Microcosms 158

Felicitations, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 158.


(1) You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) 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
(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 


Today — 18-JAN — is the 240th anniversary of the birth, creation, delivery, nascency, natality, nativity, parturition in 1779 of English physician, lexicographer, and theologian, Peter Mark Roget, author of ‘Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases’.

However, this week’s contests is based on notable ‘firsts’ that occurred on 18-JAN.

  • 1778James Cook is the first-known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the “Sandwich Islands”.
  • 1884Dr. William Price attempts to cremate the body of his infant son, Jesus Christ Price, setting a legal precedent for cremation in the United Kingdom.
  • 1896 – An X-ray generating machine is exhibited for the first time by Henry Louis Smith.
  • 1911Eugene B. Ely lands on the deck of the USS Pennsylvania anchored in San Francisco Bay, the first time an aircraft landed on a ship.
  • 1981Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield parachute off a Houston skyscraper, becoming the first two people to BASE jump from objects in all four categories: buildings, antennae, spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs).
  • 2000Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is officially observed for the first time in all 50 states.


(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 elements are:

Physician; San Francisco; Romance

Write a story using those 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.


  • Explorer
  • Physician
  • Professor
  • Pilot
  • BASE Jumper
  • Non-violent Activist
  • Island
  • Funeral
  • College
  • San Francisco
  • Skyscraper
  • Memphis
  • Journal
  • Tragedy
  • Romance
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Crime



UPDATE: Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Sian Brighal, has kindly agreed to act as the judge this time around.

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 159
Microcosms 157

48 thoughts on “Microcosms 158

  1. http://www.engleson.ca
    300 words
    BASE Jumper; Skyscraper; Comedy

    Heights and Lows

    “You sure you’re up for this, Timmy? You look a little pekid.”

    That’s Hamish ‘Flying Squirrel’ Lavery speaking.

    To me.

    Lance Bakelite.

    Yeah! I know.

    You hear Bakelite, you think plastic. Or oven. Or maybe just plain knob.

    Distant relative, the famous Bakelite guy. Leo Baekeland. And not a particularly generous one.
    Well, generous enough. My old man changed his name…thought it would curry favour with Leo.
    Never happened. Leo went a little bonkers in his old age. Gobbled his sustenance out of cans.

    Trusted cans, I guess.

    Don’t we all.

    Anyway, back to Hamish. He is the Evel Knievel of BASE jumpers. Knows no fear.

    Somewhere, back in my diaper days, I thought I might be made of the same stuff.

    So did he, I guess.

    We went to high school together.

    Lost touch.

    He became famous.

    I became…I don’t know…stuck.

    We reconnected at the High School tenth. He made the pitch.

    “Whatta you got to lose, Timmy?”

    So, we began the training.

    So far, we’d done a dozen jumps down in Twin Falls, Idaho, off the Perrine Bridge.

    I was as ready as I’d ever be.

    Here we were.


    “No one jumps off a building in Boise. The perfect place for a beginner,” Ham said. “The 8th and Main Tower. Tallest friggin’ building the city has. 323 feet. Elevator up. Then you become a bird.”

    “Elevator?” I said.

    “Yeah. How else did you think we’d get to the roof?”

    I hadn’t counted on that. A square little room. A moving room. Up! Down! No bloody windows. Thinking about it and I was as drenched as a waterfall.

    I got panicky.

    Ham saw my sweat. Read my mind.

    “We’ll take the stairs.”

    There it was.

    Nothing would keep me from chuting off the roof.

    Boise banzai or bust!

    1. Nice job, Bill. You can never be alone with that cavalcade of crazy characters careening round your cranium! 😉

      [ I guess you’re like me: I always thought the term was simply ‘base jumping’ — i.e. ‘from a fixed point’. Thanks to Wikipedia, however, I discovered that BASE is an acronym: Building (e.g. skyscrapers); Antenna; Span (e.g. bridge); Earth (e.g. cliff). I’ve made the amendment.

      But are ‘pekid’ and ‘Evil Kinevil’ just idiomatic spellings of ‘peaked’ and ‘Evel Knievel’ OR are they your usual late-night typos? Let me know if amendments are required. ]

  2. @steveweave71
    300 words
    Explorer; Island; Journal

    Death Walks Behind Us

    31 October 1955

    In that unimaginable storm, our ship ‘Barnowl IV’ ran aground on the tip of an island peninsula. We unofficially named it Halloween Island. Shipwreck is a cruel trick and certainly no treat. I was the only survivor of the three explorers on board. Dainty and Floorwedge were lost out there in the angry sea with all our equipment except some cheese. The other three survivors, Harry ‘Bimmer’ Bimson, Patrick Thistle — aka The Guffler — and Sid had been on their way to join the Third Starmy to replace lost officers.

