Microcosms 150

Howdy, folks, and welcome to Microcosms 150. Y’all ready for some Friday flash fiction fun?



(1) You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday, 23-NOV) New York time (EST) to write and submit your masterpiece.
(2) All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title)
(4) Include: word count, the THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry IN THAT ORDER
(5) Do NOT give details of your entry on social media, your blog, etc. until the Results post is live
(6) If you are new to Microcosms, PLEASE check out the full submission guidelines 


This week, we have yet another contest based on actors who were born or who died on this day — 23-NOV.

(If YOU have a better idea for a contest, please contact us.)



  • 1887 – Boris Karloff, English actor: “Tower of London” (1939)
  • 1916 – Michael Gough, Malaysian-English actor: Warner Bros.’ initial Batman film series (1989-1997)
  • 1941 – Franco Nero, Italian actor: “Django” (1966)


  • 1991 – Klaus Kinski, German-American actor: “Cobra Verde” (1987)
  • 2012 – Larry Hagman, American actor: “I Dream of Jeannie” (1965-70)
  • 2016 – Andrew Sachs, German-born British actor: “Quartet” (2013)



Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, location and genre.

We spun, and our three elements — character, location and genre — are:

Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

Write a story using these elements OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button below, 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.


  • Executioner
  • Butler
  • Drifter
  • Overseer
  • Astronaut
  • Musician
  • Castle
  • Mansion
  • Ghost Town
  • Sugar Plantation
  • Florida
  • Retirement Home
  • Horror
  • Crime
  • Western
  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • Diary



Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Geoff Le Pard, has kindly agreed to act as the judge this time around.

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 151
Microcosms 149

34 thoughts on “Microcosms 150

  1. http://www.engleson.ca
    300 words
    Executioner; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Hangnail Harry

    After 1962, my Grandpappy was at loose ends for a few years. There was little call for his line of work. None in fact. But he was a resourceful man. A good family man.

    Death was still inevitable for all of us. The Government of Canada had banned executions of unworthy, incurable felons, but there was a market, folks who wanted some professional assistance to cross over.

    He learned that by a few years of drivin’ taxi. The stories people would tell! It got him to thinking.

    I’d sit on his lap whenever my folks would take me to visit him at the Home, the place where he finally ended up, the Sweet Slumber Lodge, and he’d talk up a storm.

    “Well, I’ll tell ya, little Harry the Third” he’d say quite often, “I was real surprized. The number of folks, all poisoned up with cancer, with the brain tumors, with the psoriasis and other unpleasant skin malignancies…they were tickled pink to hire Hangnail Harry to send them on their way. Course, I had to learn a few new tricks…I mean, you can’t take a portable gallows along with ya. I figured that out pretty darn quick, let me tell ya.”

    It worked out pretty good for him. He didn’t become a millionaire. I’m not saying that, but he socked away quite a boodle. Enough to afford the $3,000.00 a month that Sweet Slumber cost.

    Believe it or not, he was still providing his unique service. “Don’t say a word, little Harry the Third,” he’d whisper to me when my folks wandered outside to have a ciggie, “Don’t say a word, but I’m making a little pocket change practicing my art with a few of the folks here who’ve had just about enough of Sweet Slumber.”

    And I said nada.

  2. @Alva1206
    300 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Floating in a Most Peculiar Way

    ‘Ground control to Major Alastair.’

    ‘Eh? I think that’s Tom, mate.’

    ‘Who’s Tom? Is he a new guy?’

    ‘No, Tom’s the guy in the song – Major Tom.’

    ‘I knew a Tom once, but he was a minor, never reached major. Couldn’t hit the note.’

    ‘Excuse me, is this chair free?’

    ‘You’re the astronaut, you tell me.’

    ‘Giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon.’

    ‘Who said that?’

    ‘Sang it more like – That Sting guy – he hoped his legs wouldn’t break, walking on the moon.’

    ‘Why would his legs break?’

    ‘Have you tried walking on the moon?’

    ‘Who’s moon-walking?’

    ‘No-one. Alastair is telling a story.’

    ‘I saw him moon-walking, during a performance of Billie Jean.’


    ‘Michael – the one and only moon-walker.’

