Microcosms 190 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 190!

This week, we are pleased to continue with “The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction”, brought to you by Alert Terminal Warehouse.

Microcosms 190

 Amateur Sleuth / Severe Storm or Tornado / Comedy
Alien / Roller Disco / Romance

$25 prize (free to enter)!

Come write a story in 300 words or fewer. Fun and free!



Here’s a brief rundown of changes we have made (details can be found on our FAQs page):

  • Weekly contest runs Sunday – Saturday.
  • New! Judge’s pick winner gets a $25 USD prize. (Default is by PayPal; other options available.) Contest is still free to enter!
  • Community pick winner(s) for fun and bragging rights!
  • We have a default spinner you can use now if you don’t like the prompt(s) offered. Enter as many times as you like!
  • We’re using the Pacific Time (PDT/PST, as applicable – Los Angeles time).

Add Recurring Weekly Calendar Reminder

Never forget to enter again! Choose as many as you like!

Add a recurring reminder for Sundays

Add a recurring reminder for Mondays

Add a recurring reminder for Tuesdays

Add a recurring reminder for Wednesdauys

Add a recurring reminder for Thursdays

Add a recurring reminder for Fridays

Add a recurring reminder for Saturdays


  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. We enjoy fan fiction! Just not for this contest. 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 (see format guide below).
  5. If you are new to Microcosms, please check out the full submissions guidelines on our FAQs page.
  6. I feel like this should go without saying, but just in case – absolutely no AI submissions.
  7. Constructive feedback is fine, but all comments should be made in the spirit of kindness. Determination of what that means and if there are any consequences (such as warning or banning) is at my sole discretion. This is a safe space. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, or anti-Semitism, etc. (including “dog whistles”), will not be tolerated. This has never really been an issue, and we generally have a very nice community here – let’s keep it that way.
  8. You retain all rights to your story, except otherwise noted and unless otherwise agreed upon in advance (e.g., if selected for inclusion in an anthology, a contract will be sent with details). By submitting your story to this contest, you are granting us worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free rights to display it on our website (and store it, as needed).

To Qualify For the Cash Prize, You Must:

  1. Submit your story as a comment below.
  2. Story must fit within the contest criteria, including word count guidelines, and be on time. (A few minutes is okay; contact us if there are technical issues preventing you from submitting more than 5 minutes past midnight, PT.)
  3. Include the prompts used. (You can use the ones we spun for or spin your own from the current or default spinner, but it must be clear what you used.)
  4. Vote AND leave a comment on at least one other story for the week that is not your own (doesn’t have to be the same story).
  5. Share a link to the contest on social media, if you have one. (I.e., if you include a social media handle in your submission to promote yourself, please extend the same courtesy in return.)
  6. Acknowledge that the decision of the judge(s) is/are final.


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 on this post.

(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.)

Our judge for this week is another long-time alum, Stephanie Ellis. Be sure to give her a shout out on Twitter!

It’s time to announce the Community Pick for Microcosms 188.

Huge congrats to:

  • Lauren Guyatt

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 189 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

Happy writing!


(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be a guest host, please contact us.)

Follow Us

This Week’s Prompts

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

We spun twice, just because that was fun last time, and our three (x2) elements are:

Amateur Sleuth / Severe Storm or Tornado / Comedy


Alien / Roller Disco / Romance

Pick one! (Or spin for new elements.)

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.)




  • Ghost Hunter
  • Storm Chaser
  • Has a Secret
  • Roller Skater
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Alien
  • Locksmith
  • Opera Singer
  • Haunted Location
  • Severe Storm/Tornado
  • A Secret Place
  • Roller Disco
  • Crime Scene
  • Not Earth
  • A Locked Door
  • Greenroom
  • 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 191 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms 189 + Announcing The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

3 thoughts on “Microcosms 190 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. “I See That Starlight Look in Your Eyes”
    299 words
    Alien / Roller Disco / Romance
    KM Zafari (entering just for fun)
    Twitter: @thebatinthehat
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    He double checked the monitor. The number of electronic devices with camera capabilities were now scanning in the billions?

    “Entering stealth mode,” he reported, as his ship slid silently into Earth’s atmosphere.

    Of all the trackers on his dash, only one, unmoving, held his attention. He tapped at the screen, but the line remained stubbornly still. Then, as the boroughs of New York City came into view, the tracing line twitched to life. The pulse was weak, but it was there.

    He was shocked by the changes to the skyline, struck by the absence of its two most prominent buildings, fairly new last time he came. It felt… wrong.

    He slipped into his human form and followed the tracker, his appearance switching in an instant to blend in or gain access, as needed.

    Business person.

    Construction worker.

    Oncology doctor.

    The hospital sounds were soft yet distressing as he reached for a hand that had lost its youth.

    “You came back.” The voice was hoarse; the eyes had happy tears.

    “Of course I did. I love you.”

    Many ailments he could heal with a touch, but he was several Earth years too late for this one. He could, however, minimize the pain.

    A gentle stroke of the hair was all it took to rewind and replay the strongest memories.

    Cancer diagnosis.

    Running in terror from a deadly plume. Empty streets coated in toxic dust. The pungent scent of jet fuel in the air.

    Swirling lights, disco music, roller skates – the night they met.

    “Do you remember?” he asks in the dream.

    “Of course I do. I love you.”

    It doesn’t matter that it’s not real now, because it was real once.

    They fall in love again and feel the butterflies anew, until the music fades into a soft, continuous tone.

    1. This feels like it could be the premise for an entire book! Also fascinated by the way the alien can change shape so easily and without anyone noticing.

  2. Risk vs. Reward
    300 words
    Ghost Hunter / Severe Storm/Tornado / Comedy
    Eden Solera
    Twitter: @EdenSolera
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    I’m an idiot.

    That’s it.

    Simple fact.

    Everyone at the agency told me not to do this job, that it was too crazy to consider. And it was, for them.

    But not for me.

    Hunting ghosts of people? That’s easy. Often exhilarating, but never truly dangerous. Sure, you can get hurt, but there’s no fun without a little risk, right? That’s what drove me to this job.


    Sitting behind a desk in some high-rise office building, well, that’s just not me. That sort of job would’ve quickly left me one of the ghosts I’ve spent the past nineteen years hunting. Literally faded me away so that the fun could begin. And who’s ever called death fun?

    Even I don’t think that.

    I just enjoy the tightrope, swaying on the precipice of death without wanting to actually die. Like I always say, risk is what brings my life to life.

    But now I’m here, probably about to fall off that tightrope, and I sure as hell ain’t wearing a parachute. No risk with a safety net strapped to your back.

    Hunting the ghost of Hurricane Katrina? Suicide, everyone said, but I decided to prove them wrong. It’s only her ghost, you know, how bad could it be?


    Real bad.

    Too big a risk.

    But you know what? Even now, being flung about by winds no less powerful in death than they were in life, I don’t regret taking this job.

    How could I?

    I’m the first person to find the ghost of a storm.

    I’m famous; I’ll make damn sure of that.

    It’ll be easy, after all.

    You weren’t expecting me to die and not come back as a ghost, were you?

    Why, that’d be plain foolish, and while I might be an idiot, I’ve never been a fool.

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