Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 124. We had a gratifying 18 entries this time. Welcome back to Carlos Orozco, and a warm welcome to first-time entrants, Deanna Salser and Mpart.
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 123 Judge’s Pick, Dana Faletti, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what she had to say:
First off – congrats to all entrants! I found this week’s stories to be amazingly creative and fun to read. It was interesting to see the different paths so many writers took to tell a story about tea and difficult to choose my favorites!
Secondly, thanks to Geoff for moderating and to all of you who enter this weekly contest. What a great way to hone our skills as writers.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – “But one thing I’ve learned, maybe the only thing that’s ever stuck in my noddle…this many cops gathered in one food emporium, you better believe the food is top notch…”
Stephanie Cornelius – Apparently, the physiology of the inhabitants allows them to ingest information in liquid form.
Nikky Olivier – Jasmine was the sort of woman who could make most men take a second look, but our Earl was doing more than looking on this sunny afternoon, he was savouring every look and taste of Jasmine as he sat in this quiet tea-house.
Carin Marais – Inside is my stinging, half-beating heart, it’s cogs and wheels and pipes all scattered. No wonder my chest ached so.
Nthato Morakabi – He’d turned his face upwards towards the incline of red rock and moving sand where the rest of the abandoned Space Station stretched outwards in a semi-circle of steel against Mars desertscape.
Nicolette Stephens – Every commission I get brings in three times the amount of a house sold on Earth, and since the agency covers my living expenses, the wife and kids back home are sitting pretty.
Ted Young – I could blackmail some of ’em with what I hear, but why make waves? I’m happy serving plates of ‘Cholesterol Specials’ and ‘Avaguess’ sandwiches, in an establishment with ambience and cuisine rating us somewhere between ‘Greasy Spoon’ and ‘Bistro’.
Steve Lodge – Their affair was like a juggernaut without brakes ploughing through the snow.
Justin J. – It was because he didn’t ask about the smell of raw meat.
Angelique Pacheco – After a few sips of my Darjeeling, my stomach did its familiar dance of displeasure.
Deanna Salser – But Barbara also grows bee balm, lavender and yaupon, not to mention several kinds of mint, so the air inside the greenhouse is intoxicating.
Holly Geely – That tea was mostly whisky. The woman had class.
Mpart – “Could you take a sip of this? It seems..off. Doesn’t scream ‘sweet tea’, you know?”
Tim Hayes – The compulsory reading out of participants stories over the internal comms system resulted in countless injuries as listeners were forced to stop their ears in increasingly inventive ways in order to avoid being exposed to material which, if heard, would inevitably result in madness.
Sian Brighal – “All roads lead home, son,” his mother muttered thickly. “Just you wait ‘til your father gets home.”
Carlos Orozco – His FAANG Map Memories showed he hitchhiked here from Minneapolis.
Arianna Hammond – “Lights flutter around like halos / I wasn’t around to see her that time / I never wanted to let go / She was prettier than the northern lights / Oh the sky illuminated / Never seen a lovelier sight / Than when her eyes gazed into mine / They used to brighten the night”
Cassandra – A smile spread across Mr. Folgers’ gentle face.
Steve Lodge – The Third Rifles Starmy
This piece was so quirky and fun. I most loved the names – Jobby and Squalid, the description of Jobby and Madeleine’s attraction to each other, and the food names and descriptions. This was another example of super creativity. I found myself wondering if all of the foods were imaginary or some were real and I’d never heard of them. I’m a bit of a foodie, so this resonated. I also laughed at the description of Jobby’s gluttonous eating habits. Really great work!
Sian Brighal – Can’t Take the Street out of the Boy
The mood of this piece really resonated with me. I loved the build-up of tension from the beginning with simple irritation/frustration to the utter horror at the end. The end gave me chills. I pictured it as a movie. Great job.
Tim Hayes – Read It and Weep
This piece also caught me because of its creativity. I loved how the author took our contest and turned it into a “horror” story, although this was more irony and sarcasm than horror, actually. Kudos!
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 124.
(insert drumroll here)
Nikky Olivier – Tea for … Three?
Tea Lover; Restaurant; Memoir
It happened late one afternoon, as I was sitting in a small restaurant in the quaint English town of Darjeeling. I had just ordered a cup of my favourite Chai tea and was settling in to enjoy a few quiet moments when the Earl of Grey sauntered in as though he owned the place.
All brash and bluster and seemingly well in his cups already, he commanded his security to “check the bathrooms” and to “sweep for devices” before he would set foot in the establishment.
Knowing his reputation as a bit of a blowhard, and having seen him in action a few times previously, I was well aware of how he could turn a quiet afternoon into a circus performance.
But, it wasn’t my place to interfere, I was only here to observe.
It wasn’t long after the Earl had placed his order – coffee, of ALL things… in one of the finest tea-houses in the country! –well anyway, he’d just ordered when in walked the reason for all the secrecy. Our very own Earl of Grey was meeting his mistress, a lovely lady who went by the name of Jasmine – her stage name of course, but as good a name as any for this telling.
Jasmine was the sort of woman who could make most men take a second look, but our Earl was doing more than looking on this sunny afternoon, he was savouring every look and taste of Jasmine as he sat in this quiet tea-house.
As I sat there, watching them and quietly sipping my tea, I managed to gather all the evidence I needed and broke the news to Lady Grey – it was what she’d hired me for after all…
The last I heard, she’d set sail for Sri Lanka and married a rich tea-merchant.
Stephanie Cornelius – A World of Books and Unable to Read – Nightmare in the Making
I found this to be such a creative idea! As I read about the library being empty other than a drinks dispenser and sitting area, I thought – no books? When the story reveals that the books are in drink form, I couldn’t help but smile at the ingenuity. It made me wonder if something like this could happen in the future – books, movies, experiences – all ingested. Maybe it will be a pill or a beverage. I think a quality piece of writing causes a person to consider its possibilities in the real world. This was really unique!
Author; Drinks Dispenser; Sci-Fi
I write this to you now, in awe of the technology I have found on planet ED-982.7T, colloquially known to its residents as Hkindnuna (pronounced Groonds).
On New Earth, I am a well-known author of the non-fiction series of books cataloguing the planets we have discovered since Old Earth was destroyed by its exploding star. This planet, however, is beyond anything I could ever have dreamed up if I had been a fiction writer. In fact, it is so unlike anything I have seen that I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t this author’s dream world.
I am currently in the “Library” of the Capital city Pkrthady (pronounced Groondinum) and my mind is blown. The library consists of a “drinks dispenser” and a lovely spacious sitting area. That. Is. All! The dispenser contains different variants. Each one is a different author and book.
You heard correctly. Each DRINK is a BOOK! Apparently, the physiology of the inhabitants allows them to ingest information in liquid form. I will not even attempt to explain how it happens or even how a drink becomes a book because, honestly, I have no bloody clue! I can tell you that the ability to “read” by these means DOES NOT translate into the Human physiology. A fact of which I am painfully aware at this moment.
“Tanisduen? Lancubaceyenf? Maudcjshu?” The Librarian asked in the local tongue.
I responded, courtesy of my language implant, “LLasujfdsbhfei. Uafekacevefka!”
The Librarian was horrified that I was not going to read anything and queried why I was even there. I had to admit I was not a Yhkahdue (pronounced Groo, which is their name for themselves) and as such could not read their history, as much as I wished otherwise.
My shuttle is waiting to take me home.
Congratulations, Stephanie. 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!