Microcosms 104

Felicitations, one and all. Welcome to Microcosms 104.

As mentioned last week, there are no contest posts in the holiday period. This is a ‘just for fun’ post to bring down the curtain on 2017. There is simply a photo prompt below – no character, setting and genre elements and no slot machine. Let your imagination run wild – although not too wild, as the usual word count of 300 words maximum still applies, but the challenge is open for a whole week until midnight, Thursday, 04-JAN-2018 (EST).


*** It will still show 24 hours , because I don’t have the technology to adjust it… ***


All being well, normal service will resume with a CONTEST post at 00:00, Friday, 06-JAN-2018 (EST).


Happy New Year, everyone!


Microcosms 154
Microcosms 103

9 thoughts on “Microcosms 104

  1. TRANQUILITY-A Man Down and Life Sucks in the Age of the Machine

    I was hoping for a sweet shift. Quiet, you know. Not much to ask, right? If you gotta work Christmas Eve, the least you should have is a little peace and quiet, some…tranquility.

    And if you work for the CORP TRANQUILITY, a cutting-edge lifestyle company if there ever was one, you shouldn’t even have to ask.
    But you know where I’m going with this, eh? Yeah! It’s not all chocolates and buttercups at TRANQUILITY. Even at my elevated level every job has its downsides. I started out in Cinema. Back when they made movies. No one thought THAT would end but when you can jump in a Transition Tank and live an entirely new life of your own making, fed by all those imaginative thoughts they once tried to humdrum out of you, well, movies were bound to be done like thinking.

    I gotta give full credit to CORP TRANQUILITY. They saw something in me, some old virtues, I guess. “Charlie,” they said, they being Grip Holstein, the HR guy, and Phil Kettle, who was Director of Research, two great guys, I gotta say, “Security will be key to TRANQUILITY’s growth. We need topnotch people guarding the tanks. One false transition and the people will turn on us. We are a By The Book enterprise, Charlie. No shortcuts.”

    So, I had my marching orders. By Appointment Only.

    But human nature, eh! It’ll grab you by the nose hairs every time. Who woulda thought Carl would jump the queue. We had partnered security for five years. We were Buds. When I heard that yell…EIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIYEEEEEEEEEE…and came running, the sight of that big galoot being gobbled up by TRANSITION THREE, well, it broke my heart.

    By the time I got to him, he was a goner.

    Up to his canoodles in holiday nightmares.

    300 somethings, I believe

    1. Great stuff, Bill. Just the sort of futuristic, hi-tech tale that I thought this image might inspire.

      [ ‘It’s not all chocolates and buttercups’? Is that a well-known idiom in the backwaters of Canada, or is it a product of the Engleson publishing conglomerate? Either way, I’m loving it! Cheered me up here on the Friday late shift at CORP MICROCOSMS; it’s not all rhubarb and dahlias, you know… 😉 ]

  2. Alva Holland
    283 words

    A Cut Above

    Thirty-six years.

    In 1973 Jeff was given a summer job as a floor-sweeper, runner, coffee-getter. He kept his head down, didn’t piss anyone off, worked hard and was sorry to see the end of summer approach. He went back to school, failed miserably and pleaded with his parents to be allowed skip school and learn a trade. Money was tight, stomachs were hungry, and the family could do with any extra few bob they could get.

    Armed with a letter from his uncle, Jeff went back to the glass factory where he’d spent his summer, and secured a full-time training position during which he would receive meagre wages but meagre was better than nothing.

    The master craftsmen were miracle-workers. Jeff was mesmerised by their precision, steadiness of hand, artistic flair and competence. He was determined to become a master cutter.

    It wasn’t easy. Jeff made mistakes. Pieces which looked perfectly fine to him were inspected and destroyed for the tiniest flaw. Jeff learned the hard way. He was taken under the wing of Tony Doyle, one of the most respected masters. Tony taught him everything, from the first marking of the glass to complicated wedge, olive, diamond criss-cross cuts.

    Jeff watched intently as master blowers created the base pieces for the cutters. He hung on Tony’s every instruction and practised his craft endlessly.

    Thirty-six years.

    The factor was about to close, the parent company having gone bankrupt. Jeff was creating his last piece of crystal, a diamond-cut vase. It would bear the company’s logo on the base as usual but anyone examining it more closely would see the initials JFK carved into one of the deepest wedge cuts.

    Jeff Francis Kennedy: Master Cutter.

