Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 173!

Before we get into the prompt, we have some changes for you this year! Here’s a brief rundown (details can be found on our FAQs page):

  • Weekly and monthly contests! Weekly runs Sunday – Saturday. Monthly runs for the full month.
  • Weekly will have a community pick winner. Monthly will have both community pick and judge’s pick winner(s).
  • You can enter the same story from your weekly contest to the monthly one, if you like, or write something new. We also have a default spinner you can use now if you don’t like the prompt(s) offered. Enter as many times as you like!
  • Judging is “on your honor”, unless judges request blind entries.
  • We’re now using the Pacific Time

Remember:

  1. You have ONE WEEK (Sunday – Saturday, midnight – midnight) Los Angeles Time (PST/PDT) to submit your masterpiece.
  2. All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title and other header info)
  3. NO FAN-FICTION, please, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS for this contest.
  4. Include: word count, the THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry
  5. If you are new to Microcosms, please check out the full submissions guidelines on our FAQs page.

Please use the following format when submitting your entries (feel free to copy/paste and edit or save a copy of the Google Doc linked below):

My Amazing Story Title
XXX words
Element / Element / Element
My Preferred Name
Optional: website or social media link 1 (please include full URL)
Optional: website or social media link 2 (please include full URL)
Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information. /// OR /// No, I am not open to derivative works at this time, thank you.

***

My amazing story content goes here.

You can use HTML to add a link. Example:
<a href="https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic">https://twitter.com/MicrocosmsFic</a>

Please kindly use this format, then copy/paste your response as a comment. (It’s totally fine to be creative with the “words” part, like “253 ripe bananas”, as we’ve seen some people do in the past.) Not using this format with NOT disqualify you. But it will help us out if you do use it.

We have prepared a free and easy-to-use, pre-formatted document in Google Docs to help simplify things. Just save your own copy and then replace the content with your own. (Sometimes, adding links will get your comment flagged by the spam filter. If you think that happened, please contact us for assistance.)

Happy last day of Kwanzaa!

I added an extensive update on the monthly post, so I’ll keep this one brief.

For this week’s prompt, I thought we’d look to history and famous birthdays, as well as some awareness and fun days that we couldn’t fit into the monthly contest.

KM

(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/setting, and genre/style.

We spun, and our three elements are:

Serial Killer / Castle / Sci-Fi

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. (Don’t like any of these? Try our default spinner.)

  • Vegan
  • Dog
  • Visually Impaired
  • Baker
  • Getting Sober
  • Golfer
  • Revolutionary
  • Actor
  • Singer/Musician
  • Royalty
  • Soldier
  • Writer
  • Serial Killer
  • Alaska
  • Spaghetti Restaurant
  • Human Trafficking
  • Space
  • Castle
  • Battlefield
  • Coal Mine
  • Snowstorm
  • Ellis Island
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy

We are always and forever in need of assistance. If you have any spare time to help, we will happily accept. Even something as little as 5-10 minutes a week would be amazing. (You have no idea.) To find out how you can help, please visit our volunteers page.

Microcosms 174
Pardon Our Dust – But Exciting News!

12 responses to “Microcosms 173 (Weekly Contest)”

  1. KM Zafari Avatar

    Like Newly Fallen Snow
    295 words
    Serial Killer / Castle / Sci-Fi
    KM Zafari
    https://twitter.com/thebatinthehat
    https://www.facebook.com/kmzafari
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    “We were attacked,” he explained via telescreen, his blood-spattered crown askew. “My wife is gravely injured. Our crew…” His voice broke with emotion.

    The planet’s emissary arrived to find bodies strewn across the ship.

    Many were doubled over in agony, their fingers and limbs gnarled and twisted.

    Some still lay in their beds with all the appearance of peaceful slumber, save for the large pools of blood surrounding them.

    Others had injuries so horrific, they’d be unidentifiable to even their closest of kin.

    The Crown Princess was alive – but only just. She drifted in and out of consciousness, gesticulating wildly towards the prince before passing out again.

    “I’m here, my darling.”

    “She will receive the greatest care our planet has to offer.”

    “You have my unending gratitude.”