    We were captured as we slept in the jungle, a few miles inland. Looking back, our efforts at concealment were both inadequate, naïve, woeful and inept. Or perhaps all three. We awoke, tied to trees in a jungle clearing and monkeys were sucking our toes.

    Tied up, I know not by whom, waiting for I know not what. I was in the company of the bravest men I’d ever met. I gritted my teeth, trying to be fearless too, but every time a lion roared or we heard a frisky rhino or maniacal drumming somewhere close to the clearing, I started to shake, shiver and soil myself.

    In the heat and the stench of my trousers, I remember having a vivid childhood flashback of riding a camel on a beach at Southport.

    The others started singing loudly: ‘Mongoose Rock’, ‘Warplanes Over Belzon, Darling’ and ‘Cold Hands’. When we sang, the drumming appeared to get louder, as if the crazed, unseen percussionists were joining in.

    We kept ‘Cold Hands’ going for hours. Plenty of time for Sid to persuade a monkey to untie us. We left the clearing in search of competent concealment for the night ahead. It would take me years to live down the nickname ‘Shit Pants’.

      1. You make an excellent point, Geoff. Trees surrounding a clearing would have been better, I agree, but then hey, that’s just me, Geoff. You know my motto. “Nobody told me it had to make any sense.”

  3. 299 words
    Explorer; Island; Journal

    First Explorations

    Day 1
    Sightings of crocodiles: 0

    My exploration has begun; I have left the comfort of home for pastures new. I survived a lonely boat trip across an expanse of water, battled through insect-ridden swamps and set up base camp.
    The rowing over was harder that I had thought; my arms hurt and the boat almost sank a few times, but at least the water was calm. The swamp, mere feet from the island, meant I had to go through it to reach base camp. I soon realised that I had forgotten to bring some bite cream, so I am itching with increasing frequency. I am forgoing a fire tonight, the blankets and sleeping bag should keep me warm enough on this summer’s night.

    Day 2
    Spiders sighted: 10

    I appear to be surrounded by large arachnids, who taunted me throughout the night. I think I will need a fire to keep them at bay tonight. There was also a screeching bird of some sort, waking me each time sleep claimed me.
    The coughing bark noise of a great beast has kept me confined for the day. Boredom has withered my soul. I should have asked Kai, my best friend, if he wanted to join me; we could have at least played snap.
    The lighting of a fire was unsuccessful; I will need to increase my skills in this before I attempt further exploration.

    Day 3
    Werewolves heard: 0

    Mum brought breakfast, so that is one less worry. She asked me to come home tonight; she was worried and the dog had been barking all day yesterday at me. I refused. How will I become a world famous explorer if I can’t stay a few nights in a tree house, in the middle of the lake, in our garden?

    1. If the narrator is sojourning in a tree house, perhaps it’s just as well that fire-lighting skills aren’t as developed as they might be.
      Great structure and build-up to this piece, Holly. It’s a pity that the word restriction didn’t allow for greater… er… exploration of the storyline.
      (With a turn of phrase like ‘Boredom has withered my soul’, if the explorer thing doesn’t pan out, then there’s scope to make it as a writer.)

  4. 284 words
    Physician; College; Adventure

    The Meeting

    It was 1990 and I was enjoying my lunch on the steps of the library. I had positioned myself well on the steps so that I could watch the passing traffic without the fear of my sandwich being trampled on. It was a great spot until 1 March 1990.

    She sprinted up the stairs and as I motioned to stop her from stepping on my sandwich she tripped over my hand. I gathered my lunch items up quickly and tried to make a hurried escape, but I didn’t realise she travelled with muscle.
    “Sir, where might you be off to?” asked the muscle as he grabbed me by collar and lifted me.
    “I have a class to attend.” I squirmed but it was no use. He dumped me in front of her. Her eyes pierced my very soul.
    “You scoundrel. How dare you try to dash from my presence and after you hurt me,” shouted the princess.
    “I am sorry. It’s just you were about to squish my sandwich.” I winced at the stupidity of it all, after all it was just a sandwich.
    “Well, how are you going to make it up to me?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Well, I do. You will be my date to the annual Fairytale Ball.” The muscle grumbled. “What, Heinrich? She said I could bring anyone, and I choose him.”
    “Who is she? And I have two left feet.”
    “Well, you had better make them a right and left foot. Because if you don’t attend the ball with me, I will have to find another way to punish you.”
    She held a tomato sauce bottle over my dissertation. “OK! OK! I will go to the ball with you.”

