Oct 302014

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.04. As it’s Halloween tomorrow, let’s have something a bit scary.

Imagine you return home from a busy day at work. You put on the radio to listen to some relaxing music or catch up on the day’s news only to hear this:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars. The battle which took place tonight at Grovers Mill has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by any army in modern times; seven thousand men armed with rifles and machine guns pitted against a single fighting machine of the invaders from Mars.

That’s what greeted those who tuned in to the 1938 radio dramatization of HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds. The widespread panic among the American public reported by the press was greatly exaggerated, however, the repercussions were wide-reaching. Adolf Hitler, less than a year away from ordering the invasion of Poland that would start World War II, said the broadcast was “evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy.”

Let’s celebrate Halloween, science fiction, and democracy with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Daniel Lee via CC.

Photo Credit: Daniel Lee via CC.

Judging this week’s contest is Geoff Holme, winner of MB1.03. Read his winning story here, and what he has to say about flash fiction here. Geoff is a stickler for punctuation so proofread extra carefully this week. Have fun!


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with EARTH and ending with COLONY and incorporating the photo prompt.


Anyone, but especially you!


Why not? Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.


Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).




Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

  86 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.04 – EARTH [micro] COLONY”

  1. Be All That You Can Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

    Earth. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Slug Force 3000. To boldly go where no mollusk has gone before. To seek out new plant life, new civilizations, blah, blah, blah.

    That’s what they tell you when you sign up.

    What they don’t tell you is what happens after boot camp (which, by the way, literally involves dodging boots). Each slug is assigned to a branch of the service tree.

    I was assigned the kitchen. I boldly go into the pantry, boldly get the rations and boldly prepare the day’s grub (which, today, happens to be ground up grub).

    Mom was right. I never should’ve left the colony.

    110 words

  2. The Savior

    Earth grips me fiercely as I awaken. Struggling I scream into the breathing apparatus. Yet the suffocating darkness is unyielding.

    I cannot move.

    My last recollection is meeting the Leader, discussing my research breakthrough. Walking together across the meadow towards the hub. Explaining how I had perfected the technology, that my research would be the salvation of our resource stricken world.

    He stooped inspecting the cables that drew out power, the tubes that fed nutrients down into the dirt. Enquiring after the batteries. My boastful assurances that below lay enough for a hundred years.

    Now there’s just the darkness and I.

    Cables slowly siphoning out my soul.

    Fuelling the colony.

    110 words

  3. Earth, fresh clefts and chasms caused by the upheaval of tectonic plates, tired of moving from side to side, deciding to shoot up through the surface, forming severe mountain ranges, sending waves rippling across the oceans to smash on the opposite shores, or to meet in the middle and slap together, force against force and nowhere to go, except everywhere, gobbling up glaciers, crunching on coasts, sinking islands and abandoning beaches so violently they became sudden deserts of shellfish, was not doing too well.

    The reverend finished his sermon. We left the church happy, convinced we were safe and protected in his colony.

  4. Emerald Earth
    105 words

    Earth abides, with its attendant moon. Across the black of space, eyes observe the long-period comets, 4 million years in the void, the sun a distant cinder.

    Meanwhile, on the leafy streets, an alien invasion begins. From the wood of a packing crate by the loading dock of an import shop, the Emerald Ash beetles emerge, seeking the unsuspecting trees. One after another, they colonize communities, under the bark, invisible.

    Now comes cold and dark. The nymphs sleep, pupating, secreting antifreeze. They can survive temperatures of 20-below zero. Sustained extremes can kill them.

    January deep-freeze offers little comfort, but 3 weeks of this could wipe out the emerald colony.

  5. Down to Earth (110 words)

    Earth, like the bacteria fornicating under my fingernails, was a nuisance, but only just.

    They were the slugs of the galaxy, slogging around and around the sun, spilling each other’s blood while the stars awaited.

    From our vantage point, we, too, waited for any sign that they were ready. Thousands of years, kings and queens, empires, blips in technological explosion and even Apollo, we waited.

    And still they would always, always collapse back into insignificance.

    I’d weep if I had eyes, but in frustration, I’d torn them out after Genghis Khan’s rise.

    Now I hardly notice them. I receive daily reports that I half-read on the happenings in the “colony.”

  6. Last Chance
    106 words

    “Earth to Susan! What are you doing?”

    Susan held up the leaf. It was greener than any they had grown in this soil.

    “It has fungus, Max.”

    Max took the leaf and examined the small lumps. They reminded Susan of the long-extinct octopus, though she’d only seen pictures.

    Earth had died long ago. Colonizing this planet was the human race’s last hope.

    The phrase “Earth to Susan” was long out of date, and cruel.

    “We’ll find a way to combat it,” Max said. “Don’t worry. You do good work.”

    Susan hoped he was right – for her own sake, and for the sake of the colony.

  7. I am amazed by the epic sweep of this piece. So much, in so few words….

  8. @stellakateT
    108 words

    Death by Rhubarb

    “Earth calling Earth” I laughed at the time recalling “Mork calling Orson” but now I want to stuff my ears full of clods of terra firma to block it out. No one responds to the May-Day that calls through space, unheard like my tears falling and my beating heart.