    ‘But I thought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin…’

    ‘Strong arm of the law is what they need to cut that buzzing out.’

    ‘I remember what I was doing when it happened.’

    ‘What? The Michael moonwalk?’

    ‘No, the actual moon walk – I saw Buzz.’

    ‘I had a buzzsaw once – dangerous bugger it was too. Wife made me get rid.’

    ‘OK, we’re doing well now. We’ve got almost two full storylines. Well done, guys.’

    ‘I love this creative writing class they do here on a Wednesday, don’t you, Alastair?’

    ‘I’m Tom.’

    ‘The moon-walker?’

    ‘No, that’s Michael, and Buzz and Neil.’

    ‘Our character development is really coming along. Great job.’

    ‘When do we get published?’

    ‘The Ready-Steady-Rest Home Monthly Newsletter comes out on the 1st. Your stories will be in there.’

    ‘Fantastic! What’s next?’

    ‘Dance class with another Michael – the Flatley guy.’

    ‘Oh! Bit of an oddity that one. Cry me a River dance sort of thing?’

    ‘Something like that, Alastair. Are you ready?’

    ‘Ready to rock, ready to roll, ready to rest.’

    ‘Can you hear us, Major Tom?’

      1. You’re welcome. But did you mean ‘All The Small Things’ (Blink-182)? 😉

        Very clever stuff, Alva. I enjoyed it a lot, but I’m surprised you didn’t include a quote from the 1962 hit “Telstar” by The Tornados… No, wait… it was an instrumental. 🙁

  3. @steveweave71
    202 words
    Executioner; Castle; Horror


    We lived in London, close to the Tower. They told us all about it at school. Our parents told us:

    Beware, all ye little children,
    Put yer hand over yer mouth,
    Silence, quietness, must be saved,
    Or doom will come to us all.
    Don’t ye make a noise, little brats
    And scare the ravens away,
    Lord help us if the ravens fly off,
    London’s own castle will crumble and drop,
    And ye’ll all fall down to the pit,
    There will be nothing left of any of you
    For the Ragpicker to sell in the Lane,
    And if ye look over the wall,
    The Crown Jewels will be gone and all.

    We peered over the wall and saw the ravens in the grounds still there. To this day, remain they do, though no carrion keeps them there. Not since the Last Executioner was himself beheaded by Madaxe the Saxon around 1115, although some say it was as late as two in the afternoon.

    But no one sleeps well in London’s East End, when the bell tolls from St Augustine’s Church near the Mission for Unlucky Seamen. For it tolls a warning you’d do best to heed. The Ragpicker is back on the streets.

  4. @Ravenangel888
    296 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Love Conquers All

    “There’s nothing quite like it. The feeling of shooting towards the stars. To walk on a planet that no other has walked on before.” The old man took a breath and looked at his enthralled audience. He loved these times when his youngest son’s daughter would come and visit. She usually brought a bunch of her friends, and their youthful exuberance really livened up the Rec room. His granddaughter was the light of his life.

    “Grandpa, tell us about the Dark Planet! Please!” There was definitely an underlying note of command in her 5-year-old voice.

    “The Dark Planet? Well, I was a young man when I was sent to investigate the Dark Planet; I’m not sure whether I remember all the details. They called it the Dark Planet because the technology was so simple compared to that which allowed us to travel the Universe. There were many weird and wonderful dumb animals on the planet. Some of them could communicate with sounds.” There was a chuckle in his voice. “And do you know what name the inhabitants of the Dark Planet gave it?”

    There was lots of serious faces and heads shaking to show they did not.

    Why, it was Earth, of course.” He ended this story with a smile on his face and laughter in his voice.

    “Grandpa!” There were squeals from six little 5-year-old girls.

    “It’s OK, Tiffany, honey. Your old Grandpa will protect you from the Aliens! Promise!” he chuckled again. “Right now though, I see your Mom waving that it’s time to leave. I’ll see you next week, Pumpkin!”

    “Bye, Grandpa. Love you!”

    As he watched her walk away, he thought to himself: And, I love all of you. If I didn’t, I’d have conquered this planet as I was meant to.

      1. Thanks, Alva. I’m trying hard not to turn every story into a supernatural, fantasy or sci-fi, but it’s so bloody difficult lol I just love those kinds of stories so much!