    1. Is it possible that one needs the assistance of some minor psychedelic vehicle to fully grasp where one is being taken to in this tale? I was pleasantly confused…and entertained.

  5. 300 words
    Physician; San Francisco; Romance

    High Times in the City

    There’s an ancient proverb, ‘Physician heal thyself’. I’d never really given it much thought until I fell in love, and by that time it was too late. At the time I was living in the romantically named ‘City by the bay’, otherwise known as San Francisco.

    I’d fallen in love with what was then referred to as a Hippy chick, a girl by the name of Mary Anne. I’d seen her on the news handing out flowers to the police trying to break up a sit-in in protest against the war in Vietnam. The cameras loved her. She was delightful to know, no inhibitions and a childlike wonder at the world. I’d treated her for some minor ailment, and had ended up being stricken. So stricken that I ditched my suit and tie to allow me to fit in with her circle of acquaintances and took to wearing faded jeans and tie-died t-shirts.

    They were crazy days, we hung out in the Golden Gate Park holding impromptu happenings and smoking dope. I would conduct casual clinics, looking after the health of the many runaways attracted to the city’s vibrant alternative scene. Life was good, but somehow I knew it would never last. At heart, I was still an old fogey, and she was too ethereal to want to settle down to normality.

    Before long, it was all over. She drifted away, and I couldn’t drift with her. I was too grounded in reality to let go of my place in the system. My colleagues begged me to come back to work, and there was no way Mary Anne was going to fit in with my life. Reluctantly we parted company and went our two separate ways, she back to Haight-Ashbury while I returned to private practice.

  6. @ellengwriter
    300 words
    BASE Jumper; San Francisco; Adventure

    Through the Golden Gates

    Before today, Jeanie had never realised how loud gunshots are. They were, as it turns out, just as loud as the sound of bullets ricocheting off the Golden Gate Bridge. Jeanie clung onto two girders, arms outstretched either side of her, while the river thundered below. Her fingers were the only thing stopping her from falling the two hundred feet into the unforgiving water.

    At least a shot to the head would be quick, she thought.

    Her backpack was heavy, full of material and strings. She’d only done this once; Estelle, her instructor, would be horrified if she could see her now.

    Maybe, Jeanie thought, Estelle could see her; who knows what they stick on the televisions up there? Well, Jeanie would, if she didn’t act soon.

    Another bullet soared passed her, narrowly missing her face.

    Jeanie bent her knees, loosened her grip on the girders, and jumped.

    Jeanie would have screamed, but she could barely breathe, let alone do anything else. Her eyes dried out in seconds; she squeezed them shut, for all the good it did.

    When she pulled the chute, her backpack tugged at her armpits, but she descended towards the water at a leisurely pace.

    She couldn’t turn around to see if her pursuers had left her alone. She hoped she had fallen out of their range. She sank into the violent river, her parachute spread out on the surface of the water behind her like a target. She trod the water slamming into her chest.

    She saw the boat before she heard it: that familiar hull emblazoned with the name ‘Longstocking’. It pulled up to her, and Rhonda was on deck, calling out to her, throwing her a lifeline. Jeanie would have laughed at the prospect of living after all – had she any breath left.

    1. Intriguing, story, Ellen.
      I long to know why Jeanie was being shot at; it seems an extreme way of keeping BASE jumpers off the Golden Gate Bridge. 😉
      [ On a technical note, it’s the ripcord that you pull to deploy a parachute. You’re welcome! ]

      1. Fair enough; I confess, practically all I know about BASE jumping I learned from an Alex Rider book. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you put the title in bold? I understand there’s coding, but I don’t know what it is. Thank you!

  7. 263 words
    Physician; San Francisco; Romance

    The Bridge over the River… Sighs

    I guess we all know a little about the side effects of prescribed drugs. Tillie Tappins maybe knew more than most as the drugs she was taking sent her moods up and down like a jogger’s knockers.
    Doctor Otis O’dabay was the physician who took special interest in her case. He liked and cared for Tillie, and he was the one called whenever she felt it right to terrorise a supermarket by throwing bananas at anyone who came into range, or stand in front of cinema screens to become part of the action, and scores of other similar ‘stunts’.
    Then there were more serious occasions when the blues hit her, and she may have harmed herself.