    The emissary studied him as they rode in a carriage pulled by mechanical horses. “How fortunate you are to have escaped with so few injuries.”

    He stared out the window. “Please understand, ours is a contractual marriage.”

    Snow-covered shops lined the road to the castle.

    “Still, it is to my eternal shame that I was… otherwise preoccupied… when her attack occurred.”

    He’d kill the emissary last, toy with his suspicions about his true identity before confirming them in the worst possible way.

    He turned his gaze to the overcast skies. “Is another storm expected?”

    “Nearly every day.”

    He couldn’t help a small smile.

    “Do you enjoy the snow, my lord?”

    “Yes.” Fresh powder can obscure one’s tracks. “I believe the peacefulness of it will aid my mental convalescence.”

    “Please know, I will not rest until I discover who did this.”

    “I’ve no doubt that you’ll do your best.”

    Their eyes met, and an unspoken moment passed between them – the beginning of a cat-and-mouse game.

    This could be fun.

  2. Jaime Bree Avatar
    Jaime Bree

    Living Hell
    300 words
    Serial Killer/ Castle/ Sci-fi
    Jaime Bree
    Twitter: @jaim_ee_bree
    Instagram: @jaimebreewriter

    ***

    It wasn’t the fact he was hiding away, it was the fact he couldn’t find his way out. His hands, still sticky with blood, felt along the cold, stone wall. Seeing was difficult. It was night he presumed but he’d never experienced anything so pitch black. Not a pinprick of a star or an illuminated strand of the moon pierced this darkness. He was scared, which was completely unlike him as he normally did the scaring. He’d perfected the process so well his victims were never found and no one seemed to suspect him.

    He smiled, remembering his last kill. She was something else. His pride in manipulating her was oozing out of every pore. He shivered as her scream seemed to resonate off the walls. One of his biggest achievements. So easy. So perfect.

    ‘So easy’, he repeated out loud. ‘Too easy.’ A frown covered his brow. Why couldn’t he remember the end? He always savoured it, why couldn’t he remember?

    And where was he? How did he get here?

    So long questioning, he didn’t notice a crack creeping along the wall. A slither growing slowly then more impatiently until it gaped wide, emitting a bright light from within.

    He shielded his eyes as a voice he recognised spoke.

    Her voice.

    ‘It took a while, but I never miss my prey.’

    ‘’What? I killed you’.

    ‘Or did it just seem that way?’

    He tried to look up, defiant, angry, but the light was still all-consuming.

    ‘You can’t take what I did away from me,’ he shouted.

    ‘What did you do? You fell into my trap, manipulated and controlled.’

    ‘Where am I? What the hell is this place?’

    Her laughter echoed around him hauntingly as she closed the portal, locking him away in her castle forever.

    ‘Exactly that.’ she said.

  3. Eryn McConnell Avatar

    Impaired Space Poem

    My Amazing Story Title

    300 words

    Impaired/Space/Poem

    Name: Eryn McConnell

    Eryn McConnell (@McconnellEryn) / Twitter

    Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    Sal and Tillie clutched each other as they watched the atmosphere burn. The white hot edges of their world were turning black, circles expanding, the planet itself screaming. The monitoring equipment was still going off, the dull drone so fast it sounded like it was rattling in their skulls.

    Sal shouted unnecessarily, “Well I guess this is it then!”

    Tillie didn’t take her eyes off the Sun. It was getting closer. Was their planet moving out of alignment? A snatch of verse floated by in her memory. Something about two black trees and the end of the world…

    “What was that ditty that Pater V used to sing to us as kids? Do you remember? Something about trees and a poem…”

    Sal gaped. “Now? The world is ending and you want to talk about a song?”

    “We don’t have time. What was it?”

    His eyes widened.

    “Two black trees on the Sea, The World is ending in a dream, Sing the verses to be free, Poets will know what it means?”

    Tillie swore. “Fuck!”

    She gripped his hand, looking around for the trees. The land was barren, the blizzard raging, the earth blistering. There! In the distance she could see them!

    Sal was looking up, his face grimy with tears.

    “Let’s try it. Sing the verse.”

    “What verse?”

    “I don’t fucking know. Poets will know what it means!”

