42-word stories by paulh

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42-WORD STORIES


Story #1:


Glasses clinked. Sequins glittered. A Sinatra wannabe crooned as the host led me downstairs to see his latest invention, a time machine.

“It’s just a clock!” I exclaimed

“I’ll speed up the hands,” he proposed.

“You wanna make time fly? Take exams!”


Story #2:


“You’re voting for Kremmersley?” I exclaimed. “He opposes everything you believe in.”

“He’s our friend,” Mom explained.

“He invites us for turkey dinners, barbecues, even cruises,” Dad added.

“He won’t keep any of his campaign promises,” I said.

“That’s fine with us!”


Story #3:


The Christmas gift-planning session was going well: hedge clippers for Lonny,
yarn for Grandma, princess dolls for little Grace.

“The Parkers in Fairbanks?” my wife said, frowning.

“A solar-powered snowblower,” I suggested.

“Too much snow, too little sunlight,” she objected.


Story #4:


Detective Semloh's Report:

"Victim: Chef. (Specialty: Fried Octopus)

Crime scene: Beach

Causes of death: Simultaneous snake bite, stabbing,
gunshot, and asphixiation.

Suspects: None. Four needed for murder, but beach
deserted at time of death."

Having hidden the weapons, the octopus swam away.


Story #5

The greatest mime in France met the greatest mime in
America one day. They sat in a restaurant comparing
their acts. It turned out they did a lot of the same things.
This was okay. After all, great mimes think alike.


Story #6

"You're childless and unmarried, Luke," the social worker said.
"What about old age?"

"It's covered."

The time machine deposited him in a bedroom. An old man had
fallen. He helped the man back into bed. "I'll return later,
Luke," young Luke said.


Story #7

Blemmer Fund: Fourth Quarter Report

Heinrich Blimmer took over as fund manager when Sanchez
Blemmer was discovered sleeping with chickens.

Blimmer will choose stocks using Blemmer's "Weathervane Strategy."

He will receive a huge annual bonus. The fund has never beat the averages.


Story #8

Message in a bottle: Help! I'm stranded on a desert island.
I have enough ham, sauerkraut, and salted peanuts to last for
years, but I'm running out of champagne. If you can't rescue me, could
you bring more champagne? I'm constantly thirsty.


Story #9

Miss Kitty's soft, silky fur and long lashes turned heads wherever she went.
Her collar was studded with tiny Faberge eggs. Little wonder, then, that
the other cats began imitating her. "Don't worry," I said, stroking her fur,
"they're just copycats."


Story #10

Something was amiss. Blatherwell, the story's hero, sidestepped
every obstacle the author placed in his path.

"Blatherwell, you always anticipate what's coming next," the author
said.

"I read your outline."

"That's bad! How can a character outsmart his author?"

"By being heroic!"


Story #11


"You're an author who listens to his characters. I'm grateful.
I hate being Mrs. Ratspasm, though."

"You were Juliet last time, remember?"

"Yes. Thanks!"

"You were beautiful."

"Awesome!"

"Here you're the *only* character, the star!"

"But with purple skin? Yuck!"


Story #12


A twig snapped. Predators! Squirrel grabbed his acorn and fled
up the tree.

Three humans were watching him. Just watching, as before.

Squirrel called to his mate: "Let's do that silly dance again, the one
that humans *think* is our mating ritual."


Story #13

"Today we'll cover the vices, the guru said.
Sloth is first, the easiest of all."

The acolytes hurried to write down his words.

"It's all in my book," the guru chided.

"You haven't *written* a book," said one.

"That’s sloth for you."


Story #14

“Such an amazing dog!” the Deacon exclaimed as Sweety used her paws to
pour tea and add sugar. “Why the ‘Beware of the dog’ sign out front?”

“You’ll see,” I said.” Taste your tea.”

“It’s too sweet!”

“My last dog was Nosugar.”


Story #15

"I see you at the altar next June," said the fortune-teller.
"Your dress is fuschia. The bridesmaids are wearing fuschia. The church is full of fuschias..."

"This is disturbing!"

"Don't you love your fiance?"

