Microcosms 210 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

MC 210 Flash Fiction Contest

Greetings, flash fictioneering friends, and welcome to Microcosms 210!

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 210 Free Flash Fiction Contest Prompts: Farmer / Grand Stage / Romance OR Firefighter / Enchanted Forest / Crime/Thriller 300 words or fewer. Spin for more prompts. $25 prize. Totally free to enter! microcosmsfic.com
Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash

Info Tabs

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

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

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:

Farmer / Grand Stage / Romance

OR

Firefighter / Enchanted Forest / Crime/Thriller

Blame the spinner! lol

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

  • News Reporter
  • Spy
  • Historian
  • Farmer
  • Magician
  • Firefighter
  • CEO
  • Actor
  • Witch
  • Newsroom
  • Undercover Mission
  • Library of Historical Artifacts
  • Sunflower Field
  • Grand Stage
  • Burning Building
  • Corporate Boardroom
  • Movie Set
  • Enchanted Forest
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Poem
  • Comedy
  • Mystery
  • Steampunk
  • Western
  • Crime/Thriller
  • Fairy Tale

Notes

Helping judge this week is MC 203 winner Geoff Le Pard! Please be sure to thank them on their social media of choice (if applicable).

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites from last week and this week, too. All being well, MC 209 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

One of the best ways you can help is the spread the word. Please continue to share the contest on social media, tagging friends people you’d like to see enter, and linking back to us when you share your stories. It means a lot – thank you!

MC 208 Winners!

We’ve moved our Winners Announcements to their own posts! You can find the winners of MC 208 here: https://microcosmsfic.com/2023/09/23/results-mc-208-flash-fiction-contest/

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Microcosms 211 Flash Fiction Contest + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction
Microcosms 209 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

38 thoughts on “Microcosms 210 + The Karen Cox Prize for Entertaining Short Fiction (Flash Fiction Contest)

  1. Come On, Baby, Light My Fire
    300 tiny flame beetles
    Firefighter / Enchanted Forest / Crime/Thriller
    Deanna Salser
    https://www.facebook.com/Beadanna777/
    https://beadanna777.wixsite.com/procreation
    I am open to derivative works.

    ***

    Adam aimed his nozzle at the base of the flame and pulled the trigger. His eyes still light-blinded, he peered through the expanding shadows of nightfall. Another bright flicker beckoned, deeper in amongst the trees. A Fire Fairy. Teasing him, leading him on. She knew how dangerous it was for him in the thicket. His heavy boots and axe made it hard to move quickly, yet she led him still further into the brush. Every time he tried to turn back, she let her hot little hand touch a piece of dry bark or leaf and leapt away, laughing, as he rushed to put it out.

    He was completely lost, and tangled beyond hope. He had tried to hack his way out when tough vines completely encircled him. He knew this forest was more than it seemed, but even so, he couldn’t have let it burn. His eyes widened as she suddenly hovered before him, her bright wings burning his retinas.
    “How could I live here if I were a danger?” her tinkling voice asked him rhetorically as she demonstrated the trees’ natural ability to put themselves out.
    It was a trap.
    His heart beat wildly as she floated toward him, her size increasing as she neared. Adam cringed back, her heat making him sweat from a mere foot away.
    “What do you want?” His voice quavered with fear. Hers rang like a bell as she answered.
    “I want a child.”
    His clothes caught as she removed them, his flesh singing everywhere she touched him. She climbed atop him, beckoning, and tiny flame beetles landed on his skin, sucking up just enough of the fire to keep him from being consumed as she took her pleasure. His anguished cries echoed through the woods long after she was finished with him.

  2. Devastation
    94 words
    News Reporter / Newsroom / Drama
    Galen Gower
    GalenGower.com
    Yes, I am open to derivative works including birthday party clowns.

    Elliott sat among them as he cried.

    “Did he get laid off, too?” his co-workers whispered, each glad it wasn’t him. The paper’s bankruptcy cast a shadow.

    She’s gone, Elliott thought, and it’s my fault. Finally got what I deserve.

    Elliott laughed into a sob at how she would repeat her punchlines.

    “One is a horrible, slimy bottom-feeder and the other is a fish!” she’d say, this time with more gusto.

    Elliott knew his co-workers would make assumptions, but they didn’t matter.

    “We should take him for drinks…” they whispered, “once he pulls himself together.”

    Report user
  3. Title: Trespasser
    300 words
    Firefighter/ Enchanted Forest / Crime/Thriller
    By Vicky Hinault
    Twitter: @staytrue_create
    Yes, I am open to derivative works

    _______

    The yellow and black of the crime scene tape clashed against the lush greens of the trees laden with summer leaves that splintered shards of sunlight down onto the earth.

    “Ready?”

    A bare-armed firefighter dropped his bulky jacket onto the floor and nodded while securing a rope around his waist.

    A deep burrowed tunnel sank into the ground in front of him. He dropped down and shuffled his way in, arm over his face protecting himself from the dirt that dislodged with each movement. After a tight squeeze, the tunnel became a cavern and his torchlight filled the space.

