch at his revelation. “W-w-what?”

    He nodded. “He captured you from Earth to be his bride. But we managed to rescue you before he could succeed,” he said with a satisfied grin.

    She blinked, unsure of what to say. “Congratulations,” she said at last.

    1. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      I really am in awe of the takes on these prompts. Feel so sorry for her!

  12. Bill Engleson Avatar

    Madly in Love after Midnight

    “Hello out there in the land of romance, this is Chance Garlic, the voice of Capital City’s top-rated after sunset radio show, Madly in Love after Midnight. I’d planned, as always, to spin a few platters tonight, a smattering of Sinatra, a gargle of Al Green, a small portion of Patti Page, all, of course, in honouring midnight lovers everywhere… but one of our stringers, Hank Parsley has stumbled onto a story that has blown my knitted socks off…Hank, take it away…Hank, are you there, my friend?”

    “Thanks Chance, I’m here and I’m still wondering what the heck is going on. Okay, I’m here in South Gooberville, twenty miles from Capital City. The downtown drag is blocked off at both ends by our local Civil Defence Authority. There is a hazy glow coming from street lamps; all eyes are on this fantastic vehicle parked in the Gooberville town square…”

    “Hank, you can call it what it is…”

    “You’re right, Chance…it’s a mother-whopping space ship. Wait, something is happening…it’s opening…oh, no…it’s…”

    “Hank, what do you see? Keep it coming…”

    “Chance…I can’t believe it…it’s…like…KONG.”

    “Kong, Hank? You mean, like Hong Kong, the city?”

    “No, like…KING KONG. The movie!”

    “Which one, Hank?”

    “All of them, Chance. Okay, maybe the 1933 version…oh, oh…telepathy alert.”

    “What, Hank?”

    “Human, Your Hank is asleep. I am occupying his addled little man-brain. I am Queenie Kong. I want my man.”

    “I beg your pardon…”

    “Kong. My King. He lives. I want him.”

    “Folks, it seems some foreign giant ape has infected our reporter on the ground and…”

    “Human, you are wasting my time. Kong’s image has been transmitted for decades across time and space. FIND HIM or I will squash you.

    “Folks…Homeland Security is shutting us down until this situation is resolved. This is Chance Garlic, signing off.”

    King Kong; Coming from space; romantic comedy
    300 visitors from the beyond
    @billmelaterplea

    1. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      Nice one, Bill. A little bit Fey (Wray) 🙂

      1. Geoff Holme Avatar
        Geoff Holme

        Just discovered that Fay Wray was born in Canada!

      2. Bill Engleson Avatar

        Our actors and comics have been fleeing Canada for decades. For the sake of our artistic community, many Canadians are hoping Donald builds us a wall too.

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Nice twist.

    3. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Oh, good twist. Very convincing set up!

  13. Richard Edenfield Avatar
    Richard Edenfield

    The Sidewalk Movie & My Heart’s drive-In
    ___________________________________

    An old RKO marquee hung over Main Street as neon jewelry. Sidewalk in front segmented like film reel projecting a grey movie onto a descending October sky. Clouds and cool air colored with tree leaves swirling in suburban dream. New Rochelle, New York. And I was going to the only church I have ever known. A palace where angels formed in stucco and prayer came in little boxes filled with mints, a communion with butter enlightenment and flickering images dripping from a pulsating white screen.

    My father beat my mother. Then tires screeching and tears. Twice a week. No time to be myself surrounded with high school and a dysfunctional family. I wanted to be myself. So, once a month I would secretly get dressed up as a girl and walk across the street to meet my friend.

    I was Janet, my female friend Brad. We never talked to each other, we just met and went to Rocky Horror together. Tonight was special because it was my birthday. My lipstick too red and walking in high heels like walking in a mine field with stilts.

    During film we laughed and threw things at the screen. When it was over, we went our separate ways without a word. Suddenly, she turned and ran towards me like a girl and kissed me, then ran away. For the first time I felt like a man when Venus collided with Mars balanced on high heels looking like his mouth was punched with passion bleeding reflections under a full moon. She disappeared into a sugary grey landscape as I followed the sidewalk’s feature home. And the movie under my steps played like the most wonderful silent film as my rib cage surrounded my heart with a perfect parenthesis beating a subtle subtitle of self discovery.
    ________________________________

    (300words)
    Brad/Janet/Worlds Colliding/Romance

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      I wanted to screech like the tires and cry like a banshee while reading this. Gorgeous flaming words and powerful imagery, Richard.