"I do, but this is fuschia shock."


Story #16 [science fiction]

Starship Flytrek
Destination: The Garbage Planet
Duration: 40,000 years.

“As your Captain, I announce that we have landed! 437,000 generations
of flies have made this journey a success. Go forth with pride. Enjoy
the banquet, but be careful: Starship Frogtrek arrives tomorrow.”


Story #17 [science fiction]

My family’s shuttle was en route to the glass-domed colony on the Moon.

“Tomatoes? In space?” Scott exclaimed. “Dad, look!”

I saw a large bubble-shaped greenhouse full of red tomatoes floating by.

“Fancy one?” I said.

“We can make pizzas!”


Story #18

“I’ll drive. You can give me directions.”

“Fine. Turn off the highway here.”

“Got it.”

“Go through 37 traffic lights….”

“Whoa! Why not go by distance?”

“Okay, it’s about a mile. Red house on the left”

“Let’s park and walk.”

“Good idea!”


Story #19

He heard the refrigerator door open. Meat cleaver in hand, he
crept into the kitchen. It was The Fairy again! He raised the cleaver.

"Thank you, Otis," The Fairy exclaimed. She cut the roast with
the cleaver. "Want cheese on your sandwich?”


Story #20 [science fiction]

The wormhole had closed. The island was gone, replaced by a kitchen
where a man was eating a sandwich.

"I'm Ariel," said The Fairy, "and this is Caliban."

"I'm Otis."

The air quivered. Lancelot appeared. "Where's Guenevere?"

"The living room," Otis replied.


Story #21 [science fiction]

There was a lush garden on the roof of the Gothatropolis State
Building. Few people knew of it, but aliens from the Planet Pfanffglw
picnicked there on Tuesdays. They enjoyed roasted fleffurns and pickled
glomsproozes. Dessert was Pfanffglwian coffee with chocolate cake.


Story #22

THRUM...THRUM... The looms had started again.

Mrs. Halifax was back! I knocked on her door.

"Tom!" she said. "Hide! Lord Vampid will imprison you."

We heard footsteps. "That's him now," she said.

Moonlight illuminated the looms. I donned a wedding gown...


Story # 23

Luigi was eager to sing in the 42-note opera. Trouble was, the introduction was taking too long. By the time he got a chance to sing, all he could manage was "O, mio caro..." and then the opera was all over.


Story #24

[The Groundhog's Revenge]

Vast throngs of humans waited near Phil's burrow.
They wouldn't leave unless he made an appearance.
He stretched, yawned, and stuck out his head, squinting
in the bright sunlight. He went back inside, where he pushed
the "six weeks of snow" button.


Story # 25 [science fiction]

"This just in: The spaceship carrying artist Monica Manet
has crossed the event horizon of the black hole she was
painting. Rescue is unlikely."

Meanwhile, Monica watched the hole grew larger. Her black
paint was all gone, but it no longer mattered.


Story #26 [Landmarks]

"You're letting me climb Mount Landmark alone?" she exclaimed,
fastening her climbing boots.

"I'll drive the car to the summit. We can drive down together."

"Why couldn't we climb together and descend together?"

"That wouldn't be very easy."

"Easy is for wimps!"


Story #27


"Why is your horse wearing glass slippers, Your Highness?"

"This is Cinderella. My beloved. An absentminded Fairy Godmother
cast the wrong spell."

"Did the horse tell you that?"

"No. I had the same Fairy Godmother."

"That explains why you're a frog, Sire."


Story #28 [Landmark theme]

"I need to sneeze," said Teddy Roosevelt.

"Can it wait?" Jefferson asked. "You'd spray the
tourists with gravel. Not recommended."

"They'd close Rushmore," Lincoln observed. "Do you
want that?"

"I always support your decisions," Washington said.

"You didn't last time."

"I lied."

Story #29 [landmark theme]

"Welcome to the space station. Earth's skies
are unusually cloudless tonight. You may wish to
look for landmarks."

"Are any landmarks visible from here?"

"Yes. The Great Wall of China."

"They have enough china to make a wall of it? I'm impressed!"



