Microcosms 85

Flash, I love you! But we only have twenty-four hours to write an entry for Microcosms 85!”

But where are my manners? Welcome, one and all, to this week’s contest! That quote from the 1980 kitsch SciFi classic “Flash Gordon” popped into my noggin as I began to collate the post; it seemed ripe for parody for our blog. But enough of my meanderings; on to this week’s challenge…

My wife and I have a “surrogate” daughter. She came to live with us as a teenager for two weeks… and stayed for three years – including our move from London to the south coast of England. Since she came to regard us as her “surrogate” Mum and Dad,  when she married, I was proud to give her away – a role which necessitated giving a Father of the Bride speech at the reception.

Sadly, the marriage ended in divorce some years back, but now she has found her soulmate. The marriage takes place in September, and once again, I’m called upon to make that speech.

The question is: do I compose it from scratch or, since half the people attending will not have heard the first, and the other half will probably have forgotten it after more than ten years, do I just fudge the original?

So, seeking inspiration, I thought I’d throw it open to you lovely people, and see what you can 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: Father, setting: Transylvanian Castle, and genre: Memoir.

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 – character, setting and genre. 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 ***


  • Father
  • Birth or Adoptive Mother
  • Divorcees
  • Bridesmaid or Page Boy
  • Inebriated Vicar
  • TWO Brides (Same Sex Wedding)
  • Best Man
  • Caterer
  • Transylvanian Castle
  • Orient Express
  • Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth
  • Cana
  • Space Tourist Flight
  • Antarctica
  • Hollywood Film Studios
  • Hawaian Beach
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Drama
  • Sci-Fi
  • Crime
  • Comedy
  • Thriller
  • Poetry


Judging this week is MC 84’s Judge’s Pick, Steph Ellis.

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 86
Microcosms 84

74 thoughts on “Microcosms 85

  1. @Nthito
    300 words
    Father; Transylvanian Castle; Memoir

    Memoir of a Tormented Father

    A silhouette appeared at my door that cold July evening, clutching a leather-bound tome as thick as the torches behind it. The fiery embers illuminated pallid, enraged faces. An entire village of them. They filled the inner stone paths like ants.
    “Count Kálnoky,” the silhouette said, entering the doorway so the gas lamps lit up his long face. The collar of his vestments gaped at the neck to reveal a golden glimmer of a necklace. A crucifix.
    “Father Sebastian. What brings you to my home?”
    The priest held up the holy tome. Hands, spotted and leathery, shook with fervour.
    “I am here to quell the fears of the people,” he said, thick brows furrowed. “You and your wife have been accused of the devil’s work.”
    “I have no idea what…”
    “Deuteronomy states,” The priest cleared his throat, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire! Who practices divination or sorcery!” His voice rose, “Interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells! Or who consults the dead!”
    “I do not…”
    “Do not play coy, Count.” Father Sebastian shifted away from the door to reveal the velvet linings of dirt-laced caskets. Tiny. Empty.
    It was then that I understood that our secret had come to light. Nicholas. Ilona. My darling children. Although night had fallen, I could see your shadows against the barred apertures of Kálnoky Castle’s towers. I know you heard your mother’s cries as they dragged her to the courtyard. Watched the flames rise and listened to our bones crackling and our haunting screams.
    Decades have passed since the atrocities of that night. The cold tendrils of revenge surely grow on you as moss crawls the walls of our Transylvanian castle. I say this as a condemned father ought not. Avenge us.

    1. I like the use of memoir and the Count’s first person perspective…does that mean the children won’t have to work alone to seek vengeance? I like how you build sympathy for the obvious villains of the piece.

  2. @CarinMarais
    291 words
    Father; Transylvanian Castle; Horror

    Twelve Years

    “Father, what is there?” Andrei asked.
    Costin did not need to look around to know where his son was pointing. He took a swig from the half-empty bottle.
    “Nothing,” he said, liquor thick on his breath. “A staircase.”
    “Let us go see!”
    Costin glanced around. Oh how he wished cameras were here, but he knew why they had been taken down. He had seen the footage himself before it was destroyed – before the castle lost all tourists but those who were in search of the supernatural.
    “Andrei, no!”

