Jun 182015

Welcome back to Micro Bookends. Something shrouded in mystery for you this week. Enjoy:

An urban legend is a tale of contemporary folklore that purports to be true and is often designed to elicit an emotional response. Like traditional legends, urban legends are rarely traced to a single author. An urban legend often revolves around a strong central character or social issue of contemporary interest.

One urban legend, with a bit of a conspiracy theory thrown in, is that Paul McCartney, who celebrates his 73rd birthday today, was killed in a car accident in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike. Whole books have been written on the subject, but a few of the clues cited by those who believe the story are:

  • On the Abbey Road cover Paul is barefoot and his eyes are closed.
  • A white VW Beetle on the cover of Abbey Road has the registration number 28IF, suggesting Paul would be 28 years old if her were still alive.
  • On the back cover of Abbey Road are eight dots, which when connected look like a 3, followed by the word Beatles.
  • On the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band there is a wreath in the shape of Paul’s famous Höfner bass guitar.
  • On the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band it looks like Paul is being blessed by a priest.

McCartney denies the story of course. But he would wouldn’t he…

Three cheers for ‘Paul McCartney’ with this week’s photo prompt:


Photo Credit: Hernán Piñera via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Geoff Le Pard, winner of MB1.35. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with URBAN and ending with LEGEND 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!

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

  116 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.36 – URBAN [micro] LEGEND”

  1. @dazmb
    110 words
    Title: Voices

    Urban landscapes dominate, but something is broken.

    “Some of the streets down there ain’t even on the map, ain’t got names, do what you like…”

    This city is anxious pathways, dislocated buildings.  A mirror looking back on itself, faceless imperfections curving out in front, behind.

    It’s easy to lose yourself.

    “But what I’m saying, if the mirror were dead plumb,  there’d be one reflection, of you, right? Because you’re the man.”

    Too much noise, the City devours me.

    “Stand out…”

    There’s a tramp in the middle of the road shouting at traffic. An old lady shuffling mournfully along the pavement, talking to her dead children.

    I take aim.

    Become legend.

  2. @AvLaidlaw
    104 Words

    Title – The Man Once Known As Maffeo Barberini

    Urban VIII walked around the marble bust and stroked the tip of his beard. “I’m not entirely sure if it’s a true likeness. Too stern, perhaps.”

    The sculptor Bernini crossed his arms. Something in his intense gaze unsettled the Pope. “Art is not a mirror. “

    “I rather like my face. It was considered rather handsome when I was young.”

    Bernini leaned forward and jabbed his finger towards the Pope, almost touching the tip of his nose. “That is a face of an old man, soon to die.” He walked to the bust and caressed its marble cheek. “This the face of a legend.”

    • Looks like we had the same response to the opening bookend, A .V. I’m glad you picked a different Urban to either of those featuring in my entry.

      This seems so simple, yet packs an awful lot into it. Well done.

      • Thanks. I had the outline of the story first, then just hoped one of the Urbans was a patron of the arts.

    • I too had looked up the different popes but chose a different story. Enjoyed this entry, particularly as I’d looked up some of the history behind it.

  3. WHEN YA GOTTA GO (110 words)

    Urban buildings may be quite sophisticated in many respects, but they also hold on to some old world superstitions. One such archaic notion is that the number thirteen brings bad luck, therefore no building should ever have a thirteenth floor.

    Of course, the fourteenth floor is then actually the thirteenth because it’s one floor above the twelfth.

    Well, here I am stuck on the “fourteenth” floor and, as bad luck would have it, I desperately need to pee. I thought I’d take a last innocent picture of myself before the closed circuit video of me answering nature’s call goes viral, making me another unwilling You Tube legend.

    • Sorry, my new black lab puppy just had an “accident” on the carpet and, as they say, find inspiration from the world around you….(I need to get out more).

    • Another slice from your autobiography, Steven? (Blamed on an innocent puppy this time!)
      Smooth use of bookends and great interpretation of the photo prompt.

      • While I never wetted an elevator, I do have a playful new pup named Boat on the Water (Boaty for short). He’s on my lap as I [try to] type. Much love for this barely bigger than a Beanie Baby bouncing boy. Oops, I think he needs to go out…….

    • One of the reasons I avoid lifts in certain city buildings! I can definitely smell the scene you set, now for some air freshener 🙂

  4. Psycho
    (110 words)

    Urban blight surrounded it. No one went near it. No one knew why it never fell into ruin.

    It started with the sighting. A shadowy figure within a shadow reflected in a repeating wall of endless mirrors. The night birthed it, nurtured it, and sustained it.