    “Can you see her? Is she there?” A hysteria-laden voice cried.

    “Nothing yet,” he answered through the darkness.

    He tugged firmly on the rope to signal a need to further his descent. In the corner of his eye, he saw a sparkle zip past.

    He looked – suddenly, nothing.

    Then a large glow from below. A spiralling explosion of light shards pulled him into a downward spin where he hit the floor hard.

    “Simon?

    “I’m OK.”

    The glow flared again, forcing him to squint in response. When he opened his eyes, an indignant sprite floated before him.

    “You’re trespassing.”

    His silence spoke volumes. He thumped himself on the head to knock away his daze, but the sprite remained and was surrounded by countless others.

    “I’m…I’m looking for a missing girl.”

    A glow rippled and dimmed around the tunnel then another sprite appeared and whispered to its brethren.

    “South of the brook. Alive. Broken ankle.”

    Simon nodded. The glow and the sprites vanished instantly.

    Minutes later he emerged into the woodland.

    “Nothing, but we should search near the brook.”

    “Why do you say that?”

    “You’d never believe me, even if I told you,” said Simon who watched a glow form in the distance.

    Report user
    1. Great story! I love how quickly it peeks into the supernatural and then returns the poor guy to reality.

  4. Bureaucracy In Fairy Land

    Firefighter/Enchanted Forest/Crime/Thriller
    300 words
    Geoff Le Pard
    @geofflepard

    Walter Cannon hesitated. The enormous red cloaked woman striding towards him looked anything but friendly. He checked his phone. It definitely said Little Red Ridinghood.
    The woman loomed over him, glaring. ‘Took your time.’
    ‘Miss Ridinghood?’
    ‘Who else? You think I’m some caped crusader? This is the enchanted forest not Gotham Woods or whatever.’ She looked past him. ‘You alone? No kit?’
    ‘I’m surveying the scene and will report…’
    ‘In all that’s magical, you don’t have time to faff about. Granny’s three-quarters swallowed. Don’t you have an axe?’
    ‘Sorry. No one said.’
    The enormous vermillion female took his elbow and began marching him deeper into the trees. To Walter they seemed to be watching.
    ‘I really need to call in, say I’ve arrived.’
    She stopped. ‘What the actual flip, are you? Haven’t you read the story? Little girl lost, goes to grandma’s as she’s being eaten and dupes stupid lupus?’
    He eyed her up and down.
    She glared, making his skin crawl. ‘I grew, okay? It happens even in fairyland. Are you sure you don’t have an axe?’
    ‘No, I’m a firefighter…’
    Red’s expression eased. ‘Cool. What do you do? Wrestle the flames? Box the shit out of the fuel? Or is it some sort of MMA where…’
    ‘I use a hose.’
    ‘Seriously? Hardly fair on the fire. Still I told the Lord Chamberlain that relying on the real world would be a disaster. He made the woodcutter redundant so I get you. Are you sure you don’t have, at least, a hand axe?’
    Walter held up a clipboard. ‘I take notes,’ he said firmly. ‘All I do is a risk assessment.’
    ‘So you’re not going to stop my nearest and dearest being eaten?’
    He shrugged. ‘Beyond my paygrade. My job is to ensure all elfin safety rules are met.’

    1. Such a great flip of a familiar retelling! Its both whimsical and blunt. (Also, Walter Cannon = Water Cannon? That would be a great hidden name for a firefighter XD).

  5. Phantasm
    300 words
    Farmer / Grand Stage / Romance
    by Kelli Johnson
    I am open to derivative works.
    _________________

    Two crop-turns ago was when I saw her first. Yellow hair. Tawny frock. Sallow skin, unmarked by sun. Reaping grain like all in this sector, like myself, but with a grace unknown to me. Her blade sweeping in arches drawn by wind itself, as if she were borne of breeze and shone brightest sailing on its current.

    We’re forbidden to speak while working, but I’ve a plan. Tomorrow, Community Day is held. The barons encourage conversation, meeting our neighbors—at least, that’s what posters say. There will be music too, and dancing—chance to learn name of my golden-haired vision.

    Morning comes, bright and grey. Reapers queue outside enclave demarcated for our festivities, corners of mouths twitching into composed smiles.

    But my smile is true.

    Inside fence, laughter—children mostly, exempt from toiling in grain. Smells too, unmistakable sizzle of fat on grill-irons and wine stewing with herbs and fruit. A sweet, bitter treat. Perhaps I’ll gift her one, after we exchange commissary codes.

    There is a stage, stacked bricks and planks with instruments strewn atop, though no one attends them.

    Music! someone calls out. I wince, waiting for the retribution, but none comes. The patrols walk on.

    Then—a flash of gold. Her? I crane my neck, but crowd is like writhing snakes. I wonder…

    Emboldened by love, and patrols’ seeming mercy, I alight the teetering stage.

    Sing! cries a boy. Countless eyes find me.