    Costin climbed the stairs slowly, his hand on the cold wall to steady himself. The little hand in his was as cold as ice.

    The door at the top of the staircase revealed a half-burned, decaying floor with a hole in it, and a trail of sooty footprints. Costin took another swig from the bottle and felt the liquor burn his throat. He slowly walked towards the hole, peering into the dark depths when he got close.

    Costin felt the ghosts of the past around him.
    “Lots of people died here, there is even a princess!” Andrei whispered. He still had the stature and voice of a six year-old. “She sings me to sleep at night.”
    Costin wanted to step forward, but unseen hands grabbed at him. The bottle fell, breaking and spilling its liquid into the hole in front of his feet.
    “Do not worry, father, they will not let you fall,” Andrei smiled. “Not like you let me fall.”
    Costin started crying.
    “Will you come again tomorrow?”
    Costin nodded.
    Andrei laughed, disappearing from his sight.
    “It has been twelve years,” Costin sobbed.
    “You will come again tomorrow,” the voices said.

    Costin retraced his footsteps, going in search of more drink.

    1. That was brilliant. I loved how the story hinged on that scene of not falling through the hole. Great read, thank you.

  3. 296 words
    Bridesmaid or Pageboy; Transylvanian Castle; Crime

    First Kiss

    It was a dim, frigid night. Weeks of steady snowfall had silenced the towns and blanketed the roads. Nothing stirred out of doors, at least, nothing human.
    Deep in the forest, a black nose twitched. Licking chapped lips the wolf sniffed again. Blood, fresh and close. Around her the pack stirred.
    Quiet as the gently falling snow, the pack emerged from their winter shelter, stride elastic and tireless despite long rest and fierce hunger. Still, the maiden heard them coming.
    The splash of red was shocking against the pure white of untouched snow. The wolves paused when they saw it, spattered invitingly in the center of a small valley.
    Quiet and still as ice, the maiden watched them cautiously descend. She’d felt the strength bleeding out of her, staining the snow, but remained awake, strangely calm. The cold had set into her, burning at first, then soft and warm. Now it was part of her, an element of the strength she’d found pulsing through her after the weak fluttering in her chest finally stopped.
    The largest female bent to lick the rapidly freezing blood from the snow and her pack mates followed suit. The maiden didn’t seem to care, until their scent reached her, slow on frozen air. She’d eaten nothing but half a piece of cake at dinner, too nervous for the bride, her best friend, who spent the day crying. And she remembered the groom had offered her a drink, but not what happened after. She was terribly hungry, no doubt that’s why the animal scent was so appealing. She shifted forward slightly, the wolves froze, ready to run, but she was faster. Howls split the sacred silence of the night and in his castle the groom smiled with blood red lips. She survived.

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      1. Thanks for getting back with this info.
        The word count is useful to ensure, to yourself as well as everyone else, that you haven’t gone over the limit.
        The title helps to identify the entry if you receive a mention by the judge; there is no limit placed on the number of submissions each author can make to a single contest, so if you had written two (as the prodigious Bill Engleson has this week) and given a title to neither, it would be difficult to know which one had received a mention by the judge.

  4. 288 words
    Birth or adoptive mother; Cana; Memoir

    His First Miracle

    It was a great day. The first time my Son showed who he truly was. We were in attendance at my best friend’s son’s wedding. It was a merry celebration. There was dancing and drinking and general merriment all around. My son had joined the festivities with a group of his friends and they enjoyed eyeing out the bridesmaids. They all seemed to daughters of Aphrodite. I was dancing with Joseph when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around. My friend’s forehead was furrowed.
    “What is the matter?” I asked.
    “The wine. It is up. What will we do?” said my friend as she pointed to all the people at the party. She would be disgraced if it came to pass that they ran out of wine.
    “Wait her. I have a plan.” And with that I went to find my Son.
    “Son, please can you help? My friend needs more wine.”
    “Excuse me, mother, but I don’t think this is the time.”
    “Oh but please, these people have been good to us. Could we not just help them this one time?”
    I walked away and instructed the servants to give my Son whatever he needed.
    “Please fill those water jars to the brim.” The servants did as was asked.
    “OK. Now take the first glass to the master of ceremonies to sample.”
    The master of ceremonies drank the wine and his eyes lit up. This was wondrous. He walked to the bridegroom.
    “Dear sir, you have outdone yourself. Most people start with the best wine, and then progress to plonk as the night goes on. But you, my dear sir, have saved the best for last. Cheers.”
    And that was my Son’s first miracle.

