Dec 182014

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.11. Thanks for stopping by. Grab that popcorn and let’s watch a movie.

Movies in the United States are given a rating based on their content by The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The ratings are G (general audiences), PG (parental guidance suggested), PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned), R (restricted), and NC-17 (adults only). In the early 1980s complaints were made about the amount of violence and gore in PG-rated movies such as Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The solution was the introduction of the PG-13 rating.

Can you guess whose great idea the PG-13 rating was? That’s right, the man who directed or produced the aforementioned movies, Steven Spielberg, who celebrates his 68th birthday today. Considered one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema, he has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan), and directed other classic movies such as Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones series. Join me in a rendition of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow for Steven with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Helium Paper and Party via CC.

Photo Credit: Helium Paper and Party via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Rasha Tayaket, winner of MB1.10. Read her winning story here, and what she has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with RATING and ending with SYSTEM 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.

  58 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.11 – RATING [micro] SYSTEM”

  1. Teatime
    ( 108 words)
    Rating humans over dinosaurs was a big mistake in my humble opinion. Weak tea and a draughty room in the old Celestial Centre had made most of the Decision Makers impatient – and they were an impatient bunch anyway. They hated these humdrum duties and surroundings. The Chair didn’t like ostentation: things were to be kept real.
    ‘So, let the minutes of the meeting show: dinosaurs are to be made extinct and our new recruits are to be cave dwellers who, in time, will show rudimentary intelligence. Until we convene again, Omnipotents.’
    As I cleared away their teaspoons, I thought (quietly) about how they needed to change this system.

    • Great use of the bookends: the opening line ties in perfectly with the closing one. And the subtle mention of “…the old celestial centre…” hints at the future turn of events.

      Good story – shame I was thinking along similar lines! (Back to the drawing board…)

      • Thank you. Glad the bookends seem to work.
        I have no doubts you’ll come up with a far better concept than this anyway! Look forward to reading it.

        • Nice of you to say that, Marie, but not enough time due to Christmas commitments.

          I came up with a reasonable idea but poor execution.

          (May have a second crack at the prompt later, if time allows.)

    • First tale and it could very well be the winner… great story Marie …

    • Enjoyed the “all-powerfuls” at tea discussing world events… Nice job.

    • Love this. Reminds a bit of Douglas Adams, I like the way even omnipotents drink tea.


    Brian S Creek
    106 words


    “Yeah, what level are you?” said the prick stood next to me. “I’m level 40. Finally get to hunt dinosaurs. This is the big leagues.”

    “If you say so.”

    Screens flicker to life on the wall next to us showing the landscape outside the pod; all dense flora. I spot a few of the beasts lurking in the tree line.

    The prick flicks the safety on his high power rifle. “My pride and joy,” he says. “Gonna bag me a Rex. So seriously, what level are you?”

    I hold up a single table spoon as the doors hiss open. “Me? I’m not in the system.”

  3. Theory

    Rating the blue-green planet as “High Probability”, Xirbobrix blasted off in the lander.

    His creator, Zikkiz, had fought his way up the clan hierarchy to become alpha male. But a chromosomal defect meant he could sire only females; no male rose to challenge his dominance.

    He moved from clan to clan: the same story.

    Desperate, Zikkiz built the cyborg to carry his seed and sent him into the starry void.

    Xirbobrix relentlessly roamed the cosmos, urged on by the greatest impulse: procreation.

    After close analysis, he identified the saurians as dominant. Perhaps they would prove more adaptable.

    If not, there would be another planet in another solar system.

    Word Count: 110

    • David

      Too much fiddly editing…

      Can I please make the following changes?

      “He moved from clan” to “He moved from clan to clan”;

      “the dominant species” to “dominant”.


    • Great use of ‘system’ – worked so well. You were far more original than me! You’ve used the photo prompt so well, too. I love that ‘saurians’ are his next choice. You worked that in effortlessly. (Although the feminist in me can’t see that siring only females is a defect! Lol. ) Well done. Great read.

      • Thanks, Marie.
        The idea was that Zikkiz had become the only male left in a desperate attempt to produce a male offspring so effectively the species had died out. But then he was advanced enough to produce a cyborg and an intergalactic space vehicle… Too far fetched I think.

  4. Kat’s Magical Spoons
    A.J. Walker

    Rating Kat’s chance of finding all his homemade dinosaur eggs as a long way south of negligible Sam sat back on the porch and laughed.

    Kat waltzed theatrically out into the garden and spun around to look at Sam.

    ‘You wanna double up on that bet?’ She shouted.

    Sam laughed. ‘A fool and her money.’ He nodded.

    Kat pulled out the spoons and within fifteen minutes all ten of the lurid plastic dinosaurs were laid out in front of Sam.

    ‘Incredible.’ he said. ‘How did ya do it, really?’

    ‘Magical spoons, Sam. They can do anything. Some day I’m gonna use them to solve the mysteries of the solar system’

    (110 words) @zevonesque

  5. Certifiable
    109 words


    “Rating this house any lower would have it condemned, Mr. Puddle,” said Mr. Stone.

