38th #SatSunTails

Welcome to the #SatSunTails microfiction competition.

Be warned – the prompts aren’t easy, but that’s so you can write to the best of your ability.

If you haven’t had a go before at this writing challenge, then please don’t hesitate to try this weekend.


  • Post stories in the comments
  • Stories must be 150 words (margin of 5 words either side) AND based on the picture and written prompts.
  • If you title your entry this is not counted in your word count.
  • Only one entry allowed (so make it count)
  • End each entry with word count and name/twitter handle (if you forget these REPLY TO YOUR OWN COMMENT with them before judging closes)
  • Monday 11am GMT is the expected closing time for entries BUT the competition will be open until I put a ‘competition closed’ comment so you may be able to slip something in (because I’m extra kind like that). Got that?

If you do not comply with these rules your story will be disqualified from judging. Good spelling and grammar will also help to make a better impression on judges – the odd typo, however, will be overlooked so please don’t worry about that.

For tips, read through the critiques from last week’s entries.


There will be ONE OVERALL WINNER and THREE RUNNERS UP. After that there will be THREE CRITIQUES of three stories that didn’t make it.

It would also be nice to those participating if you could promote your fellow competitors and those who win.

Today’s Prompt!

The following may be used as a sentence in your story OR provide a basis for it:-

“bludgeoned cochineal”

And here is your picture prompt:

& good luck!

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7 thoughts on “38th #SatSunTails”

  1. Emotional Blizzard

    She stood in the park, alone and shivering, knowing if she waited there much longer she’d be as sick in body as she was in soul. What was this hold he had on her that she kept coming back to him again and again? After the things he’d said…had done…she wondered if he was even capable of loving anyone but himself.

    His disdain of conformity and social convention initially drew her to him. All too soon, she realized she was little more than a whipping post for his vitriolic diatribes. He crushed the life and love from her, leaving her like some battered and bludgeoned cochineal, metaphorically surrendering up her heart’s blood like so much carmine dye.

    Shaking the snow from her umbrella, she promised herself she would give him another half hour before leaving. A slow-spreading numbness crept over her hopes as if mirroring the loss of feeling in her fingers and her toes.

    155 words @klingorengi

  2. The contestant was one of many who had stood out in the accumulating snow, umbrella in hand, awaiting entrance to the talent competition. Finally, the doors opened and ushers from the show led them inside.

    After having a chance to restore warmth to their numb limbs, the performers prepared for their stage appearances by also warming up their voices. They knew it wouldn't be easy, but each was certain that he or she would become the next multimillionaire vocal sensation.

    Carmine Tramontana was as certain of this as the rest. He was also just as deluded as many of the others. Never considering failure, he sincerely believed the judges would praise his remarkable skill.

    He was sincerely wrong.

    Halfway through the song, Simon Cowell interrupted. "Carmine, your name refers to something that comes from a bludgeoned cochineal and tonight, your singing sounded as though it came from one, as well."

    150 words

  3. “Nah. I’m not eating that. I am vegetarian.”

    Mother looked at the back of the packet of red boiled sweets.

    “But there’s no meat in here? Don’t be silly”

    “Oh really? Look at those E numbers. Even besides the fact that they might make me hyperactive, that E120 is very definitely not vegetarian.”

    “E120? What’s that then? Carmine red?”

    “Yes. But do you know how they make that red colour? Thousands of bludgeoned cochineal insects dried and pressed just for a little bit of colour. It’s scandalous.”

    “Scandalous? So what do you want to do with your life then? What are we for if not to become the best and brightest red dye?”
    The young cochineal looked at his mother haughtily.

    “Well yes, but I’d rather make a red umbrella or something. At least that’s useful. If I end up as food colouring, my life will literally end up going down the toilet.”

    153 words @samthewlis

  4. Taking a deep breath at the front door, listening to her yelling I remembered our hard fought past battles. Today's outburst hadn’t been ignited by teenage PMT or an overdose of E numbers at a birthday party.

    In rage she had bludgeoned the old bottle of cochineal food colouring; the glass bottle that had once belonged to my mother. These days you can only buy artificial Barbie pink; more than just beetles were crushed and harmed in adorning every surface with crimson stains.

    Fortunately still holding the umbrella I deflected the bag of flour by a quick thinking flick of the switch. I had never been its intended victim; another innocent bystander.

    As I lowered my shield she collapsed sobbing in my arms.

    Surveying the disaster zone of a kitchen one thing I knew for sure, cleaning this mess would be far easier than piecing together my daughter’s broken heart.

    150 words

  5. Most people wouldn’t have seen it. The cochineal was lying in the snow on the edge of the front stoop. Marylena wondered how the insect, native to Mexico, made it this far north. She considered for a moment that she’d tracked it back, but it’d been months since her trip and this death was fresh. The red of the cochineal’s crushed carcass, often made into dye, matched the umbrella she carried. She shook the wet snow allowing the powdery flakes to cover the remains.

    A rustle in the bushes drew Marylena’s attention and she stepped back from the hooded figure. She knew that crooked smile, had bested Dr. Williams too many times in the tight-knit scientific circle they both traversed. The momentary still air was foreboding. Her scream, as he lifted the heavy Indian club, pierced the night. The single strike split her skull, dropping her to lie beside the bludgeoned cochineal.

    word count 152

  6. Secret Ingredient
    By Lisa McCourt Hollar

    Shivering, Tessa wondered how long it would take for anyone to notice she was missing. Probably a while; she was supposed to be hiking in the Alps, not locked in a freezer. Well it was cold enough. Only thing missing was her red umbrella and the trees.

    An animal rights activist, Tessa had gone undercover at Veggie Burgers Inc. Investigating reports that the popular Veegan patties were not 100 percent meat free she’d discovered their secret ingredient, bludgeoned cochineal used as coloring in the Red Pepper Spicy Burger.

    The door opened and three men came in.

    “It’s about time. You know you can’t keep me quiet forever.”

    “But we can,” the first one said. “You wanted to know what was in our burgers? Well now you get to find out.”

    Grinning wickedly he produced a knife as she was strapped to a table. “You were right, dearie, our burgers are not 100 percent meat free.”

    Word Count: 155

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