Microcosms 58

Welcome, everyone, to another fun-packed flash challenge. This week, Stephen Shirres has stepped up to the plate and volunteered to act as guest host for Microcosms 58. Over to you, Stephen:

With the UK release of The LEGO® Batman™ Movie today, I thought we’d strap on our capes and go full superhero with a list of characters and settings you’ll find in most superhero comics / films / TV shows or any other place you’d encounter someone fighting crime in an odd costume.

[ Remember: fan fiction is NOT one of our options. So no tales of the Caped Crusader; save those for your pitch meetings with Warner Brothers. ]



(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact me.)


Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Sarcastic Butler, setting: Skyscraper, and genre: Memoir.

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 AND a title for your entry.

  • Arrogant Superhero
  • Adolescent Sidekick
  • Sarcastic Butler
  • Villain with Quirky Superpower
  • Dim Police Commissioner
  • Kidnap Victim
  • Secret Lair
  • Skyscraper
  • Mansion
  • Abandoned Theme Park
  • City Hall
  • Warehouse
  • Romance
  • Crime
  • SFF
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Comedy


Microcosms 57 Community Pick AND Judge’s Pick, Richard Edenfield, declined the offer to do the judging thing, so that pleasure has fallen to me.

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

(If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines.)

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.


If you need further inspiration, Stephen suggests you check out this promo video – purely optional.

Microcosms 59
Microcosms 57

41 thoughts on “Microcosms 58

  1. Snowman, Oilbutt, Bleach Blanket Bunko and the Kangaroo King

    “Mr. Commissioner…”

    “Yes, Treadwell, what is it?”

    “Time to go, sir.”

    “Where’re we going, Treadwell? I’ve had a long day.”

    “It’s noon, sir. A lunch meeting…”

    “Right. Where?”

    “City Hall, sir, with the Mayor and the Guernsey City Superhero Laureate Committee. Here are the applications forms. I’ve added some briefing notes.”

    “In other cities, they magically appear, do super-duper things. Here, we treat them like bloody poets.”

    “Sir, there are only so many of these types to go around. All the really great ones have been taken by cities with more…”

    “Crime, Treadwell?”

    “No, sir. Wealth. More… pizzazz. Guernsey City’s been on the downswing for many years. Crime’s gone up, we have a smaller police force…”

    “Yada yada… tell me something I don’t know…”

    “Well, we need a superhero. These four are the only ones who have applied. Bottom of the barrel, I’m afraid.”

    “Okay, this first one. Snowman. Thoughts, Treadwell.”

    “Well, our winters are getting longer. He only superheroes in freezing weather… he’d leave us defenceless much of the year.”

    “A deficit to be sure. Number two… Oilbutt?”

    “He’s good all year round. That’s a plus. But his crimefighting ways are a little messy, criminals covered in sludge and gunk. Hard to clean up.”

    “And this Bleach Blanket Bunko… what’s he about?”

    “He literally promises to clean up the city… but in the small towns he has served, crime – you know, petty stuff – has shot through the roof.”

    “And this last one, the Kangaroo King…”

    “We know so little about this one. He’s hopped around Australia for the past decade. Crushes criminals in one fell bounce. Messy. Very effective, though. There would be a savings in the Prison budget. Good all year round.”

    “Treadwell, it may be time for me to retire.”

    “It’ll be a committee decision, sir.”

    “That’s a comfort, Treadwell.”

    300 super heroes and counting
    Dim Police Commissioner; City Hall; Comedy

      1. I got a round tuit from a seaside novelty gift shop once…
        Amendment made, plus removing the uncertainty weather – oops! I mean whether – ‘sir’ should be capitalised or not.
        [ ‘…our winters are getting longer’, however, seems to contradict the argument in the rest of the statement. Thoughts, Engelson. ]

      2. Sir, I bow to your capital suggestion. As for the weather, it does get longer which might speak more kindly to Snowman’s effectiveness…inconsistency in weather reports are legion. Not a legion of superheroes but, numerous. So a dingbatman, dimly competent Police Commissioner’s flunky might offer competing words of advice in order to cover all his bases…

  2. Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    296 words
    Arrogant Superhero/ Mansion/ Comedy
    The Benefit

    Maddie watched the guests in their finery for any sign of impatience. Eric was late. Again. She knew that he liked to make an entrance, but being late to a benefit he was hosting…

    ‘There you are,’ she said with relief when he joined her, looking dashing in his black tuxedo. ‘You’ve got blood on your face,’ she hissed.

    ‘It’s not mine,’ he answered with a shrug, taking a flute of champagne from a passing waiter.

    ‘Seriously?’ She wiped at the blood with a tissue, hoping that no-one had heard or seen.

