Microcosms 194 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 194!

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

Quick Access Links

MICROCOSMS 194 Prompts: Fly on the Wall / Past or Future / Action OR Turtle / Jewelry Store / Poem+ $25 prize (free to enter)! Come write a story in 300 words or fewer. Fun and free! microcosmsfic.com


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 (how you'd like to be credited)
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.)

This Week’s Prompts

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

We spun, and our three elements are:

A Fly on the Wall / Past or Future / Action


Turtle / Jewelry Store / Poem

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.)




  • Dog
  • Frenemies
  • Jeweler
  • Fly on the Wall
  • Angry Puppet
  • Cryptozoologist
  • Time Traveler
  • Turtle
  • Dog Park
  • Famous Landmark
  • Jewelry Store
  • Spy Agency
  • Puppet Theater
  • Snowy Mountain
  • Past or Future
  • Sewer
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk

Judge this week is MC 191 winner AJ Walker. Thanks, AJ!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 193 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

Happy writing!


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. If you have an idea for a future contest and/or would like to be a guest judge, please contact us.

MC 192 Winners!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Without further ado, it’s time to announce the winner(s) of MC 192!

Community Pick(s)

Huge congrats (and bragging rights) go to our runaway Community Pick:

Great job, Laura!

Judge’s Pick

And the Judge’s Pick, and winner of this week’s $25 Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction, is:

Drumroll, please!

  • Ben Reid

Congrats, Ben! Please contact us for instructions on how to accept your prize, and please let us know if you’d like to judge a future contest!

Here’s what judge Eden Solera had to say:

There were lots of great stories this week, and it took me a while to narrow it down to a top two. But after rereading those two stories a couple times, there was one that stuck with me a little more, and that story is “Gone Fishing.”

One hundred words shorter than most of the other entries, this story captivated me with its economical, yet powerful word choice. Every word had a purpose, and together reflected the old man’s mood as he sat “fishing” in the car park.

Reading this story each time, even once I knew how it was going to end, I still felt the serenity and suspense of the moment as if I were reading it for the first time. Ultimately, that’s what pushed me to choose “Gone Fishing” as the winner this week. In less than two hundred words, I felt like I really came to know and understand the old man, as if I were sitting right there, waiting with him for a fish he’d never catch.

HUGE thanks to Eden for judging this week!

Follow Us

Get Notified of Future Contests

Microcosms 195 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms 193 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

39 thoughts on “Microcosms 194 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. O-ring Wormhole
    267 words
    Fly On the Wall / Future / Action
    Deanna Salser
    I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please, contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    The planet loomed in the monitors as the drone fly turned its head toward them, causing the room to erupt in cheers. The onboard audio had failed months ago, and nothing they did from here seemed to help. This evidence that the machine was operating meant there might still be a way to restore it. Perseverance had taken off nearly six months ago, despite the mission being scrapped the week before. No one was even sure who was onboard; efforts at locating the previous members of the team had been for naught, and their infiltration device had only now begun to accept commands.
    Lights winked on from the direction of the console. Jaden turned the drone’s head toward it, continuing to try everything he could to bring up the sound. Everyone covered their ears as a feedback whine came through the speakers. CAPCOM Officer Jaden’s fingers flew over the keyboard, lowering it to a tolerable level even as he accessed the wings, filling the room with an insistent buzz. Hovering before the main screen, the fly’s visual receptors showed four spacesuits roped together, floating toward a dirty, antique spacecraft. Careful maneuvering and the tiny machine left the cockpit through a hydraulic vent, following the astronauts into space. Jaden’s breath joined the collective gasp as their craft neared the capsule, and the words painted on the side became readable. Static filled the room, and a voice, clear as a summer sky, came through the speakers, stunning them all.
    “Hello! This is Commander Richard Scobee speaking. Is this a rescue mission? How did you guys get here so fast?”

    1. I guess no one looks stuff up anymore like I do when I don’t get a story. I should have spelled the name on the side. It was The Space Shuttle Challenger.

  2. The Vacation
    208 words
    Turtle/ Jewelry Store/ Poem
    Jessica Gardner
    Twitter: @jgardnerwriting
    E-mail: jessica.a.gardner0307@gmail.com
    Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    The sun reflected off the pavement
    and made the air in the parking lot shimmer.
    Aria was on vacation and out of her element.

    Annually, they went to Manomet to spend their midsummer.
    This year felt denser than the rest,
    as her parents’ marital issues continued to grow grimmer.

    She walked back into the shop called “70°W”,
    a familiar place.
    And looked at a silver anklet, with a chain so thin it bordered on diaphanous.

    It was positioned on the register, within the transparent case.
    The only adornment was a tiny silver turtle, delicate as lace.

    Aria made a beeline for the counter.
    The employees knew her now by name.
    Her trips to the store had become a daily encounter.

    They wondered why this little girl was never with anyone else when she came.
    The assumption was that she was a latchkey kid,
    which is always such a shame.

    Aria’s parents didn’t notice her trips to the shop, her absence slid
    past their attention, as they continued to fight
    about imagined or real infidelities and what the other one hid.

