Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 132. We had 15 entries this time. Welcome to first-time entrants Xander Page, Mileva Anastasiadou and Ryan Appler.
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 131 Judge’s Pick, Bill Engleson, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what he had to say:
While the White House has gone to Helsinki in a handbasket, the Microcosmic 132 Summit of ONE megalomaniac has met, and the final report, sans translator, has been submitted.
Here on my little hunk of soil, the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival was in full swing and I dropped in at opportune moments. On Thursday, July 19th, I took a three-hour workshop, ‘Banishing Your Inner Censor’, given by Yasuko Thanh, author of ‘Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountain’. I like to think I gave my inner censor the heave-ho years ago, but apparently some of the vexatious little critter’s lesser qualities may still be lingering. Time will tell.
Many of you…not all, but a sizeable contingent…seemed magnetically drawn to the theme of an assassin at Woodstock. How depressingly ingenious is that!
So, with bullets flying everywhere and members of the Love Generation falling by the wayside helter-skelter, here goes nothing…
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Eloise – I didn’t need my ears for this job.
Angelique Pacheco – An old, bearded man, wearing a garland of flowers in his hair, shuffled past and said, “Hey dudes don’t assassinate love, man!”
Steve Lodge – The next leg of my journey was long and punctuated by ferryman farts.
Vicente L Ruiz – ‘I want my name on the Moon,’ Nana said.
Geoff Le Pard – The old man’s rheumy eyes took in the empty fields, the wispy corn and the one tractor ploughing steadily in the distance.’
Holly Geely – The giant snails didn’t appreciate real music, but the monkeys were warming up to it.
Xander Page – The Docking Bay was flooded red with blood and the air smelled heavy of iron.
Mileva Anastasiadou – It’s easy being compassionate and loving, as long as you get the largest piece of the cake.
Arianna Hammond – I raise my fists in a yell that I do not even hear, and throw them towards his skinny, shiny face.
Justin J. Conidaris – Glowing blue eyes stared at him from the shadows, slowly rising.
Nikky Olivier – The child of a senator would not kill herself over the death of an icon, and her influence on politics would be world- altering.
Tim Hayes – Hell, it wasn’t like this in Dallas; it was quiet there.
Ted Young – As Claudius Snipe watched the life drain from his career, he realized he’d shot himself with his own pen…
Deanna Salser – He knelt next to her, inhaling the intoxicating spicy girl smell of her.
Ryan Appler – I desperately needed the money, as I hadn’t much luck as an assassin in the past.
Special Mention: for Making Pretty Much the Same Mistake I Made This past Friday But Redeeming Yourself by Offering A Tantalizing Political Possibility
Nikky Olivier – Time is on My Side
Look, writers are only human. Supposedly. On Friday, I wrote a flash fiction piece for the Carrot Ranch. The prompt was Fannie Hooe (a little known historical character) and in my creative rush, I saw ‘Fanny’ instead of ‘Fannie’. A small, minor misreading, you would think. So, why should I snappishly quibble about spelling ‘Janis’ as ‘Janice’? I guess because…it’s Janis.
Anyways, I did enjoy the story, and absolutely was intrigued by the sentence: ‘The child of a senator would not kill herself over the death of an icon, and her influence on politics would be world-altering’.
This may be a totally made-up factoid but…is it?
Holly Geely – Them
One of my favourite Sci-fi films is Gordon Douglas’s 1954 classic, ‘Them’; so I was expecting giant ants in this rendition. Instead I got normal-sized ghosts. Still, I appreciated the hallucinogenic quality of the story and the open-ended question of what indeed was going on. This only proves that a sharply etched bit of fiction can be as satisfying as drugs…and much better for you…depending on your point of view.
Also, that first sentence: ‘The giant snails didn’t appreciate real music, but the monkeys were warming up to it’.
Deanna Salser – Fried Neckbones
So much must have been going on at Woodstock — half a million souls at the least, and probably another million or more who claim to have been there — that truth, always a delicate commodity, coupled with imagination, makes it not difficult at all to imagine a young Mark David Chapman, fourteen, aimless, and slightly adolescently addled, finding his way there in the summer of ’69. Flash often offers more questions than answers. Still, a powerful sketch of a possibility…
Geoff Le Pard – It’s Never Too Late To Die Young
Maybe you have to be a certain age to revel in the poignancy of this tale, the ease of the conversation, the small truths shining through. Actually, age probably isn’t the real test; just being human would do it.