    ‘What’s the big deal? The streets are safer, these lot are happy to have a look around my mansion, I’ve exceeded my exercise goals for the third week in a row… And did I mention how lovely you look this evening?’

    Maddie was fuming, trying not to make a scene. She knew she looked good – he’d paid for the dress, telling her that she had to attend the benefit.

    ‘Enough!’ she hissed. ‘Being VP of your company has been great. But this,’ she motioned to the concealed weapons beneath his very expensive suit, ‘I can’t take it. Not anymore. It was nice when you saved me from the hooded criminals trying to take over the city. But you’ve gone too far.’


    ‘Running around in leather every night and tying people up…’ She shook her head. ‘You need therapy. Perhaps a stay in a mental facility. I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m done.’

    ‘Marry me!’ he exclaimed, grabbing her hand as she turned to leave.

    Everyone stared.

    Maddie counted to ten, exasperated.

    Right on cue, masked men rushed into the room, waving around automatic weapons. Eric left to put on his superhero costume, leaving Maddie to deal with everything. As per usual.

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  3. Alva Holland
    300 words
    Sarcastic Butler/Skyscraper/Memoir

    The Butler Didn’t Do It But He Wanted To

    ‘Dammit, Charles, my private penthouse elevator is out of order again. How many times is that this week? I’ve had to climb the stairs again. You know how that affects my knees.’

    ‘I’ll report it, sir. Do you wish me to schedule an appointment with Svetlana?’

    ‘Sadist Svetlana? Certainly not. I’ll survive.’

    As Charles performed his disappearing act, his employer settled himself into his red leather armchair, smoothed the front of his smoking jacket, held a match to the end of a Cohiba Robusto carefully selected from his mahogany humidor and settled his gaze on the sculpted nose of the Statue of Liberty across the harbour.

    ‘Sir, it’s Lady Pulmanup on the line. She wants to know if you’ll accompany her to the Fundraiser on Saturday evening.’

    ‘Lady Pulmanup? I could have done with her earlier, Charles. Know what I mean, ho ho, man.’

    ‘Indeed, sir. Quite humorous, sir.’

    ‘Oh, I suppose so. Prepare my white tux, Charles. Onyx cufflinks, wingtip spats. And my red silk-lined cape.’

    ‘As you wish. If I may, sir, there’s a requirement for pink.’


    ‘Indeed, sir. It’s a ladies’ cancer fundraiser. Something pink is required.’

    ‘Oh, sort it out, Charles, but make it subtle. I won’t be made a laughing stock, you hear?’

    ‘Of course, sir. Leave it with me.’

    ‘And, Charles, please ensure my newspapers are ironed and folded evenly today, corner to corner. Yesterday’s had two damned creases down the middle of the page. Most annoying.’

    ‘Apologies, sir, I was in a bit of a rush. It won’t happen again. Creaseless, folded evenly guaranteed. Would you like me to read them to you also, sir?’

    ‘I beg your pardon, Charles. Are you being insolent?’

    ‘Never, sir. Goodnight, sir. Timmy Teddy is on your pillow. Cheerios for breakfast as usual?’

    ‘Get out, Charles.’

  4. @Nthito
    300 Words
    Sarcastic Butler|Skyscraper|Memoir.

    The Birth of a Villain

    The staples in his abdomen had ripped out again, this time purposefully. Master “Gestirn” Goldstein barely flinched as he removed blood-drenched, clear plastic bags from his bulging gut. The carpeted floor of the penthouse loft was covered in vital fluids. Schneider Skyscrapers were going to need a good clean-up crew. As a butler, I cringed.

    “Pass me the tray,” he wheezed.

    I of course obliged, manoeuvring past dead FBI agents strewn about the sparse room to the tray angled awkwardly in one man’s skull.

    “Will you be serving me then, for once?”

    Master Goldstein merely smiled, and watched amused as I struggled to remove the tray. It was difficult with all the blood. It was also lodged quite deep.

    “I didn’t know you took drugs, Kristoff.”

    “Only when you’re around, Sir. I may need some after this.”

    “You’ll get used to it eventually.” Master Goldstein stood then, skin flapping over the spandex pants he wore – the only item of clothing on him. He had no intestines.

    “Well yes, when you were a caped crusader for justice. Who are you now, Robbing Hood?”

    He laughed as he casually removed the tray from the man’s skull. His laugh was a breathy, whistling sound from the constrictions in his body; an internal scar, and his arch nemesis’ greatest achievement.

    “I’ve found other ways to make a living now. A new body with a new function. I’ve been brought back to life.”

    “Well, that’s good for you, Master Franken-Stein.”