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Stunning….such beautiful turns of phrase.

    3. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      ‘Subtitle of self discovery…’ -pure poetry.

  14. Hannah Persaud Avatar

    @HPersaud
    Word count: 287
    Bride/Coming from space/Romance
    Title: Alien Divorce

    ‘I’m going home. You shouldn’t be surprised.’

    ‘xoiuoxiuoi.’

    ‘That’s the reason, right there. You don’t understand me.’

    ‘SJSJSJSJ.’

    ‘It’s so one sided. All the hours I’ve spent with the tutor – that solo week in Ghghghgo – surviving against the local wildlife. I can’t believe I wasn’t eaten. Anyway, it’s not just that. Even the vegetable plot has eluded me.’

    ‘cxxxxxx.’

    ‘What? You call that edible? We are just too different, you and I.’

    ‘Xoooo.’

    ‘Well you’ve been eating it all your life, no wonder it feels like home.’

    ‘xxoxo.’

    ‘And you CANNOT say that I didn’t try, all that time with your mother, bonding, even on our wedding day, when she licked my dress. You know what? It may be normal for you to open your mouth and have your mother stick her tongue in to examine your dental health, but it’s not for me!’

    ‘WKWKJDKJDKJ.’

    ‘I don’t care if it’s part of your culture. My mouth’s too small, her tongue’s too big. We are physically incompatible.’

    ‘doiuofiuoiufi?’

    ‘Well now you’re asking, yes we are. Even at our peak I humoured you. But now….well, there isn’t a ‘now’ darling, is there? You’re too busy with friends, building your race course on the ridge where I can’t breathe…’

    ‘SHSSHSHHSHSLKJLKJ.’

    ‘it’s not the same, driving high speed with an oxygen tank around my head.’

    ‘grrfff.’

    ‘For the record, I was in line for F1, before I sacrificed everything for you…’

    ‘G.’

    ‘You don’t call THIS everything?’

    ‘v.’

    ‘And that’s part of the problem. You don’t know how to communicate in the way I need.
    Hold this, there. It’s the least you can do.’

    ‘khdkhj.’

    ‘Do you think I’d do this without researching it? Jeez. Have faith in me for once!’

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      Oh how I love this! For so many different reasons but the alien’s dialect is the best. Hannah, this is amazing.

      1. Hannah Avatar
        Hannah

        Thank you Alva – SO much fun! Looking forward to reading and commenting on pieces tomorrow xx

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      That was fun! Funny how we knew what he was saying. I’m intrigued by this pure dialogue approach…..it’s seems far more revealing. Thank you.

  15. Nicola Tapson Avatar

    @ InquisiHedgehog
    Character: Tarantula
    Activity: Standing still
    Genre: crime
    Word Count: 129

    Tarantula Terror

    She screamed. The crystal cracked. I stood still before her. My forelegs raised. All I wanted was to give her a hug. She slowly inched away from. I lowered my legs and gingerly moved towards her. Curious as to where that blood curdling sound had come from. She stretched out her hand. I looked at it. Her fingers were gripped around a long pole with a rectangular block. Before I could move. She swatted at me. I jumped. She shrieked. I scurried away. She flew towards me like a banshee. I ran faster but her legs carried her over me. She stood still. Armed with a weapon of mass destruction, I knew I needed to find the exit but she was blocking it. I scrambled back. She stalked forward. SPLAT.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      I’m constantly amazed at how flash fiction writers get so much story into so few words. This is no exception. Excellent job, Nicola.

      1. Nicola Tapson Avatar

        @Alva Holland, thank you so much for your kind words.

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Poor misunderstood spider.

