Thanks to all who submitted to Microcosms 146. We had 21 entries this time. A warm welcome to Boko, Matilda Rice and Jasmine Lamb, and welcome back to Danny Beusch.
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MC 145Judge’s Pick, Geoff Le Pard, kindly agreed to act as judge for this contest. Here’s what he had to say:
If you’ve not yet judged a Microcosms, then I should warn you that El Supremo Holme tells his judges to include blah, blah in their preamble. That may be apt sometimes but this week the prompt from such a great source led to a marvellous 21 entries and some real corkers – no blahing needed.
If most of you went for ‘child prodigy’ (is there a whiff of disappointed youth here?) you created some ‘orrible little monsters as well as some weird talents.
What most impressed me is the increasing number of people who really do ‘show, don’t tell’. Occasionally that leads to confusion in this judge’s simple mind, but often it means I have to re-read the story, sometimes several times and suddenly I find a depth in a character, discern an unexpected plot line I’d not seen before.
You writers make it hard for a judge and, as a regular participant, this brings home how hard it is to win. The whole process – writing and judging – has improved me as a writer and it clearly is doing the same for you peeps. Keep it going.
Favourite / Favorite Lines
Bill Engleson – “A little nose dusting, Whit?”
Paula Puolakka – They hadn’t understood that his mind was a machine and, while sitting in his cabin, he had created a vision of a prodigy, and that sketch had been sent to Cloud Nine.
Johanna – Just the right mixture of relatable and mysterious was what he had told himself. In the lab and in the interview.
AJ Walker – Cyclops was as dependable as an old Labrador.
Leslie Turrell – Like magpies, the friars, with their silver tonsures and black robes, come and gather up the fallen tomes.
Boko – “I cannot die like this, let’s try again.”
Vicente L Ruiz – That was for kids of two or three, not grown-ups of ten like she was.
Stephanie Cornelius – Lately, there has been a very unsettling realism in her paintings.
Danny Beusch – Conclusion: the mathematician can drink 660ml of 5% beer and, to a 99% confidence interval, still legally drive.
Tim Hayes – It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected.
Matilda Rice – It was now or never, and Peter knew that the latter wasn’t really an option.
Ted Young – Nestled in his palm was the midwife’s wedding ring.
Donald Pearl – He may be an evil genius with a love for deep-dish pizza, but he has provided for me all my life.
Angelique Pacheco – Miss Emily often wonders what changed Derrick’s attitude overnight.
Alysia Ascovani – As he watched, the night cloaked the plane’s erratic traversal in dull delight.
Frank Key – Sometime between yesterday and tomorrow, a traveler’s whenabouts. Unknown.
Deanna Salser – This is what the future looks like without you and your incredible brain!
Nikky Olivier – “…I can’t read the words you pressed, so I can’t go and find you now.”
Stella Turner – His mother called it hydrophobia but he could drink the stuff okay just not swim in it or see vast amounts of it.
Arianna Hammond – First up, we have a scoop on a woman from Westchester who evaded police after hijacking a public taxi with a water gun.
Jasmine Lamb – “Timeline successfully averted via plan B: kill 11-year-old self.”
Danny Beusch – Empirical Research into the Effects of Buying and Consuming Alcohol: Three Conclusions
Best use of maths, great title and some lovely lines; all it lacked was a character I could care about.
Matilda Rice – Numbers
This one made me very queasy — probably too much so to be placed, but well written.
Deanna Salser – No Future Without Her
There’s something very intriguing in this story and the premise is excellent. However, I needed to know a bit more about the whys to move it up to a place on the podium.
Nikky Olivier – Innocence Lost
This had so much potential, and it was easily the most poignant story, heart-breaking. However, by only using a third of the allocated words, the opportunity to tell us more was missed; otherwise it could easily have moved up the leaderboard.
Vicente L Ruiz – One More Time, Please
I really enjoyed this; the little girl and hacking her time machine. She’s a futuristic Artful Dodger, a properly intriguing prodigy and someone to warm to immediately. And then the twist at the end. I’m a sucker for a good twist, and this was a good twist. Perhaps the story didn’t need quite as much internal dialogue, the technical list for instance felt superfluous, but generally it moved on well. The reason it didn’t win is probably because, more than a twist, I enjoy a laugh, and the winner made me laugh.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of Microcosms 146.
(insert drumroll here)
Nikky Olivier – Innocence Lost
Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama
“Mommy, Mommy, look. I maked a time-machine.”
“A Time-Machine? Where did you make that?”
“In my room, mommy. I used my blankies and all the things from daddy’s garage. Come see.”
“OK, Stephen, let’s see this ‘time-machine’. Is this where I get in?”
“Yep. You get in there and you push all the buttons and lights.”
“Mommy? Are you gone?”
“Mommy!!! Come back!!! I can’t read the words you pressed, so I can’t go and find you now.”
“Maybe when I turn six I can go find you, mommy. I’ll just wait right here until that happens.”
“I love you, mommy…”
AJ Walker – Cyclops Drinks Ambrosia
This starts with a great title; we have a dodgy but loveable rogue as our hero, and a nicely set up story of theft and corruption. There were some lovely lines: ‘felt as lucky as a god’, ‘One bottle of whisky from each crate, one radio, one coat, one shoe… well two, but you get the picture’. The pub – the Fallen Lettuce – required a mind at one with the surreal. PC Lovelace and his finally descent to the most dubious of partnerships rounded it off for me.
If I have one suggestion it is the ending which felt a little flat; as I said above, I love a bit of a twist. Maybe next time?
Shipping Clerk; Brewery; Drama
Cyclops was as dependable as an old Labrador. That’s how he got his name. The shipping clerk would turn a blind eye to anything – for a price. One bottle of whisky from each crate, one radio, one coat, one shoe… well two, but you get the picture. He wanted for nothing.
Most stuff he sold on; you only need so many radios. But when Elemental Brewery began shipping through the port then he changed tack. His ‘liberated’ bottles were not getting sold. They were going home. His crate rate went from one to three. The brews were ambrosia. When he went home each night he’d drink one or two. It made him feel he was as lucky as a god. Suddenly he had the best job in the world.
In the end, news got out about his stash, and people started to call round. Just to catch up, of course. Pubs realised that they were losing custom, whilst regulars kept getting sighted down near the house by the docks. It wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to discover what was going on, so after several drinks at the Fallen Lettuce one night, PC Lovelace was finally persuaded to go take a look.
It was inevitable: he took to the ambrosia like the next man, and Cyclops was an increasingly affable man with such stories to accompany the beer. Lovelace reported back to the Lettuce’s landlord that there was nothing suspect. But within a year, Lovelace and Cyclops were running the most profitable pub in town. They’d even gone legit, with an exclusive deal with Elemental.
That was almost eighty years ago. Elemental is long gone, but the old Cyclops pub is still there. There are rumours some bottles are still hiding there in the cellar. It’s worth a look. It’s truly Ambrosia.
Congratulations, Andy. 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!