    Master Goldstein placed the bags on the tray, crushed powder in some, pills in others.

    “Franken-Stein. I like it.” He swept a gnarled hand through what was left of his golden mane. The charred scars of his face made him look like the monster he was becoming – or perhaps, had already become.

  5. Words: 300
    Used: adolescent sidekick, abandoned theme park, memoir


    The Taste of Blood

    “The only thing that I still remember from that day was tasting blood in my mouth while staring up at the gargoyle-like face of the faded wooden clown,” I lie.

    The theme park had been abandoned for sixteen years – since the night I was found. The night of the electric storm.
    Everything had been left behind that night. Uneaten food, stuffed animals, dropped shoes and sweaters. That night everyone knew that it was no ordinary electric storm. Everybody knew it was the masked figure in black. He had many names – I just thought of him as The Villain. The one who had killed my parents and left me for dead. Then our city’s hero found me and took me in. Raised me.

    “What do you remember after – “ she paused, “tasting the blood in your mouth?”
    “Getting struck by a bolt of light.”
    “The same kind that killed your father?”
    I nod.
    “Yet you remain relatively unscathed.”
    I laugh at her, then. The latest medical advances and I still bore the tracings of lightning on my skin.
    “What will you do now?”
    My father’s burnt corpse flashes across my vision.
    “What I have done since I was ten. Keep the city safe.”
    “You’re a teenager. You should go to school, get a boyfriend – or girlfriend,” she quickly adds.
    I stare at her and then nod, though what I want to do is hit her with the IV-stand.
    “I want to sleep,” I say and she leaves.
    When she’s gone I stare at the table at the foot of the bed, concentrate, and lift it with nothing but my thoughts. I grin. Now I know how to increase my power and scars are a small price to pay.
    I’ll need a new costume now, of course. I’ll need a new identity.

  6. In the summer of 1976, I concluded that Lord Worsley needed a nursemaid more than a valet. I entrusted him to Mrs Figgworthy, a matron whose peculiar ministrations proved a more satisfying balm to him than my decade of service.

    I assayed my chances in Manhattan. There, the agency told me, I would find employ as the personal gentleman of a leading commercial mogul. It proved a brief, unsatisfying engagement.

    After the sylvan calm of Liversedge, Lord Worsley’s country seat, my new employer’s domicile, a 5th Avenue penthouse suite, was dizzying. The alarming lack of restraint in decor was matched only by my employer’s deportment which did not, I fear, speak of the noblesse.

    His hair, to identify only his most striking accoutrement, was parlously in need of cutting. It perched in a precarious whirl atop his head resembling nothing so much as a Walnut Whip.

    ‘I hear, Sir,’ I informed him, ‘that Trumper’s of Jermyn Street have felt obliged to open an outpost of their emporium on west 33rd Street. Shall I make an appointment for sir to get a trim?’

    ‘Trumpers,’ he bellowed. ‘Great name. Really great. But I don’t need a limey touching my rug. I’ve got great hair. Marlene at Bloomingdale’s fixes it. Great girl. Yuge fringe benefits, if you catch my drift.’ He proffered me what I can only describe as a lascivious wink.

    Things worsened. My employer frequented establishments that he called gentleman’s clubs but bore scant resemblance to those havens of Pall Mall.

    At one such establishment, however, I encountered Mr Angelo ‘Pliers’ Santino one of my employer’s ‘connections’.

    Mr Santino engaged me in work that was both remunerative and stimulating, albeit bloody. It accounts for my present view, a barred window, overlooking Rikers Island and a remarkable departure from buttling.

    Sarcastic butler/Skyscraper/Memoir
    299 words

    1. Sorry – this held the tabs indenting paragraphs in the version I pasted into the comment window but appears to have removed them when I posted it. I would have removed them and separated paragraphs with lines had I known.

      1. Sorted that for you, John, as well as the apostrophe in “Bloomingdale’s” which seemed to have erroneously migrated to “Rikers Island”.

        In addition:
        1)”I assayed to the island of Manhattan.” doesn’t sound correct. Did you mean “ventured”?
        2) Geo. F Trumper, dear boy, have shops in Curzon Street (the original one) and Duke of York Street but, alas, not Jermyn Street. Which would you like to choose?
        3) I think the term is “gentlemen’s club”, rather than “gentleman’s club” (more than one member, one would hope!)
        4) My dictionary has “buttle” as a facetious variant of the verb “butler”. Ergo, “buttling”, one would assume, is not a word this fastidious manservant would use.
        [ Since Y is just above H on a QWERTY keyboard, I assumed at first that “Yuge” was a typo, but a little research put me right. 😉 ]

      2. Thanks for adding the lines there and for the comprehensive proof-read. I fear my haste has scuppered my chances. Blomgindale’s and Rikers are, of course, correct.