    Were the rumors, whispered in dark alleys using only hushed tones, true? Murderer or murder victim? A witness to unspeakable horrors entrapped in multiple prisms like moments frozen in time?

    Was he real? Did he live there? Could he be me?

    The mystery housed within remained just so. Like some fear-breathed animate object it refused to die, until the house itself became a legend.

  5. Progress

    Urban renewal they called it… more like urban decay. Or moral decay, the good’s been leeched away. This had been a neighourhood before, where people really connected and cared for one another. Sure, it might have been a bit shabby, a bit rough around the edges. But in that regard its character was like us — down and out but still swinging.

    Nowadays it’s just blocks of identical apartments. Like looking at an endless reflection in a fucking mirror. It used to be safe for kids to play in the street here, but when us old folks say that, it’s like we’re recounting an irrelevant ancient legend.

    106 words

    • A starkness easy to relate to in these modern cities of ours, too often has the good ‘been leeched away’.

  6. @firdausp
    Lady of the street (106 words)

    Urban streets- bustling with activity. Snarling traffic, bumper to bumper jams, honking and angry commuters yelling!
    It did not faze her a bit. She stood composed, like she had done for the past fifty years. Her facade, though chipping, was still as beautiful as the first day the Mayor revealed the plaque at the foot of the wide granite stairway leading into her exquisite interiors.
    She housed the rich and the famous.
    Her rooms held secrets only she knew. Her silence was a veil over mysteries discussed in bars and over dinner.
    Tourists flocked around clicking pictures to immortalise the moment- for she was a legend.

  7. Dudetastic
    110 words

    “Urban” used to mean something town-related. Back then I couldn’t imagine thinking “I’m too old for this crap,” but I’m definitely too old for this crap. This kid’s wearing sunglasses indoors and I just caught him taking a selfie in my living room mirror.

    I’m assuming this is his first summer job.

    “That’s so urban, man,” Jack says again.

    I have absolutely no idea what that means. I hand him the tin of paint and the brush and he tells me one more time how “urban” my idea is.

    When did I stop understanding teenagers?

    When did I get so old?

    “Dudetastic,” Jack says. “This wall will be a legend.”

  8. O Tempora! O Mores!

    “Urban what?!”
    “We wanted to prevent Urban II initiating the First Crusade!”
    “Oops! Must have made a typo when I googled…”
    “What happened?”
    “I time-jumped to his apartment on election day. Wore just a loincloth so he could see I was unarmed; even stretched out my arms.”
    “But… your long hair, beard…”
    “I wondered why he kissed my feet… Made it easier to inject the Plasmodium falciparum though!”
    “He subsidised bread for the poor, banned public smoking, and was strict on nepotism… in the shortest papacy ever! He died of malaria 12 days later! You’ve simply proven that ‘changing the past will radically alter the future’ is pure legend.”

    Word Count: 110

    • Sorry, Dave – too many tweaks to reduce word count. Please oblige me by changing ‘proved’ in the last sentence to ‘proven’.

    • Time-jumping wearing a loin cloth, is this your turn to be autobiographical Geoff?

      • Actually, it’s more of a nappy / diaper – don’t want to be caught short in my Tardis.

    • Well if you must be mistaken, better to be mistaken for the man at the top! Nice take. (I looked up these popes before work this morning, they all seem to be anti-smoking.)

  9. CATTLE CALL (110 words)

    “Urban. Keith Urban. I’m here for the audition.”

    “Oh yes. I have you right here. One o’clock. Take a seat please. You can hang your coat and hat over there.”

    “Thank you all the same Miss, but a cowboy never takes off his hat.”

    “Come on in son. Good to see you got your guitar. Let’s see what you got. Don’t have much time. Got about five minutes actually. Let’s hear your best tune.”

    “oooh baby baby, you look so good in my pickup truck, you look so fine on my tractor….”

    “Stop. I’ve heard enough. Sorry, son. We’re going with John Legend.”

  10. Quick, Click
    (110 words)

    Urban vampires live among us.

    The rural breed is nearly extinct; vampires like hectic fear and the country is slower, tireder. The last rural vampire retired to a farm college where he feeds quietly off of grad students.

    Urban vampires, however, live on. They dwell in the places between mirrors, in the arching walls of glass, in streetlight reflectors: not in the shadows, but in the excess of light.

    It’s said that they love elevators. They can be seen there sometimes, hiding behind your stacked reflections. A camera might capture them – or release them.

    But perhaps there is no need to fear, and it is all just a legend.