    3. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
      Angelique Pacheco

      Love it Nix! In my head I’m hoping the woman went SPLAT! (Possibly slipped on a banana peel 😀 )

    4. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      I am so glad I don’t kill spiders! Poor spider 🙁

  16. Nicolette Stephens Avatar
    Nicolette Stephens

    @Rhapsody2312
    Bride / Coming from Space / Romance
    300 Words

    A Queen’s Creation

    “Don’t you like it?” Crestfallen brides are not the best customers, and this particular bride had proven herself a real diva. I scrambled to fix the situation.

    “Of course I do, darling. It’s just, well, don’t you think it’s a bit old-fashioned?” She looked down at the outfit with a pout, before stripping it off and tossing it aside. It hung suspended in the anti-gravity dressing room, a crumpled ball of matter.

    “How’s this one? Oh!” The bride’s horror was palpable as millions of tiny sequins fell from her dress when she twirled to display it. They continued to revolve slowly in the spiral they’d spread out in. I counted to thirty – the time it took to go through another six outfits, each one discarded in a crumpled ball among other detritus from the dressmaker’s.

    “Who’s the lucky groom this time?” I asked cautiously, curiosity getting the better of my judgement. She burst into tears, soaking her gown in salt water.

    “There i-isn’t o-one!”

    “What?”

    “Casting has auditioned the known universe. There isn’t a single decent groom for me out there!” She ripped off the dress, still wet, and tossed it aside. “At this rate, there won’t be a wedding!”

    Three more rejected dresses later, I suggested we try the next dressing room.

    “You know,” I said as we made our way out of the room, “I have a friend who knows someone who makes men.”

    “Darling, you’re the best agent I’ve ever had! How long will it take? The show opens soon, you know?”

    I marked the room as used. It sealed forever behind us, and I smiled at the bride towering over me.

    “Don’t worry honey. He specialises in making men fit for queens. It only takes seven days. I’m sure he can make you a man.”

    1. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      A world that makes men instead of dresses is such a clever twist.

  17. Christina Dalcher Avatar

    Christina Dalcher
    @CVDalcher
    WC: 282
    Bride/Coming from Space/Romance

    Wish Upon a Stella

    Jack dumped the contents of a can of stew into a bowl, set the microwave dial, and shuffled out to his porch while the machine did its thing. He had grown tired of tinned stew, tired of the single place setting on the scarred farm table, tired of talking to the walls now that his Stella was gone.

    Most of all, he’d had enough of his children hard-selling that retirement place called Sunrise or New Dawn or whatever euphemistic sop some creatively challenged marketer had named it. Sunset, he thought. Near Dark. Those were names for old-folks’ homes.

    He’d had so much of enough, he finally caved in.

    The junk he owned lay about in cardboard tombs, but his wicker rocker still sat on the porch. Jack leaned back in it, took a Pabst from the cooler, and pulled the ring tab. One more evening to stargaze in the quiet of his own home, no nurses poking and prodding him in places he’d rather not be poked and prodded, thank you very much.

    If only Stella would come back to him from wherever she twinkled now. He’d show her a little of the old hokie-pokie.

    The microwave timer buzzed, and Jack gave it a moment’s passing thought, then rocked back, crinkled eyes surveying the night sky.

    Stella, my bride, how’s about you sashay on down here and give us a kiss?

    Wishful thinking, you might say, but the rocker, like Jack, had seen better days. When the support rail gave out, Jack’s neck snapped against the windowsill behind him in one clean break. Normally, a man would see stars in such a situation.

    Jack only saw one.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      I love how the romance element infiltrates every line here, Christina. A true love story with a tragic yet fitting end. Gorgeous! So glad you joined us here this week.

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      That was wonderful….sad but a fitting and lovely ending. Flowed beautifully and was so complete. Loved the imagery of cardboard tombs

    3. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Beautifully written and is it wrong that I smiled for him?

    4. Bill Engleson Avatar

      Deliciously sad, yet, in the end, a comforting tale.

    5. Christina Dalcher Avatar

      Thanks, everyone! I had a lot of fun with this prompt!

  18. sian brighal Avatar
    sian brighal

    Sian Brighal
    @sian_ink
    298 words

    Doctor X/Androids’ Fighting/Steampunk

    First and Only

    Cheap tobacco smoke hung in the air over the gathered spectators and ring. Even cheaper lights buzzed and spat out sickly pale light onto the concrete floor. Somewhere a steam valve burst, screaming out only to sputter miserably at the lack of attention.

