Microcosms 74

Hello, everyone! And welcome to Microcosms 74. Today, we’re continuing with our mythology series, courtesy of fellow writer Michael Emerson. Enjoy!

Just as Mythology has been humanities way of explaining the explainable the creatures of myth have been the physical representation of hope, life, death, marriage, and the often unforgiving elements. Fantastical, outlandish and often dripping in mythical meanings, the creatures of myth have warned us of treacherous passages and reminded us of the bonds we have with this world throughout the centuries.

This they still do today in our modern fantasy epics; they are the creatures that save our heroes; they are the monsters that go bump in the night; and they are, above all, the representation of magic, of something that we can’t explain, of the often wild forces that we pit our heroes against.



So, we’re looking at mythical creatures this week. Some of them might require a little research, but Michael has been kind enough to give us additional information for some of them. Let’s see what you come up with!



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


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

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Griffin, setting: Agartha (city at the Earth’s core), and genre: Drama.

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 inspires you.

*** HEY! Remember to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry ***

  • Roc
  • Hippocampus
  • Jinn
  • Griffin
  • Hippalectryon
  • The Sphinx
  • Fenrir
  • Kappa
  • Dragon
  • Fenghuang (chinese form of a phoenix
  • Jiuwei Hu (a nine tailed fox)
  • Qilin
  • Unicorn
  • Yeti
  • Pegasus
  • Basilisk
  • Mt. Fuji
  • Arcadia (Greek utopia)
  • Agartha (city at the Earth’s core)
  • Atlantis
  • Camelot
  • Mount Olympus
  • Themiscyra
  • Thule
  • Paimpont forest
  • Crime
  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Comedy
  • Memoir
  • Horror
  • Drama
  • Mystery/Noir
  • Poem
  • Science Fiction
  • Myth


Our judge this week is Microcosms 73 winner Bill Bibo. 🙂

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

Microcosms 75
Microcosms 73

57 thoughts on “Microcosms 74

  1. Mondays
    Jeff Messick
    243 words

    Any normal Monday and he’d be checking with his superiors on which cases needed his expertise. He’d be tracking down leads and incarcerating the bad guys. Any normal Monday, he’d be protecting his daughter from all the dangers this world had to offer, raising her to be a strong, confident woman in our day and age.

    This Monday, however, he was chained between two pillars, staring down an angry griffin in the lost city of Agartha, the only living soul between the giant bird creature and his unconscious daughter.

    Keeping a sharp eye on the bird, he testing the restraints, feeling a slight give and hid a smile. Just like the movie he and his daughter watched, where the demigod pulled the pillars down, he flexed and strained. The pillars resisted, only a moment, then toppled. The griffin, too engrossed in its dinner plans for him, never saw it coming.

    Lungs heaving, he turned to his daughter and his breath caught in his throat. A man stood over her. A man that left no doubt to his station with his presence and stature.

    “You killed my pet. This angers Zeus.”

    The man looked down at his shackled wrists, then back at the God before him. “Damn you, father. Why can’t you just ask to see your grand daughter? Why does it always have to be some heroic crap for you? Jesus! And you wonder why you’re not invited over to the house.”

  2. Amazon Prime

    (300 words)
    Character: Roc
    Setting: Themiscyra
    Genre: Fantasy

    The city rose from the plains of Themiscyra where the scorched earth winked mineral bright up to the feet of its gigantic walls.

    Among the crenellations and the towers, statuesque women had, of old, stood, clutching spears and shields, eyeing the horizon, past the gentle sweep of Thermodon’s meander, checking for the clouds of dust that betokened hoofprints and advancing enemies, or crowded at the gates, crouched to sweep forth in waves of conquest.

    But in these times, eyes no longer scoured the horizon but turned inward to contemplate the state of the nation.

    Within the inner sanctum, upon a throne of burnished gold, sat Hippolyta, queen of her race, newly bereft of her belt and smarting from the wounds inflicted by her failed assault on Athens.