  11. Trapped (110 Words)

    URBAN, was the theme of my project. So, I gathered my camera bag and a snack for the ride. The nearest city was hour’s away but as grassy fields turned into suburban sprawl, it seemed like a different country entirely.
    I didn’t expect it to turn out this way.
    “Name?” The guard had asked.
    “John,” I replied. “I’m here to take photos.”
    “Go on, but be careful,” he warned, not looking up from his magazine. Who still read magazines?
    My first clue, had I paid attention.
    As a trapped soul in a mirrored room, the guard’s words make sense now.
    They see me as they ride, forever a reflective legend.

    • Great use of bookends, being trapped was a theme I used in my story but luckily took a slightly different route to getting there!

  12. Walk
    (107 words)
    Urban life’s taken its toll, dust in his lungs and a clock for a soul. Screwed by conventions; he’s contracted to kill the time he has left, corralled with the other  pen-pushing ‘dead’.

    Before he catches the 6 o’clock train: ten mouthfuls of cornflakes, two coffees, one sugar- spoonfuls of time measured out in crockery. And then one final check in the full length mirror.
    He’s been bound by grey threads and family ties.

    Quick change. Pep talk.
    He smooths down the dress.
    Today, head and heels high, he’s ready to walk the runway of catcalls and traffic cones even if prejudice refuses to pass into legend.

    • Living a double life, how sad. ‘He’s been bound by grey threads and family ties’, great line describing the conventions and relationships that force him to be what he isn’t when at home.

    • ‘Pep talk’.

      Perfect pause before a fantastic ending. Hope your character is still working it!

  13. camera (w/c 109)

    Urban streets are full of stories. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself. Take a walk. Go on, step outside and fill your lungs. Feels good, huh? Just ignore those kids on the other side of the road they’ll stop pointing and staring when you start walking. So do it: one foot in front of the other. And listen. Just listen. Can you hear it? No? I’ll tell you what I hear: he was young, a talented guitarist but he made the mistake of taking a photograph of his reflection in a windowless room. Poor boy, he had the makings of a rock and roll legend.

  14. @stellakateT
    110 words

    Snap away

    Urban wildlife is on the menu today. His expensive camera taking snaps of me, not sure he’d call them that; he talked about expending his portfolio. I know he really means selling to one of those downmarket magazines that specialize in celebrities. He found me sitting in a café bar in Dover Street hiding behind dark glasses sipping Moet out of a designer glass that looks like a jam jar. I’m amazed he recognised me maybe his father had a poster of me once in the garden shed. I’m posing like always. He’ll feel no pain just added a little kick to his Perrier water. I’ll not destroy the legend.

  15. Absorbed

    109 words


    Urban contemplated his canvas, a blank wall as empty and devoid of life as the youths that watched him; the world deserved better. Slowly he began to spray an outline his audience knew well.

    “Look, ‘e’s drawin’ us!” said one youth. “It’s like looking at our reflection.”

    Admiration silenced them as Urban expertly crafted their likeness onto the brick, absorbed them into his painting.

    “Hey! Where’d we go?” asked one when their portraits suddenly seemed to vanish from the wall. “E’s painted us out!”

    “No,” said Urban. “Just changed your perspective.”

    And horror dawned as they felt the imprisonment of stone, the paralysis of flesh, their life become legend.


    Brian S Creek
    110 words

    Urban nightmare closing fast.

    Orb caged tight in Chris’ hand. His comrade, the bespectacled Mike, keeps them anchored while the magical storm rages on around them.

    Then the city falls silent.

    The towering concrete demons are gone. The adventurers stand surrounded by a thousand worlds, a thousand visions of themselves, the same but different.

    In each lays possibility; limitless pathways throughout the space time continuum. Chris smiles and the cosmos smiles back.

    Then the pair are squeezed throw a hole in reality, sent back home to where they belong.

    Exhausted, they collapse to the ground. The orb falls, smashes.

    Mike looks to his best friend and mutters one word.


  17. Intervention

    108 words

    Urban sprawl is just another day for Elsie, one of a handful of ancient Caucasians living in the area. There for decades, she refuses to move. She’s home in the backstreets of Chinatown, actually enjoying the suffocating stench of fish markets, and nearly everyone knows her.

    She’s taken on the street gangs plenty, her bravado saving herself and others in need; standing against a knife, or talking down a shooter, interrupting fights amongst feuding, roaming crews. She’s saved lives, snapping their photos for posterity.

    She figures the hoods view her as a relic, leaving her alone, but the hoods see her differently. To them, she’s an ancient legend.

  18. Street of Dreams
    107 words

    Urban grid of streets, the map constantly changing. Our old street of broken brownstones, funky storefronts, torn down years ago. On the corner is a hi-rise complex–steel and glass for the young with money. We couldn’t afford to live here, now.