Story #29 [landmark theme]

"Can't believe I'm 280 years old today,"George said,
looking at his longtime home.

"A million tourists a year visit Mount Vernon," Martha said.

"We had many visitors when we were alive...."

"I never let them stay too late. You needed your rest."


CORONIA VONK



I just want to be, like, just plain old me.
I stand on the porch looking for the E.T.
Who dropped in yesterday with a one-year menu
Of what I will have eaten starting February 2.

E.T.'s

My friends think I'm crazy. "E.T.'s are a myth!"
They claim. "You should be committed forthwith.
The same E.T. brought *them* cash from a future lottery,
So I'm sayin' they're just as crazy as me!


THE ICEMAN COMETH

Roger, last seen leaving Starbucks, vanished in the first blizzard.
Three sisters were swallowed by the second.
The third made the Donner family disappear.
Police feared a dozen frozen corpses when the snow melted.
Secret eskimo cultists, they all survived in igloos.


TYPO UNIVERSE

She sold rats and hogs at a pest shop in the Typo Umiverse.
Angus McGobagle bougt kilty litter.
A cast member from "Hair" wanted an Aquarius.
The baker's wife neded a birdcake.
A backwoods sciebtist came for moose chow.


THAT RINGS A BELL

Who are you, dear?

Your face rings a bell.

Your name, though, I fear,

Is lost in the haze

Of cobwebs and fuzz.

My brain is a maze

Of each thing that was

Dear to me once,

But now just a buzz.


SHOPPING LIST

Shopping List: tangerines to throw at the bad acting at tonight's show,
muskmelons for Irma to use under her bra until her hormones kick in,
milk for Cleopatra the hamster to bathe in. Almost forgot: steak and
potatoes, food for actual eating.

CHEESY TALE

The Emperor of meatballs sits on a throne of soft,

coiled spaghetti and creamy tomato sauce. Flecks of

glistening basil and oregano sit here and there like emeralds.

On his head, he wears a crown of cheddar.


TELEGRAM FROM FATHER

DEAR ELROY STOP
MOTHER TELLS ME THAT YOU HAVE BEEN DRINKING HEAVILY AND SLEEPING WITH LOOSE WOMEN STOP
YOUR CIGAR SMOKING IS PUSHING THE FAMILY NEAR TO BANKRUPTCY STOP
YOU'RE LIKE I WAS AT YOUR AGE, BUT PLEASE STOP


THERE AIN'T MUSHROOM IN HERE


Let's be mushrooms, you and I.
Cap plus stem makes one fun guy.
Let's make waves in rainy puddles,
Free of human cares and muddles.
At Gosford, Brideshead, and Downton, I fear,
You scolded me in front of the mushrooms, my dear.


There's a Rat in the Kitchen

Memo to the Smiths about housecleaning:
Please remedy:
Linoleum not washed since Christmas
Dirty dishes in sink
Stovetop unsanitary
Dining table is greasy
Rat poison left where children might find it
Too many cats
Insufficient cheese
Sincerely,
The rat in the kitchen



PUNCTUATED DELIVERY

"What did the delivery man bring?" Mr. Grammarcy asked.

"The usual," Mrs. Grammarcy replied. "Onions, milk, bread, beef,
carrots, lentils, canned soup, orange juice, breakfast cereal,
flour, spinach, tissues, toilet paper, and a box of commas."

"Good. We're running low on commas."


STORM IN A TEACUP

Universe Number 45,982
March 15

Porfirio Sneck murdered by poisoned tea.
Suspect: Theodosia Florowitz

Universe Number 49,285
March 16

Theodosia Florowitz stabbed by teacup shard
Suspect: Porfirio Sneck

Universe Number 28,954
March 17

Theodosia Florowitz and Porfirio Sneck murdered at teapot factory.



OF MICE AND PHOTOGRAPHY

I remember the day when Lucas Lenscap, the great mouse photographer, came to photograph my fifth grade class.
Red beret perched jauntily on his scalp, he adjusted his special camera and said "Smile!" into his microphone.
Some girls giggled.
"Okay, say cheese!"



