Microcosms 204 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 204!

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

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MICROCOSMS 204 Prompts: Masked Participant / Funeral / Mystery OR Ancient God / Crochet Club / Comedy $25 prize (free to enter)! Come write a story in 300 words or fewer. Fun and free! microcosmsfic.com
Photo by Imani on Unsplash

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Start here if you’re new or haven’t been here in a while. Click each tab to learn more.

To qualify for the cash prize, must MUST:

  • ***Submit your story as a comment below.***
    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.)
  • 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.)
  • 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).
  • 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.)
  • Acknowledge that the decision of the judge(s) is/are final.

Please kindly use this format, then copy/paste your response as a comment on this post.

(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 as if your story is selected)
(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>

You can also use it to do italics or bold text.
Examples:
<i>text you want to be italicized goes here</i>
<b>text you want to be bolded goes here</b>

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.)

REMEMBER

  • You have ONE WEEK (Sunday – Saturday, midnight – midnight) Los Angeles Time (PST/PDT) to submit your masterpiece.
  • All submissions must be no more than 300 words in length (excluding the title and other header info).
  • We enjoy fan fiction! Just not for this contest. NO FAN-FICTION, please, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS for this contest.
  • Include: word count, the THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry (see entry format tab).
  • If you are new to Microcosms, please check out the full submissions guidelines on our FAQs page.
  • I feel like this should go without saying, but just in case – absolutely no AI submissions.
  • 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.
  • 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).

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

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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:

Masked Participant / Funeral / Mystery

OR

Ancient God / Crochet Club / Comedy

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.)

Character

Setting

Genre

  • Crocheter
  • Video Game Character
  • Ancient God
  • Mourner
  • Cat Tamer
  • Magician
  • Judge
  • Masked Participant
  • Crochet Club
  • Video Game
  • Ancient God Domain
  • Funeral
  • Circus
  • Magic Show
  • Court
  • Masquerade
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western

Notes

Be sure to check out our quarterly contest. Entry is only $5 and there’s a $100 prize! http://microcosmsfic.com/2023/07/01/microcosms-mc-100micro1-submissions/

Helping judge this week is MC 201 winner Laura Cooney! Please be sure to thank her on Twitter. ***UPDATE: Laura will be back to judge next week – she wanted to enter this week! 😆 So she and Jaime Bree have switched spots. Laura will be back to judge next week. ***

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 203 Community Pick(s) will be announced at the end of the week, along with the Judge’s Pick, who will win $25!

Happy writing!

KM

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 202 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 202 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/08/12/results-mc-202/

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Microcosms 205 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms 203 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

48 thoughts on “Microcosms 204 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction

  1. Death To Small Businesses, and the Peddlers of Craft

    297 words

    Ancient God / Crochet Club / Comedy

    nix

    https://bsky.app/profile/moonofpluto.bsky.social

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

    ***

    “… thou who knows the art of knit and pearl, lord of the crossed stitch, the eye of the needle, the stuffing of the quilt, I summon thee that thou might defile the defilers, cast down their works, and by thou deed might be wrought a greater future betwixt the darting of the darning needle! Thread-father, I summon thee!”

    The hooded figure slumps over his hand-bound tome. The cover is nicely embroidered with a meadow scene, the lovingly stitched title is not in any language of men or earth, and the thing smells strongly of sulphur and the emptiness of eternity.

    “‘Sup,” says the figure inside the summoning circle. It’s doing its best to appear human, though it has eight fingers on one hand, a bizarre fleshy tangle on the other, and three legs.

    “You have come. You have come! Lord, I am your servant. I am yours. But impart your wisdom and I shall serve and obey!”

    It moves the finger salad and it shifts, writhes, straightens into a hand for a second, then folds back up. It scratches at its head with it. Some of its hair appears to pass through the meat scramble, while one strand disconnects from its head. It stays free floating as the hand-thing goes back to its side. “Yeah. Chill. Um. You said – defilers?”

    “They have not learned the true art, lord. They claim their paltry plucking to be superior to the knitting dance!”

    “Jeesh. I mean, you can just buy that stuff from the shops these days.”

    The hood takes a step back. “But, lord, they rely on sweatshop labour!”

    “Yeah, lol, I know. So who am I annihilating, come on, chop chop.”

    He breathes deeply. “The Little Burham crochet society. Down the road, first left, can’t miss the sign.”

      1. Yeah that was def the intention – wanted to capture creativity from the most eldritch angle, and AI art to me felt like the thing that captured that the best!