    But I can still see the used bookstore with the sofa in back where Billy gave poetry readings and Vanessa showed her paintings. Here’s the bar where Max played guitar with the band and we danced on Saturdays until 4am . We had nothing but each other, then. The future was just around the corner.

    Those days and places, forgotten. But I remember. Once, we were legend.

  19. Dates Dwindle
    Word Count: 108

    “Urban, not urbane.” She giggled; the ends of her lips curling slightly.
    “Well, what’s the difference?” I asked, trying not to grin too much.
    “Well, one’s debonair, suave, seamless–”
    “Like two mirrors.”
    She stopped for a moment. Stared at me.
    “Two mirrors:” I continued, “Put them in front of each other and you can see infinity. It’s seamless.”
    She sat back while a little steam escaped her latte.
    “I’ve never thought of it like that.”
    Suddenly it was quiet.
    Suddenly it was done.
    Pleasantries. Excuses. Empty see-you-soons.
    Snapshots of possible futures blinded me, but after tonight I knew them to be no more than wishful legend.

  20. Phobia
    108 words

    Urban beats pounded from the young man’s headphones as Mark stepped into the lift, and stood behind him. The doors glided shut and Mark sighed. Modern music was just noise to him, and this was particularly annoying; irregular and out of time.

    It grew louder and fiercer, surrounding him. The young man was oblivious, but Mark began to panic. This wasn’t music. He turned around to see the side of the lift bursting open. Hands reached out, grabbing Mark’s legs. He screamed as he was pulled to the floor and dragged into nothing.

    The young man’s phone rang. “Nothing man. Just listening to Jason Derulo. What a legend.”

  21. Faded Lipstick
    (104 words)

    Urban chic had been their thing. They wore their persona like a second skin. The soul mates close – hearts entwined – finish my sentences – knit together in love kind. So joined at the hip you couldn’t tell one from the other.

    Then he met her of the chic more urban, hips more enticing, ruby red lips whispering soulful sentences of come hither promise.

    Now the tattered threads of her silken dreams float in the mist of despair. Love found. Love savored. Love lost.

    His words of love, written in lipstick on a mirror, fade with time until she can no longer make out the legend.

  22. Look Sharp to Snap a Legend
    A.J. Walker

    Urban foxes pad through the streets more common now than pampered tabby cats in predictable suburbia, but you’ve probably never seen a flash dog even if you’ve stood next to one.

    Your best chance is to surround yourself with the modern shard forests of city centres. Look at the sharp reflections in the ubiquitous silvered glass. Remember: you’ll never see one direct, they’ll always be in your peripheral vision; usually behind you.

    With luck and persistence you can best catch these proud beasts at summer solstice. Use a camera with narrow aperture and a fast shutter speed. ALWAYS use flash which acts like catnip to these dogs according to legend.

    (109 words)

  23. The Faymus Professys of Archibald Legend
    A.J. Walker

    Urban flash dogs pass through the city unnoticed hunting out the stories that many miss. These animals are spread throughout the globe, multiplying faster than a zombie apocalypse on steroids.

    Their appearance can be deceptive. Aristotle said they were like wolves with a thesaurus. Shakespeare was too wordy to join their pack. Pratchett could have been one.*

    They chew their stories. Spitting out large morsels; keeping only the essential juicy bits.

    The Flash Dogs second anthology will be the best anthology ever.**


    * but for his unfortunate propensity to use of footnotes to try and bypass the word count.

    ** according to the 14th century sooth-sayer and good egg Archibald Legend.

    (110 words (including footnotes Terry!))

    • Great story A. J. Haha! I actually stopped to count the words too. You got me! 😀

  24. Emily Clayton
    108 words

    Lungs of the World

    Urban smog has its eye on you. It snaps a photo. Records your face. Your smile. Your innocence. It chuckles with never-ending glee. One day — one day soon — you will be trapped.

    Smog weaves its spell over those who cannot move. It shimmers in the distance, but it hides up close.

    It lurks everywhere.

    Look around as you walk home from the gym, fresh glow radiating from your face and flexed muscles lining your calf. Peek under the park bench. Glance up at that street sign. Inspect the soot on the willow leaves.

    Smog is ready to pounce. Unlike the boogie man, it’s not a legend.

  25. Fragmenting Distinction

    “Urban visionary” was my tagline.

    Mirrors counter my stare with visions reviving erstwhile honor. Of towering masterpieces, glittering in the grateful sun. Of glazed pathways breathing life into the drudgery of daily toil. Of celebratory crowds, joyous over center rejuvenation.

