Thanks to everyone who entered! We had a total of 18 entries this week. Wow!
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 CR Smith for judging MC 68. Here’s what she had to say:
Wow! That was hard work trying to pick a winner. Even choosing a line was difficult with each story containing so many good ones. But as judges always say, someone has to win. So, before we get to the winners here are some of my favourite lines.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Geoff Holme – Learning jazz xylophone could promise a route out…
Ewan Smith – Sometimes, I obsessed about combining the creeping damp and the bare electric wires to create a cockroach killing machine.
Carin Marais – We stood by the doorway between the standing stones when the sky turned the deep purple-blue- black colour of a bruise.
Alva Holland – The wind blows the rain sideways and the bars merge into a QR code.
Bill Engleson – I’m in slippers and robe. Can’t get more casual in this neighbourhood.
Geoff Le Pard – We had a Bat based economy and now we have a business mutiny that is ready to explode.
Stella Turner – Sadie would laugh and say whenever did you see a rusty man?
Fatima Okhuosami – She blew off a stream of smoke and looked me over. “Forty dollars per night, payment before service, and I leave first thing in the morning.”
Ronel Janse van Vuuren – There’s a special kind of magic that happens when you can hear the music call and change as you sing.
Michael Emerson – they had talked about the giant Bat-Man, the hawks, the smog, the propensity of the buildings to blow up, but David had to admit that he loved it.
Angelique Pacheco – A stone hits it squarely in the head and it falls dead, tangled in the barbed wire as it poses brutally with its wings outstretched, staring unseeingly into the blue summer sky.
Sian Brighal – I’d watched grainy films projected on wrinkled bedsheets of people singing and dancing in the rain.
Frank Key – Hurricane Ike’s fiercest raindrops pounded my cheeks as if thrust with the hydraulic force of nail gun.
AJ Walker – Of course then our Alex moved out a few weeks later and we lost the H and the idea went with him (along wait his wobbly bass).
Steph Ellis – Luke savoured the violence of the storm outside, defied the lightning as it knifed its reflection down the aisle to sink its blade into the hanging man.
Caleb Echterling – All the letters packed three deep into Alphabet Street
Firdaus Parvez – The rain seems to be writing cryptic messages on my window panes.
Honourable / Honorable Mentions
Stella Turner – Plant Food
I liked the subtle humour and the resigned attitude of the narrator recalling his vague memories.
Steph Ellis – Hell on Earth
Nice sense of menace running through the whole piece. I’ve judged these blind but I think I may have guessed the author of this one.
AJ Walker – The Closest Thing to Hip
And why wouldn’t you have a letter for each house instead of a number on a street named Alphabet? I liked the inclusion of no 9 from round the corner and the nod to XTC.
Ewan Smith – Alphabet Street
There is a lot to like about this piece. The inclusion of poetry made me chuckle as did the narrator’s incredulity at what occurred in their youth. Who hasn’t looked back and asked themselves what the hell they were thinking? And I especially liked the idea of a cockroach killing machine.
Sian Brighal – I Know Why Doves Cry
An atmospheric piece looking at a post-apocalyptic existence. Great first line describing people watching a grainy film projected onto a crinkled sheet; super image. Loved the ominous ending, too.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 68.
(insert drumroll here)
Angelique Pacheco – 1999
A grey dove perches precariously on a barbed wire fence. It coos and ruffles its feathers, basking in the dewy morning light. A stone hits it squarely in the head and it falls dead, tangled in the barbed wire as it poses brutally with its wings outstretched, staring unseeingly into the blue summer sky.
He picks up another stone. It doesn’t bother him that the dove is dead. He has killed far bigger animals. Each kill prepares him for the next and he needs to practice. He knows that killing a human being will require enormous courage, and he knows he has none. He just has to get over the fear that encases him all the time and commit to his moment of truth.
He didn’t mean for it to get this bad. His mom told him to ignore them, they would pick on someone else, but they never did. They kept coming for him because he never reacted. He thought that it would show strength. Maybe if he had punched out Billy Marksen the first time he stole his school bag, it all would have ended there. His friend back then, Peter, was bullied for a short while, but he stood up to them and now he was popular. Billy and Peter are friends now. The girls are no better. Waspish, their tongues let loose, as evil cackles from their mouths. He often pictures them sitting in roosting trays, their big backsides squashing eggs out. They are vile things, the whole lot of them. Billy will die first, and then the girls. Peter will be the last to die. He will get a chance to run because he wasn’t always bad.
He carefully aims his sling shot at a cat who has wandered into his line of sight.
Caleb Echterling – Let Them Pronounce Cake
This one made me laugh. From the title to the last line it’s just fabulous. Loved the alliteration in that first line and the idea of the C locked in mortal combat with K, not to mention the backpack of knickknacks used to attack Qu.
The letter C slammed a cup of coffee on the conference table. “My proposal is a fight to the death using canes. Or cutlery. That will decide who owns the /k/ sound once and for all.”
The letter K tossed a highball of iced Kahlua into C’s face. “Your fantasy contests can’t disguise the fact that you’re stealing the hard k sound from me. It’s got my name for god’s sake.” The letters lunged across the table and locked limbs in mortal combat, as if Mortal Kombat had hijacked Sesame Street’s letter of the day.
A white dove squawked at the brawlers. Her beak jabbed at exposed faces. Her wings boxed tender ears. “Dammit, people, this is not how court-ordered mediation works. Now come up with a peaceful solution before I peck your eyes out.”
“I thought white doves were symbols of peace.”
Claws cut deep grooves into finished oak. “I’m going to be a symbol of whup-ass unless you two can resolve who owns the /k/ sound without violence.”
All the letters packed three deep into Alphabet Street. A platoon of C’s and a squadron of K’s faced off on a life-sized chessboard that was chalked onto the asphalt. The dove flew overhead and extinguished any fisticuffs that erupted when a C and a K held adjoining squares.
Qu popped into the back of the line of letters. ‘Ello chaps, he said, ‘aving a quarrel on the chequerboard, are we?
“Hey, that Pom’s stealing our hard k. Get him!” Each C locked arms with a K, and attacked Qu with a backpack full of knickknacks.
“That settles it. We’ll share the hard k to keep Qu out of our clique.”
Congratulations, Caleb! As this week’s Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge Microcosms 69! Please let us know whether or not you are interested ASAP!
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