Microcosms 112

Welcome, flash fictioneers,  to Microcosms 112. Sincere apologies for the late posting today; the contest deadline will be put back to 02:00 am tomorrow SAT New York time (EST)


Before we get down to the details of this week’s contest,
a plea for your help to make the administrator’s workload that little bit easier…

As most of you will know, Microcosms Contests are judged blind. This means that the administrator forwards to the judge all the entries stripped of all identifying details: entrant’s name, entrant’s Twitter ID, entrant’s blog address, etc.

All that is forwarded to the judge is word count (excluding title), prompt elements (Character; Location; Genre), Title and Story.

So it makes cutting and pasting so much easier if EVERYBODY uses the following format – with the exact same punctuation – when keying in an entry:


Put optional stuff — name, twitter ID, blog address, hashtag — first.

XXX words (in this format – not “Word Count: XXX”, “WC: XXX” or some other variation)
<CHARACTER>; <LOCATION>; <GENRE> (no need to say “prompts used” or “elements chosen”; we can work that out!)
blank line
blank line


So, for example, if I were entering:

Twitter: @GeoffHolme
299 words
Art Collector; Victorian London; Mystery

My Fabulously Clever Title with Capitalised Words but No Full Stop/Period

Blah blah blah…


Today – 02-MAR – is the anniversary of the birth of some notable people:

  • 1545 – Thomas Bodley, English diplomat and scholar, founded the Bodleian Library  ;
  • 1842 – Carl Jacobsen, Danish brewer, art collector, and philanthropist
  • 1886 – Willis H. O’Brien, American stop-motion animator: ‘King Kong’ (1933)
  • 1900 – Kurt Weill, German-American pianist and composer: ‘The Threepenny Opera’ (1928)
  • 1931 – Tom Wolfe, American journalist and author: ‘The Right Stuff’ (1979)
  • 1942 – Lou Reed, American singer-songwriter, guitarist: ‘Perfect Day’ (1972)



(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be a 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: Art Collector, Location: Victorian London, and genre: Mystery.

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.


  • Diplomat
  • Art Collector
  • Animator
  • Criminal
  • Astronaut
  • Drug Addict
  • Library
  • Brewery
  • Film Set
  • Victorian London
  • Planetary Orbit
  • Park
  • Romance
  • Crime
  • Horror
  • Memoir
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery

Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Vicente L Ruiz, has kindly agreed to act as the judge this time around.


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

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 113
Microcosms 111

39 thoughts on “Microcosms 112

  1. @billmelaterplea
    300 moments
    Drug Addict; Library; Memoir


    I coulda been indoors last night. Coulda, Shoulda. Woulda, I suppose. Fucking frost on the ground. Wasn’t there when I settled in. It just wasn’t there. Another witless choice.

    I don’t know when it started. Things start mounting up. Bills! You’re being bled dry. You’ve got no juice left. Maybe you never had it. For a time, I thought did. Lou Reed came through, eh? Every day was a perfect day in the Velvet Underground:

    “Just a perfect day:
    Drink Sangria in the park
    And then later,
    When it gets dark, we go home.”

    But it started getting dark early. Too early for me. The threads of my life started to unravel. And I got the taste for it. And night got darker.

    Say, you ever slept out rough? Yeah, you. You listening?

    There’s something deadly about that first morning chill. You might as well be in your grave. Even the coffee that the Churchies give you first thing doesn’t warm you up. You’re still bone-chill cold, like you spent the night six feet under. Christ, I’m not saying the coffee ain’t hot. It’s fucking hot. It’s good. But your bones are still frost-fucking frozen. You’re damp. So damp.

    10:00 am
    I’m fixed up by ten. Cooking on all cylinders. Feeling slick and smooth and almost human. Better than human. I like to be the first one in when the library opens at 10:00. Papers from around the world. Picture window lounge. Big chairs, man. Warm. Go online. Say hello to my cyber friends. Be connected. Catch up on a few zees. They let you do that there. Bit of the public free hot water, a little damp-down.

    By noon, I’m a new me. It’s time to play a new tune. Hit the streets.

    1. A very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the descriptiveness of this line :”The threads of my life started to unravel”,

    2. Oh, William… You didn’t read my plea for help in the preamble – or failed to take in all the information.

      I asked everyone to put all identifying details – like twitter ID and blog address – at the TOP of the entry, BEFORE word count, elements used and title, so I can cut and paste just the information that will be forwarded to the judge.