    “But we aren’t fucking poets, Tillie!”

    “Fuck it!”

    She gripped his hand harder, shutting her eyes. “Two black trees on a desert sea, The World is going to fuck. There’s fortune owed to me. Save the world and bring us luck?”

    Sal’s eyes were wide. “What on Saturn was that?”

    “A poem?”

    “You call that a poem? I call it shite!”

    “Well it’s all we’ve got, impaired or not. Now hang on!”

    1. Jaime Avatar
      Jaime

      Just brilliant!

      1. Eryn McConnell Avatar
        Eryn McConnell

        Oh thanks Jaime! That 300 word limit was hard!

  4. Laura Cooney Avatar

    The End is Only the Beginning
    300 words
    Castle/ Poem/ Writer
    Laura Cooney
    Twitter: @lozzawriting
    Instagram:@lozzawriting
    Website: https://www.lozzawriting.com
    No, I am not open to derivative works at this time, thank you.

    ***

    He was speaking again.

    “Will you just leave it?”
    “Look, just piss off will you. I can’t concentrate.”

    He sat incredulous and slightly open mouthed, ‘piss off,’ what thanks was that for all the help?

    “Fine then, I’ll sit here and shut up. Good luck to you.”

    “Good.”

    “Good!”

    The other one put his pencil back to paper. This writing by candlelight was hard enough without having to listen to him banging on about how he should go about things. Why had he come here anyway? It was freezing. Of all the places he could’ve chosen for this last trip, why this draughty castle? It was the grandest place he could think of, oddly special and if you were going to do it, do it right he supposed.

    Would they understand this poem when they read it? Probably it would fly over their heads. George would understand it though. It was almost specifically for him. He glanced to his left. Aye still there, arms folded and sullen.

    It was almost done. He took a sip of the drink to his right. It was almost done. He poured another and slugged. It wouldn’t be long now. To his left he ignored a deep sigh.
    Pencil to paper for the final flourish of his signature and when his head hit the table the thump knocked the pill bottle into the waste bin. Later it would take them a minute to find it and Mrs McLuskey would maintain to the last that he’d come alone and that she had no idea what he’d planned to do.

    Her conscience was clear until, that is, the moment she saw him sitting incredulous and open mouthed by the mirror. Mrs McLuskey blithely cleaned but her conscience and his conscience stared, each daring the other to speak.

  5. Firdaus Parvez Avatar
    Firdaus Parvez

    Finding Inspiration

    Words: 228 badly written
    Writer/coal mine / comedy?

    https://twitter.com/firdausp

    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    >>>>>>>>
    Everything is black. Jutting coal rocks pierce the eyes with their ominous darkness. A shaft of light from a gash overhead has somehow managed to crawl its way into this hell and spill on the hard obsidian bed I’m curled into. How I got here is a mystery. Did I walk in, stumble in, or was I shoved in, is difficult for my disoriented mind to answer. All I know is that the light is dimming and soon I will be gorged into a nighttime of terror.

    The grating hum under my feet has stopped. It is quiet except for the drumbeat in my chest that will grow as the hours pass. Maybe someone will find my scribblings someday and know the horrors of this place. Maybe someone will find me before it’s too late.

    “Who’s there?” The voice is followed by a flash of light on my face. “You’re trespassing.” A hand hauls me to my feet and out of the hole. “It’s just a kid out for some adventure.” The gruff voice continues. The sound of feet retreats and the rough hand holding my arm marches me to the road. “Go home.”

    It’s a dark dreary night, the stars pin-pricks on the sky’s canvas. The solitary moon throws shadows on the uneven path to the desolate house sitting on the hill.

    Another horror story gradually unveils.

  6. Cher Avatar
    Cher

    Behind the Walls of an Old Castle
    290 words
    Serial Killer / Castle / Sci-Fi
    Cher

    ***

    The gloomy castle loomed large in the distance, its ancient stones seeming to whisper secrets of the past. Detective Williams was tasked with looking into a series of murders that had happened there.

    A dreadful feeling swept over him as he drew closer. Despite the countless threats he has encountered thus far, there was something about this place that set his nerves on edge.