  5. 300 words
    Father; Transylvanian Castle; Memoir

    Not so Much Losing a Daughter

    If one believes all one reads in ‘The Daily Mail’, we might barely have entered Romania for the stream of migrants queuing at the borders, intent on flight to Blighty to steal our jobs and women. Our daughter had already been stolen – her heart at least – by one such local.

    I will admit to a degree of trepidation when Amelia finally introduced me to Dunkan and announced they were betrothed. The name, in so many ways familiar, was rendered foreign by that single, striking consonant. Moreover, the wedding, she informed me, would be outside Cluj where his family reside.

    We Lowells, are a simple lot, comfortable in our dear domicile in Surrey, unwilling to leave. We’ve been here since Norman times and I, like my dear father before me, have come to love nights wandering the Abinger hills unmolested.

    The majesty of the Romanian country, after my newspaper-fuelled expectations of squalor, was a shock. It is a place of jagged mountains and chasms, beautiful on a scale beyond Surrey’s imagining. And Dunkan’s parents… He had told me they ran an HR consultancy, but it transpires that they gather poor souls from across the region and have grown immensely wealthy, living in a vast pile, all moats and crenellations.

    Their hospitality was monumental too, the wedding banquet – served at dusk, according to local custom – a treat. The Borscht glowed red and delicious.
    ‘Do my delicate olfactory senses detect something more toothsome than mere beetroot here, dear Vukasin?’ I enquired of Dunkan’s father.
    ‘Very astute,’ he smiled. ‘And a full moon tonight. You will, I suspect, prefer dessert.’
    ‘What is it, “prey” tell?’ I grinned.
    He returned a toothy leer that sent my hackles rising. ‘Fleshy sweetmeats.’
    I howled my delight. They’re not so different, foreign chaps.

    1. Love at first bite, eh, John? I suppose I was asking for this sort of thing, having ‘Transylvanian Castle’ as a setting. 😉

      [ I took the liberty of amending ‘You will, I suspect, prefer desert.’ to ‘You will, I suspect, prefer dessert.’ That sounds more like what you wanted to convey. ]

    2. Great read. I like how the story gives the idea that the family are so ‘normal’ and somewhat…snobbish, maybe?…but at the end, it looks like they’ll get on like a house on fire.

  6. Caterer; Transylvanian Castle; Memoir
    300 appetizers

    The 50th International Wedding Caterers’ Convention Challenge Lecture – The Pierre Champagne Story

    I am honoured today to be able to address your young sparkling faces, the faces of the best young wedding caterers the world has ever produced. It is you who will carry on when hoary old chefs like me are rump roasts, ground up into hog food. That’s the way of the world, and it should come as no surprize that someday, each of you will be past your prime rib.

    I have one purpose here today. To deliver the very best challenge lecture I can at The International Wedding Caterers’ Convention’s Golden Jubilee.

    Early in my career, before I fully understood the depth of the calling that being a wedding caterer is, I opened my first shop, Pierre Champagne’s World Caterer, in a mall in Toledo. While plenty of Toledoans were getting married, I had to supplement my income with lesser events…retirements, corporate retreats and the like, even though my heart was in weddings.

    One day, a rather peculiar looking fellow came in, asked if I would travel “a considerable distance”…that’s how he phrased it…to cater a wedding. The fact that he was dressed in black, had a disconcertingly pasty face, and of course, spoke with a foreign tone…anyways, in my haste, I said…I’ll go anywhere.

    ‘Anywhere’ proved to be Romania. I, of course, did not speak Romanian, but that was the least of the challenge. Sam Stoker, distant relative of the famous Bram Stoker, flew my small crew to Transylvania, where we were installed in a destination Castle.

    I studiously familiarized myself with the local diet, Polenta, smoked sausage, pork everything.

