Microcosms 44

Welcome, one and all, to Microcosms 44. No guest host this week – you’re stuck with me. Your task, should you wish to accept it, is as follows:

Today is the centenary of the birth of a legend in US TV news reporting, a man who has been called the “King of Anchormen”, Walter Cronkite. To mark this occasion, our elements are based on aspects of our hero’s life and times.

As we slide inexorably towards the most divisive US Presidential election in decades, let’s celebrate someone they called “the most trusted man in America”.



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

We spun, and our three elements are character: Reporter, setting: Martha’s Vineyard, and genre: Crime.

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.

  • Anchorman
  • Reporter
  • Sailor
  • Sports Car Racer
  • Voice Actor
  • Radio Ham
  • Newsroom
  • School of Journalism
  • Martha’s Vineyard
  • 12 hours of Sebring
  • Radio,TV or Film Studio
  • Wildfire Disaster
  • Fairy Tale
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Drama


Judging this week is Microcosms 43 Community AND Judge’s Pick, Alva Holland.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time to submit.

N.B. Until Sunday, New York is still in daylight-saving mode (EDT). In comparison, the UK is +4 hours, rather than the usual +5 hours. (Everyone else, Google it!)

(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 these image to inspire you – purely optional.


Jen Icklan (@jicklan | Twitter)
Jen Icklan (@jicklan) | Twitter


Bryce Newberry (@BryceTKN) | Twitter
Bryce Newberry (@BryceTKN) | Twitter

Microcosms 45
Microcosms 43

37 thoughts on “Microcosms 44

  1. The Night Beat with Whittle Truncate

    “The kid’s younger than a foetus, Gus. Why’d you hire him? It’s late in the day. You’re not doing him any favours.”

    It was snuggling up to nine p.m., just past the dogwatch. Whit Truncate, one of the last of the greatest, and I were shooting the shit in my office. Some days I feel like Methuselah. Most days though, Whit’s the one who looks the part. He’s got more facial lines than the floor of Death Valley.

    Whit’s almost as good as he once was, or so he frequently says. Some days, however, he’s willing to admit that he’s nothing but a cranky old dickhead.

    He’d been yanking my chain for the last hour. I wanted him to give the youngster a crash course in what a newshound does. I needed him to be as good as he remembered he once was. It’s not easy to do that when you are as honest as Whit is and know your time has run out.

    “He’s family, Whit. Give him a taste of it. He’s got the same sort of hunger we had. That you had. At least, as much of a hunger as a millennial kolboynik can muster. I know old-school journalism’s dead. Nobody wants the truth. Not like…before. He’ll likely end up a cyber-journalist or a food blogger or, god forbid, a talking head on a cable news show. We old farts have heard the death-knock of our profession but Jimmy is third cousin twice removed…”

    “Okay, Gus. I’ll do it,” Whit rolled over more easily than expected.

    “Good. Get him dirty. Rub his nose in the real world. Oh, I know it’s changed, but do your best. Maybe he’ll actually amount to something.”

    Whit cracked a grin.

    He knew it was too late.

    He was just humouring me.

    300 words that try to capture the way it is, vaguely honouring the way it was
    Reporter; newsroom; dramedy

    1. Setting the bar high, Bill! Love this one, with the interaction of two old farts.
      And always an education: this week a Yiddiom – kolboynik. Your vocabulary knows no bounds. Hats off to you, sir.

  2. Reporter/wildfire disaster/Drama
    Word count: 230

    HEADLINE: Walter reports from the African Bush.

