Microcosms 178

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 178!

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


  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.)

Inspiration again is random, but a bit more specific this time!

Also, it’s time to announce the Community Picks for Microcosms 176.

Huge congrats to:

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. MC 177 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week.

Happy writing!


(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:

Makeup Artist / Kitchen / Horror

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.)

  • Pastry Chef
  • Makeup Artist
  • Ghost
  • Genie
  • Cat
  • Carnival Worker
  • Dermatologist
  • Carnival
  • Lamp
  • Haunted House
  • Carnival
  • Kitchen
  • Movie Set
  • Cat Cafe
  • 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 179
Microcosms 177

8 thoughts on “Microcosms 178

  1. The Make-Up Artist
    300 words
    Make-up Artist / Kitchen / Horror
    A.J. Walker
    Twitter (and Spoutible) @Zevonesque


    ‘It’s rare this whisky.’ Dale shouted from the sitting room.

    ‘Don’t know anything about them.’ Marnie called back. ‘I’m a white wine girl.’

    Dale was jealous of her drinks cabinet, but right now he’d enjoy it.

    He heard an oven door close and then Marnie came to the door holding a glass. He smiled.

    ‘The hostess with the mostess.’ He said.

    ’Nah. It’s a Shiraz. Come in the kitchen.’

    He took his cue and sat next to her at the breakfast bar. It felt like a dream. The most in demand make-up artist in cinema and he was spending the evening with her: and the night, he hoped.

    ‘What’s your favourite horror?’ She asked.

    He chuckled. ‘Not a fan really. Just keep getting cast in them. Pays the bills.’

    ’Oh dear. Not into them, but in them.’

    Dale turned to her as she put her hand on his thigh. All night was feeling more likely. ‘How about yours?’

    ‘Always the next one.’

    ‘How do you do it? That film last year, the Oscar one, was so lurid and realistic and look at you; beautiful and demure. Butter wouldn’t melt.’

    ‘Heard about books and covers?’ She said. ‘How’s the whisky?’

    ‘Smooth, warm, stunning.’ Like you, he wanted to say.

    A smile rose across her face. ‘Nice. For your last drink.’

    ‘Well maybe I’ll have another. Or a beer.’

    ’No. That’s your last drink.’ She plunged a blade deep into his chest. He stopped, like a stuck film, for seconds before choking and spluttering. Blood spewed from his mouth as the chest wound spread its redness across his white shirt.

    She watched in rapt attention. Every kill gave her more experience. A better understanding of how to make her film work more realistic – and more gory. Her next film would be special.

  2. The Tiger Girl
    Make up artist / Kitchen / Horror
    WC 300
    Sal Page

    The boy wanted to be a butterfly. Pam frowned. She opened her toolbox, pulled out colour palates and brushes, setting them up between bread bin & kettle.

    ‘A butterfly? Bit girly. Be a bee. Where’s my yellow?’

    The boy’s eyebrows lowered but he shrugged as Pam gripped his chin and began to apply black and yellow.

    Doing these parties was better than pandering to a bride, her mother and bridesmaids. Since her divorce, Pam had only done children’s parties.

    The girl with the ginger plaits sat on a stool & grinned ‘Can I be a tiger?’

    A man with a bottle of wine strolled into the kitchen ‘Don’t mind me. Need a corkscrew. Pretend I’m not here.’

    Pam threw him her best dirty look and turned back to the girl.

    ‘A tiger? That’s more of a boy thing, sweetheart. I’ll transform you into a pussy cat.’

    The man snorted ‘Ha! You’ll regret that! Our Beryl’s no sweetheart.’

    Pam rolled her eyes, stuck her fingers into Beryl’s hair and yanked her head back ‘Cute cat. White with a pink bow and glittery whiskers!’

    Pam had a busy afternoon. She did a Fireman Sam, a dog, a vampire and three fairies while aproned woman ran in and out with plates of sausage rolls, sandwiches & Cheesy Wotsits.

    As the party ended, Pam lay on the checked Linoleum. Turning her head to one side she could see a mousetrap and a scattering of wrinkled peas between cooker and cupboard. Her head span. She could feel blood and life leaving her body via the gashes in her face and neck.

    The tiger girl had got her. Plaits loose and eyes gleaming, she’d roared and bared teeth & claws. Pam’s last thought was of the orange stripes she’d no memory of painting on Beryl’s face.

    272 Words
    Makeup artist /kitchen /horror
    Steve Lodge
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese

    My dear old Mum is one of the producers of this cookery competition on TV, “Max Cooks Up A Storm.” You’ve probably seen it. Chef wannabes pit their culinary skills against each other, get shouted at by Max Twist, then break down in tears when they get selected for the next round (or don’t).