    ‘My lady Queen, dear sister,’ said Antiope, crouched at her feet, ‘pensiveness clouds your brow like the storms that gather over Olympus before Zeus sends his thunderbolts. What troubles you?’

    ‘Speak not of the rages of Zeus,’ Hippolyta growled. ‘The Gods have cursed us in war and, my girdle gone, martial conquest evades us. We must find other means to enslave the hearts of men to our bidding.’

    ‘But how else, sister, to enslave men, if not by arms?’ Antiope said.

    ‘By controlling their desires.’ Hippolyta’s smile broke through the room like the sun. ‘Is it not true that, where we scorched the earth, levelled libraries and temples during our advance, now men crave food and mental sustenance? Send forth the Roc we captured in Scythia, bearing gifts.’

    The mighty wingspan of the Roc cast shadows over the plains and scythed the skies to Athens, raining vines and corn, scrolls of new tales and countless finery upon ravenous, devouring Athens.

    With the Roc’s benisons, Athenians’ hunger grew. The rule of the Amazon began.

    1. Oh, that was so very good! Loved the language, the flow, the imagery. The rise of Amazon! Love it!

  3. Words: 295
    Used: Qilin, Camelot, Science Fiction


    Exploration Z-1925

    “It’s a giraffe.”
    “In the records it’s called a Qilin. Quite apt. According to old earth mythology-”
    “Looks like a giraffe to me.”
    “It has scales and can breathe fire.”
    “The last giraffe died more than three centuries ago. On earth. And you know the kind of stories that lot could come up with. For all we know they could breathe fire.”
    “What? And that’s where the veldfires came from?”
    “What the – veldfires? Don’t act all smart Mister-I-read-everything-about-earth. Most of the crew didn’t want you along to begin with.”
    “Thank you for that. Like I didn’t know it already. If you send your men out there to catch it, they had better be ready, that is all I’m saying.”
    “Animals can’t breathe fire. Scientific fact.”
    “I thought so too – until the Qilin did this to my camera.” He held up a melted hunk of plastic, metal and glass.
    “And the locals?”
    “We couldn’t find them. Well… we found traces of what could have been the colonists.”
    The captain answered with a string of curses.
    “What did you expect? Between pathogens and new fauna and flora –“
    “Stop talking for a moment, will you!”
    “Making me stay quiet will –“
    “Shut up! Listen!”
    Somewhere the hull of the CA-melot exploratory vehicle creaked. The captain ran his hand through thinning hair.
    “Could the giraffe have followed you here?”
    Another creak. A sound like a furnace igniting.
    “The Qilin?” Silence. “Perhaps.”
    “We leave now.”
    “What about the president’s –“
    “The president can go –“
    A loud rumble shook the vehicle. Metal crumpled, melted. Glass cracked.

    The Qilin stared at the metal husk that had invaded her territory. She breathed fire on it three more times for good measure then ambled off towards her nest. Her young were waiting.

  4. Words:108
    Title: Home
    Elements: Jinn / Mt. Fuji / Poem

    The Diary of Jinn found at the bottom of Mt. Fuji.

    Entry 76 – excerpt begins… “Home

    The tides can take me, I no longer will be confined,
    a life in the darkness to which I was assigned.
    Wash me clean, oh ocean of the Earth,
    let me feel the glory of your mirth.

    Release the binds that continue to confine me.
    Remove this darkness that tries to define me.
    Too long I have wept in these shadowed halls,
    let me respond to your bewitching calls.

    So turn to me to dust and take me home,
    For the wind will carry me where I want to roam.” excerpt ends.

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  5. Sphinx; Arcadia; Mystery/Noir/Memoir
    298 fine dining experiences

    Up The Greek Without A Riddle

    Every once in a while, some fancy boy gets a charge out of asking how a buff broad like myself became a Dickette.

