Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Professor Unkeltim

   I often warn people about evil scientists, but they're much more concerned about the threat of global warming or celebrities lecturing us about global warming. You'll never see these evil scientists because they've become very clever about disguising themselves. They don't live in gothic castles on mountainsides, with huge laboratories in the basement. They don't have seven-foot-tall assistants who eat bananas and rabbits without even peeling them. But I know of one who looks like a classic evil scientist. His name is Professor Unkeltim. He always wears a top hat, even when he's in his laboratory. People think he's mad, and he's happy to let them think this.
   Only two friends of mine, Gary and Walter, took the threat seriously. They followed him to see what he was up to. When he went camping in the hills, they went camping too. He wore shorts, an anorak, and he had a rucksack on his back, but he still had the top hat. He set up his tent on the side of a hill. Gary and Walter wanted to search the tent, so they needed to distract him. Every time he spoke he made long dramatic speeches. When Walter asked him what time it was he spent an hour talking about the nature of time and the universe and the gods who play table tennis to decide our fate. This gave Gary plenty time to search the tent. In it he found plans for a rocket to blow up the moon. Professor Unkeltim only went camping to look for a site for his rocket launcher.
   When Gary left the tent he took the plans with him. He wanted to take these to a superhero called The Dappled Destroyer, a man capable of taking on the Professor. The Destroyer had retired because there were so few worthy foes. Policemen need burglars. Burglars need dogs. Dogs need cats and postmen. Postmen need the world. The world needs villains, and superheroes to save the world.
   It didn't take long for the Professor to realise that his plans had been stolen. He knew who took them, and he suspected that Gary and Walter would go to see the Destroyer.
   When Gary and Walter were looking for the Destroyer's house on a city street they heard the Professor's voice behind them. He told them to stop, and he began a speech about the nature of stopping. He was holding a gun. Gary and Walter ran to the nearest open door, and they found themselves backstage at a theatre. Shortly afterwards they were on-stage at a theatre, and they were disguised as ballet dancers.
   "Why didn't you disguise yourself as a male dancer?" Gary whispered to Walter.
   "I never thought of that."
   "It's too late now."
   The performance had only just begun when a man in the audience stood up and pointed a gun towards the dancers. He was wearing a top hat. Gary and Walter ran away, and Professor Unkeltim followed them.
   "If you hadn't put socks down your pants to make your bulge look bigger, his attention wouldn't have been drawn to you," Walter said to Gary.
   "The whole audience was confused by your bulge."
   Gary and Walter ran away through the city streets. The plans for the rocket were hidden in Gary's socks. Even if the Professor thought of looking there, he wouldn't want to do it.
   They finally found The Dappled Destroyer's house on a quiet city street. When he opened the door he was holding a small plastic watering can. He didn't seem like the sort of man who could thwart a plan to blow up the moon, but Gary was desperate to get the plans out of his socks and go to the toilet, so they told him about the Professor's threat.
   They drank tea in the kitchen while the Destroyer looked through the plans. He still didn't seem like the sort of hero who could take on the Professor, but after a brief trip to his bedroom he returned in his superhero outfit, and finally they started to think that the man on the moon might yet get to keep smiling and transmitting thoughts to cats. The Destroyer seemed taller and more muscular. Walter had once jumped through a window to get away from a man who went to his bedroom and returned looking taller and more muscular, but the Destroyer wasn't wearing high heels and shoulder pads, so there was no need to get away. He was wearing make-up, but that was part of his look.
   They just needed to find the Professor. He was trying to find them, so all they had to do was walk around the city streets, looking conspicuous. The ballet outfits were ideal for this purpose, but they used more socks just to make sure. The Destroyer followed them. They met the Professor at a fountain in the park. Just as he began his speech on the nature of shooting a man disguised as a ballerina, The Dappled Destroyer emerged from the shadows. Gary and Walter ran away and they let the Destroyer finish the job they started.
   That job still hasn't been completed. The battle goes on. Professor Unkeltim did fire a rocket at the moon, but because of a last-minute intervention by the Destroyer it missed. This only made the Professor more determined than ever to blow up the moon.

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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