Thank you to all who were not daunted by the last-minute change in schedule and submitted a narcolepsy-inspired entry to Microcosms 83; and a warm welcome to first-time entrant, Valita Suzanne. There were 15 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.
Last week’s Judge’s Pick Steph Ellis bravely agreed to adjudicate this contest. Here’s what she had to say:
It’s been a while since I’ve judged here at Microcosms, and I must confess to a feeling of relief that I’m not submitting this time. For a number of Fridays now I’ve been experiencing a growing panic that I will not be able to come up with a suitable story; and then somehow I usually get something done, only to feel promptly jealous at how much better everyone else’s is or their sheer originality.
And this week was no different in terms of submissions: so many, and all so varied, all so good. I really enjoyed just being able to read and not compare myself against them for a change – the downfall of all authors, I feel.
Before I announce the results, I must apologise that so many of my favourite lines involved a corpse – I was concerned that people would think I was a bit twisted [Think?! GH], but then I checked the prompt elements, and behold, the corpse!
And now, without further rambling…
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – Trump, for God’s sake. Science needed to intervene.
Valita Suzanne – Some wear stars upon their breast, on ropes of braided spider silk.
Jeff Messick – One guest didn’t move, having been dead for almost an hour
Frank Key – Sarah, the corpse, hung on the opposite side of the coat rack with the end of a bloody coat hook protruding from the front of her neck.
JK – The corpse sat perfectly still in the corner of the room.
David Allen – This night was different however, he had gone to one of those Limbic Simulation Dens and overdosed.
Nancy Beach – The trip was uneventful except my wings keep popping out of my skin. Can you bring the brown bottle of glue when you come?
Geoffrey Philp – She spun to see the body of a child, suspended like an apostrophe over lines of swaying cane stalks.
Bill Bibo – A tea pot painted in bright flowers and unicorns fell to the carpeted floor, near the feet of a baby doll, naked and broken, lying discarded in the shadows.
Sian Brighal – …each touch became a landmark, a set of gradients, a legend, cartography through feel, rendering the ridges and valleys of my body in my mind.
Firdaus Parvez – And then I look into my open, dead eyes.
Stephen Shirres – Not a thing out of place with dinner teasing the rest of the house.
Caleb Echterling – Damn straight I’m a legend. I’ve got my kingdom, a sword with a fancy name, and three wagons of flour parked out back. – There’s Nothing that Can’t be Improved by Frying It and Putting it on a Stick.
Angelique Pacheco – Memories curl up like spires of smoke and visions dance in his mind. – The Opus of Opium
Meg Kovalik – A stained bathtub; desiccated naked bodies strung from hooks; a Goldbergian boobytrap that left Hernandez’ partner Welsh vivisected and pinned to a wall.
Jeff Messick – Circle of Murder
The continual cycling of the story was very clever, building up the despair of those involved each time; you could even hear the corpse groan, if you listened carefully. As a tea drinker, however, I did feel that all those cups of tea were a waste.
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Nancy Beach – The Toys
Such a very normal discussion between husband and wife about a holiday albeit on a different planet and with a very different view on suitable toys for their children!
Stephen Shirres – Meet the Parents
Just the sort of twisted ending I like. I’m not sure I give Phil much of a chance in the survival ratings though.
Bill Bibo – Family Reunion
The pain of separation evident in the desperate father, the child unaware of the truth of his actions, just trusting him implicitly. Heart-achingly sad.
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Caleb Echterling – There’s Nothing That Can’t Be Improved by Frying It and Putting It on a Stick
Firstly, this gets the prize for best title. But King Arthur, the moral and righteous guardian of our sceptred isle, becoming the bizarre offspring of Breaking Bad and Mary Berry? Who’d have thought? From the gold-tasseled boots, to the sword with the fancy name, sharp phrasing and humour really make this piece standout.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 83.
(insert drumroll here)
Microcosms 83 Judge’s Pick and Community Pick
Sian Brighal – Shelf-Life
An absolute gem amongst the stories this week. So much is told through the use of sense, particularly touch, and the references to cartography thread the story together so neatly. The choice of words describing the poor, blind automaton – from the moment of creation when shiny and new and she feels her creator’s touch, feels loved and wanted, to the end when she is worn down, no longer caressed by his hands but now ‘stiffening’ and ‘creaking’, has become ‘an empty untouched land: a grave of sorts’ – is sheer poetry. And that last line, ‘I can forget all the maps I’ve learnt, and while waiting for this corpse to realise it’s dead, remember once I loved his hands.’ Truly wonderful writing.
Corpse; Tea Party; Steampunk
I loved his hands.
I never had eyes so could never see them, but I felt them, holding me just so, pressing there, fingertips tracing the outlines of my body. I learnt my shape and form through his fingers; each touch became a landmark, a set of gradients, a legend… cartography through feel, rendering the ridges and valleys of my body in my mind.
His hands fascinated me with their fluidity, their confidence, their grace as they remodelled and refined me with exquisite care. Those beautiful hands worked on my face, my chest, my thighs and down to toes. He created my hands, testing the flexibility of the rubber sinew between porcelain phalanges, curling my fingers about his own as though we held hands, and last, he fashioned my mouth from rubber, silk and ivory, assessing the fullness of the lower lip… the softness of my mouth and smoothness of my teeth. The fabric pulled taut over my metal and china frame was his last gift.
But that was long ago, and I’ve been shown my own shape too many times. So, I sit at this table, wound-up and instructed through holes punched in cards to move my stiffening copper and brass joints and creaking porcelain knuckles in a pleasing manner. I pour tea, hand out plates of treats and play mother to those who join my table, resetting and repeating the tasks on their whim. It’s an empty, untouched land: a grave, of sorts. I host the tea parties and can forget the feel of those places where the fabric is worn through… where stained china, riddled with cracks like spider’s webs and verdigris, is exposed. I can forget all the maps I’ve learnt, and while waiting for this corpse to realise it’s dead, remember once I loved his hands.
Congratulations, Sian. As the Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!