        Other drafts included something which looked human shaped but inside you could see the stitching, a slowly unraveling doll, and your classic chthonic tentacles. In the end AI art felt like the most interesting, given that the whole thing is that in this squabble between creatives, the eldritch god thinks they’re all total suckers who could just get their crocheted dresses from primark.

      1. Inspiration drawn from my (somewhat judgemental) avid knitter gfs Strong Opinions on crochet!

        (Also I’m in a lot of trouble for writing pearl instead of purl but )

  2. Grandma Smells Like Cthulu
    300 Words
    Ancient God / Crochet Club / Comedy
    Gerald Castillo
    Yes, I am open to derivative works, including audio productions as well as (but not limited to) a whole 3 part musical series, a 7-course meal set and a 12-month calendar set. Please contact me via one of the above channels for more information.

    ***

    To them, another Sunday. More specifically it also was the ‘Sunday Stitch-Off” but: “Would their forgetful brains remember that?” They barely got enough teeth to sound “Tchewszdey” without making it sound like Thursday. It was a perfect event to harvest new souls. They’d be done and dusted in a few weeks but their life essence wouldn’t taste as good, besides have they gotten anything better to do now that they are frail and weak?

    Bleak afternoon when I broke through the ceiling. Crashing onto the floor and leaving a ring of ember, that left every walker and cane on its side. Yet, before I could utter my profane command to take their lives I was met with a unanimous: “Keep it down!”. One of them grabbed me by the ear (how she’d known ‘that’ was an ear is a mystery to me) and dragged me to her table, showing a pair of crochet sticks into my claws before yelling: “Sonny, we’ve got 2 more hours left! I ain’t letting you go back home till I see a 100-ft-long crochet! Chop-Chop!” then intensely focusing back on her crocheted cardigan and occasionally poking at my tentacles to see how much crochet work I’ve done.

    And I admit it. I was fucking jealous. I admired everything she had that I didn’t. I begged to treat fleeting moment’s like it was my last. I desired to face the minuscule of tasks like my life depended on it. I adored the creases of her face that made her unintentionally frown all the time. She was a marvel to admire with her undivided care and occasional tease. It was then I realized that she was the most-‘human’-out-of-all-‘humans’ in this world. And I couldn’t just take away her life, because she had just given me mine.

    1. Great stuff, Gerald. I don’t know much about knitting, but you stitched me up with that last line. Awesome.

      1. Thanks for the love! Although the final line was a severe last-minute decision surely the idea was anything but ‘crafty’ : )

    2. Gerald, I thought your version of the alien life snatcher learning how to crochet was given a life because of it was humorous. Well done. LF6. I enjoyed this very much.

      1. Thank you for the kind words, never heard of a moniker like LF6 before. Definitely would make it easier to notice your stuff right away!

  3. Great execution of the prompt! Love the weird “Serious-Summoner” and “Carefree-Creation” dynamic the two characters have it really feels alive. Poor little Burham Crochet Society tho, perhaps the creation with its 8 fingers can teach them how to stitch better.

  4. CRY OF THE STEPHENWOLF
    299 Words
    Masked Participant/ Funeral/ Mystery
    By Stephenwolf Lodge
    Twitter:- @steveweave71
    Instagram:- steveweave_cheese
    Yes, I’m open to derivative works

    Breath of nature barely obscures the magical moon, highlighting the graveyard perched above the forgotten bay. I stand gazing out to sea. My heart is thumping, like someone trapped in a well. I don’t turn around, but I can feel her kiss, cold as ice, as she feasts again on my neck. Then of a sudden, the absence of her caress tells me she has gone. One day, she will miss her last bus home.

    I reached my home in the settlement of Neparom around 5am and rested till Zapuszta, my sister woke me. “The funeral procession has left the mountains.” She said. “They will be at the graveyard for 2pm. Neni Mira was such an important part of the family. Please, you must wear the family mask.”

    I noticed from my window that the village square was filling up. It was a considerable distance to the graveyard and the villagers were starting already on the walk there from Neparom. I had been at the graveyard the previous night for my rendezvous with The Contessa.

    I breakfasted on the all-day buffet at The Minge Palace Restaurant, then went home to change. I walked towards the graveyard with my neighbour, Doktor Eigenstillermeier. I helped him most of the way. By the time we entered the church it was pretty full. We sat at the back. I with my mask on, the doktor with his asthma inhaler. I tried small talk.