        In response to your other points:

        1. I should have assayed my chances in Manhattan. It’s the sort of pompous obscure verb my character would have at least used properly.
        2. Trumper’s barbers is on the corner of Jermyn St and Duke of York St. I took the literary liberty of an address that was more likely to be recognisable and synonymous with high end outfitting and the snooty world the narrator comes from. For full disclosure, there is also not one on West 33rd St in Manhattan lest my narrator be guilty of wanton deception! The name proved convenient in aiding hints about the employer.
        3. I was attempting with a single gentleman’s club to imply that there was only one (i.e. the narrator himself) in there and to hint at the incongruity of that term as a euphemism for a strip club. It probably didn’t come off.
        4. Whilst not definitive, the verb ‘to buttle’ is used in Wodehouse, the archetypal source of pompous butlers, and gets an airing in many a dictionary. (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/buttle or https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buttle) It describes the performance of a butler’s duties.

        The ‘Yuge’ was, indeed, a deliberate nod to the sort of man whose company I would leave for that of an honest to goodness murdering Mafioso. The typos, I can’t defend. Thanks for sorting them out, spotting my many stylistic shortcomings and, as ever, for providing this site for all of us.

      3. Only just retrieved your reply, John; it was marked “for approval” because of your web references. It’s not something that I have experience with.

  7. @Stellieb3
    300 words
    Sarcastic Butler/Skyscraper/Memoir

    Serving in Smith Mansion was one of the worst times in my life. As if being an undercover superhero wasn’t hard enough to do when you are a millionaire, can you imagine what it is like when you are the butler to one of the snobbiest billionaires in the country?
    My green cape and my black mask were the only things that gave me hope. That lady in Hale Street that was almost robbed whom I rescued; that little boy who almost lost his parents in a gang shooting. Those were the things I thought about every time Lambert shouted from his room that he wanted a new pair of slippers to wear downstairs.
    Now, I was looking at this brat that was holding up my cape and pretending to rip it apart as he laughed with his friend Josh.
    “Are you supposed to be a superhero or something, George?” he snickered at me.
    “No, Master Lambert,” I said sombrely.
    “What do you call this then?” Josh asked as he plucked the cape from Lambert and waved it in my face.
    “I went to a costume party,” I answered emotionless. They looked at each other for a minute, and then burst out laughing.
    Seriously? Which 30 year old goes to a superhero costume party?
    I suddenly pictured my previous evening’s events that transpired on the rooftop of one of the highest skyscrapers in town. I wondered what it would’ve been like to throw these two insolent teenagers from it.
    When I came back to earth, I realized that they had tossed it back on my bed and were busy arguing about something else. It was probably about who was getting to see Angela tonight.
    I sighed and walked out of the room. Perhaps I should’ve tossed myself off that skyscraper.

  8. Arrogant superhero secret lair memoir


    @geofflepard 297 words

    When I was 8, granny said her best superpower was blowing smoke rings. She blew one at the policewoman, WPC Ridsburn.
    ‘You know you can’t smoke here.’
    ‘Fascist.’ When granny used words like ‘fascist’ or ‘health nazi’ about anyone stopping her smoking indoors, they called her rude or arrogant.
    The WPC knew granny. We often ended up in the police station back then. She wore the look like mum got when she said a migraine was coming on. ‘Audrey, why break into the petting farm? With your granddaughter?’
    ‘We needed to hide. They were after us.’
    Granny gave me a nudge. Granny said it was where our new secret lair was and we needed to check it out. Finding secret lairs was another of granny’s superpowers. The last one, behind the rubbish bins at Sainsbury’s, had been boxed in after we were caught making a bonfire to cook the sausages. Granny’s cooking was not one of her superpowers.
    ‘Megan is 8. You know the social services will take an interest.’
    ‘Phooey. Intellectual Neanderthals.’ Back then granny said knowing long words was a superpower, but I think she enjoyed making others feel inferior.
    We waited in reception for mum to collect us. I fingered the rip in my Pikachu bag, failing to stop the tears.
    Granny said, ‘We’ll tell your mum you did that getting into the farm’ which would be another fib since it was the girls at school who did it, when they hit me. I didn’t understand why they hated me back then. They called us a ‘weird’ family.
    She rubbed the tears away. ‘So how will you remember today?’
    I managed a smile. ‘Breaking and entering.’
    ‘Good girl.’
    That was granny’s best superpower back then: changing those bad memories into good ones.