    Boarding this flight one Halloween, we were full of hope and promise not knowing that Death had boarded too. We’d left the Grim Reaper behind to seek a safe home. We were the chosen few and now only I survive, we’d found the bugs attached to the rhubarb plants that would grow and nourish us in the New Colony

  9. Once

    Earth was once a dream. Did you know that?
    Composited slivers of color rich thoughts and wishes grew bright and spherical.
    We meant for it to be fruitful and multiply, to grow beyond our initial imaginations.
    But this sphere bred dangers we could not imagine.
    Who knew that a failure of dreaming would be the thing we could not foresee?
    Were we gods?
    No. Maybe.
    But we now we are small. We are an aggregation of untended imagination filaments growing together on stems of the world, now an impish forgotten colony.

    91 words

  10. Silent Slumber
    (91 words)

    Earth’s people sleep while their silent enemy grows. The dark, rich womb of Earth’s own soil hosts the gentle uprising, and the world glistens with the enemy’s speckled issue.

    Office blocks and parliaments are made dormitories. Doctors lie at patients’ bedsides. Children board at school desks. They cannot wake from their apathetic slumber, intoxicated by the heady, perfumed dew of a poisonous beauty.
    Armies, unconscious of an enemy, offer no resistance.

    Human complexity suspended: all pain has gone, all conflict and desire.
    The enemy thickens, and Earth is its peaceful colony.

  11. Love this. Beautiful writing–and such a brilliant idea. Wonderful story.

    Blue Sky Thinking
    By Geoff Holme

    “’Earth satellite’, Minister?”

    “Generic term. We’re talking gyratory space station.”

    “Sounds astronomically expensive – excuse the pun.”

    “The new single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicles, fuelled by environmentally friendly hydrogen and oxygen, mean costs have fallen exponentially. The facility will be launched in parts and assembled in orbit. When up and running, with support staff in place, the first colonists will be transferred.

    “We hope the facility will become self-sufficient, with the colonists cultivating crops hydroponically.”

    “Ingenious solution, Minister. Does the project have a name?”

    “Our working title is ‘New Australia’. After all, the Aussies have made quite a success of their homeland from its humble origins as a penal colony.”

    Word Count: 109

  13. Make Believe

    “Earth,” proclaimed the little boy.

    “That’s original, Horace.”

    “It’s H.G., and wadda you know anyhow?”

    “If I were creating my own world, I would name it Zondor and it would have colonies of slugs that inhabited the leafy planet.” Aubry’s pigtails bounced around as she spoke.

    “Go play dolls.”

    “You’re a big meanie, Horace!”

    Another autumn had settled in, and the scent of mulled cider was wafting through the air as Aubry sat on the bench. Those strange miniature slugs were nibbling on the season’s remaining leaves.

    Five years since his passing and Aubry still remembers marrying the man who once didn’t know the meaning of the word colony.

    110 words

  14. Autochthonous

    Earth clings like a barnacle to a distant sun. Moody purple clouds bruise the beige sky, and we make the seasonal trek to the spring.

    “Wash up,” Miri announces, the lilt in her voice masking her revulsion from our sons. I want to vomit.

    Wielding pumice stones, the boys splash into the shallows. They go to work scraping scaled knobs off their shins and forearms. The scalies leave behind tiny asterisks, red ones twinkling through old white constellations.

    The scalies never plagued the original colonists. They waited for us to have children, invading their little worlds of flesh.

    Miri wraps their limbs in gauze, feeble armor against the next colony.

    110 words

  15. Salvation
    110 words

    Earth was a myth, nothing more than a fairy tale used to teach children about the horrors of war and the dangers of overconsumption.

    And yet, here it was. The blue and white marbling matched the crude picture drawn by his father’s great-grandfather.

    But it was not ready; nature had not yet recovered. The air was still noxious, the rivers poisoned. The only remaining creatures fed on the carrion of the Earth, and its bones were nearly clean.

    He returned to his ship and set the autopilot for home, the unknowing transport for a legion of hungry stowaways.

    Humans, after all, weren’t the only ones looking for a new colony.

  16. Rebirth

    “Earth is damned,” I screamed at those that had gathered to see my end.
    They jeered and laughed at that. I was bound and chained and now I burned. Parasites all, they’d clung to me as I brought shoots of life to their dying community yet I had received no thanks, only betrayal.
    I screamed again as the fire claimed me in its fierce embrace but these were no death throes, these were in triumph at my rebirth.
    Cleansed, I shed my human skin and the flames parted before me. Now it was my turn to feed, rebuild in my image and I would start with this colony.

    108 words

  17. Infectious
    110 words

    Earth trickled in through the cracks above her supine body, slowly filling the coffin like a lethal hourglass.

    “Witch!” they had yelled as they dragged her towards the open grave.

    She understood their fear. She had been watching the spores spread like a plague since they had arrived with a flash of fire in the sky. Studying them, she figured out how to stop them. It was too late. They saw only death and needed someone to blame.

    Now the crops would die and people would follow when winter tightened its icy grip.

    Fear was as infectious as those things. And just as deadly, for her and for the colony.

  18. Punctuated Equilibrium
    108 words

    Earthworm Jim was what the Herald called him. To us, he was plain James Erdmann, the orphan kid who’d eat anything. Dirt. Bugs. Leaves. But mostly dirt.

    He’d come to school filthy, smelling like compost, only to be sent home. Years later, Mum spotted him outside Fancy Plants. She knew the manager, Dennis:

    “Has James worked here long?”
    “James who?”

    Next Halloween, we thought it would be fun to go visit. Dirty black house and the aroma of freshly turned soil. As I told the reporter, I shone my torch inside. My beam revealed a writhing mass. James, eyeless, stared back from the centre of his colony.

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