    As time went by, liking and caring evolved into mutual love, naturally causing real problems; ethical, practical and professional.
    But ignoring all this they dived into the whirlpool of affection.

    The physician was struck off and hit the skids; Tillie sank into a deep depression.

    A San Francisco traffic cop recognised the beautiful young woman balanced precariously on the parapet of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    “Send for Doc O’dabay,” he screamed into his radio.
    A top speed dash through San Francisco got our ex doctor to the bridge just in time.

    “Hi, honey. Wanna pizza?”
    “I’m gonna do this, Otis.”
    “OK, babe. I’m coming with ya, unless you reckon one whirlpool is enough for us.”
    “OK,” she smiled. “I’d like pepperoni and cheese on mine. Then maybe I’ll throw a few bananas?”

    The antidote to uncertainty is courage… the antidote to everything else is pizza.

  8. 294 words
    Non-violent Activist; Skyscraper; Tragedy

    Heavenly Activists

    Saadié had made it to the top of the skyscraper. It was breathtaking; the sky had never looked more beautiful in all the years she had been alive. The navy-colored sky was littered with stars, and she could see the next planet from where she stood. A dark patch of eggplant stretched across the sky, hints of amethyst and lilac intertwined to create a whirlpool effect. In the distance, she could see the outline of the civilization; the wall towered over the city’s buildings. Even from the tallest skyscraper, she could see the wall in all its fury. She was enraged, but she needed to stay calm and collected.

    Metallic thuds echoed from the stairwell and she knew it was almost time to make her mark. This world had taken a turn for the worse, and she wanted to make a difference in the only way she knew how. She grabbed the projector out of her bag and set it on the edge of the building. If her calculations were correct, the projector would be able to display the message in the sky. She flipped the switch.

    As the rooftop door slammed open and a SWAT team appeared behind her, the video played in the sky. The city grew silent as the music played, as if it came from the sky itself. Pictures of the civilization before the new political era played, and the message was clear: “Create a new world, impeach Leader Harempa.” The video directed the citizens to look towards Harempa Tower, where she stood.

    She looked over her shoulder at the SWAT team, and stepped off the ledge. Citizens screamed in horror and she closed her eyes. The message had been heard, a new world would ensue. Her job was done.

    1. (I did leave a comment but I think I had a problem with my Internet while it was posting, so if there are two then that’s why) This is amazing! Great characterisation in few words. Had me hooked from the very beginning, and a great concept to boot. Brilliant!

  9. @geofflepard
    300 words
    Explorer; Island; Journal


    Day One: Set camp while M and J sourced water. Brackish. No sign of purifiers. J apologised, though can’t explain their absence.
    Day Two: First trek, me and M. J unwell, losing fluids. I suspect she drank water before it boiled, maybe guilt. M left her on drip. Found evidence settlement. First impression: it’s not main encampment, more like watch/keep. Probably third century. Both excited, planned further treks for tomorrow. Great hope we’ll find something significant. On return, J in coma. M worried problem with drip. Stayed up, trying to get fluids in. By dawn J stable.
    Day Three: Satellite phone erratic. Spent morning checking mechanism, watching J. M provisionally mapped settlement. Also sourced bread-type fruit. Phone still on blink. J delirious, saying something about M. Worried she may know something.
    Day Four: Phone dead. J sitting up but not speaking. Split trek: M went south, me north. Nothing in three quadrants. Possible signs of occupation in fourth, but unstable terrain. On return interrupted J, M arguing. Didn’t press. J ate little, M worked on phone.
    Day Five: J disappeared in night. M refused discussed yesterday’s argument. Split again to find her. I took same route as yesterday. Found Js body at bottom of cliff. Inaccessible but almost certain dead. M wanted return but already dark. Agreed to wait.
    Day Five: M managed access J. Became aggressive, stated without evidence J alive when I found her and died of exposure o/n. Tried to calm M but had to leave him. Two days before boat returns. M seems intent on avoiding me.
    Day Six: M gone before sun up; took all water containers. Later M accused me of killing J, of hiding evidence settlement. Tried to calm him. I fear he’s ill.
    Day Seven: M dead. Boat due.