  9. Doomray – The Strike On Silensia
    by Steve Lodge

    300 words
    Sarcastic Butler/Mansion/Memoir

    I was with Joe in “Doomray,” filmed on location in Belzon in some old derelict castle, made to look like a mansion. Joe played the star, superhero Captain ‘Frisky’ Rhino. Lot of villains got gouged in the film, I recall. I had a small part, Ralph, the sarcastic butler. I told the director that Joe deserved a better script. He was playing, in essence, a one-trick pony disguised as a rhino.

    My lines weren’t much better. “Of course you don’t look a tit in that costume, Frisky.”

    But I’m here to tell you, he was good. Nominated and everything. Well, that was later. The crew left for the airport at the end of filming. We hired a car and headed for the nearest airbase. Joe wanted to entertain our troops there for a few days. They loved his stand-up comedy. It was more burlesque, slapstick. I was the straight guy, the buffoon and Joe the smiling charmer with the one-liners. We stayed about a week, then on the way to the airport, we got stopped by motorcycle cops with bushy moustaches.

    They didn’t know who we were, how could they? Just doing their jobs. Some traffic violation we’d committed. We didn’t get lippy with them but they dragged us off to a nearby police outpost.

    I wasn’t charged, but Joe was arrested on two counts. Apparently in Belzon, it is an offence to wear a baseball cap on backwards and to show tattoos in public. Who knew? Luckily, Jobby Dobbs and his brother, Squalid managed to get us over the border, quietly.

    “If they make a Doomray 2, tell them I am not interested if it’s filmed there again.” Joe was adamant about that. “I am adamant about that.” He said.

    A decent script would be good next time, too.

  10. @fictionaljenn

    300 words

    Sarcastic butler, Skyscraper, Memoir

    To serve

    “Tell me the story again,” the child pleaded.

    She sighed, setting the tray beside the bed and sat on the edge of the bed,her bones creaked as she did, “You’ve heard it many times that I worry it’s the only thing rattling around in that brain, little master,” she tapped his forehead, “but alright.”

    The child beamed as she cast her mind back to the past, twisting her frayed silk handkerchief between her wrinkled fingers, “I…She was called Servant because she lived to serve.”

    The gun skittered across the ground as she kneed the man, who was twice her size, in the stomach. He crumpled and she quickly bound the criminal’s hand with her signature silk handkerchief. The people in the helicopter hovering above the skyscraper cheered and applauded as she handed the man over to police officer panting near the stairs.

    “Thank you…again…Servant,” he wheezed.

    Servant bowed, black cape sweeping over her left shoulder, “I aim to serve, sir.”

    She straightened, waved to the helicopter before she dived off the edge of the skyscraper. She spread her fingers and the air whooshed through them. She smiled at her reflection in the skyscraper as she rode high on the adrenaline.

    The butler stood when the boy’s eyes slipped close. She picked up the tray and slipped out the room.

    She handed the tray to a servant and made her way to the master’s office. She peered in, waiting until he noticed her.

    Several minutes later, he held the phone away from his ear, “Well?”

    “His fever’s gone down. There’ll be no need for a doctor.”

    He grunted, “Good. Keep an eye on him. And deal with the lady’s mutts, will you? Damned thing made a mess in the parlour.”

    She bowed, mouth twitching, “I aim to serve, sir.”

  11. Sarcastic Butler/Mansion/Memoir
    Word count: 298


    He had seen three generations of Whitley’s come and go at the manor. He didn’t mean to be a sarcastic grump all the time, he was just tired. It had been a year since he’d had a good night’s sleep. Mister Whitley Junior, not junior Junior, asked him repeatedly where he went at night. He always replied with the same, “to bed Sir (read nit-Whit)! Where else?” eliciting a worried frown from single Junior. Double Junior would sit in the corner giggling his fool head off. Poor sod. Brains seemed to halve with each generation. If double Junior ever had children, they would be asked if they had been dropped on their heads as babies. More likely thrown against a wall if you ask me.

    He sighed wearily. He often woke up each morning with strange marks and bruises on his body that were not there when he went to bed the night before.

    One afternoon, he noticed single Junior leaving his cottage. On the mat in front of his door, lay a brown envelope with a computer disc in it. He walked into his home that had served him and his wife’s needs for thirty years, until she had died last year. He inserted the disc into his laptop.

    At first he wasn’t sure what he was looking at. It was nighttime in an alley and some thugs were vandalizing private property. Next, he appeared on the screen wearing a curtain for a cape and his specs. He gave the thugs a quick one-two, and then ran off. A note accompanied the disc that said, “I follow you every night to make sure you’re okay.”

    He looked from the note to the screen and exclaimed to the empty room, “Well, crap! No wonder I’m always so tired!”