OF CABBAGES AND CHEFS

Onlookers gasped at the cook, sprawled on the linoleum, a large knife
in her chest. Sherlock Holmes pointed to the murderer, a cabbage.
"He's lost it," most people concluded.
On the cabbage's home planet, cabbages were kings. Corned beef was the enemy.


THE LAST MEAL

The chicken's lawyer explained the new law: "She must have a first- rate meal the day before you slaughter her."
I showed him my table. "Spinach salad, succotash, on fine china," I said.
The chicken clucked.
"Wine's too cheap," the lawyer translated.


TRANSATLANTIC CHICKEN MIGRATION THEORY:

After learning of Columbus' discoveries,
European chickens vowed to avenge generations of executions and missing eggs by sending their best fliers across the Atlantic.
Little did they know that they were dooming their descendants, who became Chicken McNuggets.


A FROGGY OASIS

42 frogs, using hatracks as stilts, march across the desert. Hordes
of flies, tied to tiny leashes, buzz around the oasis-on-wheels that
the frogs are dragging.
The head frog sings "Old Man Ribbit."
This is disturbing on so many levels!


 A MOTHER IN LAW JOKE

"You should feel on top of the world - a Nobel Prize for discovering a new element."
"Yes, but what an element! Futilitium has no known uses, and very few prospective ones."
"Make it into a welcome mat for your mother-in-law."


FAST FOOD

My son the scientist invented something that has me scratching my head.
He found that putting wheels on a taco made it move forward. He then designed tacos large enough to carry people.
I've heard of fast food, but this is ridiculous.



 DISASTER AT SEA

On the Isle of Flying Zombie Skunks
One stormy night I was stranded.
The waves reduced my ship to chunks
Of wood, with which the shore was banded.

The skunks came looking for my brains,
But after such a night, none remains.


 INTER-DIMENSIONAL DINING

Deep in the forest on an isolated planet, I camped, hoping for enlightenment.
The rules forbade taking any supplies.
I was to live off the land.
Fortunately, I had my inter-dimensional transponder,
and could take quick trips to banquets at other dimensions.


THE SPACES INBETWEEN

Johnny had often heard tiny feet scampering through the
space between the walls. There was a new sound now: tiny engines
revving, brakes screeching. He checked his toy cars and
saw they were gone: Maseratis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis!
Who knew mice could drive?


KLUTZMAN'S LAST CAE

Doctor Lucecannon: Not a mad scientist, just slightly miffed.
Doomday Bomb: His greatest invention.
Thermonuclear Warlocks: Extremists who kill Lucecannon, steal the Bomb.
Inspector Klutzman: Assigned to find Lucecannon's killer.
Plot twist: Author lets Klutzman die before case is solved.
End: Bombastic.






We Always Knew Coffee Was The Answer

"The President of the Galaxy is a coffeemaker?"
"He's extraordinary...huge brain, billion-cup capacity..."
"So how come we still have problems?"
"The Galaxy's best minds worked on them."
"And"
"Once they tasted the coffee, the problems didn't seem so bad."


TIME TRAVELLING

"Your friends are picky!" my wife exclaimed.

"People who travel by time machine often are," I replied,
"though Beethoven seems satisfied with our piano, and
Michelangelo is happily painting Helen of Troy."

"Marie Antoinette hates our cakes."

"Let's fire the cook, then."


CHRISTMAS ZOMBIES?

Zombie reindeer craved Santa's brains.
When Western New York state got snowed in, rescue workers had to shovel off to Buffalo.
How could baby Jesus sleep with all those angels singing?
How did the animals eat with a baby in their manger?


DARK SECRETS

My family's country house was in Blight-on-Lance Cape in Drearyshire.
Between the wars we dealt with dark secrets -
the cook with leprosy,
three gay footmen [always one left out],
the crazy aunt in the periwinkles,
and our bloodlust as vampires.


TALK ABOUT INFLATION

Our time travel was a disaster!

Inflation made our meal unaffordable.

An elderly couple at the next table offered to pay for our meal.

"It's our anniversary too," the woman explained. "Here's a list of stocks to buy."

"They're us!" I exclaimed.