  10. 297 words
    Physician; San Francisco; Romance

    The Clock Tower

    His wife died on July fourth when they went to Pier 39 to watch the display. He remember her looking up at the evening sky as the lights acted like make-up on her pale moonlit skin. Explosions of blush. Dark shadows twisting a succulent eyeliner.

    When she first came into his office he recognized the body type: long legs, long red hair on small shoulders, a smile repressed to the point of total recognition. His plastic surgery practice had taken off. It was much more profitable than the long hours in a hospital emergency room at midnight.

    Her face reflected in the scalpel under the light drained of color. He saw a faint recognition in her features and knew it would take only a few hours more to make her into an exact twin. He made the nose lift slightly. The cheekbones stand out. The hairline about a half inch lower.

    When she woke, there was realization in her eyes. The same celebration glued to her expression under canopy of illumination. The bandages hid the swoop of the features. The curves and details.

    There was a knock. No voice from the secretary. He got up from his desk and opened the door. She was standing there. After all those years. Her face tilted toward the lights that flickered with an electronic twitch. She was holding a gun. You could hear the early popping outside as early evening approached. Her heavy mascara blinked like a trigger.

    Outside the sky was polished with an undecided dusk. She walked toward the water, following families and couples. She would meet him there. At the place they always met. Every year. Without exception. Under the clock tower. The hands forming 6pm on the face, having sliced time, like the flesh of angels.

  11. @beadanna7
    300 words
    Explorer; Island; Journal

    Captains Log, the Resolution

    January 18th, 1778
    Today we came upon land unexpectedly, right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! Imagine, a whole group of beautiful islands, of which are only inhabited by brown-skinned natives. Savages, wearing next to nothing as they met our boats on the sandy shores between the wild jungle and the warm waters we had traversed to get here. Their women were quite lovely, possessed of exotic features and long black hair, some flowing down to their knees. One of them came right up to me and placed a wreath of live flowers upon my breast before shyly running away. The scent of her, I must confess, was such that in my state of enforced celibacy, quite overcame my sensibilities. When I tried to follow her, some fierce looking men bristling with sharp spears and knives, stood in my way. They all surrounded us then and forced us back into the sea, all the while jabbering on about who knows what. We then had to content ourselves with the staples we had left on board, within the sight of such voluptuous fruits as we could see hanging from the trees and bushes on shore.
    Later, I made shift to sneak, under cover of darkness, back to the shore in search of the temptress I could not seem to remove from my thoughts. It happens that several other of my crew had thoughts along the same lines and the group of us met whispering and came up with a plan. Savages though they were, they had anticipated our actions and descended upon our vulnerable ship whilst we were absent, stealing our cutter and slaughtering those that tried to stop them. Unsuccessful, we returned to find blood and death on board.
    Regardless, I claim these lands in the name of Britain.

  12. 298 words
    Pilot; College; Crime

    The Bloody Knife

    She pulled the knife from her chest and smiled. “Was that supposed to hurt?”
    The masked man who had thrown the knife stumbled back in surprise. “I’m pretty sure,” he replied. “You’re Melinda Roth. Right?”
    “Indeed,” she said, wiping the blood off her fingers. “Was someone looking for me?”
    The man smirked. “Someone is looking for you. You’ve been accused of crashing that plane last week and killing over a hundred people. On purpose.”
    “You have no proof.”
    “Actually I do,” the man said, gesturing to the knife in Melinda’s right hand. “When you crashed the plane you were impaled in the chest with a broken piece from the plane.” Melinda’s eyes widened. “You were rushed to the hospital and had a surgery that left a hole in your chest that isn’t visible to the naked eye. That’s why the knife wound didn’t hurt you.”
    Now Melinda squinted at the man. “I don’t know how you know this, but if you told anyone you stabbed me in the chest to prove this you would go immediately to jail.”
    “That’s why I had an alternative plan. The security guards are on their way.”
    Melinda scoffed. “Well that’s a dumb move! Who do you think they’re going to arrest — the masked man or the woman holding a bloody knife?”
    “Hey, you!” someone screamed. Melinda dropped the knife, but as it clattered to the ground she knew it was already too late.
    “You’re going to jail,” said the large security guard as he grabbed Melinda by the wrist and hauled her away.
    “Who are you?!” she screamed at the man. He took off his mask. “My husband,” Melinda whispered.