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  12. @GeoffHolme
    490 words
    Kidnap Victim / Secret Lair / Crime

    This is way over the maximum word count but as it’s a “Just for Fun” entry, indulge me!
    [ It was my submission to “Finish That Thought” 3-7 (18-AUG-2015) ]


    Under normal circumstances, I’d be glad that someone killed my captor.

    Ha! Did I really just write ‘Under normal circumstances’? As if being kidnapped and held against my will, in a concrete bunker, underneath a detached house, in a remote location, in an enchanted forest (not really… I made up that last bit…must be low blood sugar…) for 11 years, 8 months, 13 days and 7 hours (roughly) had happened to me on numerous previous occasions?

    The bunker is well appointed: soft, comfortable bed, sofa, a wardrobe full of clothes in my size, a separate wet room. There’s a kitchen diner with a table and chairs, and a laundry room. I also have lots of books, a radio and a TV.

    My captor told me to call him Sebastian. At first, I was afraid of him, but he never did anything to harm me, never tried to force his attentions on me. In fact, he was kind, courteous and considerate. He seemed to derive pleasure simply from looking after me. He only appeared at weekends, bringing enough provisions to last until his next visit. He liked to talk to me about his week, and asked how I had spent my time; sarcasm or silences would make him sad and withdrawn, and he would soon leave. Since he was the only human contact I had, it became preferable to converse civilly with him. Oh, I know what you’re probably thinking: Stockholm syndrome. Nothing could be further from the truth. I loathed him for what he had done and longed for the day when I might be released from this nightmare existence.

    Before leaving on Sunday evening, he would ask if I needed anything. He was very embarrassed the first time I told him that I needed sanitary towels; after that, I asked for a notebook and pens, so that I could make lists for him. That enabled me to keep a diary. And to write this final note.

    Last weekend, for the first time, he didn’t show up.

    A few days later, on the local TV news there was a report of scaffolding falling from a lorry and through the windscreen of an overtaking car, killing the driver. The driver’s licence was in the name of Colin Butterworth but the photo they showed was, to my profound shock, of Sebastian. The police were appealing for anyone who knew him – family or friends – to get in touch with them.

    Over the months and years, I’ve often thought about and cried for my family and friends, believing that, after all this time, they will have abandoned any notion of seeing me again and assumed that I am dead. I soon will be, unless someone can quickly figure out that Colin Butterworth had an alter ego, and where he spent his weekends.

    And that’s the reason why I’m not jumping for joy that someone killed my captor. That and the low blood sugar.

  13. The Butler and Mr. Butler

    Grieves sat back in the antique-look plastic-leather seat which squeaked when his arse slipped.

    ‘Sorry Mr Butler,’ Grieves said. ‘That was the chair not me.’

    ‘Ha ha! Don’t worry Grieves,’ said Butler, the smarmy chat show host. ‘We’ve read your memoirs and you show yourself to be nothing less than honest in every page. “Warts and all” the New York Times Book Review says.’

    Grieves nodded sagely. ‘Who am I to argue?’

    ‘Exactly. Me too. Look obviously I haven’t had time to read it, but my researchers tell me it’s a damn good read. Even some jokes in it.’

    Grieves shrugged. ‘There are some pictures in it too, Mr Butler.’

    ‘Steve, please. You’re the butler. Well you were.’

    ‘Okay, Mr Butler.’

    ‘You’re not going to call me Steve, are you?’

    ‘No, Mr Butler.’

    Butler dropped the hefty tome on his desk with a thud. ‘So, apart from the warts can you give us a flavor of what we would find in the book? If we had time to read it.’

    ‘It’s a memoir, Mr Butler. So it’s just a selection of some stories, largely of my time with Mr Dyson.’

    ‘Mr Dyson the Superhero.’

    ‘Some call him that yes. I just called him Mr Dyson, Mr Butler.’

    ‘Well, I suppose you would. Any particular anecdote you can quickly tell us about before the Ad Break?

    ‘You mentioned doing the ‘Skyscraper one’ in rehearsal, Mr Butler. Shall we stick with that one?’

    Butler grimaced. It was like pulling teeth. He much preferred interviewing super models or TV stars.

    ‘Yes, yes. Do tell!’

    ‘Doesn’t everyone know it though?’

    ‘But you tell it so well.’

    ‘Well, Mr Dyson and I were on the top of Trump Tower and…’

    The Ad Break cut in early.

    And the President tweeted ‘MORE FAKE NEWS.’