    There I was, half way around the world, managing a strange menu, a mostly ancient kitchen, and it all came off without a single hitch. Well, forgive me… one hitch: Sam Stoker and his beautiful bride, Bella.

  7. Bridesmaid or Page Boy; Spinnaker Tower, Porstmouth; Poetry
    42 words

    Wedding Ennui

    I do not like the glass walkway.
    Let the engineers use it.
    I won’t twirl
    for seagulls or seafarers with spyglasses.
    This dress is bad enough
    and the food
    and the music
    and all the kissing, of course.
    The drinks are okay.

  8. 293 words
    Bridesmaid; Hawaiian Beach; Sci-Fi

    Memories in the Sand

    Lilia drew a deep breath of the warm salt air, and remembered.

    She remembered her own wedding on a hill in Glastonbury, some seventeen years ago for her, and centuries past for her late husband.

    There had been salt in the air then too, the priest and priestess had thrown it over them both to bless them in the old way.

    They had bound her hand to Gwydion’s with a scarf, a fragile thing of linen and lace, so unlike the silver bands being exchanged today.

    Still, the smile on the face of the bride was much the same, and though the ritual was different, it still ended in a kiss.

    Gwydion had braided flowers into her hair after the wedding. Today’s bride threw hers into the air to be caught by a blushing school-aged girl, the child of some friend of the family.

    Lilia watched the hem of the bride’s dress collect wet sand as she danced to the tune of Greensleeves, and she grieved.

    She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written. She had dark eyes, and danced as only a queen could. Lilia could still remember her laughter, soft and half-mad echoing off of stone walls.

    Lilia listened to the sea, knowing it only as half-forgotten lullaby from childhood, before the sun had expanded and the oceans became deserts.

    The groom’s sister, a fellow bridesmaid, seized Lilia by the arm and pulled her into the crowd to dance.

    A tall man with sandy hair stepped up offering his arm. He had hands like Gwydion. She danced with him until her head spun, and then danced some more by herself.

    Lilia lay down on the darkling shore long after everyone had gone, and waited for the tide.

    1. Lovely piece.

      [ Did you mean ‘…before the sun had expanded and the oceans became deserts.’? (Reverse problem to John Herbert!) I can amend it, if you let me know. ]

    2. Lovely flowing piece. Hints of magic, history and loss. Does this story tie in with a legend/folk tale?

      1. Thank you.
        It ties in a little bit to Anne Boleyn’s story. Greensleeves was said to have been written about her. The name Gywdion comes from the Arthurian legend, being the original name of Mordred, so you might say there’s a connection there as well.

  9. 300 words
    Father; Transylvania; Memoir

    Omul Găsind Puterea

    It was the year of 1438. This is just a snippet of the trials and tribulations I would endure, but this one wakes me up in the wee hours of the mornings on most days. The year started off wonderfully my daughter Elena had met an outstanding man, Mihai. My wife Petra was due to give birth to our miracle baby in a few short months. Petra and I could not be happier: we had been trying for a baby for years with no luck.

    I was out by the garden of our small wooden home in Medias, located in central Transylvania, when Elena came running to tell me she and Mihai were getting married.

    “Wow, that is wonderful news, Elena.”

    I was slightly disappointed he did not ask me, but I had told him I thought of him as a son, so he probably took that as an okay to ask her. Elena and Petra planned a quaint ceremony that would take place at St Margaret’s Church where Elena had been baptized.

    We were all set for the event when Petra had complained of some sharp pains. This was too early for the baby, I thought. I told Elena to head to the church and I would be there shortly.

    Taking longer than anticipated as I sat there waiting for word, a young man came up to me and told me something awful happened. Thinking immediately something with Petra or the baby, he stopped my thoughts and stated that the doors of the church and several other buildings had been locked from the outside enclosing people in the buildings as a fire was set to the buildings. My imagination took it from there. In total shock, all I could think was did I lose all four of my loved ones?

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    1. That was a shocking and harsh ending. Like a smack in the face…great evocative piece of writing.