      [ I’ve sorted it out, but I’d appreciate it if you could help me next time. 😉 ]

      1. What about your orang-utan? [OOK!]

        [ I wasn’t sure whether the second and third sentences – “Coulda, Shoulda. Woulda, I suppose.” shoulda been one: “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda, I suppose.” Whaddya reckon? ]

  2. @CarinMarais

    170 words

    Criminal; Library; Romance

    This Time It’s Forever

    “Where were you?” the voice asked from the ether before the figure of a woman materialised, her fingertips dancing along the spines of the library books on the shelf next to her.
    “They caught me,” the man whispered, “locked me up for twenty-five years for killing your ex.” He was much older than she remembered, his eyes no longer dancing, but scarred from years spent behind bars. “You said they wouldn’t.”
    The woman reached out, brushing a tear from his cheek and for a moment he closed his eyes, his features relaxing.
    “But now we can truly be together,” she said. “You still love me, don’t you?”
    The man nodded, didn’t answer. Then, hand shaking, he reached into his pocket and took out a pistol. The ghost smiled.
    “We’ll be together forever now,” she said with a smile as he pointed the barrel at his temple.
    The shot echoed through the library, leaving people scattered, running for the doors and for cover. After a few minutes silence fell once more.

  3. 226 words
    Criminal; Library; Horror

    Turn of a Page

    The library stood against the dim light of the new moon that night, its windows dark, the building almost completely devoid of human life…except for a single man, flashlight in hand, slipping in through a window he had unlocked hours earlier on the first floor. Inside the darkened building, the thief in black swept the light across the shelves.

    “Where is it?” he muttered to himself. “S…S…right… this way?”

    He moved through the shadowed building, completely at ease with the utter silence and darkness. Something touched his shoulder, a whispered voice spoke in his ear. He turned in surprise, gun in hand.


    “Mind playing tricks on me or something,” he muttered. “Where’s that damn book?”

    He slipped between the shelves. Shadows stirred; a pair of silver, goat-like eyes followed the thief. The eyes faded into darkness.

    “Here.” The thief smiled. “Shadows of Eventide. You’re going to fetch a fine price on the black market.”

    “Open it,” a whisper in his mind. The thief twisted around, staring into the darkness.

    “Who’s there?”

    “Open the book.”

    A gentle, glacial touch, and the thief found his throat dry. “Open it…”

    The thief opened the book.

    Goat eyes shone in the darkness, and a quiet, ghastly giggle echoed among empty bookshelves, and a single, silver-bound tome fell to the cracked, tiled floor, hunger sated.

    Report user
    1. Welcome back, Justin.

      It seems like you too didn’t read my plea for help in the preamble – or failed to take in all the information.

      The info at the top of your entry needs to be in a specific order to help your hard-pressed administrator. Also if the name that appears by the side of your avatar every time you submit a comment is the one you want to use as the author of a story, there is no need to type it in again.

      [ I’ve sorted all this out for you; but it would be great if you could remember this next time you enter. 🙂 ]

      1. I am so sorry, I was so eager to start I kind of skimmed the page and didin’t take in anything. I’ll keep this all in mind next time, I promise. Thanks for sorting it out for me this time.

        This is what happens when I get over-eager… yikes.

  4. @steveweave71
    300 words
    Art Collector; Library; Memoir

    All Bound For Silvertown Many Miles Away

    I am just back from a buying trip, where I was able to locate and purchase a delightful piece of artwork I’d been seeking for some time, “The Brown Vessel With Undated Handles” by Cliff Hanger. I have hung it in my library and I now sit at my Burley desk, admiring the piece, as I prepare to write notes of this adventure for my memoirs. This has the makings of a fine chapter so I dressed accordingly. Hawaiian shirt, Bermudas and flip-flops. I almost never wear this in my day job at the Midwinter Bank in Silvertown.

    I sip a vegetable and coffee ballaga lasagne and am momentarily distracted by the elements outside my window. Melting ice pours from the trees like an impending waterfall, washing the proud, beautiful winterfruits that grow in this quiet idyll – the geeghe, combarabaroshtyle, wibble, flen, flundermokers and the red limp.