    “How old are you, Herr Doktor?”

    He smiled at me. “I’m 97.” He wheezed.

    I gasped. “You’re kidding! Wow! Is it even worth you going back to the village after the funeral?”

    At that point Zapuszta came up to me. She was in tears. “Karel, is that you?” I removed the mask. She wailed. “Come quickly. Neni’s coffin…it is empty.”

    1. A perfectly pleasant plot-twist for a pristine piece of prose, that was such a great use of the prompt Steve!

    2. Oooh very fun use of the prompt – classic funeral mystery with a twist

      A great deal hinted at very skillfully.

  5. UFOs and the Death of a Crochet Bag
    300 words
    Ancient God/Crochet Club/Comedy
    Yes, I am open to derivative works.

    Marjorie took her starting chain with her to heaven last week. Ancient God, rest her clown barf.” Barb stated, nodding her head respectfully.
    “Her frog, or rip it, rip it, was her biggest claim to fame,” Lacie declared.
    “Yeah, her crocheting leaves a lot to be desired,” Barb agreed.
    FROTH crocheting is something she should’ve mastered as an art after all these years of being in our group. Don’t you think?” Laura asked.
    “You would have thought so; she should have been a damn good hooker! That’s for sure, but some people just never catch on, no matter how many times they practise at something.” Barb offered.
    “For being the founder and oldest of the crochet club members, she should have been the best hooker of us all! But you know what happens when you are the oldest, right? You lose your blo rather quickly and are only able to handle simple stitches.” Lacie stated.
    Yeah, it’s boring, and it makes for a lot of crochet magic rings,” declared Laura.
    “Magic rings (eye rolls); that’s all she was known for anymore. Isn’t it funny?” Barb claimed.
    “Her yoh and tension were just bad too,” chimed in Lacie.
    “Yes, her DH wasn’t even TOG! Go figure? Who can have a tch without TOG? Shameful after all these years!” Laura was relentless now.
    Despite all being in the same crochet ring, the women saw an opportunity to attack their founder, who turned out to be the worst Crocheter in the group with the most UFOs left at the time of her death, Barb stated.
    Her WIPs had their own story to tell about her crocheting habits over the years. Thank the Ancient God for the comedy of crocheting and crocheters at the time of her death. Lacie, Laura, and Barb laughed together.

    https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/crochet-abbreviations-978358

    1. Such a great usage of comedic elements, you really ran with it! Using abbreviations (with an additional link) was a great and unique idea. Clever all around!

      1. Thanks for reading Deanna. Yes, I thought that line was pretty clever too. It seemed to get to the heart of both matters I was going for: the comedy and the actual crochet terminology. LOL.

  6. Better Have Bigger Than A Number Fourteen Hook If You’re Going To Confront Zeus
    300 words
    Ancient God / Crochet Club / Comedy
    Deanna Salser
    https://www.facebook.com/Beadanna777/
    https://beadanna777.wixsite.com/procreation
    I am open to derivative works.

    ***

    “Ruthie, come quick! I’ve got Zeus trapped in the broom closet!” That couldn’t be right. Did she say, Zeus?
    “Ester?” I groped for my glasses, stalling for time as I tried to wake up. Sounded like my crochet buddy, though I couldn’t tell without my specs, which were AWOL at the moment.
    “Yes, it’s me. I don’t know how long I can hold him. Come quick.” The call ended, leaving me squinting at a fuzzy picture of Ester from our latest Crochet Club photo she made us take every time we met. I threw back my covers and rubbing my eyes, I stood up. A delicate crunch alerted me to the location of my glasses. Great. Now I would be even more dangerous on the road. The thought stopped me, but only for a second. I had to see this. What did Zeus even look like? I drove as fast as I dared to the clubhouse, the sounds of screeching and the yelping of dogs, notwithstanding, and got there in record time, considering the trip took years off my life. I figured if it really was Zeus, I could get them back. I mean, he was a god, right? I hobbled to the front door, my heart doing the Funky Chicken. I was about to meet Zeus! How exciting was this? Didn’t happen every day, did it?
    She met me at the door, Number 35 in hand, which should have been my first clue.
    “Where is he?” I smoothed back my hair, anticipation making me feel a little weak. She shot me a strange look and pointed.
    “Open it.” Frowning, I flung open the door just as she poked with her hook, and a giant raccoon, apparently named Zeus, flew squalling down the hall and disappeared through the open door.