    Yeah! Quite a few of them. They’ve usually got perfect teeth, even though their mouths are rotting away, you know, thinking their ugly thoughts, speaking slime and such. Boy, do they like to say Dickette, like by saying it they are chomping off a bit of me with their straight and perfect teeth.

    Fucking Fancy Boys, eh!

    When it first happened, I admit I was a little miffed. Metrosexuals peeve me to no end.

    But I learned to simmer down, to step back, to enjoy the moment, anticipate a nourishing payback.

    To chill like cold river rock.

    Fancy boys, or not, I will say this, being Michelle Sphinx, Private Dick, OR Private Dickette, business was slower than a wingless old Pegasus on the way to the glue factory.

    Anyway, to earn a few drachma, I eventually moseyed over to Thebes to take a security gig.

    Dull town, Thebes. Sort of a low-rent Arcadia. Middle class retirees all the way.

    The old Greek retirees were ripe for the picking.

    Hordes of ambitious grifters from Athens and a few other criminal hotspots tried to get in through the gates to plunder, rape and pillage and such.

    That’s where the saying came from: Thick as Thebes.

    My security gig put me right smack dab in their way.

    I assembled a small team.

    We worked in shifts.

    Grifters may be pick-pocket slick but most of them can’t think beyond their noses.

    Mind you, many had fine noses.

    Some were skinny little men, boney, stringy meat under unwashed skin.

    A few were soft round bundles of fleshy joy.

    We ate in shifts.

    We protected our clients.

    We ate exceedingly well.

    1. Fantastic. Very engaging, lovely definition of mood, great phrasing and gritty writing. Thank you 🙂

    2. A great combination of a sinister approach and a brilliant take on noir – you really capture the gumshoe voice very well.

  6. Qilin/Mt. Fuji/Drama
    Word Count: 299

    Son of the nihontō

    When I saw the sword, a shimmer danced down the blade.

    “You are a descendant of warriors” Grandfather told me. “I was the son of Hirotaka, a great warrior. We lived in a village called Hakone on Mt Fuji. My father was the leader of his village. Many people believe he saw Qilin and was chosen to be our leader. A plague unknown to anyone struck my father down and he died a painful death. Shortly after, my mother was approached to see about my training.”

    “I went to live with Hung Jin, my father’s commander and the best fighter that had ever lived. Every morning began with a rough kick to the ribs. I was expected to work and train like a man even though I was a child.”
    “I practiced day and night, under Hung’s instruction and sometimes on my own. Hung’s gentleness came from his abruptness and we understood one another. When I was sixteen and the lotus began to bloom, Hung came to me upset.”

    “We must leave,” he said. “They attacked your village. None survived.”

    “I am not going,” I said. “I will stay and fight. “

    They approached silently then. I relied on instinct. I eviscerated one and decapitated another. Thrust. Slash. Turn. Every motion was a dance of death. I saw the leader then. He swung his nihontō. I ducked and lunged. Thrust. Parry. Turn. I looked up on the hill and I saw Qilin. I was horrified and my attacker turned slightly to see what I was looking at. I thrust my sword upwards with all the force I had left. He stilled, a single tear rolling down his face. I laid him down gently as the light of life left his eyes. Neither of us spoke. There was no need.

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    1. Wonderful. After gooogling Qilin, the ending was just beautifully emotive. Excellent story.

  7. Unicorns Of Speed
    by Steve Lodge
    159 words

    I thought I had made myself clear,
    You weren’t getting a single cent,
    You told me you knew where Atlantis lay,
    But it’s nowhere near where we went.
    No it’s not off the end of Southend Pier,
    Now I’ll have to swim more than 9000 lengths,
    And I’m saddened you don’t seem to care,
    We’re in your taxi and right up the creek,
    I don’t think you know where the hell we are,
    Or that I won’t get to Atlantis this week.