    The African lioness stalks her prey unaware that a massive storm is brewing in the distance. The rest of the pride lounges under the Acacia trees. The clouds begin to form with alarming speed, gathering for something that is sure to be spectacular. Heavy grey clouds cover the plains in moving shadows as lightning begins with small strikes, gaining size and power with each new strike. The thunder claps and roars, its strength increasing from the lightning. Rain begins to pelt the earth, beating it ferociously. Crack! Lightning hits the tree next to them and the pride is scattered. The dry African bush is no match for fire. It begins to spread, licking up the dry grass. The cubs try to keep up with their mothers as they run, trying not to be cut off by the fire. The rain and fire dance in unison, one trying to outdo the other. They are locked in battle, and the rain begins to gain ground. The wind helps the rain blow out the fire and as quickly as the storm has come up, it dies away. Gentle rain soaks the earth and gives new life to the plants. The lioness continues hunting for prey and the rest of the pride settles under a new tree. And that’s the way it is, Friday November 4th 2016.

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    1. I love your descriptive writing, and that says a lot, since usually when I read books I skip descriptions!

  3. @stellieb3 (twitter)
    300 Words
    Reporter, Martha’s Vineyard, Crime
    The Preclude

    Alex was taking in the sensational smells of the grapes as he entered the vineyard. The crime scene was swarming with forensic specialists as well as police officers. Alex ducked underneath the crime scene tape to enter the scene, only waving his journalist pass at the police officer that was about to approach him. He was an award winning crime journalist with the Maverick, notorious for his work on television and on paper.
    He saw the victim, Martha Jones, lying on her back, her bleak eyes not staring into his soul as they used to. He looked around and asked the detective in charge his questions emotionless.
    “She was at the president’s house last night?”
    “Confirm, but deny later if my life depends on it.” The policeman Dave Boden responded formally. Alex gave him a raised eyebrow.
    “It probably is, Dave. You know she was going to expose The Preclude to the press tomorrow. The only other people that knows it exists is us.” Alex whispered in fear. He disappeared off the grid when he started to write the biggest exposé this country had ever seen on his grandfather’s typewriter.
    “He’s cleaning up, Alex. We need to get out of here.” Dave said mortified. Alex had only turned around for a second when he heard the shot. He immediately ducked and as he came crashing down to the ground, so did his lifelong friend, blood spilling from the gunshot wound in his head. Alex looked up just in time to see the face of the man who was going to cause his death. He wondered how he would explain this away. He smiled at the man who was standing in the distance with his rifle pointed at him. President Hale in the flesh, come to clean up his own mess.

      1. Thanks Angelique! I would actually love to continue writing it. its in my notes for future books.

  4. Steve Lodge
    300 words
    Reporter/Martha’s Vineyard/Crime

    The Lights All Went Out

    I was a junior reporter at The Joyzee Bladder in those days, all domestic grief, cats up trees, industrials, you know the stuff. One time the Editor sent me to Asbury Park. Go and find some future superstar to write about, he joked. Me and Bruce used to laugh about that over a quiet game of backgammon.

    But this leads me to my point here. That day, I’m the only reporter in the office – the others were out for a scoop (of ice cream, most likely). The Editor calls me in all stern looking. “What is it, Walt?” I asked gently.

    “Some socialite from Martha’s Vineyard. She’s been found dead in the motel up the road. Be careful, Mickey. Maybe a politician’s involved.”

    I head for the Cover Me Motel, march up to the Manager in Reception, and say something like “I’m Detective Grimshaw. Where’s the body?” He points me towards Room 4.

    “The real cops are already there.” Wise guy. I pass him $5 and he walks away.

    A cop at the door of Room 4 stops me.

    “I’m Poletti, FBI,” I say to him, while looking over his shoulder into the room. “Where’s the murder?”

    Someone in the room says, “What murder?”

    “Where’s the body?” I ask.

    “What body? Nothing’s happened here.”

    “Oh,” I reply. “Then why all you cops in there, and a guy dusting for prints?”

    “We’re not here.”

    So then I played my ace. I asked for a detective I knew in the local police. “Where is Jack Carter?”

    “It’s the capital of Indonesia.” Another smartass.

    Then the cop at the door broke my nose and told me to go away.

