Thank you to everyone who sent in a VSS (Very Special Submission) in Microcosms 49. We had another fine turn-out – 18 entries in all.
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.
MICROCOSMS EXPRESS : Advance Passenger Announcement
Change to normal service during the holiday period
In order to give the hard-working staff (Bob Cratchit and myself) at Microcosms Inc. a Christmas break, there will be no contest post in week 51 and 52. Instead, to avoid withdrawal symptoms from going ‘cold turkey’, there will be a simple photo prompt to fire your fervent imaginations in a ‘just-for-fun’ challenge, should the festive entertainments begin to cloy.
Many thanks to Alva Holland for judging MC 49. Here’s what she had to say:
Once again, I missed writing a story for this week’s competition, but I was fully compensated by the presentation of eighteen clever takes on the inventive VSS prompts.
It’s always a delight to read the submissions to Microcosms Fiction, whether as a judge or a participant, and always an honour to be asked to choose my favourites. Thank you all. This week’s stories are, as always, hugely entertaining, so here goes.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
John Herbert – The town was dying and, even without the rats, it was a cramped insanitary hovel.
Nthato Morakabi – The stars had winked out of existence and the moon was but an ethereal shadow.
Ronel Janse Van Vuuren – By the time we’d started to freak out, it was already too late: the cold had slithered into our town.
WolfRich93 – Freshly harvested from some luckless individual, not quite chance-encountered on the sidewalk, a mile or so ago.
Sian Brighal – As a kid, keeping away from home, the buses had been magic carpets.
Angelique Pacheco – They pretend to celebrate his birthday but make no mention of him.
Angelique Pacheco – She wasn’t the kind of lady to frequent a greasy spoon joint.
Geoff Le Pard – It was only when she saw how translucent I’d become that she softened.
A J Walker – I pity the people without earplugs.
Bill Engleson – … when they go to ground, finally wake up and make their break, well, they got a beaten-down look that’s heartbreaking.
Nicola Tapson – This is going to be a long inquisition.
Sal Page – The dog leapt at me, meaty breath in my face.
Steph Ellis – Ominous skies growled.
Carlos Orozco – No-one does DUI checkpoints any more so I spend my time at the bar.
Voima Oy – I have seen them, shadowy riders, waiting on the ridge.
Geoff Holme – I found it in a low-life DEGENERATE that EVOLUTION had side-stepped.
Caleb Echterling – The ranger searched me for drugs, alcohol, fireworks, feral cats and Amway products at the park entrance.
Geoff Holme – ‘You kinda remind me of Xander.’
Special Mention – Most Entertaining Title
Bill Engleson – A Bit of a Chinwag Last Saturday Morning at Delmar Dipple’s 24-hour Fine Eats and Bakery
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Voima Oy – Somewhere on the Silk Road
There’s a huge story in this micro piece, full of colourful imagery and fear.
Geoff Le Pard – And What Did You Do In The War?
For the Obs, Bods, Norms, Elites, Minds and Omni Goddesses. This story transcends fantasy worlds and I loved the prison/refuge analogy.
Geoff Holme – A Writer’s Life for Me
Ingenious crafting to incorporate each of the daily Flash Dog prompts from November, producing an engaging account of a writer’s life.
John Herbert – A Grey and Famous Town
This rich and quirky tale, based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin, grabbed me from the first line, and held me through to the last wrapping-up statement, ‘And so Hamelin grows grey, rich, crimeless and fat.’ Loved it!
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 49.
(insert drumroll here)
John Herbert – A Grey and Famous Town
Sheriff / Blockade / Memoir
Most will, of course, have heard of my little town and the incidents that followed our infestation. But you may not know how we became the oldest, richest town in Saxony.
The Burgermeister, von Karsten, sent me, as Sheriff, to clear the first blockade, when we were overrun with vermin. Rats crawled through the streets like fear up a sinner’s spine and the guilds blocked the gates of the town in protest at the Burgermeister’s inaction. No fruits, no market, no trade. The town was dying and, even without the rats, it was a cramped insanitary hovel.
Herr von Karsten found the piper, some magical fellow from Wittenberg all got up in a ridiculous outfit as these fellows often are. He did the job though; after an hour’s negotiation with the Burgermeister and the guilds, he elbowed his way through the blockade. An hour later, he had no need of elbows when the vermin swarmed behind his pipe.
You may have heard of the second blockade, when he doubled his original price. This time, von Karsten stood with the guilds at the town gates and the pied fool stood, stamping his foot and demanding his money. Then, as you know, it was the children, slack-jawed and drooling, who broke the blockade from behind, following the piper’s back as they burst through the crowd.
But few will have heard of the third blockade, when the men of Hamelin blocked my way when the Burgermeister ordered me to pay the piper’s fee. ‘No rats, no children, a quiet house, an attentive wife,’ Josef Henkel, the butcher, beat one fist in another to make his point. ‘Why pay to be rid of this? We can breed again. But who would want to?’
And so Hamelin grows grey and rich, crimeless and fat.
Caleb Echterling – Everyone Loves White Bread
I love otters! This piece cracked me up. The idea of an otter war council, an otter in a cat costume policing the paddleboat, and polyester bell-bottoms! I am not ashamed to admit I was the proud owner of a pair of polyester bell-bottoms in the ’70s. There! I said it. This splendid, absurd tale runs away with my top pick.
Novice / Blockade / Comedy
An otter wearing a cat costume hopped on Kaitlyn’s paddleboat. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” the otter said, “but I have to ask you to submit to a search. No contraband allowed on the island.”
Kaitlyn’s legs stopped pumping. The boat bobbed in the three acre pond, halfway between the dock and Duck Island. “The ranger searched me for drugs, alcohol, fireworks, feral cats, and Amway products at the park entrance. I’m clean.”
“That’s all well and good, but us otters have our own definition of contraband. The ducks on Duck Island have been getting entirely too much white bread. We want in on the action.”
“What if I say no?”
The otter swished its tail. “Not sure about that. I’m a novice at the whole blockade thing. Maybe I splash water on your shoes? Or tickle you into submission?”
Kaitlyn shook her head. “A blockade will never work with those terrible ideas. You need something serious. Like ruining my credit rating. Or swapping my kitchen counters with the floor from a bus station bathroom.”
The otter’s claws tapped a teletype transmission as it danced a jig in the empty seat next to Kaitlyn. “This is the kind of strategic thinking we need on the otter war council. What would it take to get you on our side?”
“Sure, why not? Do I get to wear a nifty uniform like you?”
“The cat gear is to throw off the park staff. The war council all wear polyester bell bottoms. It’s a well known fact that 1970s fashion throws fear into a duck’s heart.”
“I can do a skinny tie. How do ducks feel about 80s fashion?”
“Eighties’ fashion? Traitor!” The otter tickled Kaitlyn’s feet. She smacked it into the water with a loaf of sourdough.
“Geez. I’ll just eat this myself.”
Congratulations, Caleb. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms – the last contest of 2016. Please let me know whether or not you are interested ASAP!