Microcosms 109

Hello, flash-fictioneers, and welcome to Microcosms 109. I’m struggling for a theme again this week, so I’ve had to fall back on my usual source of inspiration.

Today (09-FEB) is the anniversary of the birth or death of several famous writers:


1737: Thomas Paine, English-American philosopher, author, and activist – “Common Sense” (1775-6)

1863: Anthony Hope, English author – “Prisoner of Zenda” (1894)

1923: Brendan Behan, Irish poet, playwright and author – “The Quare Fellow” (1954)

1940: J. M. Coetzee, South African-Australian novelist – “Life & Times of Michael K” (1983)

1944: Alice Walker, American novelist – “The Color Purple” (1982)


1881: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist –  “Demons” (1871-2)




(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, location and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Gardener, Location: Castle and genre: Fairy Tale.

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, location 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 – not included in the word count.


  • Activist
  • Dashing Villain
  • Condemned Man
  • Gardener
  • African-American Woman
  • Revolutionary
  • British-American Colonies
  • Castle
  • Prison
  • Apartheid South Africa
  • Rural Georgia
  • Russia
  • Fantasy
  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • Memoir
  • Fairy Tale
  • Crime

Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Marsha Adams, has kindly agreed to act as judge this time round.


REMEMBER: all submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length (excluding the title).

Unless you get stuck in a time loop, you have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece.

*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 110
Microcosms 108

63 thoughts on “Microcosms 109

  1. Gardener, castle, fairytale
    Words: 195
    Little Princess

    Everybody in Elm knew the little Princess. She sat up in her tower staring into the gardens wishing she could be older and marry a prince. The little Princess loved sneaking through the hallways into the garden.

    Her friend Jerry made her a little table from a tree stump. One day she came to play and saw that Jerry was gone, the man that tended the gardens had disappeared. There was a new man looming above Jerry’s prized chrysanthemums!

    The little Princess got such a fright she turned to run but the man had seen her.
    “Little Princess, don’t be scared. It is me Jerry.” The princess seemed confused and Jerry explained.
    “I went to visit the fairies in the forest, they can grant any wish. I wanted to be young again. Look how beautiful my flowers are!”

    The little Princess was excited and thanked her dear friend. She made her way into the forest seeking out the fairies.

    This was the day the little Princess was lost.

    Some say she is still around and others say it’s just talk, but no one knows about the little old lady sitting at the tree stump.

  2. Used: Gardener, castle, fairy tale
    Words: 299
    Twitter: @CarinMarais

    The Beanstalk

    The gardener watched the princess walking to and fro in front of the window of her tower. It was night and he knew that some of the glinting light that shone from the room was from light reflecting off of the fine gold the dwarf was spinning on her behalf.
    He looked down at the couple of beans in his hand. He had given away everything he owned for them. Now he planted them at the base of the tower and chanted a prayed. The beans began to sprout and grow and his gaze followed them up and up, seeing how the stems intertwined and stretched before his eyes, reaching even past the window of the tower when the early dawn light replaced the darkness of the night.

    The spinning stopped and the dwarf disappeared once more, to come again that night.

    “Princess! He called. “Climb down!”

    He did not have long to wait before he saw the maiden climb slowly down the beanstalk. When she reached the bottom, she looked around her, ignoring the gardener.

    “Where is my prince?” she asked and the gardener stood silent and shocked at her words. “Where, knave?” she said, glaring at him.
    With his heart in a million pieces he pointed towards the secret entrance he and some of the other servants used to sneak into the castle.
    She dropped a coin in his hand, told him it’s “for his silence”, and ran towards the gate.

    The gardener stared after her and dropped the coin in the mud. He started climbing the beanstalk with a heavy heart and, when he reached the top, saw the princess run away, her freedom secured. He turned around, spread out his arms, and let the void and emptiness in his heart swallow him as he fell.

  3. Condemned Man; Russia; Crime
    299 gulags

    And There, In That Winter of Treachery.

    “Will he tolerate the journey? He is not a young man.”

    “I wouldn’t worry. It will be a direct flight. Fifteen hours, sixteen tops…And remember, he will be in a steel cage…a somewhat comfortable steel cage. With a blanket and a pillow. Cages are not intended to be comfortable, but we have tried our humble best.”
    “But still, his age must be problematic…”

    “He has seventy-one years of decadence to soften him up. Don’t fret. He’s a tough old bird.”

    “He does have the build of a slightly corpulent gnu, I’ll grant you that. We are well rid of him. The trial will be swift, I presume.”

    “Trial? We have already had the trial. How do call it…In Absentia? It was fair, though, in his absence, we had a jug of Vodka to stand in his stead.”

    “But he doesn’t drink.”

    “A bit of Cossack humour. My apologies. We do enjoy a smatter of irony. After the trial, we did toast him…with the doppelganger Vodka. And once he arrives in Moscow, we will offer him the dregs from the very same jug. By then, knowing what he will by then, the facts of the matter, the desperation of your military men, the unimaginable state of your country, the race riots, the need for…a palace coup, he may well wish to have a drink or two.”

    “We wish it hadn’t come to this. This is not how we change governments.”

    “Ah, you Americans. You cling to your democratic ideals. You cling until the web of deceit throttles you. But enough chit chat. The decision has been made, the bane of your existence is entering the cage, his secret service detail has been reassigned and the executioner, the Russia executioner, awaits. Bon Voyage. And please, call us anytime. We love duplicity.”

  4. Gardener/Castle/Fairy Tale
    283 words

    The King and the Gardener

    Once upon a time a vain young king ruled in the land of Oggle. He lived in a big castle, high on the hill so he could look down on all his subjects and gloat about how much better his house was than theirs. Each day he watched a beautiful girl tending her flock of sheep and he decided that he would marry her. He summoned his gardener and asked him to plant a beautiful rose garden so that he could woo this girl.