    But structures cracked as errors of minutiae confiscated every glorious splendor. Cracked as the fleeting grandeur tearing lifetimes in its wake. Cracked as the knuckles torn against the reflective walls before me. Cracked as the shattering pieces pouring like waterfalls from every angle.

    And the time comes when nothing remains. Nothing but splintered reflections and infamous legend.

    97 words

  26. — Miss Otis Has No Regrets —

    “Urban Design” reads the self-adhesive sign on the closing door. Beryl wonders what became of that polished brass “Planning” plaque which greeted her for 35 years. Jim probably pocketed it when he retired. He got golf clubs. She has Amazon vouchers.

    “Don’t forget us, Beryl!”

    “I won’t!”

    I already have, she thinks, glancing down at the 5pm gridlock. Jim’s idea, that one-way system.

    As usual, one lift is dead. Such a shame they removed the paternoster. “On you hop, it doesn’t stop!” was Jim’s catchphrase. In the lift door, Beryl catches herself blushing. Those up-and-over journeys passed into legend.

    108 words

  27. — The Coyote Within the Flock —
    By Adam Houlding (110 words)

    Urban decay, social corruption and disgusting hygiene. I hate Panama City.
    A colourful reporter of the Expresa Panameño, a seven year veteran.
    Today I was suspended.

    An editor thought my stories were too perfect. He researched my articles, saying I exaggerated or invented every one.
    I call it ‘improvement’.
    He calls it ‘fabrication’.

    I’m being sent home. I enter this empty elevator, its onyx floor and mirrored walls.
    My mind’s jumbled. I’m stressed. I’m alone.


    Someone else is in the mirror.
    A monochrome photographer. His camera.
    Something grabs me. By the neck. Rising.

    I can’t breath.
    I kick.
    Fading… This thing…
    It’s like… It can’t… only…
    … legend…

  28. “Urban or rural?”

    She frowned. Wouldn’t do to make a hasty decision; no, she’d done that in the past and it had served her ill. Laid her up for a full week, it had, and—

    “I said, urban or rural, ma’am?”

    Oh. Right. Her head swiveled toward the waiter. “Which is fresher?”

    “Everything here’s fresh.”

    “How fresh?” Scandalous that you had to ask these days. And was that a yawn? Used to be that—

    “Fresher than you.”

    Heh. Feisty, this waiter. “Urban, I guess?”

    “Brilliant choice. One knight on the town, coming up.”

    She relaxed and grinned, showing teeth. Mama Dragons don’t get out much, but when they do? Legend.


    110 words

    • I should add: the mirrored selfie? insecurity exposed & magnified. Not a literal interpretation of the photo, but it’s where my mind went. The End.

  29. @fs_iver
    WC: 101


    Urban oaks remind you of where you ought to be. Growing from concrete, en-caged in iron spindles, they’d uproot if they could, and you’d ride their yearning limbs back to the wilds.

    You tell me, “The city is beautiful.”

    My sweet liar. I’ve seen your compass eyes spin, searching for due north. Here, fractals of your soul reflect my desire in infinite untruths.

    I wanted to be sufficient, to be your river and sky and mountain in this asphalt wilderness – you promised I would.

    A promise not yours to make.

    You gave me your heart’s map but left me no legend.

  30. @firdausp
    City lights (110 words)

    Urban city lights danced in the gently lapping water at his feet. The moon was a thin slice of silver in the starry sky. He watched the city skyline bobbing in the dark waters. Every little wave sending the lights in a dancing frenzy.

    His little hands flicked a stone across the shimmering surface. It didn’t go far. He remembered his father bouncing stones off the water. He tried again but the stone just plonked in.

    He made his way back through the intricate veins of alleys in the large slum. This was home. The story his grandmother told about the large city was just that-a story. A legend!

  31. @dazamb
    90 words
    title: obv’s innit

    Urban Dictionary: Cheeky Nando’s – an explantion

    You know when you go down town with the lads and you all realize you’re hank marvin’ so you say “lads let’s go Maccers” but your mate Smithy a.k.a. The Bantersaurus Rex has some mula left on his nandos gift card and he’s like “mate let’s a have a cheeky nandos on me” so you go have an extra cheeky nandos with a side order of Top Quality Banter and then you go “Top. We smashed it. Smithy my son you’re an absolute legend”

    • Out of time, gutted I didn’t think of this sooner…

      • I should make clear I’ve cut and pasted the text from an example of the recent meme that circulated recently on the interweb. This is not my authorship, but I soon as I remembered it, it seemed so apposite for the bookends…

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.