Thanks to all who submitted! We had a total of 13 entries this week.
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 Sian Brighal for judging MC 66. Here’s what she had to say:
This wasn’t easier the second time round. The entries were a delight to read. I am still amazed at the range of responses these prompts generate. The stories I ultimately selected were so close to each other, and placing them was incredibly difficult; they had me smiling, sighing, sniffling and jumping at everything.
I made my decisions, and I won’t be able to speak with my Aunt Reen about no nails in the same way again. She may wonder why I keep grinning. I probably won’t be playing the clarinet for a while, either. It’s been a pleasure, and thank you all for the brilliant stories. Good job!
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – The way he looked away from me.
This line summed up so much in this wonderful story about behaviour, doing what needs to be done, what thoughts hang over such things.
Angelique Pacheco – Her friend Mary had spoken of the years of abuse suffered at his wife’s hands and she was too afraid to speak out against her.
The title takes on its meaning with this line, and the whole story flips on its head.
Carin Marais – Gone were the electric lights, noise, and pollution of the city, replaced by the notes of the music that now sounded even sweeter than it had inside the confines of the hospital.
Combined with the rest, this sentence brings home the liberation felt by the two dancers as they left the confining world behind and found the next.
Alva Holland – Patient placated by a Gibson ’57.
After a bit of googling, this line made me smile for its linking of elements.
Geoff Le Pard – It’s wonderful to find your voice, she thought, but only if the people hearing it matter to you.
Poignant and bittersweet last line.
Dana Faletti – Erik’s song weaves through my mind, torturous.
This has got to be the most painful line…haunted by it.
Stephen John Lodge – She always had the kettle on and people were popping in for a cup at all hours, even though her tea could rot concrete.
This line created such a nostalgic mood and, for me, showed the strength and courage of Aunt Reen, which made the ending harsher.
Nicola Tapson – The Mardi Gras Disaster – The flowers flew.
I have this image of pots flying through the air and the sheer chaos of it.
Fatima Okhuosami – This time it wasn’t Flobuster but a middle aged man with a prescription before her.
I can almost see the dream getting crushed under the weight of life.
Stephanie Ellis – … so that her last breath filtered up and out of the instrument in a long tormented wail.
A shocking turn of events, and the image is disturbing and haunting.
AJ Walker – Go on then, why not. Let’s put the band back together!’
Made me smile. This is true camaraderie.
Stella Turner – I’ll be the victim in court.
This line just hits you hard, putting it all together.
Patrick Stahl – It’d always helped him with the blues, that much was for sure.
This line popped out when I reached the end; made me think that he was just as classy, forgiving and carrying on.
Patrick Stahl – Until Dawn
I enjoyed the flow of this piece, with the mix of short punchy sentences and longer, flowing descriptions, adding a bluntness to the tragedy and stretching out the reflections upon such. The lack of recriminations, but ‘classy’ acceptance of their state, also appealed, tugging a little at the heartstrings. Lovely piece.
Dana Faletti – The Guardian
An incredibly bittersweet story of getting and losing. The start built you up and the middle hurled you down. The end was a soothing solace. I enjoyed how the story wove the concept of music and sound throughout, enforcing the passion for music and making the loss all the more brutal.
Honourable / Honorable Mention
Stella Turner – I Need My Fifteen Minutes.
This was such a shocking piece! It led you one way and then another until the cold truth slipped in like a knife in the back. The lengths people will go to! The way the narrative went from a seemingly clumsy and sweet performer to coldly intelligent and vicious plotter was jarring. The use of first person here made the piece seem more direct and intimate…as though I was involved in some way in the whole thing.
Steph Ellis – Meat on the Bone
I do like horror, and this didn’t disappoint. The description was excellent, helping to create a delightfully gruesome picture, and the brutality in it, in so few words, was just brilliantly written. The expressions and phrases used were a great way of adding depth to the story. I found it interesting that the event centred on the concept of a Preacher ‘offering’ to feed a ‘beggar’, and the almost religious phrasing of ‘do unto’ later in the story. This gave the story a depth of feeling and richness. And of course, the ending, which implied that such a meal was not the first nor the last…or even a terrible thing to do.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 66.
(insert drumroll here)
Carin Marais The Man in Blue
Musician; Hospital; Fantasy
Music drifted through the silent hallways of the hospital as the clocks outside tolled the midnight hour. Sleeping patients woke as a figure dressed in blue slowly stalked down the long hallways, silver flute pressed to his lips. Around him nurses and doctors seemed not to notice the music or the figure, only seeing that the patients became restless in their beds.
Here and there patients peeked from the doors at the tall, skinny man whose long coat was hidden in midnight shadow. Some said prayers and crossed themselves, willing their feet not to move to the sound of the ethereal music. At last one man stepped from his room, following the unearthly music and the man in blue.
Step for step he followed the dark figure, entranced, swaying to the music that only the dying could hear. A woman joined him, white nightgown shining in the hospital’s half-dark hallways. Together they danced-walked-waltzed behind the man in blue, out of the wards and through the reception to a lush moonlit garden appearing just outside the sliding door.
Gone were the electric lights, noise, and pollution of the city, replaced by the notes of the music that now sounded even sweeter than it had inside the confines of the hospital. The man turned to them, revealing his midnight cloak to be shining wings. He lowered the flute from his lips, but the music remained. Around them the night garden bloomed.
Bill Engleson – Zebra’s Folly
I read through this one many times. The first line set up a scene of childish escapism into a realm of glory and wealth from the gloomy, maybe Spartan, attic, and when you delved a bit more, it revealed a world of a pair going through life as best they could. The writer doesn’t give away the feelings of the narrator, rather allowing us to draw our own conclusions about the woman and child and their progress through life. Maybe dropping hints through the actions and words of the cab driver, and Mae’s optimism versus the narrator’s description of events rather than disclosure of his feelings. The sense of determination and hope overshadowed by a sense of doom or weight of unfulfilled endeavours made it a powerful piece for me.
300 downtown moments
Prostitute; Brothel; Memoir
Some nights, I slept under the bed in the attic. I imagined it was cave, deep down in the earth, as far away as an spelunker could get from Zebra’s Folly.
The first time Mae called me her little spelunker, we had only been in the Zebra’s Folly and Fandango Pleasure Palace for one night.
She’d crawled into bed oozing of sweetness and death and slobbered in my ear, “It’ll be a goldmine, my little spelunker. Let’s dig deep. Make it work.”
We’d caught the Greyhound out of Chicago after midnight two nights before.
I was almost seven.
We were always on the move.
“It’s sudden, baby boy,” she’d cuddled me as I drifted off in her arms, the highway whizzing by, the bus as dark and foul as a sewer, wretched snoring going on in the back, tearing into the other grunts and the smells. She then said something close to what she always said. “I know I promised we’d plan for the next time but it isn’t always easy. Chicago ain’t for us. We’re goin’ south.”
A dozen cities hadn’t been for us. And we’d been north and east and west and south a thousand times.
I slept anyways. It was always the only smart thing to do.
“Wake up, kiddo,” Mae finally woke me a thousand hours later. “Time to say hello to St Louis, Missouri.”
We’d hustled off the bus and caught a cab.
Mae asked the driver, “You know the Zebra’s place?”
I saw his look. The way he looked at Mae. The way he looked away from me. He then said, “Yeah, I know where it is. It ain’t a place for kids, Lady.”
“Just drive,” Mae’d said. “Drive and mind your own beeswax.”
Mae was always on top of the world…until she wasn’t.
Congratulations, Bill. As this week’s Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge Microcosms 67! Please let us know whether or not you are interested ASAP!