    “I’m afraid that’s the best I can give,” said Mr. Puddle.

    “I keep it good repair!” the homeowner protested.

    Mr. Puddle shook his head. “I am the CEO of Home Classification Limited and as an expert I can’t rate your home any higher. We can’t select it for the Grand Prize.”

    They hadn’t even mentioned what the Grand Prize was yet, but today’s homeowner was a certifiable sucker.

    “I’ve got to win!” he said. “Tell me what to do!”

    It started with a large donation, of course. Mr. Puddle and Mr. Stone had a system.

  6. Birthday Dig

    Rating venues, for ‘fun factor,’ is something my father would’ve never done. He didn’t do birthday parties or childhood.

    Jump-ability has my first grader and me trolling the seven different inflatable party centers locally. We’re all about the fun.

    Entertainment was once cruising the strip in my Celica picking up hotties. That’s how I became the proud father of an astute six year old, who’s decided dinosaurs and jumpy-houses make for excellent fun.

    “Mama gots gummy T-rexs and we gets to dig in Oreos and eats them!”

    “Mama’s an awesome chick, little dude.” I smile as his pudgy fingers return to skillfully manipulating his portable gaming system.

    110 words

  7. Overruled
    (96 Words)

    Rating him as a high flight risk, the judge denied bail.

    Shuffling out of the courtroom, orange jumpsuit, shackled at the wrist, his eyes darted to his mother sitting four rows back, staring at her lap. If she felt his eyes on her, she ignored them. He knew then she believed he was guilty. Her refusal to look at him was worse than any punishment the jury could hand down.

    The holding cell opened and he stumbled into a room of metal and concrete, just another man, numb, and caught in the teeth of the system.

  8. 105 words

    Jack and Me

    “Rating me for what?” I yelled
    Jack smiled that lazy smile of his.
    “All the blokes do it” he smiled.

    I sat back at the dining room table and looked at the picture. I was supposed to say words that I associated with spoons and dinosaurs. Porridge, extinct, coffee, dead, sugar, tyrannosaurus, my mind was going blank. I hated games.

    “Have you got another picture I could look at?”

    He shook his head, “we have to compare answers and then we know”

    “No what?” I yelled again

    Before he could answer, I unplugged his power pack. Jack stopped smiling, my greatest pleasure, disabling his system.

    • sorry forgot my twitter name @stellakateT 🙂

    • My comment didn’t appear first time. So sorry if it appears in duplicate.
      Loved the snapshot of what seems like domestic life. But that ending is great. Is he some sort of robot? Great use of dinosaur prompt.

  9. Inner Monologue

    Rating other people’s children has to be a common occurance.
    I mean, I can’t be the only mother who secretly does this.
    Gerald: two stars, tells some great jokes, little creeper has some great natural timing, but he also called my Birdie a slug-faced hobbit.
    Rosie: three stars, likes to use her imagination but told Birdie that there are snakes living in the drains and now bathtime is more full of screams than a Hitchcock film.
    Is that poop?
    Oh. Eggs.
    It looks like dung.
    Hunter just whacked Birdie on the back of her hand with a spoon.
    Should adjust for negative stars in my system.

    108 words

  10. Relics
    “Rating one’s life is a foolish chore Sebastian.”
    Sebby looked up from the dinosaurs currently terrorising the sofa. Grandad plucked Alex the triceratops from his companions, slumping back into his chair, spinning the dinosaur within his leathery fingers.
    Silence. Alex spinning. Grandad staring at the rain soaked world lying outside the window.
    “Time, hurts more than anything else you know. Snapshots, faded memories, roaming in isolation.”
    “Have you forgotten your medicine today?”
    Grandad shrugged, “ whose winning?”
    Sebby pointed to a nearby storm-trooper, perched atop the sofa, sniping from afar.
    Grandad nodded knowingly, “that’s the thing with bad guys they know how to game the system.”

  11. Mating Dance

    Rating potential candidates to woo in ninety second increments is like playing Twister with a blind man. Speed dating, another craze my sister has convinced (coerced) me to attend. Granted, we are allotted a generous three minutes, but none made it beyond the ninety second mark before I lost interest.

    I’m a fossil in their killing field.

    Right hand, red.

    “You wish your ex dead?” I repeat.


    Left foot, blue.

    “…migratory patterns of birds; how they flew.”


    Right foot, yellow.

    “…like, shots? Jello ones!”


    Left hand, green.

    “Quite a cold-front we’ve seen…”


    I’ve defective DNA, and love in the Digital Age is a corrupt system.

    110 words

  12. “Rating- HO5… You’re kidding? … Open peril? …for a five-year-olds birthday party?” The intensity in my voice raising as exasperation set in.

    “Yes, five… Clowns and a bounce house with dual slides,” retelling the story for the umpteenth time, this time to the claim adjustor’s manager.