    A.J. Walker
    WC 300

    Sarcastic Butler/ Skyscraper/ Memoir

  14. @stellakateT
    Sarcastic Butler / Skyscraper / Memoir
    295 words

    What the Butler Saw

    I remember it well, the day she arrived. It was like Jackie Kennedy when she entered the White House on Jack’s arm. The world was in a frenzy due to the shape, colour and slant of that hat. This day, no one except me knew of Honeygirl’s arrival. I remember cringing at her name; my God, she was hardly a girl! Workouts in the gym and that skin-tight outfit made her look less than her age. It’s reported she got a hacker to change the year on her birth certificate. Thank God for fillers, lipo-suction and the whole cosmetic industry. She’ll need it all.

    Bill Wilson, my boss, had asked me to be discreet. I gave him one of my looks. The things I’ve seen in this penthouse apartment I could have told The Inquirer and retired to the Caribbean a very rich man. Discreet? I’m the epitome of discretion. Mr Wilson does not know the times I’ve been headhunted by representatives of Prince Charles, Donald Trump and assorted Saudi princes, and turned the riches down. I’m too loyal for that.

    It was totally my fault that Honeygirl fell down the lift shaft. I elbowed her as she reached over to get a petit four. One hundred and three floors! When she finally hit the bottom I heard her scream “My fingernail!”. I presume it was broken.

    She never returned. Martin took her home and now they are married. Mr Wilson was best man. I’d saved him from a fate worse than death. He fights villains; he has no need of marital strife. My ex wife was a gorgon… now that’s another story.

    This little anecdote and many others will appear one day in my memoirs. I will be better known than all the superheroes.

      1. Nice to have you back, Stella. I’m afraid fan fiction isn’t allowed due to copyright infringement. Would you like to change the names to protect against the litigious? (After all, BW lived in a mansion, didn’t he?)

  15. A Meal Fit For A God

    A 273 word flash fiction memoir by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece) set in a skyscraper with a sarcastic butler.

    It all started so well. The President liked, as much as he liked anything, his recommended West Coast residence.

    “Not bad, not as good as my own penthouse, nothing is as good as mine,” he said as he stepped from the official car. The little flags fluttering in the wind. Even the elevator wasn’t quite as good or as fast as his own. Yet he still gasped at the view of the Bay Area.

    “Good day, sir.” The penthouse’s butler, accent as crisp as it was English, entered. “How may I assist?”

    “Cook me the greatest burger in the history of the world,” the President demanded.

    The butler gave a small cough. “But the chef is presently out food shopping, sir. You arrived earlier than we expected.”

    “I am a great man, the earliest man and too important to wait.” The red of his anger almost burned through his orange tan. “Get me my burger.”

    “Of course, sir.” The butler’s training forced him to bow as he left. Before the door closed, he ushered me to follow.

    In the kitchen, the butler checked the fridge, but it was bare. The cupboards contained only one tin. His ruler-straight face gave a twitch of a smile. He tipped the dog food into a bowl, tapped in some smoked paprika and smashed it into a burger patty. The smell from the grill was foul. Topped with a bowlful of strong mustard and a burger bun, the smell was no more than a hint.

    “A meal fit for a god,” the President shouted with a mouth full of jelly.

    “Something like that, sir,” the butler replied.

    Report user
  16. Caleb Echterling
    Villain with a Quirky Superpower/warehouse/comedy
    297 words

    It Is an Honor to Come to the Defence of Akron’s Haberdasheries

    In the dimly lit heart of Akron’s Warehouse District, the president of Leisurely Ladies’ Fashions paced the perimeter of a second floor office. The elevator doors dinged, and a man in a tweed suit walked out. “Cracking lift, love. I assume you’ve agreed to my proposal.”

    The president slumped into a desk chair. “The company can’t raise that kind of cash on short notice.”

    “Very well then. Until you pay the ransom, you shall feel the wrath of The British English Speller.” He took a cup of tea from a secret compartment in his vest and snapped his fingers. “All the signs in your store are now pushing the new spring line made from synthetic fibre. With an -re ending.”

    The president hopped to her feet. “Say, that’s not bad. We’re selling the same crap, but now it sounds classier. Switch a few letters around, and we can glamorize the entire product line.”

    British English Spelling Man howled and clutched his ears. “You bugger. You’re spelling glamourise wrong.”

    “I’m only talking. How can you tell that I’m spelling it wrong?”

    A pale fist shook at the heavens. “Curse the day when that radioactive Oxford English Dictionary bit me. I can see when you Americans add a zed or drop a ‘u’.”

    Shattered glass rained from the skylight. A man wrapped in thin, shiny metal tumbled to the floor. Unbuttoned sleepware flapped about his chest. “Aluminum Foil Man here to thwart my evil archnemesis! Sorry about the pajamas, but it’s past my bedtime.”