    The shrubbery pipwillet shrieks its crazy song as I swiftly dictate a letter of thanks to my old mercenary friend, Jobby Dobbs. He and his brother, Squalid, helped enormously in locating the artwork and negotiating the price. My knowledge of the local language (Grinning) was poor. We’d met in Alte Grinningstein, taken the train through the Zingler tunnel to the mountain town of Problematje, near the ancient border with Belzon. We had necessarily been disguised as wandering minstrels and Squalid carried a goat.

    When I’d finished dictating the letter, it was quite dark outside and snow was falling. Time for my facial. I like tame squirrels to nibble the dead skin off my face, while I listen to jazz. Of course, I then remembered that I don’t have a secretary so I hadn’t really been dictating the letter, as just talking to myself. Doesn’t matter. Reading was never Jobby’s strong suit.

  5. 271 words
    Diplomat; Romance; Library

    Storybook Princess

    One day, I was walking past the library when someone whispered, “Come in.”
    I looked around.
    “I am talking to you, silly,” said the mop of blond hair with sparkling blue eyes. I inched closer.
    “Why? What’s in there?”
    “A treasure trove of adventures and dalliances.”
    “Don’t you mean a library?” I said, with my eyebrow rising.
    “Library? Shh…you will upset the storyteller and all the stories will be locked away from you,” scowled the boy.
    “Come in. Let me show you my world.”
    “OK.” I marched into the stuffy library with it oversized chairs and aisles of books that spread beyond my vision.
    “Close your eyes.”
    “No. I want to see where you are taking me.”
    “Please, half the adventure is not knowing where you are heading.”
    “Really? Well, I’m not a fan of adventure; I like routine.”
    “Please.” His eyes looked like my puppy’s when he wants a treat.
    “Fine.” I shut my eyes and he folded his hand around mine. The warmth tingled up my arm. This adventure felt kind of strange. I felt the soft, squishy carpet below my feet and he traced my hand along the spine of books. The hills and valleys of the spine enticed me to open my eyes but I kept them closed – waiting.
    We stopped. He pushed me and I dropped onto a large soft thing.
    “Open your eyes.”
    I opened my eyes and there before me was a hall with gold filigree decorating all the corners. I was seated on a throne. He worked with a crow and placed a crown on my head.
    “Welcome, your highness.”

  6. @geofflepard
    298 words
    Astronaut; Brewery; Horror

    When The Cost Of Making Bread Was Astronomical

    ‘Re-entry In 20 minutes. You ok, Rod?’
    Rod Hovis stared at the bulkhead, hearing the beast beyond, imagining it clawing, oozing and, above all, growing. The distortion of the metal was intense. Soon either he’d have to release the pressure or physics would do it for him.
    ‘Rod, talk to us. What’s the status?’
    He felt sure they guessed something was wrong. But he knew. He’d seen it.He forced himself to croak, ‘Fine.’
    ‘Looks like landing will be smooth. Karen wants to know what you’d like for breakfast.’
    His mind immediately screamed, ‘Not toast,’ but even having the thought made him sick.
    Simple experiments, they’d said. Help with food production was the selling message. Bastards. They had to have modelled what combining simple brewer’s yeast with GM bacteria might do when bombarded with irradiated photons in a weightless environment. If this was going to end world hunger, then he’d rather starve. This ‘beast’ couldn’t be released. God knows what it might do if it could feed on almost infinite oxygen.
    He knew it was stupid but those last seconds, before he slammed the connecting doors would stay with him. It was like it was studying him, mimicking his movements. Like it had a mind. It was just an effing doughball, but still…
    He squared his shoulders. ‘Rod here. The monitor suggests solar winds. I’ll need manual for the re-entry.’
    ‘Looks good from here, but, sure.’ The voice sounded almost disinterested.
    There would be one opportunity, changing the angle of entry, enough to create a fireball. Everyone would say, ‘Human error’ which sucked but still…
    The explosion caused a blip on the monitors before everything vaporised. But in the moment, captured forever on NASA’s monitors, was the biggest loaf, beautifully toasted, the world had ever seen.

  7. 300 words
    Crime; Park; Memoir

    Mess in the Nest

    I shouldn’t be here really. Too risky… might be seen. But I’ve gone off course and need to take stock and consider my options.

    So, from my vantage point high up, I can view the world going on beneath me and get through another day of freedom.

