Microcosms 137

It’s Friday, flash fictioneers! Welcome to Microcosms 137.

It gets to be really tedious, trawling through Wikipedia’s ‘On This Day’ entries, just to find six entries interesting enough to provide a CHARACTER, a LOCATION and a GENRE. So, to make life a little easier for your hard-done-by host, this week we’re recycling…

I’ve taken the first 18 prime numbers and rifled through the elements employed in Microcosms Round 2 to Round 61. All being well, there should be some combination to get your creative juices flowing.



(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 pre-selected elements are – character: Writer, Location: Thunderstorm, and genre: Romance.

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.


  • Patient
  • Limo Driver
  • Vegetarian
  • Bystander
  • Bride
  • Writer
  • The Old West
  • Office Building
  • Football Game
  • Thunderstorm
  • Snowdrift
  • Boot/Trunk of a Car
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Comedy
  • Memoir
  • Crime
  • Horror



Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Johanna, 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 138
Microcosms 136

25 thoughts on “Microcosms 137

  1. http://www.engleson.ca
    300 words
    Writer; Boot of a Car; Crime

    Warriors No Longer

    Returning from the war, I was at loose ends. Men have always returned from battle unstrung, their ends as loose as their beginnings. Wars have been with us forever. And men returning from those wars.

    Wars have produced great novels. Mailer’s Naked and the Dead, and Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front come to mind.


    My war was still going on. It continued in Detroit when I hired on to drive for Louie Palermo.

    I kept notes from the get-go. Secret notes. You never knew when something you were a part of might prove to be something bigger.

    I knew Palermo was somewhere in Mob middle management. I needed a job, the war had given me some saleable skills, and he needed someone who could drive him and cover his ass. Louie had a large ass, and a fair number of enemies wanted to slap that rump silly.

    Louie had another peccadillo: he didn’t trust anyone. “That slimy goober in the White House…” he sputtered, as we were cruising to his cabin at Crooked Lake. It was a short hop, but something was gnawing at him.

    “What about him?” I asked from the driver’s seat. Louie was slouched in the back seat, sipping scotch and working himself up.

    “Who knows what the hell he will do next?” Louie sizzled. “What, you like that lounge lizard?”

    I said no, but Louie wasn’t convinced. He continued to ramp up and finally swung the bottle of scotch at my head. I managed to grab it and lashed out at his noggin. It connected.

    I pulled over and checked the boss’s pulse. I could hear my heart thumping but Louie…he was cold toast.

    I stuffed him in the trunk, rolled the car into Crooked Lake.

    Some books…you just can’t write.

    1. Low-key title for once, Bill, but another great, evocative offering.
      ‘Louie had a large ass, and a fair number of enemies wanted to slap that rump silly.’ is my candidate for favourite line.

      [ It may be due to ‘fat-finger syndrome’, but ‘Louie’ became ‘Louis’ in a couple of places – amended now. ]

      1. Thanks Geoff for the Louie fix. Also, it may be fat-finger syndrome but I am sadly open to suggestions that perhaps it is my own charmingly portly posterior.

  2. @Ravenangel888
    300 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance

    The Love of a Good Man

    “I’m stuck. These characters just won’t do what I want them to! They’re wildly in love with each other, yet every time I try to write romantic interactions, it doesn’t seem to mesh with their personalities. I give up!” I threw up my hands in frustration and looked at my writing partner.

    We had been writing together for the last five years, and had penned many a bestseller. In fact, the story I was having issues with happens to be eighth in a ten novel series. We were paid a fortune for this one. The perks of having Hollywood pick up the others and turn them into blockbuster movies. Thank goodness, we had the foresight not to sell the rights to our publishing company. We were raking in the cash. Whenever I saw one of our characters on screen, I got this weird little thrill down my spine.

    Now one of those same characters was driving me nuts! I just couldn’t seem to get the right dynamic between her and her partner. They needed some romance in this chapter, but she just wasn’t all that romantic to start with. Much like myself, she felt that romance is a waste of energy.

    “Sweetheart, take a breather. You’ve been struggling with this for weeks. You need a break. Follow me.”

    I rose from my desk and followed him out onto the back porch. The noise of the thunder got stronger as we got closer to the door, and I realised with shock that it was pouring. When we went outside, he continued down the stairs to the backyard. As I followed him, he swept me into his arms and we started dancing in the rain.

    I see now where I was going wrong with that scene. God, I love this man!

    1. I’ve not written a novel, Stephanie — not yet anyway — but I hear authors talking about characters having a life of their own. How great to have problems solved by such a hands-on writing partner!

