fiction, Homeschool Life

Flash Contest Detour: No Microcosms, No Problem!

Each session of my 5000 Words class, we devote one week to flash fiction. The assignment is to enter a piece in Microcosms, which experiences a rather dramatic spike in entrants. 🙂 This morning when I opened my email, I found Microcosms is having technical difficulties this week, the week my students are to enter their contest. Is this fate, smiling on the Microcosms judge who would’ve had to read all those extra entries?

Not to be deterred (cue the collective groan of my students), we’ll just take a little detour and hold the contest here, on my blog.

I ask my students to post their fabulous stories in the comments section of this post. Put your name, the title, and the exact word count at the top, then the story. Post by Saturday, midnight (that’s an extra day). I trust my readers will enjoy and perhaps comment on anything that moves you. Most of my students have private blogs, so this would be a rare opportunity to get outside feedback.

Next Tuesday, I’ll post the winning stories. As to judging, it will either be yours truly or a fellow author. (Any takers? Volunteer in the comments!) Hey, it’s 8:26 AM and I’m working with a curveball here.

But what about the prompt?? I’m not techy enough to build a spinning machine like the folks at Microcosms, so we’ll have to go stone age: I’ll give you a first sentence. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Craft a flash fiction story of no more than 300 words that begins:

There was something not quite right about the…

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Flash Contest Detour: No Microcosms, No Problem!”

  1. Elijah Harbaugh

    My First Flight, My Last Flight

    There’s something not quite right about the plane I am on. It’s my first flight and I’ve never felt right about anything up high. We arrived at the airport and my nerves started to get the best of me. I started getting shaky and began to hyperventilate. Then, the woman at the check-in counter told us to begin boarding. I slowly got out of my chair and began walking down the hallway leading to the plane. I felt lightheaded, but I boarded the plane. I squeezed nervously down the aisle until I found my seat. I decided to try my best to sleep through the flight. I fastened my seat-belt right away. I slid my eye cover on and put the inflatable neck pillow on my shoulders. The plane began to rumble and I squeezed my eyes shut as I felt my breakfast approach my throat. My breath came in short gasps. The plane took flight and we were up in the air. It wasn’t like I expected, almost pleasant. I began to doze off. I suddenly awoke to the turbulence of the plane and quickly looked out my window in fright. A crowded city was below and we were headed straight toward a looming building.

  2. Joseph’s Problem
    by Ethan Zabka (300, not including title)

    Something was not quite right about the life of Joseph Rorak.

    His family had suspected something was wrong ever since he’d come home from a year-long special assignment for the government. Joseph had never talked about it, but his family could see that it had changed him, and not for the better. He often sat for hours just staring out a window at the shadowy forest behind his home, unmoving save a twitch of his face periodically. Other times, he bared his teeth and shook his head violently, as if a hood kept trying to slide over his head and plunge him into complete darkness, and Joseph was fighting to keep the hood up before it completely covered him.

    One day, Joseph’s parents invited him to dinner. After eating, they all sat down in the living room, where Joseph’s father asked what was troubling Joseph. With some difficulty, Joseph proceeded to explain the mission that had changed him. His parents listened closely, and offered their support to him, but were still confused about his behavior.

    But Joseph knew that if his parents had full knowledge of the story, they would never be able to help him. He’d told them the main points; how his team had been called to stop an illegal scientific research facility, how they’d planned for eight months how to halt the facility and destroy its dangerous contents. Of course, he’d left out how the facility’s leaders had captured him and “experimented” on him. He’d hidden the horrible human “creations” and the horrifying physical, and, most of all, mental torture. The eight-month plan had been his team’s idea of how to fulfill their mission and rescue Joseph at the same time.

    Yes, something was definitely  wrong with the life of Joseph Rorak.

    He had lost his mind.

  3. Joseph’s Problem
    By Ethan Zabka (300, not including title)

    Something was not quite right about the life of Joseph Rorak.

    His family had suspected something was wrong ever since he’d come home from a year-long special assignment for the government. Joseph had never talked about it, but his family could see that it had changed him, and not for the better. He often sat for hours just staring out a window at the shadowy forest behind his home, unmoving save for a twitch of his face periodically. Other times, he bared his teeth and shook his head violently, as if a hood kept trying to slide over his head and plunge him into absolute darkness, and Joseph was fighting to keep the hood from completely enveloping him.

    One day, Joseph’s parents invited him to dinner. After eating, they all sat down in the living room, where Joseph’s father asked what was troubling Joseph. With some difficulty, Joseph proceeded to explain the mission that had changed him. His parents listened closely, and offered their support to him, but were still confused about his behavior.

