Dec 042014

Namaste. Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.09. Om, or aum, is a sacred sound of Hindu origin. The syllable is composed of the three sounds A, U, and M and its threefold nature is central to its representation of several important triads:

  • the three worlds – earth, atmosphere, and heaven
  • the three major Hindu gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva
  • the three sacred Vedic scriptures – Rg, Yajur, and Sama

Thus om embodies the essence of the entire universe. No wonder it’s considered the greatest of all mantras.

Someone who makes time for meditation is The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, who celebrates his 65th birthday today. Bridges is a very talented chap. Not only is he a great actor (he’s been nominated for six Academy Awards and won the award for best actor as Bad Blake in the 2009 film Crazy Heart), but he is also a musician (Bridges performed many of the songs in Crazy Heart himself), and photographer. His favourite camera is the Widelux, a camera that is capable of capturing detailed panoramas due its swing turret lens.

Let’s help Jeff celebrate his birthday with this week’s Widelux photo prompt (click on it for a larger image):

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via CC.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is John Cassidy, winner of MB1.08. Read his winning story here, and what he has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with SACRED and ending with SOUND 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:




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!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

  72 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.09 – SACRED [micro] SOUND”

  1. oh dear can you scrap that – I put the wrong last word in!!!!! ahhhhhh!

  2. @avalina_kreska

    ‘Artificial’ Intelligence?

    ‘Sacred, that’s what it is,’ Doug said, heaving the huge, wet mop around the floor.
    ‘What is?’ Ron inquired, emptying the rubbish bins.
    ‘Language. It’s God given. They’ve no right giving it to some A.I. machine,’ Doug said.
    ‘I guess those scientists know what they’re doing,’ Ron said, finding something of interest stuck together with gum.
    ‘I wonder what sex it’ll be?’ Doug said, coming perilously close with his mop.
    ‘Male, they always are in films,’ Ron replied.
    Doug tugged at the mop that was stuck on something, the A.I. Machine leaned awkwardly before crashing to the floor.
    ‘Doug – you bloody, stupid CRETIN!’ the female A.I. screamed; a deafening sound.

    (110 ‘intelligent’ human words?)

    • You’ve made the female AI so human – just so typical in that shrieked comment, made me smile. Great last line.

  3. Twilight of a Champion

    Sacred solemn footsteps echoed as they gathered. Tears staining faces cast down in grief. Slowly they surrounded the fading body, the last of its kind.

    She had once soared like an angel. Her white trails bisecting perfect blue, an ethereal signature that marked their certainty in a world of eternal progress.

    Now that age had passed. Eyes watched Max, heir to an empire corroded like Rome. Words sticking in his throat as he tried to reflect the grief on their faces.

    The world was different now, larger, he whispered.


    For what are we without oil?

    Flames licked at steel, as they left without a sound.

    106 words


    Sacred it truly is, the privilege to peep through his favourite antique of a gadget.

    But how objects at both extremes hang precariously bother me some – as though if my grip wobbled, the fellow on the ladder to the right with his aircraft would come sliding, crashing into the pretty lady in the center. Dad yaks about the device’s ‘wide angle lens,’ ‘aspect ratio,’ (or is it ‘field of view’?) as responsible for that ‘panoramic view.’ Whatever.

    Thrill of my 6th birthday treat peaks with the brief flash on depressing the knob – this moment captured and cached into my childhood memory by the shutter’s clicking sound.

    (108 words)

  5. Grounded
    110 words

    “Sacred are the ones who repair, for they keep the planes from exploding.”

    “Are you supposed to be a priest, or some kind of infomercial?” Marie asked.

    “Why can’t I be both?” Jen looked up at the plane, in the midst of repairs. “I hate planes. Humans were meant to be grounded. No offense.”

    Marie shrugged. Her mother was the pilot; she was almost a dentist.

    “It’s time,” Marie said.

    “She looks busy.”

    Jen had been avoiding this for weeks.

    Marie gripped Jen’s hand tightly. Marie’s mother stopped working and smiled down at them.

    “I want to marry your daughter,” Jen said.

    Marie had never heard a more beautiful sound.

  6. Them

    No, scared. Her tears jumbled words and confused meanings.
    She understands how he might find taking to the sky to be sacred, to posses a skill that most people did not, but to do so for this particular purpose? Scared made more sense.
    He wrote of being selected to fly up and meet them, to bring an end to our questions, to find out who they are. But to meet the unknown made him afraid not venerated.
    “I am scared.” The second to last sentence he’ll ever write. Short. Simple. Everything. Until: “I am broken, I am being killed by a sound…”

    103 words


    Sacred relics are not allowed on board.
    In theory, but the splinter nestles in a pocket and has seen him through thus far. Now it must see him home.
    The main fuel tank is showing low and he struggles to switch to back-up. Taut fingers close round the wooden sliver, pressing hard until the skin parts. Bacilli of ancient pustules surge into the flesh like vomit, devouring white cells and stunning the red.
    As the craft hurtles towards earth and then past, the eyes roll upwards and bowels open for the last time. His reasoning has been far from sound.