    The gardener worked hard, and the girl was summoned. The girl was entranced by the garden but she told the king that she already had a love and was soon to be married to his gardener. The king became angry and in a fit of rage he pushed the gardener down the hill.

    He again summoned the girl.

    ‘You will marry me now that the gardener has gone.’

    ‘No, sire,’ she replied. ‘I cannot marry you for I still love the gardener. Look at this beautiful rose garden that he created.’

    The king decided that he could grow a bigger and better rose garden and then the girl would be his. So he ripped up the roses and planted his own flowers: they would be magnificent, exquisite. But no matter how much he tended the earth, all he grew were weeds.
    Despairingly, he called the gardener back.

    ‘What can I do to make the flowers grow?’ he asked.

    ‘A pure heart and a love that’s true is the secret, sire.’

    The king pushed him back down the hill.

    Later that day the gardener and the girl married and they filled their garden with roses and their home with love.

  5. Trespass by Steve Lodge
    300 words

    Twas fairly shod and twisted with all manner of carpal understatement. Tis no nobler a man than the good Earl Of Hawk, wouldst go fishing for fair maidens in this backwater unless of course the evil Scroggins had lured him away from Hawk Castle on some ghastly premise. He’d have something to do with it or my name wasn’t Mick Beath. Well, of course, twould end as I feared in tears and pyjamas and a hey nonny no. A gallop here and a whoa boy there, if you catch my drift. The Earl returned in a foul temper.

    “Dammit, Mulhearn, what’s for breakfast?” The Earl yelled at me through his moustache.

    “There’s still some leftover dragon Mr. Scroggins sold you, sire. It is still wriggling. Or there’s muesli.” I poured tea into his hands (cups were yet to be invented).

    “Don’t be impertinent. I’ve never liked you. Get me eggs. Where’s The Rooster?”

    I shook my head “On that difficult, not to mention impossible, question, my wee case here should remind you that today I leave your employ. My brother and I have passage on the SS Cheesespreader bound for New York. Look from the window, your Early, my brother waits yonder for me.”

    “Yes, I saw him but I thought it was Gardner, the gardener.”

    “I believe,” I said through gritted teeth. “That Gardner the gardener disappeared many moons ago without so much as a bye, sweet haddock.”

    “Oh right, yes.” Hawk muttered “Seem to remember the body was never found…”

    I threw him a cheeky grin. “Lucky nobody checked the lake in the south field, eh, your Earlishness?”

    Hawk didn’t seem to be listening, but mumbled on. “…..I’m sure he was sleeping with her ladyship. It wasn’t just flowers from the garden he was giving her every morning…”

  6. Gardener/Castle/Fairytale

    Words: 290

    Cat and Mouse

    He watches them slinking around the castle, walking on tip toes as they watch each other. In the beginning they avoided one another completely. When they happened upon each other accidently, there would be hissing and spitting and running haphazardly, knocking over vases and ornaments. The castle was huge. It was easy for two cats to distance themselves. They had done so for years in their marriage until the spell was cast, turning them into cats. For years they lived as animals, hissing and spitting at one another, as they had before in human form, but as time grew long, they adapted. They calmed down.

    The gardener watches them now through the window as he prunes the rose bushes. He sees the queen bring a squealing mouse in the ballroom. The king, asleep, pricks his ears up as he hears the creature. The queen watches him through half-closed eyes as she drops her prize before him. He pounces but misses. The mouse scurries off with two cats in hot pursuit. He dodges and weaves like a car in a high-speed chase and finally manages to squeeze under a door, safe at last!

    The cats watch the door for a time before wandering off. The queen walks over to the king and rubs herself against him in affection. The king reciprocates. The gardener smiles and closes his eyes. He mutters a few words and the people in the castle are transformed back to human form. “Love has come back to this castle,” the gardener thinks, as he picks up his tools and walks away, whistling into the wind.

    On the other side of the ballroom door, the chauffeur who is bent over, huffing and puffing thinks, “That wasn’t funny at all!”

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  7. @NthatoMorakabi
    300 words
    Gardener; Castle; Fairy Tale

    The Ebony Tree

    There stood a tree black as soot, with twisting limbs clawing at the sky. It grew not far from the rise of castle spire where the window no longer shone. Around it trees grew in blossoms of pink from the East, the spiralled greenery of the North, the stout purple of the South, and the azure lilted spruce of the West.
    The King wondered through his garden, head lowered as he followed the well-trodden path to the ebony tree. A burly gardener stood at its base, sweat pouring off him in rivulets as he swung an axe.
    “Tis been two weeks and you have barely made a dent,” The King said, voice stern yet softened by years of heartache.
    “M’Lord, I have yet to see such a vile beast. It yields not, even with the most devout strikes.”
    The King raised his head and glared.
    “Do not dare speak such filth before my tree.”
    “Apolo-” he was cut off with a raised hand. A moment later guards whisked the hollering man away.
    “Will there ever be anyone able to bring this cursed thing down?” he cried.
    “Perhaps I?”
    The King turned and found a young man standing near.
    “Ha!” The King scoffed. “You are barely a quarter of the last man. What can you do?”
    “M’Lord, I beg only for a day.”
    The King laughed,
    “None has managed in years and you seek a day?” He shook his head.
    “Should I manage I seek only one thing. As reward.”
    “The soul of the prince who lies at its roots.”
    The young man then proceeded towards the tree, kissing the obsidian wood. Immediately flakes of darkness peeled away, whisked into the wind. At its centre stood the King’s son in golden glow.
    “You have finally come, my prince,” he whispered.

  8. @danafaletti
    299 words
    Castle, Gardener, Fairy Tale

    Title – Princess Pudge, The (not-so-flaky) Godmother, And The Lucky Gardener.


    I asked her to make me thinner.
    Fairy Godmothers are so thick sometimes.
    I literally said, “The weight around my midsection is bugging me.”
    So, she made me an insect. A long, lean Walking Stick.
    For God’s sake, who gave this woman her job?
    Fairy Godmother needs to retire.


