Thanks to all who submitted an entry to Microcosms 85; if it were up to me, you’d all get an invite to the wedding! There were 15 entries this week (plus one VERY late one).
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 returned yet again as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:
Lovely to be invited back to judge. I must say the time I have spent doing this and learning to give feedback over the years here and on other flash sites has been serving me well of late, particularly in my new role as co-editor for Trembling With Fear, the online magazine element of HorrorTree.com. If any of you feel like coming over to the dark side, you’ll know where to find me.
I’d also like to add in another little plug – sorry, Geoff – for CalenDark, the next anthology to come out under The Infernal Clock banner. We (myself and David Shakes) currently have an ongoing call for stories. Details can be found by clicking HERE.
Now back to all things Microcosmic…
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Nthato Morakabi – The cold tendrils of revenge surely grow on you as moss crawls the walls of our Transylvanian castle.
Carin Marais -“Do not worry, father, they will not let you fall,” Andrei smiled. “Not like you let me fall.”
mirandats – Howls split the sacred silence of the night and in his castle the groom smiled with blood red lips.
Eloise – She would be disgraced if it came to pass that they ran out of wine.
John Herbert – I studiously familiarized myself with the local diet, Polenta, smoked sausage, pork everything.
Bill Engleson – 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.
Angela Fleenor – This dress is bad enough
Valita Suzanne – She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written.
JK – 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
Angela Pacheco – The white lace fluttered against the blue sky, reaching for the heavens but not quite getting there.
Sian Brighal – 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
Bill Engleson – So, off they went to the Brighton shore/Ate Ice Cream, did the town, cougars on roar,
Stephen Shirres – The stranger smiles. “We can discuss it more at dinner. You’ll be served at eight.”
Nancy Beach – “We must keep the curtains closed! You know how vampires are.” She winks
Caleb Echterling – “Do they have pineapple rasslin’ in Duluth?”
Bill Engleson – The 50th International Wedding Caterers’ Convention Challenge Lecture – The Pierre Champagne Story
I swear the titles should get a category of their own. A wonderful little memoir about a truly intrepid spirit.
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Nthato Morakabi – Memoir of a Tormented Father
This ticks all the boxes for a great piece of gothic vampire flash: angry villagers with torches – check, priest – check, Count – check, spooky Transylvanian castle – check. Perfectly paced and told in such a way that you feel sorry for Count Kálnoky. Is it he who is really in the wrong or the Priest and the villagers?
Angela Fleenor – Wedding Ennui
I have been up the Spinnaker Tower, although I left it to my husband and son to walk across the glass floor – pretending not to notice when they didn’t take their shoes off (You were supposed to then; don’t know if it still holds.)
Anyway, a short poem that conveys so much disillusionment in so few words.
Carin Marais – Twelve Years
This one packs quite a punch. Initially, I was reading it simply as a drunk remembering the past. Then I realised with a shock his past is the present; that the reason for his drinking is because years ago in that place he let his son fall. Now he returns to the site to visit his son. But is he really haunted by ghosts, or is it the guilt that haunts him? Well-written with the lightest of touches to bring out the tragedy of the situation.
Caleb Echterling – Don’t Get Your Lacquer Mixed up with Your Liquor
A stag do is always game for a laugh, and I feel so sorry for the poor groom here. It seems that everything that could go wrong did, and having actual burly industrial floor strippers there rather than delicate Hawaiian females, well that conjured up some wonderful images.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 85.
(insert drumroll here)
Nthato Morakabi – Memoir of a Tormented Father
Father; Transylvanian Castle; Memoir
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.
John Herbert – Not So Much Losing a Daughter
Right, I will put it out there now – I am a Daily Mail reader but I don’t take offense, although I don’t often mention it in the staff room at work – it’s not a safe thing to do. But still, regardless of tabloid preferences, this was absolutely spot on. The story leads you on so that you think the poor old Lowells from Surrey are going to be served up on a plate to the werewolves of Cluj. (I might be wrong there, they might be vampires but I took the full moon, hackles and howl to point to the wolves.) In fact it turns out that our Surrey branch can more than hold their own and are perfectly at home in Romania. A perfect little twist saved right for the end.
Father; Transylvanian Castle; Memoir
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.
Congratulations, John. 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!