    The British English Speller ran screaming, “You win this round, Aluminium Foil Man, but I’ll be back.” He dove head-first into the elevator shaft.

    The company president rubbed her chin. “Have you ever considered selling knock-offs of your costume? Superhero licensed apparel is big now.”

  17. Plot Device

    He gives you the warehouse gig because he knows what’s lurking in there.

    You asked for it, though, asked to take a more active role. After all, you’d earned your black belt before popping your first pimple. Certainly you can handle more than merely cuffing the criminals once he’s incapacitated them with excessively-showy roundhouse kicks. You’re not complaining or anything, but you think you could figure more in the crime fighting.

    “Fine,” he relents—pretends to relent, rather. “You want to go it alone?” He scans the commissioner’s alert log.

    “Alone? No! It’s just—” you try to argue. You still consider the two of you a team, but the more puberty does in shaping your cheekbones and carving your scrawniness into muscle, the more impatient he’s grown with you. He doesn’t ruffle your hair like he used to.

    “Commotion at the warehouse,” he reads, as if he’d picked it randomly.

    “Wait, we—”

    He tosses you the keys to the Falcon Copter and ducks into the Secret Lab. You hear the click of the lock behind him.

    Your shadow stretches into the warehouse. Something enormous and alien slides over oily cement. Out of the darkness, a snaky appendage whips around your ankle and hauls you toward the rafters. It rumbles with a hunger that could swallow the moon. You barely make an appetizer.

    The alien maw slams around you, and you realize what’s been going on all along: you were never the sidekick. You were placed here to give the hero a backstory. Your demise will make it harder for him to bond with the real sidekick, the pluckier one, the more baby-faced one. One that won’t upstage the rugged handsomeness of the hero.

    Yep, loss lends layers, like the easily dissolved parts of your spandex costume.

    Nancy Chenier
    298 words

  18. Sian Brighal
    300 words
    Kidnap victim / Mansion / Horror

    The Victims of a Kidnap

    The large house creaked as night settled upon its decrepit wings and bent roof, but the old woman sitting on the stained and tattered sofa seemed to be unfurling, as though the familiarity of age’s trials offered some comfort. And while she sat and shadows lengthened, she and her captors waited for the call: sonny boy had paid the ransom money.

    ‘Would you mind, dear,’ she finally asked, her voice scratchy, ‘if I could have something to drink.’

    The closest man shrugged and stood; he wasn’t a complete monster. He sauntered over to a cool box and flipped open the lid. He was reaching inside when something wet and warm splashed on the back of his hand.

    ‘Hey Freddie, I think the cooler’s dead.’

    Just outside, Manny heard the ringtone and grinned mirthlessly. About time! He’d had enough of the old biddy and that funny little twitch of the lips every time he looked at her. He’d done this many times, seen many expressions, but that pitying glance and quirky pout of hers was driving him nuts. No one was picking up. Angry, he stormed in.

    Great! They’ve left her alone, the amateurs.

    He plucked up the phone.


    ‘The kid ain’t paid. Said we should do what we have to do.’

    Manny snorted and ended the call. And he would have done it, but there came the soft tinkle of breaking glass and the impression of black fabric dancing with diamond shards and silver dust motes as a caped figure burst through a window and landed before him.

    ‘You’re not safe, madam,’ he shouted frantically.

    ‘I know,’ the old lady sighed.

    And Manny pulled the trigger.

    The hero shook his head and mouthed dying entreaties and the thug whooped in delight.

    ‘He didn’t mean it quite like that, dear.’

  19. @firdausp
    (252 words)
    Villain with a quirky power/ skyscraper/ romance

    Mystic Mist

    Mystic Mist was at the beck and call of the most dreaded gangster in the city. She loved him so much. Not a bad person at heart but she couldn’t not help him when he needed her–and that was all the time– especially to bump off his enemies.

    Now Mystic Mist had a peculiar power– she could vapourise into a pink mist. This might seem a harmless power but believe me, it was quite lethal. She just had to settle over somebody, leave a little Mist on him, and when the sun came out he would harden into a pillar of concrete and crumble into dust. No tension about disposing of a body, and thus her love was always safe.

    One day it so happened that she declared her love to him. It was the wine, perhaps, that made her speak. She was horrified by not just his rejection but that he laughed at her for even thinking about him. She felt humiliated and angry.

    That evening she climbed to the top of the skyscraper, his headquarters for all the illegal activities. She cried well into the night. At dawn she settled gently on every surface, corner and curve of the skyscraper and everything within, even on the man she loved. She stretched herself thin until she was no more.

    When the sun came out, the skyscraper and everything within turned to jelly. It wobbled in the strong wind. Then the bright sun melted it into a large pool of pink.

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