    When he finally reached the castle, he was greeted by a wealthy scientist who introduced himself as the castle’s owner, Dr. Edward Grey. Grey gave him a tour of the castle, showing him the various laboratories and research facilities within its walls.

    As Williams followed Grey through the castle, he was struck by the man’s cold and calculating demeanor, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that Grey was hiding something. Grey told Williams about his latest experiment, a machine capable of transporting a person’s consciousness over time and space, though Williams remained skeptical.

    As they reached the final laboratory, Williams noticed the body of the latest victim, a young woman with a horrified look on her face. Someone within the castle must be the killer.

    Determined to catch the murderer, Williams began to investigate. He looked through the clues and interviewed the suspects, but the more he investigated, the more confusing the case grew.

    In a shocking twist, Williams realized that the murderer was none other than Dr. Grey himself. He had been using the time machine to travel back in time, choosing victims from different eras to bring back to the present.

    Dr. Grey’s reign of terror was put an end to by Williams’ arrest. As Williams left the castle, he couldn’t help but wonder what other secrets the ancient stones held within their walls.

  7. A.J. Walker Avatar

    An Errant Tourist
    300 words
    Serial Killer / Castle / Sci-Fi
    A.J. Walker
    Twitter: @zevonesque
    Website: https://awalker.org
    ______________

    Mary couldn’t help but notice the grunts from her boss.

    ‘What’s up, Sarge?’ she asked.

    ‘Apart from the body?’ said Sergeant Brookes.

    ‘Yeah.’

    ‘It’s how it’s lying, how she died and how familiar.’

    ‘Been drinking tonight, Sir?’

    He gave her one of his ‘you’re close to thin ice’ looks. ‘I mean this has been seen in other murders. Identical. In the same damn castle.’

    He dug out his tablet and started stabbing at it and rapidly scrolling. His eyes lit up. ‘Look!’

    She spent ten minutes on the linked web pages, titled ‘The Mysterious Castle Murders,’ seemingly created in the early years of the internet by a local historian.

    She put it down and looked at the ceiling as she got her thoughts straight. ‘So you’re suggesting that someone has committed the same murder as the ones on this website, Sir?’

    ‘Someone has. Don’t you think? Look at the drawings and photos.’

    ‘Exactly, sir: the drawings. The first one was before cameras were invented. Before there were police even. The others were a hundred years apart. It’s not like it can be a serial killer. Unless you’re thinking of a vampire. Shall I check the cellar for a likely coffin?’

    ‘Exactly 100 years, Mary. Exactly. And what’s today’s date?’

    Mary looked at the webpage and then her watch. It was exactly 100 years. Four murders each 100 years apart.

    ‘Bloody hell, sir. My knees are dodgy now. What is a 400 years old’s going to be like?’

    ‘I’m thinking time traveller or maybe an errant spaceman. Seen any blue phone boxes or flying saucers?’

    Mary remained carefully silent whilst wondering how to smell the sergeant’s breath.

    Up the stairs an errant spaceman etched his name for the sixth time on a wooden panel. Ancient castles were such great tourist destinations.

  8. Marsha Adams Avatar
    Marsha Adams

    Time Warped
    300 words
    Serial Killer / Castle / Sci-fi
    Marsha Adams
    Twitter: @marshawritesit
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.
    ***
    Gacy, Bundy, Garavito… greats, but cursed to live in their own time.
    My fellows - scientists, not serial killers - dreamt of time travel erasing historical wrongs. “I’d go to 1889,” they’d say, as if assassinating a mass murderer in his crib might prevent the slaughter, as though he were the sole source of his crude ideology.
    I had no ideology: I dreamt of self-interested slaughter. I would surpass even The Monster of the Andes, three hundred lives a mere base camp from which to scale an Everest of execution.
    I dreamt of 1066.
    The eleventh century had no forensic science, nor any police to use it. Life was cheap, and I would be rich.
    Building a time machine proved simpler than learning the langues d’oïl, but ingratiating myself with the Bastard was simpler still. I have an easy way with people; they find me trustworthy.
    “The Saxons plot against you,” I told him, “Your new castle needs someone skilled at extracting information.”
    Once or twice a month, I pull ‘confessions’ from merchants and minor nobles, along with teeth, toenails, and genitalia. It’s enough to keep my job, and William fearful.
    London’s eighteen thousand souls mostly live in anonymous squalor. When I receive a guest - and I take one every evening - only their family misses them. The sobbing from their cell becomes my lullaby, and I sleep soundly, dreaming still of slaughter.
    I wake my guests with tenderness, and breakfast. Raised on potage, with meat a rare and toothsome treat, they make a pig of themselves on salted ‘pork’ from my well-stocked larder. As they eat, hope blooms in their eyes.
    Hope is first to fade. Eventually terror fades too, madness seizing their minds. Then - slowly, sublimely - the light of life is extinguished.
    I’m returning England to the Dark Ages.