    “A piñata filled with small action figures. Just as Samuel took his last swing, a gust of wind blew. He swung…The piñata fell … Carried straight to the campfire… moments later, we were watching the last of the cabin fall into ruins.”

    “Yes, I have him weekends,” my irritation worsening as I bent retrieving a melted valve to my new Swann home sprinkler system.

  13. Plastic Diplodocus P.I.
    110 words

    Rating Trex’s latest imported whiskey wasn’t easy. A full night’s work. Sitting at my regular table in his bar, Crater, I’m behind the door if five of Trike’s boys bust in waving roscoes like they’ve seen in movies.

    I poured four slugs. To the last guy standing I growled, ‘Listen up Daisy, if Trike wants to speak to me, he comes himself, Savvy? Make dust.”

    I waited an hour thinking how the four stiffs actually brightened the joint.

    I finished up. Left the empty bottle with Trex and dropped him a C for the trouble.

    “You on a case Dip?” he asked.

    “Couldn’t say so Trex. You know the system.”

  14. Cuxhaven, 1914

    107 words

    Rating Jones stared into the distance.

    All was calm, all was bright.

    Yet the boilers had died making HMS Empress a floating target. Any minute now those sky borne dinosaurs, those Zeppelin death-bringers, would emerge from the mist and they would be condemned.

    With the dawn of redeeming grace.

    And this was Christmas?

    Sing Hallelujah!

    Jones heard his name called, an order to return below; back to stoking the coals of hell. No silver spoon in his mouth at birth, he had no choice but to obey.

    Sleep in heavenly peace.

    Humanity had no place here. He was no longer a man, just part of the system.

  15. Contents May Settle During Transit

    “Rating by the Food Standards Agency? 43% sugar by weight!”

    “I know, Brachy, I know.”

    “Yet Moon Rox are apparently All Natural! Whole grain, my Cretaceous butt!”

    “Brachy, it’s all true but that’s behind us. We need to plan ahead, move on, try to find Patty and the others.”

    “We’re herbivores, Iggy! Foliage feeders! It’s inhuman to shut us in those boxes!”

    “Get a grip, quadruped. Take a deep breath. Hey, I think I caught a glimpse of a spine behind that toasted oat boulder.”

    “But Iggy, I need water! Even milk would do! I need to flush this frosting out of my system!”

    108 words

    • Obviously the gestation for this piece was at the breakfast table, unless you are one of those sad people who eat cereal any time of day. (Oh no, that’s me…)

      Another chuckle-fest from you, Ed. Loved it!

  16. Wings
    By Anna Elizabeth
    wc – 109

    Rating different creatures on their development on photo day was something teachers did each year, and was something which Zalia had always loathed. This was mainly on account of her under developed wings, which had made her skill set close to that of a plastic dinosaur in the teacher’s eyes.

    Her wings now were something to be envied. Though still a little small, they made up for it with their vibrant colours. The best colours of Autumn.

    Despite her wings’ major improvement, the taunting had increased her natural dragon like moodiness down the track. Something which Zalia hated with a dark passion, along with the overly thoughrough, school record system.

  17. What I Taught My Daughter About Dating

    ’Rating’? No, it should be ‘dating’.”

    I was looking over Hannah’s school essay about my work as a palaeontologist.

    Fossilised dinosaur bones are found only in sedimentary rock. Researchers have to find adjacent layers that include igneous rock; radiometric dating can determine their age.

    “They’re like bookends, indicating the start and end of the period when the sedimentary rock formed.”

    I’d also explained how I use a rock hammer to dig out fossil bones. Bobby must have overheard.

    Downstairs, he’d covered the carpet with dinosaur models and coal from the Aga and was using our finest dessert spoons to recreate the scene.

    Thinking of Eve’s reaction convulsed my digestive system.

    Word Count: 110

  18. Cracking (110 words)

    Rating my contribution to the downfall of our coupling would be like sharpening the razor leering at my wrist. Of course I was to blame.

    Indeed, the razor salivated above my wrist, adding the salt before the wound before it perforated me, as I had her.

    It was the rocks, man. I lusted after them like I was pawing at a continually inclining treadmill. Never enough, never enough until it was enough never’s for her.

    No note. No text. No voicemail. No parting, lingering kiss. No memory.

    Just my rocks, my three-day old vomit congealed at the corner of my crusted lips and that razor to bring down my system.

    • I’m squirming after reading that – but then I always do when I see “razor” and “wrist” in the same sentence…

      Excellent take on the photo prompt: spoons, rocks – it’s obvious when someone shows you!

      Great stuff, as ever, Brett.

    • As always, solid writing. “…the razor salivated above my wrist,” Love this line!

    • Powerful, graphic writing, your personification of the razor quite brilliant.

  19. Just wanted to say how great a lot of these stories are – from the fantastical to the charming. Wish I had time to comment individually. But… holidays, you know. Nice job, everyone!

    I wrote something I liked, but I couldn’t get it in on time. Next week, perhaps. 🙂

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.