    Princess Pudge was a lovely girl.
    But as she aged, vanity began to swallow her beauty.
    Tiny lines emerged beside her eyes; her once sweet face fell,
    Pockets of extra flesh cushioned her belly and backside with bitterness.
    When she cornered me in the gardens this morning, begging my favor, her mouth was stuffed with just-picked strawberries.
    I told her not to talk with her mouth full.


    The gall of that woman!
    Since when does the help get to spout orders about agreeable conduct?
    “Look, Godmother,” I’d said and a bloody spray of strawberry spittle escaped my lips. “I need a husband, and nobody wants this flabby body. Make me into the type of creature men dream about.”


    I granted her wish.
    Now, she’s thin enough to climb the legendary Fairy Steps of Cumbria.


    Damn that flaky Godmother!
    I’ve trudged across castle grounds on six scrawny legs to climb these storied steps.
    I’m at the top where fairies supposedly grant wishes.
    This legend had better not be urban.


    “Blimey!” A Walking Stick!
    Never seen such a creature in these parts of Cumbria.
    “A squirmy bugger aren’t ya?”
    I’ll slip you in my jumper pocket.
    “A perfect addition to my collection!”


    Unhand me!
    How dare you touch me with soiled hands?
    I need my wish!


    “Oh dear.”
    It seems my spell has transformed Princess into the creature of at least one man’s dreams.
    Gardener seems quite married to the idea of keeping her.

  9. Gardener – Castle – Fairy Tale
    Words – 292

    The Fairy Apple

    The unicorn loved to watch the gardener, he tended the castle gardens with lovingly tender motions, but there was loneliness to him. His eyes spoke of his misery and the unicorn wanted to rid him of the pool of sadness in his eyes, so this time she approached him.

    Sam, the gardener, laughed as a beautiful white unicorn with a golden horn nudged his hand; he assumed it wanted one of the apples. Sam knew the apples were magic; it was all in the fertilizer he would joke. The real reason was that the trees grew on a fairy mound, meaning the roots absorbed wild fairy magic like it was water. Sam plucked an apple and gave it to the unicorn. The unicorn greedily ate the apple and as it swallowed its last mouthful it began to create a warm golden glow that grew brighter until Sam could no longer set his eyes upon the unicorn.
    When he was able to look again, before him was a beautiful woman where once the unicorn had stood. She had long white hair which she wore like a robe to hide her nakedness and her eyes glowed gold with silver flecked through. They spent the night together on the fairy mound with fairies flitting around them gleefully.
    Morning came and Sam wanted to take the woman home with him, they set off towards his living quarters in the castle, but as soon as the woman stepped away from the fairy mound she turned back to a unicorn, leaving Sam bereft.

    Almost a year had passed when Sam saw the unicorn again; she walked towards him with a baby riding her. The baby looked exactly like Sam but with a pearlescent horn protruding from his forehead.

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  10. Condemned man, rural Georgia, crime
    299 words

    She Saved Me

    My life was over the day I found Denny Lewis dead. Everyone loved him. He loved me, among only the few. My life was over when his killer approached me from behind.

    “A condemned man returning to the town who hates him. You made it way too easy.”

    “I suppose I shouldn’t ask why the mayor wanted him dead.”

    “The reason is very obvious, but no one will care when they find you with his blood on your hands.”

    “His blood isn’t on my hands.”

    “Do I really need to say it. Sheriff is on his way. Probably told everyone as he rolled out of town. I’ll be the hero who caught Denny’s murderer.”

    I dipped my hands in the pool of blood spreading from his body. He was right. I should have never come back to Georgia but the love of my girl wouldn’t allow me to be anywhere else. The town emptied onto Denny’s property.

    “I caught him. Came to talk to Denny about a mayoral debate and found him like this. He killed him just like he did my girl five years ago.”

    He snatched me off my knees, stumbling to properly secure the handcuffs on my wrists. The town loudly protested against my incarceration. Speaking of my innocence was useless on a crowd too blind to see the wolf attacking the sheep. By the time the sheriff pushed me out of the house, a noose appeared on the branch of an oak tree and then around my neck as they took control. I struggled to balance myself on a bucket. Tears poured down my face, praying for a quick death.

    “Stop! My daddy killed Denny as he did me five years ago. The gun in his hands will prove it.”

    She saved my life again.

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  11. Gardener/Castle/Fairytale
    Words: 296

    True love’s kiss

    Deep in the bramble forest, there lived a gardener. The lines of his face drew deep stories. He was covered in a bear skin and every day he would trim the brambles around the castle. He had thwarted the fairy’s curse by being on holiday when the princess pricked her finger. When he had arrived back to the castle he noticed a forest of brambles covering the castle. He had hacked a path through the brambles to get to the castle and his beloved daughter but when he got there she was asleep. He kept watch. He knew a true love kiss was the only way to lift the curse. Everyday he would chop the brambles back and clear a path for hopefully one day her true love would come.

    While Fredrick was hacking through the brambles, he heard the pounding of horse feet and slashing of swords. “We are almost there, Sire”
    “Fantastic. I always wanted to be part of the royalty. Just imagine me as King”
    “You? King?” asked Prince Louis.
    “Yes, young brother. Watch and learn”
    Prince Louis shook his head. “Well, brother let’s head forth”

    Fredrick saw the brothers and immediately he recognized Louis. His beloved daughter’s heart. He quickly hacked towards the pounding feet. He broke through the brambles and jumped out before the group. He scraped the floor. “Dear sirs please don’t go further. You will surely die. There are hungry wolves”. At the mention of wolves, Louis’ brother inched back. Fredrick moved closer to Prince Louis and whispered in his ear. “The wolves are false. Just follow the path I have hacked through the brambles and you will find your heart.” Prince Louis dashed past. “Wait! You will die”. Prince Louis replied “for her I will be more than willing.”