  9. Vicente L Ruiz Avatar

    Revenge
    293 words
    Serial Killer / Castle / SciFi
    Vicente L Ruiz
    Medium (free to read): https://medium.com/@vicentelruiz
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/VicenteLRuiz
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    Taro wakes up.

    “This is not my ship.”

    They cannot recognize their surroundings. They are in the centre of a large cylindrical chamber with walls made of stone; an arch without any door seems to be the only entrance. Light seems to come from everywhere at the same time, as Taro cannot see any windows. They realize they don’t remember how they arrived here.

    “Where am I?”

    Only an echo answers.

    Os does it?

    It doesn’t matter. Taro listens carefully, and their enhancements fire up by default. Their ecolocator starts working, helping them create a mental map. They check their bioweapons, just in case, and find everything in working order.

    Well, that leaves finding out where they exactly are, and sustenance.

    “Run.”

    What?

    “Or not. I don’t care. But I’d prefer it if you run. Is funnier.”

    The voice, like the light, is everywhere at once. Taro looks around, vaguely conscious of what a ridiculous move that is.

    “Oh, come on. I know what you’re capable of. That’s why I chose you: because it’s challenging. But I don’t really care. Whatever you do, I will come for you.”

    Taro can almost hear the unsaid sentence: “And I will kill you.”

    The map. A corridor outside, with more chambers along it. Three to the left, four to the right. At the end, what seems to be a flight of spiral stairs. They send a ping, to check for hidden traps.

    Clear.

    Taro leaps out and sprints along the corridor. The stairs spiral up and down.

    “I know who you are,” the voice mocks. “Can you already remember? My drug must be wearing out by now.”

    Taro realizes their mind has been tampered with. A fog clears.

    “Can you remember your victims? Because I do.”

  10. Stephen Shirres Avatar

    Mech Squad
    293 words
    Serial Killer / Castle / Sci-Fi My Preferred Name
    http://www.twitter.com/The_Red_Fleece
    http://www.TheRedFleece.co.uk
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.
    ***
    “Do you understand your orders?”
    “Sir, yes, sir.” Comes the trained reply from the people around me. I join in out of habit rather than belief. We are a mech squad. Our suits carry enough armour and firepower to take on the average tank. Yet we are being asked to retrieve one man from a middle-of-nowhere castle. We take out enemy strongholds, not catch and ferry jobs. It’s like sending a metal band to sing a baby to sleep.
    The copter’s blades whisper us into position. With helmet visors down, the cabin goes black. A click of a button adds some green, and we can see Sarge give the nod. Time to jump. We sail through the air like a rock, crashing down within the castle’s walls.
    “Report?”
    “Nothing, sir. No one to be seen.”
    My unease deepens, yet all I can do is trust my orders. Our suits are worth more than we are. “Cruz, Blunt, secure the med-pod. The rest of you with me.”
    We stomp to our target, the main keep. I fire a surveillance dart from my shoulder cannon through the old stonework. The crackly video shows President’s son chained up. Now I know why they sent a mech squad.
    The briefing is short. Get in and get him out.
    The keep’s door doesn’t stand a chance as we burst in. Our target isn’t alone. A man sits in the middle of the tall room, stripping the flesh from a human hand with his teeth.
    “Plenty to go around.” On every wall hangs a human, their bleed dripping into a pot below them. Some missing limbs. Sarge’s orders echo in my head, ‘use whatever force required’. I smile. Our suits will protect his victims. He won’t be so lucky.

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