A late happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends, and an early Happy 4th of July to those of us in the US. (This is probably the only time I will remember any country holidays, so apologies to everyone else in advance.)
Thanks to everyone who spun some tales of time travel this week. We had 16 awesome entries this week and really fantastic community engagement – keep it up!
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.
Thanks again to Michael Emerson for this week’s prompt!
And many thanks to John Herbert for judging!. Here’s what he had to say:
Great to see the upsurge in contributors this week and a welcome to those new to the competition. There were a great variety of approaches this week and it was, as ever, humbling to see the inventive range of approaches to the time-travelling conundrum.
Although Bill’s was too late to make it in to the official judging, I’ve added it to the best lines as it was a great piece and, in true Marlon Brando fashion, it could have been a contender.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
L. Meadow – ‘The crowd erupted into chaos.’
A great rendering of the JFK conspiracy theorists and a fun use of the animal narrator.
Angelique Pacheco – ‘I thanked her kindly and shimmered out.’
Loved how you rooted this (if you’ll excuse the pun) in horticulture before the colonisation of America and played this against an SF closing.
Eloise – ‘Cedrick opened his eyes and soaked in the wonder before him.’
I was impressed by the way you played with time-travel here and its relation to dreaming and the present.
Michael Emerson – ‘If he closed his eyes, he could almost sense the quiet dreams of most his crew below.’
A really interesting take on time travel to the same place. It threw up some of the complications of death in one time and then travel to a later one.
AJ Walker – ‘The watcher watched.’
Great to see the way in which you played the contemporary vocabulary of the narrator against the nineteenth century setting.
Steve Lodge – ‘ “I have an implausible 19th century moustache and a cheeky grin.” ’
Fantastic fun and some very well-written dialogue. Great last line too.
Jeff Messick – ‘Never Reveal has a caveat.’
Another final line that keeps on working.
Geoff Le Pard – ‘Worple hadn’t robbed a bank before and, but for 22nd century tazers, he wouldn’t have done it now.’
Great management of a split narrative and a crime caper.
Bill Engleson (‘Joe Barcelona …’) – ‘Business dried up like Vaudeville.’
Wonderfully wacky with some great, hard-boiled lines.
Dana Faletti – ‘Turning the corner, I’m chilled by one scream that forces me to accept what I never wanted to believe.’
I love the take on the complexities of time travel and the disruption of chains of causation.
Steph Ellis – ‘Sent me into raven night’
A very evocative poem, laden with telling imagery.
Nancy M. Beach – ‘My body flushes hot – remembering the day long ago a stranger ran in dripping wet and rambled on and on.’
Chilling reveal. Really well done. – KM (John forgot to leave a comment on this one.)
Geoff Holme – ‘As we tried to stare each other down, my cat Pete ambled over and rubbed against it.’
This piece has such fun with the mess time travel can make with cause and effect.
Bill Engleson (‘Klump: A Man for All Malfeasance’) – ‘Slightly raw, unschooled, brassy-bland’
The combination of ‘brassy-bland’ strikes home beautifully.
JK – ‘Lillian remembers the women talking about their husbands and the letters they received.’
An interesting take on supposed betrayal.
Bill Bibo – ‘When it came the light slammed against his eyes like a truck hitting a wall of sandbags.’
An inventive tale on the perils of virtual reality and eavesdropping.
Nancy M. Beach – Second Chances
Welcome to the community and well done on a great first entry which played well with the idea of the signs that we miss in life and subverted the wide-spread wish to turn back time. A well-turned tale.
Geoff Holme – The Portal Into Summer
Fun, well-imagined and very playful in its revelation of the contradictions and absurdity of time-travel.
Geoff Le Pard – A Slip In Time
I enjoyed the way in which you played with different time zones and created a fantastic Plan B tale for the time travellers. The ending, with its telling final detail, nailed the unforeseen perils of time-shifting art heists.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 78.
(insert drumroll here)
L. Meadow – Too Little, Too Late
Time Traveler / Your Choice! / Crime
The dog trotted purposefully down the midnight street. It knew where it was going. It turned a corner and stood up. J’ngel peered at the chronometer. “Blasted disguise,” he muttered as he tried to read the face through the hair. The drunk rolled under the cardboard box made his millionth commitment to stop drinking. J’ngel dropped to his paws and scampered out the alleyway. He was late. Late in the way only a time-traveler on a limited budget could be. He had arrived one day late and five hours too early. If he was going to be in position to see the assassination, he had to hurry. No time to lose the disguise and still get in position in time to wait out the remaining hours in safety.
“I’m late,” J’ngel cursed. It had taken longer than he anticipated navigating the streets as a dog. He dashed across a busy road narrowly missing a car as he tried to get into position. The assassination would occur any moment now, and if he was to get any usable data for the commission, he had to hurry. An angry curse floated out of the car after him as it braked. The Very-Important-Person in the back clutched the seat to keep his balance, but it was too little too late. The bullet disintegrated his head right on schedule. The crowd erupted into chaos.
J’ngel stood, hang-dog, in front of his superior. “It was too little, too late,” he said. “I couldn’t get in position in time to see the gunman.”
His superior sighed. “I think there is a conspiracy here,” he said. “No matter how many archivists we send, we never find out who shot JFK.”
Dana Faletti – Monster
Some fantastic imagery here and a very good take on the idea of cause and effect in time-travel. The story revelled in the business of inheritance and of how we attempt to rid ourselves of our demons. It was a dark, gothic and captivating tale from the sensual opening line to the haunting final one.
Detective / Crime / 1800’s
The alleys of Brooklyn smell like blood and urine.
The baying of cows about to be slaughtered turns my stomach as I traipse through streets, searching for him.
My great-grandfather – creator of the Handel family legacy.
First to spill blood of an innocent – Susannah Owens – a woman who wouldn’t submit to his will.
Once he’d cracked the seal of injustice, his offspring believed it fair game to follow suit.
His son quenched blood lust with the lives of children.
My mother slit the throat of an employer who crossed her.
Having been raised by a sadist, I was glad to put her away. I’ve forgiven the abuse, but I’m loathe to accept the family reputation.
I catch bad guys now.
“The seed was sown into your soul,” Ma says. “You can play pretend with your badge, but you’re no good guy. There’s a monster in our blood.”
I’d prove her wrong.
I travel to 1885, where Handel is head butcher at Brooklyn Beef.
Is it her blood on his hands or simply occupational coincidence?
Turning the corner, I’m chilled by one scream that forces me to accept what I never wanted to believe.
My monster awakens, and before I can protest his expression of wrath, there’s blood on my hands.
“Thank you,” Susannah gathers her skirt and faces me.
I stare at the knife in silence.
“Who are you?”
“I’m… a monster,” I whisper then plunge the knife into my belly.
Susannah’s cries mingle with the dying monster’s roars, but, just as my mother was amused by her wickedness, I can’t help but grin.
I may not have seen it coming for me in my naivete.
But, I’ve achieved what I traveled across time to do.
To prove that there is no monster.
And now, there isn’t.
Congratulations, Dana. Please let us know if you’d like to judge the next go round!