    Whatever happened that day, the memories I have were my slightly twisted nose, obviously, and the realisation that we had all become terrible liars.

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  5. @ InquisiHedgehog
    Character: Sports car racer
    Activity: Film Studio
    Genre: Fairytale
    Word Count: 261

    Once upon a time, I dreamed of being a sports car racer. I started young. Go-karts were great. I zipped through the tracks. Collecting trophy after trophy. My only rival Stevie Big. He loved to race against me. Always pushing the envelope and knowing that I would take the bait. One day, this bait lead to a whole new story for me. We were chasing each other on the Sebring International Raceway. I was in the lead but Steve was sitting on my butt. He was waiting for the gap. I was not giving him one. He pushed a bit harder. I glanced in the rearview window and saw him drooling to take over me. I put my foot down. The car lurched. I gulped. This wasn’t good news. Stevie Big clipped the rear end of my car. The colours of the race swirled around and I stopped. I looked up. The harsh white light was flashing down on me. I was raced through the corridors. I felt excruciating pain pacing through my limbs. This could not be happening. I was racing only a few hours ago and now I was racing for my life. They got me on the theatre table. The doctor injected me and I swam away. I lost track of my life then. A few months later, I met a man who wore an nondescript suit and had a combover. He worked for Speed stunts. I was at the film studio the next day. And that is how my story ended with a happily ever after.

    1. Nice take on the fairy tale, Nicola.

      [ ‘I glanced in the rearview window…’ Surely that should be either ‘rear window’ (not recommended in a sports car race!) OR ‘rearview mirror’?
      Also, it would be helpful if you could give your story a title (not included in the word count).
      If you leave a reply with amendment and title, I can modify your entry. 🙂 ]

      1. Thanks @Geoff. Could you please amend it to “rearview mirror” as the for the title “A sports car racer’s tale”

  6. Reporter/Martha’s Vineyard/Crime
    Word count: 293

    The day of reckoning.

    The wind is whipping her hair and she thinks ruefully that her studio hairdresser would not be amused. The camera man nods and silently counts down the seconds. The anchorman in studio says “Over to you, Winona,” and she begins.

    “Several bodies have been found in Oak Bluffs, here on Martha’s Vineyard. The police investigators have described the scene as one of the most heinous crimes ever committed. A ring of bodies have been unearthed, surrounding the Ocean Park Gazebo which directly faces the gingerbread houses behind me. The bodies have not yet been identified, but it is believed that they are the heirs that went missing several months ago. Police are tight-lipped but have announced they will be holding a press conference shortly. We will continue broadcasting as any news develops.”

    Her cameraman says cut and she removes her earpiece. She walks over to the coffee cart and orders a large double-strength cappuccino with foam. She strolls to a bench and sits down, gazing at the ocean in front of her. There is an air of desolate expectancy around her and she giggles softly to herself. It had been a mission to contact the police anonymously about the whereabouts of the bodies but they needed to be found. Later, they will discover the bodies of my family, the Wampanoag people, who lived on Noepe 10,000 years ago. I lived here in Ogkeshkuppe until 1642 when the white man eradicated us. I buried the white heirs on top of my family members to send a message that we will no longer lie still in our graves. Payback’s a bitch.

    The camera man looks for Winona but cannot find her anywhere. Her coffee lies untouched on the bench, the steam wafting on the breeze.

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  7. @TwiAddictAnne
    300 words
    Anchorman, School of Journalism, Science Fiction
    Title: Bluemoon Blues

    It was a day in late Autumn when Maxx Barnett walked into the place he always found solace in—his alma mater—School of Journalism in Bluemoon. A cool breeze came as if to greet him back home while disinfecting his clothes with an air shower. When the green light flickered on, he let out a sigh of relief. The Mars-girl wasn’t carrying anything infectious then.