  10. 299 words
    Best man; Transylvanian Castle; Thriller

    Sanguisugent in “Love”

    The white lace fluttered against the blue sky, reaching for the heavens but not quite getting there. Her breath came in sharp, short bursts, a gurgling sound deep in her chest indicating that her lungs were filling with blood. He sniffed delightedly as he wiped a stray hair from her face, ignoring the look of horror on hers. She tried to look at anything but his fangs. She didn’t want it to be the last thing she saw before she died.

    Ten minutes before.

    “Do you take Vincent to be your lawful husband?” Her chest was starting to close. Why hadn’t she listened to her sister six months ago when she started planning the wedding? Now her sister was dead, and she was pretty sure Vincent and his best man were daywalking vampires. Their ice blue eyes, reflections of their cold hearts, pierced hers as if they could sense her hesitation.

    “Uh-hum,” the vicar swayed, looking vaguely drunk and uncomfortable as if he knew why she was hesitating. She stared at the burning candle for a minute, then, from deep within the recesses of her mind, she heard her sister scream, “RUUUNN!” And she was off like a shot.

    She ran through the old doors of the castle, the light blinding her for a second and she felt a cool breeze on her skin. The castle lay miles away from any town. She would take to the hills. She ran, her veil floating away like a cloud. The bouquet was crushed under her feet, the cloying smell of flowers mingled with her sweat as she thundered her way up. She had never felt so free. Her blood froze as she rounded a bend to find them standing there. She tripped and fell, her ribs cracking as she hit stone.

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    1. Lovely read full of mystery…nice way to end it, with that sense of freedom slipping out from under her foot, tripping her up.

  11. Sian Brighal
    300 words
    Caterer/ Antartica/Memoir

    Where Stars Are Eternal Confetti

    I was on an expedition when you told me you were getting married. Talk about whirlwind romance! Bit too quick, if you‘d asked me back then. But your face. I’d never seen you so happy. It stole those words right off the tip of my tongue…and left a bitter echo on the tastebuds. You’d called to see if I could come back to give you away. But I couldn’t. Not by choice. Christ! Not because of that. The weather turns nasty down here over Winter, and no chopper would come.

    You know, those are awful words, when I think about them: give you away. I’d barely got to know you, and there you were, all grown and hewn from life‘s chisel blows and moving on. Never sure I saw any of me in you. Perhaps the chin…or the dimples on your cheeks. That’s why I grew this beard, but on you, they were my best feature.

    You made the best of it, and together, we planned the wedding breakfast. Old man in the food industry was suddenly a good thing, eh? And on your big day—which I watched via Skype on my phone—I sat down with my survey team, and we joined you and your new husband in your breakfast, where I said my piece. I‘d agonised for weeks…but in the end, I realised what I was always going to say to you. Odd and maybe rude now I come to think on it…but my speech was always meant just for you. It was short and sweet, and you smiled and cried in all the right places. And afterwards, I held the small screen as though it were you, and for the sweetest moment, we danced between work stations, laughing and smiling until I finally had to give you away.

    1. You made me cry –and not just a teardrop but a big ugly cry. The last sentence got me. Maybe because my daughter is leaving in 3 weeks to go overseas. “And afterwards, I held the small screen as though it were you, and for the sweetest moment, we danced between work stations, laughing and smiling until I finally had to give you away.”

      1. Oh, I didn’t want you to cry. Feel bad now. Skype played a nice role in the story, I thought…

      1. Thank you, Geoff. I can’t tell you how much agony thinking of titles causes me…nightmare task. And I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  12. Divorcees; Orient Express; Poetry
    299 pretty bad poetic words but I tried, eh!

    Emily and Lucille Reinvent Themselves Somewhat

    Emily and Lucille, ah, what a fabulous pair,
    Bright chirpy women freshly free from wedded wear.
    “Hey Lucy,” stated Emily, on the day of her divorce,
    “now that we’re both unhitched,
    We should chart a brand-new course.

    “Why Emily Pontificate, what a smashing plan.
    But what to do…I’m sort of lost without my man.”
    “Fiddlesticks,” said Lucy, “your marriage was a mess.
    You need a smart adventure, a total change of scene,
    And I know just the ticket…on the Orient Express.”

    “Oh Lordy,” panted Emily, “That seems so quite extreme,”
    “I thought…a Brighton weekend, gorging on Ice Cream.”
    “Oh, darling,” tsk tsked Lucille, “you can be such a pain,
    Let’s hit the shops, buy pretty things,
    And book passage on that ancient train.”