    The shop girls came up with an idea, their faces shining with delight.
    They saved enough to give Aria the turtle anklet when she returned later that night.

    174 words
    Turtle/Jewellery Store/Poem
    By Steve Lodge
    Twitter: @steveweave71
    Instagram: steveweave_cheese

    Spinning on an axis of hope.
    Escape to the tropics to mend our marriage.
    Family and friends,
    Pictured us.
    Me away from managing Brocards,
    The jewellers in the high street
    And Shirin away from her role at The College,
    Pictured us.
    In faraway bazaars, nautical codes,
    Exotic beaches with sheltering palms,
    Seduced by gentle lapping sounds of waves in our seclusion,
    Paradise Beauty,
    Swimming with turtles,
    Peacefully wandering together through daydreams….

    Then just two days before our flight
    Shirin ran off with some professor she worked with.
    Leaving me alone,
    With my howling, vile shrieking,
    And my dreadful painted smile.
    Yet I will go on vacation,
    To Paradise Beauty,
    And dance with the turtles,
    And swim with the dolphins,
    And fake laugh with seahorses,
    Whose names I’ve forgotten,
    My work at the jewellery store,
    Is no more.
    I have nothing left to lose,
    Tomorrow I visit Pointless Tattoos,
    I stay away,
    The wind of change will rush through me,
    A different person you will see,
    A son of a beach I soon will be.

  4. Space and Time and Mountains and Heat is Not Enough to Say I Love You.
    162 words
    Turtle / Jewelery Store / Poem
    Laura Cooney
    Twitter.com/lozzawriting @lozzawriting
    Optional: Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.


    First there is space and time.
    Then rock and movement.

    Millenia pass.

    Fine grains of sand slowly
    And are collected.

    Intense heat and pressure is how it really begins.


    It was a Wednesday,
    I remember that.

    The window glittered
    With all that was not gold.

    In seeming clarity,
    A sea glass turtle.

    We were friends,
    right up until that moment.

    Gently brushed skin.
    The spoiling of years.

    A chunk of time and sand.
    The hourglass turns.

    What all occurred to bring us,
    To this moment.
    In this doorway?
    On a Wednesday.

    Of all days.

    Jagged shards cut deep,
    Smoothed by years.

    How much the mountain went through,
    To get here.

    How much must we go through,
    To get there?

    The bell rings and 4 solid feet skitter to mama.

    And the moment is lost.

    Space and time and
    Mountain and heat,
    Lies loved in a box,
    On a shelf,
    In a room.

    Waiting all that time.
    And more again.

  5. Save the Turtles: A Misinformed Agenda
    299 words
    Turtle / Jewelery Store / Poem
    Optional: No, I am not open to derivative works at this time

    The cold compress of lemon ice and bittersweet, more of bitter, grass tea flow into the bamboo tube as I draw in a breath, numbing my tongue.
    The peaceful waterfalls and gentle mountain breeze blow past my shaved head, the scent of herbs and fresh bamboo, the soft cries of migrating birds working to create a natural and harmonious atmosphere.

    Sensei flips a tile and leans closer to me, “Your hair is starting to grow out, shave it”. Smacking a hand over my head, feeling the fuzz of frizzy spikes dotting its expanse, barely a millimetre long, I nod, “For the journey to achieving Zen”. He keens, taking another tile out of order for a winning set. I again withhold from speaking, sipping bitterness from a bamboo cup. The shutters click rapidly in the silence then stop.

    I stand and bow, a helicopter tornadoing grass upwards. Taking the ladder, I leave Sensei a silver briefcase. The contents glimmer, he grins, “For the journey to achieving Zen”

    When Media reports on a young jeweller with Buddhist upbringing, my father smiles a bit more at me. “Business is good”, he laughs, shaking my shoulders. I readjust the wig sitting lopsided on my head, laughing also, “And it’ll be better”.

    My father quirks a brow, expression wanting, “The people these days like image. Our jewel store?”

    “Will be the image everyone wants”

    I click the remote, the TV lights up with the words,

    I killed the ocean
    uncapping plastic potions:
    Young jeweller’s renewed devotion

    Presenting the turtle I’d stolen from Master Zenshi during his pleasure night, “And here is our Mascot”. My father laughs again, briskly hugging me. The wig falls off. I pat my head, spikes smoothening out, fuzzier. I’ll have to shave it soon — for the journey to achieving zen.

  6. Saving The World On A Wing And A Prayer
    284 words
    Fly on the wall/ Past or Future / Action
    Jaime Bree
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.
    Time travel’s a funny old thing when you’ve morphed into an insect. At least we get a choice. A fly seems appropriate considering what we go through and where we come out.

    I love the irony.

    I mean, we’re pulling information from somewhere back to somewhere else to use against the something we don’t want to exist in order to be able to get to the somewhere without the something killing us first.

    Get it?


    Well, in classic Breakfast Club rhetoric –in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions– we spy.

    I’m a spy on the wall.

