Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Sunday, October 03, 2010


The Jester

   Marjorie was on her way to visit a friend who'd promised to show her a new trick he'd taught his mice. As she was walking past Ronald's house she saw that a party was taking place, and most of the guests were in the garden. They were meant to be watching the performance of a jester, but he just stood there, looking depressed. Ronald tried to prod him into action by poking him with a stick and saying, "I'm going to keep poking you with this stick until you start jesting." The guests soon got bored of this, and they went back inside. Ronald followed them in after telling the jester that he'd poked more jest out of a carrot.
   Marjorie felt sorry for the jester, whose name was Jack. She asked him what was wrong and he said, "I've been depressed since I had a dream about an enormous red carriage that could carry thirty or forty people. For some reason, the man at the front was holding a wheel instead of reins, and he didn't need reins anyway because there weren't any horses. The carriage moved all by itself. It was a beautiful dream, but waking up to reality was horrible. I have a feeling that I'll always be sad until I get to ride on such a carriage."
   "I know someone who might be able to help," Marjorie said. "Gilbert is an inventor. If we asked him to build a carriage like that there's no way he could resist the challenge, though there's no guarantee of success."
   Jack sighed and said, "I suppose it's worth a try."
   Marjorie was right about Gilbert being unable to resist the challenge. He spent the next three months working on the carriage in his workshop on a mountainside. Jack was delighted when Gilbert's creation was unveiled, even though it wasn't what he was expecting. This one was even bigger than the carriage he'd seen in his dream. Gilbert had added an upper floor, but the windows upstairs were covered by shutters. The only way up was through a spiral stairs. The top of this was blocked by a trapdoor.
   Jack's delight faded away on the maiden voyage because the carriage didn't move. "Do you know anyone who can make invisible horses?" he asked Marjorie.
   "You're much more likely to find someone who can make horses invisible. I don't know such a person, but my father can make a dog disappear. Sometimes when he makes the dog re-appear it has a fur coat and a cigar."
   "This is never going to be anything like my dream if the carriage doesn't move."
   "We could push it down the mountainside. And we could round up all the neighbours to be the passengers to make it even more like your dream."
   It took about an hour to find thirty people who wanted to ride on the carriage. The passengers at the back pushed the carriage down the slope and then climbed on board at the back door. Jack's joy grew as they picked up speed. For Marjorie, gaining speed only nourished her fear. "How are we going to stop this?" she said.
   "In my dream, the man at the front pressed a lever with his foot to stop it."
   "Why didn't you mention this before?"
   "I didn't think there would ever be a need to stop it because I wasn't expecting it to move."
   Jack tried pressing what he hoped would be an invisible brake pedal, but it turned out to be an imaginary one. Panic spread amongst the passengers. Jack did his jester's act to take their minds off their impending doom, and he made them completely forget about careering down a mountainside in a carriage. They all laughed so much that no one noticed when they reached level ground and they slowed down, almost to a stop. Almost, but not quite. They rolled off the end of a pier and landed in the sea. While the passengers were busy screaming, Gilbert climbed the stairs and opened the trapdoor.
   Calm was restored when they realised that the carriage could float. Gilbert appeared at the top of the stairs and invited everyone to follow him up. This upper deck looked more like the deck of a ship. A mast was raised and a white sail was unfurled. They sailed to the other side of the harbour. The fact that the carriage had become a boat didn't diminish Jack's joy, and when it became a ferry he was even happier because he could make a good living by entertaining the passengers on their trips from one side of the harbour to the other. He was perfectly content with life until he dreamt about a carriage that could fly. It had wings like a bird, but it didn't need to flap them. He asked Gilbert to start work on this, and Gilbert agreed, as long as he could make the wings flap.

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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