    But I know no songs, I plead, roving over sea of familiar strangers, searching for gold…
    Searching…
    Searching…

    Muscled fingers grip my forearms as I’m pulled backwards, offstage. Community Day, laughs the patrol, always something…

    ***

    Long grain sways in the whistling breeze, and I toil alongside my kind, two fingers lighter. Grasses are almost yellow, almost shining…

    Perhaps, she too was only almost there.

    Report user
  6. So Twisted Does it Grow
    300 words
    News Reporter/Sunflower Field/Crime/Thriller
    Sophie H. Sigrafys
    I’m open to derivative works and can provide contact information to those interested
    ———————-
    “I’m Rose Treacher-Gavroche with MGR News and I’m here in the Moon Orchard sunflower field, where a man has just been found murdered. Few witnesses have come forward to identify the victim as George Gifford. Oh, an officer is coming out of the field now!”

    “Sir! Chrhcmfvcf damn mic. Officer! A word!”

    “Ma’am please step away from the crime scene.”

    “Just a few questions Officer….Officer Goss. The public deserves honest news.”

    “…You get three questions, but I refuse to comment on any that put the investigation in jeopardy.”

    “Certainly! What can you tell us about the victim?”

    “George Gifford, 27. Georgie was a good lad as far as I knew, if a bit of a womanizer. Bloody mess he is now.”

    “Goss! Goss! Its…! You – You gotta come see this! T-t-t-the Mark of Nightshade! It’s mmpmmphmphm!”

    “Can it, Detective Drake! Not in front of the press! I’m sorry ma’am. You need to leave.”

    “Just one more question! Please! Wait, no, get your hands off me, I can walk myself.”

    “Get yourself past the security line. The department will make a statement later.”

    “One! Just one!”

    Hhhhhah, fine.”

    “How many times do you think this serial killer returns to the scene of the crime?”

    “No comment. Now get… How many times? Don’t you mean to ask if they might return at all?”

    “Did I?”

    “Ma’am please, leave this matter to the police”

    “Ugh, sure, fine. Ahem, once again, I’m Rose Treacher-Gavroche, your news reporter for MGR News. Back to you Kelly…Huh, what’s that? Blood on my shirt? Don’t worry Nick, I don’t think it’s mine.

    “Thank you, Rose. In other news, Title IX continues to push for consent education in schools and workplaces amidst growing rape culture and the death of a vicar’s son. More on this story at 10.”

  7. Obadiah’s Third Part
    250 words
    Farmer / Grand Stage / Romance
    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.

    ***
    Obadiah took a deep breath and entered from stage left. The white-hot lime blinded him, but his courage did not falter.

    “My sweet summer corn, I know that there is nothing a humble farmer like myself could offer you that compares to the opulence you’re accustomed to, yet I must risk everything for even the small chance that you could find it in your heart to forgive my provincial oafishness.

    “Beautiful, lovely Dorothy, you are the sun which nourishes my hearth’s growth. You have taught me to sow tenderness and reap joy. I would work the land tirelessly for generations in the heat of midsummer’s sun for even a fleeting moment with you under the stars at harvest. I was a fool—indeed, wiser is the one who startles a horse from behind.

    “I acted out of fear. Fear that you could never love me. That I would not be enough for you. Now I see that a life apart from you could never be enough for me. So now I lay myself on your mercy. If you do not love me, I shall leave you and return to my fields heartbroken, but better for having known you. But oh… if you do love me, oh! How I crave to spend my years loving and being loved by you.”

    The audience gasped. Tears filled Dorothy’s eyes and a smile spread across her face. She dove into Obadiah’s arms.

    “Who the hell are you?” the director asked, his debut play ruined.

  8. The History of Magic.

    259 words

    Historian/ Movie Set/ Fantasy

    NC8387

    ***

    2700 B.C. the first conjuration of balls was done by the magician Dedi. 1300-650B.C… references to the magic abundant in ancient Greek myths is recorded. Present day- magic…, no longer exists. It’s been 4700 years since the first recording of magic, or some may say, the devil’s work, an arbitrary of drunk—asses, or just a silly—game on boards—and—paper.

    However, magic does exist.

    During film, one may find that the standard scene of “plays”, “script—writing”, and “voice—acting” all contribute to the magic. However, it is the director’s work piecing these all together, that matters.

    Without the director, the magic falls apart: the Grand Master loses his kingdom, the people lose his respect, and the students go hay—wire. However, all is not lost, if the director returns. One, to save the day act—after—act, from the “rising—action” to the “resolution”. So, remember, when the director leaves, all the magic goes along with them. “Him”, “her”, ‘them’. Who, cares?

    With the director, all is well. Magic is set from the brightening of the studio—lights, to the opening of one’s mouth, to the rummaging of one’s pockets for a key to a secret dimension, hidden but, within the walls of the Academy.

    One can find, the inner—peace, that comes with being a director, because, it’s in the name. Truthfully, as a historian I find that this fact matters the most. IQ. EQ? Who, cares? It’s about the SQ and the ability to bring about, a change to the world.

    Sincerely,

    a, Humble—‘Historian’

    Report user

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