    If I keep quiet I should be safe.

    I see others bustling around here and there, being admired and appreciated left, right and centre. But me… I am not worthy of anyone’s praise. Anyway, I prefer my solitary existence.

    My trouble is, I am born to crime. It’s in my genes.

    I cannot blame my family either… I would hate anyone to think I was trying to get the sympathy vote because of poor parenting or whatever other slant may be put on it.

    No, no, no — it was not like that at all. In fact, I really only remember my foster mother and certainly cannot blame her because my family conned her into having me in the first place!

    She did the best she could do. I was such a large noisy baby, constantly needing feeding and she was such a little thing rushing in and out and trying to keep me quiet and happy. It really wasn’t her fault.

    Probably not anyone’s fault really; just the way things are. Maybe we were chosen for the job we do, like Judas?

    So, what to do now?

    It’s a nice park, and a lovely Spring day with happy families enjoying themselves; if I was someone else, I would be welcome down there. But, as it is, I think I must wait until dusk then quietly, without a word from my tell-tale voice, I will sneak back to the cover of the woods.

    I’ll be alright, if I keep my beak shut!

    Report user
      1. You got it Geoff….. well spotted!!
        I’ve loved doing it and I am hoping this has gotten my mojo back!!

  8. @marshawritesit
    300 words
    Astronaut; Victorian London; Romance

    Gone With The Aether

    She’d dreamt of this moment for so long. Finally, after months of heavy hints and carefully seeded gossip, she’d tempted Lord Roger Risewell into her private quarters. Now she could reveal what had brought him here. If she could persuade him to enter it, her joy might be so intense she worried she would swoon. She slowly raised the heavy layers of cloth, letting him see it.
    His surprise was such she feared he might swoon before she had the opportunity. “My God, Fanny! Is that what it seems?”
    She blushed. He was shocked, clearly, but his tone had betrayed admiration and interest. “It is, Roger. It’s never been used but I’m confident it could transport us both to realms beyond heaven itself. It’s small, I know, but do you think you could fit inside it?”
    His eyebrows shot up. “Oh, Miss Laycock, I want to! I’ve never seen anything so enticing. But my mere presence in your rooms is a scandal. If anyone found out that we had… well, it would utterly bescumber your reputation.”
    “Frankly, my dear Roger, I don’t give a damn. I cannot do this alone, not any more. I must share it with someone. No one need ever know.”
    She opened the heavy, brass door; together they squeezed into her steam-powered aether explorer. His eager fingers fumbled for the button which would ignite the spark of adventure.
    There was much speculation about the cause of the explosion which destroyed Lord Laycock’s Hampstead mansion. Some, dismissed as drunkards, spoke of seeing a glowing sphere ascend to the heavens. Other, more unkind, souls observed that only his daughter had been at home and noted the coincidental disappearance of Lord Risewell. Theories were formed, aspersions were cast, but no one ever knew the truth.

    Report user
  9. @el_Stevie
    300 words
    Drug addict; Victorian London; Romance


    Edward slicked back his hair and pulled on his frayed jacket. Beyond his lodgings, the streets were crowded with those eager to escape the drudgery of their lives. Closing the door behind him, he too joined in their flight from reality, merging with the shifting shadows distorted by the dirty orange glow of streetlamps, becoming a ghost as the fog cloaked the poor of Stepney.

    He walked quickly, eagerly, had money in his pocket, thought of nothing but his love. Her slender curves, her smooth perfection, would be waiting for him on that low bed where behind hanging curtains they could pass the time in pleasurable indulgence. But he wanted more of her, wanted her for himself, did not want others to share in his love. Tonight, he decided, she would be his and his alone. She was his one and only.

    Mother Flanagan let him in, followed him through to the small low room where his love’s pleasant scent drifted towards him. She lay there, waiting. His and his alone. Behind him, Mother started to say something. She was the gatekeeper who allowed admittance. Get rid of the gatekeeper and all would be his. Still with a smile on his face, he swung round, pulling out a knife in one smooth movement. She barely registered what had happened before the life fled her eyes. Edward stepped over her body and firmly barred the door to the street. No one else would pass tonight.

    Now it was just the two of them. Always they joined in silence, he cupping her in his hand with reverence before taking the sacrament of the pipe, inhaling her essence. In the bottle at his side, the rest of her waited … as she did in opium dens across the city. Poppy had other lovers.

