Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


The Fire

   Darcy and O'Mara were stuck at a wedding. The groom was the most boring man in the country. This had been scientifically proven in an experiment conducted by a man with no eyebrows. He was conducting tests on the bride to see what she was. She must have been the ___est woman in the country if she agreed to marry such a bore, and the man with no eyebrows was determined to fill in the blank. The other option was that she wasn't really a woman.
   The wedding ceremony took place in a woodland clearing. It was conducted by a druid who hid in the trees. The reception took place in a field next to the river. Just as the groom began his speech, a huge ball of fire emerged from the river in a deafening noise, the sort of sound you'd expect a living being to make as it breaks free from its antithesis. Relief gripped the wedding guests when the groom's speech was cut short, but they soon began to wonder if they were facing a greater danger.
   The ball of flame flew over their heads and landed in a tree. The tree exploded in flames, and within seconds it fell over, scattering the wedding guests in the field. When it landed on the ground a cloud of smoke and ashes rose from it. A man emerged from the cloud. He was coughing and his clothes were singed. The man with no eyebrows would have regarded him as the luckiest man in Ireland for emerging from such an ordeal with both of his eyebrows still intact.
   Most of the guests considered him to be lucky too, because they thought he must have been in the tree when the fire struck it. But he told them that he had been in the river, and they started to wonder if he was the fire. This interpretation seemed to be confirmed when a mouse caught fire (the mouse emitted a sound of relief when its fire came into contact with water). But he insisted that he had nothing to do with the mouse's misfortune. "I'd never hurt a living creature," he said.
   "Well then why are you holding a stick and creeping up behind that rabbit?" O'Mara said.
   He suddenly realised what he was doing. He dropped the stick and backed away from it.
   "It seems to me as if you're possessed by something that has an aversion to animals," Darcy said. The man threw an apple at the bride. "And to all forms of life," Darcy added.
   The man's name was Thomas. After he had apologised to the bride, Darcy and O'Mara led him away. They said they knew someone who could help him, and they were glad to get away before the groom recommenced his speech.
   Thomas killed two birds and a squirrel on the way. He cried after killing the squirrel. They reached their destination before sunset that evening. The man they wanted to meet was called Peter. He was smoking his pipe in front of his cottage when they arrived. Darcy said, "We have another patient for you. He's having trouble with animals. Or they're having trouble with him. He's developed a knack for killing them."
   "What's the problem with that?" Peter said. "He'll never go hungry."
   "He doesn't want to kill them at all. There was a squirrel..."
   Thomas started crying again. The tears began to dry up as he choked a magpie, until he realised what he was doing.
   "I think I see the problem," Peter said.
   "And do you see a solution?" O'Mara said.
   "I see something. We'll try something, and whether or not it's a solution, we'll just have to wait and see."
   Peter's idea was to tempt whatever was possessing him back outside, and if he was full of fire, they'd need something highly flammable to tempt it out. "The spirit seems to have an antagonism towards animals," O'Mara said. "What's the most highly flammable animal?"
   "We'll need something much bigger than an animal," Peter said. "The library in the monastery would be just the thing to tempt an evil spirit."
   Darcy, O'Mara and Peter went to see the monks. Before they left, they locked Thomas in a room in Peter's cottage. He wanted to be locked up so he wouldn't harm anything, but when they returned a few hours later he was cooking a pig on a spit and crying. "I'm so sorry," he said to the pig as he turned it around.
   "You can dry your tears," Peter said. "Soon you'll be rid of the thing that's taken up residency inside you. We're taking you to the library in the monastery."
   "What happens if it burns all the books?"
   "Obviously the monks weren't too keen on that. That's why we'll have to break in there at night."
   "I can't burn down a library in a monastery."
   "It's the only way. Do you want to be hurting animals for the rest of your life?"
   Thomas reluctantly agreed. They took him to the monastery after midnight, and they broke a window in the library to get in. As soon as Thomas stepped inside, the fire emerged and covered all of the shelves in flames. The monks arrived shortly afterwards. They doused the flames in holy water, and they could hear the spirit dying a painful death. It started as a deafening noise that faded to silence. The fire was gone, but all of the books had been burned, and for Thomas it felt worse than what he had done to the squirrel, but they explained to him that it was just a fake library. The real library was underground. Invaders would arrive every few years with a need to burn books, and the fake library satisfied that need.
   Thomas was delighted to be free of the spirit. He felt at one with nature after this, and he became a monk. He helped the other monks re-build the fake library for the next attack.

The Tree and the Horse
Henry Seaward-Shannon
A Walk in the Rain
The East Cork Patents Office
Words are my favourite noises




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very slight stories

They Met a Bear
  They stopped in a small seaside town and they went for a walk. They met a bear.
  This is one version of the story. In another version, they met a sailor, and in this one they ended up being held at gunpoint on a speedboat and becoming unwilling participants in a diamond robbery while disguised as a cow, and sharing in the proceeds of that crime.
  So when they tell the story they just say, "We met a bear. He waved at us."

The Story of the Fortune Teller and the Alarm Clock
  A fortune teller threw an alarm clock at me. This story is deliberately lacking in details to mock the predictions of the fortune teller. Although she was right when she said she'd throw an alarm clock at me.

  One. Two. Three, the study. Four, a candle stick. Five. Six...
  Seven is missing, presumed dead. One has taken up the case, and two is helping him in his investigations. They both suspect six. Seven was last seen next to six in the garden.
  But seven isn't really dead. He's consumed half a bottle of whiskey and he's currently in the orchard, talking to a rabbit. "One of us is as boring as a gate post," he says, "and it's not..." He stops to count on his fingers. "No, actually it is me."
  Eight nine ten.

Debbie and his dog
  Debbie was sick of people mistaking her for a man.
  "Is your dog my parole officer?"
  She was sick of people asking her that too.

Very Slight Stories: like short stories, only shorter

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