    I’ve popped in with Mum to watch the filming a couple of times. It takes place in this massive kitchen in Max’s whopping mansion near Balmforth-on-Sea, not far from the Rorszag Nuclear Power Plant at Dripping Bowels. I don’t have much work on currently and I worry about Mum working near Meltdown Max.

    This day, he was in hideous form. He’d sacked the makeup girl the night before and, despite his best, whiny efforts, she wasn’t coming back. Max was swearing lavishly when we arrived. My Mum and I nodded to each other. She shouted at him. “Max!!! Calm down. My daughter, Lola, is a makeup artist. She’ll do it today.”

    Max suddenly hugged me (almost cracking a couple of my ribs) and led me to my work station in a back area of the kitchen away from the cameras, but very close to the ingredients to be used by the contestants.

    My work wasn’t arduous. I had plenty of time to concoct my own chilling masterpiece, a potion I like to call “Chicken Mascara.” The important ingredient was what Mum had passed to me as Max hugged me. I poured it all into the ingredient mix. Max, as main judge, would be the first to taste the competitor’s dishes and, hopefully, waste no time in dying horribly.

  4. Masked Murderer
    300 Words
    Kitchen, Make-up Artist, Horror
    R. M. Underwood
    Instagram: @Punks_a_myth
    Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5Iw998jZje9pFYJoBuDHuG?si=2ca4e3f832d545c7

    Thomas sat at a mirror in a bathroom stall, with chef whites sticking out of his backpack. Brushing powder over his face in the mirror. He hides his backpack in the ceiling and nervously walks toward the prep kitchen.

    Amidst the searing, boiling, and cutting off of meat, Thomas beats the steak he is tenderising mercilessly. The other chefs are none the wiser, that the fillet steak he is tenderising, battering, is warming him up for the final strike.

    “Chef, may I be excused chef” Thomas shouts across the kitchen.
    “Aye, you may” replies the vexed Sous-Chef.

    Thomas walks into the freezer, the head chef is making sure everything is fresh, counting all the produce for orders. Thomas distracts him with a brief conversation, “how are the kids?” And all that bollocks.

    As the Chef was distracted by a combination of work and polite conversation, Thomas creeps behind as he mutters about what he had for dinner last week. Thomas grabbed The chef by his hair and smashed his head through the glass door of a freezer. Thomas pulls his head back out again and slaps it off of a chest freezer in the middle of the room. The blood splatters all over his clothes, his face, his hands, his teeth, as he smiles. Tenderising, Battering, Mercilessly. The chef wriggled one last time as he died on the floor in his own blood.

    Thomas places the body in a freezer with his hands against the glass eyes open and his head disfigured, and leaking against the glass like syrup down an Ice-cream.

    Thomas gets to the emergency exit, he hears the screams of the workers behind him. Tom laughs as he peals off the latex mask he constructed off of his face, wipes his tattoos off, and takes out his contacts.

  5. Realisation
    295 words
    Makeup Artist / Kitchen / Horror
    Vicente L Ruiz
    Twitter: @VicenteLRuiz
    Website: Vicente L Ruiz Writes
    Medium (free to read): https://medium.com/@vicentelruiz
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    Fern opens her eyes.

    What has happened? She cannot move. She went to sleep, and next thing is this. A fog in her head, or something?

    Why cannot she move?

    Fern’s tied, her hands behind her back. It’s not really that uncomfortable, comes the weird thought, it’s just she cannot move.


    But no. Of course no, because she’s gagged.

    Panic. Panic.

    Where is she? Fern can see this is her own kitchen. Never had such a familiar place been so terrifying.

    A noise. A noise through the fog that is her mind.

    Someone else? Could someone help?

    But no, it has to be…

    The fog seems to leave suddenly, because all at once she’s coming up with options. A thief, yes, and he’s going to take whatever he wants and leave, yes, because why else tie her down, eh? Or no, he’s going to come back and oh no, no… But then perhaps it’s already the police? Someone’s called them and they’re here? Yes, yes that can be. After all, how long has it been?

    The noise comes from the bathroom.

    The bathroom?

    A figure comes into sight. Fern cannot see much, because the man (is it a man?) is backlit.

    What’s he got in his hands? Is that a knife? Panic flares, then subsides.

    It’s a brush. Her own make-up brush. And his other hand is holding one of her lipsticks.

    Panic comes back, as she understands.

    Fern fights against her bonds, to no avail. She yells, but it comes out muffled.

    “Oh, you’re awake. But don’t scream! I’ll take care of you. You’ll be so beautiful. You’ll be asleep, yet you’ll look so alive. They don’t call me The Make-up Artist for nothing, you know. Now don’t move, and it won’t hurt.”

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