    1. Hi Geoff, I have just noticed I’m missing a ‘y’ in the word ‘factory’ in the penultimate paragraph. If you could insert it for me please, I’d appreciate it.

  3. Vicente L Ruiz
    256 words


    Roger 3412 woke up at five a.m. like every day. Like every day, he left home at six, clad in his grey coveralls, indistinct from the other citizens using the tube save for the badges on their lapels. Roger’s indicated he was a textile worker. The citizen who sat in front of him each day was an industrial worker, the one to his right worked on food, the one to his left on transportation.

    Roger could remember all the days of his life. All of them. He recalled his mother telling him that was a blessing.

    He considered it a curse.

    Citizens left the car at every station and citizens entered. Roger checked them, and recognized them all. He saw their faces, their stances, their movements. All of them distinct, all of them different, yet all the same.

    His internal clock warned him. It was time. And indeed the tube stopped and he disembarked, along with the other workers who used this stop. Roger noticed one particular worker was missing, a woman who took the opposite direction to his when they left the station. He wondered why she was missing.

    Roger’s shift was eight hours, which he spent mechanically handling his machine, over and over. Lever up, shift on, belt in, new piece, hose down, spray on, hose up, belt out, lever up, repeat. Recording all details, never forgetting, as he never forgot anything.

    Was this the revolution? How had it come down to this?

    But of course, Roger remembered it all.

    He couldn’t forget.

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  4. The Nightfly
    by Steve Lodge
    96 words

    “Who’s calling the Nightfly? Hello? No one there, Marcie. On the night shift, I get my share of ghost callers. Every time I put a caller on hold, the photocopier starts up. Marcie, you gotta do something about this studio. And when are they going to fix the aircon unit? Anyhoo, with my 48th cup of coffee finished and the sun pouring through the skylight here, it’s time your phantom night DJ disappeared. Stay tuned to Radio XLYPK, turning Barnstorm on to jazz. The Nightfly is kindly sponsored by The Conquistador Bar in No Mules Creek.”

  5. Words: 197

    Happy New Year!

    They say Horatius Arden is a little mad. Not really, if you consider that his name means “ardent timekeeper”. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have years with a marked beginning and end.

    As the legend goes the young baby New Year has to be scared into the year by fireworks. He makes his way into the world and ages as the year goes on. On the thirty first of December he comes back to the laboratory as an old man. Some, who have seen him, call him Father Time.

    Horatius, by means of multiple calculations and time-defying machinery, recreates the baby on the last day of the year and shuffles him off into the New Year to keep time on track. But I wouldn’t want to be his wife. No Sir-ee. He dresses haphazardly, often wearing different colored socks. He leaves his meals unattended until the ants carry them off and I highly doubt that his hair has ever seen a comb. And yet, he is the most important man in my life.

    I may go past there this afternoon and drop off a bag of scones for him. Not that he’ll notice. I sigh.

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  6. Words: 300

    Nil Omne

    John stared into the machine through the thick glass. His fellow scientists recorded the readings from within the capsule. John mumbled and twisted at the multitude of knobs that lined the outside of the machine.
    “We need more heat, more power.”
    A scruffy-looking boy kneeling at the furnace fed the fire.
    “Is anything happening?” one of the scientists asked as he threaded the paper from the readout through his fingers.
    “Nothing.” He banged on the table. “What good is this to us?” he asked, motioning around the room. “All the knowledge we could want, but nothing that is helping us one bit. There is not even a spark!”
    “What do you expect? There is no living matter in that thing. We tested multiple times. You will get nothing to grow in there.”
    John went to the glass-encased scroll and read the first line again. “But these are the words that set the universe in motion! It must work!”
    The other scientists laughed.
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” the boy’s voice piped up.
    “So you went to Sunday school — good for you,” Andrew mocked.
    “Maybe it doesn’t work when a human says it,” the boy said, ignoring Andrew.
    John stared into the machine again. “We’ll all starve if this does not work. It has to work.”
    “We are already working outside our field,” Andrew said. “We are wasting time.”
    “Nil omne,” John said. “Maybe everything is nothing. Maybe nothing matters.”
    “I’ll pray, maybe that’ll help,” the boy ventured.
    “Maybe that’ll shut you up,” Andrew said.
    There was a spark inside the machine. From the spark wheat sprouted and started to grow on the bare metal.
    “What is it?” Andrew ran closer.
    “Hope,” John said. “Hope remains.”

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