    (word count 100. @JacquelinePye)

  8. Beyond

    Sacred is how she felt when she was flying. There was no better experience than gliding through the clouds, all of her worries left behind on the ground. She could stay up there all day, going up, up, up until there was no more up to go. She secretly hoped that one day she would go so far that she would leave the earth’s atmosphere, leave it all behind and venture into the worlds beyond. Keep on flying beyond the clouds, beyond the capacity of the fuel tank, beyond the presence of sound.

    word count: 93

  9. Compatible Soul

    Sacred connections tickled her nerves. Jaya’s fingers danced mudras along the fuselage, then curled into a fist. The mantras withered in her throat.

    She wasn’t feeling it.

    The aptitude tests had to be wrong. The melding of pilot brain with the vessel marked an immeasurable advance in space exploration. Spirit supposedly moved in the synergy of mechanism and mind. Sounded like woo to her.

    The cockpit closed around her like a fist. What if disbelief could kill her? She stiffened at the surge of alien awareness.

    The compatibility startled her. “Why all—?”

    Holy endeavors secure popular support.

    Jaya chuckled. “Let the pilgrimage commence.”

    They blinked away without a sound.

    110 words

  10. Burning Bridges

    Sacred psalmody, repugnant profanity: the panoply of human utterance – infinite permutations of finite sounds… I’m a linguist, fascinated by the ways mankind communicates.

    Seemingly the loner, Faizal, our translator, became my friend, teaching me the dialect of this part of Afghanistan.

    But now he’s racing into the repair hangar, a firearm glinting in his hand. A crazy, heart-stopping moment before I react and shoot him in the head.

    Against all odds, he’s still alive, lips convulsing. I lean forward, my eyes fixed on his left fist – releasing the trigger mechanism.

    “B-b-b- om…”

    The last phonemes I register before I’m blown away: murmurings on the threshold of audible sound.

    Word Count: 110

  11. The Morning After

    Sacred silence sits heavy in the hangar, broken only by the pat of my sneakers. I flip all the right switches, and the lights buzz on. I squint at the brightness and wish I’d stopped to buy that coffee after all. Ouch.

    I carry a standing ladder to the plane and flinch when it screeches open against the floor. I sift through my tools, inconsistently successful at preventing the clanks that rattle my brain.

    The pills aren’t working. My head pounds. Idiot.

    “Just a few drinks,” she’d said, giving her hair that little toss. “How does that sound?”

    Word Count: 98

  12. My Life
    106 words

    Sacred to my ears, the sound of a fine tuned engine, Uncle Ted has taught me well. One day I will learn to fly and take this beauty to the ends of the earth. He calls me Amelia after that woman that went missing. I’m not following that flight plan! I’ve mapped my future I’ll be a celebrity famed for flying solo around the world. A wealthy handsome man will see my picture in The Times fall madly in love with me and marry me in Westminster Abbey. We’ll have lots of children. I tell no one my dreams; I fear their laughter, a hollow sound.

  13. Bird Calling

    Peg Stueber

    “Sacred is the flight of the bird, to take wing upon sky and soar amongst cloud. Observe, oversee, monitor the heavy ones. Gaia watches through you.”

    When the sun rises, so does the ancient one, singing the morning call to send us on our tasks. The aerie fills with the cacophony of wing and song as my bretheren take to the sky.

    Today, I shall perch near the predator upright’s wing enclave, where they house their funny hollow avians, to sing and observe until Gaia has her fill.

    “Birdsong,” one pipes up, throwing a chunk of bread my way, “I never tire of the sound.”
    105 words

    • I love your twist with the protagonist!

    • Neat perspective in this story.

      I like “predator upright” as a bird’s eye view of a human (but I suspect that the apostrophe is in the wrong place as a plural seems to be indicated by the rest of the sentence).

      [And you have an ‘o’ missing from ‘cacophony’ but I’m sure David would remedy that, if you asked him.]

  14. Sacrosanct

    Sacred stones, given to me by my father, weigh down my pockets and help add conviction to my stride. Earth’s vibrational energy is suffused beneath my feet as I draw from its strength with each footfall.

    I know what I’m supposed to say, do.

    Power and greed have commandeered the intuitive mind of man. I’m not sure what they believe they’ll gain when all the wars have been won, but the whole of humanity will be lost.

    My father’s mistake was trusting the system. It’s a mistake I won’t repeat.

    The screaming engines come to life as I arrive for the trials. They weren’t expecting me to make a sound.

    100 words

  15. Unity
    110 words

    “Sacred are you, sacred are we”.
    Muttered it’s no hymn. No depth in space.

    She’s a Grypyn XI, a vicious harmony. She guards the so called Capitalith; Tower 7 of Financial District. She’s a slayer of men but she’s frail today, stalled.

    Her gemini invades her gently, fingers in eyes. Under her skin, she finds the cause of the flight fail light. A damaged panel- minor, but an unexpected chink. Furtively she observes that no one monitors this and it will not impair her.