      [ Titles should have initial letters capitalised, except for shorter words like ‘of’, ‘in’, ‘a’ — e.g. Scent of a Woman. I’ve amended yours.

      You sent us feedback, asking if login is still offline. I’m afraid it is. KM was looking into all the problems we had, but this one does not seem to have been resolved. However, the REPLY button and the VOTE button are both now working correctly. Give them a go!]

      1. Thanks, Geoff.

        I haven’t written a novel yet myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the characters running around in my head so it is very true that they are fully formed “people” in their own right!

        I had forgotten the vote button was screwed up lol so I kinda tried that yesterday already thanks for the feedback

  3. @steveweave71
    300 words
    Vegetarian; The Old West: Romance

    Chip Tooth and Lil Whistle

    I’d first met Cynthia in the Colt, Garter And Sixpence saloon in Tombsville. I’d chipped my tooth trying to be clever with a glass of beer. Yes, alright, I was trying to impress her. She seemed too nice to be working in any dive that Al Shadow ran and I told her so. I noticed there was a bit of a whistle in my voice that wasn’t there when I’d ridden into town from up on the High Plains. I’d been working out on ranches near the towns of Broken Biscuits and Rugged.

    Anyhoo, I digress; course I do. It seems, with my newly whistling voice and the noises thumping inside my ears from living up in the High Plains, I spoke too loudly and Al had heard me. Next thing I know, this Cynthia is screaming and I’m being dragged out of the saloon, down some alley and some of Al’s men are giving me a right kick in, like I’m a bag of boo or something.

    Man, I’m just saying, I don’t think I deserved such a beating, but Al’s thugs were unstoppable. Big Rock, Lonesome Lou Stools, Chief Dog Walker, Clint Northdale.

    Later, I hear this sobbing and I open the less puffy eye and it’s that Cynthia Sykes dabbing my face and talking all soft to me. Well it had been a rough night, but I knew right there and then, as we did in the Old West, that I would marry this gentle lassie.

    “How do you feel, Vince?” she asked in her sweet, delicious tone.

    “Me? I’m fine. In fact, I’m starving. I won’t mention ribs as I’m pretty sure all mine are busted, but I could sure eat a horse. What about you, little lady?”

    “Oh no. Not me, Vince. I’m a vegetarian.”

  4. @NthatoMorakabi
    300 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance

    First Love

    Had there been a time when I sought a muse beyond writing? I cannot say. My first love came in the form of words intricately woven to tell tales of wonder and awe. As such was my single purpose in life, I fell deeply into my stories and worlds, forgetting all beyond the paper and pen. Food and water were a necessary evil which, thankfully, mother had forced on to me, allowing me some reprieve and fresh air.
    It was mother who, then, asked me to take a freshly baked pie to our new neighbours. I had never met them and figured I never would. College was imminent after all.
    Imagine then my surprise as I stood on the neighbour’s porch, hunger growing with each waft of baked pie, when the door opened to reveal my first real love. Real, for she did not reside within a mental cage to be released into a fictional world.
    “You’re the writer boy,” she said. The words themselves weren’t anything spectacular. No. The spectacle lay in cadence and lilt. In the dark curls sweeping off her head. The dazzle of freckles.
    “Uh. Yeah. Pie?”
    “Oh. How sweet of you. Come in.”

    Amelia remained near me after that. We exchanged letters. I came to visit her… and mother. Amelia and I married years later, content even when we learned we could never have children.
    Of all the things we spoke of, Amelia’s voice would lower to quiet veneration and apprehension when she spoke of thunderstorms.
    “It’s as if God himself seeks to cleanse the world, His voice so awesome it crackles across the sky.”
    At her insistence, we bought a little cabin in an area known for its storms. Where I sit now writing this. Where Amelia left for the storm, her first love.

  5. 193 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance

    Lightning Inspiration

    Sarah dashed out of her house and ran to edge of the cliff. The wind lifted the wisps of hairs that float around her face. She struggled to see beyond the horizon and tears flooded down her face. How long had she waited for his return? She stood as the wind began to whip faster around her legs lifting her skirt into a balloon. She swayed with the wind and watched as the dark clouds rolled in and the white cliffs became grey. This was her favourite time of day. Late afternoon when the rain rolled in. Most would be snuggled in an armchair. Hot coffee and good book. But not Sarah. The rain soaked the earth. Soaked her. Wrapped in the rain like a big cozy blanket, she hugged her legs and watched as the lightning painted pictures across the sky. This was where her inspiration came. By the dancing of the light against the black sky. She saw animals, clowns and other characters. Each one more beautiful than the last. Eventually the show stopped and Sarah rose and walked back to her home. He would return with her next story tomorrow.