    “Alright,” rattled Emily, “I think I’m rather game.
    Married life has bored me…so tired of being tame.”
    “Good show, old girl, I’ll boot up the internet,
    Find a date, a time that suits us both,
    then we’ll board the expressive Orient.

    But the times had had their way with the Orient Express,
    The only mystery was that it was so much less.
    No Athens, no Istanbul, not even Bucharest,
    No stylish dining car, no Murder to even solve,
    Just a pricy Milk Run; the great quest had been finessed.

    So, off they went to the Brighton shore,
    Ate Ice Cream, did the town, cougars on roar,
    And, deciding to relocate to reduce the stress
    Of divorce and lives unravelled,
    Were hired on at the giant American Express.

    Yes, they both found jobs at American Express,
    Though why they did was anybody’s guess.
    Corporate digs are rarely an exciting place:
    But the new divorcees clearly needed change,
    to catch their breath and get back in the race.
    And really, it went rather well…a welcome change of pace.

    1. Lovely poem. Love the chatty nature of the women, the reference to murder and the disappointing ride, and how their lives are finding their own pace.

    2. Enjoyed this and the adventure of it.
      This was my favorite part – nice job!
      So, off they went to the Brighton shore,
      Ate Ice Cream, did the town, cougars on roar,
      And, deciding to relocate to reduce the stress
      Of divorce and lives unravelled,
      Were hired on at the giant American Express.

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  13. Faith
    by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)
    A 292 Memoir involving a Father and a Transylvanian Castle.

    I can remember exactly when I decided Bishop Brennan had spent too long in America.
    “You need to go and find yourself again, Nicholas,” he said. “Take a holiday. Spin the globe over there and go to the first country you point at with your eyes closed.”
    Travel wasn’t the issue. The world was. I need a break from the bad and the mad. From politicians who cared more about power and rhetoric than the people they are meant to serve. Where is the Old Testament God who struck down leaders like ours?
    I jab a finger at the spinning globe, and pick Romania. Transylvania to be precise.
    “Excellent.” Bishop Brennan claps his hands. “I know a grand hotel for you.”

    Grand it certainly was, in a Gothic way. Black stone looms with gargoyles’ stares. Hopefully not a themed hotel. Lack of a flashing neon sign is a good sign, though the light would help in the darkness.
    The door is automatic. The heavy oak swings open before I can touch the brass handle. On the other side is a tall pale gentleman in a pressed black suit.
    “Good evening,” he says, adding extra Os. “May I have your name?”
    “Father Nicholas.”
    He steps back. “A man of faith?”
    The dog collar feels tight around my neck. I zip my jacket as high as it’ll go.
    “I’m not sure any more.” I’m shocked at my own level of truth, in front of a stranger. Yet I can image the four walls of the confessional. For once, I sit in the other seat, having the burden lifted from my shoulders. Maybe Bishop Brennan was right.
    The stranger smiles. “We can discuss it more at dinner. You’ll be served at eight.”

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    1. Love the double entendre at the end, Steve. Well played, sir!

      [ I find the opening sentence hard to fathom though. Did you perhaps mean to say “I can remember exactly when Bishop Brennan decided I had spent too long in America.”? (That make more sense to me anyway!) 😉 ]

      1. Hi Geoff. No the first line is mean the way it is written. The idea is the Bishop is suggesting the Father should go on a holiday or trip to find himself like the main character in Eat Pray Love. I can’t remember the exact name of these trips but from what I understand they are an American idea. Hopefully that makes more sense

      2. OK, that’s fine. I’ve never heard of Eat Pray Love. As you don’t specify where the Bishop and the Father are located. I assumed that they were in America – my bad!

    2. Love the way the story flows. The last scene just refines it. Does Bishop Brennan send all doubters there? And the last comment is just full of interpretations.

  14. @nancymbeach
    300 words
    Father; Transylvanian Castle; Memoir

    The Destination Wedding

    My legs are stiff as I get out of bed and open the curtains. I push the doubts away. Edwin is eccentric, that’s all. Normal people can be obsessed with Dracula. I still can’t believe I agreed to host Crystal’s wedding here, at Bran Castle, the castle that inspired the book.