    As the junior most anchorman/ journalist in the local news channel, Maxx had been given the project to cover the story about the Mars king’s would-be bride, Subject no. 9033. Not letting the fact that he was treated like a category B citizen by the snobby scientists in the Space Station get to him, he had gone down there, put on the uncomfortable Hazmat suit and went to pay a visit to the subject.

    His plan was to interview her quickly and to get out of there with his story already formulated in his mind. But nothing had gone according to plan. Instead, he had talked to the girl, she had smiled at him and called him pretty and he had walked out of the place not filled with triumph, but a deep-seated dread.

    Walking into the cafeteria he located his best friend and foster-brother, Wyatt, lecturing to what seemed like a bunch of starry-eyed students. Wyatt had always loved the attention even when they were kids in the foster system. One wave from Maxx and Wyatt was pushing away from his audience though.

    “You look like hell,” Wyatt greeted Maxx.

    “I feel like pretty hellish,” Maxx replied.

    Having known about his project, Wyatt gave him a sympathetic look. “That bad, huh?”

    Maxx shook his head. “Worse. She isn’t just a prisoner here,” he stopped to take a breath and then added, “They’ve taken away her memories.”

  8. What’s In A Name?
    A.J. Walker

    The newsreader shuffled her papers and straightened them, in the age old signal that the news was almost at an end.

    ‘And finally, we go over to Cotton Reay in Martha’s Vineyard, to report on a most interesting crime. Hi, Cotton!’

    Cotton was holding on to her hat and leaning forward as she battled sheeting rain. She really longed for an anchor job.

    ‘Hi, Shell, yes here I am in Martha’s Vineyard not though you’d know it. Someone has stolen the beautiful town sign from the main route into the town! It’s caused much consternation in the community to think that someone would stoop to this.’

    Shell put her sympathetic face on. ‘So is that seen as big news over there in beautiful Martha’s Vineyard then?’

    ‘Well, Shell, I can tell you’ve never been here.’

    Shell almost furrowed her brow but realised the camera would pick up on wrinkles. ‘No, no I haven’t, Cotton. But I feel I have, it’s so famous and such an evocative name. So many stories set there.’

    ‘Yep, and that’s what I thought. But not one was really written about the place or by anyone who’s been here. It’s all in that name. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?’

    ‘Indeed it does.’

    ‘Would it surprise you to know it was due to an admin error? The guy who first registered the land here was a scrapyard owner, Arthur Reilly. He phoned in the details to the Land Registry and unfortunately the call was taken by a rather hard of hearing gentleman, one Zachariah Nesbitt, who thought he’d said Martha’s Vineyard.’

    ‘Boy, what should it have been?’

    ‘Unbelievably it should have been Arthur’s Bin Yard!’

    ‘You’re kidding me. Perhaps they can go for Bin Yard with the new sign then?’

    ‘Could do. This place stinks, Shell.’

    WC: 300
    reporter/ Martha’s Vineyard/ crime

  9. How wrong can you be?
    Reporter / Martha’s Vineyard / Crime
    294 words

    It’s not that I didn’t think there was any crime in the Vineyard at all – I was a young idiot, but I wasn’t so much of an idiot as that. There’s crime everywhere, but you don’t make a name for yourself reporting the kind of crime that could happen at the end of anybody’s street. Still, it was a job, and I didn’t want to make my name so much as I wanted a paycheck. I told myself it would give me a good grounding, that I had time in hand, that I’d stay for a year or two, three at the outside. That was twenty years ago. Well, I did say I was a young idiot back then.
    An idiot more ways than one, too. I thought The Story That Makes Your Name was a thing that fell at your feet, that all you needed was a blazing talent to pick it up and run. This story will make my name, but I found it the old fashioned way, local knowledge and spadework, and never knowing when to give up – I might not be a young idiot any more, but being an old fool pays off sometimes too. If you can call this paying off.
    I’ll be on the front page, that’s for sure, but not quite how I planned. It was white collar crime that I’d found, clean, safe, and I thought I could challenge them and walk away. Yeah, well I said I was an old fool. I should have known that when the stakes get that high all bets are off. I’m not walking anywhere, now.
    I was meant to be a by-line, not a headline, but that’s all I’ll be unless somebody finds me before the tide comes in.