  12. Gardener/Castle/Fairy Tale

    Words – 300

    Precious berries

    The sun had just begun to peak over the tall castle walls and birds began to fill the air. Every morning, the King had a big breakfast filled with fruits, pastries and fresh juices.

    I was requested to pick one small basket of strawberries and one medium size basket of blueberries. The berries were covered with a light dusting of water that sprang off in hundreds of directions as I plucked them off the bushes.

    I finished picking the two baskets of berries and began to slowly wander my way to the kitchen. I approached the guards by the door and said, “berries, for the king.”

    They moved out of the way and I pushed the small wooden door. I walked past dozens of chefs preparing all sorts of meals for the King and his family.

    I set the berries on a small table next to one of the chefs and said: “here is your berries sir, freshly picked from the garden.”

    “Ehh,” the chef grunted as he grabbed a handful of berries and put them on his chopping board.

    I walked back to the garden and began pruning and clipping the dead leaves and branches off each bush. A while later I saw four guards come out of the castle door and into the garden. the quickly walked over to me and put a bag over my head before I could say anything. I was scared and had no idea what was happing. suddenly we stopped and the bag was ripped off my head.

    “THE KING IS DEAD, HE HAS BEEN POISONED!” shouted the officer pointing next to the King laying on the ground “DID YOU DO THIS?”

    “No,” I said in shock.

    The officer walked closer and drew his sword. I closed my eyes and held my breath.

  13. Gardener, Castle, Comedy
    The Gardeners Dream
    165 words
    It was just like any regular for me, I was the gardener at the castle, I was busy working that morning when I heard a bunch of commotion coming from the castle, “The king is down! The king is down!” is all I kept hearing. The king had died, he was killed by one of his security guards. and with me being the kings son (surprise!) I was next in line to become the king.
    “But I don’t wanna be the king!” I whined “I’m not fit to be a king! I’m just a gardener!”
    “Well you better get ready, because it’s happening” One of the guards told me.
    “How could this happen to me?” I thought to myself. All of a sudden, I woke up in my bed.
    “Thank goodness that was just a dream! I’m happy just being the gardener for now. I don’t need to be a king any time soon.” I thought to myself as I went to get ready for the day.

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  14. 77 words
    Gardener; Castle; Fairy Tale

    Protecting Beauty

    The Gardener dropped his trowel with a sigh of satisfaction.

    Now no-one would be able to disturb his precious sleeping beauty or the rest of the castle; his enchantment would ensure her safety until the magic was drawn to one who was worthy.

    As he collapsed next to the roots of his prized rose-bush, he let out his last breath, knowing that he had done all he could to protect the future of the realm.

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  15. Gardener, Castle, Fairy Tale.
    295 words.

    The Tale Of George The Gardener

    George Gardner was, of course, a gardener, like his father had been and his father’s father had been. He was in charge of the gardens of the Royal Palace, and that meant a lot of work, for the Palace was really an old castle built for battle, and had not been made with flowers or trees or leisurely strolls on mind.

    Yet George toiled and strived and persevered, and the time arrived when the gardens of the Royal Palace were so beautiful and grandiose that they were awarded their own uppercase, thus becoming The Gardens of the Royal Palace. And fairies and pixies and elves and some say that even a unicorn visited them.

    Alas, humans are, have always been, and always will be envious, and some said George couldn’t have done it alone, forgetting all the help he had always had from his children, who were gardeners, apprentice grade. Rumour spread, and grew, and in the end it became legend. And the legend said that the Gardens were magic, and that they needed no gardener at all, and they used the magical creatures as evidence.

    So it was that George was forced to leave his job, and The Gardens of the Royal Palace were left without a caretaker. The delicate flowers withered and died; the strong trees grew stronger and wild. And the Gardens became an untamed forest, full of strange beasts and evil spirits.

    The Royal Palace became just a Castle again as it lost its Gardens. The Wicked Forest, as it came to be known, grew and grew and neither fire nor axe could stop it, and the Castle was abandoned before it was consumed.

    And George? George was happy tending the Gardens of the Queen of the Fae with his children.

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  16. Gardener, castle, fairytale
    Words: 300
    A Home Grown Prince

    At a very specific time, at the stroke of midnight; in a very specific place, the vegetable garden of the castle; the royal gardener planted a berry, the seed of the Mandragora or mandrake.

    The king, who had been left bereaved and without issue by the untimely death of his queen, had been advised by his wizard that he could still have an heir if he planted and nurtured the Mandragora.

    The gardener had been charged by the king with aiding him in his quest for an heir. An enchanted Mandragora berry that the queen had worn as a charm was to be used to seed his successor.
    The king enlisted the gardener’s horticultural skills to get the plant off to the best possible start. The king then took over the care of his future offspring and, once it sprouted the next day, personally watered it for the next thirty days with milk. Over this time the royal gardener and the Royal gardener (the king) became inseparable as they cared for the royal plant. Together each day they minutely examined its foliage, ensuring that it remained free of pests and in the best of health.

    On the night of the thirty-first day at midnight, with all the care of a midwife tending a birth, they dug up the plant. To the king’s delight they unearthed a homunculus which, instead of screaming, gave out the healthy bawling of a new born babe.

    The babe, although small at first, steadily grew to become a robust young prince. He was well loved by the king and by the royal gardner who, in recognition of his husbandry, was adopted into the family as an uncle.

    The royal family lived happily ever after and fondly referred to the prince as their son of the soil.

  17. Gardener/Castel/Fairytale
    words: 300

    Forbidden Beauty

    The beaming sun rested in the sky, its light peeking over the walls of the castle. Fluffy clouds swayed in the breeze as birds sang their morning calls to the kingdom. As the woodland creatures skittered along the forest ground the little princess traveled down the cobblestone stairs. Her shoes made a quiet clip-clop echo through the empty courtyard. She walked towards two tall wooden doors engraved with elegant flowers, cautiously she placed her tiny hands on a door and pushed. It protested with a high-pitched squeak as it dragged across the cold stone floor. Finally, after much effort, it was opened enough. She carefully peeked through the small crack to see the forbidden forest.