In my dotage, I struggled to glean the meaning of ‘The Assassin’s Stage’. Was it a reference to Birmingham and those four little girls? Was it ‘Time’, the assassin of us all?
Strangely, for me, it didn’t matter. The relationship between father and daughter rings so true, so heartfelt, that we know with a beautiful certainty that Harry will finally get to see Jimi Hendrix play.
Not to beat movie references to death but those of you familiar with ‘Soylent Green’ might see some correlation between this short tale and Edward G. Robinson’s character, Sol, in the film and his incandescent exit.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 132.
(insert drumroll here)
Mileva Anastasiadou – Poor Man’s Moody Blues
Assassin; Woodstock; Drama
I’m here to observe. I’ve tried to mingle, yet it’s not easy. These brats are so elitist and pretentious, that they wouldn’t accept anyone in their company unless they’re dressed accordingly.
I light a cigarette, unbutton my shirt and pretend to move to the rhythm of the music.
A girl approaches, swaying her way through the crowd.
“Are you alone?” she asks. I nod without saying a word.
The man on the stage moves like a maniac, singing about his friends. A last sip of freedom before I join the army. I’ll soon be trained to be an assassin. I had no option, coming from a poor family.
“You always have a choice,” she says.
Sometimes I envy people of her kind. For bonding, traveling, living the moment. I almost wish I was one of them. It’s easy being compassionate and loving, as long as you get the largest piece of the cake. I’d also love to change the world, if I had no reason to, if all else was into place.
She takes my hand and holds it tightly. I close my eyes and let music flow inside me, and for a while, I’m one of them.
When I open my eyes, I see her kissing some other man. I stay still, staring at them. For a moment, I feel part of those novels, in which love triangles are abundant because the characters don’t have other problems, don’t go to work or pay bills, so they fight with each other to establish a plot.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asks.
I run and run until I’m as far away as possible.
Someday, there’ll be peace on earth. The world will be a fair place. Justice will prevail.
Not today. Today, I’m poor, alone and doomed to be an assassin.
Ted Young – A Woodstock Epiphany
This was such a delicious take on the prompt. Claudius Snipe is a hoot of a character who channels the very essence of Waldo Lydecker: so entitled, so haughty, likely a bit slovenlier than the pristine Clifton Webb creation in the classic film, ‘Laura’.
Nevertheless, Snipe is a wonderful incarnation, a noxious reviewer who falls prey to the power and the passion of Joplin…and throws it all away, the entire metamorphosis captured in the second to last line, the long, yet still punchy ‘As Claudius Snipe watched the life drain from his career, he realised he’d shot himself with his own pen’.
And, for me, a great new word…schmutter. Such a pièce de résistance.
Assassin; Woodstock; Drama
A white Ford Mustang swept into the Press Only parking area, and out strutted Claudius Snipe… the Assassin.
Two boot lickers ushered the ‘star breaker’ into the V.I.P. lounge.
After gulping and belching his way through a sumptuous glunch, Mr Lickey and Mr Boot, carrying the complimentary bare essentials — champagne, truffles, padded rocking chair and parasol — led the literary genius to a prime position with a view of the main stage.
He sat jotting sarcastic and oh-so-witty comments in his refillable gold notebook: ‘Overpaid busker’; ‘Nice guitar… ditch the capo… get a tutor’; ‘Is that another droopy moustache, or unruly nose hair?’.
He endured the music and almost enjoyed the V.I.P. hospitality and the pleasant hour spent with a stoned young backing singer. (He was even going to give her a critique, but realised it would show his readers what he was like.)
Then the third day, with Janis Joplin, her soul bursting out for all to see and hear…
Claudius Snipe’s eyes and ears were transfixed, he hardly noticed his own hands tearing and shredding the pages from his golden hatchet.
Back at the office, Claudius wrote what he honestly felt: ‘Love!’
“What’s this girly schmutter?!” yelled the editor. “Your readers want your usual style. You know: gritty, butt-clenching, savage.”
“Not from me, man,” Claudius said quietly.
“Clear ya desk! You’re gone, loser!”
As Claudius Snipe watched the life drain from his career, he realised he’d shot himself with his own pen.
And he didn’t care.
Congratulations, Ted. 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!