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  10. Christina Dalcher
    300 words
    Reporter/Martha’s Vineyard/Crime

    My Name Ends with Me

    From the notes of Jonathan Mayhew, reporter for the Vineyard Gazette, discovered on his remains
    April 21, 1933

    This morning at sunrise I walked to the great plain of our beautiful island in hopes of sighting what I then believed (and now know) was our last heath hen and her brood. Dawn had broken, and cast its jeweled light on the western hills and on the rough patches of fresh huckleberry buds, leaving a dark, almost sinister, air to the web of subglacial grooves still cloaked in winter. I saw this as an ominous juxtaposition of life’s heart and death’s hand.

    An omen, perhaps.

    The hens had been coming to Pease’s farm each spring, once several, then few, now one. I imagine obedience to nature’s clock had driven the birds to arrive at the appointed hour, to wait in the scrub until a mate appeared, to engage in its frenzied love-dance. Fortune favored me once, many years ago, allowing me to witness the drum-like calls of the males, their neck sacks inflated in amorous display. How apt their name—Tympanuchus cupido cupido!
    And so it was with great remorse when I stumbled upon the last of the race and her unhatched brood, charred as the land around it. And for what end?

    I can answer in a single word: blueberries.

    New farmers, unfamiliar with our natural treasure, had set the plain afire—an elegant, if deadly, method of managing their fields. I know. I saw them.

    As they saw me.

    I must be quick and brief in hiding this report, for they come knocking now, searching for the sole witness to their villainy. I fear my fate shall be that of the heath hen, and my name, like hers, will end with me.

  11. Words: 300
    Anchorman, newsroom, fairy tale

    A Spell for a Spell

    The witch drew the obsidian knife across Gerard’s palm. Blood oozed from the cut and fell into the bowl where she had already concocted the rest of the ingredients for the spell.
    “And this will save Fae?” he asked again.
    The witch nodded. “O yes.” She stirred the mixture and it gave off a striking odour. “All you need to do is to give up the two things most precious to you.”
    “That was not part of the deal,” Gerard said. Cold sweat beaded on his brow. He pulled at his shirt collar, staining it with the liberal amount of makeup he wore for the cameras.
    “You should know by know that my spells take more that just a little blood to complete. Your two most precious things. Or do you want her to die?”
    Gerard looked around the dressing room and then down at his wrist. He started undoing the clasp of his favourite watch, but the witch stopped him. “Not that type of thing.”
    “Then what are you referring to?”
    “Your looks,” she said, touching his face. “And your voice,” she said, grabbing his throat.

    An ogre with a bloody palm stumbled around the set, knocking over cameras, tripping over the wires, scattering the frightened audience. It clawed at its own grotesque face that was better suited to be a gargoyle. It roared and growled as if it did not have a voice that could utter words.

    Security burst onto the set. The first to fire hit the ogre in the shoulder. The second shot penetrated the heart. More, unnecessary, shorts rang out as they kept firing on the nightmare creature out of fear.

    Fae Forrester woke up in a hospital bed with an old woman chanting over her.
    “You’ll be all right now,” the old woman smiled.

  12. @StellakateT
    210 words
    Reporter / School of Journalism / Crime

    Gut Feeling

    It was difficult to think when you’d been smacked over the head with a blunt instrument. He wished he’d seen what it was. It bloody hurt! He tried to remember what he’d be told. What they said was the right way to report things. He couldn’t even wipe the blood out of his eyes, with his hands tied behind him. They’d gone numb now; couldn’t feel his fingers, and his wrists screamed with agony when he tried to pull the wire apart. His lecturer had told the class that you had to follow a lead no matter what. She probably didn’t mean getting killed for it.