  10. Twitter: @ArthurUnkTweets
    Website: arthurunk.com
    299 words
    Criminal; Planetary Orbit; Horror

    Shadows From Beyond Planet X

    In space, no one can hear you scream; on a space station, every noise echoes off the walls. Evander Grimm checked the battery on his wrist communicator one more time. There were still plenty of crew left on board, but time was limited on survival. It would not take the inter-dimensional beings very long to take over the whole station. They looked thin and shadowy with long tendril arms but no discernible facial features.

    Evander’s original mission was to steal a dimensional drive and hijack an escape pod back to Earth. That priority changed when a young virgin scientist fired one up trying to impress a flight officer. The insides of both painted the walls of the testing lab a deep crimson. A portal remained open to the shadow creatures’ unknown homeworld. Evander had removed the drive from the lab hours ago, but the portal remained open. All the available escape pods were used within the first few minutes of the attack.

    Survival was the new mission, and Evander planned on accomplishing at least that much today. He stuck to the shadows and low areas while watching the unknown creatures tear the remaining crew apart. A loud buzzing noise accompanied flashing red lights — the station’s control panels. Evander sprinted to a terminal only to be greeted by more bad news: the station was rapidly losing its orbit and would crash into the Earth in approximately two hours. That is, if the United Federation didn’t blow it out of the sky first.

    Hard and fast choices were made. The chance of dying on the space station was 100% certain. Evander took the only option he had left. He fought his way back to the open portal and jumped in. Mid jump, he secretly hoped that the portal worked both ways.

    Report user
  11. 238 words
    Art Collector; Victorian London; Mystery

    Cameo Appearance

    Receiving a commission at any time is what artists dream of; to land a request from Victoria herself was phenomenal. An audience with the Queen was arranged with Leo. F. Gemf of Pimlico.

    “We require a cameo of ourself, mounted in a golden broach. Are you able?”

    “Indeed ma’am,” declared the ambitious Leo. “Such is my meagre fame.”

    The work was completed, paid for, worn once, admired, and stored with other fleeting fancies, only to be ‘nicked’ by some sticky-fingered minion and sold to an ‘iffy’ art dealer.

    This treasure had an annoying tendency towards misplacement for considerable lengths of time. It was eventually obtained by Captain Benjamin Grant of the Royal Artillery, who kept it and the accompanying provenance as a Grant family heirloom.

    We meet this illusive adornment years later at the home of Major Peter Grant (retired), who had engaged the highly-recommended Daryl Maigrine to decorate his master bedroom.

    All humans are assigned a voice of conscience and an opposing tempting spirit to accompany them through life; Daryl’s demon died of boredom. On moving a tallboy, Daryl discovered the fluff-covered cameo and laid it on the bed.

    The major returned to find Daryl tidying up, the job successfully completed.

    “I found this,” beamed Daryl.

    Seeing the broach, Major Grant turned white, then red. He sat down heavily on the bed. “I kicked my son out for stealing this,” mumbled the major.

    Victoria’s misery shared.

    Report user
      1. The character element was ‘Art Collector’, Ted, not ‘Art Dealer’. But, due to your advanced years, I’ll let this go – especially as the Major could be deemed to fill this role.
        A nice, gentle Victorian melodrama, with a cracking punning title. 😀
        [ ‘Leo. F Gemf’? Where did that name come from? I spent ages trying to work out the pun there, but gave it up as a bad job. 🙁 ]

  12. 257 Words
    Art collector; Victorian London; Mystery

    Exquisite Corpse D’art

    Tall and reed-like, he wore tails every day. Pale icy eyes stuck in a sharp angular face with an equally sharp hooked nose to hold his glasses in place. A medical student of good standing who had lost his place at University only due to a lack of funds his father had drunk away. He still kept up with the medicine though. Yet, he wasn’t quite dashing enough. Women did not titter over him in corners at the society balls.

    He was an art collector now. He acquired pieces from all over London. He only took those he absolutely needed. Some, he left behind. Those were not perfect. Not essential to his collection. A slight imperfection here and there would render the piece useless. Some were really quite exquisite. Smoothly-sculptured alabaster forms with shapely contours free from any wrinkles. Others showed life’s battering in an assemblage of crushing oppression and poverty. The pieces were sometimes a stark contrast to one another. Any exposure would alter the art, sometimes creating something better, and other times not. He even created his own art. Expressionism, he thought. Collages mostly. Or meat puzzles if you will.