    A literal wall built in 2176 to separate past from present.

    Back then, humanity had lost its way, so we created a utopia of peace. Our past ills bricked up whilst our future existence was manipulated into the perfect society.

    It worked for a long time.

    Until they came.

    No one really knows how, but long forgotten misdemeanours manifested themselves into living beings. Bad thoughts evolving over time, growing and dividing into an alien existence.

    The war started in the cracks. They sent trackers through to infiltrate our minds, destroy our health. We didn’t notice until the damage was done. The cracks became crevices. The wall began to crumble.

    We fought back. We stood firm.

    We continue to fight, to patch the wall again and again. It’s stable enough, but we’re losing and the only way now is to destroy them once and for all.

    So, here I am, in the dark, roughened interior of a crack, praying the wall doesn’t shift and snuff out my tiny existence.

    What was it that Pascal said? ‘Flies are so mighty they win battles.’

    Let’s hope he’s right.

    1. I’ll admit to sci-fi not being my usual cup of tea, but this I could read more about! Awesome work!

  7. The Fly of The Irish Sea
    275 words
    Future or Past, Fly on the wall, Action
    R M Underwood
    The battle roars on for another day, the sky filled with auburn rage, and the seas crashing mercilessly against the British coast. Overlooking it all is Queen Elizabeth I, smiling at her victories. The fly hovers over her head, bored by the Regent enjoying her battle won, and flies over to the action, the truth of the war, not the stories of victory.
    the fly dodges arrows and canon fire alike, crashing through the chaos until eventually finding the ships themselves, the Spanish Armada versus the mighty British Navy.
    Soldiers slaughter each other. soldiers? More like kids. Could humans really cause so much chaos, so much despair?
    The fly watches as men butcher each other through the smell of burning timber and the sounds of screaming sons. The battle was won, but the fighting continues, men overtaken by a Viking like lust for death. Dying with honour, but alone. The eighty-five Spanish ships sank on the British coast. The men screamed and yelled of their victory, as the Spanish Fled back to Lisbon through the Irish Sea, disappearing on the Horizon, to be haunted by their loss for centuries to come.
    The fly lands on a British ship and witnesses the men, chanting of their achievements, of their men who fought so bravely for Queen and Country. But the fly could not help, as it landed on the Admiral’s hat, but think what he would do with the lifespan of a human, die for Queen and Country? Die in action like a hero of old? Or to live a peaceful life, in harmony with everything around you, more like… a fly on the wall.

  8. She Drifted In One Stormy Night

    Turtle / jewellery store / poem
    WC 140

    You’ve heard of a bull in a china shop.
    A dormouse in a teapot
    And snakes on a plane.
    A moose loose
    about this hoose
    A can of worms
    and cat out of the bag …

    Well, this is about a turtle in a jewellers’.

    She drifted in one stormy night,
    washed as the waters rose, gushed, gurgled and flooded the shops on Marine Road.

    She marvelled at the sparkle, colour and shine.
    She clocked the watches,
    clambered up gold chains,
    swam amongst the earrings
    and squeezed through silver bangles.

    And there he was,
    the most beautiful creature
    she’d ever seen.

    Her tiny turtle heart fluttered.

    He had a glowing, gleaming
    emerald and sapphire shell,
    ruby eyes and an enigmatic smile.
    He was so perfect,
    lying there
    on damp midnight velvet,
    under glass.

    Yes, she’d fallen in love with a brooch.

  9. She Wears a Brooch
    153 words
    Turtle/jewellery store/poem
    Twitter: @el_Stevie

    She wears a brooch,
    emerald shell and ruby eye,
    signifying slow but sure,
    a family joke for the girl
    who always left them standing,
    always raced ahead for the
    next best thing … and the next
    without rest or pause.

    Her mind was a Catherine Wheel,
    spinning in constant creation,
    gathering glittering prizes
    beneath the gaze of parental pride,
    her name known far and wide,
    feeding progress, bringing
    the future nearer.

    She wears a brooch,
    emerald shell and ruby eye,
    runs a finger over its rough surface
    as she enters the shop
    and stares at shining silver,
    diamonds glinting, gold
    holding her in place, the words for
    what she sees, seeping
    liquid, too transient to grasp,
    like the tears that form
    when she is asked for her name
    and finds that too has gone
    in the river of her past.

    She wears a brooch
    emerald shell and ruby eye
    as she slips away.

  10. Ultimate Humiliation
    88 words
    Turtle/jewellery store/poem
    Geoff Le Pard

    It’s no effing joke
    Having a turtle neck,
    Not like chiselled abs
    Or tungsten pecs.

    People assume
    You’re depressed
    If your chin is always
    On your chest.

    And you’ll need to live
    In a parallel world
    Ever to be gifted
    A string of pearls.

    It’s worse than having
    A lazy eye,
    A monobrow,
    A permanent stye.

    But even worse is
    That first day of school,
    When fitting in
    Is the golden rule.

    There you stand,
    Head held high
    While the rest all shout,
    ‘Go on: where’s your tie?’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.