    But Joseph knew that if his parents had full knowledge of the story, they would never be able to help him. He’d told them the main points; how his team had been called to stop an illegal scientific research facility, how they’d planned for eight months how to halt the facility and destroy its dangerous contents. Of course, he’d left out how the facility’s leaders had captured him and “experimented” on him. He’d also hidden the horrible human “creations” and the horrifying physical, and, most of all, mental torture. The eight-month plan had been his team’s idea of how to fulfill their mission and rescue Joseph at the same time.

    Yes, something was definitely  wrong with the life of Joseph Rorak.

    He had lost his mind.

  4. David Johnson
    Poisoned
    116 words
    “Something was not quite right about that meal we just ate,” Jake said to his friend, Jason. Jake and Jason had both just went to a concert, on their way home, they stopped for a bite to eat at a new restaurant they had never tried before.
    “Yeah, it feels like we just ate poison or someth-” All of a sudden, Jason blacked out, and the car started to swerve on the road.
    “Jason! Wake Up!” Jake said, nudging him to open his eyes. Realizing he wasn’t going to wake up, Jake tried pulling the car over to the side of the road, and that was the last thing he remembered before he blacked out as well.

  5. Rachel Carpenter
    299
    Movie Date

    There was something not quite right about the way the ticket vendor gave me my ticket. I’m pretty sure she judged me for being alone. I wanted to tell her I was meeting someone but decided against it. I pushed the thought from my mind and pulled out my phone and asked him where he was. He replied and said he would be there in a few minutes and to go into the theater. I was a little upset but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
    I sat down in the theater and pulled out my phone again. Three minutes till the previews started and I was fuming. I shoved my phone back into my jacket pocket and crossed my arms. After a few minutes, I got up to leave, but then I saw my date walking up the stairs. He got there before the actual movie started and I was a little relieved I was not stood up. He sat down and I noticed right away that he smelled repulsive. Like something died on him. I also noticed there was some red stuff on his shirt and pants. I asked him what it was and he said paint. I became too uncomfortable and I told him I had to leave because of a family emergency.

    “Let me walk you out,” he suggested.

    “Are you sure you want to leave the movie?” I asked.

    “Yeah, it’s cool.”

    When we got to my car he stopped me and apologized for being late. I told him it was fine and started to get into my car. He suddenly grabbed me and covered my mouth. I saw a van pull out from behind me and I was thrown into the van, I tried screaming, but it was no use.

  6. Gloria Bllumfeldt

    300 words

    Backyard Discoveries

    There was something not quite right about the smell that came from the ground that one morning as I walked through my woods. Rotten and vile. It Almost smelled as if a person had been buried there, but not far under the surface.  My keen sense of smell had landed me many, very important detective jobs. I could pick up and define even the faintest of smells. But there’s no way there’s a crime scene right in my own back yard? I put my nose closer to the earth, sniffing the surface. It is- But it can’t be? Could it? I thought as the smell of a rotting body filled my nostrils. I could find out.

    I stood over top of the soiled earth for minutes, unable to get the thought of digging it up out of my head. I knew I wasn’t supposed to act on any of my suspicions until I had reported them to the chief, but this consumed my mind. I couldn’t control myself. Curiosity took over.

    The soil was soft and easy to dig into. In a matter of minutes, I could see a piece of blueish fabric peeking out from the dirt. Frantically, I uncovered the rest of it. Moments later a fully uncovered body lay in the ground in front of me. At the sight, I ran back to my house calling for my partner. Finally, I got to the door but and saw my partner through the glass. I yelled more to get his attention. He rushed outside asking a million questions but I just led him to the body. 

    “Wow,” He said as he stared at the body, “We’ve been looking for her ever since she went missing last year. I can’t believe you found her. You’re really a special dog.”

  7. John Grigoli
    294 words
    Calm Before the Storm

    There was something not quite right about the sky that day. I had started walking home, from working the fields. It had been fairly windy all day, but while I was walking, there was such an eerie stillness in the air that it sent a train of shivers up my spine. The peculiarity was in the back of my mind by the time I was rocking in a chair on my porch, sipping a lemonade. My dog Otto was sitting next to me, lazily wagging his tail. I was drifting off into nap when Otto began yelping and running about. I woke with a start. Otto whimpered and scampered off somewhere. I couldn’t spot what had frightened him. Stretching my neck, I looked upwards and saw an otherworldly shade of green painting the sky. “Hey honey,” I yelled urgently into the house, “you and the kids need to get in the cellar. Now.”