    Yes, Jack was quite the collector. His art was so life-like; it was as though life had breathed through them. Which, he supposed, they had at one time or another, before life had sullied them and they had given up the same in favour of being filthy whores.

    Let the police keep the ones he doesn’t want. What do they know about art anyway?

    Report user
    1. Great job, Angelique, and a wonderful use of the elements. Love the psychological profiling in the opening paragraph. Then the uneasiness builds up nicely to the climax.

  13. 296 words
    Crime; Park; Memoir

    Crimes of Passion

    The feeble warmth that filtered through the trees at the dying of the day did nothing to warm her as she sat on the hard bench staring into the middle distance.

    She shivered and pulled her thin coat tighter around her shoulders.

    She had been sitting here for ages, she realised, watching the family as they laughed and played on the swings, hearing their laughter ringing out across the park and tasting the salt tears as they fell unbidden down her cheeks.

    Now her tears had dried on her skin, and the family had wandered off together toward their home, unaware that she was there watching and weeping.

    And if they had seen her? What then?

    Well, she had no doubt that the police would have been called immediately. She could just imagine Gerald’s impatience as he reached for his phone, like a gangster reaching for his gun. And Elaine, standing beside him with that permanently-offended look she always presented, like the cat who never got the cream!

    That’s how she had looked that day of the crime, the crime that parted the woman from her husband, children and her former life and made her a fugitive, unable to restore the happiness she once had taken for granted.

    She remembered it clearly now and allowed the pain of the memories to scrape across her like a grater on her dried up soul. She knew it would always be so if she did not put an end to it, and wipe out that memory of her life destroyed forever on a Sunday afternoon.

    She walked up the familiar path to the familiar door and, pressing the door-bell that for so long had been her own, she folded her fingers tightly around the small gun concealed in her pocket.

    Report user
  14. Ivan Budanov
    297 words
    Astronaut; Planetary Orbit; Mystery

    Can I please please win Microcosms 112?

    ‘Can I please please win microcosms 112? I really want to win, I’ll do anything!!!’ The note floated through space.
    The other side revealed the date: March 2nd, 2018.
    Quiet. The sweet silence that could only be attained 62 miles from Earth, from the clutter, from the noise…
    ‘Hey! What’s that?’ A voice boomed through Jane’s helmet.
    ‘Would ya stop yelling, Jerry?’
    ‘I’m sorry… look, it’s a note!’
    ‘Oww. Jerry… TOO LOUD.’
    Jane looked at Jerry, his face lit up, looking at Jane like a dog, waiting for the bone.
    Jane sighed.
    ‘Fine… what’s it say?’ she said, her voice like that of a dying seagull.
    ‘Microcosms? Microcosms!’
    Jerry floated in his astronaut suit like a hyper little boy.
    Jane looked unamused, but she continued the conversation. After all, this seemed important to him.
    ‘What’s microcosms?’
    ‘The cosmos.’ His eyes gleamed.
    ‘Cosmos… 112?’ Jane asked.
    ‘Why, yes! Oh, sorry,’ he said, after seeing Jane roll her eyes after he had screamed through the microphone yet again.
    ‘So it’s just a note about some contest 100 years ago? What’s so cool?’
    ‘Cosmos 112, dear Jane. The infamous space mission and you don’t even know the connection.’ Jerry shook his head as Jane rolled her eyes.
    ‘Ok. Whatever.’
    ‘You don’t understand, do you? This is a message to us, from 100 years ago! This is destiny.’
    ‘Huh, you’re right,’ she said, back turned to Jerry, who was still admiring the note.
    From her pant pocket she took a piece of paper and scribbled ‘Can I win Microcosms 113?’.
    The note started to fly through space when Jerry’s curious eyes fell on it.
    ‘Jane. Jane! Look-’ His face had turned to stone. ‘Not funny. NOT funny!’
    But Jane had been laughing too hard to hear.