    Now I would be the first to admit,
    You tried to help in Hendricks Road,
    When the pet shop guy was so rude,
    And wouldn’t take back my unicorn, Sid,
    Because he said it was used and soiled,
    Well, of course it was bloody well soiled,
    I’ve had him for nearly three months,
    And, although we never did hit it off,
    I’m glad that he’s still in the cab,
    Cos I’d never get back to Atlantis alone.

  8. @fatimat91
    Jinns and Men
    300 words

    **The city of Agartha. A huge rock is seen from whose sides, shallow waist-high caves have been forged. A fire burns within our hero’s home. Jan and Jin; his guardians just finished breakfast. They fly out with Jinn to Shaytan’s coven.**

    Jan: (facing shaytan): I don’t know what’s wrong with the boy. Seven years he has tormented the girl and now he says no more.

    Shaytan: (a red halo surrounds him) Why do you stop your duty? Your charge has done no evil in three months. Your credit is low.

    Jinn: (lost as in a daze) I did it for love evil one. She is an angel. Oh it’s a terrible thing not to love.

    Shaytan: (twirls and thunders) You shall disappear as others who do not obey imp.

    **Inside a Sheikh’s house in Nigeria. Musa and his wife; parents of Hauwa sit cross-legged before Sheikh Dara. Hauwa sits by the far corner enclosed in a huge black garment from which only her eyes are visible.**

    Mallam Musa: (happy, holding hands with his wife) Alhamdulillah Ya Sheikh. So you mean Hauwa is free now?

    Sheikh: (pompous) With the aid of my amulets and the teachings of old. I kept her this long only for observation.

    Mallam Musa: May Allah reward you. Here is some money.

    **Hauwa shrieks and leaps from her sit. She breaks into a dance as Shaytan consumes her soul. The pieces of clothing go off one by one until she is stark naked, the bulge on her stomach apparent.**

    Mallam Musa: (stares blankly from the Sheikh to his daughter) I seek refuge in Allah. What have you done?

    **They hurry out as Hauwa grabs a rod and comes after them, thunderstorms audible from the background.**

    All three: (in unison as they run off the stage) Help!

    *Shaytan= Devil, *Sheikh= Islamic scholar, *Alhamdulillah= All praises to God

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  9. Alva Holland
    156 words

    Defence of the Kappa Kingdom

    Approach at your peril
    This body of water – mine
    For you know not the power
    Hidden beneath the vine
    Of tangled roots and watery shrines
    To which you bow with trepidation – fear.

    Presenting me with the deadly chance
    To end your life in a drowning trance
    Of flailing arms and gulping air
    Refilling my plate of moistness fair.

    The kappa rules this Arcadia found
    By straying into its wilderness alone
    And finding strength in the vast unknown
    I claim the humans that bow and moan.

    Drown you will in my shrine of death
    No intruder will live while I draw a breath
    In this deep dark pool where troubles abound
    You fight until you hear the sound

    Of my wrenched arm now useless and weak
    A fragility exposed
    You see a sliver of light.
    Down your head goes
    You think you can fight.

    The kappa’s power is all-consuming
    Concede, you weakling
    There’s no escape from drowning.

    1. Very dark, Alva. Quite menacing….you sure you’re not a horror fan? Lovely poem, like the changes in rhythm…like shifting tides.

      1. Thanks, Sian! Me? A horror fan? I’ve already disappeared into my own dust storm running away from the genre.
        Only my second or third attempt at a poem so as you can see, I’ve no idea what I am doing! But it’s fun to challenge my abilities.

  10. @meadow337
    Kitsune (Jiuwei Hu) / Mt Fuji / Poem
    300 words

    Kitsune (Japanese name for the Jiuwei Hu)

    I have a small farm outside Edo, in the distance, I can see Mt Fuji, and I’m happy. I farm rice for the Shogun and as long as I pay the taxes, the samurai leave me alone. Yes, I am happy here. I sit near the pond, watch the moonrise over Mt Fuji, and pretend I no longer yearn for a wife.