      1. Thanks, Bill. I often thought my Oupa (Afrikaans for Grandfather) was the most amazing storyteller in the World when I was 5. So, I figured an Off-Worlder could be as well lol

  5. @mosed14
    277 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Moon Landing

    It’s hard to get much out of some of these old girls, but Monday afternoons they switch off the telly and this lady from community whatnot appears and tries to get something going. The other week, I thought I’d fill them in on my big story. None of them laughed though. I just don’t think they believed me. Tell the truth I was counting on that, I’m much too old now to cope with all the publicity.

    As I told them, I enjoyed hiding out in that NASA cubicle. Even after everything that happened next, it’s still one of my fondest memories of the whole thing. I suppose it was the anticipation, the fear. Could I really pull this off?

    The actual substitution was easy. In he came, a quick blow to the head, off with my cleaning overalls and into his suit. No one could spot the difference now under all that gear and with the helmet on.

    Take off was fab! What a rush! That beat any street corner high I’d ever had. The controls? Huh! Nothing to worry about for any farm girl who’d ever handled a Massey Ferguson! They make a lot of fuss about the training programme; it’s just another way of keeping you in your place.

    It’s not like NASA were ever going to admit they’d been taken for a ride. And what a ride! The others were amused once they’d figured it out which took a while, not the sharpest knives in the drawer, those two.

    And that first footstep. What a moment! No wonder I fluffed my lines ever so slightly. Man on the moon? Always makes me laugh!

  6. 298 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    The Star of the Show

    Ryan Brachard worked for NASA as an astronaut his whole life and was one of seventy-five people who had walked on the moon. But because he wasn’t the first, no one knew who he was. He was a blip on a radar.

    He was not a firm favourite at the retirement home. Since no one believed he was an astronaut, they thought he was some sort of space geek. He tried to pick up the ladies, with no luck.

    He said to Mary, “Hey, girl, I’m not just going to show you the world, I’ll show you the universe.”
    Her response was a rather curt, “Why don’t you rather get lost in that universe?”

    Strike one.

    On Josephine he tried, “Are you the moon? Because even when it’s dark you still seem to shine.”
    She replied, “Close your eyes to see the chance of shine today.”

    Strike two.

    Erika, when she bought a new dress, got the, “Hey, baby, are you made up of dark matter? Because you’re indescribable.”
    She flipped him the bird.

    Strike three. Was he out now?

    There came a day when he went too far. A new lady, Roxanne Murdoch, moved into the home. She was trim and looked fantastic for her age. She was a martial arts expert and she held a fourth dan in karate.

    He sauntered in from the pool. His jaw dropped when he saw Roxanne. He knew he had to charm her with the best line ever!
    Walking over to her, he said, “Mind if my comet enters your solar system?”
    The roundhouse kick caught him on the cheek and he went down. He saw stars. Looking up from the floor he saw her.
    “Nice asteroids,” he whispered as he flinched, waiting for the next blow. She started laughing.

  7. 300 words
    Executioner; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Deathly Words

    In a quiet corner of the retirement home, an elderly gentleman was regaling a small group of onlookers with reminiscences about his life and work.

    ‘Do you know what I used to do? I was the official executioner. Ah, I do miss my work. Some of the happiest days of my life were spent around the judicial system. Don’t get me wrong, there are some perks to living in a retirement home; at least death remains an everyday occurrence here, but you just don’t meet the same kind of people.

    ‘In the early days, it took me a while to get into the swing of things but I eventually got the hang of the job, if you’ll pardon the expression. I enjoyed a long and interesting career up until capital punishment was abolished.

    ‘You name it, at one time or another, I’ve administered it. All the most common forms of execution: death by hanging; firing squad; electric chair; decapitation; injection; even a few methods that aren’t commonly known about.

    ‘I’m still subject to the Official Secrets Act, but I can tell you about one experimental form of execution I once worked on. At the time, I was very excited about it but unfortunately it never caught on. The condemned prisoner would be seated and have a hood placed over his head. I would then stand behind him shouting out words. The key to the method was to mispronounce each of the words in a funny voice until the prisoner could stand it no longer and keeled over dead. As I said, it never caught on. The authorities were never very happy with the method which, although otherwise humane, was considered to be too long and drawn out.