HOGWARTS DEMISE

Wizards were turning into muggles at an alarming rate.

Hogwarts had to close, as Professor Flitwick went to work for a circus sideshow and Professor Sprout opened a greenhouse.

Hermione got a degree in library science and worked at the reference desk.


VEGGIE KARAOKE

The Parsley of Framson listens to Howlin' River and Muddy Wolf sing the blues.

Then a blue potato goes on stage to sing "My way."

"Let's hear it for ol' Blue Eyes," says the emcee.

Yo Yo Ma talks to yo' mama.


THE ART OF WAR

There are three types of war, grasshopper: muscular, nucular, and secular.

In muscular war, those with the biggest muscules win.

In nucular war, those with the biggest nucules win.

In secular war, The male secule fights the female secule. No one wins


BEWARE OF THE ALLIGATOR?

This door must remain closed at all times. If you need to enter the building, climb in the window. If the window is jammed, climb the fire escape and open the skylight.

Also, beware of the large alligator directly below the skylight


GOD PLAYS DICE

"God *does* play craps with the universe."
"Einstein was wrong," the little man said, rolling his dice.
"You know God?" I asked.
"I *am* God."
"I expected someone bigger."
"Mustn't scare the horses, eh?"
"Who'd dare play against you?"
"You'd be surprised."


THE PERILS OF PLANET HOPPING

"Roger!" Eddy exclaimed. "How's Planet Homovulex?"
Roger grimaced.
"Your tan indicates great beaches."
"True."
"The food?"
"Sumptuous."
"What's wrong?"
"Caught a virus - makes men pregnant."
Eddy whistled.
"Got drafted next. Shrapnel wounds...morning sickness...misery."
"An extra hand, too. Looks useful."
"Maybe."


TELEVISION MARATHON

"Rescue me!" she begged the dispatcher. "Mad men have stormed the West Wing at 30 Rockefeller. They're breaking bad, with many lives lost!"
"Armed?"
"Yes."
"Motive?"
"To weed deadwood from the office. They do it with glee."
"Suggestion: Turn off your TV."



PIERRE'S PERIL

"Wait! What was that sound?"
"It's the ghost of an angry chicken. Ignore it!"
"Will it attack?"
"No. Pierre's the only one who should worry."
"The chef?"
"Yes."
"What's he cooking?"
"Chicken stew. Maybe it's an angry duck. Still bad for Pierre!


MODERN FARMING?

"Remember when genetic modification meant bigger yields?" Farmer Brown asked. "Now it means potatoes that burrow deeper when they see me."
"My sheep beat me at poker," Farmer Joe commiserated.
Ben closed the window. "Keep it down. The corn has ears."


PLANTS VERSUS PEOPLE

Sound the alarm! Ring the bell!
Run from the giant zucchini from Hell!
For weeks it was hidden under a leaf.
The leaf blew away. We all said, "Good grief!"
Now it won't fit through the door.
Giant zucchini, we're at war!


POULTRY EVOLUTION

"We'd like to buy some free-range chickens."
"You're in luck. We're having a sale on longhorns."
"Longhorn *chickens*?"
"Yes."
"Why do chickens need horns?"
"To give chicken-fighters gouge scars worth bragging about."
"Won't collecting eggs be dangerous?"
"Yes. Be careful!"


FISH AND MICROCHIPS

The farmer's men plowed the fields. The women and children followed, sprinkling silicon chips into the furrows.
Four months later the ripe computers hung from stout green stalks.
"Very rich soil," the buyer's agent said approvingly.
"Better," the farmer retorted. "No bugs."


A WHALE OF A TIME

Your coffee's terrible, mate!" Captain Ahab exclaimed.

"It has its uses," Starbucks said, smiling. You'll see."

Queequeg poured a latte for a pale stranger, who suddenly collapsed.

Ishmael removed the stranger's mask. "It's Moby Dick!"

"See? Coffee's bad for whales," Starbucks explained.



A PAINFUL CAREER

"How's your neck today, Aida?"
"Still sore, Doctor."
"How come?"
"The usual. I get hanged during every performance."
"Could you change careers?"
"If I weren't a slave...."
"A solo act, then?"
"I tried that. No one came."
"Why not?"
"They expected elephants." 


