Thanks to each and every one of you who entered Round 77. We had 11 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 this week. Here’s what she had to say:
The prompts were excellent this week, and yielded a brilliant collection of stories; makes judging a mixed blessing. The entries were fascinating inasmuch as some took a genre and, while staying true to that genre, gave it qualities of another: a romantic thriller, for example. I also enjoyed the formatting and presentation of one in particular. Your stories are a brilliant way to learn this craft of writing. Thank you.
L Meadow – The only thing was to put down this ridiculous notion that we all come from somewhere else, we are American and America is for Americans.
Wonderfully ironic line. It adds depth to the story, giving the reader a refined idea of who is trapped.
Steve Lodge – The perpetrators lit the fuse and presumably retired to a safe distance to watch.
A line full of evil intent and expectation.
Geoff Le Pard – My daddy never forgot you, Bud.
Chillingly answers all the mounting questions; a neat sentence.
John Herbert – I kept dead letter boxes at the Orangerie for him to fill, had whispered conversations in metro cars as we trundled north, melting into the smells and crowds of the Gare du Nord when we parted.
So many beautiful sentences in this piece, but I think for information and flow, this was the more pertinent, conveying the romance and mystery of tasks and the location.
Damhnait Monaghan – No guard rails.
Jeff Messick – “Hey, darling, did you want ketchup or mustard on your hamburger?” she asked.
Wonderful line, rounding the story off, adding some wry humour and settling dinner. Brilliant.
Eloise – Van Wyk sighed, but then a new thought crossed his mind: where was the mom?
Really like this line. It gives you a moment of levity before the full weight of the situation slams into you.
Angelique Pacheco – The lion dragged the body of the poacher to the underbrush, the kids and his wife following closely.
Changes the context of the story: fantastic line!
Bill Engleson – Oh, well, one wall at a time. How many Golf Courses would make a Border? I’ll google that.
Wonderful approach. This made me laugh for its bizarrely rational whimsy.
M Irene Hill – Every summer we pass through Castle Mountain on our way to Lake Louise, stop to visit this haunted place where Ivan spent his last days, where he made the ultimate sacrifice to give his family a better life.
I don’t get the sense of recrimination here, but a deep feeling of mourning, remembrance, honouring a man and his actions. Written in conjunction with the beauty of the area, it is an incredibly powerful line.
AJ Aguilar-Van Der Merwe – I wouldn’t have bumped into my husband and his mistress, and accidentally pushed him in front of an incoming tourist bus.
Killer line! Fantastic.
Damhnait Monaghan – Why I (a closet serial killer) Hike in the Grand Canyon
This one was stunning and an utterly brilliant use of title with content. A perfect lesson for me on the importance and role of titles.
Bill Engleson – GREAT EXPECTORATIONS
I enjoyed the formatting and presentation of this. It was clever and novel and written incredibly well to convey a sense of continuity and context.
Angelique Pacheco – Hunted
I enjoyed how the story built up the scene, encouraging the reader to believe it was a safari sight-seeing trip, and I’m a fan of comeuppance, so the poacher getting poached was a juicy ending.
M Irene Hill – Enemy Aliens
The writing was wonderful, using conflicting themes of hopes versus reality and living conditions versus the beauty of the region to paint a complex and full picture. There was a perfectly pitched level of bitterness, brutal descriptions and a dignified and bittersweet ending. It was a highly evocative read.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 77.
(insert drumroll here)
L Meadow – For the People
US President; White House; Memoir
I’m the last one; the world lies in ruins. When the riots started the Secret Service put me here in the safe room, and left to find an evacuation route; but that was three days ago and I haven’t heard or seen anyone since. I don’t have the code to open the door. This morning the electricity failed, so I only have a few hours of air left. I assume all is lost outside; otherwise, someone would have come to evacuate me to a safe location. I am recording this last message for posterity, my last legacy I suppose. You’ll want an explanation I suppose. I thought I did the right thing when I closed the borders – national sentiment was against all foreigners – America for Americans was chanted in every town and city. I had to listen to the will of the people. What we didn’t expect was the uprising of a well-organized counter movement celebrating immigrants.
The clashes started small, easily put down by the police (which I had to arm heavily) but soon they grew into large-scale civil resistance. They claimed we are all immigrants and that the borders had to open. How could I allow that? No. The only thing was to put down this ridiculous notion that we all come from somewhere else, we are American and America is for Americans. At first, the police could settle the marches but when the riots started, I called in the army. The people were also well-armed, well-organized, and fought back. Suicide bombers screamed, ‘for the people’ as they blew up soldiers. ‘For the people’ what a joke. The people are America and America for Americans!
Wait, is that the door? Who are you?
A gunshot is heard, and a new voice says ‘for the people’.
John Herbert – City of Lights
The language usage and beautiful descriptions really grabbed me. The author created a highly romantic story to the point where the assassination seemed to just fade into the background until the sirens woke me up. I even felt sorry that he never finished his dessert, and happy he’d had one last excursion to the city of lights. It was—as was the story—elegant.
Day Tripper; France; Crime
I watched a crowd of pompiers running loops of the Tuileries, the late spring sun warming my old bones so I almost deluded myself that I might join them. Instead, I sat back on my bench, watched the elegant young couples, sprung from their offices, eating lunch at the cafés, and relived my former rendezvous.
Toly, my contact from the old days, met me here. I kept dead letter boxes at the Orangerie for him to fill, had whispered conversations in metro cars as we trundled north, melting into the smells and crowds of the Gare du Nord when we parted.
I had been warned to stay away since Toly’s capture, the ghosts of the city pursuing me long after I’d been reassigned. Among the plump faces in the Washington crowds I surveilled throughout my forties, a glimpse of Slavic cheekbones was enough to transport me back here, where I had stalked the narrow Parisian streets. But all of that, I had imagined, was behind me.
Then Matthews called, shattering the tranquility of a Torquay retirement. ‘One last job,’ he’d murmured, ‘a day out, you might say, old boy, another roll of the dice.’
And so, I left the Tuileries, past the crowd queuing by the ghastly new pyramid at the Louvre, through the arcades by the Palais Royale, to the tiny bistro, Le Matelot, where I was told the diplomat dined alone. Splendid place, it transpired. Such a shame to leave my tarte tatin, perhaps my last in the City of Lights. But a call came, as I knew it would, and my mark was summoned to the bar to answer it. I slid a pill into his coffee and left.
I heard the sirens shrieking from a block away as I ambled to the station at dusk.
Congratulations, John. As this week’s Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge Microcosms 78, let us know whether or not you are interested ASAP!
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