  6. @geofflepard
    291 words
    Patient; The Old West; Drama

    Deliverance (The Worksop And Middle-Hinton NHS Trust Version)

    ‘Circle the wagons…’
    ‘John stop, please.’
    ‘Can’t you hear the drums?’
    ‘That’s the heart monitor.’
    ‘It’s the Indians.’
    ‘John, shush. The lady is from Wolverhampton. She may have some family from over there but…’
    ‘They’re restless, tonight.’
    ‘Of course they are. They’re understaffed, like all NHS hospitals. Just hand me… Oooooh!’
    ‘You OK, Doris?’
    ‘Bloody hell, that contraction was real. Please take that stupid hat off…’
    ‘It’s my ten gallon…’
    ‘I know what it is. Just hand me the gas and air, would you and for heaven’s sake take your spurs off that chair.’
    ‘Sorry. It’s just…’
    ‘I know. You’re in character. I understand, really I do. But don’t you think this is just a little bit more important?’
    ‘It’s not that. I mean, of course but… see they asked me to be the Sheriff. A white hat, Doris. After so many useless cowpokes and dead gamblers.’
    ‘Well, I think that’s great and everything but…’
    ‘How long do you think you’ll be?’
    ‘John Stevens, I cannot believe you are asking me that.’
    ‘’It’s just Derek said… Well, no, never mind.’
    ‘What did Darling Derek say?’
    ‘He wished you well, naturally.’
    ‘Go on.’
    ‘Well, he said — more indicated… hinted really — that if I wasn’t back after they’d had the grits and beans they’d find someone else to film the stagecoach rescue.’
    ‘Yes, and I get to say “We’ll head them off at the gulch”. Isn’t that cool?’
    ‘I’m beyond ecstatic. The thing is, baby will come when he or she wants to, not at someone else’s beck and call.’
    ‘I’ve been thinking about that, Doris.’
    ‘John, what are you doing?’
    ‘I’ve been practicing with the lasso for weeks now and if you’ll just shift over a little…’
    ‘John… JOHN… Nurse, NURSE!’

  7. @happymil_
    300 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance


    Calm down, she tells me. Her voice steady, reassuring. I demand ice cream and she promises she’ll get me some. She asks what’s my favorite flavor. It’s love mom, I say. I watch a tear in her eye, sliding onto her cheek. She wipes it with the back of her hand, then lights up a cigarette and stares at me.

    I think I hear her sneeze, or is it a thunder that makes me see: she’s not my mother, mother doesn’t smoke.

    I start writing the story. I imagine growing up. Holding hands, walking through forests and streets with her by my side. I even see our wedding and many happy anniversaries following that glorious day. I see our kids growing up, growing wings. My teacher smiles approvingly. I see the empty nest, which isn’t empty, filled with our love. I hear memories of a future yet unlived and I’m happy, until silence is interrupted.

    I think I hear her applaud, or is it thunder that makes me realize: she’s not my teacher, teachers don’t wear pajamas.

    The fog dissolves as I look up to see her face. It’s that moment again, when memories rise up to the surface for a while. The story I’ve been trying to write has already been written. It now only needs a happy end.
    You’ve grown old, I tell her.
    Hearing the sound of rain, rhythmic like a heartbeat, soothing like a lullaby, I feel like I’m an outdated version of myself, the sign blinking, saying ‘insert a coin to upgrade’, only I’ve run out of coins. Or time.
    Neither death, nor oblivion can do us part, she says. Not too bad for a happy ending.

    I think I hear a sob, or is it thunder that makes me wonder: mom, is it you?

  8. 300 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance

    The Write Stuff

    It was a dark and stormy night. Nope, that’s no good, no good at all. At writing school, they always tell you: never open a book with weather. See 10 Rules for Good Writing by Elmore Leonard. Given that I’m sitting in a shack in the middle of a thunderstorm it’s hard to ignore the thunder and the rain. It’s tipping it down and the sound of the rain rattling against the roof is drowning out my typewriter as I pound away at the keys.

    Anybody who thinks writers live a romantic existence has no idea of what they’re talking about. It’s hard work. I’ve been stuck here by my agent, in the middle of nowhere, desperately trying to complete three-hundred words before the deadline is up. My publisher has become impatient with my tardiness and no longer smiles when I try to quote Douglas Adams at him: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” I always thought it quite endearing.

    My punishment has been to be deprived of human contact and other distractions. So here I am, out in the boondocks, isolated, with nothing other than a typewriter and a few reams of paper for company. My agent has offered me all the wonders of civilisation if only I’d knuckle down and finish the story. I’ve been even promised a bonus if I beat the deadline.