    “Good morning, sweetheart.” My wife seems unaffected by my concerns about Edwin. “We must keep the curtains closed! You know how vampires are.” She winks. “How’s the speech coming?”

    “Fine, almost finished,” I lie. I think to the two speeches in the breast pocket of my suit. No matter how many times I rewrite the first Father of the Bride speech, my doubt seems to seeps from every sentence. The second I’d printed after a quick CTRL-F search changed George’s name to Edwin’s. It was a good speech, after all. Everyone loved it when I gave it at Crystal’s first wedding.

    It is decision time. Instinctively I crumple up the first speech and drop it into a nearby garbage can. Edwin and Crystal were married now — albeit a bit of a creepy ceremony. Glancing at the clock, I decided at this moment, 7:06 on October 31, 2016, I would believe the best about my new son-in-law.

    “Ladies and Gentlemen,” I begin, holding the Dracula-faced goblet with its dark red liquid. I glance around at the guests. Relief washes over me; no one seems to recognize the repurposed speech. The rest of the evening is magical, and I even relax and start to get into the whole Dracula scene. As the night is winding down, Crystal hugs me and our eyes lock; her face is radiant. She turns to walk away, and I feel my world fall out from under me. There, on Crystal’s neck, are two red puncture marks.

    1. Congratulation for taking on board the theme of the contest, Nancy. Great use of the chosen elements.

      [ I have a few queries – I think maybe you submitted without reviewing(?):
      1) The piece is written in the present tense, except ‘I thought to the two speeches in the breast pocket of my suit.’ Would you like that amended to ‘think’?
      2) ‘I crumble up the first speech and drop it into a nearby garbage can.’ Did you mean ‘crumple’? (Merriam-Webster has an example of the use of crumple – “She crumpled the piece of paper into a ball and tossed it into the garbage can.” Spooky!)
      3) ‘…holding the Dracula face goblet with a red liquid.’ This sounds awkward to me. How about ‘…Dracula-faced goblet with/and its dark red liquid.’ ?
      4) ‘I glance around at the guest’s relief washes over me.’ This looks like it should read ‘I glance around at the guests; relief washes over me.’ ]

      1. Geoff,
        I am humbled at the advice and corrections you shared with me. I am working on improving my writing and crave feedback, it helps me learn. I hope it is not too late to make the changes as I am just seeing this now.
        1. Yes, I did change from past to present tense and missed think – please change.
        2. LOL – yes, definitely crumple.
        3. Good catch, thank you
        4. This one I should have caught – please change as well

        Again, thank you SO much for the feedback and for finding me on twitter so I knew to head over here.

      2. Not a problem*, Nancy. As these stories stay on the blog until the apocalypse, I much prefer that they are as error-free as possible, for people to enjoy them to the full – although I suspect I’m in a distinct minority by finding punctuation, grammar and spelling errors distracting…
        We are all here to learn and to hone our writing skills, and to give feedback to our fellow writers in a supportive community.

        [ * However, it’s always better if you are able to review your entry before submitting. Even after submitting, you can leave a comment to let us know what amendments you’d like made – with the proviso that, if you leave it until after the deadline, you run the risk of the stories already having been emailed to the judge. ]

    2. The ending twists the story…gave me the idea the dad had no idea that they were really vampires and his only issue was the speech…gives the story a shocking and horror aspect. Chilling….sobering. Great read.

  15. Caleb Echterling
    Best Man/Hawaiian Beach/Comedy
    293 words
    Don’t Get Your Lacquer Mixed up with Your Liquor

    Five young men, with woven strands of nose hair hanging from each nostril, sorted empty beer cans onto an oversized checker board. “It’s my turn to be Natty Light.”

    “No way. You’re in the losers bracket. Losers bracket plays with Bud Light.” The young man adjusted the tiara that rode his close-cropped hair. “Can I just say that this is the lamest bachelor party ever. Barry, I love you like a brother, and I’m glad you’re my best man, but this sucks.”