    ‘What’s that? What was it called? Why death by lethal inflection, of course.’

  8. @frankdaad
    300 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Some Like It Hot

    Sarah Baird greeted the receptionist with her usual friendly banter as she entered Green Leaf Apartments.

    “Cully, how’s our old rocket man doing today?” Her aim was to continue walking, but the lady asked her to listen for a minute.

    “That grandpa of yours is up to no good. Don’t know what he’s got up his sleeve, but the caretakers were all in a tizzy about him when I got here this morning.”

    “Okay. Thanks for the warning. I’ll handle it.”

    “Cool. So, how’s school?”

    “Senior year. How do you think?” The two shared knowing winks as Sarah continued down the hall. “Knock. Knock. Coming in if you’re decent, Gramps.”

    “‘Bout time you got here, kiddo. These people want to place me in a ball and chain. You gotta help me break out of this place. I feel like I’m stranded on the moon again, with no means of escape. But, after perusing those fancy clothes you’re wearing, I think…”

    Sarah failed to stifle the giggles as she played her part in his escape plan. “Don’t you dare get scuff marks on my purse. I’ll slay you like St George did the dragon if you do. And don’t speak. Wave bye to Cully on your way out.”

    “Gotcha. What about you?”

    “No worries. Girls wear guy things all the time. They won’t even notice me when I leave out the back way.”

    “I feel like Jack Lemmon on that train in that movie.”

    “But you look more like RuPaul having a really bad day.”


    “Go. Hurry. Now’s your chance. Cully’s away from her desk. Meet you in the parking lot.”

    “Hallo, beautiful. You made it.”

    “Some Like it Hot.”


    “The movie.”


    “Am I hot?”

    “Oh yeah. Hotter than a capsule re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. My RuGramps.”

  9. 219 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Spaced Out

    There, as expected, was the new programme of speakers and entertainers for the coming month at ‘The Rainbow’s End’ retirement home. Emblazoned in large letters in two-colour crayon was: ’15th August: SCOTT MACEY – ASTRONAUT’.

    The residents — some of whom had, in World War II, been flyers, aircrew or highly-trained women that had held vital positions at Strategic Bomber Command, hidden in secret bunkers and employed as ‘Plotters’ — showed great interest. They’d had quite enough of ‘Living-with-Arthritis’ or ‘Making-Flowers-out-of-Paper-Napkins’ type speakers.

    The day arrived and so did Scott Macey, bright and shiny and full of energy with his display of ‘spacey’ paraphernalia … space suit and all.

    The residents were escorted, wheeled and generally assisted to their places.

    Scott launched into his talk with all the power of the rocket that had taken him into orbit: through his rigorous training… the emotions of pre-flight feelings… blast-off experience… weightlessness…

    “That’s lovely, dear,” interjected a straight-backed, smartly-dressed 83 year-old-lady, who had listened with a cool ‘so-what’ kind of expression, “but what is it like standing on the moon?”

    “Oh, I never actually went to the moon, my dear,” smarmed our hero.

    A chorus of groans, followed by the appearance of knitting, crosswords, ‘Sporting Life’ and other publications, brought poor Scott down to earth with a dull thud.

    ‘Houston, we have a problem’.

  10. 187 words
    Astronaut; Retirement home; Comedy


    “Get your own ice cream!” Billy shouted across the white wallpapered hallways.

    “I guess I will!” replied George. He got up and moved over to the fridge. The only thing in the damn box was that disgusting astronaut ice cream. “Seriously, Mary!” George shouted just as his wife walked into the room, her white hair done up in a ponytail. “Are you too cheap to get normal ice cream?” George said a little quieter.

    “George, this is what I’m used to,” said Mary.

    “I spent three months in space living off only this powdered food,” George sighed. There goes his wife again. All “astronaut” this and “space” that. She just kept rubbing it in his face.

    Mary, on the other hand, was retired. She was happy with her husband in their small purple retirement home in east Brooklyn. Of course, she missed space, but she was too old to go to space again.

    And then there was Billy. All Billy wanted was for those two to shut up so he could take a nap.