    I’m nearly there, if only this thunderstorm would shut up and leave me to concentrate. Uh-oh, my mind’s wandering. I realise that instead of wrapping up the story I’m re-editing it. My job’s to get the story down on paper. I never was any good at writing against the clock and as for making it exactly three-hundred words… There, done it.

    1. You always have a unique view of the prompts. Look forward to your piece every week and this one was no different. The anguish of trying to write those 300 words before the deadline is up….

  9. 243 words
    Bystander; Thunderstorm; Crime


    Watching their movements.
    One person struggling, attempting retreat.
    Another lunging, coming closer to the other.
    Victim and attacker.
    Two different worlds, minds, bodies.
    Same place.
    Fighting doesn’t solve much, especially once fists seem the only way.
    Attacker is blinded.
    Blinded from rage, blinded from the rain streaming down, wetting both humans’ faces.
    Basic street fight would seem the outlook for most bystanders, me included.
    But I know.
    I know there is more to their story.
    Victim turns swiftly to run away.
    Not far, for the mud catches on the slick rubber of shoes and slips.
    Attacker looks down upon the prey; contemplating next move.
    They don’t think fast enough, victim jumps up and gains balance.
    The cracking sound clashes with the crack of fist against facial bone.
    Down, falling in tandem with the raindrops.
    Victim screams inward, I watch the pain flick across the smashed face.
    The attacker sneers, stepping back slowly.
    B   O   O   M.
    And there goes the thunder.
    Echoing, shattering across the dark sky.
    Attacker’s voice rings as loud as the roaring aftermath,
    That’s all.
    The attacker turns and walks away.
    The victim crumples down onto the muddy floor, sobbing; clutching tight to their broken nose, maybe more.
    As if shielding it from the storm.
    They look upward.
    Making eye contact.
    Something pulls at my emotions.
    So I just drive

  10. 298 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance

    My Turn to Bleed

    The kiss on my neck startled me, making me jump, and adding a jumble of letters to the end of my last line.
    “Sorry, but your neck was calling to me.”
    I hid my smile so he wouldn’t see it. He was impossible! Always interrupting my work with his kisses.
    I really didn’t mind, in fact, it gave me shivers up and down my backbone. But I couldn’t tell him that, or I would never get anything done.
    I watched him walk away with that intoxicating sway of his hips, his stockings making white diamonds on the backs of his legs. The plot of my story blew away with the wind whipping the rain against the cottage.
    A flash from the windows struck my retinas and the lights went out as a sharp crack, followed by a deafening rumble, filled the air with ozone.
    A scream cut short made the hair on my recently kissed neck stand up. I stumbled through the darkness in the direction of the sound, calling out in panic as my lightning-blasted corneas blinded me all over again, every time I blinked.
    “Frank!” Roaring filled my ears as the sound of my shout was drowned out by the storm.
    “Answer me!” I shrieked. In the flash of the next bolt, his arms were around me, his lips against mine, the taste of copper and iron in my mouth as he kissed me.
    “You’re bleeding!” My hands frantically roamed his face, his neck, his body, his makeup garish in the flickering light as he slipped the noose around my hands and drew them high over my head. A thrill shot through my chest as he smiled wickedly.
    “Your turn,” he said, baring his blood-stained teeth as his face dipped down between my thighs.

  11. 300 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance


    My writer’s block is going to get the best of me. What a waste of money!

    These were the thoughts that knocked about inside my mind as I stomped up the hill towards the ruins. The sea air slapped me as I walked. Sweat ran down my face as the sun beat down on me. The sea was azure blue today and blended into the sky perfectly. I ran my hand across my damp forehead. This humidity was not the best ingredient for looking great. My cheeks were beet red, partly from the heat, and partly from the fact that my job as a writer meant I stayed indoors and usually looked like a ghoul. My hair was somewhere between an Afro and a bird’s nest.

    I felt a small breeze and it snapped me back to reality. Clouds were racing across the sky and I knew that it would bring cool rain with it. I just had to make it to the ruins in time for cover. I trudged on as the lightning began to strike. The wind blew them out, like matches. Thunder clapped as the first great drops began to hit. I ran as the rain poured down on me in silver sheets. I stumbled inside. I was soaked through. I walked over to the broken window and saw with pleasure that the rain had cooled my skin back to alabaster white. My hair no longer had “soul” and I looked pretty good. I stared out to sea. I loved watching thunderstorms. They ignited something inside me.

    “Ahem,” he said as I jumped. Wow! Here was another something that ignited something inside me. He held out his hand shyly and introduced himself. I smiled. I had a feeling that soon I would be writing romance novels again.