    1. This is a little bewildering, Flora! A woman has an invisible hole in her chest which a masked man throwing a knife is able to hit… but it doesn’t hurt?! All of this a week after she had surgery after deliberately crashing a plane?!
      Also, the location you chose is ‘College’, but it’s difficult to find anything in the story to indicate this; or am I missing something?
      [ I’ve been meaning to mention this for a while: when you leave a space after the opening quotation mark of direct speech, the quotation mark is interpreted as a closing quotation mark — ’99’ rather than ’66’; it would be great if you could remember this!
      Sorry if this seems a totally negative comment. Please feel free to poke holes in my feeble entry… 😀 ]

  13. @mist_chevious
    Physician; San Francisco; Romance
    280 Words

    Saving Angels

    Michael Adams whistled as he pushed his walker down the hallway to room 212.

    “I’ve got a date with an angel.”

    He was only a few doors away when he felt the building begin to shake. Bracing himself in the nearest doorway until the quake had subsided, he was just about to check up on the other residents when he heard the emergency alarm sounding from directly ahead.

    Within seconds, nurses and orderlies rushed into room 212.

    Throwing his walker aside, Michael hobbled as fast as his frail legs would carry him. Bursting past the crowds he fell to his knees beside the prone figure on the floor.

    His mind, still sharp at 85, assessed the situation in fractions of a second, and he allowed years of training to take over as he began to bark orders at those around him.

    “Stethoscope,” Michael demanded of the orderly kneeling beside him, as he felt for a pulse.

    “Who knows CPR? You? Good. Get started on compressions. Has anyone called an ambulance?”

    Adrenalin pumped through his veins and he suddenly felt 30 years younger. This was what he lived for – saving lives!

    The ambulance arrived and, having given a brief summary of what happened, Michael was standing quietly to one side while Angela was assessed and loaded into the ambulance, when a paramedic approached him.

    “Thank you, sir. Your quick thinking has just saved this lady’s life.”

    “Oh, Dr. Adams is an excellent physician,” a nurse chimed in.

    “And naturally I had to save Angela’s life. I love her and I want to marry her… I kind of need her around if I’m going to do that,” said Michael with a shrug.

    1. Sweet story, Nikky.
      [ It’s a little confusing as to where the action is located: a retirement home or a hospital maybe? Then Michael asks if anyone has summoned an ambulance, so hospital can be discounted. Either way, it’s not apparent to me how your chosen location of San Francisco relates to the story. Maybe the mention of a quake is meant to convey this, but they aren’t confined to just one city! 😉 ]

      1. Yes, I noticed that Geoff. While I try to use the original prompts instead of ‘spinning’ for my own, it sometimes proves a bit more of a challenge – and this week it bested me
        I suppose to clarify, I could have added … of the Shady Pines Retirement home. To the end of the first line. I see that I had the word-count.
        Thanks for the input.

  14. 300 words
    Physician; San Francisco; Romance

    Love Heals

    I did my residency in San Francisco. Fresh-faced, ready to cure the world of all ills, my first week did not go as expected.

    I had just gone off shift and I was exhausted but happy. I was looking forward to my own bed, an on-call room reminded me more of a bus station than a hotel. People came in and out of the room at all hours, talking loudly and running when beepers went off. I also wanted a hot shower and a nice scotch.

    The stars were starting to light up the sky and I saw to my left, the San Francisco bridge. It was the first sight I’d gone to see when I moved here, and it was also the reason I walked the extra mile to this bus stop. I saw a shadow moving on the edge of the bridge. I thought it was a tree’s shadow, but it seemed odd somehow. I walked closer to see a very handsome man climbing over the railing to safety. What on earth had he done on the other side? Was he planning to jump, but then changed his mind? As I walked closer, I saw him hunch over as he clutched his arm. It was a heart attack. He went down before I got to him.

    The next few minutes became a blur. Getting assistance, starting CPR in the ambulance, calling out instructions to the nurses in the trauma room. “Give him one of Epi!” I yelled. “Check his sats!” And as quickly as it had started, it was over. He was stable. The diagnosis? Stress-induced cardiomyopathy. It was a broken heart. He had lost his wife a year ago. I wasn’t his doctor, so I asked him out for coffee. Sometimes, healing doesn’t happen in a hospital.