    It had started with a conversation he’d heard in the pub. Then he’d followed the two blokes at the end of the night. His gut feeling told him this would lead to a job on ‘The Tribune’. His classmates would be so jealous. It was cutthroat.

    Headline read ‘Trainee reporter found dead in suspicious circumstances – drug related.’ His age was incorrect. They’d spelt his name wrong and there were no leads. Soon to be a cold case, just a box in a secure area. No job at The Tribune. No future. No life. He wondered if it had been worth dying for. Probably not.

    1. Nice, understated piece, Stella.
      [ As you didn’t choose SciFi as the genre, I took the liberty of changing ‘with his heads tied behind him’ to ‘with his hands tied behind him’. 😉 ]

  13. I Know What You Did

    300 words
    Elements: crime reporter, Martha’s Vineyard, crime


    The holiday season was over and the small community slowly returned to normal; local gossips spied and spread malicious rumours, tried anything and everything to spice up the long, dead evenings. And then a body appeared on the beach. Died of boredom, they said.

    The phone rang in one of the small, picturesque gingerbread houses.

    “I know what you did,” it gloated.

    She trembled. “Pardon?”

    “I know what you did.”

    “I don’t…”

    “Meet me on Philbin Beach.” The phone went dead.

    “Who was that, darling?”

    “Oh, wrong number.”

    But she had lied. Knew who it was. Just like she knew who the body on the beach was. She went back into the living room. Her husband was slumped as normal in front of the TV. Some crime reporter, he should be out there where it was all happening. On the beach. With that dead body. As a dead body. The thought which had flitted through her mind in recent weeks resolved into solid determination. She walked up behind him, slipped the bag over his head, grinned with satisfaction as his drunken stupor prevented him from fighting back. Weeks of weight training allowed her to manoeuvre his body into the car. Then they drove to the beach together. A family outing.

    “I know what you did,” whispered a shadow, slipping its arms around her.

    “Do you?” she murmured. “Do you really?”

    “And you’ve gone and done it again,” he said, breaking away and opening the boot.

    “Sorry, bad habit. But it does give the papers something to write about. And he’s finally hit the headlines.”

    “Seriously though,” said her companion. “You should stop. You’ll get caught.”

    “Only if someone talks,” she said. And looked at his mouth, heard the noise. She needed silence. It was time for a little walk.

  14. Reporter, Martha’s Vineyard, Crime
    294 words
    Camelot, a fairytale for modern times
    ‘Roger, I got you in. Two weeks with Kennedy’s team, get the inside story, classy profile of Jack or Bobby, bit of gossip and you’ll be on your way to the Times or the Post.’
    Jim Bent, editor of the Martha’s Vineyard Star beamed, while Roger Oblin grimaced.
    ‘I do crime, Jim, not features.’
    Bent looked at his blotter, a sign he’d moved on. ‘It’s your way outta here. And if you find a crime, then you’re on your way to a Pulitzer.’
    The Kennedy set up was glossy and superficial, and while it felt like he’d been given access all areas, Roger knew he was being deflected from the real stories. Something was off.
    First there was Hoover’s constant calls, the FBI heavies at the gates, the frowns, papers being burnt late at night and rumours of ‘pinko’ conspiracies. A team of starched white-shirted minions beavered away in obscure rooms.
    Then the money men, the hints of links to mafia and the Daley clan in Chicago. Accountants seemed to be everywhere, working adding machines, poring over lists of numbers.
    Out at Bobby’s cottage, a doctor visited regularly, attending, Roger heard somewhere, a young woman who he’d seen on the first night, drunk, being taken back there. Something about a scream, some bloodied sheets and maybe some sexual impropriety.
    Roger felt he was within an ace of the scoop he deserved, yet it remained elusive. He befriended a cleaner, someone who truly had access all areas. When he confided what he needed, she smiled and let him through the service corridors, finally arriving at Jackie Kennedy’s boudoir. With a glint in her eye she threw open a closet. It was filled with bee-hive wigs. ‘There’s your crime, Mr Reporter. A crime against good taste.’