    Eyes, burning from fatigue and smoke, were fixed on two figures. Ears strained for any telltale sounds of metal fatigue or faulty rivets, grinding ball-bearings in dried-up runs or the hiss of misaligned pneumatics. The cannier ones tried to feel odd vibrations through the floor from ailing motors. Money was riding on this. A new android had come from overseas to beat Doctor X’s pride.

    Two rounds had already left their mark: spilt oil, popped rivets, a battered brass right upper bicep panel, chipped pottery, and small cogs, as fine as watchmakers’, glittered like shattered teeth. The air held the smell of burning oil and the ozone hint from Doctor X’s strange fuel burning away in the androids’ chests. Occasionally, a hit would split the torso casing apart and greenish light burst out with the hint of strange wheels spinning in bizarre arcs.

    Now, the two machines danced around each other: impassive faces, long limbs of brass and porcelain glistening like flesh, condensed steam rivulets of sweat, and pistons sighing with the pride of heralds before fists struck with the squeal of straining metal and the crack of bone china.

    The newcomer was pegged to win—being refined workings and tempered steel—but nothing had beaten Lilith when she fought for X. When the doctor left with his fighter, some would mutter that more than metal and fuel went into her and wouldn’t dare say more. But the intricate gold kintsugi scars on her limbs spoke volumes.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      The ultimate battle of the machines, Sian. I would have no idea how to approach this and yet I so completely enjoyed my ringside seat. Great piece. This theme has brought out the best of everyone’s imagination.

      1. Sian Brighal Avatar
        Sian Brighal

        Thanks, Alva. I agree wholeheartedly….the stories here are gems. I’m always amazed at the diversity given the same prompts, genres and characters.

    2. Angelique Pacheco Avatar
      Angelique Pacheco

      Wow! Love the descriptions! Felt like I was there. Great story 🙂

      1. Sian Brighal Avatar
        Sian Brighal

        Thank you. I enjoyed writing it. The prompts were great…and the stories here utterly brill!

    3. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Very impressive – you wrote about a dance of robots and I found it totally believable. Skilfully done!

  19. Voima Oy Avatar
    Voima Oy

    They Came From the Future
    @voimaoy
    tarantula/coming from space/comedy
    145 words

    Silent, they came down, almost-invisible threads criss-crossing the sky. The spiders came down to the green and vibrant earth, in the hazy dream of a summer afternoon.

    Soon the sidewalks were covered with them. Up close, they resembled tarantulas, but they were spiders from somewhere else.

    “What do they want?” people cried. It was hard to talk with the threads in their mouths. The threads were sticky and sweet, like cotton candy. “Watch where you’re going!” People blundered into the massive webs that were covering the tall buildings and snarling the traffic at rush hour.

    By morning, the entire city was wrapped in the spider silk. A vast network of threads spread over the world.

    We call it the internet, now. The spiders are gone, but their webs remain. Where did they come from? Where did they go? Some say they returned to the clouds.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      Found myself pulling imaginary sticky sweet threads from my skin while reading this. Excellent imagery, Voima and again, a tiny tale telling a much bigger story.

      1. Voima Oy Avatar
        Voima Oy

        Thanks so much for reading!

    2. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Reminded me of the start of The War of the Worlds and the narrator’s questions at the end of the intro to Rocky Horror… nice. I think the lack of knowing is quite disturbing. What did they want?

      1. Voima Oy Avatar
        Voima Oy

        Thank you! Glad you enjoyed.

    3. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      The stuff that nightmares are made of. I am checking my teeth! Well written.