    1. Nice one, Deanna, great fun, a raccoon called Zeus and the Funky Chicken heart. What goes on behind the net curtains of a Crochet Club? Who knew? Once, I had Patches crocheted(?) on to one of my jackets, cos I really loved that cat. Have a great day.

      1. Thank you, Steven! I appreciate the depth of your comments. Talent, taste, and tact. Triple threat.

  7. They Never Send a Boring God to Do a Trickster’s Job
    299 words
    Ancient God / Crochet Club / Comedy
    Suzanna Lundale
    @SuzannaLundale on Twitter/Insta/Threads, @suzannalundale.bsky.social
    Open to derivative works and audio editions.

    “I thought I might find you here,” purred a woman’s voice. A shadow, presumably hers, fell across his work at, unsurprisingly, a crucial moment in the finicky pattern. With a sigh, he started pulling out stitches.

    “Why are you here?” Loki asked, still refusing to look up at her. Freyja wore her human guises like favored outfits, and she’d be gnashing her teeth that he had not yet looked and complimented. “What demand is to be made of me this time? I am not giving birth to any more mounts.”

    Freyja tsked irritably. “Maybe I’m just worried about you. Maybe I-”

    “Let me guess. The Old Man has a task that I am uniquely able to perform?”

    “The Old Man has a task that requires your… skills,” she confirmed. “But surely, this must be a relief. Aren’t you bored here, doing this, whatever these knots are. If you need a scarf, have Sigyn make it for you.”

    Loki chuffed a laugh at this and finally looked up at Freyja. “Don’t let her hear you say that,” he warned. “I don’t need a scarf. I’ve made 10 this week.” He shrugged at went back to his pattern. “I give them away, or let the club sell them to raise funds for more yarn. Also, you know, blue really isn’t your color, this time of year.”

    With a wordless little growl, the goddess reached for the scarf in progress, leaving it hopelessly tangled in seconds. “Fine,” he sighed, setting the tangled mess aside. “What is it the Old Man wants to me to do, and how much am I going to hate it?”

    Loki maintained his signature smirk while dread grew inside him about the task ahead. At least, he thought, I got her to change the color of her dress.

  8. Things not to bring up at the dinner table (politics, sex, death)

    300 words

    Masked Participant / Funeral / Mystery

    nix

    https://bsky.app/profile/moonofpluto.bsky.social

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

    Was I intending to do a second story this week? No. Am I procrastinating my dissertation? Possibly. Did I write this anyway? Yes.

    This one is (implicitly) NSFW

    Btw for the non Brits, the Sun, Star, and Daily Mail are all tabloids with a history of controversy.

    ***

    Here a peacock feather dances above a purple-and-blue brow, there a gilded lion snarls, and everywhere nude bodies, flesh, and anticipation. All trying not to turn towards the head of the table.

    It is laid for a grand dinner, cutlery like a cage, up and down the table. And at the centre of this vast production, an open, empty coffin.

    My nose itches behind my chequered mask. I don’t know my neighbour. Not here, at least, though we may well be co-parliamentarians. She has a mole above her left breast, a spot of darkness on creamy white skin.

    But there are rules to these things. Banalities. How excited we are, that must be discussed. Allusions to how we know our host. Nothing explicit. Memories of previous dinners. She is gracious, and I do my best to match her. I do not say that this is my second invitation. My first, without my mentor leading me by the nose, ensuring I knew the game.

    Those furthest from the throne-like head of the table rise first, then the wave rolls along and we all stand. Our host walks around. He is unmasked, stripped bare, beneath coiffed hair and the face that graces a thousand TedTalks. Every step is careful, meditative, with the air of a dance. Those glinting eyes follow him in unison, until he stands before his seat.

    “I wonder, friends, if any of you have read the Sun today? The Star? Perhaps the Daily Mail?”

    Silence. His lip twitches.

    “One sinking ship, one piece of dead weight. There is a coffin on the table. For now, it is empty. For all your sakes, I certainly hope that by the end of the evening, it is not.”

    And with that, he sits. The silence builds, builds, builds –

    Breaks.

    The accusations fly.