  11. @VicenteLRuiz
    300 words
    Executioner; Ghost Town; Western

    Last Trip

    “You Gilchrist?” the sheriff asked.

    “Yes. You must be Sheriff Kinghorn,” Dillon said.

    Kinghorn nodded and stared at him.

    “Have we met?” he said.

    “No, sir,” it happens, Dillon thought. Unavoidable. “Can you show me the gallows, sir?”

    “The gallows, yes, certainly. By the jail. Behind it, in fact. For the ladies.”


    “Fainted. We moved it down there.”

    They walked in silence until they reached the jail, then down a narrow passageway beside it. The gallows stood in a plain. A horse grazed in a field beyond, oblivious to the deadly tool made by men.

    Dillon Gilchrist, executioner, examined the stairs, the platform, the beams. He even took one of the stools, positioned it under the beam, and producing a length of rope from his satchel, threw it up and round it. He grabbed both ends and leaped.

    Gilchrist was a large man, powerfully built. The beam didn’t even creak. He nodded. He picked up his rope and walked down the stairs. He checked his fob watch.

    “One hour,” he said. “Is your man ready, sheriff?”

    “I guess.”

    “I’ll be here,” Dillon said.


    There’s always a crowd at a hanging. Be it large or small, there’s always a crowd. He checked everything one last time. Rope, knot, stool, knife. He was ready.

    He noticed the change in the people before he even saw the convict. They wanted blood. Well, so to speak. Revenge? Retribution? Simply justice?

    Dillon stared at the man brought forward. Gareth Dunbar. One full head smaller than him. As usual, Dillon filtered everything out. He ignored the whimpering laments, the speeches, the last pledge. The woman who claimed to be a widow.

    On cue, he kicked the stool.

    Gareth Dunbar stood, laughing.

    “I’m alive!”

    It was always the same, wasn’t it?

    “No. That’s why I’m here.”

  12. @alysia_ascovani
    300 Words
    Musician; Ghost Town; Horror

    Operatic Death

    I sigh as I look down the main street of my hometown, empty and devoid of all life. I can’t even remember when I left, it feels so long ago. I feel a chill settle over me, and, shaking, I walk farther into town. It’s stupid, but I hope I’ll find someone else, some other sliver of life. Being alone here, it’s unnerving in this poor ruined town.

    As I walk, I sing softly, hoping that even the smallest sound will make this place a bit more alive, a bit less daunting. I peer into every building, yet all I can see is broken walls, sagging doors, and rotted floors. I wish I could enter, yet I don’t want to die here. I’m not ready to die.

    As I near an intersection with another street, I hear a sound, almost like a keening wail. I sing louder, putting more of myself into the song to mask my fear. I look down the other street as I near it, and it is just as empty as the rest of this town. Yet, as I walk past it, I hear an orchestra join my song.

    I spin around, halting in the midst of the street. Looking behind me, all I can see is an indistinct cloud of white mist. As it gets closer, I see it is actually a crowd of ghosts.

    I try to scream, yet I find I cannot stop my song. Instead, I find myself running. I feel them pursuing me, the orchestra rising and falling with my unsteady melody.

    I stumble as I near a corner, falling towards one of the few solid walls. My song rises uncontrollably as I fall through it. From inside the building, I see the wall perfectly intact.

    Somehow, I’m a ghost too.

  13. 297 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    Returning to the Moon

    The residents were in the dining room of the retirement home; Gus sat on his own. He’d chosen the location so that he could speak privately to Karen. She was his favourite carer and seemed to enjoy his stories about space. He’d something to ask of her.

    ‘You know about the 60’s …when I went to the Moon.’

    ‘Sure.’ She handed him a laden plate. ‘You were a hero. You and all those other young astronauts.’

    No-one else in the dining room could hear them.

    ‘I need a favour… tonight.’

    ‘In your dreams, maybe.’

    ‘Maybe not, if you’ll help. Listen.’


    They sat in a booth at the far end of the bar to hide them from the street. He had a beer, she had a cola.

    ‘I could get into trouble for this.’

    ‘Quit worrying, we’ll be ok. It’s still a free country. I’ll take the blame if we’re seen.’

    ‘This isn’t exactly what I thought that you had in mind when you asked for a favour.’