    I saw her one perfect summer’s night when the cicadas chirruped in the long grass she paused at the water’s edge to drink. The pale glimmer of moonlight on her arms turned the drops that fell from her lips into shards of diamond. I was entranced – spelled by a myth that I knew was not real, could not be real; and yet there she was. I was in a dream; I’d fallen asleep; drifted off on a warm night with one too many sips from the bottle in my hand. I shook myself awake, but she was still there, standing now alarmed, ready to run.
    I moved; she ran – I ran after, faster, had to be faster. I could not let her get away. This vision, this dream, this myth, this woman had to be mine. This flame-haired nine-tailed kitsune was why I never married, never had a sweetheart, never called a single woman ‘mine’. I didn’t know her name, didn’t know why she came, but I knew she was mine, MINE. I ran, I ran faster than I had ever run and grasped her tail.

    It came away at my touch. I held it tight, panting. She stopped, turned, wordlessly pleaded to give it back, trapped by the object in my hand. I smiled and turned back to the house. Who held whom bespelled I will never know – I held her tail, she held my heart.

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    1. Lovely imagery. I like the romantic quality to the writing and the subtle doubt over the notion of them having a romance.

  11. Dragon/ Camelot/ Comedy
    Word count: 254
    Scarlet the Dragon
    Scarlet was a water dragon. Much to her parents dismay. She was unique but not everyone liked it. She loved to play in puddles and swim backstroke through the moat. Everyone in loved her in the hamlet. She made sprinkles of water and the children played among the drops.

    One day, she was flying back to her cove, when she heard a scream. She looked in the direction of the yell and saw black clouds rise from Camelot. What was happening? Camelot was on fire. She speed to their rescue but stopped. A 100 arrows were pointed in her direction.
    “Wait! Don’t shout. I come in peace”
    “Peace? Ha. You have just come to help him destroy the rest of our kingdom”.
    “No” and she blew water out of her mouth into a stream. “See I can help”.
    “How do we know you won’t flood our kingdom?”
    “I won’t. I grew up here. Ask him” and she pointed her talon at red-haired solider.
    “Scarlet. Is that you?”
    “Yes, tell these fools to let me through?”

    They lowered their bows. She blew water over the kingdom. Trailing the white dragon who was setting everything on fire. When he turned around to see his handiwork. He tumbled out of the sky. What happened? WHO WAS THIS WATER SPEWING DRAGON? He flapped back up. He would show her. He blasted her with fire and she quenched him with water. Did he not know this was her kingdom.

      1. Oops…lovely, not lively….although the story was very lively 😀

  12. (title) Fame and Fortune
    (prompts) Griffin – Paimpont forest – Fantasy
    (wordcount) 297

    Griffon smiled wickedly at Gryphon. “So young man, what brings you here?” Gryphon looked up into the eagle gaze of the griffin standing above him.

    “Fortune and adventure, what else would bring the likes of me to the far reaches of the Paimpont forest?”

    “Ah! Honesty! How refreshing! I am guessing that you are thinking that this fortune, adventure and possibly fame is going to come your way in the form of my head in a town square?”

    Gryphon looked a little perplexed at the jovial tone of the beast in front of him, as well as the intelligence displayed. This griffin was smarter than it looked. “Why yes as it happens…” He replied,

    Griffon chuckled and raised a feathered brow, “How simple of you, there are better ways easier ways to get a fortune and adventure! There lies an adventure around every corner, now fame, fame is hard to get and if you were to not chop my head off maybe I can give you fame.”

    Smelling a trick Gryphon paused and but he just could’t see it. “Tell me how too gain a fortune as well as fame and I will let you go.” He said hoping for a good deal.

