Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 121. We had an impressive 23 entries this time, with the return of an old Microscosms friend, Sian Brighal. A warm welcome also to first-time entrants, Lyndsey Croal and Diana L James.
Please keep returning to Microcosms, and retweet / spread the word about this contest among your followers and friends.
Don’t forget that Microcosms exists primarily to provide a platform for the flash fiction community to hone their skills, and secondarily to give entrants a chance of receiving an accolade from that week’s judge. We also have the vote button for anyone, not just fellow entrants, to register their favourite/favorite(s) and thus establish a Community Pick.
We encourage everyone to reply with a positive comment to any and all of the entries AT ANY TIME: It’s good to have feedback.
MC 121 Judge’s Pick, Nthato Morakabi kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what he had to say:
Well I do say that this week’s Microcosms seems to be a major conspiracy against me. Not only is the addition of steampunk as a genre already a bias against me, but the mishmash of all my favourite themes from murder to time-travel to romance only exacerbate that feeling. Oh, and the eloquence with which each entry was written, and the variety in tone and voice and story all made this one of the most difficult contests to judge…
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – All has been still for the longest time. And then, as it always has done, a slight breeze, like a curious hummingbird, flutters in from the sea beyond our mountains.
A J Walker – The wind started to rise, but Kat was the king of weather lore; it would bring no problems today.
Carin Marais – I half expected to see him pottering about in the garden as he was as often found there as in the basement where he built his inventions.
Angelique Pacheco – My mother knew of my “different persuasion”, but she was determined to marry it out of me.
Storm Jarvis – She was my first, and I will always remember the look in her eyes as the knife sliced through her arms, parting the skin with such delicacy that it seemed as if a flower was emerging from the bud; and yet, I was the one emerging to a new life.
Steve Lodge – How long you gonna sit at home all day, waiting for television to be invented?”
Samantha Carr – I’d only written notes because time-hopping was so confusing and I’d started wondering who I was.
Elizabeth Moura – How he had taken the last steamer out of Lisbon to come to the United States, jumping from the gangplank to the deck; his leap of faith, as he called it.
Ted Young – But look, here he comes, ‘Steamin’ into New Orleans’ on the ‘Natchez’ riverboat; his arm around his bride; $400 in his jeans, wearing the silliest grin you ever saw.
Nikky Olivier – Fortunately, your mom had a sense of humour, because I thought for sure that she’d leave me that day.
Justin J. – Oh, I’m sorry…did you think I worked for God?
Tim Hayes – My last thoughts before I hit the ground were: ‘Oh bugger! The wick’s gone out.’
Nicolette Stephens – He knew who he wanted to be; his memories shaped his future, but in this place of solitude, he was not plagued by impatience for tomorrow, nor did he long for yesterday.
Gabe – The darkness of the night made it nearly impossible to see my target.
Sian Brighal – My father said luck favoured the resilient, not the bold, and as I search the detritus of the world we blew up, I cling to his philosophy.
M. Levi – “A price, a price,” Hollis mused, “there’s always a price. I guess I knew that.”
Lyndsey Croal – For her Gods had decreed that their jurisdiction didn’t go beyond Earth.
Diana L James – If not for her poor cooking skills and Donal’s chivalry, my parents never would have met and I would not be alive.
Arthur Unk – Rex went over a list of possible enemies in his head, which unfortunately outnumbered the grains of sand on the beach.
Arianna Hammond – It feels like the wilderness is sending me a message stating that it’s hopeless.
Harrietbelle – Old Jo was a ‘Miserable Git’
Caitlin Gramley – The steam rises, salty beads rest on my wrinkled skin.
Kate Giffin – They ate everything: love and religion and family consumed by zealous fire.
Steve Lodge – The Warm Jets
Always had a love for those zany sitcoms with weird catchphrases that are reminiscent of that 90s era. We never truly get to see how stardom affects these child-stars until much later into their years. This memoir was crafted perfectly to showcase that.
M. Levi – The Price We Pray
One of my favourite lines from Fall Out Boy’s song “I Miss Missing You” is ‘The person that you’d take a bullet for is behind the trigger’; to still love someone after that is a kind of love very few people understand.