    “Wha-” my wife stopped, gaping as she walked outside and saw the sky.

    “What’s gonna happen, daddy?” my little daughter asked. I could see the fear in her innocent eyes.

    “Nothing sweetie, now go on to the cellar. There might be a little storm, that’s all.”

    They did as I asked, and I was left alone, in the calm before the storm.

    My fears were confirmed when the spectral noiselessness was shattered by the ghostly tornado siren from the nearby town, softly instilling terror. The only sound that could have possibly been worse, came resonating in my ears. The sound of wind came like a freight train. No brakes could halt it. Adrenaline rushed through my legs as I saw the sinister finger of wind unfurl from the heavens, and I desperately wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go.

  8. Taters
    “There was something not quite right about the potatoes?” asked Marguerite.
    “Yes, there was something not quite right about the potatoes.” said John, “Every single one of them was glowing a slight green color. Anyone who ate them was instantly consumed by the desire to hurt other humans. The mass panic from the “Potatacalypse” was spreading like wildfire across the globe. Every news outlet tried to warn people about the new potato disease, but they were too late. Ireland was the first to go, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Canada followed. Soon it seemed like the world had lost hope, as the potato virus infected millions. No one understood where it came from until a team from Harvard discovered that it was an evolutionary defense mechanism in the potato’s DNA that created a virus capable of infecting the human brain. They concluded that this was a revolt due to the rising number of potatoes consumed by humans. A potato ban was put in place, and anyone seen carrying a potato would be put to death. All known potatoes were destroyed by the local government, except in Israel, where an underground potato operation was underway to save the potatoes. The scientists in Operation Save French Fries discovered a way to reverse the defense mechanism, stopping new potatoes from generating the virus. Soon they shared their information with the world, ending the potato crisis, and that is why you are only allowed to eat one potato per year.”

  9. Amelia Rapp
    305
    The Trees

    There was something not quite right about the look in my grandmother’s eyes this morning
    “gram, are you ok?” I said trying not to be worried, I was also the only one home and I forgot what my mom told me to do if my grandmother ever acts weird.
    “I-I don’t know,” she said with her sweet, soft voice ” I feel not so great dolly”
    “o-ok uhmm?” I said running to the phone,
    “No! don’t call 911”
    “why gram?”
    “well because if something does happen to me I don’t want to be in a hospital bed I want to be in my soft, comfy bed”
    “ok, I guess I won’t then.”
    As I went upstairs I remember that my mom had a list of things to do if she started to act weird I read all the things on the list and on the bottom it said to give her some of the medicine in the kitchen cupboard. I ran down to get it and she was not in her chair were she always would sit I looked out the big glass window looking out to the backyard. I could see her over by the creek surrounded by trees she was sitting on a log look up at the big pine trees.
    “gram?” I said softly so I wouldn’t startle her.
    “Oh, Jenny I was just looking at these trees,” she said with a bright and happy smile, “I used to play by this creek when I was a little girl and climb these trees.”
    “really?” I said, “I guess I never had thought as your life before being my gram.”
    “Oh yes, I was a wild and hipper child,” she said laughing.
    “can I hear some stories?” I asked “well if you feel ok”
    “I feel much better I just needed to get outside”

  10. When I’m Gone
    220 words

    There was something not quite right about the way they walked. Their polished shoes slowly stepping across the floor. The children weren’t bouncing around the room like the usual scene of a family gathering, rather clinging to their mothers’ sides. Color seemed to have left the stuffy room other than the luscious flowers lining the cream walls. Their clothes resembling coals from a fire that had long ago died out.

    Tears flowed silently down immobile faces, as I laid at the front of the room. Their eyes held a deep numbness as if their souls were unwilling to acknowledge reality. Words from the minister brought on fresh tears, as each person approached the line. Each holding a dusty pink rose they neared my mahogany bed, saying their goodbyes as they placed their flower in my hands.

    The last of my family’s sweet words were spoken, and the casket lid was lowered. I was left in complete darkness, never to look upon their faces again, or feel their warm embrace, yet somehow my heart was at ease. And as I laid there in the darkness a flash of light caught the corner of my eye. As my soul left my old world behind and the darkness faded into light, I found myself in a place where all my pain was gone. 