    In this sororal complicity, minor defects are mute.

    Her bleeding nose is powdered and the machine part of her comes online. There is awareness. No sound.

    • I had to google “sororal”. Lol I like the gemini reference. Interesting relationship. Is it symbiotic? Do they work together (e.g., pilot and half machine)?

  16. Redressing the Balance

    110 words

    Sacred Wings offered cut-price flights to retired priests, a heavenly experience for discerning ex-clerics. Jonah was their pilot.

    He welcomed his party noting their robes and crucifixes, useless adornments that would not offer them any protection; whatever happened was not in God’s hands.

    Jonah had his instructions and his parachute; the priests had cost his own Master too many souls and the balance needed redressing.

    Once airborne, he jumped; pulling his ripcord to the music of their dying prayers. His triumphant laughter however, faded when his parachute failed. He cried out to his Master but there was no answer as he fell and from the darkness there came no sound.

  17. Meg the Engineer
    110 words

    Sacred? No, just a very expensive tool. Very fragile. Very…


    Meg inhaled sharply and recoiled as the clip tore away from the canopy release. She gripped it in her palm, eyes darting around.

    Stomach sinking, she mourned the clip. Such a tiny thing, surely frivolous but certainly another week of unpaid leave.

    If only.

    Meg’s eyes rested on Meg’s bicycle. Meg’s eyes rested on the lever of the bell on Meg’s bicycle, which was the same size as the unbroken clip.

    Maybe the supervisor shouldn’t be troubled, it would, after all, be a lot of unwelcome paperwork.

    The bell lever snapped into place with a tiny and tortured sound.

    • That’s what engineers do, right? 😉

      Great take on the photo and the first to incorporate that incongruous bicycle.

    • Funny. Just trying to imagine how long the plane will be airborne before disaster strikes!

    • Haha Paperwork… Probably required in triplicate. Bureaucracy never hurt anyone, right? Lol

      And I didn’t even notice the bike. Nice incorporation.

  18. Collateral Damage

    110 words

    Sacred – the bond between man and machine. Before the war, there was only the dream of flight, and against all odds, man conquered the skies.

    Now, their bombs lit the ground with fire. She’d seen the Earth shake, toppling buildings and burying their inhabitants alive.

    A traitor. That’s what they’d brand her. But she couldn’t bear to see another dead child carried through the streets.

    It wouldn’t take much to sabotage the engines.

    The pilots were just soldiers; that, she knew. Pawns merely following the orders they were given. Today, they were collateral damage.

    Soon, man would be grounded again, the burning wreckage of their planes the only sound.

  19. Blessings On Your Young Courage

    SACRED. Father Shep chuckles. When did he last do that?

    Three full months since that jump jet plummeted from the blackness (“pilot error”) onto Stanley Cottage. Entire Toller family presumed dead including Vern, the eldest, who turned up next morning, tired from an overnight tagging trip. Shep pitied the poor lad staring into the rubble.

    A fortnight later, Vern appeared at Shep’s youth club – “Care homes ain’t for me” – and made a nest in the TV lounge.

    Finally accepting Shep’s invitation, Vern’s lettered the long white wall:


    Maybe the boy has been listening. He’s sleeping now, safe and sound.

    109 words

  20. Sacred

    Sacred and I face each other once more. How sadistic fate can be, assigning me to repair the wings of the aircraft that clipped my own. I touch its cold metal and feel the heat of the flames it brought upon my hometown. How could a lifeless object change lives so dramatically? Once I sat in the pilot’s seat I understood: power is not in the weapon, but in the hands of those who use it. I turn on the engine and cover my ears. I cannot bear to hear the screams of the people around me, their skins burning into ashes. Cries and agony drown the engine’s sound.

    109 words

  21. In the Cockpit (110 words)

    Sacred talk of “up there” was something they flaunted in order to get their pesky peckers ahead of Kathleen.

    “Are you sure about this, Kathleen? This isn’t the simulator, you could get hurt up there, ya know,” Frank said, with Dave holding back a smirk like a combustible orgasm.

    Frank tacked on “ya know” with such patriarchal patronizing, Kathleen was sure she could have tossed him into the engine of the whirring plane.

    It’s as if they were planning on flying by those fucking peckers.

    She beat them in every flight simulation. She was the best goddamn pilot.

    With the fabled “up there,” she’d win. Their Pecker Philosophy wasn’t sound.

  22. Crash Test Impulses
    110 words

    Sacred words never came when she closed the door of the crash test vehicle. Nancy could never bring herself to pray over the cadavers she’s transported to the labs. She was a woman of science and to bring mysticism into this cruel but necessary work would betray her own commitment to rationalism.

    She put a cloth bag over the cadaver, resting the sewn in pressure pad over the corpse’s forehead. She gave the thumbs up to the engineer in the booth. Nancy wondered if this grandmother ever thought she’d be in the cockpit of a fighter jet. Nancy laughed, relieved that the din of the jet would cover the sound.


  23. Lots of awesome stories in this round! Nice work, everyone.

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