*** SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ***
Thank you to all who participated in Microcosms 95 … I know many of you may now be thinking “What’s special about that? He says the same thing or something similar in the Results post for every Microcosms contest he hosts!”
Yes, that’s true, and it may sound trite – but I genuinely mean it.
I’ve been an administrator of Microcosms for quite a while, and it’s sometimes a struggle to come up with a fresh idea for a contest. I often feel that I may be unwittingly repeating character and location elements which I’ve used before and that, consequently, there won’t be any interest.
It’s always an apprehensive time, once the contest is finally posted – wondering if this is the week when no-one will come out to play… Then the entries start to come in, and the magic continues.
So, that’s why I always say ‘Thank you to all who participated’. It’s you wonderful, talented people who keep Microcosms going.
There were a goodly 21 entries this week, plus a ‘Just 4 Fun’ entry from your host. Welcome back to a long-lost friend, co-founder of FlashDogs, Dave Shakes – last seen here at Microcosms in round 21 – that’s 2016!; and welcome to first-time entrants, Claudia Fisher, Erica Burke, Justin J. and Matthieu Cartron.
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.
We encourage everyone to reply with a positive comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.
MC 94 Judge’s Pick, M. Levi kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:
Once again, it took forever to decide which stories rose to the highest level. Each one had a different take on the subject of cats and murder [ Entries weren’t restricted to THOSE elements, Maya! (GH) ], and it was lovely to read them all.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Dave Allen – The odds against verbal blockage for one of my profession? Astronomical.
Justin J. – “I just want to put the fires out! I know a kraken lives in this area! What’s wrong with summoning it?”
Bill Engleson – The paper did well. The kids adjusted. I guess we grew moss.
Claudia Fisher – There were three more resting in the saucepan of cold water, each egg subtly but uniquely varied in hue and marking, telling a tragic story of unfulfilled reproduction.
Alva Holland – Now next door had children and pets and all Hades had was a wicked witch.
Steph Ellis – The mop made light work of the sticky residue, turned the tiles from crimson back to sparkling white.
Kelly Griffiths – Later, he called the police. “I think somebody killed my wife,” he said.
Jeff Messick – You’ve killed me now, I’ll soon be cold./You stupid cat, without a soul.
David Shakes – They put up with Andy because their mums said they had to.
Angelique Pacheco – This was his kill. He was proud of it. How dare they judge him?
Liz Elliott – But the neighbours hadn’t given me the chance to say goodbye.
Steve Lodge – …his illustrious career that had spanned every continent the world had ever known, plus Saturn: The Ring Pull Open Singles Tournament.
Bill Engleson – And to hell with love that became raw hate.
Geoff Le Pard – Sheer dumb luck and all for the sake of a red-nosed reindeer.
Eloise – He put beetroot to match the rubies, and spinach for the emeralds, and butternut for the gold, and a little pinch of salt for taste.
Matthieu Cartron – And then she left—maybe to find a new life. Perhaps to end it.
AJ Walker – It wasn’t his plan; the old dear had just carried on walking towards him when she disturbed him.
Dave Allen – It couldn’t be known that a coven of witches did the job that the constabulary could not.
Erica Burke – “I am here because I want a resolution.”
Nancy M Beach – He looks up and smiles, and I wonder if I will ever see the day he speaks.
Geoff Holme – She took a sniff, gazed at the bowl of water by its side, then fixed me with a supercilious stare.
Caleb Echterling – Perhaps I was never meant to be a writer, or to have a neat spice rack.
Honorable / Honourable Mentions
Steph Ellis – Five Minutes
The reveal that Laura is a murderer is surprising, yet it makes utter sense. It’s nice to see such a psychotic character described with such benign language.
Caleb Echterling – End with a Zephyr, Not With A Bang
The points of writing a story and reorganizing the kitchen are interwoven well, and the story has an almost satirical tone.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 95.
(insert drumroll here)
Steph Ellis – Five Minutes
Murderer; Kitchen; Horror
The click of the kettle roused Laura from her daydream. She poured the boiling water over the teabag and left it. Five minutes to infuse, it said. Five minutes. What to do in that time? She looked around. Work surfaces were spotless, the table a bit of a mess, and the floor … well, that could do with a good mopping over. Her stomach grumbled. Physical activity always gave her an appetite and as a housewife, she had always worked hard, pulled her weight. That was something all her husbands would’ve agreed on … if they’d ever met. She took a biscuit from the tin, placed it on the saucer by the gently steeping tea. Her best china to celebrate her perfect moment. It had become almost a ritual.
Then she caught sight of the floor again and her irritation rose.
Why did Michael have to be so messy? Four minutes. She grabbed a broom, swept his leavings into a pile and bagged them. Another one for the incinerator. Three minutes. The mop made light work of the sticky residue, turned the tiles from crimson back to sparkling white. Laura worked quickly, efficient as always. She was nothing if not a practised hand at this. Three minutes. Two minutes. Time’s up.
With a sigh of relief, she sat down and pulled her cup towards her, inhaled its gentle lemony scent. Slowly the tension receded and she picked up the biscuit. Snapped it in half with a satisfying crack, just like … her eyes drifted to the bulging bin bag. She removed her wedding ring.
Matthieu Cartron – Killer Recipe
I found myself relating to the character of the man and celebrating when he got the restaurant. Then the focus switched to the woman and I likewise found myself completely sympathizing with her. The story plays with your emotions and is well-written.
Murderer; Kitchen; Horror
Killer recipes, he had told her. Those were the ones that could breathe life into a restaurant—even one like Noario’s.
The couple had struggled together, a lifetime’s worth of misfortune. A foreclosed house, a miscarriage. Bussing earned him little, but he refused to quit—he had said he would become a chef, turn Noario’s around. Maybe even become the owner.
One day, the man came home to their paint-peeled flat, dropped his coat on the ground, and cried. When she’d asked him what had happened, a great sob of joy had sputtered from his cracked lips, piercing the paper-thin walls. He had been offered the position of a chef, white apron, gloves and all.
His adept cooking caught the attention of the owner—Mr. Noario—and the man’s own experiments soon found their way onto the menu. Then a few more. Sagging profits perked, and customer ratings shot up like the salaries.
The man and the woman could now move out. Maybe try for another child.
And then, a year after the man’s promotion, Mr. Noario died, and to the surprise and displeasure of some of the other chefs, the man was left the restaurant. He would become rich, his past life a gentle fragment of a life he wanted to forget, to move on from.
And so the man left her.
They were never married, and the house was in his name. She had nothing, and was no more than a rat in the once unkempt, failing Noario’s.
That’s why she sneaked in through the unlocked back door one night. As silent as the anger within her. She worked fast—placing lethal drops on the fresh ingredients meant for the following day.
And then she left—maybe to find a new life. Perhaps to end it.
Congratulations, Matthieu. As Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms this coming weekend. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!