  9. Finding Your Tribe Is As Important For Everyone, Even Gods With Flesh-Eating Toes
    Ancient god/crochet club/comedy
    300 words
    By Geoff Le Pard
    @geofflepard https://geofflepard.com
    Bob Godd wasn’t happy with his lot, preferring the sweeter versions. Temperamentally gruntled, his experiences as apprentice to his Aunt Athena changed him. He failed at fire making, dislocated a shoulder hurling boulders and discovered an allergy to brimstone when it triggered his weretoe – an affliction that turned his toenails into flesh eating incisors, forcing him to walk barefoot and list to the left.
    Looking for his place amongst the slum-dwellers of the Olympian foothills, he stumbled on a dissenter community of Woo-Woo gods, who practiced mindlessness and grew hosannahs to give away with their line of ambrosia-lite health drinks.
    ‘Whose in charge?’ He asked the woman on the door, who appeared to be washing brains in a large barrel.
    ‘Oh we don’t bother with that hierarchy nonsense, dearie,’ the woman proffered as she scrubbed at a stubborn memory lodged in a hippocampus. ‘We consider ourselves a revolving anarcho-syndicate, incapable of making decisions. As such we have no arguments, a sense of freedom and appalling toilets. We recommend you practice internalised anaerobic composting as soon as you can.’
    ‘I can join?’
    ‘Certainly. Can I just give your brain a rinse? There’s one rule and that is to be pure of mind.’
    Refreshed, Bob limped into the compound to see if this could be home. He wasn’t entirely convinced he was ready for a rule-free community when he spotted a sign: ‘Margery Plankton, alternative footwear specialist.’
    It was heaven, nirvana, Valhalla and that little cafe that sold those amazing almond croissants all in one. Margery listened to Bob’s woahs, examined his feet and confirmed she could crochet something suitable with spun tungsten.
    ‘How long will it take,’ asked Bob.
    ‘Well, a bit longer than usual. You really didn’t need to be so literal about biting off my hand for a solution.’

  10. Pronunciation is Everything
    300 words
    Ancient God/ Croquet Club/ Comedy
    Laura Cooney
    @lozzawriting everywhere.

    I am available for derivative works and as a not for you all I am NOT judging this one. I have swapped out. It was too juicy.

    The Westwood Crochet club had been running in the town of Newbattle Hove for decades. The three founding members had been mothers expectant and they had begun the club to with the intention of making bootees and such like, in reality, they had drunk wine, laughed, made that one naked calendar for charity and battered their credit cards in Mothercare, buying all the bootees they didn’t knit.
    Over the years they had left, choosing to meet in the local Hardy’s wine bar instead and new people had taken their place. One such, was Brenda Martin, the wife of the local minister and a ‘top’ scone baker. She had seen many people come and go in the last decade, older woman like herself who knew their crochet square coasters from their tea cosies. To the twenty something dungaree wearing hipsters for whom loving rainbow seemed to be a prerequisite and who didn’t know thier rooibos from their elbow. She was bored by them and their vegan chatter, but she did love the crochet. More relaxing than … anything, and it kept her out of the house and the sermons therein.
    Brenda was excited tonight, they were getting their first new member in ages and it was a man by the name of Thor, no less. Named after the God of war she expected … better not tell Martin. When the swing doors opened Brenda’s mouth hung open.
    “Hello there, you must be Thor” she stumbled, standing on wobbly pins.
    “Eh, yeah, hi.” confusion seeped off him.
    “What is the hammer for son?” Brenda asked, interested.
    “It’s not a hammer, I left that at home for once … it’s a club, he said” and then, all of a sudden, he realised his mistake. This here was not croquet club after all, but something else entirely.

  11. My Lover, Guilliard: A Memoir
    299 words
    Masked Participant / Funeral / Mystery
    Sutepani
    I am not open to derivative works at this time

    ***

    Granted I was a family man, long married, several children, which upon regard of the condition foretold of me in the cold hold of Mother by the pagan seer at Fortune may not have been sired from these dear loins of mine. I will say, I never much enjoyed my wife’s cooking compared to the sweet spice of beautiful lads.

    Guilliard, one of these several lads, a favourite, if I may, had sent me a letter after his father’s passing, therein declaring his love and longing, which he threatened that I too must reciprocate. I also have yearned for him, and very well accompanied him throughout the funeral rites with body, mind and spare silver. On the final night of the funeral, he asked that I leave with him to a place off this narrow map. The seer had foretold this and my answer thereafter.

    Whilst I cuddled him inside the warmth of my arms, a man, face as the devil’s, with a scar run from his lips, had prowled his way into the house, took my dear Guilliard from my embrace and strangled him before me. In a moment of strangeness, like a terrible witchcraft had been casted upon me, I only watched as he did so and escaped through the window. No guest saw this for Guilliard and I had earlier hidden ourselves behind the upright casket to consummate my resolve to abandon my family and be with him.

