Microcosms 86

Today’s prompt comes to you courtesy of Dave Allen. Thanks, Dave!


Have you ever wondered about what may have happened through history if one event was changed? What would have come out different? How do things turn out when you play out these ideas in your mind? Kennedy isn’t assassinated, and goes on to win a second term. John Wayne Gacy becomes a lawyer instead of a serial killer. Justin Trudeau stayed a drama teacher instead of following in daddy’s footsteps. (I’m Canadian, this is one I wonder about.)

Yes Alternate History, the realms in which author Harry Turtledove creates his stories and the theme for this weeks competition. To give you an idea as to what may have been, here’s an except from a story that I haven’t completed yet. The premise: What if Jeff Davis had made Robert E. Lee general-in-chief of the Confederate Forces from the beginning of the Civil War?

We live in interesting times here in the Americas, for the Americas they now are. The civil war now over and a split country is now two separate entities. Lincoln’s generals, while skill tacticians, were not prepared for the cunning of the Confederate army’s General Robert E. Lee. The Union army General Grant fought General Lee to a stale mate and on the morning of April 9th, 1865, at the Appomattox Court House both sides signed a peace treaty. This divided the country into the Confederate States of America and the Union States of America.

Good luck everyone.



I love the idea of alternate realities, mostly because I think the idea of a single decision changing the course of history is fascinating. Recently, I watched the first two seasons of the Emmy-nominated show The Man in the High Castle on Amazon, which is based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. I have no idea what producers and show creators changed from the book, but if you’re looking for a little inspiration (and have Amazon Prime), you might want to check it out.

One of the reasons the story line works so well, in my opinion, is that it’s not solely about the change itself. An entire world has been created, inhabited by people from all walks of life, all of whom are still very much feeling the effects of the alternate event several years after it occurred. He also gives us glimpses of what their lives could have been like under different circumstances.

That’s quite a tall order for any story, let alone one told in 300 words or fewer! Don’t feel obligated to include every element. I’m eager to see how you all interpret this prompt. Let’s see what you’ve got!

For this week, consider the character and/or setting to inspire what could have changed. My knowledge is naturally skewed to American history, but I’ve done my best to give both specific and vague options.

For example, the character of “President” could refer to an assassinated president (such as Abraham Lincoln or JFK), a candidate that didn’t win an election (such as Al Gore, John McCain, or Hillary Clinton), or any real or imaginary President (or Prime Minister, etc. – I’m working with a limited set of characters, here) of any country. “A Pilot” could refer to Amelia Earhart or even the pilot of a dirigible, if the Hindenburg disaster hadn’t happened.

The setting “An Assassination” could be one that didn’t happen or one that did. (What if Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been shot? What if one of the 42 attempts on Hitler’s life had been successful?)

Furthermore, what if Elvis or Marilyn Monroe or James Dean hadn’t died so soon?

Let your imagination run wild! (Can you tell I’m excited about this?)

I’ve included the “Your Choice” option for both of these, because I am not worldly enough to know every war or election, etc., and I don’t want to exclude an fab ideas simply because I need to read up on my world history. I’ve also included a few fun ones to keep our options open. What if aliens (successfully) landed in Roswell in 1947?

If you do use/choose the “Your Choice” option, please specify what it is that you’ve chosen.

Also, a friendly reminder to please refrain from using copyrighted characters, although celebrities and historical figures are generally okay to use, as far as I know (but don’t hold me to that).



(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: Astronaut, setting: An Assassination, and genre: Alternate History.

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 ***


  • Soldier
  • President
  • Freedom Fighter
  • Religious Figure
  • Pacifist
  • Politician
  • Detective
  • Doctor
  • Journalist
  • Scientist
  • Assassin
  • Murderer
  • Victim
  • Terrorist
  • Celebrity
  • Astronaut
  • Alien
  • King/Queen
  • Pilot
  • Your Choice!
  • WWI
  • WWII
  • An Election
  • An Assassination
  • American Civil War
  • The Crusades
  • Outer Space
  • A Death
  • A Crash
  • An Invasion
  • A Murder
  • A Discovery
  • A Kidnapping
  • Terrorist Attack
  • Your Choice!
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Sci-Fi
  • Crime
  • Steampunk
  • Comedy
  • Poetry
  • Westsern
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Historical
  • Drama
  • Alternate History


This week’s judge TBA.

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 87
Microcosms 85

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