    Now the little princess had been told that she wasn’t allowed to enter the forbidden forest many times, but today her curiosity had gotten the better of her. It seemed to emit a sparkling glow as if magic filled the air. Immense trees towered over the beautiful nature. The flowers appeared to be reaching for the suns rays as the quiet breeze rocked them back and forth. The princesses breath hitched as she took in their beauty. Each petal seemed to be painted as if little fairies had gracefully stroked their tiny paintbrushes along them. 

    She began to skip through the fields of lilies and carnations slowly running her hands through them. As she dragged her fingers along the stems she felt a slight pinch. Slowly she removed her hand to see scarlet blood trickling down her finger. Suddenly dizziness overtook her senses. As she found herself falling a bright red rose hidden among the other flowers caught her eye, but what the princess failed to see was the old woman standing in the shadows as she cast a spell to protect her garden.

  18. 132 words
    African American Woman; Castle; Crime

    Quest for the Queen’s Death!

    My girls, Rubyrose and Lillylace, just finished killing an entire city, now we’re ready to take the queen’s castle.
    With it crawling with guards, we had to figure out how to get in to kill the queen.
    Rubyrose got in and disabled the security systems as Lillylace and I sneaked in.
    The sun tucked itself behind the mountains as I pulled out my sword and swung.
    A light came from the door and I saw a guard holding Rubyrose by the arms.
    “Gotcha, Psycho Girl,” he smirked. “And your little friends.”
    He soon was lying on the ground as all of us hopped out of the window.
    I walked into her highness’ room because of noise but was terrified at what I saw.
    Written in the queen’s blood was PSYCHO GIRL.

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  19. Gardener/Castle/Fairy Tale
    296 words
    Title: Zita

    I heard the cheery voices of the princesses as they descended the stairs chattering about silly useless things, but then I heard something that caught my attention, “You mean Mother’s really going to have another girl? After all of us?”
    “Yes, that’s what it looks like.” I knew exactly who the voice belonged to… it was the oldest, Aurelia.
    I looked up, and saw them descend the last of the stairs.
    “Ceres! I’m so glad to see you, can you please get me a bunch of violets?” Princess Astra asked me.
    “Of course, Princess.” I said, bowing my head.
    “Please just call me Astra.”
    “Yes, of course.” I lowered my head and scurried off to get her flowers.
    As I gathered the flowers, I craned my neck to listen to the princess’s talk.
    “Aurelia? Do you think Papa will be happy with another girl, and no boys?” Alima, one of the eleven princesses, asked.
    “I think he’ll be happy with whatever the baby is.” Aurelia smiled, but I could sense the lie.
    The last time the queen had a girl, the king got so angry, he wouldn’t speak to the queen for a month. Surely, if the queen had another girl, the king would kill her.
    Three months later…
    “Ceres!” I looked up to see the distressed figure of Princess Astra.
    “Princess, what is it? Are you hurt?” I asked.
    “Mother! Oh, Mother! She she’s gone!” Astra wailed, “Papa doesn’t want the baby! He says she killed Mother! Will you take her? And keep her with you?” Astra looked up at me.
    “Please! It’s the only way to keep her here with us!”
    What can I say, I thought.
    “Please, Ceres! You have to!” Astra was wild with her sadness.
    “Yes, what’s her name?”

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  20. C/L/G: Gardner, Castle, Fairy Tale
    Word Count: 243
    Title: The Trouble With Royalty
    @ArthurUnkTweets / http://arthurunk.com

    “Once upon a time in a magical land far, far away… Nah screw that! I’m gonna tell you the real truth. No one lives happily ever after in this story.” — Excerpt from the text of the Brother’s Howard Fairy Tale Collection.

    Emeric lived in Castle Deadsoon on the ice tundra planes. Emeric was the favorite person of Princess Bonita. Why was Emeric held in such high regard? Well, he was the only person that could keep the flowers alive in the basement garden. The prince of the castle, Prince Dickstub, hated Emeric with a passion; for Princess Bonita would spend more time in the garden than with him.

    One day Prince Dickstub confronted Emeric in the garden basement and became very angry with him. He destroyed all the flowers by stepping on them and made fun of Emeric’s lack of power to do anything. This made Emeric very sad. Princess Bonita did not help Emeric as he was beaten bloody in his garden.

    Months went by and Emeric grew a new garden of plants and flowers filled with Oleander and Rosary Peas. Princess Bonita fell in love with the new flowers and picked the Rosary Peas to make a special dinner for the royal family. Many days later an envoy from Emperor Bigguyus arrived at Castle Deadsoon and found that everyone at the castle had died, except for Emeric. When asked about what happened, Emeric just smiled and tended the deadly garden.

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  21. Secrets

    Elements: gardener, castle, fairy tale

    296 words


    In the Castle of Beyond was a secret garden. Nobody knew anything about it except the secret gardener … and nobody knew anything about him either. He would emerge only at night to toil at flowerbeds no one ever saw, tend roses no one ever plucked. This man had looked after the garden all his life, as had his father and his father before him. Their bones were buried deep in the soil he nurtured, family forever one with Nature. Now it was his turn to take a wife, create a family, a secret family.

    As it happened, the King had a daughter and the gardener thought a Princess would make a fine wife. He watched as suitors were haughtily dismissed, none ever good enough. He listened to the King plead with her to accept one of them, any of them …

    “Anyone would think you wanted to be rid of me, Father,” she said. “But they’re all so boring. I want a man with a secret. I want roses and moonlight.”

    The gardener heard her words and smiled, he could grant her wish. He slipped into her chamber and placed a black rose on her pillow.

    “So dark and yet so beautiful,” she murmured, holding the flower up to the moon.

    “I have a garden full. Would you like to see more?”

    The princess stared in amazement as he emerged from the shadows; one minute short and stocky, the next a giant; one minute pale, the next dark. The changes fascinated her. This man had secrets. Eagerly she took his hand.