    ‘What? When I said that I wanted to go back to the Moon one more time? Just what the hell did you think I meant? I’m not senile yet.’

    ‘Well, you’ve got to admit that it was an odd request to make, especially with you being an ex-astronaut. I jumped to the obvious conclusion. Anyway, what’s so special about this place?’ She was studying the photos on the wall.

    ‘When I was young, on the training programme, all the astronauts used to come here to celebrate the landings. It’s where I met my wife. Have you any idea what it’s like stuck in that Home all that time since she passed away. The Moon Bar is about as near as I’ll ever get to her… and to space now.’

  14. 251 words
    Butler; Mansion; Horror

    Canary Yellow

    “Yes, ma’am. Would you like that with ice?” said Gabriel White, a man forced to live as a butler due to his mom’s lack of a will. The old woman had died of a heart attack last year at the ripe old age of 86. Gabriel found this hard to believe, since his mother seemed to have no heart.

    “Yes, Gabriel. I want ice and those cute little specks of salt along the rim,” replied Juana Lopez, a rich Hispanic woman who was kind at heart but overall, ignorant.

    “Of course, ma’am.”

    Gabriel walked into the large hallway adorned with pictures of canaries. Juana was obsessed with canaries. everywhere you turn there were canaries galore. Gabriel had learned to ignore the squawks that came from every corner of the mansion. But last night he had heard whispering. He just assumed it was Juana talking to herself, but the voices were throaty. As if a bird were talking.

    He stepped into the kitchen.


    He sighed. Gabriel opened the fridge and flinched. A small yellow bird perched on the inside of the door. Gabriel ignored it and turned to get the margarita.

    “Hello, Gabe,” said a large, throaty voice. Gabriel turned. The canary was staring at him. Its beak moved. “We’ve been waiting to get you alone.”

    Gabriel stumbled backward and knocked into the table. “W-we?” he said, frightened.

    “Look behind you,” said the bird.

    Gabriel turned. A flock of birds was staring at him with beady eyes. His vision went black.

    1. Canaries are little birds that are kept because they tweet and warble sweetly rather than squawk like parrots. But then again, they don’t tend to talk and menace people, so what do I know? Spooky last line.

      [ You forgot the word count, Flora, but I supplied that for you. Also, I read the story a few times, trying to find a reference to Florida as a location. Then I realised that you had probably changed the location to ‘mansion’, so I amended that for you too. You’re welcome! 😉 ]

  15. @beadanna7
    300 words
    Astronaut; Retirement Home; Comedy

    In Which One Old Man Gets the Last Laugh

    “Go on now, Tony. It’s time for me to get into my suit.”
    “Sure thing, Doc, as soon as you finish your lunch.”
    The old man huffed.
    “No,” he insisted. “Before the launch, you have to leave before.”
    Tony covered his laugh with a cough, slyly snagging the old man’s phone. He would return it after certain pictures were deleted. Nosy old fart.
    “Okay, okay. I’ll go.”
    “’Bout time!” the old man grumbled.

    Alone, Alfred allowed his smile to stretch across his face. He knew what that young doctor was up to. He’d been watching. They thought they had him figured out, destroying the evidence, making him look like an old fool. Well, he would show them! He’d been tinkering with their simulator. Today, it would not be him taking a trip.

    “Ready, Doctor?” The voice was tinny through his headset.
    “Ready, Houston.” Tony, the holographic coordinator of the Home for Retired Astronauts grabbed his mike in his fist. He looked around the control room as everyone followed suit just before they all burst into hysterical laughter. The old astronaut really believed he was going into space. He made a weak motion for them to stop, waiting until they were all in control again before he let go of his mike.
    “Okay, Sir. It’s a go.”
    Still chuckling and wiping his eyes, he initiated the intricate program he had created for Mars. The room vibrated wildly, shaking everyone to the floor.

    “How long do you think our air will last?”
    “Not much longer, I’m afraid.”
    “Are we really on Mars?”
    “Sure looks that way.”

    Doctor Alfred Bellows grinned as he stepped out of the simulator. It had worked! His helmet cam had caught everything! The entire control room, poof!
    Now, where was his phone? The return codes were on there.

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