    “What are you talking about? We got our nose hair braided. What’s a better vehicle for male bonding than excess body hair?” He tugged on his braids, then yelped like a chiwawa after a door slammed on its tail.

    “Yeah, but what’s the point of coming to Hawaii to do that? We could have gone to Duluth.”

    Barry massaged his nose. “Do they have pineapple rasslin’ in Duluth? Only in Hawaii, my friend.” The others nodded and shrugged their shoulders. “Besides, the strippers are here. Close your eyes.”

    A grin spread over tiara-man’s face. He closed his eyes and leaned back in a recliner, arms and legs splayed for maximum relaxation. “How many did you get?”

    “I said to send a whole crew over. Don’t know how many that is.”

    Four noses pressed into the bay window looking out to the oceanside drive. “Uh, Barry? I don’t think…” A flurry of shushes from Barry stomped out the conversation.

    The hard thuds of steel-toed boots gave way to the even harder thud of heavy equipment landing on the floor. A crowd of laborers with knee pads and sweat-slicked shirts hovered around a floor stripper. “You want us to do the whole house?”

    “Better ask Dave,” Barry said. “It’s his bachelor party.”

  16. My Grandpa’s Castle
    Father, Transylvanian Castle, Memoir
    I remembered the day we moved in. It was 4 months after my grandfather died, leaving his only child all his things. My mother called us lucky. She said that that a castle would be wonderful, after that studio apartment we could barely afford. She said I could go to school in the village near by. She said everyone would want to come over because I lived in an old castle. She said it would be wonderful. So we moved from ireland to transilva. How could my mother have known the other kids would call me a vampire, call my grandpa a freak? How could she have know this castle she’d never seen would be cool and creepy? Or that the kitchen still used a wood burning stove? I hated that castle.
    “Is that why we live in a new apartment?”
    “Yes my dear.”
    “And why you made mum get a electric stove?’
    “How do you know about that?”
    “I heard you talking.”
    “Oh. Yes it is.”
    “And one more thing.”
    “What is it sweetie.”
    “If great grandpa is dead,”
    “How does he send me cards on my birthday?”

    1. Thanks for the submission, Marley.
      Unfortunately, it was too late for the contest: Microcosms contests are (normally) posted at 00:00 on FRIDAY EDT/EST (New York Time). You have only 24 hours until 23:59 FRIDAY EDT/EST to write and submit an entry.
      If you are not sure about what time it is in New York, the countdown clock – on the right of the screen (if you are using a computer) is set to show how much time you have left to submit, if the contest is still active; once the contest is closed, it shows how long is left until the next contest starts.
      I hope this is not too much of a disappointment for you, and that you will submit further stories in the future.
      Just remember : it’s FRIDAY for FLASH FICTION here at Microcosms!

  17. Letters Past
    Father, Transylvanian Castle, Memoir
    287 words

    Rain lashed Cynthia as her aching legs climbed. How appropriate that Transylvania, her father’s home, would be just as dramatic as she remembered him. What little she did remember of him, that is.

    “Dear Cynthia, I do not know if we will meet in time, but if you are reading this, then you did not ignore my first letter.”

    Ahead, the guide gestured towards the distance. Cynthia saw a castle rising in the gloom like a grim giant. One window flickered orange. Cynthia’s heart dropped to her feet.

    “The sickness has taken me at last. I can no longer escape it, and there is therefore no hope for our reconciliation.”

    The guide, muffled from head to toe, dropped Cynthia’s bag at the huge, ornately carved doors and left without a word. Cynthia shivered from the cold and because she knew what was inside. Or did she?

    “Not that there ever was. I make no efforts to rebuff the lies your mother undoubtedly told you about me. It is not entirely her fault that she believed them.”

    Her fingers shook as she pulled the large key from her soaking wet pocket and jammed it into the lock. Above her, the gargoyle’s hideous face split in two as the heavy doors swung inward with a groan.

    “Instead I invite you to read this book. Having travelled this far, I do not believe you would now ignore your curiosity.”

    The cold air inside smelled of death and something metallic. Cynthia took the dark, sweeping staircase before her.

    “If you have made it this far, know that I am grateful.”

    Behind the door Cynthia opened, a pale man had collapsed at his desk, a letter and a book splattered with ink.

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