    When the King entered her room, he found only the rose she had dropped, noticed the moon. Understood. She had got her wish. And so had he.

    Life was truly a bed of roses.

  22. Gardner/Castle/Fairytale
    The Monster
    As I began my work at the place that haunted my dreams, I could feel my hands shake with fear. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the horrible memories out of my mind. Day after day, as I tended the castle garden the flashbacks from the tragedy that happened there would come to me, so real-seeming and furious that I almost couldn’t tell what was the reality. Everything I saw reminded me of that scarring day. The weeds that grew reminded me of the monster choking and killing everything it came in contact with. The thorns on the roses of his sharp and razor-like teeth. Constantly, I would have to remind myself that what happened is in the past and the monster had been defeated. Or so I thought.
    One brisk spring day and I made my way to the castle to tend the gardens I noticed a strange shadow out of the corner of my eye. I took a second glance, and not seeing anything unusual, I decided it was my imagination. I went to the gardens and began to prepare the grounds for a new row of flowers that I was to put in that day. As I raked the freshly laid soil, I felt a drop of rain fall on my head. I looked up, trying to see the sky, but instead, I saw the huge monster towering over me with its red eyes staring into my soul and its claws up, ready to pounce. I knew that this was the end of me.

  23. This tale is from a friend of mine who had some difficulty submitting.

    Ted Young
    187 words
    Gardener; Castle; Fairy Story


    I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows of the existence of the “Poreen”, the fairy folk who, thinly disguised as humanoids, share our worldly spaces. Few know, however, that if you show respect or even acknowledge them, they may bestow gifts or favours in return.

    Such a Poreen was Columbine who appeared as a gardener so thinly disguised that she was scary .The only human to give her any time was a musician, known as “The Busker” locally, who had a reputation for being a half-decent chess player.

    The Busker’s “reward” was rhubarb which, as Columbine only worked between dusk and dawn, was regularly “posted” through his letter box in the dead of night.

    The Busker found that, after eating this rhubarb, his mind became razor sharp and he could predict other people’s thoughts and movements.

    Came the day of a big chess tournament mega-bucks prizes and a trophy.

    The review read: “The winner won with uncanny and magical use of Knight and Castle.”

    Blessed are those never mean
    But kindly to the wild Poreen.

  24. gardener/castle/fairytale
    297 words
    Garden enchantment

    “I’m not pretty enough!” Wailed Princess Camellia, “I’ll never find a husband!”
    The king put an arm around her shoulders trying desperately to stop the tears slipping down her face.
    “Could I be of assistance?” Said a crinkly, thin voice.
    An old, bent man hobbled out of the shadows.
    “You’re that old hermit that lives in that creepy garden.” Camellia screeched.
    “Ahh, so you’ve heard of me!” the old man said with a toothless grin, “You’ve heard of my enchantments. I’ve helped people all over the kingdom, but I’ve never had the pleasure of helping you, dear Princess Camellia.”
    “we don’t need your filthy enchantments!” The king spat.
    “What about this!” The old man said as he revealed a small red apple in his gnarled hands.
    “Wh-what is that?” The princess asked.
    “An apple that shows only the true beauty in a person,” The ancient gardener wheezed.
    “Give me that!” Camellia said as she snatched the fruit out of his frail hand.
    “one bite is all it takes,”
    “Camellia Don’t!” The king said as he tried to pry the apple out of her hands.
    “Against her father’s warnings she took the fruit and ate it. Immediately she felt the magic go throughout her body. She ran over to the looking glass.
    “What have you done to me!”
    Her long golden locks were now replaced with colorless frizzy ones. Her emerald eyes were now a shade of gray. Her once-resilient skin sagged and wrinkled.
    “You tricked me!”
    “I have done nothing to you nor have I tricked you. You were as ugly as you said you were! For true beauty comes from within,” the old man said as he himself took a bite from the magical apple, transforming into a young handsome man, and with that he left.

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  25. Gardener / Castle / Fairytale
    286 words
    Magical Jewels

    The wind blew as I inspected my beloved garden. An ugly, dry, magic had crept into it overnight. The vines that once held the richest of berries were stripped of all beauty. The berries were creased like a piece of paper. The bushes were parched. Even the thorns themselves had been drained of life. 

    This will not do, I thought. The king expected the ripest berries to be delivered to his castle. I would be executed if I could not present them. I wasn’t to worry though. With not a soul watching, a single swipe of my finger sent sparkles into the air. They drifted towards the plants, becoming brighter as they progressed. Once one speck of the fairy dust landed on the vines, they erupted with radiant light. The garden came to life. The bushes shone brighter than an emerald. The glossy berries dripped with sweet juice. Several dangled on the vines, gravity causing it to droop. 

    With a satisfied smirk on my lips, I began to collect the magical jewels. They fell into my hand with only the slightest pressure. The buckets filled fast. The king was sure to be pleased with my work. Of course, he would be convinced like the rest of the kingdom that I worked day and night, tending to these lovely berries. They would never understand the powerful magic that I had on my side. And it was perfectly fine. I was happy to hoard all the enchantment.

    As I handed over the magical berries to the castle guards, I enjoyed watching their astonished expressions while they examed them. It seemed to amuse me how their minds couldn’t quite imagine the world of mystery and wonder that is magic.

  26. I was tending to the flowers outside the castle wall when I overheard the king talking to his knights. He said, “my daughter needs a husband quick or else she is going to become the towns laughing stalk by the time she turns 18.” the knights agreed that she needed a husband they tried to fight over her but the king said no knight can have her they are too close to the family. The king wanted somebody with great wealth and power to marry his daughter. The gardener wanted to find a way to trick the king into letting him marry his daughter. The gardener decided that he was going to get the girl to fall in love with him first. He found her outside by the flowers and started to talk to her she was troubled about getting forced to marry somebody she just didn’t want to marry one of the knights. He told her that he overheard the king saying she didn’t have to marry any of the knights. The princes seemed relieved that she didn’t have to marry the knights but she was still upset that she had to marry somebody that she didn’t know. The gardener ask if she knew him and she said yes more than what my dad wants me to marry but the gardener was not rich she said we could trick him and get the gardener good clothes and a nice look and after they got married tell them that he was not rich.