    1. Beautiful story! I felt every line within and really disappeared as I pictured each moment. The details were great, and I loved how the ending crashed down. Good one! 🙂

  12. 295 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance

    The Write Kind of Love

    Thunderstorms always remind me of you, my love.
    I remember our first kiss, under the awning of that small-town soda shop, where we sheltered from the sudden cloudburst…

    Mrs Potts read the letter out loud for the rest of the staff at Shady Pines nursing home, just as she did every evening.
    “That man has such a way with words.” Mavis, the middle-aged nurse’s aide from ward four sighed.
    “Shhhh…” Several of the others shushed her, then quickly turned their attention back to Mrs Potts.

    …You always told me that the puddles were your favourite part of any rainstorm but, for me, it was the way you always seemed to light up when those first drops fell. Your childlike enthusiasm as you’d press your nose to the window, making sure that it was well and truly raining before you’d run outside. Your laughter still echoes through my soul whenever I hear the first crash of thunder, or the drip, drip, drip of raindrops on the roof…

    When the reading was complete, and all the nurses and aides had dispersed to their nightly assignments, Mrs Potts quietly entered room 224 and placed the box back on the night stand.

    “Here you go, Marvin. Thanks again for letting us read these, I know how personal it must be.”
    “She was my life, you know?” the frail old man replied from his bed.
    “Well, I’ll let you get your rest. Busy day again tomorrow.”
    As Mrs Potts left, Marvin turned to the figure sitting on the chair in the corner.
    “So, love, there’s a rainstorm on the go…”
    With a smile, the figure held her hands out to her husband and slowly began to fade into the storm, the thunder cracking just as Marvin breathed his last.

  13. @The_Red_Fleece
    290 words
    Writer; Thunderstorm; Romance

    God’s Love

    The wind wiped the cliff edge. The thunder clouds gathered above.

    No! Never start a story with weather, always with character. You aren’t a weather report. Black lines darken the first, only, words on my page.

    Her tanned skin prickles with the anticipation of the coming storm. Hair sprays across her face, creating a mesh she has to look through to see. Sexy.

    No, no, still not right. Too over the top. Too purple in every sense of the word. Attempt three.

    She looks out over the sea. Her mud-lined skirts and hair whip up in the angering wind. Darkness covers both the world and her. A thunderstorm is coming. Yet she smiles, to herself, for herself.

    No, no, no! I stop, pen raised ready to score the words from existence. I read the condemned words for one last time, their final chance to live. Yet, they seem to take a new form, curling into the woman they describe. The smile bright even though it is just words. No magic has changed their form on the paper. My pen still does not move. The execution has been postponed. I know the reason why. Fear, not for her — for I control her fate — but for me. The magic a writer uses to turn his thoughts into words could take her away from me. I barely know her, yet I am in love with her. Not as a character, as an abstract, but as a person. I want this romance to continue, to walk on those storm-threatened cliffs with her, talking of all things and nothing.

    Finally my pen returns to the page. The words follow once again. I start by blowing away the storm clouds. The sun will shine on us.

  14. @Ods_And_Bodkins
    248 Words
    Limo Driver; Snowdrift; Horror

    Driving Miss Duppy

    “Can’t you drive any faster, young man? We’re going to be late.”
    “Ma’am, it’s a blizzard. I can get you there fast or in one piece. Not both.”
    “May I remind you the amount I’m paying for this ride?”
    “I’m very well aware. And it’s the only reason I’m out here now. Limos aren’t really known for handling snow.”
    “Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.”
    “Tell me about it. Although as I said before, taking a cab would’ve been a safer bet.”
    “Ha! I wouldn’t be caught alive in a taxi! And is this the only bottle of champagne back here? I expected something a little better than this store-bought swill.”
    “Ma’am, that’s a 1927 Chateau Vie. I don’t think you can find that anymore statesioh HOLY—HANG ON!! …What…what was that? Ah, jeez, are you okay, ma’am?”
    “I say! What amateur decides to swerve suddenly on a snowy road? I almost spilled my champagne.”
    “Did you…did you not see that?!”
    “See what, young man? All I see is snow. And now how do you expect to dig us out of here?”
    “I-in the road…it was—”
    “It was what, young man?”
    “No, no-no-no that’s not possible.”
    “It was what, young man?”
    “It can’t be…you’re right there…and she was out there…but she was you and—”
    “Young man, do you mean to tell me that you threw us into this ditch because you thought you saw me standing out there?”
    “I’m really sorry, ma’am, but—”
    “You did.”

    1. Wow! I loved this. I could totally hear the bickering progress, and found myself laughing at it. Wonderful ending too- I did not see it coming. 😉

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