Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 143. We had 22 entries this time — a great start to the new quarter. A warm welcome to first-time entrants David Lewis Pogson, Muskan Dhiman and Alfredo, and welcome back to Carin Marais and Fatima Sa’eed.
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 142 Community Pick, Vicente L Ruiz, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what he had to say:
Wow, 22 entries is a lot. It pains me, because I simply cannot spare enough time to praise the efforts every writer has put into their work. I can choose special and honourable mentions, and I’d rather have several of those that I like, and dedicate a line to each, than just a long paragraph for runner-ups and winners. At least this time! So I have one-liners for my favourite stories.
I enjoyed reading all the stories, and some were really powerful and even gut-wrenching. Choosing only one winner was hard indeed! And I insist – thanks to all the writers! I really enjoyed all the stories this week, but I had to judge. And judge I did.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Alva Holland – She probably just wants her hedge trimmed.
Bill Engleson – Life was as slick as an oil spill…without all those birds getting greased up, flopping and dying on the beach.
Steve Lodge – Silas was headed to the beach, until I told him Luxembourg had no beach.
Laura Besley – And that’s how it all started – with me having notions of writing a book.
Carin Marais – I took the knife, waited until he came back. And lunged at him.
Stephanie Cornelius – At that moment, she knew that she had never set that fire. She would never have taken the chance that someone might have survived.
David Lewis Pogson – Send me a photograph. One of you with your wings unfurled.
Tim Hayes – Plumbing can be particularly vicious.
Fatima Sa’eed – He was cupid’s arrow through a disillusioned heart.
Eloise Tapson – There were always interesting treats lurking in his pocket.
Alysia Ascovani – Her blood-red gown billowed behind her as she strode through the silent hall.
Angelique Pacheco – He had already found enough gold today alone, to see out his life.
Muskan Dhiman – No wishes granted. She just died peacefully in her sleep.
Steph Ellis – Her head on the platter remained gratifyingly silent.
Geoff Le Pard – Celeste’s second heart sank, pulling her first out of kilter.
Diana L James – A decade of field experience had taught Auburn that patience during interviews was often both the hardest-learned skill of a good reporter, and the most valuable.
Justin J. Conidaris – At least there wasn’t any blood, just pain. He could handle pain.
Deanna Salser – Strength I didn’t have, because all I did was run, and hide, and run some more.
Nikky Olivier – One look and I understood, this wasn’t a date, it was a trap.
Arianna Hammond – I want to live; surviving is not enough.
Geoff Holme – Scalding coffee was always a blight
Alfredo – Mother had told me about it before the townsfolk burned her.
Special Mention – for being surreal, crazy and even a bit absurd
Justin J. Conidaris – Amanda
A weird story, but I liked it a lot. I loved how the character took all the nonsensical elements in stride. Well done!
Carin Marais – Red
Poignant! Fantastic, maddening setting.
Stephanie Cornelius – Genius is the Flip Side of Crazy
LIKE, LIKE, LIKE! Also clever, clever, clever!
Eloise Tapson – Herman’s Adventure
Really funny! Made me laugh. And that gets my respect – I find humour to be difficult to master.
Deanna Salser – A Matter of Acceptance
I generally don’t like zombies – but this short is fab! And oh so cleverly written too!
Arianna Hammond – City Sounds
I also liked this story a lot. It almost made it into the runners-up.
Steph Ellis – Sage
Ah, loved everything about this one. The slightly sarcastic tone, the dark humour in it. And the shocking ending. Awesome!
Muskan Dhiman – Wishing for a Miracle
A rather powerful punch in the guts, this one. But just a hair’s width below the winner – if my winner ends with hope, this one ends with despair, or quiet contentedness at least. Also very cleverly misdirects us, leading to another sad, beautifully-written ending.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 143.
(insert drumroll here)
Alva Holland – Hedging Her Bets
141 — I do believe that she is chasing me in search of romantic involvement.
Marcus stirred his morning coffee.
‘I do believe she’s chasing me in search of romantic involvement,’ he said with a grimace.
‘Get a life, Marcus. She’s at least 70 years old. Who do you think you are? Who do you think she is – Mrs. Robinson?’
‘Oh, forget it! She probably just wants her hedge trimmed. She sees you out there with your sculpting shears every weekend. I know you think you’re a budding Aidan Turner but believe me, you’re far from it.’
‘I’m telling you, she’s after something, or someone. Aren’t you even a little worried?’
‘About you running off with Mrs. Robinson? Chance would be a fine thing. I’m off to work.’
Marcus peered through the window behind his laptop. Another day of writing, another day of avoiding her next door. A movement over the top of his sculpted hedge catches his eye.
What the heck?
He ducks down, watches the red balloon rise and stop. There’s something written on it.
Marcus has had enough.
‘Now, listen here, Mrs. Robins… I mean Mrs. Slattery, we can’t be having this. We can’t be having this at all.’
‘Morning, Mr. Noble. Writing again, are we? Would you like to write a story about Sacky?’
‘Sacky, my dachshund. He passed away last month. I’ve buried him by your hedge, on my side. Surely you’ve heard me talking to him?’
‘Eh, yes of course, Mrs. Slattery. Um, sorry about Sacky.’
‘Thanks, Mr. Noble. May I call you Marcus? That’s quite the sculpting shears you have. Reminds me of your man on TV – you know the one with the scythe and the rippling muscles, oozes sex appeal he does. You know who I mean?’
‘Um, yea, Mrs. Slattery. I know who you mean. Would you like a coffee?’
David Lewis Pogson – Freaks
In the end the decision of who won was purely personal… This is an amazing short story. I loved how, with a few clever sentences, the writer plunges us into the world and the story. Then a short conversation and a few more paragraphs build the characters. And it’s topped off with a beautiful, surprising ending that I loved. I felt myself immersed in the story – I could see and smell and touch and hear. And I could feel the hope at the end. Magnificent!
139 – There were so many things to do, to see, to be.
Easing the shutter, she looked down from the window onto the gas-lit street to check if they had been followed. The dwarf paid the driver and the hansom cab moved off, the horse’s hooves clattering on the cobbles as it disappeared into the damp London night. The street was silent and empty again.
‘Thanks for helping,’ she said as he entered the room.
The dwarf lit the candle on the mantelpiece and then the fire.
‘They may come looking for you. Where will you go?’
‘There are so many things to do, to see, to be. Southampton and from there by steerage to New York. Isn’t that where all the misfits go?’ She was lying. She’d catch the Bucharest train and disappear into the remoter parts to find the family that she’d been snatched from as a child. She felt bad about lying but she knew that they would beat the information out of him eventually. ‘Come with me?’
‘There’s no point. You can conceal your looks but I can’t hide my size no matter where I go.’
The room was warming up. She stripped off her damp coat, hung it over a chair and moved it towards the fire. Then, unpinning her hat, she sat down on the edge of the bed.
‘How can I ever repay you?’
‘Well, there is one thing.’
She smiled knowingly. All men wanted the same thing. But he’d helped her. What was one more after so many? Her hand moved to unfasten the clasp at the collar of her blouse.
He guessed what she was thinking.
‘No, not that. When you get there, when you meet someone you can trust. Send me a photograph. One of you with your wings unfurled. So that I can remember you as you were meant to be.’
Congratulations, David. 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!