  11. How The Glorious Can Fall
    There was something not quite right about the dull, and grey appearance of the once flourishing planet of Khon-jee, some parts even were set afire. Once, long ago Khon-jee was one of the biggest parts of the galactic farmers market, going as far as nine-teen quadrants away! The prime minister of Khon-jee was always thinking of new ways to make farmlands luscious and life-like, but twenty-nine years ago he was assonated by invading creatures from a far-off planet. The political side of Khon-jee fell apart within the year, but farming thrived for about five more years, before the incident
    ***
    The farmers emerged from their homes and began their work just like any other day. They harvested what was ready and loaded it in packing trucks. They took it on the same route as normal and dropped it off at the local air station. The people of Khon-jee lived a simple life, growing most of their food and trading for the rest, but one-day things weren’t as simple as before. Large families were very common on Khon-jee, most having 6.3 kids on average. Often everyone in a family would come to market day, even the young ones. One day a family of seven came to the farmers market looking for some fruit. The youngest boy, who was about two and a half. He was wandering away from his family when the “Star Shower” happened. (a defining moment in Khon-jee history) the boy was struck with a small glowing rock, this was the first of many. He was killed along with countless others.
    This began an ongoing war with the nearby planet responsible for the bombing. Khon-jee lost this war and all its glory with it.

  12. Ella Steyer
    The Barrier Within us All
    298 words

    There was something not quite right about the barrier. It’s been so long that no one knows what’s beyond the walls. Nobody wishes to know or desires to find out. The last man who tried to scale the wall was never seen again. I still don’t know if that means he succeeded or failed.

    The law prevented society from leaving. A man claimed the walls protected, sheltering his people from whatever he presumed as harmful. He assembled them high enough for no human to pass without equipment. The man taught his subjects to be fearful of the outside. After all, I should know; that man is my father.

    I dragged my feet along the forest floor. Levi glanced over at me. He’d been my best friend since second grade and could read me like an open book. With one glimpse, he understood me. He knew I’ve always hated the walls, felt trapped by them my entire life; but to a higher level recently. Despite his knowledge, he held his tongue. But I’ve never been one to keep quiet.

    “I’m leaving.”

    He stopped in his tracks. He didn’t look surprised; just worried.

    “Where will you go, Faith? There’s nowhere else.”

    My voice remained dead serious yet flooded with anticipation. “But there is. An entire world.”

    “Don’t tell me you believe the stories…”

    Despite his comment, his words lacked judgment. Instead, they were concerned.

    “They’re more than stories, Lev,” I looked in the distance, the direction of the wall. “It’s real. It might be completely different, but whatever’s out there is real.”

    ***

    The world felt bigger. As I sat on top of the wall, staring into a different life, a burden lifted off me. My barrier was gone. I didn’t glance back as I began to climb down the wall.

  13. Eli Washburn
    “A Choice”
    220 words

    There was not quite right about the way she looked at him, her eyes shimmering on the brink of tears.
    “How… how could you do this? After I told you what I wanted”
    “Babe I… I couldn’t do that” Muttered Sam as he sunk into the cracked delivery room chair. Sara looked over at him with his face in his hands, the epitome of conflicted sadness. Tears running freshly down her beautiful face she chokes out the words.
    “I told you if you had to choose between me and our child you would choose the child. Sam, she would have had a full life ahead of her.” Sam made to speak but Sara carried on “Babe I know that you love me I know that you said ‘I do’. I know that you knew that this could kill me but we chose to do this right. My parents said I should abort but we said no because we made life, life so precious I was ready to die for it.”
    “Sara I’m so sorry….” Cried Sam drops rolling into his beard. “I just couldn’t let you go. You… you mean too much to me” Sam’s face descends back into his hands. Silence sets over the room, Sara on the bed Sam in the chair and the baby in the bassinet.

  14. The green eyes

    There was something not quite right about where the horse’s head should have been.

    Emily’s legs were weary. She had ran away from home, and had not stopped to rest for four hours. She was now deep into the forest. It was quite beautiful, as long rays of sunlight peeked through the treetops. She sat down to rest with a sigh. Emily heard a foot stamp very close behind her, or rather, a hoof stamp.

    Emily sharply turned around. Her eyes followed the source of the noise. Out of the dirt encrusted hooves strong legs grew up to a towering figure. But instead of a horse head, there was a human body. A man. He was a centaur. His green eyes seemed to bore into hers.

    In a rush, all of Emily’s senses came back to her. She stumbled back quickly. The centaur cocked his head at her. She thought she saw the wisp of a small smile. He walked toward her. She tensed and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, his strong hand was outstretched toward her. The bright green eyes found the blue. Emily reached up and took his hand.

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