    With a glint in his eye Griffon leaned in close and imparted a wisdom to the young hero. Apparently fortune and fame come in the form of a dragons head. Off he went, to battle Soom, sadly neither won; both being the end of the other. However Griffon did gain a new hoard, all shiny and newly freed and as word spread of how he tricked a hero into battling a hated foe he knew that he had been right. Fortune and fame did indeed come in the form of a dragons head.

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    1. Wonderful tale! It’s a great myth or fable in its own right. The ending was perfect and wonderfully clever.

    2. Anyone would think you’ve thought about this before … A great take on the quest myth and a very clever twist in the tale. Loved the play with character names.

  13. Ghosts

    300 words
    Elements: Pegasus, Thule, horror



    Weary eyes followed the boy’s directions. A mass of white slowly loomed into focus, stark against the ink of night. The crew shrugged their shoulders and turned away. It was just another iceberg.

    Only the Captain paid any attention. He had not quite given up. Slowly the ship drifted towards the frozen mound, the temperature dropping so that by the time they reached the hostile shoreline frost dusted his men, transformed them into ghosts.

    “Thule, Captain.”

    The mysterious island of the northern wastes. “Prepare to go ashore,” he ordered.

    “But Captain, the stories …”

    He looked sadly at his men, his ghosts. “We have no choice. No food, little water. Here—we might have a chance.” Then he looked back at the ocean, the never-ending emptiness and they saw it with him.

    It was as bleak as expected, ice and barren rock, but they found an easy path leading them inland. Soon snow started to fall, obscured their vision. The group huddled together as the flurry became a blizzard.

    “Did you see it?”

    The Captain turned.

    “A horse,” said the man, pointing. “I saw a horse!”

    The Captain looked in the same direction. Could see a shape that might be a horse, might not. Might be false hope.

    “A horse, Captain!” Others were pointing now and they could all clearly see the creature, whiter than anything they had ever seen before. “It must come from somewhere.”

    Hope sparked dead eyes. Until the horse stretched out impossible wings.

    “Pegasus,” said the crew, voices awed.

    “We can never follow him,” said one sailor. “He belongs to the spirit world.”

    But the Captain smiled. That was no longer a problem. The storm had dropped and the horse led them on. It left no mark on the snow. And they left no footprints.

    1. Happy reader here! Beautiful imagery and language, deceptive though, drawing your mind away from the situation, so the last paragraph is incredibly chilling.

  14. @stellakateT
    Unicorn/ Agartha / Horror
    300 Words

    Planning a Journey

    This hadn’t started well. I’d been reading a book about myths and legends trying to find a few facts about the creature that I’d found in my shed. It hadn’t taken kindly to me pulling at its horn to see if it was real and bit me on the arm. I now needed to read up on gangrene and sepsis. I’d wrapped a bandage I’d found in the first aid box hidden under the stairs. It had taken me ages to pull out the ironing board, suitcases and Jim’s golf clubs. I wondered if it would have been more sensible to wrap it around its mouth and not my arm. For future reference I told it if it bit me again I would roast it for lunch. Never realising how prophetic my words would be.

    “Touch my horn again and you’ll be toast”

    I asked what it was doing in my shed.

    “I’m on the way to Agartha”

    Agartha I knew about.

    “Won’t it be too hot there?”

    “That’s a myth! It’s one of the top ten holiday destinations”

    For weeks I’d sit in the shed and talk and talk Jim began to ask “shouldn’t you see the doctor” Why would I want to see the Doctor? I’d booked an appointment at the Opticians for Jim. He kept saying there was nothing in the shed and no bite on my arm. I was worried he was going blind.

    When the Unicorn said it was time to continue his journey I begged him to let me go with him. He said we’d need to take food. Jim is now roasting in the oven. He took ages to filet. I’m taking bread with us too, to toast when we get to Agartha. I’m sure the unicorn has it wrong about the heat.

    1. The dark humour (or that could just be me and my weird sense of humour) was really delightful and combined with the matter-of-fact flow made this quite chilling but also great fun.

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