  15. 214 words
    Criminal; Film Set; Crime

    Cut, Not Cut

    20 meters
    A suspicious looking man walked through the market. His sleeves hung low and pointy, and his eyes were simply slits behind the bandana.
    His eyes fell on a small woman standing far in the corner.
    She simply stood there, all alone, purse hanging loosely on her arm…
    Oh, how he would like that purse.
    He gripped the knife tighter and kept walking.
    15 meters
    From one side came the sweet fumes of barbecue, from the other the tempting browns of chocolate, but he didn’t budge. He had a mission.
    And that was far more tempting.
    10 meters
    Miss Hearthbridge looked at her watch. 5:13. Ridiculous. When was he going to pick her up?
    I might get mugged soon, she thought, only to be distracted by a whiff of paella.
    5 meters
    He kept walking head-on. It was too late for her. He felt the knife slipping out from his long sleeve… felt it prickle on his hand… felt it grasped tight and ready to…
    ‘CUT!’ yelled the director. But it had been too late.
    She lay there, already sprawled out in the puddle of her own scarlet blood.
    The director sighed.
    ‘I said cut the tape, not the woman!’ His head sunk down into his hands.
    Why did this keep happening?

  16. 262 words
    Diplomat; Library; Romance

    Laugh Attack

    Lauren was usually better at being eloquent. But standing across from Nara Cameron, once her ill-fated high school crush, words failed her.

    “So you were the one that kept checking it out,” the now-diplomat accused.

    “S-Sorry,” Lauren stammered, reminding herself that she was allowed to take out the books she wanted, and that she was trying not to embarrass herself.

    “I didn’t know anyone else liked Oxford Atlas so much.”

    “You know—or you don’t—of course you do. I just—it’s a good book. Atlas.”

    “Weren’t you that kid that did debate?” Nara asked.

    Well, that hurt. “I know,” Lauren admitted, “I suck at talking.”

    “Well, at least you didn’t lie.”

    “Why—why would I lie about something this stupid?”

    Nara giggled for a moment, looking away and then back at the atlas. Lauren was struck with inspiration.

    “Hey, Nara. Are you the National Defense Authorization Act? Because you’ve indefinitely detained my heart.”

    Nara looked confused, then stunned, then she went bright red, then she burst into laughter. The sound was musical, whimsical. Lauren had lived for basking in its glow from the sides of the hallway back in high school. Now she used it as an opportunity to grab the atlas and flee.

    Nara didn’t even chase her for a few moments, and then it was over.

    “Hey! Lauren! Get back here!”

    Lauren couldn’t hold back a pleased laugh.

    “Atlas thief! Get back here so I can explain how that joke went way too far!”

    Lauren pulled out her library card.

    “Way too far!” Nara repeated, catching up. “Come on. I’m buying you coffee.”

  17. This entry was submitted by first-timer Helen Buckroyd, but she used the Microcosms Feedback (Contact) rather than the Comment box at the end of the Contest Post. It ended up as an unformatted message to the Microcosms administrator – me! I emailed Helen but still have not had a reply. So I have had to format the story as best I could.

    Helen, if you’d like amendments to be made, please click on the [ Reply ] button below this comment, and leave details ASAP.


    Helen Buckroyd
    270 words
    Art Collector; Victorian England; Mystery

    Death of a Doyen of the London Art World

    The sudden death of Augustus Saunders, the well-known art critic and collector has shocked London. It is reported that on returning home late last night he fell from the top-floor balcony of his Kensington residence.


    ‘I’ll have to find a job elsewhere. I’m not going back there,’ Josephine Porter explained to her best friend Nancy. ‘All I can see are his terrifying dead eyes staring at me as he lay on his back.’

    ‘It said in the paper that they discovered five portraits, including one of Lord Alfred. Is that true? I know Lord Alfred was having sittings with Basil Hallward, but he would never allow us servants in the room when the artist paid his calls. I’m sure he wasn’t happy with it. We were all convinced that it was never finished.’

    ‘Yes, it’s true they found the portraits, including your Lord Alfred’s. But what is stranger is that they were not perfect likelinesses. There was something slightly unpleasant about each one… or, should I say, there was some kind of disfigurement added by the artist.’


    To whom can I confess? The church can no longer welcome a creature such as I. It is to my eternal shame that when I learnt that Basil Hallward had painted other portraits that had never been presented to the Academy, I had to possess them.

    Oh God, I wish I had never done so. Their possession has become a torment. I fear I am losing my mind. Each day my eyes deceive me. I cannot carry on like this.

    Do the paintings have some sort of diabolical power over me?

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