      1. Voima Oy Avatar
        Voima Oy

        Thank you! Much appreciated

  20. Stephen Shirres Avatar
    Stephen Shirres

    An Android Tarantula
    by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)
    A steam punk tale of 289 words involving Tarantulas and Androids Fighting

    “Want to see the greatest fighting droid ever?”
    Clearly drunk, but yet I’m interested. I’ve loved the Droid Pits since I was young, the crash and clash of brass on brass. “Yes of course.”
    “In here.” He taps a beautiful polished box. The only thing he seems to care about; the rest of him is filthy. “An Android Tarantula. Unbeaten in every port across the seven seas.”
    Never seen a spider droid before. Never seen a droid with legs. “How does it fight?”
    “Why would I reveal my secrets? Especially to a man I’ve never met. I could face you in the Droid Pits tomorrow.”
    I wish. My dream is to fight droids. I lack the skill to build my own. I have the money though.
    “We could be business partners.” The words sound so grown up. I cannot believe I am the one speaking them. Father would be so pleased.
    “What skills do you bring?”
    “Money.” I drop my money bag on the table. The echoing thud just emphasises my position. He half bites.
    “That could be a bag of nuts.” His hands waves me to throw the bag towards him.
    “Let me see your droid.” Negotiating like my dad. He would be so proud.
    The drunk pushes the box towards me, stops and does not complete the move until my money bag is within his reach. We both grab our prizes. I hear his hand among my gold and seems to have no complaint. I click open the fixings of the wooden box. Wait a moment before opening the lid.
    Inside is a Tarantula, a normal, boring spider. “You said…”
    The drunk is gone, so is my money bag.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      Ah, betrayal is betrayal, no matter the genre. I love this, Stephen and congratulations on your prompt this week. Such a challenge and yet look at all these wonderful stories from it.

    2. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Oh 🙁 that’s sad. Nasty trickery.

  21. Meg Kovalik Avatar

    Give Yourself Over

    @meg_mediocre

    Bride; Coming from Space; Romance

    300 words

    Michael paced nervously. The clearing where they’d agreed to meet was a little more dark and remote than he would have liked – and now Rainey was late.

    He checked his phone for messages and pulled up Rainey’s profile again.

    Those curves, that crazy hair, that vintage pin-up style.

    Yep. Worth the wait. Assuming the pictures were legit (he’d been burned before).

    Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the centre of the clearing and Michael dove to the ground. When he looked up again, Rainey was there.

    He scrambled to his feet, agog.

    “Michael,” she purred warmly, “I am Nellorain, agent of the Infinite Joy, and I have come to claim you as my bride.”

    Michael blinked and swallowed. “Uh, what?”

    She walked towards him, her sinuous body contained by a black corset and heels, her dark hair piled high upon her head, a gossamer negligee billowing behind her.

    “My people study pleasure in all its forms and you have been chosen to help expand our understanding of this planet.”

    Michael glanced around him, unsure how to respond.

    Rainey continued. “You have no worldly commitments, no real friends, and many, many frustrated desires. Come with me and experience a bliss beyond your imagination.”

    Michael slumped a little. “Wait – are you calling me a loser?”

    Rainey cocked her head. “I believe that’s the vernacular, yes.” She reached out and took hold of both his hands.

    A surge of pure ecstasy coursed through his veins, knocking the wind right out of him. Her voice echoed in his head.

    “Will you join me willingly, Michael?”

    He shivered and smiled, any doubts or hurt feelings forgotten. “Well, when you put it that way…”

    Rainey beamed and turned her face to the heavens. Another lightning bolt struck the ground and the clearing was empty once more.

    1. Alva Holland Avatar
      Alva Holland

      What a treat, Meg. Poor Michael. Or maybe not? Splendid story.

    2. Geoff Holme Avatar
      Geoff Holme

      Even losers get lucky sometimes – sounds like Michael may have hit the jackpot!
      When Nelloraine said she had come to claim him as her “bride”, I thought this was going to be a story about mistaken sexuality! Nice tale, Meg – submitted with hours to spare!
      [ Didn’t the late, great Douglas Adams have a computer called “Deep Joy” in his “Hitchhiker’s” series? “Infinite Joy” seems like quite an upgrade! 🙂 ]

      1. Geoff Holme Avatar
        Geoff Holme

        Check before you publish, Geoff! I was thinking of Deep Thought

      2. Meg Kovalik Avatar

        I was pretty proud of myself for submitting in time this week! And yes, the “bride” was a nod to the gender-fluidity in Rocky Horror. I had hoped to develop that more, but there’s only so much room to squeeze the story into…

    3. Sian Brighal Avatar
      Sian Brighal

      Sweet! So very glad you beat the clock.

    4. Hannah Persaud Avatar

      Lucky Michael I say!

  22. […] Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following […]

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