  15. Caleb Echterling
    Sports car racer/TV studio/Sci-fi
    294 words

    Wormhole to the Cola Dimension

    Klieg lights blasted an operating room brightness onto Rodney’s firesuit. The 294 advertising patches – covering every available millimeter of his outfit – sparkled like corporate sponsored wildflowers in midday sun. “After the Pepsi goes through the wormhole,” said a woman with a clipboard, “you say ‘I’d jump through a wormhole to get my fuel for the Indy 500.’ Then you jump in, head first.”

    A gyrating circle radiated electric blue, more luminescent than the forest of stage lights that dominated the studio. Rodney cocked his head sideways. “Doesn’t that imply that Pepsi tastes like gasoline? I think it has more of a propane flavor. And is that a real wormhole?”

    “We asked the finest physicists at Cal Tech to build us a wormhole. They refused. But the finest kooks at Flying Saucer Fellowship & Auto Body were more than obliging. So, long story short: I have no idea. Ready to shoot in five … four … three … two …” Clipboard lady threw a bottle of Pepsi, adorned with a picture of a beaming Rodney in his racing getup, into the wormhole. The circle undulated and shimmered. It let out a reverberating belch. Rodney repeated his line and dove headfirst into the void.

    He floated in blackness. Animatronic puppets beside him belted out the chorus to “It’s a Small World” in a repetitive round. Rodney picked up speed. He heard a pop, and dropped through a circle of light onto blue and red sand. An enormous blue and red temple, covered with blue and red yin/yang circles, rose before him. A herd of round, squat beings waddled toward him. Sun glinted off their metallic skin. “The prophecy is fulfilled! The Bringer of Sustenance has arrived! I hope you have brought more Pepsi, O Great One.”

    1. Welcome to Microcosms, Caleb: you finally took the bait then? 😉
      Funny piece, but Pepsi ‘has more of a propane flavor’?; brace yourself for the lawsuits…

      [ Did you mean ‘A herd of round, squat beings…’, rather than ‘A herd of round, squat being…’? If so, leave a reply, and i’ll make the change. ]

  16. No Quarter

    Reporter; Martha’s Vineyard; Crime

    300 Words


    As she gazed unseeingly across Nantucket Sound, Jennifer let out a sigh. Three days she’d been here now, chasing up the story of her career, but the locals were not giving her an inch.

    And really, why should they? It was the first murder in the tight-knit community of Oak Bluffs in over a decade, and here was some upstart reporter from Boston feasting on their trauma like a parasite.

    An icy wind blew down from the Arctic, a preview of the winter ahead. Jennifer shivered and hunched deeper into her overcoat, sighing again. Maybe it was time to call it quits.

    “Folk still not talkin’, Miss Jennifer?”

    Jennifer smiled ruefully at the gravelly old man approaching her. “I’m afraid not, Gerald isn’t it?” She gestured for him to join her on the park bench. He smiled back and took his seat, gazing out over the grey water too.

    “Don’t take it too much to heart, love. We like to keep ourselves to ourselves here.”

    “Yes, I got that,” Jennifer replied with a laugh. She glanced at the fisherman, his face as craggy and weathered as the land around them. “I’m just not sure where to take it from here. This assignment was supposed to be my big break, don’t you know.”

    Gerald smiled knowingly, eyes remaining fixed on the horizon. “Ah. Well, if there’s one thing I know about breaks, it’s that there’s always ‘nother one not too far behind.” He met her gaze and gave her knee a comforting squeeze. “So don’t you fret none.”

    Jennifer laughed again and offered him a handshake. “Thank you, Gerald. That was the politest brush-off I’ve ever received.” They shook hands and she stood up. “All the best, sir.”

    He doffed his hat as she turned to leave. “And to you, ma’am.”

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