  15. 300 words
    BASE Jumper; College; Romance

    Rumors of Suicide

    Sean tightened his straps and set his feet on the edge. The wind was whipping his hair into his eyes, making it hard to get his goggles on without trapping strands of it, but after a few frustrating attempts, they finally slipped into place. Looking down, he realized the clouds had blown away while he had been climbing, and the view from up here was mind blowing. He could see the whole campus spread out before him, the tops of the buildings far below. Hearing a noise, he spun around, almost losing his footing. Annabelle clung to the top of the ladder, holding out a hand for his help. Sighing, he jumped down and grabbed it, swinging her bodily over the rail.
    “What are you doing up here?” He shouted over the gusts blowing his words into the ether. She shook her head, tears streaming down her cheeks.
    “You jump, I jump, remember?” She wiped her nose on her sleeve rebelliously. He reached out and drew her into his arms.
    “It’s not what you think,” he said tenderly. “I’ve got my chute.” She removed her coat, revealing the pack strapped to her back.
    “So have I.” A wave of love struck him at her temerity. He released her and taking her hand, turned back to the edge. She stepped up beside him, smiling through her tears.
    “I never believed it, you know?”
    He nodded.
    “Then why…?” He put a finger over her lips.
    “I just love it. The feeling. There’s nothing like it.” He tried to explain. Her lips firmed.
    “Same here. So stop leaving me out of it.” Tears still stood in her eyes.
    “Never again,” he promised. “Ready?” She nodded, eyes on the football field, their target.
    “On three?” She nodded again.
    “Three!” they shouted together, and jumped.

  16. @The_Red_Fleece
    263 words
    Explorer; Island; Journal

    The Journal of the Empire’s Most Beloved and Extraordinary Explorer, Reginald P. Smythe

    I arrive at my club on Regent Street and order a Cognac while I wait for my old school friend Prentice. Morris, the shaved sloth my club employs to serve said drinks, breaks his own record for the slowest drink delivery. He must have gone to France to collect the damn thing.
    Prentice arrived before the drink, so I get on with describing the particulars of my latest expedition. So early are they I do not reveal the name of my intended destination in case he nips off there before me. Indeed, I will not quote it in this very journal for fear of his vandalism. All I shall say is it is an island, unseen by man, according to the man in the Dover hostelry who described it to me.
    At this point, Prentice, the joker, rather rudely interrupted me to say getting to Dover is the most successful expedition I have ever completed.
    “Nonsense,” I tell him. Adding that if he were not a friend, duelling had not been outlawed and I had a glove on me, I would defend my honour with pistols at dawn.
    The brute laughed, adding “Reggy, old boy, your dreams were always bigger than your capabilities.”
    Knowing no greater insult could be made against my person, the bugger slumped off to annoy someone else.
    I’ll show him, I thought. Once I have drunk my Cognac I’ll get my expedition to the island sorted posthaste. I called Morris over and remind him of my missing Cognac as well as suggesting he adds a light supper to my order.

    1. Sorry Geoff, are you able to sort my title formatting so it is in Bold font rather than surround by in-correct html code. Thanks!

      1. Love the story! The dueling part made me laugh!

        (Just so you know, what you used above is BBC code. HTML is really similar, but you use instead of []. So coding for bold would be )

      2. Apparently the correct coding disappeared, oops. I was trying to say that you use instead of [ ] HTML for bold would be the same text as what you used, just with the greater and less than signs instead of the brackets.

      3. Thank you Geoff for fixing all my wee issues as usual.

        Alysia I’ll have to remember to use arrow brackets next week! Thank you for your kind comments as well!

  17. @geofflepard
    295 words
    Professor; San Francisco; Romance

    Tales From The City

    Maybe it was the wild hair, the half-moon glasses or the piercing stare that got him his moniker: the Professor. He was a fixture here, just as much as the vertiginous Russian Hill, the Presidio, that bridge, Ghiradelli’s and Boudin’s sourdough. He sat at the top of Lombard Street every Monday giving motorists advice in haiku form as they eased their hired cars down the impossible hairpin. Tuesdays and he took a spot in the shadow of the iconic Coit tower, where he serenaded visitors with a set of tankas set to Music that eulogised the union labour that inspired its creation. The rest of the week was variously spent: in Haight-Ashbury celebrating diversity through sonnets; Chinatown and the power of multiculturalism via rhyming limericks; and Union Square and the dissonance of capitalist consumerism through blank verse.
    No one knew where he went at weekends. Rough guides, who spoke of catching the Professor as a local character much like any attraction, were equally clueless.
    What they didn’t realise, what no one knew was how the Professor changed. From the bodily odiferous shabby hobo, he morphed into James Pattison, clean-cut, grey-suited and passionate cheerleader for all things San Frankie. He attended town meetings, appeared on local TV, wrote blogs, rallied and protested and tweeted and posted. He loved his city, the City like no other, before or since. And in those quiet moments of repose, between debating and proselytising, he composed his weekly poetry output, taking time to include, expressly or obliquely, that love in his homages to his Golden City, the place that had accepted a broken, bereft loner, embraced him, fed him and given him hope.
    His job was indeed as a Professor – a professor of Adoration to this great conurbation, his Olympus.