  27. condemned man/castle/fantasy
    232 words

    I awake dripping with sweat. I feel the heat across my body scorching my skin. I burst open the door and see flames covering every wall and covering my parent’s entire castle. I race back into my room realizing I decided to sleep on the third floor compared to my bedroom on the first. I decide the smartest thing to do was race down the stairs and run out the front door assuming nothing was blocking my path. I start running down the stairs dodging in and out of the fallen parts of the house. I finally made it down the first flight of steps. In all the chaos and fire I couldn’t find the next staircase, nevertheless, I kept looking but the more I looked the less hope I had. I could feel as the smoke slowly consumed my lungs the longer I was in the house the dizzier and more confused I became. I saw the steps and started running towards the stairs. I felt something grab me it was almost like the fire reached out and pulled my body out from under me. Terrified I tried to scream but the smoke had consumed my lungs and my voice was nothing but a whisper. finally, I gave up and let the fire absorb my entire body knowing there wasn’t any hope.
    “Sadie! its time for school,” my mom said as she left the room. I lay there for a few more minutes trembling with fear wondering if my sister’s death would ever escape my mind.

  28. The Grass is Always Greener, But the Stone is Whiter

    Giorgio cut the lawns, clipped the trees and bushes, he even dusted the blooms to make the garden look impeccable for the king. He sweated all summer, shivered through the winter. There were always jobs to be done in the castle gardens.

    From high above in the castle the king looked down on the gardens; the king looked down upon the gardener. He envied him. He had the sunshine and could see the fruits of his labour each and every day. All the king had was complaints and anger and it was always in the dark; figuratively and literally.

    The gardener looked up at the castle built from the whitest limestone. It was cut to perfection. Straight lines and curves, constructed by the master masons of the valley lands. Giorgio looked in wonder. He hated the garden. He wished he had been born into a family of masons. He loved his dad, but gardening sucked, why did his dad have to be a gardener? Hereditary jobs sucked.

    From the thin slit window two hundred feet up the king looked down whilst the gardener looked up. The king hated the castle; he would hold his meetings in the garden if he could instead of in the cold dusty castle, but his advisors said he couldn’t. He had to listen to his advisors apparently, whilst they didn’t listen to him – no one respected kings these days. He didn’t understand how advisors got their jobs. That question was above the king’s pay grade apparently.

    And as for the meticulous masons I can’t tell you anything about them for it is secret. They probably look down on the gardener, on the advisors and even on the king. Who knows? I might, but I’m not telling.

    This world works: Just. But the stones are perfect.

    A.J. Walker
    WC: 300
    Gardener/ Castle/ Fairytale

  29. Gardner/Castle/Fairy Tale
    Title: How we met

    The security guard led me into the castle and standing in the window was the prince. He turned and said, “Hello, my name is Thomas. What’s your name?”
    I replied, “My name is Liz.”
    “I saw you planting flowers, and I wanted to meet you,” he said.
    “Should I bow?” I asked.
    “No,” he laughed, “I want to get to know you.”
    “I have many more flowers to plant and I don’t want to get in trouble,” I said.
    “Liz, you can have the day off if you spend it with me,” said Thomas.
    “Um, okay?” I laughed.
    I showed him around the property and he showed me the inside of the castle. Over the next few months we spent almost every day together. Sometimes he would read stories to me while I weeded, but most of the time he helped. We talked about everything: our families, our friends, and pets we used to have. It was like I was living in a fairytale. Then one day he came outside and told me we had to talk. He told me that he was leaving and didn’t know if he was going to return.
    “What are we going to do?”
    “I want you to come with me and meet my family,” Thomas answered.
    “Yes, I’ll go with you!” I said.
    “We leave in five days. Do you think you’ll be ready?” he asked.
    “Yes!” I shouted and started to cry happy tears. He gave me a giant hug and spun me around.

    Three years later…
    Thomas and I are happily married and have beautiful twin daughters.

  30. The Thorny Gardener
    A 284 word fairytale about a Gardener and a Castle
    by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)

    No one knows who planted the thorn garden around the abandoned castle. Some say it was the last queen wanting no one to interrupt her grief. Others say it was an evil sorceress hiding a sleeping beauty from the world. All I know is it is my job to look after the garden.
    Once a week I arrive at the castle, cut back the dying branches and dig out the weeds. All lonely work but I loved listening to the birds, hearing their chatter and love songs. Only a giant black crow came to talk to me. My old dad would describe it as evil but then he’d say the same about the thorn garden. He couldn’t see the beauty in places like these. He was the kind of man who’d cut the thorns off a rose.
    Then one day the birds stopped singing. A darkness passed overhead and settled above the castle like a dangerous cloud. I expected the birds to continue their music and chatter when it passed but instead a new sound filled the air. Metal shoe on well rode path. I stopped, and using the raise on which I stood, I looked to see what banner he rode under. The answer was none as it was obvious who it was, Prince Philip in all his finery and heading towards my garden. At its limit he swung his sword, hacking, hurting my plants.
    “No,” I screamed and ran towards him. His eyes were full of power and anger. I stepped back into my garden. The thorns protected me. As he passed me, I raised my shade high, like Thor’s axe, and cut him down. From the castle, the darkness laughed.

