Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms January 2022!

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 Pacific Time.

Remember:

  1. You have ONE MONTH (first to last day of month, regardless of month length, from 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.)

This part is a bit long, so feel free to skip down to the spinner if you are one of those people who hate “recipe stories”. I promise to keep most of these updates brief, but this one is longer by necessity.

The last few years have been hard on everyone, so we (well, technically I) thought it might be nice to bring back Microcosms, and what better time than New Years to start fresh? (Not intentionally excluding anyone who celebrates New Year at a different time, such as Nawruz.) But January the month has January 1st, of course, and the Chinese New Year starts on Sunday the 22nd. (This year is the Year of the Rabbit.) I also thought it would be a great opportunity for anyone looking to make “regular writing” one of their New Year’s resolutions!

You might wonder where we’ve been, and that’s perfectly valid.

I (KM) had some health issues (not COVID related). Long story short (since that’s kind of our thing here), I had an AVM and wound up having brain surgery in the middle of the pandemic. Good times. I also had some other issues that were really hard for me. But on a positive note, I became a grandmother, and that’s been amazing!

Anyways, I’m mostly all right now and am finally getting back into writing. I’ve really missed this contest and wanted to start it again but with a few changes that would make it easier to run. (If there are any objections to the new format, please let me know. I’m always down for ideas and of course also always welcome any assistance anyone is willing to offer.)

As for my cohort Geoff, we actually lost touch over the pandemic, and I have not been able to get ahold of him. He also hasn’t posted on Twitter for quite a while. I don’t want to jump to conclusions about this and certainly don’t want to concern anyone unnecessarily. For all I know, he is existing quite happily offline and just doesn’t want to be on social media anymore. And if that’s the case, I’m happy to respect his privacy. However, given the circumstances, I’m obviously very concerned, so if anyone has any information they are willing and able to share, please DM me on Twitter or contact me here. I’d really appreciate it. This contest is just as much his, and I never got to properly thank him for everything he did and how he carried the load solo for so long while I was going through things he didn’t even know about.

I honestly don’t know what else to say here, so I’ll just continue.

I’ve made several updates behind the scenes with the site. You’ll see it looks slightly different. I don’t always find change easy, but I needed everything to be compatible with a major overhaul that occurred to the software that we use.

Also, you may notice that the spinner looks a bit different. You should now find it to be responsive, meaning you can use it on your phone! This was a major goal of mine, and I’m really happy with it so far. (Please reach out with any issues.)

This month’s elements are mostly inspired by recent events and about the New Year, along with a couple of curveballs, just for fun. (E.g., January is National Blood Donors Month, so why not a vampire?)

I hope you all are doing well and that the time we’ve spent apart has been kind to you. I can’t wait to read what you write!

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:

Soldier / Time Machine / 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. (Don’t like any of these? Try our default spinner.)

  • Partygoer
  • Musician
  • TV Host
  • Essential Worker
  • Has Rare Disease
  • Rabbit
  • Soldier
  • Is Starting Fresh
  • Protestor
  • Father Time/li>
  • New (Grand)Parent
  • Vampire
  • City Streets
  • Hospital
  • Rainy Day/Night
  • Pandemic
  • War
  • Protests
  • Veterinarian
  • Party
  • Castle
  • Time Machine
  • Midnight Kiss
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy

OPTIONAL photo prompt in case you need additional inspiration.

Judge is TBD.

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!

5 responses to “Microcosms January 2022 (Monthly Contest)”

  1. 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.

  2. Jaime Bree Avatar
    Jaime Bree

    Wrong Time, Wrong Place
    293 words
    Soldier/ Time Machine/ Romance
    Jaime Bree
    Twitter: @jaim_ee_bree
    Instagram: @jaimebreewriter

    It’s more often than not that people frown on true love, but for me my frown wasn’t because I didn’t believe in it, it was because I thought I’d never find it. You just never know, do you? One day you’re rushing down a busy street, panicking you’ll miss your train and be late for work and the next you’re pulling someone back on a crossing, saving them from death.

    And then your eyes meet.

    Cliché.

    Blushing cheeks of cringe.

    All those things you see in movies and just roll your eyes at the nonsense of it.

    But this –

    How do you explain that ache in the pit of your stomach that if this person walked away and out of your life right now, you’d never feel happiness again?

    And so that’s how we met. A perfect love on an imperfect day.

    Of course, little did I know, having left a few minutes later than usual, having stepped onto the street when I did, having seen her move towards the traffic without noticing that car and having saved her life, that I’d actually altered time as we know it.

    She told me of course, after a whirlwind romance that lasted only two days.

    She had to go back.

    She had to reset time

    She had to not see that car.

    She had to die that day.

    It was her mission. She’d signed up for it. A soldier. One of thousands chosen to fix the cracks of time. To keep order, to serve their world in order to protect ours.

    And so she died that day.

    I didn’t see her step out as I left on time and was rushing down a busy street, panicking I’d miss my train and be late for work.

    1. Laura Cooney Avatar

      Jaime! Wot and Wow. That was amazing.

      1. Jaime Bree Avatar
        Jaime Bree

        Oh thanks Laura! Yeah not really sure where it came from but there it is!!

  3. Blaine Avatar
    Blaine

    Lost Love
    300 words
    Soldier / Time Machine / Romance
    August Blaine Centauri
    Instagram: @hemlockrocksandsocks
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    Johnny couldn’t help himself. He kept going back despite the health risks of frequent time travel. Time and time again, he went back to meet a man he was already desperately in love with. Johnny got to watch that man fall in love with him for the first time, again and again.

    James came off as a rude and domineering man. That’s how he wanted others to see him. At his core, James was terrified.

    Johnny had always been a social man. He could make friends in a new place where he didn’t speak the language within five hours. With his hard, defensive shell, James had been a difficult man to crack. But war does things to men and relationships.

    James needed support carrying his pain, grief, and fear. So Johnny had gotten to work, cracking jokes and being supportive in that masculine way men demanded of each other. It never happened the same way or on the same timeline. The first time, James had shamefacedly burst into tears instead of laughter at one of Johnny’s jokes. Another time, James had responded to Johnny’s dead-of-night confession with one of his own. Once his walls were down, James would become gentle and wickedly clever. His crooked smirk set Johnny’s heart pit-pattering every single time. Their stolen moments of secret affection were electric.

    Without fail, it always ended the same. James always died in the same battle, no matter how hard Johnny tried to trick him out of fighting. But it was better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Even though it always ended with a broken heart, Johnny continued traveling back to be with his James thirteen times. When time sickness caught up with Johnny, he passed and his existence disappeared from James’ mind entirely.

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