Thank you to all who acted as special correspondents for Microcosms 44… a respectable 16 entries.
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 Alva Holland for judging MC 44. Here’s what she had to say:
What a week to be a judge. I’m retiring my wig shortly.
When I read Geoff’s prompt, it took me straight back to my days of watching Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Newsroom’, a series which demonstrates that news reporting is anything but just reporting the news – it is personal and political, investigative and dangerous, human and emotional, even other-worldly.
All of these elements flowed through this week’s stories – tales worthy of any Sorkin storyline. Thank goodness I can award a few accolades, as well as choose the winning story.
Thank you all for entertaining me this weekend. It’s been a pleasure reading your words. Such clever storytellers.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – It was snuggling up to 9 p.m., just past the dogwatch.
Angelique Pacheco – The rain and fire dance in unison, one trying to outdo the other.
Christelle Bloem – President Hale in the flesh, come to clean up his own mess.
Steve Lodge – …all domestic grief, cats up trees, industrials, you know the stuff.
Nicola Tapson – …I met a man who wore a nondescript suit and had a combover.
Angelique Pacheco – Her coffee lies untouched on the bench, the steam wafting on the breeze.
Anne Chowdhury – A cool breeze came as if to greet him back home while disinfecting his clothes with an air-shower.
AJ Walker – Unbelievably, it should have been Arthur’s Bin Yard.
Alex Brightsmith – I was meant to be a byline, not a headline, but that’s all I’ll be unless somebody finds me before the tide comes in.
Christina Dalcher – I saw this as an ominous juxtaposition of life’s heart and death’s hand.
Carin Marais – It clawed at its own grotesque face that was better suited to be a gargoyle.
Stella Turner – Soon to be a cold case, just a box in a secure area.
Steph Ellis – The thought which had flitted through her mind in recent weeks resolved into solid determination.
Geoff Le Pard – A team of starched white-shirted minions beavered away in obscure rooms.
Caleb Echterling – An enormous blue and red temple, covered with blue and red yin/yang circles, rose before him.
Meg Kovalik – Well, if there’s one thing I know about breaks, it’s that there’s always ‘nother one not too far behind.
Steve Lodge – The Lights All Went Out
For making me laugh out loud at the Jack Carter/Indonesia line.
Honorable / Honourable Mention
Bill Engleson – The Night Beat with Whittle Truncate
For gritty dialogue with a sense of melancholy and shades of bitterness from two veterans facing retirement. Looks like Jimmy could learn a lot from these guys.
Carin Marais – A Spell for a Spell
A cleverly woven tale about the anchorman being stripped of his most precious possessions – his vanity and his voice. The dripping make-up, the rampaging ogre, the guns-blazing security, all in complete contrast to Fae being awakened by a chanting old woman. Loved it.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 44.
(insert drumroll here)
Bill Engleson – The Night Beat with Whittle Truncate
Reporter / Newsroom / “dramedy”
“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.
Christina Dalcher – My Name Ends with Me
Who would have thought that blueberries and hens could be the foundation for such a colourful story?
The powerful imagery carried me from mourning the depletion of hens to one, to cheering the majestic mating ritual and inhaling the scent of the plains, scrub and surrounding hills.
A truly magical piece which hooked me from the first sentence. Opening the story with the revelation that the reporter was deceased set the tension tone. Then, hens!
Johnathan Mayhew’s reporting of his own demise places him with the hens in death – splendidly done.
Reporter / Martha’s Vineyard / Crime
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.
Congratulations, Christina. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please let me (yes… my name ends with ‘ME’ too!) know whether or not you are interested ASAP!