    Where Guilliard now was no more, I performed a funeral rite by running around the bonfire where I had cast his body, for verily would he be unwilling to decay as the old do, and had worn a carven mask in the image of his killer before discarding it into the bonfire, that I may disperse all grievances.

  12. The Nixon and Boris Mystery
    300 Words
    Masked Participant/ Funeral/ Mystery
    By A.J. Walker
    Spoutible/Bluesky/Twitter:- @zevonesque
    Website: https://awalker.org

    Dermot whirled his tea around the chipped mug. He couldn’t believe his Kevin Keegan mug had still been at his parent’s. No doubt his mother’s call. It would have been an acknowledgement that her son wasn’t coming up back if it had been binned.

    ‘What do reckon was going on with the guy in the mask?’ He asked in general to the kitchen.

    ‘What are you talking about?’ Bethany asked, whilst pouring another wine. She always seemed bemused by her brother.

    ‘I mean why was there a man in a President Nixon mask at the funeral? Who the hell turns up at a funeral in a plastic mask?’

    Bethany downed the wine and looked to her sister. ‘Did you see this?’

    Clara nodded. ‘Well, not a Nixon mask. I saw someone in a Boris Johnson mask.’

    ‘Fuck! Why didn’t you say something? Nixon and fucking Boris at our mother’s funeral.’ Bethany sounded exasperated, as she searched for another bottle of wine.

    ‘I didn’t say anything, sis’. Because they were lowering mum into the ground when I saw Nixon.’ Dermot said.

    ‘Ditto me.’ Clara said, handing over a bottle of Rioja. ‘Though with Boris.’

    The evening disappeared into a whirlwind of grand conjectures.

    Bethany wondered if perhaps they’d been ex-lovers of their mum who couldn’t stay away but didn’t want to be recognised. Dermot suggested that maybe they’d robbed a bank and were hiding from the bizzies; assuming they’d committed the robbery in black suits—and the chasing police were behind them.

    ‘Actually, it could have been Uncle Alister and Billy. They’re right ugly. Maybe they didn’t want to offend us with their looks.’ Clara said.

    Dermot pointed out that Billy was currently in the living room with them—without a mask.

    They never did find out who the men were.

    1. It took a second, more careful read to see how intricate. We use completely different sentence structure, but I saw the strange, yet compelling picture you painted.

  13. Kevin Keegan mug… my God! So funny. Loved this, the question of who the men were is brilliant. Ugly family or lovers for sure!

  14. You’ve Got to be Knitting Me
    262 words
    Ancient god / crochet club / comedy
    Sam “One-Wheel” O’Neil
    @OneWheelOneil on all my socials
    Yes, I am open to derivative works. Please contact me via Sam@onewheeloneil.com for more information.
    ***
    Marge put nimble spiders to shame. She had never dropped a stitch, despite all her years knitting. Even with these clumsy, thick fingers, she coaxed yarn into textiles as a maestro coaxes soundwaves into symphonies.

    Shelly cleared her throat. “Margie dear, the knitting circle has moved on. It’s time for our crochet club.” Her sweet voice was aspartame, not sugar. “I know it can be difficult to keep track of things as you get older.”

    “It’s so sweet of you to look out for me,” Marge replied without looking up. “I really do think of you as a mother figure.” She continued her entrelac shawl.

    Shelly’s smile slipped briefly. “You’re welcome to join us, if gripping a new tool doesn’t aggravate your arthritis.”

    “Oh, I don’t want to impose. And I worry crochet won’t be my cup of tea.” Now she locked eyes with Shelly, still producing stitch after stitch. “I’ve never been one for simple activities where you can turn off your brain.”

    The other women gasped. A nearby nurse stifled a chuckle.

    “Oh, I’m sure counting your stiches would be plenty challenging,” Shelly said with a sneer.

    Marge reached the end of her row and began to pack up her needles and yarn. Shelly and the other crocheters shared a look of triumph.

    “I’ll get out of your way,” Marge said, smiling. “After all, I never did like hooking.”

    She could hear the old bats chittering and huffing as she strode away smirking. Of all the names K’nith’xaam had born through the millennia, she found herself enjoying “Marge” the most.

    1. That was so great, Sam! It hooked me from the first sentence and kept me interested until the end. Marge damn it, if you had entered at the beginning of the week, you might’ve won.

      1. Haha, thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Someday I might win something, haha!

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