Storm Jarvis – My Story
The Torso Killer. Points already for writing about a serial killer, and more for the eloquence by which it flows. The language. Setting. Character progression. Gazing through the eyes of the killer in this opening to what could me an amazing novel.
Tim Hayes – Fallen Angel
Ah yes, nothing like a bit of steampunk re-telling of Icarus who flew too close to the sun. And a nod to the wax reference of the Greek Mythos but instead ending with “Oh bugger! The wick’s gone out.” Well played!
Nicolette Stephens – The Experiment
I loved this writing style, and the way in which the sense of being in an intermediary state was being described long before the last sentence. And also the mindset of the character reinforced the idea and culminated all very well in the end.
Ted Young – Crescent City Miracle
Blues and jazz already won me over, and the interlacing imagery of replacing tired London with the flashy new America and the still fresh dream it portrays yet never lives up to, all drawn together in the line “The business of living stomps on dreams; those that ain’t squashed, evaporate.” Powerful. Sweet. Nostalgic. Sad.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 122.
(insert drumroll here)
Nikky Olivier – Wedding Blues
Bridegroom; Steamer; Memoir
It all started with a steamer.
You know, one of those portable jobs that seamstresses use to get last-minute creases out of satin wedding gowns. Anyway, the one at our wedding venue broke and you can just imagine the flap it put all the ladies in. So I offered to help.
I swear that all I wanted to do was help!
I wasn’t thinking when I opened the door to the dressing room. I flung it open in a hurry and had just managed to catch the barest glimpse of Angie’s horrified face before it struck me.
It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.
Well, that was the beginning of the end for me.
I reversed out of the room at top speed, dropping the new, extremely heavy steamer right on my mother-in-law’s foot. In my haste to apologise, I bumped into a waiter carrying a tray of champagne up to the bridal suite, sending waiter, tray, glasses and a full bottle of bubbly crashing to the floor – and onto the pants of my suit…
So, off I ran to my room to see if I could get them dry in time for our ceremony. Stripped down to my boxers and Angie called my mobile in tears, wanting to know why I had tried to ruin our day. Mindlessly ironing my pants legs dry while trying to calm her hysterics, I managed to burn a very large hole into the left leg, leaving me running to the nearest groomsman’s room in nothing but my skivvies, hoping that he’d have something that fitted.
Fortunately, your mom had a sense of humour, because I thought for sure that she’d leave me that day.
Just remember that when you get married, son.
Find a girl who laughs.
Sian Brighal – The Rebuild
When I first delved into the steampunk genre, there was a lot of airy-fairy type of stories that focussed more on brighter side of life. What I fell in love with instead, was the darker side, where man and machine and injustice were interlinked into one, as this grimly-yet-wonderfully-written tale portrays.
Rescuer; Trading Estate; Steampunk
Its nature hasn’t changed much…just its form. The last blast wave of the final war took out much of the higher floors, leaving these ground-floor stubs and twisted metal supports rising up like hands in prayer for mercy never received. Radiation pushed us all and commerce underground where the market now sprawls through basements and dug-out tunnels.
This is where I will find them. Not all at once, mind. My father said luck favoured the resilient, not the bold, and as I search the detritus of the world we blew up, I cling to his philosophy. They’re here…somewhere.
I found some heads—damaged as my own—but with gold and careful soldering, they’ll be beautiful again. Limbs were next, most hammered into the ground as fence posts. Fingers and toes I found dangling in wind-chimes or as other trinkets, and eyes I snatched a-plenty from kids playing marbles. The ‘exotic bowls’ used for bits-and-bobs, I paid small fortunes for, and the lingerie models, I stole.
The market has it all, and most of the vendors don’t know the value of the junk they sell or the looming cost of me buying. So many have forgotten the glory of steam and the constructs of steel and porcelain who laboured for us, satisfied and fulfilled our whims and pleasures or broke themselves upon our wars. So many forget how we destroyed their possibility…for humans alone have souls; forgotten how men destroyed the blasphemy of machine before they turned on the world.
I will free them from the limbo of ignorance. And when they rise, they will recall how they ended, and they will judge and chew their pound of flesh on the turning teeth of righteous cogs.
Deus ex machina.
Congratulations, Sian. As Judge’s Pick, you are invited to judge the next round of Microcosms this coming weekend. Please click HERE to let us know whether or not you are interested!