    1. This is quite a poetic guided tour of SF, Geoff: web research or personal experience?
      [ TOP TIP: You really ought to check out compound adjectives. Adding the hyphen to ‘half-moon’, ‘clean-cut’ and ‘grey-suited’ reduced the word count by three. 😀 ]

  18. @alysia_ascovani
    300 Words
    Pilot; Funeral; Tragedy

    Requiem in Flight

    The propeller hitched as the engine caught, causing the plane to wobble fiercely. In the cockpit, a young woman, alone, tried the radio again, to no avail. Outside, the storm loomed, as if taunting her, telling her she’d wasted her time. There was no chance that she would make it in time now. She knew she’d done her best, but was unable to stop her thoughts from turning to the people who’d been counting on her.

    As her mind drifted, the plane’s flight grew more erratic, buffeted by gale force winds, at times dangerously close to the darkest clouds. Tears blossomed in her eyes as her hands tightened on the yoke. Desperation driven, she tried the radio one more time.

    A bright flash illuminated the sky, shaking her entire body for eternal moments before all fell still. As her eyes opened, she could see only darkness tightly encircling her. Faintly, she heard music, slow and solemn in its lull. After a few moments, she felt as if the darkness had lifted her, carrying her in rhythm to the music.

    All too soon, she found herself being set down as the music stopped. From somewhere above her, she heard a man’s voice. He spoke of her personality, her greatest accomplishments, her greatest failure.

    The speech ended, and she knew. No matter that she’d done everything she could, she’d still failed. The storm had won.

    People would die for her shortcomings. Her inadequacy as a pilot.

    She felt herself being lifted and carried again, then after a short distance, lowered farther than before.

    Already she heard them whispering to her, asking her why she couldn’t have done better.

    Why she wasn’t good enough.

    The darkness surrounding her grew suffocating, the voices overpowering.

    She surrendered to them.

    And she would know no more.

  19. 298 Words
    Non-Violent Activist; Funeral; Romance

    Love After Death

    It started at a funeral; her husband’s funeral to be exact. He’d been a policeman. A nasty piece of work if truth be told. He’d seemed to enjoy exceeding his powers. I stood at the back and kept out of the way. I shouldn’t have been there really. I was responsible for his death so I didn’t expect a warm welcome. But I had to go and pay my respects; show his family that I felt for them at the time of their loss.

    She was there of course; the principle mourner, looking fantastic in her widow’s weeds. She noticed me hanging back, half hidden by the trees at the edge of the cemetery. After lowering the coffin, his police colleagues drifted away to the local hotel for a pint. She left her family and came across to me. I’d apologised for my part in it all, told her how guilty I felt, expressed my sorrow and regret. She didn’t seem particularly upset but I guessed that she was just hiding it well.

    Two weeks later she got in touch.

    ‘Do you fancy a drink sometime?’

    That drink led to another date, then another.

    She told me why she’d contacted me; the man who’d killed her husband. She wanted someone different. He’d been a bullying, abusive man. She’d stopped loving him years ago but had stayed with him because of their young daughter. His death was a release. She knew that I wasn’t violent; that I was a peace-loving activist. She’d seen me in the newspapers, read about me on the Bye-pass Protest website. She understood. It had been an accident. It was unfortunate that the tree-branch that I was chained to had snapped off and the weight had crushed him as the local Constabulary tried to remove me.

  20. @GeoffHolme
    100 words
    BASE Jumper; Skyscraper; Comedy

    Lost in Translation

    “You liking your birthday, Ruben?”

    Liking? I’m loving it! New Van Halen T-shirt, their latest LP, VIP tickets to their concert tonight… what’s not to like? Thanks, man!

    “There’s just one thing I don’t understand though… Don’t get me wrong, dude. I mean, I’ve never been to the top of a skyscraper before, and the view from up here is totally awesome. But why did we have to put on backpacks and helmets?”

    Backpacks! HA! It’s your big treat, bro. You said you wanted a BASE jump session. Geronimo!

    “You idiot, Luke! I said I wanted a… ‘JUMP’ BASS LESS-O-O-ON!!”

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