WAR AND PIZZA

"Napoleon!" Anna exclaimed. "That Antichrist! Short man, long war."

Andrew, dead in battle? Not!

Impetuous Nicholas enlists. Uncouth and illegitimate Pierre has a mission to kill Napoleon. Andrew loves Natasha, who loves Anatole.

They all go out for pizza.



 The Fate of the Snails

Random Universe Playhouse presents "Wedding Rinks."
"My snail cousins may be late," said Florestan Pooh.
"Why?" asked Aida Kardashian.
"They're six million parsecs away."
"They'll miss Figaro's rap zarzuelas then."
Massive snowflakes crushed both. (No one ever expects the next ice age.)


 AN AUTHOR'S NIGHTMARE

 My book tour was exhausting. My hotel room was always arranged the way Mom arranged it. I smelled her perfume. I saw her in the audience.

My book was titled "Mom, I'm 30. You don't need to pick up after me anymore."


42ND DIMENSION

"I'm taking a druid spacecraft to the 42nd Dimension. Can I get you anything?"

"We're out of mule milk and oat bran cream puffs."

"My Amish computer says we can't afford them."

"Raise the money by selling the ship."

"But it's borrowed."



DEUS IN CINEMA

He looked older than God – turns out he was God – but his beautiful female companion was young. They wanted tickets for a G-rated movie.
"Twenty-three dollars," I said.
God handed me a twenty-three-dollar bill.
"Legal tender?"
"Trust me."





IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR

Today at Noon
I saw the Moon
Was green.
"Bad omen!" said I.
"We all must die
By 6:15."
"Not necessarily,"
The Moon said. "Barely
A sign
Am I, just an ornament
For the sky's adornment
At Christmas time."


GRAND DESIGNS

"Here are the plans for the fallout shelter."

"Why so big?"

"Three kitchens: vegan, vegetarian, and regular."

"Two dining rooms?"

"One smoking, one nonsmoking."

"Two coffeemakers?"

"One caffeinated, the other decaf."

"Why so many CDs and DVDs?"

"The cloud may be down."


THE WAR BEGINS

"General Skunkvomit's army is behind this ridge. General Valiant's coming up the valley..."
"So.....we are to surround Skunkvomit?"
"No! He's *our* side."
"But that name!"
"An alias, designed to strike terror in enemy hearts."
"Their stomachs won't be in great shape either."



HAWKING AND THE ASTEROID

"Mr. Hawking?"

"Mr. Secretary-General, the asteroid will hit within eight hours.

Using transporters, we could send five billion people to other planets..."

"Why not 'planet'?"

"Too many for one planet. Incidentally, my grandson suggests sending the *asteroid* somewhere else."
"Do it!"


BEARS ON A PLANE

"How was Chicago?"
"Big. Noisy. Cheering fans everywhere."
"You're the Bears' mascot. They love you."
"All Bears Airlines was great. I met Smokey, Pooh, Yogi, and Paddington."
"I worry about the paparazzi."
"I miss the cave."
"Baby Bear has nightmares about Goldilocks..."


SMOKELESS DRAGON

"With this operation you'll never smoke again," the doctor explained, "but it's not mandatory. You're a dragon. People will understand."

"My fiancee insists. The wedding, reception, and honeymoon suite are in smoke-free buildings."

"It's settled, then. Care for a cigar?"


 THE OLD HORSE OF THE SEA

"Lookout, what do you see?"

"A ship, Captain."

"Crew?"

"None. Just a horse with an albatross around its neck."

"Can you tell the horse's gender?"

"Female. Quite old."

"We must avoid."

"Why?"

"It's the legendary ship with an ancient mare in'er."


EGGSACTLY WHO IS AUNT IMELDA?

Donny, let's talk. Now that you're gone, your father wants Aunt Imelda to have your old room."
"Does she still think she's a chicken?"
"Doctor Adler says she's mostly cured."
"Mostly?"
"Except at dawn. For an hour.
"
"Why?"
"Father needs the eggs."






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Infinite Improbability Drive

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