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  31. Twitter: @paulnevin
    Word Count: 300
    Prompt: Gardener / Castle / Fairy Story
    Title: The Gardeners

    Geoff pushed the wheelbarrow to the crest of the hill. Happy that it wouldn’t roll back towards the castle, he set it down.
    Fairies spilled out. Geoff fished into the wheelbarrow and pulled out a wooden box. He opened it and threw tiny tools onto the ground. The fairies darted in, wings buzzing like hummingbirds, grabbing little spades and trowels and rakes.
    Geoff sat on the root of a tree, and pulled a pipe out of his dungarees as he watched the fairies get to work. ‘Carrots,’ he shouted.
    The fairies conferred in a circle, and then one, acorn hat in hand, approached. ‘They’re too deep,’ it said. ‘We can do peas, maybe, but not root vegetables.’
    ‘Carrots!’ Geoff said. He tapped the pipe on the sole of one of his mud-caked boots. ‘You elves are workshy.’
    The fairy shook its head. ‘We’re fairies, not elves,’ it said. It put its acorn hat back on, and put its hands on its hips. ‘Look, asking us to dig carrots out is really not the best use of our labour.’ It pointed to the pea-pods weighing heavy on the bush behind Geoff. ‘Give us a go on those peas instead.’
    As if the matter was decided, the other fairies swarmed past Geoff to the peas, and commenced picking and plucking at the pods.
    ‘CARROTS!’ Geoff screamed. He swatted at the fairies like flies, and they flew back to their acorn-hatted leader. Some threw their tools – tiny shovels and secateurs and shears – over the lead fairy’s shoulder towards Geoff.
    The lead fairy shook its head. ‘It starts with carrots,’ it said, ‘and then it’s spuds, and the next thing you know we’re digging up swedes!’
    Geoff sighed, and began gathering up the fairies’ little tools. Next time he’d buy elves.

  32. Gardener/Castle/Fairytale
    Words: 292
    Title: The Rabbits

    I left my hut and trod down the dusty path towards the decrepit castle. The quiet of the forest pressed down on me as the castle loomed above. No one had lived in it for years, yet I was still employed and it was still owned by the Masons. I limped towards the gardens, my bad leg slowing me down. Every other job I had tried to get, this leg had kept me out of. A rabbit dashed across the path and dove for cover in a nearby clump of bushes.
    “Bloody rabbits!” I yelled.
    “Bloody humans!” replied a smug voice from the bushes. I did a double take, whipping around, but I overbalanced and fell on my bad leg.
    “Slick,” said the voice.
    “Get outta here kid!” I screamed. A rabbit hopped out of the bush and scrambled towards the castle. I continued down the path until I eventually reached the castle. I entered and made my way up the stairs and to the tool closet. On the way, I passed the dining hall, which I realized was full of arguing voices.
    “You bloody kids!” I shrieked as I burst through the door. My eyes widened at the sight in front of me. A table full of rabbits lay before me. They all turned their face and stared. I blinked and stared around.
    “I’m going to tell everyone about you. I’ll be famous. I’ll be rich.” I said.
    “My dear man,” said an elderly rabbit, “will you really?” I thought about it for a moment. No, that wouldn’t do, who would believe me? I’m an old man living alone, everyone will think I’m crazy.
    “Maybe not,” I said.
    “Well bye then!” said the rabbit, clearly dismissing me. I walked away, shaken.

  33. Playing Pretend

    Gardener/ Castle/ Fairytales 298 words

    The smell of warm soil created a comfortable aura around the old man. He blew a lock of gray hair from his bronzed face as his weathered hands pulled at stubborn weeds. The man took off his cap, drenched with perspiration and sat in the shade of the towering castle. Suddenly, screams filled the air. The gardener leapt to his feet as a shadow swept over the garden. The menacing shape circled the castle.


    The powerful fire dragon hovered in front of a window beating his huge scaly wings. A small shape stepped onto the windowsill before leaping onto the dragon’s back.

    Princess Amber?

    A long braid fell down the princess’s back as she stooped down to pat the dragon’s flank. The beast rose and flew off into the sunset.


    The king sent out a huge search party in search of the princess. But, no matter how hard they looked, the princess was nowhere to be found. The old gardener was the only one who saw the princess go with the dragon and his curiosity plagued him. With firm resolve he set off for the cliffs of Mambui to search for the den of Aragin. High in the cliffs the old man trudged for hours before he drifted off to sleep.


    “Do you think he’s going to be alright?” The man opened his eyes and yelped as he looked down the snout of a huge dragon!

    “It’s ok, Ari won’t hurt you.”


    “John! The gardener.”

    “At your service.”

    “You can’t tell anyone I’m here. If my father finds me, he’ll try to marry me off to some fat, gout infected king.” Amber said scornfully.

    “Your secret is safe with me.”


    “Thanks Grandpa, I’ve never had so much fun,”

    “Anytime Amber.” Said grandpa, rubbing Aragin’s fuzzy head.

  34. Gardener/ Castle/ Fairytale
    Words: 257
    Title: The Prince
    Another quiet afternoon passed by as he tended the castle’s garden. Often he would wave to the princess when she observed him tending the garden. She never acknowledged his wave, but scowled whenever her eyes met his. Depression consumed him each day. His lowly occupation hindered his dream of marrying a beautiful, wealthy woman from coming true. That afternoon changed his life, due to his discovery of a flower he had never seen before in all his years tending the garden. Despite his broad knowledge of flowering plants, he did not recognize this particular one. Its shape resembled a frog hanging loosely while being held upright. Overwhelmed with curiosity, he asked for permission to consult a botanist. The botanist’s words shocked the gardener. The specimen was an enchanted ghost orchid. To prove it, he then turned off the lights, rubbed the petals together. To the gardener’s astonishment, the orchid glowed a luminescent green. The botanist explained its enchantment. When the princess would eat one of its petals, the orchid would summon one of the castle’s servants to be her groom. Suddenly, an idea sprung into his mind.
    As the princess ate her supper that evening, she detected a strange taste. Suddenly, a scream erupted from her as she jumped back from what stood before her. The look of terror on her face turned to that of utter astonishment. The princess’s mouth hung agape as she stared at the handsome young man. In front of her stood the gardener; however, it was not a good likeness of him.

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